Today at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released “Beyond Carbon Credits: A Blueprint for High-Quality Interventions that Work for People, Nature and Climate.” The global conservation nonprofit unveiled the new guidance on implementing high-impact and high-quality nature-based solutions for climate mitigation at an event at the WWF Pavilion #PandaHub.

“Beyond Carbon Credits” serves as a companion to WWF’s “Blueprint for Corporate Action on Climate and Nature.”
Published in December 2020, the corporate climate mitigation blueprint describes the process for businesses to set and implement science-based targets compatible with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius before making financial commitments that aim to impact climate and nature.

After prioritizing internal emissions reductions first, funders can turn to nature-based investments and use “Beyond Carbon Credits” to help direct their search for high-quality interventions for climate mitigation. The new blueprint focuses on forests, including mangroves. However, many of the same guidelines and considerations can also apply to nature-based solutions for climate mitigation deriving from other ecosystems, such as marine environments, grasslands, and agricultural lands.

“When implemented effectively, nature-based solutions for climate mitigation can enhance rural livelihoods and promote the value of forests and other critical ecosystems while also helping to reduce vulnerability and build resilience,” said Josefina Braña Varela, vice president for forests and forest climate solutions lead at WWF-US. “This blueprint emphasizes that we must put people at the center. This includes providing the conditions for the full participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities and demonstrating the diverse benefits of these interventions in a measurable way.”

To produce impact at the scale required to meet global climate objectives, unprecedented, deliberate and targeted investment is needed. Funders should prioritize the highest-quality interventions that equally benefit people, nature and the climate.

With this in mind, “Beyond Carbon Credits” recommends the following set of guidelines to identify high-quality interventions:

  • By design, nature-based solutions for climate mitigation should simultaneously prioritize improvements to livelihoods and human well-being, the protection and enhancement of nature, and the generation of carbon reductions or removals.
  • Interventions should be implemented at a significant scale or clearly support an integrated landscape or jurisdictional strategy or program.
  • Funders should not make carbon credits a first priority when looking to maximize interventions’ impacts.
  • Funders should seek out best-in-class interventions that ensure quality, transparency, and equitable benefit sharing.

Vanessa Pérez-Cirera, WWF global deputy lead for climate and energy, said: “WWF welcomes the growing support and investment in nature-based solutions globally. They have a critical role to play in preventing global warming, but we still need to see a step change in both finance and policy. Governments in Glasgow must remember that in parallel to deep and fast decarbonization, there is no viable pathway to 1.5 degrees Celsius without nature.

“It is critical that the right nature-based solutions are pursued in the right places, with local nature stewards front and center. The WWF blueprint sets out a framework with guidelines to ensure that nature-based solutions for climate mitigation deliver real, meaningful and measurable benefits for people, nature and the climate and do so increasingly at subnational to national scales as envisioned in the Paris Agreement.”