Strategy Update - October 2015

Hello friends of Gold Standard – old and new,

I’m delighted to report that our team has made an almost unbelievable amount of progress since we last shared an update. I outline here the initiatives we’ve pursued and how that supports your work (find further detail below). We will also provide an opportunity for all our stakeholders to ask questions to our management team during a webinar scheduled for 29 October at 15:00 CET, an official invitation to be emailed shortly.

In our last communication, we shared that our focus would be to strengthen our core by:

  1. Deepening our impact assessment in sustainable development (SD) to provide assurance that SD benefits are real and tangible. In the converging climate and development agendas, this is proving to be increasingly relevant and is a key driver for Gold Standard 3.0. This innovative, integrated standard will pioneer the quantification and certification of sustainable development outcomes alongside emission reductions and water benefits. We plan to launch a draft of Gold Standard 3.0 for public consultation in December.
  2. Ensuring that credits will be sold at above market prices. Increased rigour around SD benefits will play a role here, as will our efforts to build credibility in carbon markets through greater transparency. Our broader demand building strategy repositions offsetting from a focus on compensation to its role in financing the transition to a low-carbon economy and will advocate for companies to adopt best practice climate strategies that include investing in Gold Standard projects. More details here
  3. Reducing costs and complexity related to certification. We expect that the technology infrastructure that will come with Gold Standard 3.0 will be transformative in increasing the efficiency of the certification process. In the meantime, our Certification team has introduced quick wins to help streamline the process without compromising on its integrity.

The next step in our strategic process is to contextualize and map out how we plan to deliver on our mission. To help us do this we have started to develop our Theory of Change. This is still very much a work in progress, but you can review our thinking here>> 

Progress: Deepen our impact assessment in sustainable development (SD) to provide assurance that SD benefits are real and tangible

Gold Standard 3.0 is the core of this work and we have made much progress since July. Our Expert Panel met in an intensive workshop in Amsterdam on 2-3 October, where they reviewed an initial draft of the new standard with a focus on how to assess and mitigate the complex trade-offs implicit in the Climate – Energy – Food – Water Nexus. The panel also gave feedback on our draft Theory of Change as it relates to Gold Standard 3.0. The next two months we will feature additional sessions and feedback with the Expert Panel as well as supplemental deep-dive consultations with stakeholders. Following ISEAL best practice and compliance requirements, we will develop a draft of Gold Standard 3.0 to launch for public consultation at COP21 in December.

Gold Standard 3.0 Expert Panel

  • Matt Spannagle, Independent - TAC/UNDP Safeguards
  • Dean Thomson, World Vision - NGO/TAC
  • Sudha Padmanabha, Fair Climate - PD/TAC
  • Jamie Pittock, Australian National University - Environmental SDGs/TAC
  • Andrew Howard, UNFCCC –Sustainable Development
  • Liza Murphy, Independent - ISEAL auditors/accreditation
  • Jasmine Hyman, Yale University – Social Sciences
  • Kim Rapagna, Independent – CSR and corporate buyer interests
  • Alexis Morgan, WWF – Standards, environmental SDGs
  • Mark Didden, WBCSD – CSR and corporate buyer interests and reporting
  • Tom Owino – Climate Care – Retailers/Project Developers/TAC
  • Shigueo Watanabe – Independent – Auditor/developer/TAC
  • TAC Chairs – Rob Fowler / Meinrad Burer / Jacqueline Gehrig-Fasel / Scott Harder

Progress: Reducing costs and complexity related to certification

Below is a summary of the quick wins we’ve identified to help accelerate and simplify the certification process in the short term without sacrificing quality or rigour:

  • Gold Standard now accepts proof of payment to commence reviews as opposed to money appearing in the Gold Standard account, reducing timelines.
  • We carry out online training of auditors as a part of the SD accreditation scheme, streamlining of the micro scale certification process.
  • Subject to resource/timing/workload we now accept more than 4 VPAs at a time to reduce timelines in mPoAs/improve overall efficiency for PDs
  • Ex-post review of GHG monitoring plan is allowed, reducing the burden during registration on documentation, data gathering.
  • In Land Use & Forests projects, we have reduced Initial Certification Review period from 8 weeks to 6 weeks, reducing overall timelines to Registration.
  • We now offer calls and discussions to discuss the project review/feedback with project developers and auditors to reduce the timelines further.
  • We are in process of assessing our audit framework as well as defining specifications for a user-friendly IT platform – both expected to significantly reduce both the cost and time for certification.

A new brand for a new era

Last but not least, you’ve no doubt noticed our new brand that focuses on how Gold Standard contributes to “climate security and sustainable development for all.” Our new website is the fullest articulation of this new brand. We thank those of you who have contributed to the project portfolio -- the best demonstration of the impact we all make together. This brand and communications evolution underpins all our efforts to position Gold Standard and our stakeholders for success under any outcomes that come from the Paris negotiations—strengthening our framework for carbon markets and broader results-based finance for climate + development impacts. Read more about our demand building efforts here

My personal thanks go to all of you who join us in driving finance to projects that contribute to climate security and sustainable development for all.

Kind regards,

Marion Verles
CEO, Gold Standard