Main Issue

The pace of climate change is accelerating, bringing with it rising sea levels and more frequent and intense storms, droughts, and floods.

Extreme temperatures and weather events risk inflicting lasting economic and societal damage, particularly in the world’s least developed countries which are ill-equipped to guard against climate change and recover from its worst effects.

In 2001, the 194 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set out to address this challenge by establishing the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) – the only facility exclusively dedicated to helping these countries adapt to new climate realities.

The LDCF, along with the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), is mandated to serve the Paris Agreement. Both funds are managed by the Global Environment Facility.

What We Do

The LDCF is enabling Least Developed Countries to prepare for a more resilient future. LDCF funding helps recipient countries address their short-, medium- and long-term resilience needs and reduce climate change vulnerability in priority sectors and ecosystems.

LDCF backing helps countries implement National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs) – country-driven strategies for addressing their most urgent adaptation needs. It also supports the implementation of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process, and the Least Developed Country work program under the UNFCCC.

The LDCF works with partner agencies to bolster technical and institutional capacity at the national and local level, to create a policy environment that encourages investment in adaptation solutions, to reduce systemic barriers to progress, and to promote innovation and private sector engagement.

Priority funding areas include agriculture and food security; natural resource management; water resources; disaster risk management and prevention; coastal zone management; climate information services; infrastructure; and, climate change induced health risks.

Nature-based adaptation solutions – such as restoring mangrove forests to help protect exposed coastal areas – are another focus of the fund.

Results

The LDCF has one of the largest portfolios of Least Developed Country adaptation projects in the international finance community. The LDCF has financed over 250 projects with approximately $1.7 billion in grants, directly benefiting over 50 million people and strengthening management of over 7 million hectares of land for climate resilience at the regional, national, and sub-national levels.

LDCF projects cut across a range of themes and geographies. For instance:

  • An initiative in Nepal saw the creation of farm field schools with trained facilitators to teach farmers about climate adaptation. Meanwhile, areas highly at risk from climate change benefited from the introduction of green agriculture technologies for low-till crop planting, and stress-tolerant plant and animal varieties.
  • Work in Senegal aims to restore and conserve degraded landscapes in two target areas – one urban and one rural – and to strengthen institutional understanding and governance of ecosystem-based adaptation initiatives. Meanwhile, local entrepreneurs and small enterprises will be trained, equipped, and encouraged to create sustainable and climate-resilient businesses.
  • In the small island state of Comoros, resilience-building efforts have centered around reforestation and the revitalization of watershed areas. Teams have also aimed to underline the value of healthy forests with local communities by providing saplings to safeguard farmland against soil erosion as well as by planting income-generating fruit trees and species sought by the pharmaceutical industry for medicines and cosmetics.
  • In Gambia, the LDCF has supported the strengthening of climate change early warning systems to allow for rapid responses to extreme weather events – an effort that included improvements to the structure and capacity of the national hydrometeorology agency. The project also worked to integrate climate change awareness into national policies and to raise community awareness of climate-linked risks, potential impacts to their livelihoods, and the value of adaptive steps such as using weather and climate information to make informed agricultural decisions.
  • LDCF-backed work in Togo has aimed at protecting biodiverse and populous coastal areas from the twin threats of destructive human activities (e.g. marine sand and gravel mining) and increasingly severe floods and storms. On-the-ground teams have helped coastal communities find green and climate-resilient alternative income sources – from ecotourism to the production of medicinal plants – and will offer training and support to ensure adaptation and conservation are embedded in local and national policies and programs.
  • A $6 million LDCF grant helped Sao Tome and Principe join the West Africa Coastal Area (WACA) Resilience Investment Program. The program’s activities included the “Safety at Sea” initiative for fishermen who must contend with increasingly strong and unpredictable storm surges, as well as intense squalls and dry fog. The program will also support training of marine meteorologists on storm surge modelling, and the establishment of a marine meteorological station – or system of buoys – to improve monitoring and forecasting. This work complements a $20 million GEF Trust Fund contribution to the West Africa Coastal Areas management program, which was recognized at the 2017 One Planet Summit as an innovative initiative to support resilience.

Looking Ahead

The GEF Secretariat is working to redouble efforts to help all LDCs access LDCF funding to help meet their most pressing adaptation needs. Consultations with relevant countries are underway to assist them in accessing resources.

The GEF is also working closely with the Green Climate Fund to explore joint adaptation initiatives, based on the Long-term Vision of Complementarity between the GCF and GEF. Such efforts are drawing on the LDCF’s unique strengths, including its exclusive focus on LDCs, its fast approval and implementation processes, and its experience in managing risk and investing in innovation.

Discussions to develop the Programming Strategy for the LDCF/SCCF and operational enhancements for July 2022 to June 2026 started in July 2021. The new Programming Strategy is expected to be considered at the May 2022 LDCF/SCCF Council meeting and to be launched in July 2022.