Without a robust system to confirm that restoration projects are in place and functioning as they should be, we wouldn’t know whether an ecosystem market was achieving its intended results. We define verification in this USDA-funded report as the practice of confirming whether an assertion is true under an agreed level of scrutiny. In other words, did you do what you said you were going to do? The challenge in designing an effective verification process can be the balancing act between rigor and cost. How much verifying is enough? We think we’ve come up with a good idea.
After reviewing international standards for environmental management systems and the guiding principles for water quality trading established by the National Network, we developed a concept draft for a water quality trading program audit. This draft concept represents our current best thinking on how a water quality trading audit would work, proposing a process that would:
- Review program consistency with the guiding principles for water quality trading established by the National Network on Water Quality Trading;
- Affirm that processes and controls are in place to ensure that whoever is reviewing and reporting on credits (agency, permittee, or third party) are at a low risk of doing so inaccurately and/or inappropriately; and
- Confirm that an independent reviewer visited a sample of projects, based on risk, and uncovered no significant inconsistencies with the projects that were reviewed.
Read the Water Quality Trading Program Audit – Concept Draft or read the article, “Verifying Environmental Credits: How Much Is Enough?”