How Do You Ensure Projects Create Additionality Or Something New In The World?
This is built into the project design documents under the Plan Vivo standard. We also ensure focus on additionality by aiming to fund projects in advance of any project interventions. This enables the project teams on the ground to plan in advance for seed collection, tree nurseries, community recruitment and everything which is needed to create a long term viable project. C-Level works with projects that represent the highest achievement in additionality.
Where Are Your Projects Located?
We have a global spread of 21 projects and growing. Examples include Tanzania, Kenya, Nicaragua, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Fiji and Mexico. One of our strongest projects is a reforestation project in Nicaragua called CommuniTree.
How Do You Quantify The Carbon Benefits Of The Projects And The Trees Planted?
Plan Vivo sets the base for ensuring best practice. A good example is CommuniTree. There are three strands to this. The project works out how much carbon (on average) will be stored over the course of 50 years from the trees planted on farmers’ land. The carbon models CommuniTree uses have been created by a team of of PHDs and reviewed by Plan Vivo’s technical advisory committee (Plan Vivo TAC). The TAC is made up of forestry experts and scientists. All of the technical specifications and carbon projections are outlined in public documentation which can be accessed here https://takingroot.org/our-approach/. Second, CommuniTree’s team of local experts provide ongoing monitoring and forestry assessments as the trees grow. These are at the level of individual farmers. Following best practice forest measurement techniques, they calculate the carbon stored on the farms over time. Every 5 years the project is assessed by an independent third party auditor to verify the results being reported. In the last assessment, conducted by the Rainforest Alliance, the CommuniTree program was awarded “Best Monitoring and Evaluation” for its leading approach. The monitoring results from each year are made public in annual reports https://takingroot.org/about-us/annual-reports/
Finally, CommuniTree’s cutting edge proprietary software, FARM-TRACE, combines mobile, satellite and machine learning data to provide continuous reporting against each farm, including carbon stored. Their interactive tool makes it possible to track the impacts being made in near real time across every farm where trees are being grown https://www.clevel.co.uk/carbon-offset-projects/
How Do You Demonstrate Permanence Of The Carbon Benefits?
CommuniTree’s approach starts from the belief that successful long-term carbon storage lies in people and the choices they make. Their approach, following Plan Vivo’s community reforestation model, creates impacts for the long run because it is designed such that growing trees is more valuable than less sustainable alternatives. The trees planted become integral to the improved well- being and livelihoods of farmers and their families. The program demonstrates proof of permanence of the trees which are planted by providing ongoing reporting via FARM-TRACE.This shows the carbon stored and forest cover change over time. But more important than that is the qualitative information they receive from farmers who feedback the value of the trees will provide over time – not only for them but their children and their children to come.
In addition, the Plan Vivo model for natural climate solutions has a 25-year track record of success, longer than any other carbon standard. On a project-level, the program spreads organizations’ investments over thousands of farms and they plant a surplus each year so they can guarantee that even if some individual farms fail, the overall program succeeds. Furthermore, all Plan Vivo carbon offsets are backed up through a risk buffer, like an insurance policy, that spreads risk across all projects across the world.
What is The Plan Vivo Standard & How Does it Compare With Other Carbon Standards?
C-Level works with Plan Vivo, a network, a foundation (scottish registered charity) and the world’s original carbon standard.
PLAN VIVO AWARD WINNING, HIGH INTEGRITY NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
First, as with all relationships in life and business, we ask the question, why are these people doing what they are doing and are they any good at it? Plan Vivo exists to enable rural communities whose livelihoods come from land and ecosystems to thrive. The people and land, people and forests go hand in hand. They are in separable in the standard and this makes it unique. And this is all the standard does. It does not a mix of natural climate solutions on the one hand and technology interventions on the other. The total focus on people and nature makes Plan Vivo the worlds most holistic standard. The whole standard is built to empower and support local communities and the ecological integrity of the places they live. Some 20,000 people across hundred of communities around the world are currently working to deliver projects designed around Plan Vivo’s or Living Plans. Projects under this standard regularly win the UN Equator Award each year – a global award that highlights projects where local people are working with nature to achieve sustainable development. Hadza Project in Tanzania is a good example winning the Equator Award in 2019. Mikoko Pamoja won the award in 2018.
PLAN VIVO STANDARD – 25 YEARS AHEAD ON THE GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDG)
Plan Vivo is also the original carbon standard with some 25 years experience that predates all other standards. From the beginning it has been about providing verified carbon offsets while also ensuring and guiding sustainable development goals. So with the advent of the Global Goals, its really seen as both way ahead of its time, and timely!
PLAN VIVO DESIGNED TO BE ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE FOR COMMUNITY BASED PROJECTS
Plan Vivo offers the most accessible of standards. By intention. Designed to provide rural communities with access to the carbon market by keeping up front development / consultancy costs down and creating tools like SHAMBA (watch the C-Level 101vision here)to empower and aid the development of community based forest projects.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ADDITIONALITY AND LONG TERM SUPPORT
Payments are made over long periods to communities for the ecosystem services they create or protect.This is key ensuring that the forest projects under Plan Vivo are uniquely placed to provide long term security to the forests. Only by creating on-going value to small hold farmers and communities close to forests can their integrity be maintained. Otherwise pressures to cut and clear land of forest are often over riding.
PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST
Other standards typically work with larger projects, and often involve heavily funded project development companies who create higher volumes of carbon offsets and cashflows. By nature they tend to not be as focussed as Plan Vivo on people and communities.
People and communities are by nature always at the heart of projects validated and verified under Plan Vivo.
Globally, Plan Vivo is also a network of community leaders and developers, and regular gatherings happen to steer the standard and share best practice.These are attended by C-Level and are also open to anyone to attend.
You might also want to take a spin through the micro-documentary C-Level made on Plan Vivo
How Do You Guard Against Emissions Leakage?
The land which enters into the CommuniTree project each year is either not being utilized, or minimally utilized, for any economic activity (i.e. for occasional fuelwood collection), which means leakage is relatively easy to minimize as long as appropriate land-use planning is employed. Every farmer that works with the program is required to demonstrate, through the creation of a Plan Vivo, that they have sufficient additional land to provide for their agricultural and pasture needs and adequate space for reforestation activities. This minimizes any risk of leakage.
How Do You Ensure The Carbon Benefits In The Form Of Plan Vivo Certificates Are Only Claimed Once?
The ‘credits’ we provide are Plan Vivo Certificates and these are issued into the global IHS Markit registry. Retirement on the registry to named clients ensures the single claim.
How Do You Engage Local Communities In Your Projects?
This is the central purpose of Plan Vivo and is key to C-Level as a business. The unique feature of Plan Vivo is that the whole standard and network functions to serve the communities that are at the heart of the projects. Unlike many other projects, these happen on land owned or controlled by local communities. The communities deliver the projects and are main beneficiaries. This is literally baked into the Plan Vivo Standard.
What Kind Of Reporting Is Provided To Clients?
Reporting is tailored to client requirements. C-Level reports on projects annually through our client Impact Reports. We send out updates on projects quarterly. We co-create micro documentaries with the projects and communities. Clients are invited to co-create micro-documentaries with C-Level to better tell the story of these inspirational projects.
Are you a business or a charity and what about your projects?
Measuring success for any organisations or business model boils down to three measures:
0.1 profit generated for owners
0.2 amount of positive change created in the world
0.3 ability to create a balance of profit and positive change
C Level and the organisations within our business ecosystem are in O.2 and 0.3 categories.
C Level is a B Corp Certified business, meaning we see business as having the potential to be a force for good. B Corp businesses meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
C Level’s Carbon Balanced Programme includes projects run by all kinds of organisations, relevant to the country and culture context where the project is based. For example, The Khasi Hills Project in Meghalaya is run by a community federation or ‘synjuk’ made up of 12 Indigenous Kingdoms.
Some of the project’s in our programme, that are the most dynamic and scalable, have social enterprise and for profit business models.
Hadza Hunter Gatherers in Tanzania is a good example. Over the years this project, run by our partner Carbon Tanzania Limited, has been able to innovate, expand, and create excellent communications using its organisational structure as a for profit social enterprise.
CommuniTree, is run as a highly innovative social enterprise. Our partner Taking Root are a not for profit that runs itself like a business (they describe themselves as being in the business of maximising impact rather than shareholder value). They have a successful business model with a track record running over 10 years during which time they have gone from a vision to being the biggest reforestation project in the country they operate in. They are completely non reliant on grant or donor funding. Unlike traditional NGO’s they have an innovation and technology mindset represented by their cutting edge technology solution FARM-TRACE. This uses mobile, satellite and machine learning data to continuously track forest and carbon impacts generated from the project over time. They are also running research and development in the field around the use of biochar to improve soil fertility and water retention.
Do You Offer The Chance For Clients to Engage Employees In Carbon Projects, For Example With Video Calls Or Site Visits?
Clients are welcome to visit the projects. This happens regularly and is a successful way for people to meet the communities and teams and bring back first hand accounts of the impact the company is having. Photos are updated every quarter or whenever new visual assets become available from the field. Zoom and skype calls are available with C-Level and the project teams. C-Level also provides clever tech to engage people. For example, a bespoke Balance My Flight Carbon Calculator based on an API can enable all staff and teams to engage and report on flight impact and balancing. Clients are welcome to visit the projects. This happens regularly and is a successful way for people to meet the communities and teams and bring back first hand accounts of the impact the company is having. Photos are updated every quarter or whenever new visual assets become available from the field. Zoom and Skype calls are available to clients with C-Level and the project teams.
C-Level’s new Wild Aligned programme will include specific opportunities for teams to visit projects, participate in reforestation work, and experience Wild Aligned Retreats to engage more fully.
Do You Provide Any Further Services Other Than The Carbon Balanced Programme That May Help Us?
C-Level offers Carbon Balanced as core service. We also have a new next step programme that is aimed at businesses, already balanced through our verified projects, looking for greater action and engagement in reforestation and rewilding, called Wild Aligned. C- Level provides sophisticated story telling including short film micro-documentary making to help clients and project partners communicate. Finally, C-Level offers the new Balance API, a customised tool for clients to create and automate greater climate literacy and action.