Victorian Water Industry

The Carbon + Co-Benefits Guide

I’m pleased that we worked with [Anthesis] on this project. Their inclusive approach and expertise in this emerging market allowed us to develop our knowledge in the carbon offset and co-benefits space, and the team incorporated our suggestions throughout the project. Our goal was to develop practical guidance for the water industry and I believe this was delivered.

Jason Mullins – Senior NRM Officer, Goulburn-Broken CMA

Victorian water industry develops a Carbon + Co-Benefits Process Guide providing practical steps to understand co-benefits and galvanise co-investment

Driven by a commitment to sustainability coupled with ambitious legislated scope 1 and 2 net zero targets, Victoria’s 18 water corporations have been pursuing pathways for land-sector carbon project development under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Central to realising this opportunity in Victoria are the catchment management authorities (CMAs) that hold statutory responsibility for the integrated planning, coordination and involvement of the community in their catchment’s land, water and biodiversity management.

The rapid evolution of natural and social capital accounting, and associated markets, offers potential to attract co-investment in carbon projects that go above and beyond business-as-usual to generate social and environmental value, known as carbon project ‘co-benefits’ or as ‘core benefits’. The Victorian water corporations and CMAs aim to focus on this context when developing projects to self-generate carbon credits. 

Ndevr Environmental was engaged to deliver a practical process guide for identifying opportunities and pathways for nature-based solutions to deliver carbon, plus environmental and socio-cultural co-benefits. This strategic work has been conducted via the State-wide Climate Change Coordinator, hosted by Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority (GB CMA), with support from the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA).

Ndevr Environmental’s Nature-based Solutions team worked closely with GB CMA and DEECA to deliver the Carbon and Co-Benefit Process Guide. The resulting process was then tested at a pilot Victorian site with guidance from North East Water and Goulburn Valley Water. This work produced the following:

1. Carbon + Co-benefits Process Guide
A step-by-step process to:

  • Identify sites with strong carbon + co-benefits potential,
  • Develop carbon projects with associated activities to enhance associated co-benefits,
  • Screen aligned programs and frameworks for quantifying or certifying project benefits to social, cultural and/or environmental values,
  • Identify investor returns and potential funding sources, and
  • Register and implement projects.

2. Supplement information to the Carbon + Co-benefits Process Guide
Information to support implementation of the Guide, including detail regarding of both Victoria-specific and nation-wide tools, maps, accounting frameworks, and certifying and crediting programs that can be harnessed for application of the Guide.

3. Case Study Due Diligence Assessment of a Carbon + Co-Benefits Project Opportunity for a Victorian Pilot Site
Piloting of the process at a Victorian site of high biodiversity and cultural value identified specific opportunities for a carbon project to strengthen strategic environmental and social objectives by setting out:

  • potential activities to enhance a carbon project,
  • pathways to benefit social, cultural and environmental assets,
  • relevant co-benefit accounting frameworks,
  • potential co-benefit claims that could be made as a return to project co-investors, and
  • next steps for attracting investment, funding and progressing project development.

The pilot also offered lessons learnt and recommendations that were integrated within the final Carbon + CoB Process Guide ahead of its release.

Ndevr Environmental is proud to be working with CMAs and the Victorian water corporations on their climate action journey. The Carbon + Co-Benefits Process Guide supports the sector’s leadership within Australia’s carbon and natural capital space, and provides practical steps that other organisations may replicate to understand potential co-benefits and galvanise co-investment within Victoria or in other states. 

Launched in late 2023, the Carbon + Co-Benefits Co-Investment Guide and Supplementary Guidance form part of a suite of guidance materials released by DEECA on delivering water in a changing climate.