As set out in the Concept Note for the Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance, a key deliverable is the identification of five ‘pioneer countries’ by COP26.  These countries will trial the new approach to climate finance developed by the Taskforce in cooperation with providers of climate finance and other partners.

This initial, country- and demand-led process will see pioneer countries test, model, and champion new methods for accessing climate finance, with the intention of building an evidence base for expansion to a wider set of partner countries in subsequent phases. The methods tested in each pioneer country will vary depending on need and country context, for example by utilising different approaches to coordinate funding, different sets of finance partners, and support for different climate plans and priorities. But in all cases this approach will facilitate access on the basis of a coherent, country-led programmatic vision, ensuring climate finance is integrated with wider national planning and that it supports partners’ broader policy and institutional reforms.

Building on the lessons learned from these initial pioneer countries, and in subsequent phases, the aim is to ultimately transform how developing countries access and mainstream climate finance globally.

Selection Criteria

A set of Principles and Recommendations on Access to Climate Finance are to be developed and published by the Taskforce by COP26. These will underpin and guide the new approach to climate finance and provide the basis for country partners and finance providers to trial the new approach in the pioneer countries.

The Concept Note for the Taskforce sets out the key objectives for the new approach to climate finance: that it is aligned behind integrated national climate plans, better coordinated amongst the various sources of public climate finance and other existing initiatives, and more programmatic in nature.  

Taking this into account, the following criteria are proposed as overarching criteria guiding selection of the pioneer countries:

  1. National ownership and alignment: high level political interest in integrating climate and development planning and finance, and positively influencing others; existence of ambitious national climate plans (e.g. NDCs, NAPs, LTSs), and integration of climate with broader national development plans and pipelines, to underpin work taken forward during the pilots.
  2. Coordination with existing initiatives and donors: sufficient technical capacity at the national level to participate in the pioneer initiative; scope to influence the  in-country donor landscape and unite existing stakeholders to deliver against the objectives of the Taskforce (though the prism of national priorities and plans). Previous experience in accessing and coordinating climate finance would also be helpful, though not essential for all five pioneer countries.
  3. Ready and willing: clear demand and ability to act as a pioneer, and potential for transformative change through the ‘new approach’ set out under the Taskforce; partner country’s relevant institutions able to commence implementation of the pioneer initiative; willing and able to commit to continuing engagement with the Taskforce and with the international community after the pioneer country trial has finished.
  4. Inclusivity: Meaningful engagement and long-term dialogue with civil society on climate action, including locally led action. (1)

Consideration will also be given to the level of variation in country context and geography across the five countries selected to enable a rigorous test of the applicability of the ‘new approach’ and build experience across a range of approaches to implementation. Our intention is to ensure strong representation amongst the five selected from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), two groups which face particularly entrenched access challenges.  Given those challenges, we do not intend to apply the criteria in a way that excludes LDCs and SIDS from participation in this trial phase of implementation.

Work with the initial cohort of pioneer countries will only be the start of the Taskforce’s efforts. We intend to learn lessons quickly from the pioneer countries, iterate the Principles and Recommendations and ‘new approach’ as required, and (presuming initial efforts are successful) move to broaden out the Taskforce approach to a wider set of countries.

To enable that expansion, we intend to build on and coordinate with the efforts of parallel initiatives on technical assistance, capacity building, in-country coordination, and supporting the development of investable national plans, as well as their support for (sub-national) locally led action. Working in partnership with these initiatives should enable countries in the earlier stages of climate planning and preparedness to participate in the Taskforce’s new programmatic approach in subsequent phases.  A different set of criteria are foreseen for participation in later phases.

Process and timeline

The Taskforce is seeking nominations for pioneer countries from a range of partners.

Any developing country will be able to submit interest in becoming a pioneer country; we intend to write out via UN Permanent Representations to inform countries of the call for nominations with a deadline of October 7th 2021.  

Countries interested in participating in the Taskforce by becoming a pioneer country should submit interest via the Interim Secretariat at by October 7th. These criteria will act as a touchstone for the Taskforce’s Steering Committee in its selection of the pioneer countries.  Membership of the Taskforce Steering Committee will not bias, positively or negatively, selection as a pioneer country. 

An initial list of pioneer countries will be discussed by the Steering Committee, with subsequent outreach to those countries considered to be among the most promising candidates. A final list of Pioneer Countries will be approved at the fourth meeting of the Steering Committee (October 2021) in readiness for announcement at COP26.

As per the ‘new approach’ set out in the Taskforce’s Concept Note, the aim is to fund the pioneer country trials through a coordinated offer from bilateral and multilateral partners alongside partner countries’ own domestic endeavours.


(1) The intent is to coordinate closely with the parallel Principles for Locally Led Adaptation and the work of the LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR), the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC), and other initiatives.

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