VCMI Launches VCM Access Strategy Toolkit to Promote Country Participation in High-Integrity Voluntary Carbon Markets

11th May 2023, London – The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has today launched its VCM Access Strategy Toolkit. Developed in partnership with Climate Focus and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Toolkit provides guidance for countries to engage in high-integrity voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) in support of climate and socio-economic prosperity.

The VCM Access Strategy Toolkit will help host countries, where activities that generate carbon credits take place, take the steps needed to develop a clear and stable regulatory environment. When the scope, governance, legal and fiscal infrastructure has high integrity from the start, VCMs can deliver a significant and meaningful contribution to climate action. They can channel critical finance to protect some of the most biodiverse regions in the world, create clean energy jobs and help achieve sustainable development goals. They can also leverage other sources of capital, and thereby play a catalytic role in ramping up climate ambition in support of the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Unlocking the potential of carbon markets requires coordinated support, long-term planning and the buy-in of host countries. This is because the complexity of VCMs and their interactions with other sources of carbon finance often pose a barrier to engagement for governments. Tools are needed now, as the proliferation of project developers, investors, and initiatives can put pressure on host countries to rush into carbon market engagement before fully understanding the implications.

The Toolkit was developed following feedback from policymakers and directly addresses their call for more guidance. It offers clarity to policymakers seeking to create an enabling environment for high-integrity VCMs. This includes guidance around how to integrate VCM finance into country plans to meet NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) commitments, as well as how host countries can work with development partners to implement the rules and modalities necessary for activities to be recognized under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

The toolkit is currently available in English, with French, Portuguese (LATAM) and Spanish translations to be added in the coming weeks.

Mark Kenber, Executive Director, VCMI comments: “As it stands, few counties have clear strategies for engaging effectively with voluntary carbon markets. The launch of the VCM Access Strategy Toolkit continues our work of supporting host countries to access high-integrity VCMs, helping them to make the right decisions for them, and empowering them to reap the myriad of environmental, social and economic benefits that carbon finance offers.”

Charlotte Streck, Co-Founder, Climate Focus comments: “The VCM Access Strategy Toolkit guides policy makers harnessing voluntary carbon markets to support the achievement of their climate and development goals. The increasing interest in carbon markets results in a flurry of requests from project developers and investors to support carbon market activities, which often overwhelm local officials with little relevant experience or expertise. At the same time, host country officials know that carbon markets provide significant opportunities to channel foreign investment and they want their countries to maximize those benefits while avoiding risks. The Toolkit gives policymakers a foundation to engage with carbon markets confidently and effectively.”

Usha Rao-Monari, Associate Administrator, UNDP comments: “Carbon markets hold immense potential for helping the world tackle the climate crisis and accelerate progress across the 2030 Agenda. A robust carbon market relies on climate-credible demand as well as stable and high-integrity supply of carbon credits. Governments are essential partners and can catalyze the generation of real and measurable greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals. UNDP is proud to be partnering with VCMI and Climate Focus on a Toolkit that provides a starting point for policymakers to consider how they engage with voluntary carbon markets as a source of much needed finance to deliver their climate targets.”

The Toolkit was launched at the May 2023 VCMI Country Contact Group meeting, which brings together government representatives from around the world to provide insight into VCMI’s work and facilitate country engagement with high-integrity VCMs.

The VCM Access Strategy Toolkit is accessible online at both in full and as separate decision sheets, which include:

  1. Deciding whether to engage in voluntary carbon markets.
  2. NDC financing and voluntary carbon markets.
  3. The role of carbon markets in achieving NDC goals.
  4. Legal and institutional matters.
  5. Ensuring high-integrity carbon market activities.

About VCMI

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2021 focusing on building high-integrity voluntary carbon markets, and ensuring these have a place in supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

It works with companies along with state and non-state actors to realise the full potential of high-integrity carbon markets.

The organization is committed to a world firmly on track to 1.5 degrees and net zero emissions by mid-century, achieved through a just transition that enhances equality and sustainable development for all.

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