Consultancy to develop harmonized protocols to build carbon markets integrity, and stimulate public and private investment in climate resilient-green and blue economies in the Congo Blue Fund’s country

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 🇪🇹

Result of Service

  1. A consultancy workplan is delivered one week after the appointment.
  2. A draft outlooks of the standardized and harmonized protocols covering four selected sectors are prepared and submitted to ECA three weeks after the appointment.
  3. Draft protocols for the selected sectors including all the comments made by ECA are prepared and presented to ECA two months after the appointment.
  4. Final protocols of approximately 50-60 pages for each sector (indicated in point 3 under deliverables) including all the additional comments made by the Congo Blue Fund’s member countries and ECA are presented to ECA three months after the appointment.
    All the deliverables including annexes, notes and reports should be submitted in English. Upon receipt of the deliverables and prior to the payment of the first installment, the deliverables and related reports and documents will be reviewed and approved by ECA. The period of review is one week after receipt.

Work Location


Expected duration

The consultant will work 60 working days. The contract will span over a period of three months, starting from Mid-October 2021 till Mid-January 2022.

Duties and Responsibilities


Globally, there is an increasing recognition that forest carbon financial flows are an essential vehicle to accelerate the implementation and delivery of global, regional and national plans and programmes aiming to increase conservation of forest and other related ecosystems, achieve responsible production and consumption, and propel economic growth towards sustainable patterns. On such patterns, GDP growth is decoupled from fossil energy input, minimum CO2 and wastes are released in the environment, excessive pressure on natural resources are restrained, decent jobs are created and expanded to many, and several other challenges to societies such as the spread of zoonotic diseases and migratory pests including desert locusts, and political instability induced by excessive stresses of climate change and natural disasters on ecosystems are contained to large extents. Among the major policy instruments that promote those financial flows aimed at conserving forest ecosystems, and promote conservation efforts by land holders, are carbon pricing and trading, mainly tradable carbon emission credits or offsets generated by carbon emission offset by those conservation efforts or programmes. The transactions of such offsets that generally have been occurring either through market mechanisms (voluntary and compliance carbon offset schemes) and non-market mechanisms mainly through REDD+ have also been growing over the past years, despite several challenges that have been corrected to some extents through public policy. Growth of such transactions is significant across other regions, but it remains marginal in Africa, which unfortunately is endowed with vast forest and water resources including the resources from the Congo Basin Forest. The Basin’s forest ranks second after the Amazon Forest regarding mitigation of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel; the major cause of excessive climate change seen globally over the past centuries. This means that Africa has little or no reward on the mitigation services rendered to the rest of the world by its conserved forests. Among the reasons for this limitation to attract forest carbon funds, and scale-up carbon credit and trading are limited institutional capacities to manage the carbon credit trading machinery, low prices for forest carbon, and weak or inexistent carbon markets integrity. Market integrity here is taken in a broader sense as being endowed with those key attributes known in trade laws and policy such as predictability, free from unfair practices regarding monitoring, verification, accounting, and transacting offsets within the markets, even downstream markets, foreclosing, faints, unfair competition, discrimination, and gambits. Among other important things, those improvements are aided adoption and effective use of internationally established rules, standards, regulations and principles including on transparency regarding corporate information, price information, equal and fair access to the markets, equal treatment and firms, brokers, retailers, and other participants.

Although some efforts have been ongoing to improve the institutional capacities across Africa region over the past decade, very little efforts have been made to build such market integrity, yet it is with the latter that significantly boosts transparency, predictability, and trust, which are widely known to give rise to efficient transactions that attract investors. Building such a market integrity will help African countries to improve delivery on some of their commitments including those made through the Paris Agreement aimed at contributing to global efforts to reduce global warming and the effects of climate change, and the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development ARFSD-7 (2021) as well as the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) (2021) held through the auspices of ECOSSOC. Among other important things, the latter have recommended development of transformative initiatives to scale-up, through the Congo Blue Fund, investment in in conservation of forest, and other crucial ecosystems including peatland, mangroves, that not only play an important role in regulating the environment (climate), but also support development of economies and societies across Africa and beyond.

To support African countries increase the delivery on some of those commitments, the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management Division (TCND) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has started providing technical and substantive supports (intervention) to the Congo Blue Fund to build carbon market integrity, scale-up public and private investment in biodiversity conservation, and several other developmental goals alluded to early. To accelerate this intervention that needs additional skills that are not available in ECA, ECA is seeking the services of an international consultant to accelerate the development of standardized and harmonized protocols that will serve both market based mechanism and non-market based-mechanisms. The protocols will help establish transparency, accountability, predictability, trust and efficiency that generally are good stimulus for investments. Among other important things, the standardized protocols will outline common and harmonized rules, standards, and procedures that special programmes within the Blue Fund will use to allow efficient design, administration, and execution of projects, measurements, monitoring and evaluation, and transactions of offsets. The main offsets will relate to carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide(s), and methane. The concentrations of the latter could be expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent, using the basic principles of chemistry. The main investors intended for are international developers, entrepreneurs, and firms, and those specialized in cross-border production sharing and trade, in GHG reduction, avoidance, removal, markets.

The main objective of the intervention is to strengthen ECA’s accountability to national, regional and global development partners, the member countries of the Congo Blue Fund, AU, RECs, United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UNGA to improve its delivery on some of its core areas of actions, think tank, policy advocacy, capacity building through technical cooperation and consensus building on the important matters concerning sustainable development in Africa.

The specific objectives of the intervention are to:

Develop series of standardized protocols that will be subjected to validation by the Congo Blue Fund’s member countries, and other key stakeholders, with the support of ECA. Development of the standardized protocols will use national data and other relevant input. The standardized protocol for each specific programme on carbon offset in the Congo Blue Fund will be needed. It will be used by all member countries of the Fund. Protocols will follow the internationally established accounting principles and standards, in all steps including eligibility criteria, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, etc. This will allow harmonization, and improve the workings of the markets.

The protocols will inform ECA’s recommendations to the principals of the Congo Blue Fund to build forest carbon market’s integrity that will promote public and private investment in biodiversity/forest conservation, climate adaptation/mitigation and blue and green economy growth plans. The development of the protocols shall be rigorous, i.e. making factual claims that are backed up by authoritative sources both in the substance and methodology. Its language, tone, style and messaging shall be accessible to the wider community of policy practitioners.


Under the Supervision of the Director of TCND the Consultant will assume the following responsibilities:

The development standardized protocols will cover the following and other relevant aspects. A standardized protocol for each specific programme on carbon offset in the Congo Blue Fund will be needed. It will be used by all member countries of the Fund. Protocols will follow the internationally established accounting principles and standards, in all steps including eligibility criteria, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, etc. This will allow harmonization, and improve the workings of the markets.

  1. Map out, and assess/review the existing practices followed by the Congo Blue Fund’s country members in programmes/projects relating to GHG reduction, avoidance, and removal including through REDD+ and other schemes. The following and several other aspects will be covered.

• Existing rules, norms, regulations and practices in the Congo Blue Fund’s country members in in GHG reduction, avoidance, and removal markets.

• REDD+ process and funding mechanisms focusing on offset cycles, average market prices.

• Volumes and prices by project types, e.g. voluntary market forestry and land use credits, renewable energy, etc.

• Transactions happening between primary markets and secondary markets, covering project developers, brokers, retailers, and end buyers by sectors including consumer goods, finance, airlines, energy, food and beverage, shipping, etc.

• Drivers of price volatility.

• Existing types of projects, e.g. avoided unplanned deforestation, avoided planned deforestation, afforestation/reforestation, improved forest management, sustainable agriculture, etc.

  1. Develop standardized protocols outlined early following the conventional GHG emission management approaches and focusing on the aspects listed below. Also include in the standardized protocols additional aspects that are suitable to the socioeconomic, geophysical, climatological, and other conditions of the countries and/or locations for which the protocols will be applicable. Countries will be selected by ECA and informed to the consultant upon the commencement of the contract. The consultant and ECA will deliberate and agree on those aspects to be added to the following.

a. Principles of eligibility

b. Accounting guidelines: project definition, offset crediting, reference standards following internationally established principles including ISO14064, WRI/WBCSD GHG protocols, etc., project location, performance standard, tests, assessment boundaries, quantification of emissions, project monitoring, handling of double-counting, methods of calculation including forecasting approaches.

c. Project/programmes’ rules and procedures (at the Blue Fund level and country level): registration of accounts, submittal, fees, listing, titles, conflict of interests, project completion, verification, validation, and reporting, managing over issuances, appeals, and grievances, etc.

d. Adapt the protocols to the following and other areas based on the needs/priorities of the assessed country/location/region.

i. Land and land use
• Afforestation
• Agroforestry
• Grassland/ranged land management
• Improved forest management
• Regenerative agriculture
• Urban forestry
• Wetland restoration/management
• Peatland management), etc.

ii. Energy and industry
• Cleaner cookers
• Hydropower
• Solar power
• Waste management/recycling/re-use, etc.

  1. Recommend efficient ways to tackle the following

• Mutual recognition of protocols.
• Shared carbon market infrastructure including such key issues as development of common registry of offsets, communication among members’ registries, and avoidance of double-counting.
• Increased mitigation ambition, using case-by-case review and negotiation, learning from WTO, or UNFCCC’s 2013 Warsaw Framework from REDD, etc.
• Institutional capacity building.
• Increase access to green investment capital.
• Boarder carbon adjustment, following the WTO and other rules.

Qualifications/special skills

Competency: Strong analytical skills, including in GHG emission monitoring, forecasting using numerical and other relevant models, accounting, reporting, and trading.
Strong ability to quickly assess various data with a high level of precision and quality.
Mastery of new technology and related applications in communication to the wider public.
Familiarity with the principles of confidentiality and ethical code of conducts during the exercise.
Ability to work under pressure.
Ability to complete the required tasks timely.
Familiarity with UN work ethics.
Ability to work in multicultural and multidisciplinary settings.
High sense of professionalism, diplomacy, tact, and civility.

Skills: Excellent communication skills and capabilities are required.

Academic Qualifications: An advanced university degree (Masters’ degree, or preferably PhD) in environmental economics, engineering trade, laws and economics, engineering, biogeochemistry, geophysics, physical chemistry, forestry, environmental sciences, environmental engineering, energy economics, energy engineering, with a specialization in GHG emission monitoring, forecasting using numerical and other relevant models, accounting, reporting, and trading is required.

Experience: Nine (9) years or more of relevant national/international experience in strong analytical skills, including in GHG emission offset analysis/characterization, monitoring, forecasting, accounting, reporting, trading, and programmes/project design, implementation, analysis, and administration are required. A track record of publications in peer reviewed journals, contribution to intergovernmental reports relating to carbon emission trading, environmental economics, climate economics, environmental engineering, environmental management, environmental laws, laws and economics, and sound intellectual leadership in areas relevant to the evaluation is required. Contribution to international debates relating to climate change, and development planning is required. Experience of working in Africa and knowledge of Congo Basin countries is desirable.

Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this consultancy, Fluency in English or French in writing and speaking, with working knowledge of the other language is required. Fluency in French is highly desirable.

Additional Information

The consultant is expected to travel during the assignment to Republic of Congo and four to five other countries of the Congo Basin. All travels costs associated with this consultancy will be covered separately by ECA according to prevailing UN rules and regulations. Estimates are in a separate file.

Travel –APPLICABLE, Travel is applicable subject to lifting/relaxing of the limitations/conditions imposed by the COVID-19 by UN and in regards to COVID-19 spread prevention announcement by the the Government of the Congo requiring incoming travelers to Congo one affected State for a 7 days’ self-quarantine in designated hotel.

No Fee