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Mangroves Orpheus Island Australia Credit Matt Curnock Ocean Image Bank
Mangroves, Orpheus Island, Australia. Credit: Matt Curnock / Ocean Image Bank

Developing a Practitioners Guide for High-Quality Blue Carbon Projects

Developing a Practitioners Guide for High-Quality Blue Carbon Projects

Project Lead: Conservation international
Supporting Partner: ORRAA, Salesforce, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), WEF Friends of Ocean Action
Financial Support:  The UK’s Blue Planet Fund
Location: Global
Project Timeline: Ongoing (2022-2024)


Both investors and project developers bear a shared responsibility in ensuring the attainment of a high-quality blue carbon market. Conservation International, along with other key partners, are in the process of creating a “High-Quality Blue Carbon Practitioners Guide” – a complementary effort to the High-Quality Principles and Guidance document launched in 2022 which serves as a strategic blueprint for establishing blue carbon projects and portfolios.

This Guide outlines how to achieve high-quality by emphasising the role of various stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, local residents, NGOs, project developers, potential buyers, and investors.


The carbon market, currently valued at over $1B annually, is expected to grow 15-fold by 2030. While blue carbon is still a small slice of the carbon market, it has the potential to boost investment in coastal protection and restoration.

However, the exponential growth in voluntary carbon markets over recent years has presented new opportunities and significant challenges. Insufficient voluntary market regulation and quality assurance mechanisms have increased instances of vulnerable communities unintentionally partnering with ill-equipped project developers, leading to reduced benefits for coastal communities.


High-quality blue carbon projects can mitigate climate risks by conserving and restoring lost and degraded coastal ecosystems which provide  protection and the basis for improving local livelihoods.

Investments must move beyond the “low-hanging fruit” to projects that exhibit ‘high-quality’, in order to maximize the potential of blue carbon habitats for climate mitigation, adaptation, biodiversity conservation and human well-being. The practitioners guide will enable this transition, as it makes the principles and guidance actionable by establishing clear metrics that help relevant stakeholders determine where projects are starting and what they need to do to improve.

Scaling and next steps

The metrics developed in the practitioner’s guide will address issues of transparency, integrity and standardisation while providing the necessary roadmap for indigenous peoples, local communities, NGOs, and other private sector or government project developers to meet demand through production of high-quality credits. In turn, this helps project developers to align the design and implementation of projects to meet buyers’ expectations of high quality and participate in a premium blue carbon marketplace.

To scale the work, the project partners aim to effectively advise and advocate with key carbon market participants (standards, global initiatives, buyers, policymakers) to embed quality in the blue carbon market.