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Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI)

Background and Objective

Promoting sustainable development (SD) is as an overarching objective of voluntary cooperation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. At the same time, views on how to interpret and operationalize the SD provisions on Article 6 differ, and the interaction between climate and development objectives in market-based activities is not yet entirely understood. Tools and approaches that support Parties and stakeholders in assessing the sustainability impacts of climate action under Article 6 in a comparable and structured manner do not yet exist.

With the aim to explore Parties’ and other stakeholder’s views on how to operationalize and implement the SD provisions for Article 6, the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI) was launched in 2017. Based on technical work, research and analysis, the SDI presents options on how to operationalize the Article 6 provisions on SD and aims at fostering an inclusive dialogue that strengthens SD considerations in voluntary cooperation. 


The Initiative is a collaboration of UNEP CCC and the Gold Standard Foundation supported by Belgium, Finland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. During its first two years of operation, options and text proposals aimed at strengthening the role of SD in market-based cooperation have been developed. These text recommendations were discussed with numerous negotiation Parties during a series of roundtable discussions and workshops, while feedback from civil society and the private sector was also collected. With these text proposals continue being a core focus of the Initiative, the SDI is now also pioneering and sharing experiences from the implementation of SD approaches in the context of Article 6 pilots for the design of new market mechanisms.

Milestones and Outlook

Since its inception in 2017, the SDI has supported knowledge sharing and exchange of experience among Parties, helping to mature the operationalization of SD provisions at domestic as well as international levels. The moderated roundtable discussions organised by the initiative are summarized in a series of policy briefs, each of which outlines the key issue, provides considerations relevant to Article 6 and puts forward text recommendations for provisions.

While there is an indication that thinking on SD has clearly evolved over the last years, there is a continued need for awareness raising on the linkages between climate and development objectives and on how to promote synergies and avoid trade-offs. Against this backdrop, the SDI continues its work on promoting strong SD provisions through a combination of a Party-driven policy dialogue, piloting of SD tools and approaches as well as outreach and strategic partnerships for a community of practice.

Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI)

Role of BMWK: Research funding

Lifecycle: since 2017

Implementation: UNEP DTU Partnership

Other Participants: Gold Standard Foundation

Contact: Karen Holm Olsen,

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