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Best practice and lesson 8: The simplified LDCF project cycle provides expedited access to resources
 
The LDCF was established by the COP in 2001 to support the implementation of the LDC work programme. Based on the guidance of decision 3/CP.11, the LDCF has developed several special concepts, designed to simplify project preparation and provide expedited access to LDCF resources. The project cycle for the LDCF is therefore much simpler than for regular GEF projects, since projects under the LDCF are processed upon receipt, reducing delays. The process is being further streamlined to include only one approval from the GEF LDCF Council.

Under the LDCF, each LDC can access a share of the total resources, and this share will grow proportionally with the size of the fund. As of 31 March 2011, donors had pledged USD 324 million to the LDCF. 

Many Parties felt that the evolution over time of the GEF guidelines for accessing the LDCF and the need for LDCs to adjust to those changes led to excessive delays in the implementation of NAPA projects, as exemplified by the introduction of the new procedures to access LDCF funding.

When NAPAs were initiated, the project cycle was based on a defined set of templates: these templates were subsequently changed for new ones. However, the  Annotated Guidelines for the Preparation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action provided guidance on developing project profiles based on information requirements from the initial templates and LDCs that were in the implementation phase during these changes had their projects cancelled and had to resubmit their project proposals using the new formats, which caused a considerable delay in project approval.

The GEF agencies support countries with their adaptation activities using funding from different GEF-managed funds, as well as funding from other sources. To facilitate their own internal working procedures, the agencies have developed templates and a list of core components of the adaptation projects they support. While the NAPA only focuses on urgent and immediate adaptation needs and the LDCF has expedited procedures, the practical steps used by agencies frequently do not take this into account, and all projects are developed using the agencies’ standard procedures regardless of the source of funding. This results in lengthy project development phases and, on occasions, a repetition of the steps already carried out during the NAPA preparation stage, such as stakeholder consultations.
Best practice: The simplified project cycle for LDCF projects has made it easier for LDCs to access funds under the GEF. Many concepts, such as co-financing adaptation projects, have been refined and simplified through the LDCF, leading to much simpler project formulations compared to regular projects under the GEF Trust Fund that have to show global benefits through incremental cost reasoning.
The principle of ‘balanced access’ used by the LDCF is also a good practice, as it avoids the risks of a ‘first come, first served’ policy that would deplete all resources among a limited number of LDCs, namely those with higher institutional capacity for project development.

Lesson learned: Changing procedures is necessary to accommodate changes and the enhancement of processes; however, due consideration should be given to transitional arrangements so as to avoid unnecessary and/or excessive delays. The main recommendation drawn from experiences with the switch from PDFs to PIF/PPGs is that, in future, no delays should be imposed on projects in the pipeline to the point of re-submission and re-approval if at all possible. Measures should be put in place to facilitate a smooth transition. Many LDCs felt that, given the fact that each LDC is assured a certain amount of funding from the LDCF, the process of accessing the funds could be made a lot easier, with a focus on designing implementation, rather than justifying the choice of a project. Transparency in agency procedures during the design and implementation of projects can help avoid conflicting expectations of countries.

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