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Applying the equality SDGs to the VCM

  • Akina Wong
    SDG Research Analyst
  • Torrey Sanseverino
    Research Manager, Sustainable Development Goals
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 4 (‘Quality Education’), 5 (‘Gender Equality’), and 10 (‘Reduced Inequalities’) address the equality aspect of sustainability. Voluntary carbon market (VCM) projects can make impacts on equality and tend to illustrate them as SDG 4, 5, &/or 10 claims. However, applying the UN SDG framework to represent project-scale impacts on equality remains challenging. Only a few relevant targets (sub-goals) and indicators (progress metrics) clearly measure the true impact of an equality SDG claim.

Here are some key takeaways

  • Carbon projects have the potential to contribute towards the equality-focused SDGs (SDG 4, 5, & 10); however, they are not commonly claimed in the VCM. Of all credits issued between 2015 and 2023, less than 20% claim SDG 4, 5, &/or 10. 

  • Few of the SDGs 4, 5, & 10 indicators are fairly applicable in the VCM. Only 13% of indicators are scalable from the country to the project level and are strong measures of their respective goals. 

  • Credits with SDGs 4, 5, & 10 claims don’t tend to lead to price premiums compared to credits without claims. This may be due to the lack of applicable SDGs 4, 5, & 10 indicators to the VCM. 

  • Improvements in data reporting for SDGs 4, 5, & 10 claims could increase their robustness.


  • SDGs 4, 5 & 10 claims are not popular in the VCM 

  • Some indicators of SDGs 4, 5 & 10 are applicable to the VCM

  • SDGs 4, 5, & 10 claims have minimal to no impact on credit price 

  • Conclusion 

  • Appendix A

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