French multilateral assistance


Multilateral assistance accounted for 39% of France’s overall official development assistance in 2019 (€4.3 billion). More than half of this goes to our contribution to European assistance (€2.3 billion).

The multilateral channel enables France to fully exercise its influence and its responsibility in the international system and to take part in the major international debates on development. It enables France to increase the leverage of its investment in development and, by pooling resources, to address problems beyond the scope of bilateral action. Lastly, the multilateral channel enables France to contribute to international solidarity in places and sectors where it is not active bilaterally.

France’s support for multilateral institutions is consistent with its support for establishing truly comprehensive public policies to deal with the global challenges of development. France uses the multilateral channel to act in a number of priority strategic sectors: first and foremost in the healthcare sector, where French ODA is almost entirely multilateral, as well as in supporting basic education and the environment.

Aside from the work of development banks and multi-sectoral organizations, France contributes to these sectors through dedicated funds: the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and UNITAID for healthcare, and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

In 2017, France adopted a multilateral aid strategy, including the major categories of institutions (European development instruments, development banks, UN institutions and vertical funds). This strategy sets out France’s priorities in multilateral forums and highlights how to optimize the links between bilateral and multilateral aid and limit aid fragmentation.

Breakdown of multilateral official development assistance

France’s multilateral assistance is divided between four major families of international development organizations:

European development instruments, which receive half of French multilateral assistance.

European aid goes through three main instruments:

  • The European Development Fund (EDF), which is the main source of official development assistance managed by the European Commission (11th EDF, €30.5 billion for 2014-2020) and finances actions in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific;
  • The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), used to cover geographical areas (Latin America, Asia, Middle East and South Africa) or given themes (human development, non-state actors and local authorities, the environment, food security, migration and asylum);
  • The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENV), which covers Mediterranean countries, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Vertical funds for healthcare and the environment account for 24% of French multilateral assistance

Healthcare funding goes to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, international drug purchase and immunization facilities and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Environment funds are directed to the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

France allocates 20% of its multilateral assistance to multilateral development banks.

Multilateral development banks provide funding in various sectors (infrastructure, agriculture, gender equality, administrative capacity building), help produce international standards, and implement crisis support measures. The World Bank receives nearly 9% of France’s multilateral assistance while regional development banks, including the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, receive 11%.

United Nations agencies, funds and programmes receive approximately 6% of France’s multilateral assistance.

In UN forums, France focuses on the themes of peace and human rights, humanitarian aid and education. The main institutions with French funding include the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

France is an active contributor to the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN), which evaluates the performance of multilateral development organizations.

Through MOPAN, 18 member countries pool their efforts and strengthen the legitimacy of evaluation tools with regard to the organizations concerned. Within the Utstein Group, France also engages in close and rigorous dialogue with United Nations agencies, funds and programmes on their strategic guidelines and internal organization.

Updated: October 2020