The Calyx Global Approach to SDG Ratings

Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023

Image: The Gold Standard Project "Institutional Improved Cookstoves for Schools and Institutions in Uganda"
Image Source: Gold Standard 

In this blog, we explain how we rate carbon projects’ impact on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. For a more detailed look at our framework, you can read our 
explainer paper

Carbon projects can do more than mitigate climate change. They can create healthier ecosystems and communities, through activities that boost biodiversity, reduce poverty, and tackle inequality. By buying carbon credits that support those outcomes, carbon credit buyers can help to deliver on their sustainability commitments. But in order to make informed decisions about which carbon credits to support, buyers need transparency. They must have a clear understanding of the claims they can credibly make about the projects they invest in. 

To meet this need, Calyx Global has developed a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) rating system, separate from our GHG ratings. Below, we provide an overview of the methodology behind our SDG rating system. 

SDGs and Targets

Each of the UN’s 17 SDGs represents a specific thematic area or challenge, along with a complementary set of targets and indicators that demonstrate progress towards these goals. By using carbon credits with SDG co-benefits as a method for making progress beyond carbon, buyers can have some level of assurance that the co-benefit outcomes are being approached and documented in a methodological way. 

What we rate 

For Calyx Global to rate a project, it must meet two criteria: 1. Its SDG contributions must already be certified by a recognized carbon crediting program such as Verra’s Climate, Community, and Biodiversity initiative. 2. All reports must also receive third-party verification — we do not rate self-reported SDG claims. 

In making our assessment, we are looking for outcomes – to ultimately rate the level of impact made. In this process, we evaluate the project documentation, what SDG contributions are being claimed and what others may have been impacted but not claimed, as well as how the project supports specific Targets.

The scoring process

To assess project claims, our analysts look at two key criteria — the level of change demonstrated, and the depth and quality of evidence provided. We then score each SDG target contribution separately, then add them all together for an overall SDG rating of +1 through +5.

More transparency, greater progress 

Through our SDG ratings, we aim to spark transparency and build better carbon markets. 

Calyx Global’s framework maintains oversight by an independent panel that includes academics, as well as practitioners on climate, carbon, and sustainable development. Our sustainability analysts provide a granular-level review of each project, after which it undergoes a quality assessment and control process. Our methodology is under constant review and improvement. 

We arm carbon buyers with the insights they need to make sound decisions — and drive greater progress for people and the planet. 

Download our explainer paper to learn more about our SDG rating methodology.

About the author

Calyx Global

This article includes insights and input from multiple experts in Calyx Global.