Main Issue

The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) was established in response to guidance from the Conference of the Parties (COP7) in Marrakech in 2001. The SCCF complements the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). The SCCF is open to all vulnerable developing countries. In addition, it funds a wider range of activities related to climate change. The SCCF has a portfolio of more than $360 million supporting 87 projects globally. Adaptation and technology transfer are supported by the SCCF as key priorities.

Developing countries need support for adaptation in a wide variety of sectors:

  • The world’s coastal zones are highly exposed and sensitive to climate change, and often ill-equipped to adapt. 
  • Key infrastructure assets, such as roads, ports, and energy supply chain, are vulnerable. 
  • Climate change contributes to the global burden of disease and premature death, particularly among the urban poor, pregnant women, children and the elderly, traditional societies, subsistence farmers and coastal populations. 
  • Extreme weather events are expected to increase with climate change, enhancing the need to prepare for and respond to disasters, such as more intense droughts and floods.

What We Do

With guidance from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the SCCF targets various climate vulnerable sectors for adaptation and technology transfer.

Adaptation: The SCCF supports climate adaptation related to agriculture, water resources management, disaster risk management, infrastructure, natural resource management and integrated coastal zone management. It also supports monitoring of diseases and vectors affected by climate change, and related early warning systems. It builds capacity for disaster prevention related to climate change, including for droughts and floods, and also supports efforts to introduce catastrophe risk and other types of insurance.

Technology transfer: The GEF supports the transfer of climate-resilient technology for both mitigation and adaptation. This goes hand-in-hand with support to help countries put the technology to use and apply research, as well as to implement demonstration and deployment projects. The SCCF has also supported regional Climate Technology Centers and Networks.

Innovation is the recent priority for the SCCF, with a focus on addressing global systemic challenges for scaling up climate change adaptation solutions. An example of this is a project with UNIDO, which aims to support monetary valuation and develop business case for investing in nature-based infrastructure for achieving large scale adaptation benefits. The project is implemented in partnership with IISD and MAVA Foundation.  

 Another example is the project “Structuring and Launching CRAFT: the First Private Sector Climate Resilience & Adaptation Fund for Developing Countries.” CRAFT has contributed in two important ways to mobilize private sector investment in climate resilience and adaptation. First, through the equity fund established through the project,  it has successfully demonstrated to deliver both strong financial returns and substantial, measurable societal impacts and to attract both commercial-returns focused investors and impact-oriented investors. Second, CRAFT has contributed to building awareness and knowledge in the private sector of “climate resilience solutions” – tools for assessing and managing climate-related risks in different sectors – that can be used to reduce climate vulnerability and build resilience and that represent major business and investment opportunities. CRAFT has been highly catalytic: by its first close, the $1 million SCCF grant helped to mobilize $88 million of signed commitments to invest.


The SCCF investments in 87 projects to date are benefitting 7 million people, and supporting over 7,500 risk, vulnerability, and other assessments. Approximately 3.8 million hectares of land are under better management to withstand the effects of climate change, with SCCF support. One-third of the projects are focused on expanding access to improved climate information services.

The 2016 program evaluation of the SCCF conducted by the GEF Independent Evaluation Office found that its adaptation support has been highly relevant to UNFCCC guidance, to GEF adaptation strategic objectives, and to countries’ national environmental and sustainable development goals and agendas. The SCCF’s support for innovative projects was also identified as another comparatively distinctive element of the Fund. The evaluation also found that virtually all SCCF projects had either a high or a very high probability of delivering tangible adaptation benefits, and achieving catalytic effect, whereby SCCF-supported work had a positive influence on activities, outputs and outcomes beyond the immediate project. 

The SCCF has been designed to finance activities, programs and measures related to climate change adaptation and technology transfer to all eligible developing countries.

Looking Ahead

The goal of the GEF-7 adaptation strategy is to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change in developing countries, and support their efforts to enhance adaptive capacity. The SCCF is an important part of the effort to foster the kinds of technological, social, and institutional innovations that can lead to robust responses to climate change. Resource mobilization is key to ensure continued support for innovation in adaptation through the SCCF.

The SCCF is supporting initiatives that facilitate mainstreaming of resilience and adaptation into larger initiatives supported by the GEF Trust Fund, projects that promote private sector engagement and investments, as well as the Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation.

For example, the GEF Trust Fund and the SCCF are supporting a multi-country soil management initiative for integrated landscapes (SOILCARE) in seven Caribbean SIDS to achieve climate-resilient land degradation neutrality (LDN). The SCCF resources help mainstream climate change adaptation in regional policies and plans, support regional scale climate modeling, identify climate-resilient technologies and practices, and support regional capacity building and knowledge management. This multi trust fund project is implemented by FAO.

The SCCF is also supporting the Adaptation SME Accelerator Program (ASAP) with IADB, Lightsmith, and others, which supports SMEs to commercialize adaptation solutions by bringing them to markets and matching with investors. The program recently launched the ASAP taxonomy, which is the first taxonomy created to identify and track business solutions for private investment in climate adaptation and resilience. 

Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation

The Challenge Program is an open competition based on a call for proposals to identify innovative proposals with potential for significant adaptation and resilience benefits. The inaugural Call for Proposals, with $10 million sourced equally from the LDCF and SCCF, attracted 388 concepts. Nine were selected and announced at UNFCCC COP 25 in Madrid, Spain in December 2019. They have since approved by the GEF, and some have progressed to the implementation phase. They are supporting highly innovative and catalytic concepts, including insurance and financial tools for small scale fishers in Melanesia, use of drones for participatory risk management through landslide and debris flow monitoring, innovative financing for climate adaptation technologies in medium-sized cities, as well as public-private partnerships for coral reef insurance in Asia and the Pacific, among others. The GEF Secretariat plans to issue a second Call for Proposals prior to the end of GEF-7, subject to resource availability.