FAO and the GEF

Partnering for sustainable agri-food systems and the environment

FAO selected for three innovative Challenge Program projects


08 November 2021, Glasgow - FAO was selected as the partner of choice to implement three winning projects from the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation.  This highly competitive program provides seed funding for innovative initiatives designed to help vulnerable countries cope with the worsening climate crisis.  

The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Winrock International, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development selected FAO as the implementing agency for projects that operate across the spectrum of innovative approaches and multi-sectoral partnerships for more climate resilient, sustainable and productive agri-food systems.  

The three projects aim to improve access to capital and financial services for smallholder farmers transitioning to climate adaptation practices; support climate-resilient rice landscapes; and expand investment flows into climate adaptation measures, including through new insurance instruments. Once fully approved in June 2022, the three projects will be eligible for US $3.6 million in financing from the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund.

The winners of its Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation were announced at COP26. A total of 418 submissions were received in the latest call for proposals, and 10 proposals were selected. Each winning concept will be eligible to receive grants from the GEF-hosted Special Climate Change Fund and Least Developed Countries Fund to provide targeted financing for climate resilience projects in developing and low-income countries. 

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovations,” said Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director of the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment of FAO. “It represents a new opportunity to bring our technical excellence to the table and redouble our commitments towards innovation and private sector engagement.

The three projects proposed are:

1. Scaling Financial and Information Services for Smallholder Adaptation – This project, proposed by Alliance of Biodiversity International and CIAT, directly addresses climate hazards related to the precipitation variability, including late onset, fluctuating quantity and seasonal distribution predicted with climate change. The project will scale the demand for, and the supply of, bundled climate, technical, and financial service information. The project will gamify incentives to rapidly increase climate change awareness and familiarize 50,000 Ugandan and Zambian farmers with climate information services driving increased demand for risk management strategies. At the same time, the project will extend smallholder-friendly insurance and credit products such as index insurance, normal credits, and risk-contingent credit to 5,000 farmers in these two countries. Working on both framer demand and private sector supply together will allow farmers, and especially women farmers, to overcome common barriers to scaling adoption of digital solutions to climate risk management and reinforces farmers potential to produce more and increase incomes under climate stress.

2. Net-Zero Adaptation Finance – This project, proposed by Winrock International, will create the Net-Zero Adaptation Finance (NZAF) program to ensure that climate finance flowing to agriculture and land-use sectors is meeting both adaptation and mitigation objectives. The NZAF program will use a resilience screening tool called WinRes, to be used in partnership with private sector actors procuring emissions reductions from the agriculture and land use sectors, anda blended finance facility to mobilize concessional financing from financial institutions to project developers who deliver adaptation-oriented GHG reduction and removal projects.

3. Public-Private Blended Finance Facility for Climate Resilient Rice Landscapes -  This project, proposed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, will support the establishment of a new blended finance facility to catalyse public and private sector investment to scale-up adaptation and resilience-building in rice landscapes. This project is led by the Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative, a consortium comprised of FAO, GIZ, International Rice Research Institute, the Sustainable Rice Platform, UNEP, and the WBCSD, and will benefit around 1 million people, delivering adaptation benefits over an area estimated at between 2 and 4 million hectares. 

GEF announces winners & progress of the Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation
More on this topic

Press Release: GEF Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation names 10 new winners

Press Release: GEF Names Winrock International Winner of Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation

Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative

Private Sector Engagement at FAO

Innovation at FAO

Least Developed Countries Fund

Special Climate Change Fund