The SDGs and Paris Agreement: Why One Cannot Succeed Without the Other 
UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz
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Gold Standard certified projects deliver between USD$21 and USD$177 in additional value toward the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for every ton of CO2 mitigated.

The challenge, until recently, was in measuring and verifying these impacts.

The new standard, Gold Standard for the Global Goals, is designed to quantify and verify impacts of climate initiatives toward the SDGs so that public and private sectors bodies can report meaningful impacts and receive appropriate recognition.

For some, it might be hard to believe that just 20 years ago, during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, world leaders needed to be reassured that climate action would not conflict with their sustainable development aspirations.

At the time, people could not imagine that climate initiatives could, in fact, offer multiple sustainable development benefits. That a clean cookstove project, for example, could not only lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce deforestation, but also improve respiratory health by abating dangerous indoor pollutants; create local jobs in manufacturing and distribution; and free up time that would otherwise have been spent collecting wood for children to attend school, or for women to work or care for their children.

Today, perceptions have started to change. The Paris Agreement positions climate action, not as a potential barrier, but as a vehicle to progress sustainable development. It recognises sustainable development ‘co-benefits’ from mitigation actions and states that activities developed under the Agreement should aim to ‘promote the mitigation of GHG emissions while fostering sustainable development.’

Many climate projects do, indeed, support sustainable development. Gold Standard certified projects deliver between USD$21 and USD$177 in additional value toward the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) for every ton of CO2 mitigated. The challenge, until recently, was in measuring and verifying these impacts. Governments and businesses alike have embraced the 2030 Agenda and need to be able to demonstrate the value their impact investments deliver if they are to secure long-term support.

The Paris Agreement, which sets out an ambitious plan to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 – 2oC above pre-industrial levels, can only succeed with concerted efforts from national governments and significant funding from the private sector.

With our new standard, Gold Standard for the Global Goals, we aim to tackle this challenge. Our standard is designed to quantify and verify impacts of climate initiatives toward the SDGs so that public and private sectors bodies can report meaningful impacts and receive appropriate recognition. For example, we can demonstrate that a USD$5,000 investment in a clean cookstoves project can radiate SDG impacts amounting to USD$75,500 in value – benefits that are tangible and meaningful. Certification against the standard provides assurance and credibility, with accurate monitoring, rigorous data collection and transparency throughout the entire process.

But why is this important? The Paris Agreement, which sets out an ambitious plan to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 – 2oC above pre-industrial levels, can only succeed with concerted efforts from national governments and significant funding from the private sector. SDG impacts that are robustly quantified can secure confidence to attract funding because of the economic and social value they deliver. By helping those who invest in climate action demonstrate meaningful SDG impacts, we can catalyse more ambitious climate action and unlock billions of dollars of funding for future initiatives.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in turn, cannot succeed in the face of the global climate catastrophe that would occur if global temperature rise does exceed 2oC. These two landmark initiatives, the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda, are therefore co-dependent: one cannot succeed if the other fails. For the transition to an equitable and sustainable world, impacts must be holistic, transformational, and delivered at an exponential pace. Using sustainable development as a lever for raising climate ambition is a win-win situation that supports a secure and more prosperous future for people and planet.

About Gold Standard

Established in 2003 by WWF and other International NGOs, Gold Standard is a standard and certification body that works to ensure every dollar of climate and development funding goes as far as it can. To do this, we design the strongest processes that maxmise the impact of efforts to deliver clean energy and water, responsibly manage land and forests, and transform the lives of the world’s poor. We then verify those outcomes, inspiring greater confidence that drives investment to accomplish even more.

Now endorsed by 80+ NGOs and with more than 1,100+ projects in 70 countries undergoing certification. The Gold Standard has become the global benchmark for the highest integrity and greatest impact in climate and development initiatives.

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