One of the objectives of the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) which is strongly embedded in the Kyoto
Protocol, is to contribute to the sustainable development of the host countries in addition to climate protection.
However, some non-governmental organisations have signalled the poor implementation of this requirement.
The independent High-Level Panel on the CDM Policy Dialogue has also considered the need for improvement.
Subsequently the Conference of the Parties serving as the meetings of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) 7
at Durban called on the CDM Executive Board to develop a tool for voluntary use in order to highlight the
contribution of CDM to sustainability. As a result, in late 2012 The Sustainable Development Tool was
developed and adopted.
The fact that CDM projects should support sustainable development in the host countries is a key element of the
CDM, which is why past experience suggests that a strong approach to the assessment of projects is important.
Meanwhile, many innovative approaches taken by Designated National Authorities (DNAs) have superseded the
restraint that was prevalent in earlier sustainability assessment with rather general sustainability criteria,
superficial examinations and difficult stakeholder consultations. Such new approaches include scoring of
indicators, priority sectors, checklists as well as improved documentation requirements for verification, municipal
approval or on-site visits by DNA staff.
When developing the Sustainable Development Tool, it is important not to neglect or bypass the needs of the
users. Accordingly, the paper at hand looks into user-friendliness and the suitability of the sustainability tool
from three perspectives - DNAs, governments with a programme of buying credits from projects with high
sustainability contributions, and project developers. Host countries of different size and various levels of
experience with CDM and sustainability assessment and project developers with expertise for various types of
projects were interviewed in a survey about their experiences. Subjects were the sustainability assessment of
CDM projects by the host country, the applicability of the Sustainable Development Tool and the national
sustainability assessment. The results were evaluated to see how closely the Sustainable Development Tool
matched the needs of project developers and buyers. As one main conclusion the study sees the need to further
include safeguards against negative impacts of CDM projects on local communities or the environment into the
Sustainable Development Tool and to elaborate methods to quantify and monetize benefits. In addition the
experiences with the Tool for the CDM may be further explored to enlighten potentials of simplification and
unification for new mitigation mechanisms.