Hyper-complexity in the management of sustainable projects


Written by Nicol Garzón, Project Manager Coordinator.


The management of sustainable projects in a territory deserves a careful understanding of the complexity of its systems. Multiple interacting systems, composed of different variables and their relationships, converge on the territory, thus defining nodes of hyper-complexity. These nodes can be carefully managed from the collective expertise and ability to recognize the structural variables and asking the right questions before launching a response.

At the different levels of a territory, there are diverse complexities such as social, ecological, geological, edaphological, hydric, and atmospheric complexities, among many others.  These are not simple chapters of environmental impact studies (to give an example) to be presented to environmental authorities; they are a classification that allows us to understand the numerous list of variables that play a part in each territorial system. Additionally, if we add the fact that they are interconnected and are not an exclusive part of a specific classification, we are made aware of the complexity of understanding and working for the territories.

In our industry we have been inclined at different times, to provide simplistic answers for the territory, that spawn from our understanding of urban areas, without pausing to recognize the hyper-complexity of the territory and its issues, and from there, effectively add value to the territory. As humanity, despite the complexity of our thought processes, we usually use filters and lenses that simplify a territory into a handful of variables depending on the interest of the project, given the restrictions of the system: —usually— budget and time.

Faced with this critical scenario of project management in a territory, from an academic standpoint, and with the aim of recognizing the restrictions of entry, as well as the value of the territory, professionals have been investing without fear, in complex solutions for complex situations.

Interdisciplinary studies, a global understanding of projects —with all macro variables and interconnections—, the identification of the structural variables (that lesser number of variables that have an impact on a greater number of variables), and the differentiation between slow variables and fast variables, are usually heavily invested on. This investment is what allows ALLCOT to have a solid, concrete, understanding of the territorial dynamics.

It is in this scenario of a tongue-twisting language, that the purpose of ALLCOT goes beyond the design of environmental projects, by offering complex solutions to complex situations, which connect the territory and its expectations with market requirements.

ALLCOT maintains its focus on the results that add sustainable value to the territories, but recognizes and takes into account the different structural variables according to the territorial dynamics.

To our Project Managers, ALLCOT’s Project management is not a replicable formula; it is a continuous recognition of the uniqueness of each territory, and its challenges, its changing environments, and of high uncertainty. Projects in ALLCOT do not follow a linear logic, but on the contrary respond to the dynamics of change, to the adaptive processes, to the flows of social and ecological resilience and noticeably to market requirements.

Different countries of the world, including governments in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2015, have incorporated sustainable development goals, and the fulfilment of the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in their agendas, which has encouraged development of policies, programmes and projects in the territory, that either end up in a “picture-perfect result”, or go beyond, by adding collective value. It is here where managers who close the gap between policy and management, after investing in crafting the right questions, can make sustainable development projects a reality, by recognizing the limits imposed by nature, and achieving social prosperity, under the understanding of territorial complexities.

IEA-IETA-EPRI Conference on Greenhouse Gas Emission Trade


Written by Casania Fometescu, ALLCOT Group Business Development


Earlier this month, Casiana Fometescu, international CO2 consultant and ALLCOT Group business development director on Eastern Europe attended the 19th Annual Workshop on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading, jointly organized by The International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Paris.

The Conference shows the growing importance of the CO2 market worldwide. The number of attendees at the Conference doubled from last year’s, especially in terms of government representatives (e.g. United Kingdom, Switzerland, European Commission, China, New Zealand, Canada, etc.). This feeling was embodied by Mark Lewis from BNP who told the audience he feels “in the glory days of the carbon action”.

The international carbon market has become such an extended topic since national and regional governments, but also companies have developed policies to reduce emissions, and each of them has different technical details in implementation. The presentations held explained many sub-national trading schemes or carbon initiatives (Ontario, Quebec, California), national ones (New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, Columbia), and supra-national carbon markets (EU ETS). 

The following talking points are worth highlighting:

  1. The representative of the World Bank, Celine Ramstein, recognized the importance of pricing carbon and mentioned that there are 46 national and 30 subnational jurisdictions that have already implemented either carbon trading or carbon tax schemes. Yet, all the emissions trading schemes (ETS) in the world (including China) comprise just 20% from the worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG). Therefore, there is still plenty of room to broaden the scope of these mechanisms. 
  2. According to the World Bank report on the state of the carbon market, there is a diversity of carbon prices in different countries, ranging from €127/tCO2 in Sweden and €96/tCO2 in Switzerland, to €25/tCO2 in the EU ETS to less than €10/tCO2 in most countries covered by carbon pricing. Only 5% of the global GHG market has carbon prices between €40-80/tCO2.
  3. Worldwide carbon revenues by governments are also on the rise from USD 22 billion in 2016 to 33 billion USD in 2017, and 45 billion USD in 2018, according to the WB.
  4. Voluntary carbon trading volumes have been rising in recent years and companies are increasingly looking to set CO2 targets in line with the Paris Agreements, Sustainable Development Goals and EU targets for 2030 and 2050.
  5. The EU target of carbon neutrality for 2050 can be achieved only if governments reinforce their National Determined Contributions (NDCs), and set higher targets to achieve through carbon offsetting and investment in green technologies, renewable energy, and carbon storage measures.
  6. Germany would like to introduce a national sectoral trading scheme in addition to the mandatory EU ETS, which will comprise more activity sectors compared to the EU ETS. China has been moving forward on the implementation of the national ETS finalizing Phase I with the plan to realize Phase 2 “simulation exercises” before the end of this year.
  7. Article 6 negotiations of the Paris Agreement can represent an opportunity for private entities to contribute to global mitigation efforts through their participation in international market mechanisms, but also through voluntary cooperation in the implementation of the each country’s NDC. Yet, all pilot initiatives under Article 6 are government initiatives and not private ones.
  8. IETA’s 2019 GHG Market Sentiment Survey shows that 85% of respondents expect corporate voluntary action to increase over the next 5-10 years with businesses much more involved in reducing GHGs emissions and achieving their voluntary targets.

Carbon offsets for a sustainable and decarbonized future


Written by Sergi Cuadrat, Chief Technical Officer (ALLCOT)


In 2015, leaders from the member states of the United Nations agreed on objectives to shift all economies and societies toward sustainable and decarbonised development through the adoption of the Agenda 2030 on the Sustainable Development Goals (New York, September 2015) and the Paris Agreement to limit climate warming to well below 2ᵒC (Paris, December 2015). There is enormous potential for co-benefits to arise from the mutually supportive implementation processes of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) elaborated in the voluntary 2030 Agenda and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) underpinning the legally binding Paris Agreement under its Article 6.

Both frameworks, although negotiated under different multilateral processes, promote the participation of all countries and are highly interlinked: the Paris Agreement emphasizes the need for considerations of sustainability in low-carbon transitions; at the same time avoiding dangerous climate change is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Thus, failure in one process could undermine the success of the other. The implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) –countries’ emissions reduction commitments– requires huge investments, which are more likely to be financed if embedded in and benefiting national development plans. While, vice versa, prospects for sustainable development depend on a limitation of global warming. This interdependency can be seen as an opportunity to move away from the discourse of two different agendas that are often perceived to be in competition, and instead pursue their implementation in a way to maximize mutual benefits.

Several carbon offset standards such as the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard are adapting their frameworks and requirements to better define a carbon mitigation project’s impacts beyond carbon reductions, and in some cases, this may lead to the creation of other tradeable instruments in addition to carbon credits. ALLCOT assesses project alignment with the SDGs to conduct a thorough analysis of the data currently being monitored and verified at the project level, to determine whether there are additional metrics that can be tracked for SDG reporting purposes.

ALLCOT is seeing an evolution in the way our clients think about carbon finance and the additional impacts their carbon investments can have. Businesses are able to articulate the benefits of their carbon project investments beyond the verified emission reduction. We believe that businesses can use carbon finance to deliver additional value through alignment with the SDGs, enabling the carbon market to extend beyond emission reductions, and play a vital role in driving a low carbon sustainable development throughout the world.