France

Introduction

The 2018 DAC Peer Review commended France’s role as a driving force in promoting sustainable development. France has played a leading role in international stability, through its role in maintaining security, particularly in the Sahel. France has also prioritised the environment and biodiversity in its global efforts towards sustainable development, in support of the Paris Agreement, and pledged to provide EUR 5 billion in climate finance by 2020, and successfully created innovative development financing mechanisms.

In 2017, the newly elected French President decided to prioritise official development assistance (ODA), announcing that funds allocated to French ODA would represent 0.55% of gross national income in 2022, before eventually reaching 0.7%. The increase in ODA will be channelled into five priorities for France’s development policy: 1) education; 2) the climate; 3) gender equality; 4) health; and 5) crisis and fragilities. The amount of aid provided as grants is also to be increased significantly by 2022.

Official development assistance

In 2018, France ranked fifth among the members of the DAC for its ODA volume, and tenth for its ODA/GNI share. Loans accounted for 35.7% of gross ODA in 2017. Lower middle-income countries are the main beneficiaries of French bilateral ODA. France’s commitment to the Paris Agreement is illustrated in the share of gross bilateral allocable ODA supporting the environment (62%) and fighting climate change (52%).

In 2018, France provided USD 12.2 billion in total ODA (preliminary data, current prices), using the new “grant-equivalent” methodology (see the methodological notes for further details) adopted by DAC members on their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. This represented 0.43% of gross national income (GNI), similar to 2017. Under the “cash-flow basis” methodology used in the past, 2018 net ODA was USD 12.5 billion, which represented an increase of 4.4% in real terms from 2017, the second year of increase after a five-year decline.

France’s share of untied bilateral ODA (excluding administrative costs and in-donor refugee costs) was 96% in 2017 (stable compared to 2016), while the DAC country average was 82.1%. The grant element of total ODA was 81.6% in 2017, below the 1978 DAC Terms recommendation of 86%. Loans accounted for 35.7% of gross ODA in 2017. Between 2012 and 2016, the grant element of French ODA loans remained below the threshold of 90%, also below the DAC Terms recommendation for least developed countries (LDCs).

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In 2017, 63% of gross ODA was provided bilaterally, of which only 2% was channelled through multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions). France allocated 37% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

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In 2017, country programmable aid was 69% of France’s bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 48% (see the methodological notes for further details on country programmable aid). Project-type interventions accounted for 68% of this aid.

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In 2017, 86.5% of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through the public sector and 7.9% through the private sector. See the methodological notes for further details on channels of delivery.

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In 2017, USD 265 million of gross bilateral ODA was channelled to and through civil society organisations (CSOs). Between 2016 and 2017, ODA channelled to and through CSOs remained stable at 3% of bilateral aid. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and the Civil Society Days.

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In 2017, bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 2.3 billion was allocated to sub-Saharan Africa and USD 1.1 billion to north of Sahara Africa. The share of gross bilateral ODA allocated to Africa has been declining over time, from 55% in 2011 to 40% in 2017.

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In 2017, 39.2% of gross bilateral ODA went to France’s top 10 recipients. The 16 priority countries identified in France’s 2017 finance bill were not among its top 10 recipients. Support to fragile contexts reached USD 2.7 billion in 2017 (31.9% of gross bilateral ODA). Learn more about support to fragile contexts.

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In 2017, 14.9% of France’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 1.3 billion) was allocated to the LDCs, compared to the DAC country average of 23.5%. This is slightly up from 14.2% in 2016. Lower middle-income countries received the highest share of bilateral ODA in 2017 (36.9%), followed by upper middle-income countries (27.7%), noting that 20.3% was unallocated by income group.

At 0.10% of GNI in 2017, total ODA to the LDCs (including imputed multilateral flows) was lower than the UN target of 0.15-0.20% of GNI.

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In 2017, 32.5% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 3.5 billion) was allocated to social infrastructure and services, with a strong focus on education (USD 1.4 billion) – mainly through scholarships and imputed student costs for higher education – and water and sanitation (USD 1 billion). The share of bilateral ODA allocated to health was 1.6% in 2017, as France funds this sector through the multilateral channel. Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 132.4 million (1.2% of bilateral ODA). France committed USD 3.2 billion (41.4% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2017.

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USD 2.2 billion of gross bilateral allocable ODA supported gender equality. In 2017, 33% of France’s bilateral sector-allocable aid had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective (up from 28% in 2016), compared to the DAC country average of 36%. France’s aid to population, reproductive health and education focuses on gender. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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USD 4.8 billion of bilateral ODA commitments supported the environment. In 2017, 62% of France’s gross bilateral allocable aid supported the environment and 52% (USD 4 billion) focused on climate change, compared with the respective DAC country averages of 33% and 25%. Allocations supporting the environment increased from 56% in 2016 and those focused on climate change increased from 41% in 2016. France mainly focuses on mitigation: 40% of total bilateral allocable ODA supports mitigation and 22% adaptation. The conclusions of the CICID (Interministerial Committee on International Co-operation and Development), issued in February 2018, confirmed that the French Development Agency’s (AFD) activities should be “100% compatible with the Paris Agreement”. Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Other financial flows and amounts mobilised from the private sector

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In 2017, the AFD and the French development finance institution, Proparco, mobilised USD 2 billion from the private sector through credit lines, shares in collective investment vehicles (CIVs), guarantees, as well as direct investment in companies.

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Of the country-allocable private finance mobilised in 2012-17, 75% targeted middle-income countries and 24% the LDCs.

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France’s private finance mobilised in 2012-17 mainly related to activities in the following sectors: banking and financial services (34%); energy (23%); and industry, mining and construction (16%). Learn more about the amounts mobilised from private sector for development.

Institutional set-up

France’s ODA budget is made up of 24 separate budget programmes across 13 missions managed by 14 ministries, along with extra-budgetary funds. The institutional set-up consists of a chief co-ordinating body (the CICID) and three main actors – the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MINEFI), and the AFD – plus approximately ten other entities (ministries, operators, specialist bodies and partnerships). Under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, the CICID defines the main strategic directions of French co-operation policy, the list of priority countries and priority sectors. Within the MEAE, the General Directorate for Globalisation, Culture, Education and International Development is responsible for the strategic oversight of co-operation. Within the MINEFI, the General Directorate of the Treasury (DGT) manages relations with the international financial institutions, matters of indebtedness and reporting ODA data. The AFD, under the joint authority of the two aforementioned ministries, is the key operator and delivers 40% of France’s bilateral ODA.

The National Council for Development and International Solidarity (CNDSI) is chaired by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and represents diverse stakeholders: non-governmental organisations, economic actors, research institutes and universities, employers, local government, parliamentarians, trade unions and – a unique feature – foreign experts. The CNDSI is consulted on the orientations of France’s development policy.

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Evaluation system

France’s development co-operation evaluation system is divided among three main actors: 1) the Evaluation Unit at the MEAE; 2) the Evaluation Unit for Development Activities of the Directorate General of the Treasury; and 3) the Evaluation Unit at the AFD. All three units have similar protocols for managing, implementing and disseminating evaluations and evaluation results. The three units work together to create a joint and co-ordinated evaluation programme and many evaluations, notably evaluations of cross-cutting issues, are managed jointly by the three units. Every two years, the three units prepare a joint report including a synthesis of evaluation results, which supplements the biennial report on ODA, submitted by the government to parliament. Read more about France’s evaluation system.

Read France’s evaluation plan.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of French development co-operation.

Performance against the commitments for effective development co-operation

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Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

French Development Agency (AFD): https://www.afd.fr/fr

Ministry of Economy and Finance, Treasury: https://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/Ressources/aide-au-developpement

Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Development Aid: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/politique-etrangere-de-la-france/aide-au-developpement

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1961.

France