Criteria and Assessment

Criteria and Supporting Questions

In their December 2015 statement, Unilever and Marks & Spencer outlined a series of criteria jurisdictions must have to qualify for preferential sourcing:

  • A strategy for how to reduce emissions from forests and other lands whilst increasing agricultural productivity and improving livelihoods;
  • A system for measuring and monitoring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and an established baseline;
  • A commitment to adhere to social and environmental safeguards and monitor these efforts;
  • High-level political commitment to, and support for, the compact’s design and implementation from government partners;
  • Stakeholder engagement in the compact’s development and implementation; and Location in a country with an ambitious national UNFCCC target (currently called an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC).

A working group of experts from the private sector, governments, and international and civil society organizations developed a set of associated questions which inform and operationalize the application of these high-level criteria. They further developed a set of resources but serve as an indication of best practices in the area covered by the criterion. The current set of criteria, questions, relevant resources, may be found below:

The Expert Assessment Guide providing guidance for each assessment, including scoring for each criteria and subquestion may be found here.

Overarching: Consistency with relevant UNFCCC decisions

Criterion 1: A strategy for how to reduce emissions from forests and other lands whilst increasing agricultural productivity and improving livelihoods;

  • 1.1 Is a strategy or action plan to reduce deforestation adopted and being implemented for the entirety of the relevant national-scale or subnational jurisdiction? (Jurisdiction is defined in this case as a full country, or one or more politically-defined areas that are no more than one administrative level below the national level, e.g. a state or province. Note that while policy measures, monitoring, and safeguards should cover a full jurisdiction, on the ground activities may cover only specific portions of the jurisdiction)?
  • 1.2 Does this strategy or action plan contain a feasible plan for how emissions reductions from forests will be achieved in the jurisdiction, including by addressing the main drivers of deforestation?
  • 1.3 Are the results of the program expected to include  the continuation/ enhancement of agriculture, while protecting standing forests? (For example, does the program envision the continuation of agriculture, or include elements such as land use planning, enforcement, and technical assistance on agricultural productivity?)

Reference materials[1]:

Criterion 2: A system for measuring and monitoring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and an established baseline;

  • 2.1 Has reference level been finalized by the jurisdictional program (measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)?
  • 2.2 Has this reference level been assessed and approved by an independent third party?
  • 2.3Is a robust monitoring system in place to allow measurements of net emissions reductions consistent with the assessed baseline?
  • 2.4 Is there periodic monitoring of and reporting results against the reference level?
  • 2.5 Are the measured results below the agreed baseline? (Once reporting and verification begins)
  • 2.6 Are results verified or approved by an independent third party every five years at a minimum?
  • 2.7 If verification/ or approval is not more frequent than every five years, is reporting of measured results carried out at least once in the interim period?
  • 2.8 Over time: For each subsequent program period, is the baseline increasingly ambitious, to lead towards zero emissions over time?

Reference materials:

Criterion 3: A commitment to adhere to social and environmental safeguards and monitor these efforts;

  • 3.1 Does the program have in place relevant policies, laws and regulations and/or safeguard plan(s) to address social and environmental risks of the strategy or action plan to reduce deforestation address and respect relevant social and environmental safeguards, including the UNFCCC Cancun safeguards[2]?
  • 3.2 Is the country’s Safeguard Information System in place and operational?
  • 3.3 Is this Safeguard Information System, or another system, being used to monitor and regularly report on how the safeguards are addressed and respected throughout the implementation of the program?
  • 3.4 Is this information accessible to all stakeholders on a regular basis?
  • 3.5 Are the relevant safeguards identified for the program consistent with the national safeguards approach for REDD+, and is the program contributing to the national safeguards information system and the summary of information on safeguards submitted to the UNFCCC?
  • 3.6 Has the country submitted their summary of information on safeguards to the UNFCCC?

Reference materials:

Criterion 4: High-level political commitment to, and support for, the compact’s design and implementation from government partners;

  • 4.1 Does the program demonstrate the support and commitment of high-level officials in country (for example through statements of support by the president, minister or governor, or through incorporation into national development plans or sectoral strategies?
  • 4.2 Does the program participate in a an international initiative that provides support for jurisdictional forest and climate programs (for example FCPF Carbon Fund, VCS Jurisdictional and Nested REDD Initiative, Governors Climate and Forest Fund, REDD Early Movers, major bilateral results-based payment partnership)?
  • 4.3 If no, are there other partners involved in supporting the implementation of the program?

Criterion 5: Stakeholder engagement in the program’s development and implementation;

  • 5.1 Was the strategy or action plan developed in consultation with representatives of all stakeholder groups?
  • 5.2 Is there a plan for stakeholder consultation and engagement during the implementation of the program?
  • 5.3 Is there an effective, transparent and accessible grievance redress mechanism for the strategy or action plan?

Reference materials:

Criterion 6: Location in a country with an ambitious national UNFCCC target (currently called an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC).

  • 6.1 Has the country submitted an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)[3]?
  • 6.2 Does the country’s NDC include forests or land use?

Reference materials:

To support the assessment of the global standards for jurisdictional forest and climate programs, an additional set of elements reflecting best practice for initiatives of this type was developed. In addition to the substantive criteria addressed above, global standards which are recognized under this approach will demonstrate the integrity of their process for assessing jurisdictional programs through the following six characteristics:

  • The standard administrator is an entity that has no conflict of interest with respect to administering the standard.
  • The standard has been developed through a process of public and stakeholder consultation.
  • The standard is publicly available.
  • Jurisdictional programs are assessed for compliance with the requirements of the standard through a transparent process based on third party assessment and all final documents and associated assessments are publicly available.
  • Jurisdictional programs are assessed periodically, at least every 5 years, for continued compliance with the requirements of the standard.
  • The standard administrator maintains a public list of jurisdictional programs that meet the requirements of the standard.

 

Assessment Process

To assist interested companies in assessing the consistency of global standards for jurisdictional forest and climate programs with the criteria and questions established, a group of experts volunteered to carry out an assessment. These experts represented governments and civil society. Each expert assessed the documents provided by the standards against the criteria and questions, and determined in their best judgement whether the standards were consistent with the criteria and questions. To facilitate this determination, a stoplight system was used:

Green: Fully met. The jurisdictional program meets the criteria or provides the specified information.

Yellow: Partially met. The jurisdictional program meets related criteria or provides relevant information, but is not fully consistent with the criterion or question.

Orange: Not met. The jurisdictional program does not meet the criteria nor provide the specified information.

Note: Global standards were evaluated to assess if they required jurisdictional programs to meet the criteria or provide the specified information.

The Expert Assessment Guide providing guidance for each assessment, including scoring for each criteria and subquestion may be found here.

After the initial assessment was completed by individual experts, the group discussed findings and identified a areas of divergence. Requests for necessary clarifications were sent to the relevant governance bodies of each standard, with the additional information provided taken into account. The final results of these assessments may be found here.[4]

The same process will be used to assess individual jurisdictional programs that do not participate in one of the assessed global standards.

Following lessons learned through the application of these criteria and questions to assess the two global standards, further refinements may be made before beginning the assessments of individual jurisdictional programs.

[1] Reference materials are not exhaustive, but serve as an indication of best practices in the area covered by the criterion.

[2] http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2010/cop16/eng/07a01.pdf Appendix 1

[3] Note NDCs will replace INDCs when a country formally joins the Paris Agreement.

[4] Inclusion of a standard on this website represents the best judgement of a group of independent experts that the jurisdictional programs accepted by this standard are likely to meets the criteria outlined here. It does not imply endorsement by any institution or individual, nor any legal obligation. The individual experts do not guarantee the accuracy of the data provided by the jurisdictional programs or standards and accept no responsibility whatsoever for any consequence of their use.