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Over and under water photograph of a mangrove tree in clear tropical waters with blue sky in background near Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas
Over and under water photograph of a mangrove tree in clear tropical waters with blue sky in backgound near Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance

High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance

Growing demand for blue carbon credits and the accompanying surge of interest in blue carbon have attracted many new actors into the space. As the blue carbon market grows, there is a need to ensure that suppliers, investors, and governments are aligned around key principles for high-quality blue carbon.

The High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidelines provide a consistent and understandable approach to guide the development and management of blue carbon projects that are equitable, fair, and credible.

At the UNFCCC’s COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, after a year of collaboration, listening, and engagement with more than 70 leading organizations actively working on blue carbon projects and policy, the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA), Salesforce, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Friends of Ocean Action, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and Meridian Institute delivered the “High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance”.  The principles for high-quality blue carbon have since been endorsed and championed by multiple programs and initiatives across the globe who share a vision for high-quality quality blue carbon investments and projects.

The Principles and Guidelines clearly describe what ‘high quality’ means for blue carbon projects and credits, to foster investments that have triple bottom-line benefits for people, nature, and climate.

Coastal ecosystems like mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows mitigate climate change by sequestering and storing vast amounts of carbon; serving as barriers against storm surges, flooding, and erosion; cleaning air and water; and, providing critical habitats for fish, crustaceans and other species. Coastal blue carbon ecosystems are valued at over USD$190 billion per year for carbon sequestration and the other ecosystem services they provide.

Despite their importance, blue carbon ecosystems are some of the most endangered ecosystems on Earth. To date, an estimated 67 per cent of all mangrove forests have been destroyed by pollution, coastal development, extractive activities, and unsustainable aquaculture and agricultural practices.

Download the High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance: A Triple-Benefit Investment for People, Nature, and Climate here.

The five Principles, each of equal importance, are:

  • Principle 1: Safeguard Nature
  • Principle 2: Empower People
  • Principle 3: Employ the best information, interventions, and carbon accounting practices
  • Principle 4: Operate locally and contextually
  • Principle 5: Mobilise high-integrity capital

The term ‘Blue carbon’ in the document refers to the intertidal ecosystems that capture and store carbon that currently have methodologies for verification and certification by an authorized certifying body. Mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and tidal marshes are the three ecosystems highlighted in this document, however we recognize additional intertidal systems are being developed for blue carbon credits; the addition of certifications for other coastal ecosystems should also strive to meet the qualities of ‘high quality’ that are provided in this guidance.

Download Translations of the High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance: