The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards

Currently active program focusing on co-benefits in biosequestration projects, including REDD (as of 1/2011).

Market Size and Scope
Offset Project Eligibility
Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies
Project Approval Process


Type of Standard and Context

The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCB Standards) is a project design standard that offers rules and guidance for project design and development. It is intended to be applied early on during a project’s design phase to ensure robust project design and local community and biodiversity benefits. It does not verify quantified carbon offsets nor does it provide a registry. The CCB Standards focuses exclusively on land-based bio-sequestration and mitigation projects and requires social and environmental benefits from such projects.

The CCB Standards was developed by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) with feedback and suggestions from independent experts. CCBA is a partnership of non-governmental organizations, corporations and research institutes. The first edition was released in May 2005 and the Second Edition in December 2008.

Standard Authority and Administrative Bodies

CCB Alliance is formed by representatives from each member organization. The member organisations are: CARE, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance, and theWildlife Conservation Society. The Alliance makes decisions about changes to the standards and the rules for their use. It also produces additional guidelines to aid interpretation and application of the standards as needed.

Working groups are comprised of alliance members and external advisors, and are appointed when needed to address specific issues. Working group proposals for changes must be approved by the Alliance.

Advising institutions: Three international institutions helped revise the Standards based on public comments and field-testing: Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensanansa (CATIE), The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Third-party auditors:CCB validations and verifications must be performed by an environmental auditing company with one of the following qualifications:

  • Accreditation as a “Designated Operational Entity” for the sectoral scope “Afforestation and Reforestation” with the CDM Executive Board;
  • Accreditation as a Certification Body for sustainable forest management audits under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in the geographical area of the project to be evaluated; or
  • Accreditation under ISO 14065:2007 with an accreditation scope specifically for the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program covering Agriculture, Forestry or Other Land Use.

For a list of CCB approved auditors go here.

Regional Scope

Projects using CCB Standards are worldwide.

Recognition of Other Standards/ Linkage with Other Trading Systems

Since the CCB Standards is focused on social and environmental impact and does not include a mechanism for generating emissions reductions certificates, it is recommended that it is used in conjunction with a carbon accounting standard such as the VCS or the CDM. .

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Market Size and Scope

Tradable Unit and Pricing Information

The CCBS is not a carbon accounting standard and does not issue or register carbon credits (see ‘recognition of other standards’).

The 2010 State of the Voluntary Carbon Market reports average prices of USD 5.8.

Some CCB Standards projects sell ex-ante credits. Ex-ante offsets are offsets that will occur in the future, ex-post offsets are emissions reductions that have already occurred and usually have been verified by an auditor.


VER buyers: companies and institutions

Current Project Portfolio

As of January 2011, the CCB Standards website listed 32 projects with approved validation and 19 in the validation process. 10 of the projects are located in Annex 1 countries such as the US, Canada and Australia. All other projects are in developing (in non-Annex 1 countries).

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Offset Project Eligibility

Project Types

The CCB Standards can be applied to any land-based carbon projects including both projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through avoided deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and projects that remove carbon dioxide by sequestering carbon (eg., reforestation, afforestation, revegetation, forest restoration, agroforestry and sustainable agriculture). Projects must deliver net positive benefits to local communities and biodiversity.

Project Locations

Projects can be located in industrialized and developing countries. The revised version of the Standards – CCB Standards (2008) – includes rules to prevent potential double-counting of Annex 1-based projects. (further clarification can be found here)

Project Size

There are no restrictions on project size.

Start Date 

There are no restrictions on project start date but projects must have credible documentation for baselines from the start of the accounting period for carbon, community and biodiversity benefits.

Crediting Period

The CCB Standards has no rules on crediting periods because it is solely a project design standard.

Co-benefit Objectives and Requirements

CCB Standards projects must generate net positive impacts on biodiversity. The standard employs a screen to rule out negative impacts and requires that each project justifies net positive biodiversity benefits taking into account any offsite or indirect impacts.   The second edition of the CCB Standards has expanded its requirements for co-benefits. The screen stipulates that projects cannot have negative effects on High Conservation Values, including species included in the IUCN Red List of threatened species or species on nationally recognized lists and critical ecosystem services. Invasive species or genetically modified organisms cannot be used in a project. Impacts on biodiversity (positive and negative) must be monitored and the results made publicly available.

CCB Standards projects must generate net positive impacts on the social and economic wellbeing of communities and must mitigate potential negative effects caused by the project on-site and offsite. CCB Standards requires a 30-day public comment period. Stakeholder involvement is required and must be documented during all phases of project development. Stakeholders must have an opportunity before the project design is finalized to raise concerns about potential negative impacts, express desired outcomes and provide input on the project design. The project design must include a process for hearing, responding to and resolving community grievances within a reasonable time period. The net social and economic effect of the project must be positive, the impacts (positive and negative) must be monitored and the results made publicly available.

The biodiversity criteria require an evaluation of whether the project zone includes any of the following High Conservation Values and a description of the qualifying attributes:

  • Globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values;
  • Globally, regionally or nationally significant large landscape-level areas where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance;
  • Threatened or rare ecosystems;
  • Areas that provide critical ecosystem services (e.g., hydrological services, erosion control, fire control);
  • Areas that are fundamental for meeting the basic needs of local communities (e.g., for essential food, fuel, fodder, medicines or building materials without readily available alternatives); and
  • Areas that are critical for the traditional cultural identity of communities (e.g., areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in collaboration with the communities).

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Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies

Additionality Requirements

The additionality tests for CCB Standards are project-based and specified by individual methodologies.
The CCB Standards requires:

Step 1: Regulatory Surplus: Project developers must prove that existing laws or regulations would not have required that project activities be undertaken anyway. The standard also allows for project developers to make claims when a law is in existence but is not enforced.

Step 2: Barriers: Financial, Lack of Capacity, Institutional or Market Barriers or Common Practice: Several additionality tests are required. The project proponents must provide analyses (poverty assessments, farming knowledge assessments, remote sensing analysis, etc) showing that without the project, improved land-use practices would be unlikely to materialize.

Project Methodologies

CCB Standards relies on methods and tools developed by other organizations and standards for their baseline calculations. Projects must use 'IPCC's 2006 Guidelines for National GHG Inventories for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (IPCC 2006 GL for AFOLU) or a more robust and detailed methodology.

The baseline calculations must be based on clearly defined and defendable assumptions about how project activities will alter carbon stocks and non-CO2 GHG emissions over the duration of the project or the project accounting period.

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Project Approval Process

Validation and Registration

New Rules for the use of the CCB Standards were published in 2010. They describe the CCBA’s requirements for the evaluation of projects against the CCB Standards and is intended to be used by project proponents and the independent auditors that evaluate the conformance of projects to the CCB Standards: CCB Standards Rules Version June 21, 2010

Once a project has been designed, a third-party auditor validates the project. After a review of relevant project documents, a site visit, and taking account of the comments received during a 30-day public comment period, the auditor approves or rejects the project.The CCB Alliance responds to questions of clarification or interpretation from the auditors but does not review project documentation. The auditor issues an independent statement of conformance to CCB Standards which is posted on the CCBA website with the final audit report. 

There are 14 required criteria and 3 optional criteria.  Gold Level status is earned by achieving any one of the optional criteria that require demonstration of climate change adaptation benefits, exceptional community benefits for the global poor or exceptional biodiversity benefits conserving sites of high biodiversity conservation priority.


Decreased carbon stocks or increased emissions of non- CO2 GHGs outside the project boundary resulting from project activities need to be quantified and mitigated.

The project proponents must:

  1. Determine the types of leakage that are expected and estimate potential offsite increases in GHGs (increases in emissions or decreases in sequestration) due to project activities.  Where relevant, define and justify where leakage is most likely to take place.
  2. Document how any leakage will be mitigated and estimate the extent to which such impacts will be reduced by these mitigation activities. 
  3. Subtract any likely project-related unmitigated negative offsite climate impacts from the climate benefits being claimed by the project and demonstrate that this has been included in the evaluation of net climate impact of the project.
  4. Non-CO2 gases must be included if they are likely to account for more than a 5% increase or decrease (in terms of CO2-equivalent) of  the net change calculations (above) of the project’s overall off-site GHG emissions reductions or removals over each monitoring period. 

 (Climate, Community and Biodiversity Project Design Standards, Second Edition, p. 23)


Permanence is addressed by requiring that projects identify potential risks up front and design in measures to mitigate potential reversals of carbon, community and biodiversity gains, including establishing buffer zones. Yet because the CCB Standards is a project design standard, it does not have specific permanence requirements such as the issuance of temporary offsets.

Monitoring, Verification and Certification

To keep its CCB Standards validation, each project must be verified every 5 years. Verification includes a project document review by the auditor and a site visit to check on project implementation and monitoring results in addition to any changes in project design. The validation and the verification can be done by the same auditor. All current CCB Standards projects are less than 5 years old and have therefore not yet been verified. The CCB Standards verification does not include a quantitative certification of the carbon benefits but is a qualitative evaluation that confirms carbon benefits as well as the environmental and social benefits of the project.

Registries and Fees

Because CCB Standards is a project design standard it does not have a registry accredited for its offsets.
Cost for validation of a project ranges from €5,000 to €25,000. If the validation is being done in conjunction with CDM or VCS, the cost of CCB Standards validation is lower than for stand alone validations, because many of the requirements for CCB Standards will already have been fulfilled through the CDM or VCS requirements (e.g. baseline calculations).

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