In 2011, the FSC board approved its climate engagement strategy. This built on the recommendations of the FSC Forest Carbon Working Group, which was set up after the general assembly in Cape Town, South Africa. Since then, the FSC Ecosystem Services program has been implementing this strategy.
A key component of the strategy is to identify the reputational and technical risks for FSC certificate holders in providing ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration and storage), in terms of the claims they make and rewards they receive. The strategy also includes measures to protect the integrity of the FSC brand.
One measure has been to link up with the organizations that offer the best carbon-accounting standards. This creates valuable opportunities for FSC certified beneficiaries who want to obtain support for carbon stewardship and claim money for the climate benefits their forests provide.
One such scheme is the Gold Standard certification scheme. Gold Standard recently made a strategic move towards land-based carbon assessment, and FSC and Gold Standard have decided to begin exploratory work together aiming to recognise their respective approaches to social and environmental safeguards and carbon certification. At the COP19 side event, FSC provided an update on how they have put safeguards in place to make sure that Gold Standard is a good organization to work with and to ensure sound carbon accounting. The new due diligence system, which was used to assess Gold Standard as potential partner, was unveiled at the event.
Early results from credibility and technical analysis, which are part of this new system, showed that Gold Standard has solid foundations. “It took the Ecosystem Services program three months to put the assessment framework into place. This allowed us to assess the credibility of Gold Standard and the feasibility of technical alignment”, said Gregory Jean, FSC Ecosystem Services policy manager. “The analysis is not yet complete but we are confident that collaborating with Gold Standard is a serious option [for carbon accounting] and will strongly mitigate the risk of seeing the FSC brand misused”.
The next steps will be to discuss any required areas of adaptation with Gold Standard, based on the Carbon Scheme Assessment, and undertake a dual certification-testing exercise to harmonize audits, as well as launching a survey of FSC members to get feedback on this new strategic orientation.