A newly accredited digital public good, the National Carbon Registry will help countries meet their climate targets

August 17, 2023
Carbon credit ecosystem

Photo: UNDP/Namibia

New York City, 17 August UNDP has developed an open-source software which allows countries to effectively manage national data and processes for trading carbon credits. 

The software, called the National Carbon Registry, has recently been accredited as a digital public good (DPG). As a DPG, the registry uses open-source code, which allows countries to replicate and adapt the information to fit their own needs and contexts. The registry’s modules, software and technical documentation can be reused and tailored by countries, which could potentially reduce production costs and implementation timelines. 

“To achieve our ambitious Global Goals for the planet, we need to take an open and informed approach to digital technology that promotes integration and collaboration between different sectors and actors. We must also consider how we can work together to build digital public infrastructure (DPI) that is safe, sustainable, and inclusive for all,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.

The registry follows national and international best practices based on inputs from countries and is a result of ongoing work by the Digital4Climate (D4C) Working Group, which includes UNDP, the World Bank, the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) among others. The initiative is also supported by a community of practice for knowledge exchange. 

Built as an interoperable digital system, it can be integrated with national measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems and international digital systems such as UNDP’s voluntary cooperation platform and the global platform Climate Action Data Trust (CAD Trust) launched by the World Bank. This can result in a broader suite of digital public infrastructure to address climate challenges. 

“Developing carbon markets is an investment in our sustainable future. Digital market infrastructure will be critical to scale-up high integrity, transparent carbon markets that can be used by countries to increase the level of climate action and ambition. This is why the World Bank’s Climate Warehouse programme is working closely with our partners on the implementation of this open-source carbon registry platform,” commented Juergen Voegele, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank. 

UNDP and partners are actively exploring how DPI – of which some solutions can be DPGs – might apply to address issues related to nature, climate and energy. This is especially critical to counter the current trend of monolithic software implementations and siloed systems. 

“This initiative is a valuable opportunity for countries to work together towards a shared good with potential benefits beyond the open-source registry system. We look forward to engaging with the evolution of ideas and testing of approaches that can inform the arrangements of any country implementing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement,” said Mr. James Grabert, Director of Mitigation Division at UNFCCC.

Effective climate action requires concerted and sufficient investment. Developing countries will need more than US$6 trillion by 2030 to finance their climate action goals (as listed in their Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs). 

Carbon finance is key for the implementation of the NDCs, and the Paris Agreement enables the use of market mechanisms through provisions in Article 6. For this reason, interest in carbon markets is growing around the world, with 83 percent of NDCs stating the intent to make use of international market mechanisms to reduce GHG emissions. However, until now, there has not been an open-source software that allowed countries to start their own national registry to issue and manage carbon credits. 

Development of the National Carbon Registry has benefited from the contribution of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Japan. UNDP’s voluntary cooperation platform and the World Bank’s Climate Warehouse Program were both funded by the Government of Switzerland. 


About UNDP’s Climate Promise Initiative: 

UNDP's Climate Promise is the largest offer of support to developing countries on their pledges under the Paris Agreement, or NDCs.  Having supported enhancement processes in 85 percent of all developing country NDCs, UNDP is now also supporting efforts for implementing these pledges and building key components for monitoring and reporting on their NDCs through strengthened data and transparency.

About UNDP’s DPI approach: 

UNDP works with countries to build strong and interoperable digital public infrastructure (DPI). A critical accelerant for the SDGs, digital public infrastructure enables the provision of vital public services - from cash transfers to vaccine distribution - inclusively and at scale.

About the Digital4Climate (D4C) Working Group: 

The D4C is a working group that aims to coordinate respective workflows and create a modular and interoperable end-to-end digital ecosystem for the carbon market. The overarching goal is to support a transparent, high-integrity global carbon market that can channel capital for impactful climate action and low-carbon development.