An analysis of the potential positive and negative livelihood impacts of coastal carbon offset projects
Carbon offset credits, and associated projects, are acclaimed to address economic, environmental and social issues simultaneously. However, critics argue that carbon offset mechanisms are ill equipped to assist developing countries in achieving sustainable development. Social standards now exist to provide robust methods for assessing the social and biodiversity performance of carbon offset projects and credible impact assessments to help ensure positive outcomes for local people and biodiversity. Following such a standard, and simultaneously applying the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach, we develop the Coastal Carbon Impacts Framework (CCIF) as a conceptual framework to document the potential positive and negative impacts of coastal carbon offset projects on local livelihoods. We apply the CCIF to four case studies and derive its main livelihood outcomes as well as describe potential long-term impacts. By using the capitals approach, the CCIF is able to dismantle the different impact areas into smaller entities. This allows a more detailed analysis on the positive and negative impacts a project has on communities – across the natural, financial, social, human, physical, cultural and political capital. While the case studies analysed show mainly positive outcomes, certainly no project is without risk of negatively impacting the community. The CCIF is however able to demonstrate potential social risk areas. If applied to additional coastal carbon offset projects, best practice documents, community engagement and the monitoring and evaluation process of such projects can be improved.