10th September, Amsterdam. Local communities and their needs remain the focus for South Pole, who this week again was awarded best project developer in three categories in the peer-voted Environmental Finance Annual Voluntary Carbon Market Rankings.
“It’s no coincidence that we have been winning these awards for over a decade. These last fifteen years we’ve remained at the forefront of innovation and best practice in many fields, including project development” said Marco Magini, Director of Projects & Portfolio at South Pole. “For South Pole, that means a strong focus on the communities we serve and on the ecosystems where our projects are developed, on making sure that we think holistically and that we use climate finance to maximize the benefits for the people, plants, and animals that live there.”
This year’s awards, based on votes from active market participants, saw South Pole win the following categories: Best Project Developer: Renewable Energy, Best Project Developer: Energy Efficiency, and Best Project Developer: Blue Carbon. The award for blue carbon is a new category for 2021, tied to the rise in projects to protect and sequester carbon in marine and coastal ecosystems.
“It’s great that we won the blue carbon award, but it’s even more exciting that the potential of blue carbon projects as significant carbon sinks and as vehicles of empowerment for rural communities is being recognised at a global level” said Milena Agudelo Palacio, Manager of Wetlands Restoration & Conservation Projects at South Pole. “Certifying such projects under one of the world’s most rigorous carbon standards, the VCS, using a newly developed methodology is no easy task, but it means every dollar spent creates maximum impact. And this is exactly what we’ve seen with new projects like the Musikitia Landscape Protection project and the world’s first registered blue carbon project in Colombia’s Caribbean coast.”
The shift to greater consideration of local needs and contexts is part of a broader trend towards ensuring that climate action not only lowers GHG emissions but also ensures a socially just transition, where vulnerable communities and ecosystems are protected and prioritized and the benefits of climate finance are shared widely.
“A just transition means understanding that we are in this together and that everyone must be treated equitably as we move to net zero emissions,” says Agudelo Palacio. “If you take Musikitia, for example, the communities are empowered to move away from depending on practices that may damage the ecosystem.”
According to Magini, the same principle applies to the other awards that South Pole has won this year. “Our team registered ten large-scale renewable energy projects last year, which will significantly increase funding for clean electricity where it's most needed. With our energy efficiency projects, we provide new jobs and training for people who are impacted by fossil-fuel power plants closing. At the local level, these jobs are critical in ensuring that communities are brought along as a part of the transition.”
With twenty-one awards handed out by Environmental Finance in 2021 — including in four new categories compared to 2020 — Magini says this is yet another sign that the size and scope of the voluntary carbon market continues to grow.
"The world will meet again at COP26 in Glasgow, but from now until then and for years to come there are projects that we are getting off the ground to reduce emissions and benefit local communities using carbon finance. We absolutely cannot lose sight of the instrumental role that the revenue from carbon credits provides to make this possible,” Mr. Magini continues.
View the announcement on Environmental Finance.