The Adaptation Fund (AF) is steadily growing, innovating and delivering an increasing number of projects to vulnerable communities in just the short time since it was established in 2008.
The support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) from the AF’s inception was pivotal and has allowed the Fund to flourish into its own business model and develop into new areas.
The AF was established to finance concrete adaptation projects in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Later on, the Kyoto Protocol Parties invited the GEF to host the AF Board Secretariat. This has allowed the AF to learn from the GEF’s solid organizational structure and 25 years of experience in project implementation, monitoring results and sharing knowledge through its efforts to address some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The AF particularly benefitted from the GEF’s experience in funding many adaptation projects with large resilience components through its main trust fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund.
The AF has taken this valuable experience and knowledge and grown into a different entity, focusing entirely on climate change adaptation for the most vulnerable communities in developing countries and innovating new approaches. It was the first climate fund to implement a Direct Access modality, which provides developing countries the opportunity to build their adaptation capacity by receiving funding and designing projects directly through accredited National Implementing Entities (NIEs). The AF has since increased the number of its NIEs to 24, and its Direct Access model is being emulated by other climate funds which allow its NIEs to attract additional needed funds.
In addition to NIEs, the AF works with regional and multilateral institutions accredited by the AF Board to receive funds to develop and implement adaptation projects.
The AF strives to enhance access for more climate-vulnerable countries by increasing the number of accreditations and enhancing the quality of project proposals through its Readiness Program, which offers regional and global climate finance readiness workshops in developing countries and at the global level, as well as webinars, technical assistance and south-south cooperation grants.
Through implementing gender, environmental and social policies, the AF has also stayed ahead of the curve in promoting human rights, biodiversity, and equal access to Fund resources for women and men. The AF and GEF have benefitted from complementarity and synergies in gender issues.
Furthermore, the AF continues to receive record demand for proposed new project funding. To date it has committed US $355 million for 54 concrete adaptation and resilience projects in 48 countries, with more than 3.6 million direct beneficiaries. Many of its projects have potential to be replicated or scaled up, and are already doing so in places like Senegal, Costa Rica and others.
Increasingly, the AF has received international recognition for the value it adds to climate finance since it was included in the language accompanying the Paris Agreement. As importantly, the urgency of adaptation was elevated in both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
The GEF helped pave the way for the AF. Its early support, in particular, when the AF was building a dedicated secretariat team and its processes and procedures, made for a smooth start and will continue to have a lasting impact for the climate-vulnerable communities the AF continues to serve throughout the world.