Climate Ledger Initiative (CLI)

The Climate Ledger Initiative (CLI) addresses one of the world’s most pressing problems, climate change, with one of the potentially most promising technological innovations – blockchain. Through its platform function CLI brings together a variety of stakeholders from private and public sector to test pilot applications of the still new distributed ledger technology for effective climate action and development achievements. With its contribution to CLI SDC fosters innovation, development gains through applied technology development in developing countries and contributes to the global norm setting in this rapidly evolving field. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Climate change and environment
Environmental policy
01.06.2019 - 30.06.2022
CHF  1’100’000

Blockchain technology and its applications meet significant interest from many countries that see this as an innovative technology of strategic importance on a national level. Despite the hype, blockchain is still an immature technology (McKinsey 2018). The full potential of blockchain is unknown for many sectors and applications but efforts to exploit the potential are numerous. The Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and numerous other international organisations, are actively looking into the potential of blockchain technology. Private companies largely invest in this field.

The decentralized nature of blockchain technology, its high level of data security and its potential role in promoting access of poor people with insufficient access to centralized systems make it specifically suitable for the development cooperation context. Blockchain cannot only be used to track the transfer of money or other values, but also e.g. to track greenhouse gas emissions. Considering the major fields of the Paris Agreement – mitigation, adaptation and finance ­– a blockchain based database may in particular increase the active participation of country parties and enhance public and private sector participation, as well as ambition, in each field. Combining mechanisms of the Paris Agreement with the blockchain technology could open the door to many new and innovative approaches to climate mitigation, adaptation and finance – offering lower transaction costs and increased transparency.


The objective of the CLI is to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by bringing together the communities of climate action with experts of blockchain and related innovative technologies in order to systematically explore and develop the potential of blockchain or related suitable technologies in the field.

With this contribution, SDC aims to contribute to and influence the development of global and national norms, which are required for scaling of blockchain/innovative technology applications. In addition, through CLI, SDC aims to track and critically assess developments in this rapidly evolving field.

Target groups

Direct: National Governments, technology developers, policy makers, and private companies active in blockain/distributed ledger technology or related fields.

Indirect: Any national and sub-national decision makers, and ultimately any potential beneficiary of mitigation and adaptation measure in a selected country.

Medium-term outcomes
  • Outcome 1: The international climate change community is aware of the potential of blockchain and related innovative digital technologies for climate action and development benefits.
  • Outcome 2: Through the use cases, policy makers, climate action practitioners and technology providers recognize the feasibility and potential of the application of blockchain technology; and lessons learnt are identified and shared in the climate and tech communities.
  • Outcome 3: The thematic expertise in the use of blockchain and related innovative digital technologies for climate action is increased and helps to secure the quality and impact of future climate action, also through development of adequate norms fostering social, environmental and economic development benefits.

Expected results:  

  • Matured multi-stakeholder platform, with established networks of government representatives, policymakers, stakeholders, technology developers and implementers
  • Knowledge products and dissemination and awareness raising events (annual publications, webinars, in-person events)
  • At least 6 use-cases implemented, with final evaluations and lessons learned published.

Results from previous phases:  

SDC/GPCCE contributed to the CLI with a Small Action contribution of CHF 150’000 (8/2017-7/2018). Achievements during this phase were:

  • CLI as an emerging important platform for policy discussion and sharing of knowledge and good practices on the potential blockchain and related innovative technologies for climate action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
  • Numerous awareness raising and networking events bringing together various stakeholders from technology start-ups to negotiators; including two “Hackatons” where blockchain programmers were competing (“hacking marathon”) on new climate action applications.
  • Numerous outreach activities to identify and build up a network of partner institutions, funders, case study developers, start-ups, companies etc.
  • Report “Navigating blockchain and climate action” with various external contributions including the World Bank, the UNFCCC secretariat and representatives from countries published.
  • Initiation, design, securing of finance and implementation of five use cases (concrete applications) that allowed the road-testing of concepts in using blockchain for climate action and sustainable development.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Private sector
  • Swiss Private Sector

Other partners
EU (Climate-KIC), GIZ Mexico
Coordination with other projects and actors SDC units (on governance and digitalization); FOEN, SFOE, SECO; WFP, GIZ Blockchain Lab, WB Innovation and Technology Lab, Climate-KIC (EU)
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’100’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’050’000 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF   1’100’000
Project phases Phase 1 01.06.2019 - 30.06.2022   (Current phase)