GCF Project Activity Cycle


Strategy, origination and structuring

Stage 1. Country and entity work programmes

ActorsNDAs, AEs, GCF

Stage 1 is the beginning of all GCF projects. It requires the development of Country Programmes (CPs) and Entity Work Programmes (EWPs), aligned with the GCF Strategic Plan and its eight mitigation and adaptation result areas.

During this stage, a country's government and National Designated Authorities (NDAs) or focal points set national priorities, analyse financial needs and gaps, and identify Accredited Entities (AEs) or partners to design and implement funding proposals and projects. This stage also requires that NDAs and AEs engage various stakeholders when developing their respective country programmes to ensure that utmost environmental and social safeguards are in force. After which, EWPs are developed by regional direct access entities (DAEs) and international accredited entities (IAEs) to outline project activities to be funded by GCF.

Structured dialogues are facilitated by the Secretariat to align country programming priorities with GCF's result areas and the expertise and capabilities of AEs. GCF also supports NDAs/focal points and direct access entities (DAEs) through the Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme to transform project ideas into concrete concept notes, proposals, and other relevant documentation in the pipeline.

The GCF Secretariat works closely with NDAs and AEs to distinguish highly impactful project ideas that have the potential to meet all six GCF investment criteria. GCF’s sectoral guides also provide sector-specific guidance to inform the development of funding proposals. GCF's early engagement contribute to increasing the "quality at entry" of funding proposals and streamlining the funding proposal approval process.

The country programmes received by the Secretariat are reviewed and endorsed by the Climate Investment Committee (CIC) and submitted to the Board for information.

Stage 2. Targeted project generation

ActorsNDAs, AEs, GCF

Stage 2 supports complementary origination channels for project ideas to be developed by National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and Accredited Entities (AEs). This stage fosters additional funding proposals that meet the criteria of the GCF investment framework through two activities:

  1. Issuance of targeted requests for proposal (RFPs)

    The Board approves the terms of reference for each RFP, which usually sets aside a dedicated funding envelope and describes the eligibility and project selection criteria and the project approval processes. After Board approval, the Secretariat publishes the RFP on the GCF website and other communication channels. The Secretariat then invites organizations to submit a funding proposal under a specific RFP.

  2. Generation of bankable project ideas through dedicated platforms and innovative partnerships between the Secretariat and other non-accredited organizations

    GCF cooperates as a partner with project preparation platforms to de-risk and demonstrate the scaling-up potential of climate investments. This provides longer-term visibility and certainty for projects that are otherwise considered as "non-bankable" by investors and financiers.  An example of a project preparation platform is the Climate Investment Platform.

As project ideas materialize, they are then incorporated into the country programmes (CPs) and entity work programmes (EWPs) and submitted to GCF by the AEs through the regular proposal approval process.

Stage 3. Concept note submission

ActorsNDAs, AEs

Stage 3 outlines the development and submission of concept notes (CNs). CNs present a summary of a proposed project/programme and offer an opportunity for the Secretariat to review and provide feedback on initial project/programme concepts.

Though voluntary*, it is highly encouraged for Accredited Entities (AEs) and National Designated Authorities (NDAs) to submit CNs to reduce review time and lower the transaction costs for all stakeholders. CNs can also lead to higher "quality at entry" for funding proposals.

The development of CNs should be done in close coordination between AEs and NDAs/focal points to ensure that the proposed activities align with country priorities. The AE will represent the NDA to the GCF Secretariat when submitting a CN. In turn, the Secretariat will notify the NDA/focal point that a CN has been submitted.

All CNs and related documents submitted to the Secretariat are available on the GCF website.

For more information on how to complete a CN, please refer to the concept note user's guide.

* Note: For a Project Preparation Facility (PPF) request and for submission of a proposal under the simplified approval process (SAP), the submission of CNs is mandatory.

Technical review and appraisal

Stage 4. Funding proposal development


Stage 4 covers the development and submission of funding proposals (FPs) by Accredited Entities (AEs). FPs must be prepared in accordance with the considerations and requirements of the investment framework and results management framework. AEs are expected to demonstrate how they will deliver their proposed project activities and results areas with reference to these policy frameworks.

AEs are responsible for the first-level due diligence of FPs. Project/programme appraisal by the AE involves an in-depth evaluation of the proposed activities and interventions to meet the GCF investment criteria and sector-specific guidance and achieve the desired climate mitigation and/or adaptation results. This helps the AE to determine whether the proposed project/programme offers an effective solution to address the identified problem, and whether it is technically, financially, economically, environmentally and socially sound and cost-effective.

When preparing FPs, AEs must work within their accreditation scope which defines the allowed financing modalities and project size and identifies the environmental and social safeguards (ESS) risk categories.

FPs submitted to GCF must be accompanied by no-objection letters (NOL) from respective NDAs/focal points. An NOL is a key tool to ensure country ownership.

FPs must also present the implementation arrangements through Executing Entities (EEs). AEs may act as EEs or may carry out the project/programme with one or more EEs. AEs are responsible for determining, selecting, and engaging EEs based on their due diligence and other assessments required. GCF does not enter a direct contractual relationship with EEs.

FPs must be submitted through GCF Digital Proposal Submission (DPS) platform. Upon receipt of the funding proposal, the Secretariat performs an initial review and completeness check. Furthermore, all activities will be disclosed to GCF stakeholders with regard to GCF’s Information Disclosure Policy.

Note that there won’t be submission deadlines ahead of Board meetings. Instead, deadlines will be published related to the dates by which projects need to be ready for key processes that take place shortly before Board meetings which will be highlighted in Stage 5.

Stage 5. Funding proposal review

ActorsGCF Secretariat + iTAP

Stage 5 of a GCF project/programme refers to its review process.

The Secretariat’s review is a formal assessment process that starts with the initial review of a project’s concept, continues with the technical review of the full FP package, and the independent appraisal conducted by the Office of Risk Management and Compliance (ORMC) and ends when the FP is submitted to the independent technical advisory panel (TAP) and the Board for approval. This process takes approximately 190 days.

The time taken to conduct the review is dependent on the quality of the FP at entry along with several factors such as response time of AE to Secretariat comments, among others.

Upon completion of the independent TAP assessment, the Secretariat compiles the FP package, shares it with the Board, and publishes it on the GCF website. The AE must provide confirmation of disclosure of the information included in the FP.

Approval and legal arrangements

Stage 6. Board approval


Stage 6 illustrates how the GCF Board considers and decides which FPs will materialize into projects.

Following the submission of the FP packages to the Board at least 21 days before each Board meeting, the Board members can ask questions or seek clarifications about the FPs through a dedicated question and answer platform/email account. The Board is given one week to read the documents and send questions to the Secretariat, which are then compiled and forwarded to the accredited entities (AEs). The AEs are given one week to provide written responses to these questions, which are compiled and shared with the Board prior to the Board meeting.

One day prior to the Board meeting, the Co-Chairs of the Board may organize a consultation/information day. AEs may be requested to attend and respond to any questions from the Board advisers or civil society organizations (CSOs) about their FPs.

FP considerations will be an agenda item in one of the days allotted for the Board meeting. During this agenda item, a representative from each AE is expected to attend the session, together with the relevant Task Manager and the relevant member of the TAP. The AE representative or TAP member is requested to respond to any questions posed by the Board members and active observers.

After the funding proposal is approved by the Board, the Secretariat will inform the AE and the NDA/focal point of the Board’s decision and the next steps in relation to any agreed approval conditions.

In case of rejection, NDAs may request for reconsideration from the Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM).

Stage 7. Legal arrangements

ActorsAEs, GCF

Stage 7 defines the Funded Activity Agreement (FAA) negotiation and signing process after FP approval by the GCF Board. An approved FP will have a corresponding FAA between GCF and an AE.

Standard timeline for the funded activity agreement process

Upon FP approval, the Secretariat prepares the first draft of an FAA and sends it to the AE to start the negotiation process. In some cases, a negotiation process can start prior to the FP approval as long as key prerequisites are met such as an effective Accreditation Master Agreement (AMA) and a certificate of internal AE approval. Furthermore, there should not have project-specific condition precedents prior to FAA execution.

FAAs are tailored by the Secretariat to each financial instrument offered by the GCF, such as grant, loan, sub-participation, trust arrangement, and also REDD+ RBPs. It is important to have a comprehensive and consistent FP and Term Sheet to make the FAA negotiation process efficient and effective for AE and GCF.

After negotiations, the FAA must be signed by the parties within a set deadline agreed in the FAA. Upon execution of the FAA, the GCF Trustee and NDA/focal point are informed by the Secretariat.

The FAA contains a set of conditions to be fulfilled by the AE before the FAA becomes legally effective. Once all conditions for effectiveness have been fulfilled, the Secretariat sends to the AE a Notice of Effectiveness for the FAA.

Lastly, the FAA also contains conditions to be met by the AE before GCF makes the first disbursement for the implementation of the project. Upon fulfillment of these conditions, the disbursement is made by the GCF Trustee to the bank account set by the AE.


Stage 8. Monitoring for performance and compliance

ActorsAEs, GCF

Stage 8 describes the GCF Secretariat’s monitoring framework and approach. The result management framework provides clear definitions and measurement methodologies for GCF’s priority indicators and monitoring and assessment processes.

In line with the monitoring and accountability framework (MAF), the Secretariat’s monitoring function focuses on two components:

  1. Monitoring of AE compliance with GCF accreditation standards

    An AE provides an annual self-assessment of their compliance with the GCF fiduciary standards, environmental and social safeguards, and Gender Policy, usually over a fixed term of five years. The AE self-assessment allows GCF to confirm that the policies and standards during accreditation remain in place. It also confirms that any updates to internal AE policies in the post-accreditation period are in line with GCF standards.

    The Secretariat also conducts a midterm review to assess AE compliance performance at the midpoint of the accreditation period.

  2. Monitoring of individual funded activities (projects or programmes)

    AEs have the responsibility of monitoring their respective funded activities. The Secretariat then tracks the implementation progress through the AEs’ annual performance reports (APRs), financial statements, rate of disbursement, reporting with reference to specific FAA/AMA conditions, and interim evaluation reports.

During this stage, risk flags are categorized by project, AE, and country respectively. Project disruptions due to systemic factors may cause risk flags to be documented.

If the findings from the risk assessments raise concern, Stage 9 (adaptive management) will be triggered.

Stage 9. Adaptive management

ActorsAEs, GCF

Stage 9 details the triggers for adaptive management of GCF projects/programmes and response measures in place.

The three main triggers for adaptive management are:

  • Risk flags arising from GCF monitoring tools (mentioned in Stage 8);
  • Proactive AE reporting and engagement due to implementation issues; and
  • Complaints relating to integrity and violation of environmental and social safeguards.

Once risks are identified, the AE and/or the project/programme will be subjected to a “cure period” to resolve issues and avoid recurrence. If the identified issues remain unresolved by the end of the “cure period,” the Secretariat will inform the AE of any additional measures required. The timing and nature of such measures depends on the potential impacts and risks identified, including the reputational risk to GCF. Failure to resolve may result in cancelation of AE accreditation and revoking of FP approval.

Should modifications be made during this process, the AE is required to inform the GCF. If the proposed change falls within the definition of a Major Change, the Secretariat will request a restructuring paper, a written evidence of the AE’s consultation with the relevant NDA/FP, and supporting documentations.

If the Board approves the Major Change, the FAA will be amended. If not, the AE will either (a) proceed based on the existing Board-approved FP; or (b) withdraw the FP, after informing the NDA/Focal Point.

Stage 10. Evaluation, learning and project closure

ActorsAEs, GCF

Stage 10 pertains to how lessons learned are evaluated and synethesised towards project closure. There are two levels of evaluations within GCF:

  • Project/programme level evaluations

    It is the obligation of AEs to manage and submit independent final evaluations for approved GCF projects and programmes. These evaluations are expected to produce evidence of results and impacts relative to projections, informing future decision-making, credibility approaches, and investment processes. These will also serve as a reference for when projects are needed to be upscaled or replicated. GCF’s results management framework sets indicators and monitoring and assessment processes, ensuring that GCF projects/programmes apply the same approach and generate consistent data that can be aggregated and compared across the entire GCF portfolio.

  • GCF level evaluations

    The Independent Evaluation Unit (IEU) of GCF conducts reviews to help improve the institutional and financial efficiency and effectiveness of GCF for future replenishments.

Together with AEs, national designated authorities/focal points, peer climate funds, and relevant stakeholders, the Secretariat synthesises and codifies lessons learned to promote the expansion and replication of knowledge on transformative climate investments based on global best practices.

Additionally, in order to ensure timely knowledge management from GCF operations, GCF conducts knowledge-gathering missions and reviews to select project sites, fostering a deeper understanding of operating realities and impact stories.

The Secretariat also conducts higher-level reviews such as thematic and country portfolio reviews. This plays a key role in assessing GCF effectiveness in the global climate action. These reviews by the Secretariat can be complemented by the IEU’s evaluations.

In the project closure phase, the AE should confirm that the project activities were executed and completed. This will also entail the submission of a project completion and audit reports and execution of the exit strategy as outlined in the FAA.

Once the documentations are analysed and validated, the Secretariat will confirm the closure of the project and notify the AE and NDA.

Complaints can still be submitted to the IRM even after project closure.

GCF Programming Manual: An introduction to the Green Climate Fund project cycle and project development tools for full-size projects

The GCF Programming Manual provides an overview of the GCF project/programme approval process.

Download the manual

GCF Appraisal Guidance: A comprehensive guide to the tools and due diligence processes used to review and assess concept notes and funding proposals

The GCF Appraisal Guidance sets out the due diligence processes that are employed in the preparation of Concept Notes and Funding Proposals for presentation to the GCF Board.

Download the guide