Complaints and Appeals

SustainCERT is committed to providing a fair, transparent, and objective procedure for any stakeholder who wishes to make a Complaint about its performance, a VVB’s performance, or register any suspected non-compliance of a project with Gold Standard rules. It also provides the same principles to allow a Project Representative to Appeal a certification decision.

The following definitions and guide is designed to help stakeholders direct their enquiry.


A Complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction by any person or organisation about SustainCERT and its performance as a certification body (acting on behalf of Gold Standard (GS)) or as a validation and verification body (VVB).

When  acting on behalf of GS, a complaint may also be made to SustainCERT about other VVB performance, which SustainCERT will investigate and report the outcome to Gold Standard. Gold Standard are solely responsible for the approval, suspension, or cancellation of a VVB’s approval status. 

Please note, any expression of dissatisfaction with Gold Standard procedures and functioning, should be directed to the Gold Standard. Please refer to this procedure for further details.

Examples of Complaints are as follows:

  • SustainCERT certification body performance (for example, inconsistent or inaccurate reviews that are not serious in nature)
  • SustainCERT VVB performance (for example, inconsistent or inaccurate reviews that are not serious in nature)
  • Any other GS Validation and Verification Body (VVB) performance (for example, inaccurate opinions, unethical behaviour)


A Grievance is a special type of Complaint defined by GS as “… a “complaint,” “dispute,” “challenge,” “conflict,” and any similar term that expresses dissatisfaction with the Gold Standard procedure and functioning, including entities mentioned in 1.1.1…” of the GS Grievance Procedure.

Examples of Grievances are as follows:

a project reported it had conducted a Gold Standard stakeholder consultation, but is accused of failing to actually conduct one (which would be a non-compliance with Gold Standard rules)
Complaints can be made by sending an email to and will be managed by the Compliance Team.

If the Complaint is regarding non-compliance of a project with Gold Standard rules, then it must be clearly marked as a Grievance.


SustainCERT is committed to providing a confidential, fair, and transparent opportunity for Project Representatives to Appeal their decisions.  To ensure objectivity, Appeals are handled by different staff than those who took the decision resulting in an Appeal.

An Appeal is defined as a request by the Project Representative to SustainCERT for a reconsideration of their decision.

An appeal can only be made after a final certification decision has been taken. The types of decisions that SustainCERT make are:

  • Validation/Verification Opinions
  • GS Eligibility at Preliminary Review[1]
  • GS Design Certification/Renewal
  • GS Performance Certification
  • GS Design Change Reviews

Appeals can only be made by a Project Representative against the following:

  • negative validation/verification opinions
  • decisions to reject or decertify OR
  • alleged mistakes in decisions made by SustainCERT that are material and/or serious in nature (defined as greater than 10% emission reductions, or an error that causes significant harm[2] to a project)

The above criteria must be met in order for an Appeal to be investigated by SustainCERT.

To ensure an efficient process, Appeals make use of a template form that provides:

  • a space for the Project Representative to show how they meet the criteria for an Appeal (to ensure that Appeals are reserved for final, material and/or serious decisions made by sustainCERT)
  • a background to the project and the decision or opinion which is being appealed
  • an opportunity to communicate any mitigating circumstances for consideration

[1] Preliminary Review is not considered a certification decision unless SustainCERT decide that a project is ineligible and do not List the project – a project has the right to appeal this decision.

[2] Any claim of financial non-viability/project endangerment as a result of a SustainCERT decision will need to show a before and after scenario and provide objectively verifiable evidence in support of the claim.