The Plan Vivo Foundation is an international charity based in Edinburgh which administers the Plan Vivo Standard, a Standard for Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) specifically aimed at rural smallholders and communities that wish to manage their land and natural resources more sustainably. The Standard has a specific focus on forest carbon projects. In the Plan Vivo model, communities take a leading role in the production and implementation of their own land management plan – the “plan vivo” – according to their needs and priorities. Community-led natural resource management plans are the basis for developing a Payment for Ecosystem Services Agreement (PES Agreement) with a project coordinator, usually an established non-governmental organisation or a grassroots organisation with community support.
The Plan Vivo Standard certifies the implementation of project activities that restore and enhance ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity or watershed protection, while increasing the resilience of rural livelihoods in an ethical and fair way. Activities covered by the Standard include avoided deforestation, reforestation, afforestation and agroforestry, with an emphasis on restoring and protecting native forest and reintroducing native species in degraded areas. As part of the process, the effects from these projects are formally recognised and quantified. Based on successful certification, communities can generate ‘Plan Vivo Certificates’ and finance conservation and livelihood activities by selling certificates on environmental markets.
The Plan Vivo Standard is the longest-standing voluntary carbon standard, dating back to the pilot project Scolel’te in 1997. Since then, the Plan Vivo system has continued to evolve and today counts with 15 registered projects and 41 pipeline projects spanning Africa, Asia and Latin America. Efforts by over 10,000 participating smallholders and 416 community groups have resulted in emissions reductions of over 2.2 million tonnes of CO2.