France has overhauled its development policy

Development – 75th anniversary of the French Development Agency (AFD) – Speech by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

Paris, 6 December 2016


In a world marked by uncertainty, by people losing traditional bearings and in which there is a growing temptation to be inward-looking, France must go on promoting the values of solidarity, openness and reaching out to the world. This is essential, because if we let things happen without resolving problems, it will be a victory for regression and decline, and that’s something our country can’t accept.

In line with our diplomacy, and as the main instrument of our policy of development and international solidarity, the French Development Agency (AFD) plays a key role in promoting sustainable development and heightening France’s impact on the world. This is why the French President set it some very proactive goals, matching the importance of the Agency’s mission. I’m thinking, for example, of the goal of reaching an annual level of more than €12 billion-worth of activities by 2020, and the goal of increasing its financial support for the fight against climate change from €3 to 5 billion a year by 2020.

These goals reflect the depth of our ambition. They will have to be achieved, in close cooperation with the state, which is responsible for political priorities and resources. Moreover, the alliance forged today with the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (1) will allow us to align these two essential players’ priorities to help promote sustainable development in France and on the international scene.

Given the many challenges we face and in consultation with France’s main development players, the government has embarked on a profound overhaul of our policy of development and international solidarity. This overhaul resulted in the passing of the framework and estimates act on development – the Fifth Republic’s first – in July 2014. It has now reached a decisive moment, with a second meeting of the CICID [Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development] on 30 November. Back in 2012, the government took the opportunity to reaffirm its determination to bring our intervention instruments up to date, in the context of increased financial resources allotted to the development assistance policy: as the next budget [Finance Bill] finishes being considered in Parliament, more than €360 million extra is due to be made available in 2017, demonstrating the government’s determination to put into practice the commitments made by the Head of State.

With a clear, renewed mandate, a new strategic project and increased resources, the AFD is embarking on a new, exciting stage to do more and better to fight poverty and promote development. Your representatives, whom I meet everywhere in the course of my visits all over the world, firmly believe in our mission to fight poverty and restore hope, with the support of all stakeholders in society. They are there, waiting, not for assistance or charity – those times are over – but for us to help them create momentum, implement projects and cross the threshold of the new revolution in these developing countries which, thanks in particular to their powerful young people, are ready to take up this challenge. We must support it, it’s our mission. For a man, 75 years probably means twilight years… For the AFD, as we can see, it’s the start of a renaissance. I wish you all the energy and passion – I know you have it – to implement this project, which is both France’s project and a project we want to implement with every nation ready to opt for development, solidarity and fraternity, because we’ve got to remember that message too./.

(1) State-owned financial institution which carries out public interest missions on behalf of French central, regional and local authorities.

Image: Herman Pieters

Published on 14/12/2016

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