Verra appoints advisory group to develop nature framework, assist biodiversity credits

Published 19:28 on November 17, 2022  /  Last updated at 00:30 on November 24, 2022  /  Biodiversity  /  No Comments

Offset standard Verra on Thursday unveiled a 25-member advisory group that will guide the development of its SD VISta Nature Framework, as well as support the work to design a biodiversity crediting methodology.

Offset standard Verra on Thursday unveiled a 25-member advisory group that will guide the development of its SD VISta Nature Framework, as well as support the work to design a biodiversity crediting methodology.

“The framework and methodology will be developed under Verra’s Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta) Program and drive much-needed investment to high-quality, nature-positive efforts, as supported by other nature-related frameworks (e.g., Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures and Science Based Targets Network),” a Verra announcement said.

The 25 members, picked after applying for a role in the group that was announced in August, represent a number of different sectors and geographies, and will bring expertise on measures such as market demand and drivers, biodiversity measurement, nature-related frameworks, financial instruments for biodiversity outcomes, and biodiversity-focused pilot projects, according to Verra.

Conservation groups and NGOs will be heavily involved in the group, with the Nature Conservancy, IUCN, the Rainforest Alliance, and Terrasos among those represented.

The group also includes members from companies that have been involved in the carbon market, such as Terra Carbon and Wildlife Works, as well as representatives from the UN system, academia, and consultancies.

“SD VISta will provide the umbrella structure for quantifying nature and biodiversity benefits. Assets generated under SD VISta are standardised, transactable units representing one or more of a project’s sustainable development benefits,” the group’s terms of reference said when they were published in August.

“Building on the SD VISta Program to develop a nature asset methodology will allow projects to create standalone units and leverage SD VISta’s capacity for generating labels and stacking with units from other programs (e.g., carbon credits),” it said.

The advisory group announcement came two weeks after Verra revealed it will be developing a biodiversity methodology that will allow project developers quantify the biodiversity benefits of their conservation and restoration activities, and sell those as credits.

RAMPING UP

Verra’s move into biodiversity credits is the latest of several initiatives in the space, and follows similar plans announced by fellow carbon project standard Plan Vivo earlier in the year.

Conservation groups, corporates, and politicians are increasingly seeing a biodiversity credit market as part of the solution to closing the estimated annual $600-800 billion biodiversity funding gap.

Last month, Australian company GreenCollar Group launched the NaturePlus biodiversity scheme, which will deliver credits starting in early 2023 from vegetation and koala projects using methodologies accredited by Accounting for Nature.

Meanwhile, researchers at the UK’s University of Nottingham earlier this month began a government-funded project to “inform the development of the world’s first biodiversity credit standards”, building on work done by the Wallacea Trust.

Others too, including Colombian conservation group Terrasos, have launched early-mover biodiversity credit products that are already in sale or in the pilot stage.

Meanwhile, Australia is set to become the first nation with a government-regulated biodiversity credit market, having recently closed a public consultation period on what the market should look like.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com