There is increasing acknowledgement that projects in the voluntary carbon market have an impact beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Projects can have additional positive effects on sustainable development, but they can also impair progress on certain sustainable development goals (SDGs).
This paper assesses the sustainable development impact of four selected project types of the voluntary carbon market: afforestation, improved cookstoves, off-grid photovoltaics and water filters. All project types clearly have positive impacts on many SDGs. However, the impacts are highly contextual and can even be negative in a few cases. The paper also highlights methodological issues for assessing SDG impacts of project types in the VCM.