Risks of Non-Delivery, Reversals and Buffers

Changing land use practices, natural disasters and other threats pose the risk of reversing the climate benefits achieved by Plan Vivo projects.

Projects must therefore consider these risks when developing interventions and put mitigating measures in place where possible. These are unlikely to sufficiently remove all risks though, so appropriate risk buffers should also be developed, to insure against the potential of non-delivery and reversal of climate benefits.

Plan Vivo projects must issue a proportion of climate benefits in a risk buffer, which will remain unsold, to be used to account for future reversals of emission reductions and removals. These buffer credits are held in the Plan Vivo pooled buffer account, providing insurance for all purchasers of Plan Vivo credits, in the case of major reversal events.

The risk buffer should be determined by consideration of specific risk factors and mitigation actions. This ensures that the risk buffer is proportional to the level of risk the project is exposed to.

Determining A Risk Buffer

The Plan Vivo Standard does not require a specific approach to determining a risk buffer. It is recommended however that all projects provide a description of the risk of reversals associated with specific risk factors across five categories – Social, Economic, Environmental, Technical and Administration.



  • Land tenure and/or rights to climate benefits are disputed
  • Political or social instability
  • Community support for the project is not maintained
  • Insufficient finance to support project activities
  • Alternative land uses become more attractive to the local community
  • External parties carry out activities that reverse climate benefits
  • Fire
  • Pest and disease attacks
  • Extreme weather or geological events
  • Project activities fail to deliver expected climate benefits
  • Project activities fail to deliver expected livelihood benefits
  • Technical capacity to implement project activities is not maintained
  • Capacity of the project coordinator to support the project is not maintained

Projects are encouraged to identify and describe risk factors specific to their project area and project intervention.

Actions the project will take to mitigate the risks can then be described and a risk level assigned for each category, between the value of 1 (very low) and 10 (very high). A non-permanence risk buffer percentage can then be chosen, by adding the risk level scores for each of the five risk categories to create a risk buffer value between 10% and 50%.

For projects that issue Plan Vivo certificates in advance of verification, an additional buffer is required against the risk of non-delivery of climate benefits for which certificates have already been issued. The same approach can be followed as for creating a non-permanence risk buffer, adding the additional risk of non-delivery to that for non-permanence

The minimum risk buffer for Plan Vivo projects is 10%, and in most cases the risk buffer will be 20% or higher. The appropriateness of the suggested risk buffer will be assessed by the Technical Advisory Committee and external reviewers during the PDD review.

Boundary Planting

Download the full Plan Vivo Guidance and Resources PDF here.