Conservation International’s Position Statement on Nature Credits

May 23, 2024

Emerging nature credit markets have vast potential to fill gaps in biodiversity funding but need guardrails

ARLINGTON, Va. (May 23, 2024) – Today Conservation International issued “Nature Positive: CI’s position on nature credit markets,” a detailed statement on the role of “nature credits” in addressing the global crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and human development inequities. This position statement outlines the strategy and guardrails that Conservation International sees as essential for equitable and well-governed nature credit markets and details the organizational principles that Conservation International will apply to help ensure both high-integrity supply and demand for nature credits.

Also known as biodiversity credits or certificates, nature credits represent measurable, positive biodiversity outcomes from conservation, restoration and stewardship activities. They are recognized by the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) as one potential solution for closing the nature funding gap.

“Conservation is not cheap. According to U.N. estimates, we are $700 billion – per year – short of what’s required to reverse global nature loss. We need to act on new ideas. Our team believes that high-integrity and equitable nature credit markets could turbocharge private-sector interest in conservation, build confidence in project outcomes and drive more money to the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who protect so much of the world’s biodiversity,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “The market is expanding quickly, but there is a leadership vacuum. Conservation International has the know-how, experience and influence to answer complex questions of governance – and help ensure that methodologies are rigorous, the right enabling policies are in place around the world and communities can fully participate in these markets and equitably share in the benefits.” 

Conservation International’s position emphasizes the potential of such markets to fuel nature-positive economies, while also addressing the risks inherent to a new market. It recognizes that new markets are complex and, in response, all market actors must:

  • Center Indigenous Peoples and local communities – ensure their rights and traditional knowledge are recognized, safeguarded and integrated;
  • Ensure inclusive governance – support capacity-building and minimize barriers to participation for Indigenous Peoples and local communities;
  • Align with policies – recognize the roles of governments and align with national and international policy contexts;
  • Strive for net-positive outcomes – ensuring nature credit markets drive positive outcomes for both nature and people; and
  • Collaborate, learn and adapt – incorporate lessons learned from carbon markets and biodiversity offsets and collectively collaborate, learn quickly and adapt.

The position also outlines principles that Conservation International will apply to ensure both high-integrity supply and high-integrity demand for nature credits. 

On the supply-side, Conservation International’s principles include: ensuring Indigenous Peoples and local communities are safeguarded, partnered with and supported; demonstrating effective governance and building the capability of governments; and enabling long-term durability and delivering positive outcomes.

Notably, among its demand-side principles, Conservation International puts forth specific actions buyers must work towards and notes that it will not support the use of nature credits from companies that undermined the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Paris Agreement or any related policies. 

“There’s going to be a learning curve for this process no matter what, but we’re ready to monitor progress, learn and adapt our approach along the way,” said Chris Stone, vice president of long-term finance at Conservation International. “Building a whole new type of market is a challenge but one that we are willing to take on to safeguard our fragile Earth and the people who depend on it.”

Learn more about nature credit markets and read Conservation International’s full position statement here.


About Conservation International: Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, for biodiversity and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities to help people and nature thrive together. Go to for more, and follow our work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitterTikTokInstagram and YouTube.