Accreditation of independent entities

Accreditation is the process by which independent entities are authorised to determine Joint Implementation (JI) project activities and verify the emission reductions generated by them.

Requirements for accreditation

The general requirements for accreditation are set out in Standards and procedures for the accreditation of independent entities, contained in 9/CMP.1, Annex, Appendix A (available here).

At its tenth meeting, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP) requested that the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC) elaborate further standards for accreditation consistent with the Standards and procedures for the accreditation of independent entities in 9/CMP.1, Annex, Appendix A:

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol ...

  1. Requests the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee to establish and execute a work programme including the following tasks: ...
    1. To further elaborate, as a priority, standards and procedures for the accreditation of independent entities, consistent with appendix A of the guidelines for the implementation of Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol attached to decision 9/CMP.1, taking into consideration, as appropriate, the procedures for accrediting operational entities developed by the Executive Board of the clean development mechanism (10/CMP.1, paragraph 2(b)).

At its fourth meeting, the JISC agreed on the Procedure for accrediting independent entities by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC 4, Annex 1), and began the accreditation process on 15 November 2006.

A revised version of the Procedure for accreditation was adopted by the JISC at its sixth meeting (JISC 6, Annex 3). The most recent version (Version 6), which was adopted by the JISC at its twenty-first meeting (JISC 21, Annex 2) is available on the UNFCCC website here.

Assessment process

The stages of the assessment process, which are all carried out by the selected Joint Implementation Assessment Team (JI-AT) are set out in full in the Procedure for accrediting independent entities by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee.  In brief, however, those stages are:

  • A preliminary desk review of application documents;
  • An on-site assessment of the applicant independent entity's premises, in order to verify its capacity to undertake determination and verification work;
  • Verification of the correction of any identified non-conformities with the requirements for accreditation;
  • Witnessing of a determination and verification activity in relation to a project;
  • Preparation of a preliminary report;
  • Preparation of a final report to the Joint Implementation Assessment Panel (JI-AP); and
  • Decision by the JISC regarding accreditation.

The Procedure for accrediting independent entities by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee also provides and opportunity for Parties, UNFCCC accredited NGOs and stakeholders to provide input on applicant independent entities during the assessment process.

Upon the adoption of Version 6 of the JI Accreditation Procedure the JISC decided to cancel the following documents, which were incorporated into the Accreditation Procedure:

  • Clarification regarding conditions for designated operational entities for acting provisionally as accredited independent entities (C-JI-ACCR-01);
  • The Clarification regarding scopes and steps of witnessing activities under the joint implementation accreditation procedure (C-JI-ACCR-02);
  • The Clarification regarding identification of witnessing opportunities by designated operational entities acting provisionally as accredited independent entities (C-JI-ACCR-03);
  • The Clarification regarding responsibility of accredited premises of accredited independent entities (C-JI-ACCR-04);
  • The Clarification regarding monitoring period of joint implementation project for witnessing of verification function of applicant independent entities (C-JI-ACCR-05); and
  • The Clarification regarding the timing of witnessing activities (C-JI-ACCR-07).

A number of forms used during the desk review, on-site assessment and witnessing are also available on the UNFCCC website here.

Role of the JISC

The JISC is responsible for accrediting independent entities in accordance with the criteria:

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol ...

  1. Requests the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee ...
    1. To accredit independent entities in accordance with the standards and procedures for the accreditation of independent entities as contained in appendix A of the guidelines for the
      implementation of Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol (10/CMP.1, paragraph 2(c)).

Independent entities are accredited by the JISC upon a recommendation by the Joint Implementation Accreditation Panel (JI-AP), which is advised by a specially constituted Joint Implementation Assessment Team (JI-AT).

Role of the JI-AP

The JI-AP was established to support the JISC in the accreditation of independent entities and related functions. The JI-AP makes recommendations to the JISC regarding the following matters, set out in the Terms of reference for the establishment of the joint implementation accreditation panel, adopted by the JISC at its second meeting (JISC 2, Annex 4):

In accordance with the detailed procedures to operationalize the accreditation of independent entities, the JI-AP shall make recommendations to the JISC regarding:

  1. The accreditation of an applicant independent entity;
  2. The suspension of accreditation of an accredited independent entity (AIE);
  3. The withdrawal of accreditation of an AIE;
  4. The re-accreditation of an AIE (Terms of reference for the establishment of the joint implementation accreditation panel, Version 1, JISC 2, Annex 4, paragraph 3).

In order to make these recommendations, the JI-AP must carry out the following tasks:

The tasks identified in the paragraph above imply that, inter alia, the following activities are to be carried out by the JI-AP:

  1. Selecting the members of a JI accreditation assessment team (JI-AT) as and when required;
  2. Identifying and defining key areas or issues to be addressed by a JI-AT;
  3. Receiving and considering recommendations by a JI-AT with regard to an application of an applicant independent entity;
  4. Determining whether to recommend to the JISC the suspension of accreditation of an AIE;Determining the need for witnessing activity(ies) in cases where no suspension was agreed by the JISC;
  5. Determining whether, in the case of re-accreditation, an on-site visit and witnessing of the AIE are required;
  6. Deciding, based on a recommendation by a JI-AT, on the inclusion of an applicant independent entity in the publicly available list of applicant independent entities that meet organizational and operational requirements but which have not yet been assessed against those requirements relating to performing determination activities;
  7. Making recommendations to the JISC on the above issues, as applicable (Terms of reference for the establishment of the joint implementation accreditation panel, Version 1, JISC 2, Annex 4, paragraph 4).

Therefore, the JI-AP selects a JI-AT for the application, receives its recommendations and then delivers its own recommendations on accreditation to the JISC.

Role of the JI-AT

The JI-AT is required to undertake an assessment of the application for accreditation under the guidance of the JI-AP and prepare an assessment report setting out its conclusions, as described in the Terms of reference for joint implementation assessment teams, adopted by the JISC at its second meeting (JISC 8, Annex 1, replacing Version 1 at JISC 4, Annex 4):

In accordance with the JI accreditation procedure, a JI-AT shall undertake an assessment of an applicant independent entity (IE) and/or accredited IE (AIE) and prepare an assessment report to the JI-AP. A JI-AT is established based on the characteristics of the applicant IE or AIE and the sectoral scopes that the applicant IE is applying for or AIE is accredited. The team members are drawn from a roster of experts. The experts shall fulfil the minimum requirements identified herein; any additional competence relevant to a particular assessment shall be taken into account in the selection of team members (Terms of reference for joint implementation assessment teams, Version 2, JISC 8, Annex 1, paragraph 3).

In order to make these recommendations, the JI-AT must carry out the following tasks:

The tasks identified in paragraph 2 imply that, inter alia, the following activities are carried out by a JI-AT:

  1. A desktop review of the application and relevant documentation of an applicant IE;
  2. Deciding on number of witnessing activities required and finalizing its work plan, in particular, for the witnessing activities with regard to the scope(s) and detail of the on-site assessment of
    the applicant IE;
  3. On-site assessment of the office(s) managing the operations of the applicant IE;
  4. Witnessing of the activities performed by the applicant IE;
  5. Verification of the implementation of corrective actions to address non-conformities;
  6. Preparation of a preliminary report on the assessment of the applicant IE;
  7. Preparation of a final report;
  8. To conduct a spot-check assessment of an AIE as mandated by the JI-AP;
  9. Making recommendations to the JI-AP on the above issues, as applicable, in accordance with the JI accreditation procedure (Terms of reference for joint implementation assessment teams, Version 2, JISC 8, Annex 1, paragraph 4).

Therefore, it is the members of the JI-AT that undertake the desktop review, on-site assessment and witnessing activities described in the assessment process above, and on the basis of these, prepare a report to the JI-AP in relation to the application for accreditation.

The members of the JI-AT are paid directly by the applicant independent entity for carrying out the review.  The quantum of these fees is set out in the Indicative level of fees to be paid to Joint Implementation Assessment Team by Applicant Independent Entity or Accredited Independent Entity.  Version 2 of this document (JISC 8, Annex 2, replacing Version 1 at JISC 4, Annex 5) is available here.  These fees are in addition to the fees charged by the JISC to cover its administrative expenses, as described below.

Provisional accreditation

The COP/MOP decided at its tenth meeting that designated operational entities (DOEs) under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) would be eligible to act provisionally as accredited independent entities (AIEs) until the JISC had finalised its accreditation procedure.  However, determinations and verifications are only valid after the accreditation of the independent entity is confirmed:

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol ...

  1. Further decides that:
    1. Designated operational entities under the clean development mechanism may act provisionally as accredited independent entities under Article 6 until the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee has approved its procedures for accreditation;
    2. Those designated operational entities that apply for accreditation under the approved procedures for accreditation may continue to act provisionally as accredited independent entities until a final accreditation decision is taken;
    3. The determinations and relevant activities undertaken under these provisions shall be valid only after the accreditation of the independent entity is finalized (10/CMP.1, paragraph 3).

Fees for accreditation

At its fourth meeting, the JISC developed a fee structure for accreditation applications, as set out below.  This fee structure was endorsed by the COP/MOP at its 2nd meeting:

Fees for accreditation:

  1. Application fee: USD 15,000 per application (one-off payment, non-reimbursable);
  2. Cost of the work by assessment teams: direct payment from applicant or accredited independent entities (Provisions for the charging of fees to cover administrative costs relating to activities of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee, JISC 4, paragraph 1; 3/CMP.2, paragraph 16(a)).

At its fifth meeting, the JISC agreed to introduce a provision by which applicant independent entities from non-Annex I Parties and Annex I Parties with economies in transition may pay 50% of the non-reimbursable application fee when the entities apply for accreditation, provided that these entities pay the remaining 50% once they are accredited. This provision has been effective from 1 November 2006. Applicant independent entities wishing to use this provision must indicate so in the message requesting the information on the payment of application fee referred to in the instruction above (JISC 5, paragraph 11).

Fees are also payable directly to the Joint Implementation Assessment Team (JI-AT) members undertaking the assessment by the independent entity, as discussed above.

Applying for accreditation

In order to apply for accreditation, independent entities should:

  • Request from the secretariat the instructions for the payment of the non-reimbursable application fee (USD 15,000). The information can be requested by sending a message to the secretariat indicating a fax number to which the information should be forwarded. In addition, a copy of the message should be sent to ji-accreditation@unfccc.int;
  • Download and fill in the Application for accreditation by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee form (F-JI-A).  The current version of this form (Version 1) was adopted by the JISC at its fourth meeting (JISC 4, Annex 3) and is available on the UNFCCC website here; and
  • Submit to the secretariat eight copies of both the application form and the documents referred to in Part 5 of the form by post to the address listed on the UNFCCC website here.

Processing of the application commences upon receipt of the non-reimbursable application fee and confirmation that the documentation is complete (Procedure for accrediting independent entities by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee, JISC 21, Annex 2, paragraph 26).

Joint Implementation Accreditation Standard

The JISC introduced the Joint Implementation Accreditation Standard at its 21st meeting.  The document consolidates into a single standard all previous and current JI accreditation requirements with the objective of facilitating and promoting a clear and common understanding of the JI accreditation requirements. The standard came into effect on 15 April 2010.

The Accreditation Standard covers the following areas:

  • Legal status;
  • Financial stability and insurance;
  • Management structure;
  • Impartiality;
  • Human resources and competence;
  • Determination and verification processes;
  • Quality management system;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Complaints, disputes and appeals handling processes; and
  • Pending judicial processes.

A detailed overview of the accreditation standard is provided here.

Sectoral scopes

At its fourth meeting, the JISC established a list of sectoral scopes (JISC 4, Annex 2).  The list subsumed by Annex 1 of the Procedure for accrediting independent entities by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (Version 6) and is available here. AIEs can only determine and verify projects within the sector for which they are accredited.  The JISC also clarified that DOEs acting provisionally as AIEs are only permitted to determine and verify projects within the sector for which they are accredited and designated under the CDM (noting that DOEs accredited for the forestry sector under the CDM may determine and verify projects in the LULUCF sector under JI).  Appendix A to the list of sectoral scopes did contain general competence criteria required of applicant independent entities and AIEs.  However, the competency of independent entities is now covered by the Join Implementation Accreditation Standard. A detailed overview of the accreditation standard is provided here.

Withdrawal of accreditation

The COP/MOP decided at its first meeting that the JISC would have the power to suspend or withdraw the accreditation of an independent entity if it no longer meets the requirements for accreditation:

The Article 6 Supervisory Committee shall suspend or withdraw the accreditation of an independent entity if it has carried out a review and found that the entity no longer meets the accreditation standards laid down in appendix A. The Article 6 Supervisory Committee may suspend or withdraw accreditation only after the accredited independent entity has had the opportunity of a hearing and depending on the outcome of the hearing. The suspension or withdrawal is with immediate effect.  The affected entity shall be notified, immediately and in writing, once the Article 6 Supervisory Committee has decided upon its suspension or withdrawal. The decision by the Article 6 Supervisory Committee on such a case shall be made public (9/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 42).

Advising on the suspension or withdrawal of accreditation of an AIE is one of the functions of theJI-AP:

  1. In accordance with the detailed procedures to operationalize the accreditation of independent entities, the JI-AP shall make recommendations to the JISC regarding: ...
    1. The suspension of accreditation of an accredited independent entity (AIE);
    2. The withdrawal of accreditation of an AIE.
  2. The tasks identified in the paragraph above imply that, inter alia, the following activities are to be carried out by the JI-AP: ...
    1. Determining whether to recommend to the JISC the suspension of accreditation of an AIE (Terms of reference for the establishment of the Joint Implementation Accreditation Panel, JISC 2, Annex 4, paragraphs 3(b)-(c) and 4(d)).

Suspension or withdrawal of accreditation may only occur after the AIE, and the participants in any determined or verified projects that may be adversely affected by the suspension or withdrawal, have had an opportunity for a hearing:

Any suspension or withdrawal of an accredited independent entity that adversely affects verified projects shall be decided on by the Article 6 Supervisory Committee only after the affected project
participants have had the opportunity of a hearing (9/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 44).

Any projects determined or verified by an independent entity whose accreditation has been suspended or withdrawn shall not be affected unless significant deficiencies are identified in relation to the determination or verification.  However, if a review reveals that excess ERUs have been issued to a project as a result of such deficiencies, the independent entity must acquire an amount of ERUs or AAUs equivalent to the excess and transfer them to the holding account of the host Party:

Verified projects shall not be affected by the suspension or withdrawal of the accreditation of an accredited independent entity unless significant deficiencies are identified in the determination referred to in paragraphs 33 or 37 above for which the entity was responsible. In this case, the Article 6 Supervisory Committee shall decide whether a different accredited independent entity shall be appointed to assess and, where appropriate, correct such deficiencies. If such an assessment reveals that excess ERUs have been transferred as a result of the deficiencies identified in the determination referred to in paragraphs 33 or 37 above, the independent entity whose accreditation has been withdrawn or suspended shall acquire an equivalent amount of AAUs and ERUs and place them in the holding account of theParty hosting the project within 30 days from the assessment mentioned above (9/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 43).

Any costs associated with the review referred to above must be borne by the independent entity whose accreditation has been withdrawn or suspended:

Any costs relating to the assessment referred to in paragraph 44 above shall be borne by the accredited independent entity whose accreditation has been withdrawn or suspended (9/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 45).

It should be noted that although this paragraph refers to 'paragraph 44 above' this is likely to be a typographical error and should refer to paragraph 43.

Accredited independent entities

A list of accredited independent entities is available here.

The Procedures for accrediting independent entities by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee provides that once the JI-AP has decided that the desk review and the on-site assessment have been successfully completed, it will issue an 'indicative letter'.  A list of independent entities that have been issued an indicative letter is available here.

A list of provisionally acting AIEs (that is, DOEs under the CDM that have submitted their application for accreditation but the application has not been processed) is available here.

A list of applicant independent entities whose applications are open for comment is available here.

Related topics

Accredited independent entity

Withdrawal of accreditation

Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee

Joint Implementation Accreditation Panel

Joint Implementation Assessment Team