18 December 2013

Q & A with Sascha Lafeld, CEO, First Climate Markets AG

First Climate congratulates the Gold Standard Foundation on its 10th anniversary and we are looking forward to our ongoing collaboration and joint initiatives.

EF: What has been your working experience with the Gold Standard Foundation over the past ten years?

SL: As a company active in carbon project development, First Climate has always worked very closely with the Gold Standard. We have a long history of developing Gold Standard carbon reduction projects and purchasing reduction credits from Gold Standard projects. First Climate has also developed several new Gold Standard methodologies, and we have always recognised the Gold Standard as the highest quality brand in the carbon market.

EF: Why did you choose to involve the Gold Standard in your Water Benefit Certificate Standard and make it a part of the Gold Standard Water programme?

SL: The Gold Standard is well known for standing behind the most robust standard for developing carbon offset projects. The Gold Standard is not only focussing on a project's environmental benefits, but also on further socio-economic positive impacts – and it was exactly for this reason that we decided to involve them from the very earliest stages in helping to develop the Water Benefit Standard, a water project financing mechanism.

Sascha Lafeld, CEO First Climate Markets AGWe selected them to become the eventual administrator of the entire mechanism, and therefore modeled our standard largely on the existing carbon standard used by the Gold Standard Foundation. In addition, they have been a central figure in the numerous meetings and technical workshops that have taken place since 2011, and their input was vital to tackle some of the thorny questions surrounding water, sustainability and robust methodologies. We officially handed over full administration of the Water Benefit Certificate Standard in July 2013 to the Gold Standard Foundation.

EF: What is the current status of the Water Benefit Standard?

SL: Since transferring the administration of the Water Benefit Standard, a number of changes have taken place at the Gold Standard Foundation. First, the Gold Standard has begun to fill out the administrative infrastucture and staff necessary to handle the certification of water projects. Most recently, it has created a Water Technical Advisory Committee (Water TAC) to review the standard in its current draft form and make changes before approving it. The Water TAC will also be responsible for approving project methodologies and clarifying technical questions related to project implementation.

First Climate has also collected to date about 25 pilot project proposals representing every continent from partners as well as other interested project developers. By the end of this year a number of these projects will be selected for implementation to demonstrate that the standard can deliver real, sustainable water benefits. Both First Climate and the Gold Standard Foundation have also accelerated marketing activities to promote awareness of the standard and cultivate demand for Water Benefit Certificates (WBCs) once they become available.This awareness raising should also expand the network of NGOs, public institutions and other groups that can and should provide input into the standard during its public consultation phase expected in 2014.

EF: Which Water Benefit Certificate demonstration projects are being sponsored and why?

SL: We anticipate developing anywhere between five and seven projects representing various project categories as well as a range of geographical locations. So far we have received a large number of WASH proposals, some taking very different approaches, while other project ideas focus on the efficient use of water in agricultural supply chains, community water management, watershed replenishment and water saving technologies for households. A methodology will also be drafted to accompany each selected project to serve as a blueprint for similar projects elsewhere.

We see this first round of demonstration projects largely as an opportunity to enrich the Water Benefit Standard and pinpoint what works and what needs to be changed, because, especially at this stage, the mechanism should be seen as a living framework to promote good water practice. The Gold Standard Foundation, with its network of supporting NGOs and focus on sustainable outcomes, is ideally placed to ensure that these lessons are learned well and that a market for WBCs will continue to be an evolving forum for environmentalists, development advocates and businesses who want to address pressing water issues.



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