Understanding Carbon Offsets
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Gold Standard

The Gold Standard (GS) is a voluntary carbon offset program focused on progressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring project’s benefit their neighboring communities. The GS can be applied to voluntary offset projects and to Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. It was developed under the leadership of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)HELIO International and SouthSouthNorth, with a focus on offset projects that provide lasting social, economic and environmental benefits.

The GS CDM was launched in 2003 after a two-year period of consultation with stakeholders, governments, non-governmental organizations and private sector specialists from over 40 countries. The GS for voluntary offset projects (GS VER) was launched in 2006. The GS project registry – containing all projects implemented through the standard was launched in 2018.

For projects to be accepted by GS they must conduct additional assessment of the project’s communal impact and ensure neighboring populations are benefiting.

Standard Authority and Administrative Bodies

  • The Gold Standard Secretariat is governed by the Technical Governance Committee, and responsible for the development of all GS standards.
  • The Gold Standard Foundation is a non-profit organization. The operational activities of the GS are managed by the Gold Standard secretariat, and include capacity building, marketing, communications, certification, registration and issuance, as well as maintenance of the GS rules and procedures.
  • The Foundation Board oversees the strategic and organizational development of the GS. At least 50% of its members must be recruited from the Gold Standard NGO supporter community, and includes the Chair of the Gold Standard Technical Advisory Committee (GS-TAC, see below). In case of significant changes to the GS rules and procedures, the Board decides whether a Gold Standard NGO supporter majority is necessary to implement the change.
  • The Technical Governance Committee (GS-TGC) oversees the Secretariat evaluates and approves projects and new methodologies for VER projects, and is in charge of updating the GS rules and procedures. It is the equivalent of the CDM Executive Board (EB)/Methodology Panel for VER projects. GS-TGC members are from the NGO community, multilateral organizations, aid agencies and the private sector and all work for the GS on a pro-bono basis.
  • The Gold Standard NGO Supporters officially endorse the practices of the GS method and approve major rule changes (e.g. eligibility of project types). Gold Standard NGO Supporters are consulted as part of the GS stakeholder consultations and are invited to take part in the project review process. They may also request an in-depth audit of GS projects at both the registration and the issuance stage.
  • The Gold Standard Auditors are UNFCCC accredited Designated Operational Entities (DOEs) who carry out validation and verification of GS projects. DOEs are not allowed to carry out the validation and the verification of the same project, except for micro- and small-scale projects.

Regional Scope

The GS is an international voluntary carbon offset standard. The large majority of projects are in developing, low, and middle income countries.

Recognition of Other Standards/ Linkage with Other Trading Systems

The GS can be applied to CDM projects and many other project types, but GS does not recognize any other voluntary standards for generating GS-carbon credits.