The Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Development

Gold Standard is part of the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI), which aims to explore Party and other stakeholder views on options to implement the sustainable development provisions for Article 6. The recommendations put forward by the SDI draw from a series of workshops with Parties and other stakeholders held under Chatham House rules since July 2017. SDI will continue to raise awareness on the opportunities associated with strong SD provisions in Article 6 through a combination of Party driven policy dialogue, piloting of approaches, and outreach activities to relevant carbon market players.


Global goals for climate change and sustainable development (SD) were reached in two historical agreements in 2015; the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2°C and the United Nations 2030 Agenda to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The political aspiration for a transformational change to low carbon and sustainable development is recognised in both agreements.

The Paris Agreement indicates a political change towards an enhanced focus on sustainable development as a means to raise ambition for climate mitigation. This is a change away from the Kyoto Protocol era, where sustainable development was mentioned to reassure Parties that climate mitigation should not conflict with development aspirations.

Provisions for sustainable development in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement are essential if we are to keep global temperature rises well below 2°C and meet the ambitions set out in the SDGs.

Why operational SD provisions in Article 6 are important

There are four reasons why operational sustainable development provisions in post-2020 mechanisms are important:

  1. Public acceptance of market mechanisms depends on strong safeguards and real sustainable development benefits;
  2. Sustainable development is a primary lever for raising climate ambition. The assessment and the recognition of sustainable development benefits of mitigation actions is very often a prerequisite to unlock host country ownership and ensure, these actions receive long-term support;
  3. Quantifying and valuing sustainable development impacts can unlock much needed private sector funding and can lead to higher market value of units;
  4. International guidance on sustainable development is already available (Agenda 2030) and endorsed by 193 countries; synergies can be derived from aligning sustainable development approaches in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement with global and national level Agendas 2030.

Text Recommendations for SD provisions in Article 6

In 2018, as input to the COP24 in Katowice a position paper and detailed text proposals were developed by the SDI team and presented to Parties and stakeholders during workshops and a series of roundtable discussions. View previous text proposals>>

The outcome of COP24 indicated that SD did not feature prominently in the draft texts of the implementing decisions to Article 6. The text on Article 6 included only minimum SD provisions that did not reflect any significant change from the Kyoto Protocol. In spite of the Paris Agreement Art. 6 'shall requirements' to promote SD, operationalizing the SD provisions was not a priority for all Parties.

However, with respect to cooperative approaches of Article 6.2 the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) of the Paris Agreement) (§77d) now mandates all countries to provide information on how these approaches promote sustainable development, consistent with decisions adopted for Article 6. Noting the decision was taken ‘without prejudice’, hence the possibility for Article 6 rules to go beyond. On this background, the SDI has updated text proposals towards COP25 as shown below.

The SDI recommends the following elements in future text provisions:

Article 6.2 – Reporting:

  • Ex-ante assessment and reporting of expected SD contributions of the collaboration;
  • Periodic ex-post assessment and reporting of the SD contributions;
  • Development of tools and approaches adapted to various types of collaboration (project level, sectoral level, policy level) for voluntary use to:
    • Support SD assessment and reporting towards nationally determined goals and priorities of host Parties;
    • Avoid/mitigate negative impacts.

Article 6.4 - Roles and responsibilities:

Participation requirements for host Parties:

  • The confirmation of the host Party based on information made publicly available that the activity fosters sustainable development;
  • Facilitative role of the Supervisory Body mandated to:
    • Foster knowledge exchange and support development of tools and approaches (for voluntary use) to facilitate SD assessment and reporting (ex-post, ex-ante) towards nationally determined goals and priorities of host Parties;
    • Enable the development of nationally determined approaches for stakeholder consultations on sustainable development, a grievance mechanism and do-no-harm safeguards informed by international best practice.

For commentary on the current state of sustainable development provisions in the Article 6 'rulebook' negotiations following the 50th Meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies to the UN Climate Convention in Bonn, Germany see Commentary - current state of SD provisions in Article 6>> 

For previous text proposals developed by the Dialogue see SD Dialogue_Text Proposals_COP 24>>

For more information on the rationale for the recommendations proposed for COP24, see the full position paper published in the Carbon Mechanisms Review #3 October 2018>>

SD Dialogue Policy Briefs

The following series of Policy Briefs were published in fall of 2018, summarising outcomes of the series of SD Dialog workshops with Parties and other stakeholders held under Chatham House rules since July 2017.

Please note, views stated in these documents are those of the authors and do not represent any consensus among the Parties involved. 


Rationale and recommendations for sustainable development provisions compatible with the national prerogative in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Download here>>


Best practice, tools and guidance for safeguarding principles and do-no-harm assessments of climate actions and relevant considerations for negotiations under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Download here>>


Best practice, tools and guidance for sustainable development assessment of climate actions and relevant considerations for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Download here>>


Defining criteria for sustainable development nationally and using the SDG framework for implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Download here>>


Ensuring the consultation of relevant stakeholders when implementing activities under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Download here>>


Transparent reporting of sustainable development elements within voluntary cooperation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Download here>>


The Sustainable Development Initiative and its supporting policy dialogs are organised by UNEP DTU Partnership and the Gold Standard Foundation in close collaboration with the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD). The Dialogue is made possible by contributions received from donors including Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. 

The author team is Marion Verles of Gold Standard, Sven Braden, and Fatima-Zahra Taibi and Karen Holm Olsen from UNEP DTU Partnership.

We’d also like to thank Laurence Mortier (Switzerland), Thomas Forth (Germany), Mandy Rambharos (South Africa), Sophie Closson and Olivier Kassi (Belgium) and Sandra Greiner (Climatefocus) for their insightful and valuable contributions.


Media Category: Reports
Event Dates: Friday, August 24, 2018