Valuing local provenance and place-based economies in natural capital and low carbon markets and industries

November 23rd, 2021

Image: Elsa Guyder

Project duration

October 2021 to December 2025

The challenge

Australia’s Indigenous and agricultural enterprises and estates are vast; they make important contributions to Australia’s natural wealth and are vital to the nation’s ecosystem services and low emission future. These contributions, and the management role played by local land managers, including indigenous land managers, are not well accounted for in existing carbon or biodiversity accounting and business model frameworks. A range of private market actors have signalled an appetite for quantifying and qualifying these contributions and co-developing with local communities a set of legitimate, credible co-benefits that are valued in the sustainability marketplace and leveraged within existing or emerging ecosystem accounting frameworks.

Despite progress made, just and inclusive carbon markets, technologies and solutions are failing to deliver equitable outcomes for local communities. With close focus on indigenous and rural communities, this work will demonstrate if (and how) in-practice and fit-for-purpose methods can illuminate and incorporate community-identified values, preserve and build local knowledge systems, and support place-based sustainability.

Our response

This project focuses on a key sustainability valuation and validation frontier: how to develop and systematically integrate locally defined co-benefits into emerging sustainability markets.  Place-based provenance is of increasing interest to many investors but limited in scope and scalability by ability to value and aggregate local values into transferrable measures and indicators. There is growing recognition that the durable, just, and inclusive land-based solutions required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals will require new processes, measures and mechanisms that value local cultural capital and the provenance of place-based economies.  Doing will require not only new processes and methods, but valid and trusted data that can capture emerging and established benefits of biophysical change, in ways that are locally led, yet legitimate and credible along supply chain.


The ability to create benefits that are transparently shared across value chains is one of the integral challenges in sustainability science and speaks to key concerns that are becoming increasingly apparent in sustainability markets, including social justice, and the distribution of outcomes for different value chain actors. This project focusses on land and water –based (Indigenous and agricultural) sectors to find ways that they can equitably and efficiently enter these emerging markets to create commercial and community value based through their engagement with green and carbon project measures and transition pathways.


Project outputs


CSIRO: Cathy Robinson (co-lead), Katie Ricketts (co-lead), Nikki Dumbrell, Danilo Urzedo, Lisa Walker, Kelli Schmitt, Justine Murray, Andrew Hoskins.

Previous team members: Larelle McMillan, Taryn Kong, Kristina Fisher and Tony O’Grady.