Simplified Approval Process pilot scheme (SAP)


The Green Climate Fund is moving quickly to build a large and transformative project portfolio, with many projects already being implemented with the objective to adapt and/or mitigate to climate change.

However, there is a need to simplify and streamline the approval of certain small scale projects, particularly from direct access entities. In response, the GCF’s Board has approved a new approach: The Simplified Approval Process Pilot Scheme (SAP), which is now operating.


The Board approved the first SAP project in February 2018 – an initiative by the Namibian direct access entity Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) to improve the ecosystem management practices of farmers. 

What is the Simplified Approval Process?

Adopted during the 18th Board meeting in October 2017, the SAP intends to reduce the time and effort needed in the preparation, review, approval and disbursement procedures for proposals of certain activities, in particular small-scale activities.

The simplifications are two-fold:

  1. The application process is simpler, requiring fewer pages and easier form-filling. There are dedicated templates for Concept Notes and full Funding Proposals; and
  2. The review and approval processes are streamlined.

These two simplifications should lead to a reduction in time and effort required to go from project conception to implementation.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Projects or programmes are eligible for the SAP if they meet three main eligibility criteria:

  1. Ready for scaling up and having the potential for transformation, promoting a paradigm shift to low emission and climate-resilient development;
  2. A request for financing to the GCF of up to USD 10 million of the total project budget; and
  3. The environmental and social risks and impacts are classified as minimal to none.

SAP can support a number of activities. A few examples are:

  •  Early warning and other monitoring systems
  •  Household-level facilities such as rainwater harvesting and small-scale renewable energy
  •  Small-scale rural and urban community-based projects such as village water supply and drainage, and climate resilient agriculture.

Projects or programmes that include known risk factors, which would require additional information and more detailed due diligence and consultations by relevant entities, are not eligible. Examples of activities with inherent risk factors are those causing the displacement of people or affecting indigenous people, as well as those occurring in protected areas and cultural heritage sites, or that generate waste, affect people’s health, or involve trans-boundary impacts.

Over time, projects from Direct Access Entities should constitute at least 50 percent of the SAP portfolio.

How does it work?

Proposals for projects or programmes meeting the eligibility criteria can be submitted by Accredited Entities (AEs), with an emphasis on the participation of Direct Access Entities. Concept notes can also be submitted by National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and Focal Points. The proposal approval process is as follows:

Proposal submission

• AEs and NDAs submit Concept Notes using the online SAP Concept Note template and ESS checklist. This is a mandatory step.

• The GCF Secretariat validates the risk category and notifies the AE and / or NDA of the project eligibility under the SAP.

• The AE develops a Funding Proposal, using the dedicated SAP Funding Proposal template.

Proposal review

• The GCF Secretariat reviews the Funding Proposal and annexes, as does the Independent Technical Advisory Panel (ITAP), on a rolling basis.

• The activities included in the Funding Proposal will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine their eligibility under the SAP.

Board approval

• Currently the Board considers the Funding Proposals for approval during its regular meetings.


• The GCF Secretariat expedites the post-approval process, as appropriate.


• During the implementation, a robust monitoring shall ensure compliance with GCF procedures and safeguards are maintained.

Further information on the SAP, including the SAP Concept Note template and SAP Funding Proposal template, is available on the GCF website.