An article published on the 20th of April by the Dutch based Follow the Money has placed a focus upon the ACORN Programme’s Côte de Ivoire project, operated in partnership with in-country coordinator FarmStrong 

Plan Vivo was contacted on the 12th of April by the two journalists working on this article. We take all concerns about the quality of our work very seriously and responded promptly and openly, wishing to ensure that both ACORN and Plan Vivo’s role, and the operations of the FarmStrong Côte de Ivoire project, were clearly outlined and fully understood.   

Plan Vivo is the certifying partner for the ACORN programme. Our aim in being involved in the partnership, in line with the charitable objective of our Foundation, is to enable more smallholder farmers to access the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) and to ensure that carbon finance (through the sale of high-quality carbon credits to responsible buyers) is ethically and fairly distributed back to those smallholders on the ground.  

Our responsibility as the certifier of the ACORN programme is to ensure that all ACORN’s projects are operating in line with the approved Acorn Framework and Methodology 

While ACORN is strongly aligned with the Plan Vivo model and standard, given the innovative nature of the programme, there are specific differences to how ACORN operates compared with the Plan Vivo Carbon Standard (PV Climate) and with PV Climate certified projects. Specifically: 

  • ACORN is only focused on agroforestry projects. 

  • Acorn credits (CRUs) are generated at farmer plot level using remote sensing technology.  

  • The credits generated are not Plan Vivo Certificates (PVCs) but carbon removal units (CRUs), issued on ACORNs own registry and sold to buyers via that registry. 

  • ACORN are responsible for working directly with the in-country partners / coordinators, not the Plan Vivo Foundation. Our role is rather to check at programme level, that ACORN projects are following the Framework and Methodology as approved (this includes safeguards, FPIC, stakeholder engagement etc). We also confirm that ACORN projects are following the Validation and Verification (V&V) process (using external auditors). 

Plan Vivo believes that open and constructive conversations are important and can help to improve and strengthen the sector. We are always open to working together with our partners to improve the accuracy and efficacy of our processes, in line with best practice. Like any emerging market, the voluntary carbon market (VCM) has received - and continues to receive – criticism, some justified and some not. Many positive changes and improvements have been made over the past few years.

As a Foundation, we have always placed quality, integrity, a participatory approach and equitable benefit sharing as our top priorities. A new ‘VCM 2.0’ is emerging where high integrity for all actors is expected and rewarded and Plan Vivo are playing a key part in helping to drive this forward, through our active engagement in initiatives like ICVCM and NCSA. 

Below you can find our detailed responses to the points raised in the Follow the Money article:


Should you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us: 

Diana Wrangham, Communications Coordinator: [email protected] 

Keith Bohannon, CEO: [email protected]