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). Unlike the LDCF, the SCCF is open to all vulnerable developing countries. In addition, it funds a wider range of activities related to climate change. To date the SCCF has a portfolio of more than $350 million supporting 85 projects globally.

Adaptation is the top priority. But the SCCF also funds, through separate financing windows, technology transfer, mitigation in selected sectors including: energy, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management; and economic diversification. 

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

Through the GEF, and with guidance from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the SCCF targets key sectors for adaptation and technology transfer.

The SCCF is the only adaptation fund open to all vulnerable developing countries. Not surprisingly, the demand for resources far outstrips what’s available. Each year, the GEF receives about US$250 million in requests for adaptation support.

Adaptation: The SCCF funds adaptation related to water resources management, land management, agriculture, health, infrastructure development, fragile ecosystems (including mountainous ecosystems) 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 provides catastrophe risk 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. We have also funded regional Climate Technology Centers and Networks.

Demand continues to grow for the SCCF. But the funds available represent only a tiny fraction of the estimated costs needed for global adaptation. The World Bank, for example, estimates that US$70-100 billion will be required each year by 2050.

Apart from specific adaptation projects, vulnerable countries need to develop National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). Only least developed countries (LDCs) can apply for such funding through the LDCF. In response to a request from the COP, we have begun funding the first steps of the NAP process in non-LDC countries, through the SCCF. 


An independent evaluation of the SCCF in 2011 found that its adaptation projects were relevant to COP guidance, and highly relevant to the national sustainable development agendas of beneficiary countries, contributing to socio-economic development. It also found that projects use innovative approaches to overcome lack of data on many emerging adaptation issues. And it reported that the GEF was managing the SCCF in a highly cost-effective way. 

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 will remain 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.

The GEF will increase its efforts to develop adaptation projects that address other environmental and sustainable development challenges as well. For example, GEF will help develop climate-resilient smallholder food systems, cities that deliver efficient, integrated and sustainable development solutions while also building resilience of populations and infrastructure to climate change and variability, and delivery of clean and resilient energy solutions, particularly for vulnerable populations.