Investments in LDCs

Synopsis & commentary:

This report presents the findings of the Independent Evaluation on the relevance and effectiveness of the GCF’s investments in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The United Nations defines LDCs as “low-income countries suffering from the most severe structural impediments to sustainable development.” The report examines how and to what extent the GCF’s approach, mechanisms and financial modalities respond to the conditions facing LDCs. Core chapters cover the responsiveness and relevance of the GCF to LDCs, country ownership and capacity development in LDCs, and results and impacts.

Additional downloads


Executive summary

Final report:

Country case studies

Evaluation findings webinar


- On average, USD 0.95 million is approved for RPSP in the LDCs, which is less than other country groups. Disbursement of RPSP funding is slow, especially for adaptation planning. - LDCs have only 14 national DAEs, and most are accredited to implement low-risk and micro and small projects. Only three national DAEs are accredited for medium-sized projects.

GCF Commentary

There are 14 national DAEs (24% of 58 national DAEs total) and 1 regional DAE in the LDCs. Out of all 58 national DAEs, 60% of them are accredited for small- or micro-sized projects. GCF Open Data Library provides a brief on the GCF support for LDCs in the GCF Briefs – GCF Spotlight menu. The data provided in ODL are updated regularly.

Recommendations include that the GCF strengthen guidance and support to LDCs to enable them to assume ownership in engaging with the GCF over matters such as the use of country programmes, upstream pre- and post-accreditation support for DAEs, and the secretarial functions of the NDAs/focal points. The GCF should also clarify the links between GCF support programmes and ensure the tools and systems for effective results management.

GCF Commentary

The RPSP has supported LDCs with development of the Country Programme, worth USD 3.68 million as of 31 Dec 2021. This level of support for LDCs is higher than other vulnerable country groups, i.e. SIDS and African states according to the RPSP Annual Report 2021, annex III, GCF/B.33/07.


The report is also supplemented by country case studies. Notable case studies discussing the transformative potential of the Readiness program include those for Cambodia, Ethiopia, and the Pacific countries. Readiness efforts are widely appreciated and have led to tangible change, such as the facilitation of a two-day workshop for high level private sector representatives and a training on concept notes and project proposals in Ethiopia. The RPSP may be further improved by more effectively equipping the NDA and other government agencies to assume a more significant operational management role and by providing capacity building and activities that are more nuanced and fit-for-purpose.


Multiple GCF funding streams are being tapped into, including the Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme (RPSP), Simplified Approval Process (SAP), and funding through intermediary AEs.

The GCF’s RPSP (also referred to as the ‘Readiness programme’ or simply ‘Readiness’) receives generally, but not consistently, high reviews including praise for the opportunities for learning and expedited action.

There is demand – especially from the Government – for a greater number of Readiness projects to be implemented concurrently. It is unclear if the restriction comes from the national designated authority (NDA) or from the GCF, but it was reported that potential partners compete with each other over RPSP access, in a way that is unhelpful and hampers long-term coordination.

National partners have clearly benefited from the GCF’s Readiness activities and express appreciation. As accreditation applications have been both processed and expedited, the number of AEs – including DAEs – has increased, a proliferation of concept notes and proposals is being prepared, and the character of the portfolio is set to shift slowly, but steadily, from Readiness to implementation.

Recommendation: The Readiness programme should consider how to recalibrate and strategically support national entities in the context of long-term human resource capacity limitations, which characterize many LDCs. Some aspects of the GCF compound dependence on foreign agencies, advisors and contractors. Capacity-building efforts need to be grounded in a way that recognizes difficult underlying challenges that cannot be easily “trained”.


Readiness support aims to enhance opportunities for both private and public sector entities for climate finance, not just from the GCF but from other funds, and has supported training on how to prepare GCF proposals. In addition, Readiness funding has been directed towards preparing the MoFEC to upgrade its accreditation level.

One RPSP grant (up to USD 300,000) was received for institutional strengthening, and its budget was directed to the EFCCC, the NDA of Ethiopia. The rationale for the Readiness programming was to accelerate and clarify engagement with the GCF and build the capacity of the staff team.89 Readiness programming was also dedicated to harmonizing GCF funding with other international sources of public financing. While this study does not aim to assess the strength of the NDA, it can be noted that national stakeholders found the NDA to be highly responsive.

The GGGI has been the delivery partner of the second Readiness grant since 2019. The GGGI and the Government of Ethiopia have a long-term technical support and capacity development framework agreement, through which the Readiness grant provides support to help Ethiopia’s MoFEC, Ethiopia’s DAE, build its institutional, project management and delivery capacities, including pipeline development, review, appraisal, monitoring and evaluation. It will also help the MoFEC further strengthen its systems for environmental and social safeguards (ESS) and gender considerations, as well as meet required accreditation and upgrading conditions. Readiness support through the GGGI is also being used to engage with the private sector.

Stakeholders highlighted the challenge of engaging the Ethiopian private sector and pointed to the need to raise awareness about potential opportunities from the GCF to support businesses (e.g. small- and medium-sized enterprises, or banks) to go green. Raising awareness in the private sector has been one of the priorities of GGGI Readiness programming, which led to the facilitation of a two-day workshop for high level private sector representatives and a training on concept notes and project proposals.


The RPSP is fully present in Pacific LDCs, with one grant each in Kiribati and Solomon Islands, two grants in Tuvalu, and five grants in Vanuatu between 2015 and 2019. Activities include adaptation planning, strengthening NDA strategic framework development, and supporting DAEs, with the bulk of the funding across the four nations going to adaptation planning. The programme is warmly welcomed by national stakeholders and seen as particularly useful with regard to strengthening the NDAs. It ultimately seeks to equip and support the NDAs to access the GCF (and potentially other climate finance). To this end, Readiness is praised for familiarizing national actors and imparting the skills and perspectives necessary to participate in GCF engagement, as well as overall institutional strengthening and participation.

However, questions have been raised about whether it is working to lay a pathway for independent action or management. Pacific LDCs are unlikely to achieve direct access in the coming years; the small population, limited human resource base, and other constraints represent significant barriers that will not be overcome soon. Pacific LDC governments are unlikely to have the fiduciary or other systems in place to raise or manage funding independently.