Frequently Asked Questions



Frequently Asked Questions

Individual entrepreneurs, public institutions, development finance institutions, private sector, and civil society (NGOs, think tanks, academics) are all welcome to submit ideas. Successful past proponents have included large institutions from the public and private sectors, as well as start-ups, entrepreneurs, boutique fund managers, and NGOs. The Lab’s call for ideas is open to all innovators in the sustainable finance space. 

The Lab typically seeks relatively well-defined concepts that are in a pre-pilot or early pilot stage and which could benefit from instrument design and technical support. Successful ideas typically have some evidence of likelihood of success in practice, but the maturity of instrument structure, pathway to market, and financial modeling varies.  

 If you have a later-stage, market-ready concept, specifically a financial vehicle that has already been tested through feasibility studies, proofs of concepts, proven pilot(s), and/or a minimum viable product, we recommend you consider applying for the Catalytic Climate Finance Facility, a partnership between CPI and Convergence. 

The idea must be a financial instrument (description below) that targets climate-relevant sectors in developing countries and must not require legislative or regulatory change to be implemented. In addition, applicants should be able to show that the idea meets the Lab’s four criteria: innovation, actionability, catalytic potential, and financial sustainability. For more on these criteria, see the Lab Guidelines or on the Lab’s site HERE. 

In the context of the Lab, a financial instrument is a tool, structure, or approach to investment that has the potential to mobilize private capital. The Lab does not support ideas for individual projects or the deployment of new technologies (unless there is an innovative financial product associated with these projects or technologies). Instruments that the Lab has selected include debt and equity funds, bonds, insurance products, guarantees, investment data tools and platforms, pay-per-service models, and securitization structures, among others. To get an idea of what we are looking for, take a look at some of the past instruments HERE. 

Yes, we welcome other innovative ideas, even if it may not fit into one of this year’s priority regions or themes. Priority regions represent dedicated chapters of the Lab, which have a fixed number of ideas per year – each year the Lab takes forward several ideas that focus on other developing countries. In addition, the Lab reserves slots for high-quality climate mitigation ideas that do not fit into either thematic or regional categories, but display especially high potential according to Lab criteria.  

Submissions should provide a short description of the idea, its purpose, and how it works. They should also show that the idea fits the Lab’s criteria, outline the main barriers it addresses, and present the envisioned timeline for implementation. Some details can be under development at the time of submission so long as that uncertainty is clearly conveyed in the application. For example, while it is helpful to have a sense of the types of finance needed for idea implementation, part of the Lab process is further developing and define the finance needed for implementation. Some level of development is useful but the ability to describe every detail of the flow of finance is not required. 

Past proponent teams have typically dedicated a combined at least 2-3 days per week to the Lab process in a period over seven months (from March to September). This time is often split across multiple team members from the proponent side. We suggest that successful proponents dedicate one or two individuals to work as Lab focal points throughout the process. CPI dedicates two staff members from our team to each instrument, at roughly ~60% full-time, and we expect that our proponents apply a similar level of prioritization during the core Lab cycle. Moreover, following the conclusion of the Lab cycle, it is the responsibility of the proponent to launch and implement the idea. Successful applicants, therefore, must demonstrate a degree of long-term commitment to the idea which extends beyond the Lab process.  


After being selected at the beginning of March, successful proponents will work for seven months to advance the instrument and identify its implementation pathway. After this time, the instrument will receive light-touch assistance over a 12-month period, including bespoke launch support to get the idea off the ground.  

Yes, you can submit more than one idea. We do suggest though that you confirm that the ideas meet the Lab’s eligibility criteria to make sure your ideas are a right fit for the Lab before filling out the questionnaire. 

Typically, 2-way NDAs are signed between selected proponents and CPI at the beginning of the Lab process to ensure that proprietary and/or commercially sensitive information remains confidential. However, a critical output of the Lab process is the distribution of outcomes of our research with the broader climate finance community. Therefore, proponents should be comfortable with key learnings from the Lab process, including the instrument design, implementation pathway, and potential for impact being made publicly available at the conclusion of the Lab process.  

The idea must be targeted at one (or more) developing (ODA-eligible) countries (you can find a list of these countries here. While the idea must be targeted at ODA-eligible countries), the proponents and sources of capital can be based out of any country.  

The Lab does not offer funding or seed capital as a part of the program. Proponents are provided with in-kind support equivalent to USD 200,000 from CPI. Though not a guarantee, approximately half of Lab proponents have secured some form of investment within one year of their participation in the Lab process. 

We recommend that you choose the priority stream that you deem is the best fit for your idea and then include in longer written responses as applicable where you see intersection between the two streams. If there is overlap in the two streams, the selection team will then holistically evaluate your submission and determine which stream the idea should be considered in. 

No – if your idea is not primarily focused on climate adaptation or high-integrity forests, we recommend that you do not select one of the streams. Both the climate adaptation and high-integrity forests streams are seeking ideas where the central focus is that theme. 

Yes. We are looking for climate adaptation submissions that can identify one or a set of physical climate risks that applicants are seeking to address via investment (i.e., flood, drought, storm surge, extreme heat, etc.). 

Examples include Climate Resilience and Adaptation Finance & Technology Transfer Facility (CRAFT) (details HERE), Climate Adaptation Notes (details HERE), and Climate Insurance Linked Resilient Infrastructure Financing details HERE).