Standard Framework Principles
While VRCs are a quantified measure, projects must prove that they meet basic principles before they are registered and subsequently issued credits. The below principles guide The Higher Ground Foundation in methodology, project document, and VRC monitoring reports:
0 Reduction of Vulnerability to Climate Change: Vulnerability Reduction Credit (VRC) generating projects seek to maximise the reduction of vulnerability to climate change. The vulnerability reduction is subject to the constraints of the below principles, applied holistically, that serve as the fundamental basis for justifications of methodological and project design decisions. Information and estimates, guided in part from ISO 14064-2:2006, clause 3 (ISO2009):
1 Avoidance of Harm: VRC Projects must with high confidence establish that they will not impose net loss or damage to any social, economic, or ecological systems. Furthermore, Projects must with very high confidence establish that they will not impose any greater risk of catastrophic harm.
2 Consultation: the community impacted by a project – including all participants- shall play an integral role in determining the acceptability of a VRC generating project.
3 Sustainability: HGF registered projects shall meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is articulated by the 2005 World Summit on Social Development as comprising three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection (UN 2005).
4 Completeness: information and analyses must, to the extent possible, be complete assessments of baseline and project loss and damage. In the absence of direct data, expert judgment, appropriate use of models and conversion factors and estimations of uncertainty may be applied.
It is understood that Completeness may need to be traded off with other principles, especially where information and analytical tools are limited in their availability or accuracy. For instance, if some loss and damage is identified, but it is not possible to accurately quantify them, then they may be omitted on the basis of Conservativeness.
5 Consistency: consistency of data and analyses employed may be satisfied by uniform use of procedures, measures, and units to describe the difference between baseline and project impact costs, among other descriptions and estimations.
6 Accuracy: As far as is relevant and practical, data and analyses must be as accurate as possible. If accuracy is not possible or practical, than the Conservativeness principle shall apply.
7 Transparency: information and analytical approaches must be open, clear, factual, unbiased and coherent based on documentation. Information, analyses and processes that are available for review (i.e. there must be an audittrail). This includes documenting assumptions, references to background material, calculations and methodologies, documentation of how principles have been applied, justification for methodologies and criteria, so that they may be reproduced by another party. Where information or models are not openly available or proprietary, then the principles of Relevance and/or Conservativeness must be applied.
8 Conservativeness: Project documentation must identify and characterise the level of uncertainties in parameters and data used to develop baselines and project impacts; it must also explain how choices are conservative and appropriate to the uncertainties in the data or assumptions.
Considering these principles holistically:
Where Completeness or Accuracy is poor, then Conservativeness must be applied more rigorously.
Consistency is essential except where more accurate data and analytical approaches emerge, in which case new approaches may be used but transparently documented and justified.
Transparency must be applied. If some data or analytical tools are not transparent, then their use must be justified and Conservativeness must be applied.