working paper

Locally Led Adaptation

From Principles to Practice

Tamara Coger Ayesha Dinshaw Stefanie Tye Bradley Kratzer May Thazin Aung Eileen Cunningham Candice Ramkissoon Suranjana Gupta Md. Bodrud-Doza Ariana Karamallis Samson Mbewe Ainka Granderson Glenn Dolcemascolo Anwesha Tewary Afsara Mirza Anna Carthy
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Examples of Mechanisms and Approaches for Advancing LLA

The examples that follow highlight a range of mechanisms by which adaptation finance reaches local actors, as well as the different roles that organizations can play in supporting the devolution of funding and decentralization of power to enable locally led adaptation. Most of these examples are of funds operationalized by civil society or grassroots groups, some of which have a specific focus on issues such as Indigenous rights and informal settlements.

The following are the examples of LLA included in this paper, organized by broad geographic region:


  • Huairou Commission’s Community Resilience Funds: The Community Resilience Funds are an innovative and flexible finance mechanism to channel resources directly to grassroots women’s groups living in risk-prone poor communities.
  • Pawanka Fund: The Pawanka Fund is an Indigenous-led grantmaking fund supporting Indigenous peoples’ initiatives to promote and protect traditional knowledge, well-being, rights, and self-determined development to face climate impacts.
  • Slum Dwellers International’s Urban Poor Fund International: Urban Poor Fund International delivers demand-driven resources to local communities as capital grants so that they can design and implement projects, including those focused on adaptation, that drive their own development.
  • LoCAL mechanism: A standard, internationally recognized mechanism designed and hosted by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, LoCAL promotes climate change–resilient communities and local economies through performance-based climate resilience grants to local authorities in 29 developing or least-developed countries.


  • Community Adaptation Small Grants Facility (SGF) in South Africa: Implemented through the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the SGF’s grantmaking process relies on the Enhanced Direct Access mechanism to deliver climate finance.
  • Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia’s (EIF Namibia’s) Empower to Adapt: EIF Namibia supports and implements adaptation projects that ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. Specifically, its Empower to Adapt initiative seeks to devolve rights and responsibilities over natural resources to rural communities.
  • Gungano Urban Poor Loan Fund in Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Homeless Peoples’ Federation, a national network of low-income urban communities, operates savings schemes that contribute to the Gungano Fund, which provides affordable loans to support sustainable livelihoods and upgrade informal settlements.
  • Kenya’s County Climate Change Fund (CCCF): The CCCF is a mechanism through which counties can create, access, and use climate finance from different sources to build community resilience through projects identified and prioritized by local communities.
  • Shibuye Community Health Workers (SCHW) in Kenya: SCHW is a grassroots women’s organization that resources members to innovate, learn, and partner with government to secure women’s land rights, food, and livelihoods.
  • Tree Aid in Mali: Tree Aid strengthens community-led forest management through Village Tree Enterprises and local forest management committees. It provides initial capital without requiring collateral to enable the participation of marginalized, landless individuals.


  • Climate Bridge Fund in Bangladesh: A trust fund established by BRAC, the Climate Bridge Fund provides direct climate finance—from short-term project funding to sustainable provision of services and infrastructure for climate-induced migrants—to registered nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to bridge the financial gap.
  • Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) in Nepal: Nepal’s community-led, multi-stakeholder climate action planning process puts communities and local governments at the center of local adaptation planning (Maharajan 2019). The LAPA initiatives assist local governments and communities in driving collective climate action.
  • Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT): A nonprofit organization, MCT operates a series of endowment, sinking, and revolving funds to support biodiversity conservation via long-term and sustainable grant financing and capacity building of local organizations.
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in India: The Indian government established MGNRES in 2005 to provide livelihood security to every Indian household and is now the world’s largest public works program. In the state of Odisha, climate risk management was incorporated into MGNREGS.
  • Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) in India: SSP resources grassroots women’s organizations to publicly demonstrate their capacities to design, manage, and monitor funds to drive climate-resilient initiatives and attract investments to scale up these initiatives.
  • YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU) in Indonesia: YEU is a unit of YAKKUM (the Christian Foundation for Public Health), invested in women-led sustainable livelihoods and food security initiatives, which enhance the credibility and visibility of women’s groups as drivers of resilience.
  • Shramik Bharti in India: A not-for-profit grassroots development organization that operates in North India, Shramik Bharti supports women-led community grain banks that provide finance and food security.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund in the Caribbean: A global large and small grant-making facility and capacity building program supporting CSOs in biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean through two five-year investments (2010–2016 and 2021–2026). The small grant mechanism is administered by CANARI.
  • Fundecooperación in Costa Rica: A private foundation, Fundecooperación delivers microfinance and grant-based finance to smallholder farmers; micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and community-based organizations (CBOs) for climate resilience and green growth projects.
  • Gran Chaco Proadapt in Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia: A tri-national alliance formed by organized civil society, the private sector, and local governments, Gran Chaco Proadapt builds the adaptive capacities of vulnerable social groups in the Gran Chaco region.
  • Sustainable Island Resource Framework (SIRF) Fund in Antigua and Barbuda: A national funding facility, the SIRF Fund supports environmental management and climate adaptation and mitigation, including through loans and grants to local communities, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals (GAB 2019).

Appendix A includes additional descriptions of each of these examples.

These examples fall into several broad categories: intermediary-managed funds, funds accessed by grassroots organizations, government-managed funds, and private foundations. Examples within each category illustrate the approaches to governing finance for LLA, which offer different advantages. These categories are not mutually exclusive, and some examples align with more than one category. The descriptions below provide a sense of the range of entry points to advancing LLA, as well as the types of actors and their various roles.

Intermediary-managed funds are managed by national or regional intermediaries that facilitate access to adaptation finance by local organizations. These funds provide structure and support for local organizations to access international climate finance for LLA.

For example, the Micronesia Conservation Trust accesses international climate funds from sources such as the Global Environment Facility, Adaptation Fund, and Green Climate Fund (GCF) and uses a traditional request-for-proposal process to select partners and disburse finance, working with community-level partners to develop their proposals. MCT employs a small grants facility mechanism that also funds components of plans that have already been developed.

Another example is the Community Adaptation Small Grants Facility in South Africa, which was implemented through the South African National Biodiversity Institute and executed by SouthSouthNorth. SGF’s grantmaking process relies on the Enhanced Direct Access mechanism to deliver climate finance under the Adaptation Fund.

Funds accessed by grassroots organizations such as farmer/producer cooperatives, savings and credit groups, caregiver groups, and informal housing and settlement associations are operationalized by local actors from a given community itself. The bottom-up financing approach of these funds enhances the agency of local actors in funds management. The Community Resilience Funds foster the capacity of grassroots women’s groups to transparently manage and make accountable decisions on the use of funds. The funds are available to grassroots groups such as those affiliated with NGOs like YAKKUM Emergency Unit in Indonesia and Swayam Shikshan Prayog in India as well as to grassroots networks such as Community Health Workers in Kenya.

The Pawanka Fund is an Indigenous-led fund that receives finance from foundations and operates through a Guiding Committee that includes representatives from seven sociocultural regions. The fund develops relationships with possible grantees and encourages them to apply based on their needs. The fund also issues calls for proposals.

Government-managed funds channel public finance to the local level through dedicated funds in different ways. They provide linkages with countries’ decentralized structures and existing national plans and processes.

For example, the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia adopts a locally led approach to identifying context-specific, practical adaptation solutions under three funding windows (ecosystem-based adaptation, climate-resilient agriculture, and climate-proof infrastructure) and provides grants directly to communities for implementation.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Department of Environment disburses funds through the SIRF Fund channels. The Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund Enhanced Direct Access mechanism are the primary sources of finance channeled through the SIRF Fund, but the government of Antigua and Barbuda intends to generate revenue to support the SIRF Fund through various fees, taxes, and carbon credits.

Private actors also have a role in providing adaptation finance and helping it reach local actors. With the costs of adaptation potentially reaching $300 billion per year by 2030 and inadequate finance flowing for adaptation, especially to the local level, there is a sizeable gap in funding for locally led adaptation that private sector actors can help fill (UNEP 2021; UNFCCC 2021).

Fundecooperación is a sustainable development private foundation providing microfinance and other services in Costa Rica. Fundecooperación has accessed finance through the Adaptation Fund to extend climate adaptation for agriculture. It works closely with each client and with rural communities to understand their needs and co-create a plan of action with financing, providing guidance and capacity along the way.

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