The Carbon Benefits Project (CBP) is developing a standardized system for sustainable land management projects to measure, model and report changes in carbon stocks and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for use at varying scales. A global framework of soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks under native vegetation for application in data poor regions, using the simple assessment option of the CBP system, is presented. It considers default classes for climate and mineral soils as required for IPCC Tier 1 (empirical) level GHG inventories. Suitable soil profiles were extracted from an expanded version of the ISRIC-WISE database. Probable outliers within each climate–soil cluster were removed using a robust outlier-rejection procedure. Mean SOC stocks, to the IPCC reference depth of 30 cm (SOC30), vary greatly within each cluster. Overall, present estimates of SOC30 are lower than those listed in the 2006 IPCC Guidelines (though not necessarily in the statistical sense) that drew on a smaller selection of profiles from a more limited geographic area. They represent globally averaged values of SOC stocks under native vegetation that may differ from country/region specific values. Finer criteria for defining climate zones and soil classes, and replacement of default reference stocks and stock change factors with region-specific values, will be necessary to reduce uncertainty.