What is certified under The Global Biodiversity Standard?

The Global Biodiversity Standard is a site-based certification scheme. Sites that have improved biodiversity will be certified provided they score sufficiently highly against the eight criteria. The Global Biodiversity Standard does not certify organisations or trade activities.

When will The Global Biodiversity Standard be available?

The Global Biodiversity Standard is now accepting applications from organisations interested in becoming early adopters. The first certifications shall be issued during the launch of the standard at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP-16.

What ecosystems does The Global Biodiversity Standard apply to?

Sites from all ecosystems can be assessed and certified under The Global Biodiversity Standard. The methodology is designed to work in ecosystems with all levels of diversity, so that projects working in regions with naturally low or high diversity will not be penalised. At present, we are able to assess terrestrial and coastal ecosystems only, but we aim to expand to marine and freshwater ecosystems in the future.

What size of sites can apply to The Global Biodiversity Standard? How are areas that consist of multiple smallholder sites assessed?

There are no upper or lower limits to the size of sites that can be certified by The Global Biodiversity Standard. If an area consists of multiple smallholder sites, all sites would have to fall under the same management or would have to apply separately to The Global Biodiversity Standard to be certified.  We are currently developing plans that allow for collective applications for smallholder sites. The Global Biodiversity Standard does not use a sampling approach and is only able to certify site that have applied, had a remote sensing and field survey and have been assessed. Applicants may wish to have a sample of their sites assessed for certification, but the extent of sampling is at the discretion of the applicant rather than The Global Biodiversity Standard.

Do different types of projects have different scoring systems?

All projects are assessed using the same scoring system. The assessment methodology has been developed to function for a wide range of projects across the restorative continuum. The methodology recognises change in biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and protection since the project’s inception rather than absolute levels. Consequently, the starting condition does not affect the ability for a site to be certified. 

Is The Global Biodiversity Standard certification a one-time evaluation?

No. Sites must renew their certification every five years. This ensures that the positive impacts on biodiversity are sustained through effective ongoing adaptive management. 

Who are the intended users of The Global Biodiversity Standard?

The Global Biodiversity Standard is designed to provide recognition and assurance about positive impacts on biodiversity to a wide range of users. A wide range of land management initiatives can be certified under The Global Biodiversity Standard, including protected areas, ecological restoration sites, rehabilitative agriculture (e.g., agroforestry) and tree plantations. The Global Biodiversity Standard can be used by practitioners to help them gain recognition, which may facilitate access to finance for their activities. Financiers and governments supporting nature-based solutions can also use The Global Biodiversity Standard to provide assurance that they are supporting projects with positive impacts on biodiversity. 

How does The Global Biodiversity Standard work alongside the voluntary carbon and biodiversity credit markets?

The Global Biodiversity Standard certifies sites that have created new positive impacts on biodiversity. The standard can work in conjunction with the voluntary carbon market by providing assurance that carbon credits are associated with additional positive impacts on biodiversity. The methodology has been tested to work for carbon credit projects. The Global Biodiversity Standard is designed to provide recognition for the sites that have improved biodiversity and is not designed to be used as a compensatory or tradeable product. Sites that generate biodiversity credits may be eligible to apply for The Global Biodiversity Standard. The Global Biodiversity Standard is different, however, from biodiversity credits as credits are aimed at generating tradable products in line with the nature-positive movement (not to be used as an offset).

Does The Global Biodiversity Standard apply to conservation areas?

Conservation areas that improve biodiversity because of their protection are eligible for certification under The Global Biodiversity Standard. 

Do agricultural areas have to include native species to qualify for The Global Biodiversity Standard?

Yes, all sites applying to The Global Biodiversity Standard must include native species. However, agricultural initiatives that plant non-native crops may still be able to qualify for The Global Biodiversity Standard if native biodiversity on the site has increased sufficiently in abundance and diversity to enable them to score highly against the eight criteria. 

Are the criteria ordered by priority?

No – the criteria are not ordered by priority. All eight criteria are of equal importance, and this is reflected in the scoring system with sites gaining a score out of 10 for each criterion. 

Does The Global Biodiversity Standard assess both plant and animal biodiversity?

Yes. The Global Biodiversity Standard assesses projects across a range of biodiversity attributes that includes plant and animal biodiversity. Not all species are monitored through the assessment process, but indicator groups appropriate to the site are assessed, e.g., trees, epiphytes, birds, beetles, etc. The use of indicators allows the standard to apply across all ecosystems. In addition to monitoring animal and plant biodiversity, the standard assesses projects across other attributes that include species composition, structural diversity, ecosystem function, external exchanges, the absence of threats and physical conditions. 

How is climate change incorporated into The Global Biodiversity Standard?

Ecosystem restoration needs to consider climate change for the long-term success of the restorative intervention. Sites are assessed on the capacity for biodiversity to adapt to changing conditions, such as climate change, under criterion 7 of The Global Biodiversity Standard.

Is there a manual that describes the assessment methodology?

The Global Biodiversity Standard: Manual for assessment and best practices is available in English here. This manual outlines in full the assessment methodology, the restoration mentoring programme and the training requirements for certified assessors. This manual is currently being translated into French, Portuguese, and Spanish. 

What remote sensing methodologies are used?

A wide range of remote sensing methods will be used to survey sites applying for The Global Biodiversity Standard. Spaceborne sensors will be used to understand historical trends in the 21 sub-attributed of the SER 5-star system for ecosystem integrity and biodiversity. The remote sensing survey will use a range of active and passive sensors, including optical, multispectral, hyperspectral, lidar and rada data products. The site will be assessed by comparing its signature against a reference (5 star) and highly degraded (0 star) site within the region to understand its rating. This data will be standardised in the historical trend to account for any natural fluctuations in signatures that may be driven by external factors, such as climate. A combination of standard and bespoke methodologies will be used dependent on the site and its conditions. A list of methods is outlined in The Global Biodiversity Standard manual. 

Are there third-party verification of Global Biodiversity Standard assessments?

Assessments of sites are made by The Global Biodiversity Standard hubs. All assessments are reviewed and verified by the Secretariat of The Global Biodiversity Standard. The Global Biodiversity Standard hubs are independent organisations from The Global Biodiversity Standard Secretariat. A random sample of assessments are also verified by additional third-party reviewers. 

How long does the assessment process take?

The assessment process takes approximately 1-3 months from the application to a decision about the award of certification. Timeframes may vary amongst applications because of a wide range of circumstances that include the size of project, logistics for field surveys and availability of assessors. 

Where are the current hubs established?

How and when do you plan to establish new hubs?

The Global Biodiversity Standard is looking to expand and establish new hubs over the next few years. This includes establishing hubs in at least 10 countries by the end of 2024. The establishment of new hubs will be dependent on demand for The Global Biodiversity Standard in the region. Hubs require expertise in biodiversity and ecological restoration. The current hubs have been established from the Ecological Restoration Alliance. Priority for establishment of hubs will be given to members of Botanic Gardens Conservation International. If you are interested in establishing a hub in your organisation, please contact the Global Biodiversity Standard Project Manager. 

How do I become a trainer or assessor?

Trainers and assessors are identified by The Global Biodiversity Standard Hubs. Trainers and assessors must attend a training workshop before they can become credentialed as The Global Biodiversity Standard trainers or assessors. We recommend that trainers and assessors are certified under the Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner programme. 

How was The Global Biodiversity Standard developed?

The technical criteria for The Global Biodiversity Standard and the methodology for carrying out the assessment and certification process were developed over a period of 24 months beginning in April 2022. This included an iterative testing process across more than 100 sites, a technical consultation from over 60 experts, and a public consultation. The development of The Global Biodiversity Standard is funded by a Darwin Initiative Extra grant from the UK Government. 

Can we still volunteer to test the methodology?

The testing phase of The Global Biodiversity Standard has now been completed. However, we are seeking interest from organisations looking to become early adopters. If you are interested in becoming an early adopter, please contact: The Global Biodiversity Standard Project Manager.

Is it possible to read about pilot sites using The Global Biodiversity Standard?

We are currently compiling a set of case studies to showcase projects that have been used to test the methodology for The Global Biodiversity Standard.