Civil Society Engagement


Civil society actors are key partners of the Adaptation Fund (AF) at all levels of the Fund’s decision-making and operations. The participation of civil society representatives as observers in Board meetings enhances the transparency and accountability of the Board’s decision-making. They contribute to the development of Fund-level policies and strategies. Their contributions in stakeholder engagement in the AF project lifecycle from planning and implementation to evaluation and learning enhance the effectiveness and inclusiveness of projects and help ensure their focus on the most vulnerable.

The AF is committed to further enhancing civil society engagement and participation in its operations.

Civil Society Participation in Board Meetings

The AF is the only climate fund that organizes a dialogue with civil society as a standing agenda item of its Board meetings. The Board meetings are held twice a year and are open to all the UNFCCC registered observers. The dialogue with civil society is usually scheduled on the first day of the Board meeting and has provided an opportunity for civil society organizations (CSOs) to present to the Board their findings related to AF projects under implementation as well as to provide the Board with their input and recommendations to specific Board meeting agenda items. Interested civil society stakeholders can also follow the Board proceedings through a webcast of Board meetings and posting of Board documents and decisions on the Fund’s website.

Development of Comprehensive Policy or Guidelines on Enhanced Civil Society Engagement

The AF’s Medium-term Strategy 2018 – 2022 suggests exploring modalities for greater collaboration between the Fund and civil society. While several aspects of AF’s engagement with civil society have been considered  best practices, the Board acknowledged, at its 33rd meeting (March 2019), the importance of further enhancing  participation of civil society in its work. Since then, the Board has been considering options to further enhance civil society engagement, including ones arising from recommendations of the Adaptation Fund CSO Network. At its 37th meeting (October 2021), the Board decided to develop a comprehensive policy or guidelines on civil society engagement in the work of the Fund (Decision B37/42).

Civil Society Engagement in AF’s Medium-Term Strategy

Civil society already contributes to the AF in a variety of ways, including resource mobilization by putting forth ideas for more long-term sustainable financial support of the Fund and advocating the Fund’s effective and innovative programs, publishing independent real-time updates and assessments of supported projects, input from the intended beneficiaries, and fostering knowledge sharing.

Civil society actors and other key stakeholders were involved in the development of the Fund’s Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) for the period 2018 to 2022 through an open consultation on the draft MTS. The Fund is currently developing its new MTS for 2023-2027 and undertaking broad and inclusive stakeholder consultations between January and October 2022.

Other Opportunities for CSO Participation and Engagement

  1. Commenting on project proposals- Public comments on project/grant proposals are welcome and should be sent to A deadline for public comments is announced on the “Proposals under review” webpage of the respective proposals/grants.
  1. Commenting on Fund’s policies- Public comments on emerging policies are welcome and should be sent to A call for public comments for the Fund’s policies is announced as the opportunity arises. Public comments on existing policies are welcome year-round.
  1. Supporting project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation- Civil society actors are key stakeholders in the consultation processes during the whole project/programme cycle, in line with the Fund’s Environmental and Social Policy and Updated Gender Policy. The involvement of local actors in project design and implementation is also a key feature of the Fund’s direct access and enhanced direct access modalities. Some of the Fund’s projects are assessed independently by local members of the AF CSO Network and result in knowledge products issued by the network.
  1. Participation at Readiness Events- Some of the Fund’s readiness seminars and workshops are open for civil society individually or through the AF CSO Network.
  1. Complaints and grievances- Fund’s Implementing entities are required to have in place anti-corruption hotlines, independent investigatory functions, whistleblower protection and sanctions policies for corruption and fraud, as well as their own grievance mechanism or complaint-handling mechanism which provides people affected by AF-funded projects an accessible, transparent, fair and effective process for receiving and addressing complaints about environmental, social and gender harms caused by any project. They are also required to have in place anti-corruption hotlines, independent investigatory functions, whistleblower protection and sanctions policies for corruption and fraud. If grievance mechanism complaints related to specific projects fail to reach a mutually satisfactory  solution through the implementing entity’s grievance mechanism within a year, anyone who lives in an area and believes they are adversely affected by its implementation, or their duly appointed representative can submit a written complaint at any time through the Fund’s Ad-Hoc Complaint Handling Mechanism’ (ACHM), and any eligible complaints would be addressed in a timely manner. An individual or group can also submit a complaint related to financial mismanagement, corruption, fraud or unethical dealing directly to the Fund through

Adaptation Fund CSO Network

The Adaptation Fund CSO Network (formerly “Adaptation Fund NGO Network” which initiated its work in 2010) is an independent coalition of CSOs engaging in discussions and debates on the Adaptation Fund’s processes and policies and closely following the planning and implementation of the Fund’s projects with a view to supporting those most vulnerable to climate change and to ensuring their benefit from the Adaptation Fund.

For more information, please refer to the Network’s website:

According to its website, the Network’s aim is to support those most vulnerable to climate change and ensure their benefit from the Adaptation Fund. It works on strengthening transparent and participative processes within the Fund and ensuring effective engagement of civil society at the local level throughout project planning and implementation. Making AF work for the most vulnerable communities strongly relies on input and engagement of global civil society.

The network’s main activities include drafting joint policy recommendations for consideration by the Board; hosting the civil society dialogue; providing feedback on AF project proposals and concept notes; conducting independent assessments of AF projects under implementation; engaging with AF decisionmakers at the country level; strengthening knowledge of the AF among civil society in the global south; and sharing AF experiences and lessons learned with other CSOs.

Other opportunities

Innovation Small Grants

The Adaptation Fund Climate Innovation Accelerator, or AFCIA, aims to foster innovation in climate change adaptation in developing countries. The programme targets a broad range of potential finance recipients, including governments, non-governmental organizations or CSOs, community groups, entrepreneurs, young innovators and other groups. It awards competitive grants of up to US$ 250,000 each and is funded by AF and administered by implementing partners UNDP, UNEP and CTCN.

Stakeholder Engagement at Country Level

Stakeholders including civil society have the opportunity to engage in AF projects at country level.

Reviewing Project Proposals

The Board considers public comments on AF proposals before it makes a funding decision. Local stakeholders in the regions and country(ies) that may be directly or indirectly affected by the project/grant implementation are of particular value.  All stakeholders are encouraged to review the project proposals.

Public comments on project/grant proposals are welcome and should be sent to A deadline for public comments is announced on the “Proposals under review” webpage of the respective proposals/grants.

During Project Implementation

In the project implementation stage, any individual, or their representative(s), living in an area where impacts of a Fund supported project may occur, can bring a written complaint forward to the secretariat. Complainants and implementing entities should use the implementing entity’s grievance mechanism as a first step. However, the Ad hoc Complaint Handing Mechanism (ACHM) of the Adaptation Fund can be directly used in cases where the Parties have failed to reach a mutually satisfactory solution through the implementing entities’ grievance mechanism within a year.

See Ad Hoc Complaint Handling Mechanism (ACHM) for its full information.

Portfolio Monitoring Missions

In addition, the Fund conducts, on sampling basis, portfolio monitoring missions and country exchanges on adaptation themes with project partners. Representatives of the AF CSO Network have participated in some of the AF project monitoring missions, and such opportunities could be further expanded in the future.


AF Board documents on enhancing civil society engagement.

For more information, please contact