13 April 2023

Transparency is key for SDG claims to be effective in the VCM

Torrey Sanseverino

Research Associate

Dr Nick Atkinson

Chief Science Officer

7 min

Co-benefit impacts of VCM (voluntary carbon market) projects are often illustrated as SDG (sustainable development goals) claims. The co-benefit impacts of projects are vital to sustainable development progress and the communication of these impacts to the market can support their financing. However, applying the UN SDG framework to the VCM comes with complications that can lead to a range in the depth and influence of the impacts behind SDG claims. 

Project developers tend to collect information beyond what is required by their chosen accreditor, but the additional information is often inaccessible to buyers. Thus, the transparency of the impacts behind these claims needs to improve in order to support the effective use of UN SDGs in this space. Analytics on SDG claims may be able to support this transition.

Key Takeaways:

1. SDG claims range in integrity due to the challenges presented by applying the UN SDG framework to the VCM. Nevertheless, the SDG logo is uniformly used to represent an SDG impact.

2. The evidence behind SDG claims is often collected by project developers. However, it is not consistently accessible to buyers through the current SDG claims process systems.

3. SDG claim analytics may improve transparency in the VCM regarding the varying sustainable development impacts behind the claims.

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