Special Climate Change Fund

Special Climate Change Fund


The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) was created in 2001 to address the specific needs of developing countries under the UNFCCC to adapt to the impact of climate change and increase resilience. It covers the incremental costs of interventions to address climate change adaptation relative to a development baseline.

Adaptation to climate change is the top priority of the SCCF, although it can also support technology transfer and its associated capacity building activities. The SCCF is intended to catalyse and leverage additional finance from bilateral and multilateral sources, and is administered as a specialised trust fund by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Basic Description

Name of the Fund Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF)
Official Fund Website www.thegef.org/gef/SCCF
Date Created
Date fund proposed: 2001
Date fund made operational: 2002
Proposed Life of Fund Undetermined.
Objectives SCCF’s top funding priority is supporting adaptation actions of developing countries. In addition to that, but to a much lesser extent, SCCF also funds technology transfer and mitigation in selected sectors.

As part of GEF Programming Strategy, the three strategic objectives for the SCCF are:

  1. Reduce vulnerability and increase resilience through innovation and technology transfer for climate change adaptation
  2. Mainstream climate change adaptation and resilience for systematic impact
  3. Foster enabling conditions for effective and integrated climate change adaptation.
Financial inputs and fund size As of November 2020, the cumulative pledges to the Fund amount to approximately USD 375 million.

The contributing countries are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

The contributions from donor countries are included as Official Development Assistance.

Activities Supported The SCCF has two active windows: 1. Adaptation and 2. Transfer of technologies.

  1. Adaptation: The SCCF funds adaptation in the following sectors: water resource management, land management, agriculture, health, infrastructure development, fragile ecosystems and integrated coastal zone management. In addition, it supports monitoring of diseases and vectors affected by climate change and builds capacity for disaster prevention.
  2. Transfer of technologies: The SCCF supports the transfer of climate-resilient technology for both mitigation and adaptation. This is associated with assistance given to countries to put climate change technologies to use and apply research, and to implement demonstration and deployment projects.

Administrating Organization

Secretariat or Administrative Unit SCCF is administered by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF Secretariat is based in Washington D.C. and is led by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO)-Chairperson, who is appointed for a four-year term by the GEF Council. The Secretariat has a staff of approximately 75 professionals and is divided into three administrative units: the Programs Unit, the Policy, Partnerships, and Operations Unit and the Front Office (http://www.thegef.org/staff).

The Secretariat’s responsibilities include:

  1. Coordinating and overseeing programmes
  2. Ensuring that policies are implemented in consultation with the GEF Agencies
  3. Chairing interagency group meetings to ensure effective collaboration among the GEF agencies
  4. Coordinating with Secretariats of the five conventions, which the GEF serves as part of their financial mechanism, namely the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The Secretariat reports directly to the GEF Assembly and Council.

Trustee The World Bank is the permanent trustee.

Fund Finance and Access Modalities

Conditions and Eligibility Requirements SCCF is open to all vulnerable developing countries and is therefore not restricted to ODA eligible countries. All Non-Annex 1 countries are eligible to apply, although the needs of the most vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia, and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are to be prioritised.
Accessing the Fund
Access Modalities – To be eligible, projects or programmes are to be country-driven, cost-effective and integrated into national sustainable development and poverty-reduction strategies; and also take into account national communications or National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and other relevant studies.

Because the requests for SCCF exceed available funding, pre-selection criteria have been agreed:

  • Project or programme quality
  • Balanced distribution of funds in the eligible countries, with an emphasis on vulnerable non-Annex I countries who have not previously had access
  • Equitable regional distribution
  • Balanced support for all priority sectors
  • Balanced distribution among GEF agencies based on comparative advantage.

The 18 GEF Agencies are the only institutions that access GEF funding directly on behalf of a government recipient. To submit project proposals, eligible countries need to work with a GEF Partner Agency. In addition, the SCCF Project Proponent needs to secure the endorsement of a national GEF operational focal point, which will confirm that the project proposals are consistent with national plans and priorities.

Full-sized Projects (FSP, with GEF funding amount of more than USD 2 million) as well s some Medium-sized Projects (MSP, with GEF project financing of less than or equivalent to USD 2 million) must be cleared by the CEO of the GEF before they are formally approved by the SCCF/LDCF Council at which point funding is earmarked for their support.

Projects are only considered to be approved after a Project Identification Form (PIF) that shows that the project meets certain criteria has been produced and then approved by the council. It then needs to be endorsed by the CEO before funding can be said to have been approved (although nearly 100 % of council approved projects are also endorsed by the CEO). Implementing agencies then also have to approve projects through their internal decision making processes. Finance is available for project preparation.

An Enabling Activity (EA), meaning a project for the preparation of a plan, strategy or report to fulfill commitments under a Convention, can also be supported.

Financial Instruments – Grants (as incremental cost finance to address climate change adaptation relative to a development baseline).
Accreditation process – Initially, only UN agencies and multilateral development banks were accredited as GEF Partner Agencies. As part of an effort to broaden the number of GEF implementation partners, 2011 a pilot programme to accredit “up to ten” new agencies was launched. Applicant entities were reviewed in a three-stage process with an independent GEF Accreditation Panel assessing whether they meet the GEF’s fiduciary standards, as well as the GEF’s environmental and social safeguards, including on gender mainstreaming. Of the initial applicants, eight have successfully completed the accreditation process and been added as fully-accredited GEF Partner Agencies. A recent review of the accreditation approach of the GEF confirmed that no further GEF Partner Agency expansion is planned for the foreseeable future.
Overview of implementing entities – The SCCF works through formally accredited GEF Agencies. Among them are UN agencies, multilateral and regional development banks, national government institutions, and international and non-governmental organisations.

The complete list of the 18 GEF Agencies is available at: https://www.thegef.org/partners/gef-agencies

Nature of recipient country involvement – Projects are intended to be nationally owned and country-driven. A project has to be endorsed by the country or countries where it will be implemented to be considered to receive GEF funding.

In addition, all SCCF projects have a GEF Operational Focal Point (OFP) and a GEF Focal Point which work as liaison agencies.

  • The GEF Operational Focal Point is “designated by each country that receives GEF funding, and is responsible for operational aspects of GEF activities such as, endorsing project proposals to affirm that they are consistent with national plans and priorities and facilitating GEF coordination, integration, and consultation at the country level”.
  • The GEF Focal Points (Country Representatives) are “government officials, designated by member countries, responsible for GEF activities and to ensure that GEF projects are country-driven and based on national priorities. The complete list of GEF Focal Points is available at: http://www.thegef.org/focal_points_list
Allocation criteria – The total SCCF contribution for a Medium-sized Project (MSP) cannot exceed USD 2 million. If the total contribution from the SCCF is over USD 2 million, the project is considered a Full-sized Project (FSPs) and needs to undergo a longer and more comprehensive review process under the SCCF/LDCF Council.
Safeguards, Gender and Indigenous Peoples
Safeguards – The GEF Policy on Environmental and Social Safeguards applies to all GEF-financed projects and programmes, including SCCF. The Policy sets out “mandatory requirements for identifying and addressing Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts in GEF-financed projects and programmes; and for documenting, monitoring and reporting on associated measures throughout the project and programme cycles, and at the portfolio level.” Agencies need to demonstrate that they have in place the necessary policies, procedures, systems and capabilities to meet the minimum standards 1 to 9:

  1. Environmental and Social Assessment, Management and Monitoring;
  2. Accountability, Grievance and Conflict Resolution;
  3. Biodiversity Conservation and the Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources;
  4. Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement;
  5. Indigenous Peoples;
  6. Cultural Heritage;
  7. Resource Efficiency and Pollution Prevention;
  8. Labour and Working Conditions; and
  9. Community Health, Safety and Security.
Gender – All projects are subject to the GEF Policy on Gender Equality. The Policy sets outs mandatory requirements in four areas: 1. Project and programme cycle; 2. Monitoring, learning and capacity development; 3. Agency policies, procedures and capabilities; and 4. Compliance. The objective of the Policy is to expose the “guiding principles and mandatory requirements for Mainstreaming Gender across the GEF’s governance and operations with a view to promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in support of the GEF’s mandate to achieve global environmental benefits”.
Indigenous Peoples – GEF requires its participants to respect the principles set out in GEF Policy on Environmental and Social Safeguards Standard 5, namely that they have the informed, free and formal consent of affected Indigenous Peoples when a project may cause reverse impacts on land, natural resources, an Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Heritage or cause relocation of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, participants need to demonstrate that they have in place the necessary policies, procedures, systems and capabilities to ensure that Indigenous Peoples can have access to mitigation and compensation when adverse impacts are unavoidable, and that grievance and conflict resolution systems are appropriately established.

Furthermore, GEF Principles and Guidelines for Engagement with Indigenous Peoples provides the guidelines to operationalise GEF policies and enhance “GEF’s effectiveness and ensuring protection of rights and long-term benefits for Indigenous Peoples”.

A comprehensive overview of GEF Strategy related to Indigenous Peoples can be found at: https://www.thegef.org/sites/

Fund Governance

Decision Making Structure The SCCF falls under the governance structure of the GEF. GEF governance structure is composed of the Assembly, the Council, the Secretariat, 18 Partner Agencies and a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel.

The Assembly is composed of all 184 member countries or Participants. It is responsible for reviewing general policies, reviewing and evaluating the GEF’s operation based on reports submitted to Council, reviewing the membership of the Facility and considering amendments to the Instrument for the Establishment of the Restructured Global Environment Facility.

The GEF Council is the governing body for the SCCF. The Council is comprised of 14 members from donor constituencies and 18 from recipient constituencies (a total of 32 GEF members) and makes decisions by consensus. The Council meets as the SCCF/LDCF Council to specifically address issues under both trust funds. The Council adopts and evaluates the operational policies and programmes, and reviews / approves the projects submitted for approval. The list of Council Members and Alternates can be found at: https://www.thegef.org/council_members_alternates

The GEF Agencies work with project proponents to design, develop and implement GEF projects and programmes. The list of GEF Agencies is available at: https://www.thegef.org/partners/gef-agencies

Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP)
The STAP provides scientific and technical advice on policies, operational strategies, programmes and projects. It is composed by six internationally recognised experts who are supported by a global network of experts and institutions.

Accountability Mechanisms Independent Evaluation Office
SCCF impact and effectiveness is evaluated by the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO). This office is headed by a Director responsible for coordinating a team of specialised evaluators. The Director is appointed by and reports directly to the Council. Further information can be found on the GEF IEO website.

The last Programme Evaluation of the SCCF was completed in January 2018. Among the main findings are the following:

  1. “The SCCF is highly relevant to GEF adaptation strategic objectives, and countries’ national environmental and sustainable development agenda goals;
  2. The SCCF has limited relevance to other, non-adaptation GEF focal areas and to GEF global environmental benefits.
  3. The SCCTF portfolio is highly likely to deliver tangible adaptation benefits and catalytic effects.
  4. The SCCF’s effectiveness and efficiency have been seriously undermined by limited and unpredictable resources”.

Complaints Procedures
Individuals and communities have the possibility to submit a complaint to a local or country-level dispute resolution system, a GEF Partner Agency or the GEF Resolution Commissioner if they feel concerned about a GEF-financed project or operation. The elements of the GEF conflict resolution system are set out in GEF Policy on Environmental and Social Safeguards Standard 2, Grievance and Accountability Mechanism.

Participation of Observers and Stakeholders GEF presents itself as a country driven organisation that was “founded on the principles of collaboration and partnership”. Member countries are referred as Participants that are represented on the GEF Council by 32 Constituencies each one having a Council Member and an Alternate Council member.

In 2017, the Council approved an updated Policy on Stakeholder Engagement which sets out “the core principles and mandatory requirements for GEF agencies to meaningfully engage stakeholders in GEF programmes and projects to build on a broad base of local knowledge and expertise, and foster local engagement and ownership in support for positive global environment outcomes”. The Policy presents mandatory requirements for stakeholder engagement throughout the GEF project cycle.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are considered key partners for identifying, executing and monitoring GEF programmes and projects. GEF encourages civil society stakeholders to comment on project proposals, comment on policies, support and monitor project implementation, participate in GEF events. In addition, sponsored CSOs can attend the Council Meetings to relay the voices of CSOs from the field and maintain engagement on policy issues. Sponsored CSOs are selected in consultation with the CSO network, Operational Focal Points, the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group and the GEF Small Grants Program.

Indigenous Peoples have their own Advisory Group. This group was established in 2012 to enhance coordination between the GEF and Indigenous Peoples. The Group’s objective is to provide “advice to the GEF Indigenous Peoples Focal Point on the operationalisation and reviewing of the Principles and Guidelines for Engagement with Indigenous Peoples and to provide guidance on financing options for Indigenous Peoples”.

Transparency and Information Disclosure The GEF Policy on Access to Information sets out the principals and mandatory requirements for the public accessibility of Council Information and fully applies to the SCCF.

The Financial Status Report contains the information on the progress of donor contributions and is available with other Council documents (SCCF/LDCF Council Meetings) at: https://www.thegef.org/council-meetings

All active SCCF projects are included in the GEF project listing tool http://www.thegef.org/projects

Other Issues Raised