Since Plan Vivo certified the world’s very first blue carbon project back in 2014, interest in blue carbon development has soared. However, the demand for certified blue carbon certificates still far exceeds the available supply. 

In response we are focusing efforts into two exciting initiatives; the development of the ‘Plan Vivo Blue Carbon Hub’  (working title) and the creation of a new blue carbon methodology -  both aimed at addressing the barriers facing blue carbon project development.


The protection and restoration of marine and coastal habitats around the world, including mangroves, seagrass and saltmarsh, is highly important from both a biodiversity and climate perspective. These ecosystems comprise the main ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems due to their ability to capture and store exceptionally high densities of carbon relative to their area. For example, Mangroves can store up to five times more carbon than a comparably sized terrestrial forest.

Data suggests that globally, blue carbon ecosystems may store around 121 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Some of this carbon has accumulated below ground for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and is essentially irrecoverable if released. This means that, if lost, these carbon stocks could not be restored at the speed and scale necessary to reduce GHG emissions over these next few crucial decades.

Over the last 200 years it's estimated that we have lost around a third of all mangroves and seagrass and as much as half of all saltmarshes worldwide. This affects climate-sensitive communities living on the coast, to whom these ecosystems provide a myriad of benefits including coastal protection, fisheries enhancement, and biodiversity value.

Tahiry Honko, Madagascar. Photo credit: Blue Ventures/ Tahiry Honko

Plan Vivo on Blue Carbon

At Plan Vivo, we advocate for a holistic approach to deliver impact for nature, climate, and communities. Projects are designed and implemented in a way that ensures community engagement and ownership throughout the process. The Plan Vivo Standard is internationally recognised as the leading Standard for community land-use projects. We are known for our participatory approach and a focus on ensuring smallholders and communities receive appropriate and equitable benefit sharing.

With more than 25 years’ experience working with projects across the world, we believe that the key to tackling climate change is through empowering communities and smallholders as custodians of the environment. This is especially true in the case of coastal communities, where there is often competition for user rights of scarce resources in areas often with limited potential for sustainable livelihoods.

The Plan Vivo model can be readily applied to blue carbon projects, as there are strong links between communities’ livelihoods and the health of coastal and marine ecosystems and fisheries. In 2014, Plan Vivo certified the world’s first blue carbon project in the VCM, Mikoko Pamoja, in collaboration with the Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services (ACES) and The Mikoko Pamoja Community Organization.

The number of Plan Vivo-certified blue carbon projects now includes Tahiry Honko, coordinated by Blue Ventures and the Velondraike Association, and Vanga Blue Forest, also coordinated by ACES in partnership with the Vanga, Jimbo, and Kiwegu Community Forest Association. This is expected to increase, with 8 more mangrove projects in the pipeline and growing interest in blue carbon project development.

The world's first certified blue carbon project, Mikoko Pamoja, located in Kenya. Photo credit: ACES/ Mikoko Pamoja

Plan Vivo on Blue Carbon Strategy

As a charitable foundation, we strive to make the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) more accessible for community-led projects, while at the same time maintaining high integrity impact for nature, climate and communities. Global interest in blue carbon has surged in recent years, yet the demand for certified blue carbon credits far exceeds the available supply.

In response, we are focusing our efforts into addressing the barriers impeding the development of blue carbon projects. We are doing this through two different routes. Each embodies Plan Vivo’s holistic approach and builds upon our 10+ years of experience working with blue carbon projects and coastal communities.

The first is to establish a collaborative space to enable more blue carbon projects to access the VCM by bridging technical, financial, and capacity gaps. This is being designed as a hub for knowledge sharing - bringing together stakeholders, resources, lessons learnt, innovation and technical and financial support for blue carbon projects.

Given our credibility and experience in this space, we believe that the Plan Vivo Foundation, together with key stakeholders in our wider network, is uniquely positioned to facilitate cooperation by playing a coordination role. This blue carbon hub (working title) is currently under development and will be officially launched later this year (Q4 2023).  

The second route is the creation of a new blue carbon methodology – an accessible methodology developed specifically with marine and coastal projects in mind and informed by the knowledge and learning from pioneering blue carbon projects. Due to global interest and demand, the plan is to prioritise the development of the mangrove components, followed by seagrass, with the scope to add saltmarsh components at a later stage.

This methodology is being developed by Leah Glass (Blue Ventures) with input from a network of blue carbon experts. It will be available for any projects wishing to develop blue carbon projects. Further information is to follow. 

Partnerships and Collaboration

To implement this strategy Plan Vivo is partnering with impactful organisations in the blue carbon space. This will enable us to build on the existing expertise in our network, whilst bringing together key actors and facilitating the exchange of knowledge.

If you or your organisation are interested in collaborating with us on these exciting developments, please reach out to our Blue Carbon Coordinator: [email protected]



Choosing to work with Plan Vivo as our standard was one of the best choices I made when establishing Mikoko Pamoja. Plan Vivo combines a clear commitment to high ethical standards and community benefit with the innovation and flexibility that allows new approaches to work. They took the time to explain the complexities of the voluntary carbon market to a new-comer, and understand the promise and the limitations of nature-based solutions to the climate emergency. There is no better home for projects that really want to make a difference.” 

 - Prof. Mark Huxham (ACES / Edinburgh Napier University)


“There are numerous technical and financial hurdles to developing a blue carbon project and bringing blue carbon credits to the voluntary carbon market. Fair Carbon is committed to removing these hurdles for projects by providing open-access research, guidance, and user-friendly tools. Fair Carbon is thrilled to further this mission by partnering with Plan Vivo to establish a blue carbon information hub. This work is critical to streamline access to resources, increase market transparency, and scale the development of high-quality blue carbon projects. The Fair Carbon team is eager to collaborate to drive the development of projects that meet Plan Vivo’s high social and ecological requirements.”

  - Elizabeth Francis (Director of Blue Carbon Project Development at Fair Carbon)


"Plan Vivo puts local communities at the heart of what they do and why they do it. 'Communities first' is our main value - we centre ourselves around people and believe coastal communities are best placed to manage, conserve and restore their own ecosystems. Plan Vivo has been a fantastic partner for our blue carbon work in southwest Madagascar and we are extremely excited about what the new blue carbon methodology has in store."

Lalao Aigrette (National Technical Advisor for Mangroves at Blue Ventures)


Banner photo/ credit: Adobe Stock.