Many CDM activities attracted criticism on account of their poor contribution to sustainable development and their dubious environmental integrity. Their social compatibility was often put into question. Host country populations affected by the projects often have little influence on how they are conducted and are rarely able to lend their voice to the international debate. Against this background, CDM Watch was launched with financial support from the BMU to act as a controlling body to monitor the undesired effects of the CDM.
The idea behind CDM Watch was to empower sections of society in selected host countries to enable them to influence how projects are conducted, have a voice in the international debate on the design of the flexible mechanisms and represent their interests both nationally and internationally. The project thus helped to improve the environmental and sustainable development benefits arising from the CDM.
A focal point of the work performed by CDM Watch involved providing support for societies in the Global South. CDM Watch had repeatedly revealed inadequate regulations and practices there. It organised capacity-building workshops to target populations in India, China, Brazil, South-East Asia and Mesoamerica. CDM Watch also supported national organisations in the host countries to help them better prepare for the challenges faced in local stakeholder consultations. Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, CDM Watch strived to improve the environmental and social integrity of UN offsetting schemes. In particular, the disclosure by CDM Watch of the “perverse incentives” in HFC-23 destruction projects attracted huge attention.
The work of CDM Watch led to an improvement in the regulations for local stakeholder consultations, increased the relevance of sustainable development in the CDM and drew attention to the importance of human rights in this context. In addition to its function as an interest and control group, CDM Watch succeeded in linking more than 800 civil society organisations in developing countries through the CDM Watch network.
CDM Watch was funded as part of the International Climate Change Initiative operated by BMU. Since then, CDM Watch has extended its focus to a wider range of carbon market initiatives. CDM Watch was re-established in November 2012 as Carbon Market Watch and now focuses its activities on other areas such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, Article 6 and REDD+. Carbon Market Watch continues its work without financial support from the German government.