Sustainability Reporting Standard Aims to Drive Finance towards SDGs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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While donors and investors often require reports from project developers, such outcome reporting is rarely evaluated by an independent third party.

Projects developed under SD VISta must follow a rigorous, third-party assessment process to be certified.

The standard aims to add legitimacy, quality assurance, and transparency to the reporting of project outcomes and SDG impact claims.

23 January 2019: A new standard has been launched to help drive finance towards the most impactful sustainable development projects. Verra, the non-profit organization that developed and manages the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), launched the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta), setting out rules and criteria for the design, implementation, and assessment of projects that aim to deliver sustainable development benefits.

A Verra press release explains that, while donors and investors often require reports from project developers, such outcome reporting is rarely evaluated by an independent third party. It further emphasizes the need to ensure that funding to achieve the SDGs must drive real impact and transformation, as the sustainable development community needs to raise an additional USD 2.5 trillion to realize the Global Goals by 2030. Under the new standard, projects must demonstrate to a third-party assessor that they advance the SDGs.

David Antonioli, Verra CEO, emphasized that introducing standards such as SD VISta adds legitimacy, quality assurance, and transparency to the reporting of project outcomes and impact claims, and will help drive more finance towards projects that generate tangible sustainable development benefits. Verra says that SD VISta:

  • can be applied to any project that is contributing to the SDGs, including those related to eliminating hunger, promoting human and environmental health and wellbeing, and ensuring education;
  • must engage with a range of stakeholders to ensure that communities’ needs are considered and that they are able to influence activities on the ground; and
  • establishes safeguards to ensure that people, natural capital and ecosystem services are not negatively impacted by a project.

Projects developed under SD VISta must follow a rigorous, third-party assessment process to be certified, following which their contributions to the SDGs are listed in a database. Some projects may also issue SD VISta assets, which are units representing sustainable development benefits that can be sold or retired and claimed.

A number of pilot projects are already demonstrating the standard’s potential, including those related to: a community-based conservation model in the tribal lands of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area in Southern Africa; a community-based entreprenuership programme in India; a forest carbon project in Canada; a tree planting program in Kenya; and a circular economy agro-biodiversity conservation initiative in the Souss-Massa Drâa Region in Morocco.

Verra manages standards for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improving livelihoods and protecting natural resources, including: the VCS, which is used by the voluntary carbon market with 1,400 registered projects in 80 countries; and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards, with more than 100 registered projects worldwide. Verra is also an implementing partner of the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), which helps countries assess the impacts of their climate actions and supports increased transparency, effectiveness, trust, and ambition in climate policies. [Verra Press Release] [SD VISta Website] [Blog Post on South African Project Implementing SD VISta]

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