Climate finance entrepreneurs from all over the world can apply for the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance. We’re looking for innovative finance solutions that can unlock investment to tackle some of the most difficult climate and sustainable development challenges and investment opportunities for a post-COVID, green economic recovery.

Each year’s call for ideas occurs between October and December. The call for the 2021 class is now closed. The new class will be announced in February 2021.

Before applying, read the full Lab guidelines and check out our FAQ. For any questions, get in touch at


For the 2021 cycle, there is a special call for the Lab’s sustainable energy access, sustainable cities and food systems streams, and the Brazil and Southern Africa programs. The Lab’s general program is also accepting ideas that address barriers to sustainable investment in developing countries across the adaptation and mitigation spectrum.

Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
The Lab seeks the most transformative ideas – both mitigation and adaptation – in developing and emerging economies, including those that do not fit in the priority sectors included here.
Sustainable Energy Access
Sustainable Development Goal 7 aims to ensure affordable, reliable and modern energy for all by 2030. However, more than 1.2 billion people currently live without access to reliable electricity.

Significant investment is needed in order to close the gap, and achieve universal energy access by 2030, though CPI research has found that there are relatively few blended finance initiatives that focus on distributed and off-grid electricity generation. There is a key need to identify, develop, and scale financial solutions that enable private sector capital to flow into energy access investments, including solutions for distributed generation, off-grid, and “last-mile” grid connection, thereby creating a viable market for generating and delivering energy to the developing world.

With additional support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Lab is seeking proposals for innovative financial instruments to address market barriers and support the scale-up of sustainable energy access for both residential and business application.

These sustainable finance vehicles will offer returns for investors, while reducing emissions, supporting improved livelihoods and access to education and opportunities, and reducing negative health impacts associated with carbon-intensive forms of energy production.

Sustainable Cities
Cities are critical players on climate change. More than half of the global population lives in cities, which consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70 percent of global carbon emissions. And with 90 percent of the world’s urban areas situated on coastlines, cities are at high risk from climate change impacts such as sea level rise and extreme weather events.

For this reason, cities are on the front lines of climate action, making bold commitments around climate-resilient, low-carbon development pathways. To mobilize the finance needed to bring these commitments to fruition, policy makers, the business community, philanthropic actors, and all classes of investors must work together to pilot, implement, and scale up sustainable investment models.

With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies and other funders, the Lab is seeking proposals for innovative financial instruments to address market barriers and support the deployment of climate solutions in cities in developing countries, including in energy efficiency, clean energy, low-carbon transport, and other sectors. Proposals may be completely new – i.e., ideas never before implemented – or may seek to adapt or replicate a previously piloted instrument in new developing country city contexts. The Lab will work closely with The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an international alliance of nearly 10,000 cities and local governments, throughout the Lab process.

Sustainable Food Systems

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the fragility of food systems across the globe, which are already being impacted by the effects of climate change. People living in poverty, among which women are disproportionately represented, are most affected through health and livelihoods impacts.

Food systems are significant contributors to biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, through activities throughout the entire value chain. These activities include land use practices, deforestation, food production including waste and water management, energy use, and transport. At the same time, sustainable food systems contribute to long-term solutions, for instance through ecosystem services. Moreover, agriculture is the main source of livelihood in most developing economies. It is therefore of utmost importance to improve sustainability and resilience throughout the food system.

With support from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Lab is seeking proposals for innovative financial instruments that support sustainable food systems. Ideas should alleviate poverty, increase productivity, and address biodiversity and climate change (adaptation and/or mitigation). This includes solutions in farming, waste management and input supply, as well as interacting systems, such as energy, trade and health.

Submissions should focus on climate-stressed regions, primarily across low and lower-middle income countries. Proposed sustainable finance vehicles should offer returns for private investors, create jobs and other local economic benefits, sustain biodiversity, improve climate resilience and/or decrease food-related emissions, while supporting a green, resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to creating opportunities for private investors, successful ideas should incorporate different actors in the value chains as appropriate, e.g., producers/farmers (or their organization) buyers, distributors, and/or retailers.






On November 18th, the Lab hosted a webinar that covered the 2021 call for ideas application process. The session also presented case studies from previous cycles and a Q&A segment.

Webinar em português

Em 19 de novembro, o Lab fez um webinar sobre  o processo de envio e seleção das ideias e também apresentou estudos de caso de anos anteriores.


The Lab is composed of over 60 expert institutions in government, development finance, philanthropy, and the private sector. The full list of Lab Members can be found here. The funders for the Lab’s 2021 cycle are included below. Climate Policy Initiative serves as the Lab Secretariat.

Lab Funders 2021


Successful ideas are selected by Lab Members and other experts based on the following criteria.


Identifies (1) the type of entity(ies) that could implement it, (2) the pathway towards implementation, including the timeframe, activities, and key milestones, and (3) possible challenges to implementation and related management strategies.


Demonstrates the ability to address, directly or indirectly, barriers to private climate finance that (1) have not yet been addressed or (2) that will be addressed more effectively compared to other instruments in the market.


Demonstrates potential to (1) mobilize private climate capital within a sizeable market, (2) be scaled up or replicated in other contexts and, (3) achieve socioeconomic, development, and environmental impacts.

Financially Sustainable

Identifies (1) a strategy to phase out public financial support, thereby achieving market viability and (2) possible challenges to achieving its intended objectives and related management strategies.


Selected ideas will receive guidance and support from high-level leaders from both the public and private sectors, who contribute expertise, political capital, and financial capital to the instruments. See the full list of Lab Members here.

Selected ideas will also benefit from robust analysis, stress-testing, and development by Climate Policy Initiative’s team of experts.


value of analytical and communications support received by selected Lab ideas


mobilized by Lab instruments endorsed in previous cycles


invested by Lab Membership of over 60 expert institutions


If your idea is selected by Lab Members, you will work with a team of analysts, key stakeholders, and experts to:

✓  Develop or refine the mechanics of your idea

✓  Survey comparable instruments, ensuring the final instrument is innovative and impactful

✓  Develop robust financial modeling

✓  Assess and document potential social and environmental impacts

 Map risks and risk mitigation strategies

✓  Develop a detailed implementation plan

✓  Produce promotional content

✓  Present your idea to donors and investors

✓  Potentially receive endorsement from the Lab


Below are a few examples of Lab instruments that were launched and endorsed in previous Lab cycles, and their latest impact and progress. To learn more about all previous Lab instruments, visit Ideas.

Climate Investor One

Climate Investor One, a financing facility for early-stage development for renewable energy projects in developing countries, has reached final close at $850 mn, and is already invested in several projects, including a 116MW rooftop solar project and a 42MW run-of-river hydro project.

Learn more

Energy Savings Insurance

Energy Savings Insurance provides an insurance product for projected energy savings for efficiency projects undertaken by small and medium enterprises. Energy Savings Insurance now has projects in seven Latin American countries that will target thousands of businesses.

Learn more

Climate Resilience and Adaptation Finance and Technology Transfer Facility (CRAFT)

CRAFT is the first commercial investment vehicle to focus on technologies and solutions for climate adaptation. CRAFT has secured $45 mn of approved investment commitments towards a $75 mn first close.

Learn more