Tapping GCF readiness funding for national adaptation plans

5 May 2018, Bangkok, Thailand: The Green Climate Fund (GCF) plays a crucial role in channeling new financial resources to tackle the pressing adaptation needs of developing countries, to ensure countries reach their commitments under the Paris Agreement. Accessing this climate finance provides vital opportunities for countries and presents unique challenges. 
Several mechanisms exist to support developing countries with adaptation planning and to become 'climate finance ready', including the Global Environment Facility, the Adaptation Fund and bilateral sources.
Now, through the Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme, the GCF offers developing countries a one-time grant of up to US$3 million to support country-driven adaptation activities.
This support window is an opportunity, to not only invest in adaptation planning, but also as a step towards catalysing larger scale investments from domestic and international, private and public funding sources, including the GCF.
“Thanks to the foresight of the international community, the conference of the parties to the UNFCCC and the board of the Green Climate Fund, we have an opportunity to really invest strategically in planning for adaptation action for the coming years. Let us use these years well to really drive action and investment,” said Jason Spensly, Senior Specialist, Project Preparation and Adaptation Planning, GCF.
The GCF has committed the equivalent of US$3.7 billion to 57 approved projects, with half of the approved projects coming from the private sector. Fifty-nine entities have been also successfully accredited so far. Regarding readiness proposals, including NAPs, 30 have been approved with a total value of US$30 million. 
The GCF plans to continue financial support throughout 2018. However, the Secretariat has made it clear that this can only happen if the fund receives strong proposals and when specific challenges are met. 

Challenges and opportunities

A commonly identified challenge facing the approval of GCF proposals is the lack of identified adaptation processes which reflect country specific circumstances and needs. Additionally, plans to attract large-scale financing for implementation are often not sufficiently coherent or convincing to encompass all levels of government at local, sectoral and federal levels. 
In other instances, Nationally Designated Authorities are considered too ambitious with the activities they plan to accomplish in the implementation period - which is usually less than two years. 

Criteria for success

For proposals to be successfully approved, the core of the funding requested should be centered on innovative on-site interventions that are paradigm-shifting and transformative in nature. In such proposals, capacity building and policy support work are additional activities needed to support specific interventions, rather than as substantial stand-alone components. 
The GCF has encouraged countries to closely follow its 10 point review criteria. This is based on good practices to date. All proposals need to justify the type of financing requested and should be linked clearly with the proposed exit/sustainability strategy. They should contribute towards resilient livelihoods at sub-national and national levels. 

Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia: case studies of success

At the NAP Expo 2018 in Egypt, two countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR) and Colombia, were highlighted as GCF case study examples for successful project approval. 
Both countries were applauded for identifying financial options and targeting financial resources efficiently. The DRC used a staged approach for a US$3 million readiness funding proposal, initially requesting just half of the full amount for the first phase of implementation. By taking into consideration that planning can change after the first phase, and preparing for uncertainty, the DRC ensured that funds will be allocated efficiently, and access to the remaining amount would follow a faster procedure. The DRC also requested support from the joint UNDP-UN Environment National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP) for the development of a programmatic approach to adaptation, including consultation on adaptation priorities and stocktaking on the integration of climate change into budgeting and planning process. Engaging partners and stakeholders proactively has ensured that the DRC has solid groundwork for the development of NAPs, which is transparent and sustainable. This is turn has catalysed the DRC to be climate finance-ready. 
Colombia has successfully enabled sub-national level implementation of NAPs with partner support. In addition the country has implemented robust climate change programmes, projects and plans, and linked three of the ten adaptation actions in their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Their success can also be attributed to the consolidation of the adaption information systems, which is spread across different entities, and the introduction of a robust system to analyse information.  A strong and reputable monitoring and evaluation system has been developed, which lays out a framework for evaluating and following up on various issues of possible concern. Together, these aspects have led to the development of a convincing financial mobilisation strategy and GCF approval. 

Becoming ‘climate finance ready’

To access climate finance directly, countries must be ‘climate finance ready’. Various aspects of ‘readiness’ have been described above, including demonstrable efforts at creating enabling conditions for resilience which limit vulnerability to climate change over the long term. 
Addressing specific climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and building on existing national visions and plans with all levels of government, are good initial starting points in building such enabling conditions. 
Ultimately, close communication between the GCF Secretariat, regional advisors, the delivery partners and the recipient countries during the proposal development process is essential to facilitate the process and to respond to countries’ needs, particularly if requirements, procedures and processes are changing along the way.