Although the amount of finance available for climate change adaptation continues to increase, beneficiaries in developing countries face a variety of challenges to access it directly. One of these challenges is limited local capacities to develop projects that comply with the policies and requirements of financiers like the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF Simplified Approval Process (SAP) targets smaller-scale and low-risk projects and programmes.

The first step towards accessing finance through the GCF SAP modality is to submit a concept note, which allows the fund to determine whether the project or programme is aligned with its objectives, environmental and social policies, and investment criteria. This course has been carefully designed to provide guidance on the fundamental components of project development following the principles of learning-by-doing. After completing the course, you will gain the ability to develop a high-quality GCF SAP concept note which will help you advance towards the Funding Proposal stage.

This course is a contribution to the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Information Platform (AP-PLAT) thanks to the support of the Ministry of Environment of Japan, in collaboration with the GCF Secretariat's SAP Team. AIT RRC.AP has worked to build the capacities of those involved in project development, implementation, and financing to accelerate direct access to climate finance since 2016.

Course Modules

Module 1

Strategic Linkages and Climate Change Evidence Base
Setting the context and baseline for a project or programme idea for a GCF SAP concept notes includes outlining linkages to the national context to ensure country ownership, and ensuring a strong evidence base about the climate change problem being addressed.

Module 2

Non-Climate Drivers of Vulnerability, Gaps, and Barriers
A concept note for the GCF SAP is required to describe the main root causes and barriers for climate resilience and low emission development that your project or programme seeks to address, including non-climate drivers.

Module 3

Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (GEDSI)
All GCF funded projects or programmes are required to mainstream considerations on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion.

Module 4

Formulating a Theory of Change for your SAP concept note
Concept notes for the GCF should describe the expected set of components and activities addressing the identified barriers and leading to the expected outcomes of the proposed project or programme.

Module 5

Environmental and Social Safeguards and Project Sustainability
The GCF SAP only funds project or programme ideas that have minimal to no negative environmental and social risks and impacts. Concept Notes are also expected to explain how the project or programme will ensure sustainability in the long run.

Module 6

Mainstreaming GCF’s Investment Criteria and Financing
Justifying GCF financing includes a strong assessment of concept notes against the Fund’s investment criteria.

Module 7

Logical Framework and Monitoring & Evaluation for SAP Concept Notes
Concept notes for SAP should briefly explain how the project or programme will be monitored in achieving the expected outcomes.

The Hub

1 / 7
2 / 7
3 / 7
4 / 7
5 / 7
6 / 7
7 / 7

Target Participant

The course is intended for individuals and teams that wish to design concept notes for the SAP window. The course assumes that participants have a basic understanding of the GCF and the requirements of the SAP modality. However, the course will be useful to a wide range of users, as the material and techniques presented can be applied to almost any project preparation task, from small grants to large, multicomponent projects. Most of the material covered are fundamental to project design regardless of the financier.


The course can be accessed at no cost. Learners can opt to purchase an AIT-verified certificate upon the satisfactory completion of the course.


“Topics like Problem tree, objective tree, and theory of change basically drive us to identify a genuine climate change bankable project on the community level in rural settings."

Participant from Papua New Guinea

“I learned to speak the language of the Green Climate Fund"

Participant from Samoa

“It is a solid foundation to start our journey in developing a GCF proposal”

Participant from Palau

Lead Trainer

Dr. Keith Bettinger brings over 10 years of academic, research, and professional experience in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. focusing on climate change adaptation planning and project design. He teaches a graduate course on climate change project finance and design at the University of the South Pacific. He has designed and implemented project preparation training programs for USAID, UNEP, and AIT.

e-Learning Hub

Online Learning Platform for All

GoGetSSL Site Seal