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Guide to Climate Change Adaptation Project Preparation

This guide aims to assist government and non-government agencies at all scales in preparing bankable climate change adaptation proposals to access various sources of financing.
Multiple Authors
Guide to Climate Change Adaptation Project Preparation


Moving from a concept to a funded project is a technical process that requires specific skills and a careful structuring of data and information. The USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific project has mentored many government and non-government agencies at all levels (national, provincial, regional, and local) in preparing and appraising climate change adaptation (CCA) projects. This experience has revealed a number of capacity gaps in developing viable adaptation projects. In response to these capacity gaps, USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific has developed a range of capacity building tools (see Further Resources) and has implemented project proposal workshops and other mentoring and support activities with partners throughout Asia and the Pacific.

This guide* distills lessons learned from these experiences and will help applicants identify and structure the information needed to build an adaptation project proposal. It is designed to help you plot a course to move from idea or concept to bankable project proposal. Different financiers have separate application procedures, and their templates are structured and phrased differently. However, their general information requirements are similar, and so this guide is applicable to all of them.

The guide can be used by itself, or as part of a training program or workshop. It is applicable to large proposals prepared for submission to multilateral funds, and also for small grants awarded by national governments and donor organizations. This guide refers to material that is described in the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific program’s Project Preparation and Finance Course, and is accompanied by an extensive collection of excerpts from approved adaptation projects, including examples from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Adaptation Fund (AF), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), the Indonesian Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF), and others.

*Download the guide from the right-hand column. The contents of the guide and the concluding remarks are provided below.

In the Guide

  • Introduction

  • Key messages to bear in mind throughout the process, and finding your financier

  • Common elements in project proposal documents: Background
    • “Boilerplate”
    • Climate change information
    • Context/impacts/identification of the problems
    • Description of “Ideal State”
    • Relationship to national development strategies
    • Relationship to national adaptation strategies/sectoral strategies
  • Project design elements
    • Recruiting your team
    • Project design format
    • Technical feasibility
    • Economic & financial aspects
    • Environmental and social safeguards
    • Budget and timeline
    • Co-financing
  • Implementation arrangements
    • Institutional arrangements
    • Financial and project risk management
    • Financial management and procurement
    • Monitoring, evaluation and reporting
    • Project sustainability
    • Project appraisal
  • Concluding remarks

  • Appendix A: Resources & further reading by section

  • Appendix B: Projects reviewed & referenced

Concluding remarks

Conceptualizing and designing an effective and bankable climate change adaptation project can be a daunting task. Although there is a wide variety of potential nancing sources, the demand for adaptation finance is increasing, and hence so is competition among project proponents. To make your proposal stand out, there are a number of important considerations:

  • Most importantly, you must demonstrate the centrality of climate change to the problem you are attempting to address. You must also show that your project responds to a clear, urgent need that would not be addressed otherwise.
  • In addition, your project must be aligned with national and subnational development and climate change policy frameworks, as well as the priorities of the financier. Once you have met these conditions, you can then begin the rigorous process of actually designing your project.

This guide provides a general overview of the information that is used in developing a climate change adaptation project, as well as how to use and structure that information. However, it is important to understand that planning, designing, and obtaining approval for an adaptation project takes time, sometimes as much as 1-2 years. This timeframe can be significantly reduced with some initial investments in developing a good knowledge base as well as the vertical and horizontal sector linkages and coordination with non-government stakeholders that will be required to design an effective project.

Funded through USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA) and implemented by AECOM, USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific was designed to share information and best practices about climate change adaptation finance modalities and project preparation tools and help governments build capacity to access the existing pool of international climate change adaptation funds.

Go to the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Project Preparation Facility for Asia and the Pacific (USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific) project page

Suggested Citation

USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific (2017) Guide to Climate Change Adaptation Project Preparation. USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia: Bangkok, Thailand

USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific Project Preparation Resources

Training Resources

Related resources

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