4th May 2022


The scale and challenge of the climate emergency we are facing is now clear and widely accepted. Without significant changes to how we live our lives we are on course to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within the next two decades, the impacts of which could be catastrophic for both human wellbeing and the conservation of the Earth’s biodiversity. This impact is already being felt by millions of people across the world, but especially climate vulnerable communities living in poverty, often with limited resources. Data from the ‘Living Planet Report’ (WWF) highlights an average loss of biodiversity (in terms of wildlife populations) of almost 70% between 1970 and 2016, and according to BGCI’s ‘State of the World’s Trees’, 30% of tree species are currently threatened with extinction. These trends highlight something important that many of us probably already knew, people, planet and nature are all interconnected, interdependent and symbiotic. If the climate is in bad shape, then those living in it and dependent on it (people and nature) are too.


People, planet and nature are all interconnected, interdependent and symbiotic. If the climate is in bad shape, then those living in it and dependent on it are too. 

Photo credit: Yaeda -Eyasi Project, Tanzania


Plan Vivo on Biodiversity

At Plan Vivo we advocate a holistic approach to deliver impact for nature, climate and communities. We believe that nature-based solutions can collectively deliver real and additional climate impact, whilst simultaneously restoring and protecting important habitats for biodiversity. Additionally, this approach can enable sustainable socio-economic development and crucially build collective resilience. However, this can only be achieved by reflecting on what we are doing, challenging the ‘norms’ and collaborating broadly to develop and offer pragmatic solutions.

The Plan Vivo Foundation (PVF) administers an internationally recognised standard in the voluntary carbon market (VCM), existing to support smallholders and communities at the forefront of the climate crisis. We are known for our robust, participatory and holistic approach to project certification, and a focus on ensuring small holders and communities receive appropriate benefit sharing from fairly-traded carbon finance. Based on over 25 years’ experience of 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. PVF has achieved a significant impact over the last 25 years for nature, climate and communities. PVF now supports a global network of 27 certified projects in 20 countries and has reached 90,000 people and channelled over 18 million USD directly to communities. In terms of climate impact, PVF projects have now delivered more than 5 million tonnes CO2 of planned emission reductions.

Whilst PVF primarily operates within the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), where social and biodiversity impact are framed as ‘co-benefits’ alongside climate impact, it has also recognised that there is a growing demand for a mechanism that allows responsible private investment to be channelled into projects that aim to restore or conserve biodiversity. In response, PVF is focusing its efforts on enabling this ‘finance for biodiversity’ through two possible routes – each embedding Plan Vivo’s holistic approach. The first is built on the existing Plan Vivo carbon standard and is focused on developing an option for projects to have enhanced biodiversity impact (Plan Vivo Biodiversity+). With this comes the requirement for more advanced / intensive biodiversity monitoring, the costs of which would be covered by a combination of Plan Vivo and partners providing projects with tools and approaches to use and with the Biodiversity+ credits being able to attract high prices in the VCM. Along these lines, PVF have had positive initial discussions with potential partners about developing such an option and funding options are being explored in parallel for this. Towards this, as part of a consortium led by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), we have been successful in securing funding from the Darwin Extra initiative, to explore this idea, specifically in the context of tree-planting, reforestation and forest restoration. The second path we are exploring is the development of a standalone biodiversity standard that issues a biodiversity credit/unit as an alternative to carbon.   


Plan Vivo certified projects support a wealth of biodiversity, including threatened and endangered species. Hieu Commune, Vietnam's first REDD project, support the likes of the critically endangered grey-shanked douc langur, pictured here. 

Photo credit: Hieu Commune, Vietnam


The Plan Vivo Biodiversity Standard

PVF is currently working on the scoping, piloting and creation of a standalone biodiversity standard (PV Nature). In addition to allowing for the crediting of biodiversity conservation, this new standard would continue to be in line with core Plan Vivo values (holistic impact, participatory approach, transparent and equitable benefit sharing for communities) and deliver against core Plan Vivo objectives to provide high integrity biodiversity credits that deliver robust and credible benefits for nature but also deliver both social and climate benefits. The focus of this will be on generating credits that are real, additional, verifiable, fairly-traded and are positively incentivising land owners and communities to conserve and restore important habitats across the world, that are critical for biodiversity and people to thrive.

Since the second half of 2021 we have been partnering with the Wallacea Trust, who are leading a peer reviewed methodology development process centred around biodiversity uplift. Based on these discussions, there appears to be a lot of demand for the trading of units that represent an increase (uplift) of biodiversity or conservation of biodiversity, i.e. biodiversity credits.

The approach we have decided to take, given the complexity and variety of potential biodiversity projects across the world, is to develop the standard in an adaptive and pragmatic manner. This is informed through the formation of a Working Group of key Stakeholders and the development of a number of pilot projects, working in different ecosystems and in different ecoregions, the learning from which will help to better understand the methodology application and the standard requirements. Our plan is to have the standard documentation complete in the second half of 2022 and then complete a full open and transparent public consultation with the aim of being able to launch the standard (i.e. ready to accept full projects) before the end of the year.


For more information please email us at [email protected]