Ecosystem Services Market Update: November, 2018


Posted Nov. 20, 2018

Good afternoon,
I wanted to share a quick update as we head into the Thanksgiving break.

We convened a meeting with some of the major food and beverage firms in Chicago on November 1st to walk them through a draft modules of the ESM protocol. The meeting was well attended and we received terrific feedback that is being incorporated into the final protocol set for completion by year end. Many of the attending corporations shared their interest in becoming an ESM member to support the program. Debbie Reed and Rori Cowan did an amazing job presenting the culmination of many months of hard work by the protocol team that includes Kieser & Associates.

The protocol team began earlier in the year with assessing relevant market-based protocols in the carbon, water quality, and water quantity (C/W/W) markets. During this phase they examined 34 protocols in total (18 carbon, 15 water quality, and 1 water quantity). They then reviewed relevant quantification tools and methodologies used in these C/W/W markets assessing 23 models in all (7 carbon, 12 water quality, and 4 water quantity). For each they delved into 8 categories and 34 subcategories to examine the model capabilities, temporal & spatial scale, inputs, outputs, val/cal, and past market uses.

This diligence set the stage for the design of ESM‘s tiered crediting system. The two tiers address buyer demand where Tier 2 builds on and includes all elements of Tier 1, creating a step-wise system & logic. Tier 1 is the “Inset Credits Tier” developed to generate credits to meet Scope III reporting requirements for carbon and potentially water quality and water quantity. Tier 2 is the “Offset Credits Tier” developed to generate credits for existing carbon offset and water quality improvement or offset markets.

We plan on hosting another food and beverage meeting early in 2019 to appraise them of the final draft protocol and discuss the pilot phase planned beginning next year.

We are in the final stages of selecting an Agency of Record firm to start the work of communication, messaging, branding, and positioning for the ESM program. The search started earlier this summer and candidates have gone through a rigorous screening and selection process. We are confident we will land on an amazing agency to realize the potential for the ESM program. The plan is to have the firm selected and begin work in Q1 of 2019.

Following in depth discussions with Field to Market, we have executed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at cementing our intent to explore new market opportunities for producers who are committed to improving soil health. The press release on FTM‘s site offers additional detail on this collaboration.

The last in-person Steering Committee meeting held at the end of October in Washington D.C. was very productive, giving Steering Committee members a chance to dive deep into the protocol, technical assistance, and market potential. Our next in-person Steering Committee is slated for December in Durham, NC and will give us the chance to plan for a very busy 2019!

If you want to meet up with any of our Steering Committee members, be sure to check out the On The Road section of our monthly newsletter to see what conferences and roundtables we plan to attend.

Again, thanks to those active ESM members for their continuous contributions to this ambitious effort. I will provide an update again next month.

Let us know if you have any questions. Have a peaceful Thanksgiving break.

Sean Penrith
Gordian Knot Strategies

Noble Research Institute, LLC ( is an independent nonprofit agricultural research organization dedicated to delivering solutions to great agricultural challenges. Headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Noble Research Institute conducts fundamental, translational and applied research; offers no-cost consultation and education to farmers, ranchers and land managers; operates seven research and demonstration farms; and educates students of all ages about science and agriculture. The Noble Research Institute was founded by Lloyd Noble, an Oklahoma oilman and philanthropist, in 1945 as The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to advance agriculture and land stewardship.

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