The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) has announced on September 18th that it is entering into a strategic partnership with The Gold Standard to explore the opportunities for future close collaboration between the two certification schemes. The announcement was made at the Annual Conference of The Gold Standard Foundation in Geneva. The partnership includes the CarbonFix Standard, which will be acquired by The Gold Standard to form their new carbon accounting module for forest carbon projects.
The parties laid down their ambitions and activities in a Memorandum of Understanding, which recognizes the FSC approach to social and environmental safeguards and the Gold Standard approach to carbon certification, respectively. The explored model for future collaboration foresees the Gold Standard build upon the global FSC Principles & Criteria for responsible forest management and will in return enable FSC to rely on The Gold Standard's robust approach to carbon accounting and benefit-sharing when FSC certified forest operations seek carbon finance.
"For many of our stakeholders, FSC’s partnership with The Gold Standard is a 'dream team' constellation, as it brings together the two most highly respected standards in their respective fields, who are best-placed to create the new benchmark for forest carbon projects", says Stefan Salvador, Manager of the FSC Ecosystem Services Program. "We are delighted to see and support a consolidation of carbon standards that recognize FSC's spearheading role in defining, incentivizing and monitoring responsible forest management."
The MoU’s ambitious work program over the coming year will provide an extensive analysis of the modalities, opportunities and challenges for an alignment between the certification schemes and will include:
● An assessment of market opportunities and challenges for an aligned approach towards the certification of forest carbon projects.
● A gap analysis of the standard setting, accreditation and certification procedures of the systems.
● An analysis of the compatibility (congruence and complementarity) of FSC and The Gold Standard.
● An exploration of any reputational risks arising from the Parties' schemes being associated with each other, their constituents, and new market mechanisms, buyers and claims.
● An overall examination of how the various systems can be jointly applied and mutually aligned in the most effective and credible manner, so that the schemes' beneficiaries and constituents receive the highest value from the collaborative approach chosen.
The feasibility of aligning the schemes’ approaches in the broader field of emerging ecosystem services markets, an area where FSC recently entered with its GEF co-funded project “ForCES – Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services”, will also be explored.
The Gold Standard is a globally recognized and trusted regulatory framework operated on behalf of Civil Society for the deployment of public and private capital into low carbon and development projects. Born in the carbon markets with a focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that maximize environmental integrity, safeguards and sustainable development, its ten-year track record is unmatched. Every project certified by The Gold Standard must monitor, report and verify carbon savings and sustainable development benefits for local communities. This ‘carbon for development’ philosophy has been recognized by governments, business and civil society as the most effective approach.
The CarbonFix Standard sets a quality benchmark for worldwide climate forestation projects. It was developed in 2007 by the non-profit organization CarbonFix in cooperation with experts in the fields of forestry, climate change and development aid sectors. CarbonFix believes that climate forestation projects are about more than just planting trees. In addition to creating new forests, CarbonFix ensures that participants act in a sustainable way. Only through the successful integration of ecological, social, and economic values it is possible to set-up and maintain a climate forestation project over the long-term.