Is the Clean Development Mechanism delivering benefits to the poorest communities in the developing world: A critical evaluation and proposals for reform

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Centre for Ethics and Humanism
  • Bioethics Institute Ghent


This paper explores whether the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a flexibility mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, has contributed to poverty alleviation in countries that host CDM projects. We argue that the CDM should deliver pro-poor benefits to the communities in which projects are established, since poverty alleviation is integral to sustainable development, which is one of the main purposes of the CDM. After briefly discussing the background of the CDM, we discuss assessment difficulties to which research is prone when evaluating CDM projects for alleged sustainable development contributions. Section 4 brings together and analyses available empirical research on the pro-poor benefits the CDM purportedly delivers to host country communities, concluding that the CDM has failed to deliver poverty alleviation. Therefore, without attempting to be exhaustive, we suggest policy reforms that aim to redirect the CDM to those most in need of assistance.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-855
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • climate change, clean development mechanism, sustainability, poverty