6 min read

Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs & LCs) to help shape the future of the voluntary carbon market through self-led global forum, convening in June

Written by ICVCM


A close-up image of a person's eye peering through a hole in a green leaf. The leaf is prominently in focus, showcasing its vibrant colour and texture, while the eye is slightly obscured by the leaf's edges, creating a mysterious and intriguing effect.

The voluntary carbon market can play a powerful role in channelling finance from global companies to IPs & LCs if integrity is in place.

The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market is assessing carbon crediting programs and their methodologies. Simultaneously, our Board members representing IPs & LCs ensure that assessment decisions fully commit to and comply with the rights, values, and self-determined principles of IPs & LCs globally. As we face a critical turning-point to elevate the integrity of the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), they are also working to select members of IPs & LCs worldwide to lead a new VCM global engagement forum, led for and by IPs & LCs.

In response to demand articulated by IPs & LCs, the global forum is being created to elevate and enforce the rights of IPs & LCs within the voluntary carbon market led by their interests, values, principles, and vision. Its establishment follows two years of engagement and consultation between the Integrity Council, Indigenous leaders and representative bodies worldwide.

One of its goals is to enhance the understanding and abilities of other market participants to effectively collaborate with IPs & LCs, ensuring they can make informed decisions about engaging with, and participating in, the VCM. It also aims to strengthen the capacities of IPs & LCs themselves, enabling them to become equal partners in a market that supports their livelihoods and conserves biodiversity in their territories. The forum will also contribute to enhance capabilities, understanding, and commitment for companies and other VCM actors to recognise, value, and build transparent and accountable partnership with IPs & LCs.

Developed in consultation with IPs & LCs and other global stakeholders, the Integrity Council’s Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) set the first independent global benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits. This is the framework being used for ongoing assessments. Importantly, the principles ensure that high-integrity credits with the CCP label come from projects with robust social and environmental safeguards that also deliver positive sustainable development impacts. This includes verifying that projects assess and mitigate risks to IPs & LCs, secure their Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and are transparent about how they share benefits.

In parallel, the role of the independent global forum will inform the Integrity Council’s work ensuring that ambition in environmental and social safeguards relating to the voluntary carbon market continues to increase.

The forum is scheduled to convene first in June 2024 and will develop its own strategic and engagement global plan to establish itself as a global VCM platform governed by, for, and with IPs & LCs. Its strategic plan will be developed collaboratively with IPs & LCs worldwide and will represent a pivotal moment to elevate and catalyse the VCM’s integrity and value to scale up and drive finance to support the priorities and needs of IP & LCs.

A high-integrity VCM is an important, complementary tool for climate action that can channel vital funding into the hands of IPs & LCs. They therefore must be included in decisions relating to any climate and nature-based solution projects that impact them.

Recognising and complying with the rights, values and principles of IPs & LCs in the VCM is essential. As stewards of 40% of the planet’s ecologically intact landscapes, it is vital that IPs & LCs have a strong voice in the VCM. This forum will pave the way for them to effectively manage and protect these critical ecosystems worldwide. Indeed, many are potential hosts for – or run – existing projects generating carbon credits. It will be also the opportunity to have the VCM as one of the solutions to the challenging of having IPs & LCs remaining among the most marginalised segments of the world’s population and receive the least assistance and benefits from climate finance.

To allow a diverse and representative perspectives, the forum will include a chair and a nominated vice-chair from IPs & LCs across the world.

Our Board member, Kanyinke Sena explained: “As an Indigenous Person, I urge the global community to support the work underway to bring integrity to the voluntary carbon market. For IPs & LCs, climate finance through the carbon markets is a critical source of income. We need to make this market work for the protection and restoration of nature and for our communities – who take care of many of these ecosystems. I work with the ICVCM to support their efforts to bring integrity to the market and ensure IPs & LCs have a voice in the future of this market. We are currently selecting Board members for a new self-led VCM engagement forum as part of this work and I encourage members of IPs & LCs globally to join us.”

Distinguished Advisory Group Member, Tuntiak Katan added: “Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, as ancestral custodians and holders of customary rights over the lands and natural resources of our territories, have protected these resources for millennia, sharing their ecosystem services with the world. However, we face significant threats: the lack of direct climate financing to our communities, the constant threat to rights defenders, the risk of losing our traditional knowledge and practices, the lack of respect for our right to prior consultation, and not being recognised as true partners in conservation and climate justice efforts.

In this context, Voluntary Carbon Markets offer an opportunity for us, as managers of natural capital, to meet face to face with financial capital managers to design real and effective solutions that translate into concrete actions in conservation initiatives, restoration of nature, generation of own IPLC capacities, and the development of Indigenous economy and finance in the short, medium, and long term.”

The Integrity Council is an independent, non-profit governance body for the VCM, which aims to maximise its potential to finance climate solutions. The high-integrity CCP label will assure buyers that carbon credits are based on the latest science, deliver genuine emissions reductions and sustainable development benefits that support IP & LCs.

ICVCM Board members representing IPs & LCs

Jennifer Corpuz

Jennifer Corpuz is member of the Kankana-ey Igorot from the Mountain Province in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines.

Dr. Kanyinke Sena

Dr. Kanyinke Sena is lecturer at the Faculty of Law and holds a Doctorate in Law from the University of Arizona, USA.

Francisco Souza

Francisco is a member of the Apurinã Indigenous People from the Brazilian Amazon.