Navigating International Climate Finance

The Climate Finance Explorer is a searchable database of international public climate financing options to help increase transparency and access.

To respond to the challenges and opportunities of climate change, developing countries require access to large-scale international climate finance. This includes investments in sustainable transport, green buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable land use, climate resiliency and more. According to the New Climate Economy, by 2030, global infrastructure investments are expected to reach US$90 trillion. With infrastructure decisions often having lasting impacts, ensuring these investments are sustainable will be crucial in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Responding to the impacts of climate change will also require significant financing, adaptation costs in developing countries alone are estimated by UN Environment to be as much as $500 billion per year by 2050.

Progress is already being made. Global climate investment reached a high of $472 billion in 2015, while it is estimated that the Paris Agreement helped open up nearly $23 trillion in climate investment opportunities in emerging markets by 2030.

Matching available funds with existing opportunities will be crucial to scale up climate action. International climate finance is essential to both support these investments directly and leverage additional resources.

What is the Climate Finance Explorer?

The Climate Finance Explorer is a searchable database of international public climate financing options to help increase transparency and access. It brings together information on sources of financial support and presents them in a standardized and user-friendly way to help country practitioners and other stakeholders identify, understand, and access relevant funding opportunities. 

The Climate Finance Explorer aggregates in one place information on the main international sources of public climate finance including finance from the international climate funds, Multilateral Development Banks, bilateral government donors, , which are expected to play a key role in NDC implementation along with domestic resource mobilization, particularly in developing countries.

What are the challenges in accessing climate funding?

Developing countries are faced with several challenges in accessing international sources of climate finance:

  • The international financial architecture is complex, with multiple channels and different rules and terms of financing; navigating it is cost-intensive, especially for countries with constrained capacity.
  • Different ministries are typically in charge of different international funding channels, so information and decision-making can be fragmented at the national level, making strategic use of international resources challenging.
  • Country actors with project ideas often have limited understanding of whether their projects are good candidates for receiving international funding and how to go about submitting them for consideration.

The Climate Finance Explorer addresses a number of these challenges by enabling users to quickly and easily search across available funding sources to find ones that best match the needs of their projects. The tool also provides a detailed breakdown of the steps to access the major multilateral funds (which are often the most complex). Several of the NDC Partnership’s members are also active in this area, developing a range of tools and resources to support countries to access critical funding opportunities. More information on these resources can be found in the following sections.

What is climate finance?

The term climate finance broadly refers to the financial resources that support climate change mitigation and adaptation. Climate finance can include both private and public sources, as well as domestic and international sources. It can be deployed through grants and non-grant mechanisms such as debt, equity, and de-risking instruments (including on market-based financial terms or concessional terms).

More in-depth information on climate finance can be found through the following resources:

Where does climate finance come from and how is it accessed?

At the international level, both public and private sector entities have pledged to scale up climate finance support to developing countries. International public-sector sources can be broken down into bilateral and multilateral sources, depending on whether the finance flows from one country to another (bilateral) or from several to another (multilateral). National developed country governments have pledged a collective $100 billion by 2020, with plans to set a new higher target by 2025,  and the major multilateral development banks (MDBs) have made commitments to direct increased percentages of funding toward climate change by 2020. In addition, climate finance can also be accessed through private sources, including from commercial banks and institutional investors.

The Climate Finance Explorer provides details on various sources of finance and where relevant, the steps to access them. While the steps to access climate funds vary, similarities exist across types of funds.

Major multilateral climate funds: These funds are accessible to countries or other eligible applicants through several different modalities.

Funds with direct access (this includes the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Fund)

  • Entities can apply for funds directly by becoming accredited as an “implementing entity” or by partnering with an accredited entity.
  • They then submit a concept note, obtain endorsement from a designated authority, submit a project proposal, and then undergo project review before project approval.

Funds that are coordinated through a national focal point (this includes the Global Environment Facility, Least Developed Countries Fund, and Special Climate Change Fund)

  • Eligible countries prepare a project idea and once endorsed by the national focal point submit for approval to the fund. Some funds only accept applications at specific times as part of a call for proposals. Additionally, some funds only accept proposals from countries that are already members of their fund. Proposals are then evaluated and approved by the fund.

Multilateral Development Bank Funds: These sources of finance are typically only accessible through existing country assistance strategies or other arrangements. This includes funds managed by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Islamic Development Bank and others.

The process to access funding varies depending on the institution and may come through existing country assistance strategies or may follow a more direct project application process (identification of project or strategy, preparation to evaluate feasibility, appraisal of proposed project, approval of proposal, implementation of project, and evaluation after completion to document and report on the project).

Bilateral funds: These include sources of finance from bilateral development finance institutions.

Eligible countries may enter direct discussions with governments distributing funds. Some donor countries have existing relationships with the countries whose work they fund, whereas others may have a centralized fund that countries may apply to access. In some cases, private sector actors may also be eligible to receive funding.

Other funds: A range of other funds exist, for which the steps to access vary widely – please see entries on individual funds to learn more.

The Climate Finance Explorer focuses primarily on public funding sources. An overview of private climate finance can be found in UN Environment’s Demystifying Private Climate Finance report.

For an overview of where climate funding has been committed and where funding is flowing, explore the following resources:

What type of funds are included in the Climate Finance Explorer?

The funds included in the Climate Finance Explorer those defined as climate finance relevant. They provide funding, financial, or in-kind support for one or more of the following: (1) scoping and project preparation, (2) creating enabling environments and building institutional capacity, (3) project or program implementation, and/or (4) complying with UNFCCC requirements. This includes several types of financial instruments, including grants, concessional loans, guarantees, market-rate loans, equity, and insurance. More detailed inclusion and exclusion criteria are listed below. Funds included should be understood as complementing a broader set of development funds and financing opportunities.

Each entry in the database represents a single fund or facility of a fund with its own unique eligibility or access requirements and procedures.

Funds are included in the Climate Finance Explorer based on the following criteria:

Inclusion Criteria – Each fund should satisfy all of these for inclusion in the database

  • Climate finance relevance: provide funding, financial, or in-kind support for one or several of the following:
    • Scoping and project preparation
    • Creating enabling environments and building institutional capacity
    • Project or program implementation
    • Complying with UNFCCC requirements
  • Accessible by public entities at the regional, national, or sub-national level, non-profit or community level organizations, or private sector entities.
  • Provided by a government, multilateral organization, or non-governmental organization with government or multilateral organization partners.
  • Currently active or providing ongoing support in at least one recipient country.

Exclusion Criteria – These may be a reason for exclusion

  • Focused on development priorities with no articulated connection to climate.
  • Focused on climate-related research without a relation to NDC implementation or climate action.

Please contact supportunit@ndcpartnership.org for details on how to submit records or update existing information found in the database.

Who developed the Climate Finance Explorer?

The first version of the tool, launched at COP22 in December 2016, was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the NDC Partnership Support Unit, the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Government of Morocco as COP22 President, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat.

A revised version of the tool was launched at COP24 in December 2018, with the support of WRI’s Finance Center.

The Climate Finance Explorer is not intended to be comprehensive of all climate-related support programs or development support, may not include all types of support available for NDC or climate action planning and implementation.