France

The Orientation and Programming Law on Development and International Solidarity (LOP-DSI) commits France’s development co-operation to fight poverty and inequality. In line with commitments, the budget for official development assistance (ODA) has increased every year since 2014, the majority being spent bilaterally. The institutional set-up is complex with 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 French Development Agency (AFD) – plus approximately ten other entities. France mobilises finance for development from the private sector through a range of instruments.

The 2018 OECD-DAC peer review commended France’s role as a driving force in international stability and the fight against climate change and its ability to create innovative development financing mechanisms. The review recommended France increase the share of grants compared to loans in line with its ambitions to support fragile and least developed countries. Learn more about the 2018 OECD-DAC peer review of France.

The upcoming programming Act on Development Co-operation is expected to drive ODA increases into five priorities for France’s development co-operation: 1) education; 2) the climate; 3) gender equality; 4) health; and 5) crisis and fragilities. While France has identified 17 LDCs in Africa as priority partners, most of its support goes to lower middle-income countries.

France provided more ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 12.2 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.44% of France’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The increase of 4.2% in real terms from 2018 was due to increases in bilateral ODA grants, especially related to budget support, a higher volume of in-donor refugee costs reported and an increase in support to private sector instruments. Among DAC member countries, France ranked ninth in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio and fifth in relation to its ODA volume in 2019. The government has committed to achieve a 0.55% ODA/GNI ratio by 2022 and France is committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 12.0 billion in 2019. Within France’s gross ODA portfolio in 2019 (USD 14.6 billion), 67.8% was provided in the form of grants and 32.2% in the form of non-grants.2

France’s gross ODA volume has grown constantly since 2014. Lower middle-income countries are the main beneficiaries of French bilateral ODA. Most of France’s bilateral ODA is focused on education. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, France provided a larger amount of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 62% of total ODA, of which 3% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). France allocated 38% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including European Union (EU) institutions.

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In 2018, France increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 6.1 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 10.8% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 5.8 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 23% of France’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 77% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, France’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the EU institutions, the World Bank Group and the United Nations (UN). These contributions together accounted for almost 77% of France’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 8% of total multilateral contributions, mainly through core contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 477 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of France’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the International Fund for Agricultural Development (USD 132 million), the UN Department of Peace Operations (USD 63 million) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USD 39 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, France expanded its bilateral spending compared to the previous year. It provided USD 9.5 billion as gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented an increase of 4.5% in real terms from 2017.

In 2019, providers of development co-operation started voluntarily reporting to the OECD data on how ODA focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2018 activities. In 2018, France focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for poverty eradication.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 66% of France’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, France channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 339 million of gross bilateral ODA. Close to zero per cent was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 3% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by France (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 3% to 4%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, France’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa and Asia. USD 3.8 billion was allocated to Africa and USD 2.1 billion to Asia, accounting respectively for 40% and 22% of gross bilateral ODA. Europe was the main regional recipient of France’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations. Twenty per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 35% 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. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 26%, mainly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees.

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In 2018, the LDCs received 14.8% of France’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 1.4 billion). This is below the DAC country average of 23.8%. France allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (36.2%) to lower middle-income countries in 2018, noting that 26% was unallocated by income group. France allocated 3.3% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2018, equal to USD 311 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 2.5 billion of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (26.2% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 18.2% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of France’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 33% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 3.2 billion), with a focus on education (USD 1.2 billion) – mainly through scholarships and imputed student costs for higher education – government and civil society (USD 837 million), and water and sanitation (USD 776 million). The share of bilateral ODA allocated to health was 2% in 2018, as France has strategically decided to fund this sector mainly through the multilateral system. Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 93 million (1% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on social infrastructure and services and humanitarian aid in 2018.

In 2018, France committed USD 2.1 billion (31.7% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, France committed 19% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (down from 33% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 1.3 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 1%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. France’s aid to education, population and reproductive health, and health focuses on gender. France screens virtually all activities against the gender marker (99.7% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, France committed 40% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 2.7 billion) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 62% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Ten per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Eighteen per cent (USD 1.2 billion) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 52% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). France has a greater focus on mitigation (14% in 2018) than on adaptation (10%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Data analysis for the OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that France committed USD 324 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2018, amounting to 5.1% of bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about ODA focused on the ocean economy.

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In 2018, the French Development Agency (AFD) and France’s development finance institution, Proparco, mobilised USD 2.1 billion from the private sector through credit lines, syndicated loans, shares in collective investment vehicles (CIVs), guarantees, and direct investment in companies or project finance special purpose vehicles (SPVs).

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Note: CIV: collective investment vehicle; SPV: special purpose vehicle.

Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18, 79% targeted middle-income countries and 21% the LDCs.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

France’s private finance mobilised in 2017-18 mainly related to activities in the banking and financial services (42%); energy (17%); industry, mining and construction (12%); and agriculture, forestry and fishing (10%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

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 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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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.

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 1960.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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