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CDM Board to discuss human rights safeguards

Following numerous incidents of human rights violations related to CDM projects, the CDM Board will, for the first time, discuss options to address these concerns at its next meeting starting on 12 October. It will also discuss recommendations to overhaul the CDM’s local stakeholder consultation rules, including a requirement that projects must repeat consultations if they have not been carried out in line with national laws.


A new UNFCCC concept note makes detailed recommendations to the CDM Board to improve the CDM stakeholder consultation processes as well as consider proposals to address the human rights issues of registered CDM projects. The purpose of the recommendations is to enhance the transparency, objectivity, efficiency, and image of the CDM.

The comprehensive concept note was drawn up in response to several mandates and makes recommendations on the basis of an analysis of how 46 randomly selected projects have applied the CDM rules in practice as well as an analysis of more than 600 project comments received between 2010 and 2015. Key findings and identified gaps from this analysis include:

  • CDM rules do not exist to monitor the status of commitments made prior to registration, e.g. related to job creations, compensation for land etc. and that there is little guidance how to address comments received during the local stakeholder consultation;
  • Project documents are not available in the languages of the host countries and comments to the global stakeholder consultation are only accepted in English;
  • There is no procedure for comments post-registration;
  • There is no provision to address comments on matter concerning human rights and negative environmental impacts.

The concept note cites the Cancun Agreement adopted in 2010 which ‘emphasizes that parties should, in all climate related actions, fully respect human rights’ as well as a Human Rights Council resolution that establishes that ‘adverse effects of climate change have a range of direct and indirect implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights’ and proposes solutions to operationalize these decisions.

It analyses and compares existing safeguards and performance standards applied by multilateral development banks and recommends that the Board considers establishing means to focus on the prevention of human rights violations, in the context of CDM project activities, along similar lines to the safeguards applied by the Green Climate Fund and other multilateral institutions.

It also recommends a new mandate for the UNFCCC secretariat to interact with other UN agencies and special rapporteurs to ensure that any human rights issues received by the Board in the context of particular CDM activities are actively provided to the relevant UN human rights related agency.

In addition to options to address human rights concerns, the concept note makes detailed recommendations to improve the local stakeholder consultation rules, including to:

  • Define the scope of the consultation to include the potential impact the project may have – both positive and negative – on the environment and local communities;
  • Require that CDM projects provide a summary that consultations were carried out in accordance with host country rules as well as CDM rules and that management plans to address adverse impacts are available;
  • The concept note implies that projects should repeat the local stakeholder consultation if they are not able to provide this information;
  • Define the minimum group of stakeholders to be invited, means for inviting stakeholder’s participation, information to be made available (including non-technical project summaries in the appropriate language), information on the consultation process, as well as how the consultations shall be conducted.

The note concludes that possible impacts on costs and complexity of these changes are expected to be low and would notably not increase the transaction costs, except in cases where initial local stakeholder consultation rules were not carried out appropriately.

Carbon Market Watch applauds the bold move by the UNFCCC Secretariat to draw up these detailed recommendations despite the CDM Board’s continued resistance to adopt meaningful solutions to well documented shortcomings of the CDM. The concept note’s recommendations are a summary of numerous submissions, consultations, and round tables. Furthermore, they are based on solid analysis including a random selection of CDM projects from a wide range of host countries and project types.

The concept note clearly shows that the CDM has significantly fallen behind the standards applied by other multilateral financing institutions and – after almost five years of its adoption – finally provides practical solutions to operationalize the Cancun mandate to protect human rights in all climate related actions, including those incentivized by the CDM. If the CDM should play any role in the Paris climate agreement, the CDM Board can no longer ignore reality and must finally adopt rules to ensure that the CDM applies appropriate human rights standards in line with standards of other institutions involved in climate finance.

Read more – Open letter to implement UN obligations to respect human rights


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