Call for Expressions of Interests: Seeking two Mentor Institutions to support project Strengthening Endogenous Capacities of Least Developed Countries to Access Finance for Climate Change Adaptation
March 18, 2022

This notice serves as a call for expressions of interest from academic/research institutions to participate in a climate change adaptation project that was recently developed by the United Nations Environment Programme.  The project, which will be implemented with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), seeks to build capacities among institutional members of the Least Developed Countries Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC) so that they are better equipped to provide climate change adaptation-related technical advisory services to their host governments and other clients.  The main mechanism for implementing the project will be through capacity building and institutional strengthening outputs and activities at LUCCC member universities.  Some project activities and outputs will target all 15 of the LUCCC members and will serve to strengthen the LUCCC network, while other activities and outputs will focus on a subset of the LUCCC universities to establish technical service providers (“thinktanks”).  

These thinktanks will function as specialized units embedded within existing LUCCC member universities with established climate change technical programs and will provide critical services to LDC governments relating to the design and implementation of climate change adaptation policies and project/programmes.  These thinktanks will operate on a fee-for-services model and will provide professional and academic growth opportunities to university faculty and students, which will in turn enable them to play a larger role in host countries’ adaptation responses, and in accessing additional climate finance.  The project has been designed to address key institutional and capacity gaps that undermine the ability of LDCs to effectively mainstream climate change adaptation into public sector planning processes and programmes.  

The project includes three mutually-supporting components aimed at enhancing coordination and cooperation among LDC universities and also for creating a strong foundation for the LDC-based technical services providers.  The first component (“Collaborative mechanism for sustained endogenous capacity on climate change adaptation finance”) will consist of capacity development and institutional strengthening activities for all 15 members that respond to issues identified by the LUCCC members themselves.  This will include the development of training packages that respond to the identified needs of LDC governments with respect to climate change adaptation policy mainstreaming and project/programme development.  The second tier of this component is intended to provide more comprehensive support to LUCCC universities that decide to establish new thinktanks.  

The project’s second component (“Government technical service demands met by established service providers”) will serve as a catalytic proof-of-concept by providing support to the LDC thinktanks to produce demand-led technical products that provide decision-support and policy-relevant information to the LDC governments in relation to climate change adaptation policy development and project design tasks.  The project will provide grants to support the development of the initial technical products, which will provide an opportunity for the LDC thinktanks to hone their procedures and services, ultimately demonstrating the utility of the LDC thinktanks’ role as technical service providers to LDC governments.  

The project’s third component (“model upscaled to additional universities”) will aim to capture the lessons learned from the establishment of the LDC thinktanks and will create the enabling conditions so that similar thinktanks can be established in additional LUCCC members and LDCs, thus expanding the network of thinktanks.  This outcome will be achieved by convening virtual meetings of potential LDC host institutions, including LDC-based universities to share lessons learned, success stories, and to provide specific guidance and advice for establishing new LDC thinktanks, through an online platform.   

To supplement its capacity building and institutional strengthening activities, the project plans to engage two mentor institutions that have established programs and experience with conducting applied research, developing decision support information products, and providing other specialized fee-based technical services (e.g., economic analysis of adaptation options, climate risk/vulnerability assessments, adaptation project design, training programs) to governments and other clients.  These mentor institutions will provide technical and capacity building support to all of LUCCC member universities for the implementation of the project’s first component , and subsequently more in-depth institution-to-institution support for the project’s second and third component for the newly-established thinktanks that include setting up technical service offerings, developing business and engagement plans, establishing price lists, etc, applying best practices in assisting in the establishment of institutional arrangements between the new thinktanks and their host institutions.

Mentor institutions will share their experience and expertise in order to help ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the thinktanks as self-sustaining technical service providers. A key outcome of the project will be to establish a viable business model for the thinktanks that can be replicated at other universities in other LDC countries. Through the mentor institutions, the project will provide guidance and support to thinktanks in establishing effective coordination with governments and other stakeholders and in marketing the specialized technical services to be offered by the thinktanks. In addition, the project will support thinktanks in formulating business and sustainability plans. Working together with the thinktanks, key areas of mentorship support include:
• Conduct institutional capacity and needs assessment at interested universities and identify existing technical expertise that can be leveraged through the thinktanks;
• Determining the most appropriate institutional arrangements for each thinktank, and scoping existing institutional arrangements at the prospective thinktank’s host university to determine the degree to which they provide the enabling conditions, and addressing gaps and barriers where applicable;
• Establishing standard operating procedures for day-to-day operations;
• Identifying capacity development needs and corresponding actions for thinktank staff and affiliates;
• Establishing strategies for identifying potential “clients” and business development planning; and
• Identifying and executing activities that support effective partnerships between thinktanks and governments and other potential clients for fee-based services. 

In addition to an established program in climate change adaptation and/or resilience building, mentor institutions may also have experience in twinning relationships with other universities, as well as experience with other institutional strengthening initiatives.  In addition, mentoring institutions should have a team of experienced technical experts that can contribute to the mentoring program.  The project is also hiring an Institutional Strengthening Specialist. If your organization has a qualified person in mind, please consider having that person apply for the specialist position. Details can be found at this link

The project will be implemented for two years, starting in early 2022.  Mentor institutions will receive compensation for services provided.  Final selection of the two mentor institutions will be made by May 2022.  Mentor institutions will be contracted through START International, the project’s executing agency.  

Interested institutions are encouraged to submit expressions of interest to Sarah Schweizer ( with a technical proposal (3-5 pages) describing the 1) institution’s relevant experience, 2) its proposed approach to providing mentoring services consistent with the needs described above, and 3) CVs of proposed mentorship team. The application deadline is 13 May 2022 midnight GMT.  Proposals should also include a summary of the institution’s expertise and experience related to the proposed project.  

Expressions of Interest from Global South institutions are especially encouraged.

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