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Digital Finance for Climate Resilience (DF4CR): A Framework for Action

Catalyzing an ecosystem for action to address the impacts of climate change among the world’s most vulnerable


Key outcomes by 2030 

people to access DF4CR solutions

1 billion

per annum to flow into the DF4CR sector

$25 billion

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Threats from climate change are concentrated among the world’s most vulnerable

Millions of people around the world are already experiencing the negative impacts of climate change. Lasting droughts, soaring temperatures, wildfires and other extreme weather events are threatening lives, livelihoods, and assets. However, these effects are concentrated among those who are dependent on natural resources, the poor and vulnerable, and those in particular geographies such as dense urban settlements, rural areas, and coastal regions. 

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3.3 billion+ people

worldwide are vulnerable to climate change impacts

- McKinsey & UN Race to Resilience (forthcoming)

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215 million+ people

living in urban poverty in developing countries are exposed to extremely high temperatures


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of poor

live in rural areas and depend on agriculture

- The World Bank

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“The weather conditions have changed: in earlier years we could go out to sea every day until winter; now there is often stormy weather for two weeks in April. Reef fish are no longer where they used to be, we must look deeper. The trawlers sweep all the small fish, therefore the bigger fish do not have food and they also move away.”

- Fisher, South Africa


Digital Finance for Climate Resilience

Solutions to build climate resilience exist, but providers face barriers when it comes to serving low-income, remote, and vulnerable people.  Digital financial technologies, such as digital payments or embedded credit, can be catalytic in reducing the cost, expanding the reach, and improving the usability of climate resilience solutions.  We call this space Digital Finance for Climate Resilience, and believe there is massive potential for these solutions to build resilience for climate vulnerable populations globally.

Pioneering innovators in DF4CR

Inclusive tech providers are already making inroads with pioneering models that can enable vulnerable populations to build climate resilience.

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How DF4CR can impact the world’s most vulnerable

The UN Race to Resilience has identified three population segments most vulnerable to climate change based on the environmental, social, economic, and policy risks to which they are exposed. They are: rural, urban, and coastal populations. ​

As part of the DF4CR framework development, we completed user research with climate vulnerable populations in Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa to better understand how they are experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Read their stories here.

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Evolution of an ecosystem

Digital Finance for Climate Resilience solutions do not yet exist in the market for low income or climate vulnerable populations at the depth or breadth required to improve their climate resilience, because the innovation ecosystem necessary to create and deliver these solutions is underdeveloped.  The Climate Innovation for Adaptation and Resilience (CIFAR) Alliance was convened to develop a Framework for Action that illustrates the opportunity in DF4CR, and to chart a path toward the scale-up of an innovation ecosystem.

The Framework for Action is based on insights drawn from the growth of similar ecosystems, including microfinance, PAYGo solar, and inclusive fintech. 

*Curious what “Irruption” means?  Though an uncommon English word, Irruption is the official word used by Carlota Perez in the Technological Revolutions framework that we used for mapping the DF4CR ecosystem evolution.



Catalyzing the innovation ecosystem for DF4CR

Five key actors will be vital to the emergence of the DF4CR ecosystem, including Innovators, Catalytic Funders, Investors, Enablers and Policymakers. The CIFAR Alliance identified key barriers faced by these actors, and outlined critical actions they each can take in the next 24 months to alleviate these barriers and spur the creation of this ecosystem.  By 2030, the Alliance estimates that DF4CR solutions could reach up to 1 billion people and attract $25B in capital flows.

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Catalytic Funders

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Key barrier:

Business model for offering climate resilience solutions to vulnerable people is unclear

Key action:

Integrate climate resilience into existing business models already reaching low income and climate vulnerable populations


A few companies and startups emerge as “champions” - demonstrating the ability to both rapidly scale reach and achieve sustainable impact

Those who develop and bring to market resilience solutions -- including entrepreneurs, private sector incumbents, intrapreneurs, and NGOs

The CIFAR Alliance has identified additional themes that all actor groups need to draw on to ensure the DF4CR ecosystem reaches its full potential.

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“Digital financial services have significant potential to help households and businesses protect against and manage climate risks.. we urgently need more solutions that can scale. I welcome the DF4CR framework to rally innovators, providers, and investors, as well as to accelerate the development of much-needed innovations in this sector.”

H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands

United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA)
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The CIFAR Alliance and
Framework Contributors

In 2021, an Alliance (formerly known as the DF4CR Task Force), coordinated by BFA Global and made possible by financial support from PayPal, convened experts from UNCDF’s Better Than Cash Alliance, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, PayPal, the United Nations’ Race To Resilience, and World Resources Institute to understand the opportunity for digital finance and fintech to power climate resilience. Over 50+ additional organizations contributed and peer-reviewed the work of the Alliance, which would not have been possible without their support.

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Contributions by:
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DF4CR Resources

DF4CR Investor Brief

The opportunity in digital finance for climate resilience

DF4CR Solutions Space

A mapping of the solution space of DF4CR technologies & business models

Credit Unions Contribution to SDG13

World Council of Credit Union’s Report on climate impact of credit unions

DF4CR Key Terminology

The DF4CR task force collected key definitions for understanding the DF4CR ecosystem

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UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments 2021

Updated guidelines for equitable and just digital payments, by UNCDF’s Better Than Cash Alliance

Principles for Locally Led Adaptation

The World Resources Institute’s 2021 report defining principles for prioritizing adaptation action at the local level

A Blueprint for Digital Climate-Informed Advisory Services

Building the Resilience of 300 Million Small-Scale Producers by 2030, by the World Resources Institute

 Resilient Farmers

Investing to Overcome the Climate Crisis, by Acumen

How Financial Services Can Help the Poor in the Climate Transition

Early evidence suggests that the financial sector could play a key role in helping low-income people

Oct 21

DF4CR Press Release

Oct 21

DF4CR Contributor Quotes


Fintech can fill climate resilience gaps in emerging markets

Can inclusive fintech be the answer to climate resilience for underserved populations?

Building a DF4CR ecosystem: Insights from Industry Leaders

We’d love to hear from you

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We are always looking for more collaborators, co-creators, and innovators to contribute to our work.

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