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This discussion paper was prepared for the Regional Clinic on the Design and Management of National Climate Funds (NCFs) on 6-8 September 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Regional Clinic is jointly organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its ADAPT Asia-Pacific project. The event brings together practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region who are fund managers of well established and recently established national funds, as well as those who are considering establishing new funds, to discuss technical aspects of NCFs and share practical experience from implementation. The objective of this paper is to situate the discussion on NCFs in the context of the evolving landscape of international climate finance. Since many NCFs are expected to play an instrumental role in accessing international funds for national climate change projects and programs, it is essential that managers of NCFs understand the requirements for accessing the funds using the direct access modality. The paper focuses on the early considerations in the design of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and what it implies in terms of the emerging architecture of international climate finance in the coming decade. The paper concludes by outlining key considerations which should be taken into account in the design and operation of NCFs to enhance their readiness to directly access international climate finance.