Implementation and channels of development policy


France’s development policy is implemented through bilateral and multilateral instruments, as part of multi-year, sector-based and cross-cutting strategies drawn up by the State and which guide the actions of its agencies.

Bilateral action

Bilateral official development assistance (ODA) directly to developing countries plays an essential role in French development policy: 61% of France’s total official development assistance (ODA) in 2019 (€6.6 billion) was channelled through bilateral partnerships.

Bilateral ODA is largely implemented by the government’s agencies, and particularly the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The AFD offers both grants and soft loans. Through its Proparco subsidiary and the Investment and Support Fund for Businesses in Africa (FISEA), it also provides loans and guarantees, as well as making equity investments to support the private sector in developing countries.

Part of bilateral ODA is delivered by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, through the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI), technical expertise, crisis management and exit funding, programmed food assistance, local government support funds for volunteer and decentralized cooperation programmes and grants awarded to students from developing countries.

The Ministry of the Economy provides soft Treasury loans, the private sector study and aid fund (FASEP), the allocation of comprehensive budgetary assistance and debt reduction.

Some of France’s bilateral ODA implemented by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the AFD transits through civil society organizations. Decentralized cooperation projects led by local government bodies also contribute to France’s bilateral ODA.

French bilateral assistance is mainly made up of:

  • project assistance (37% in 2019, or €2.5 billion)
  • budgetary support (15% of bilateral ODA, or €1.014 billion)
  • technical assistance (8% of bilateral ODA, or €560 million)

African countries are the leading recipients of French bilateral assistance, totalling 40% (€2.7 billion) in 2019, including 29% for sub-Saharan Africa (€2 billion).

The FSPI, France’s flagship project aid instrument

The Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI), supporting civil society, francophonie and human development, is the key instrument of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs for development assistance and soft power.
Projects can be promoted nationally or regionally, and enable embassies to carry out innovative, high-impact and high-visibility actions for the benefit of local people.

These projects, lasting 2 years at most, can each enjoy an amount of up to €1 million, under certain conditions. When completed, they have the potential to be replicated on a larger scale by a local body or by other development stakeholders.
The 195 ongoing projects in 2020 (those approved in 2019 and 2020), spread across more than 70 eligible countries, cover a very wide range of themes, including gender equality, health, education and training, development, francophonie and civil society support.

With a budget increased to €70 million in 2021, the new call for FSPI projects has been launched. Implementation of selected projects could begin in the first half of 2021.

Characteristics of FSPI projects:
  • Local actors initiating and leading the project;
  • Project supporting human development (education, agriculture, health, etc.);
  • Swift disbursement and impact, with immediate benefits for local communities;
  • A precursor role opening the way for other development actors;
  • A final project evaluation by external experts.

Multilateral assistance

Multilateral assistance enables France to multiply the impact of its assistance to protect global public goods, which requires coordinated action from all countries.
It 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).

Multilateral assistance is an essential complementary tool, alongside bilateral ODA. It enables France to augment the impact of its assistance by pooling resources and fully exercise its soft power and responsibility in the international system. The multilateral channel enables France to contribute to the international solidarity effort in regions and sectors where it does not have bilateral operations.

Half of France’s multilateral ODA is allocated to the European Union’s cooperation instruments (€2.3 billion in 2019). France was the second-largest contributor to the European Development Fund (EDF) 2014-2020. Through its contribution to the EU budget, it helps finance other European development instruments. As part of the European Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) has become the EU’s single instrument for external action, and as such combines most of the European development financing instruments.

France invests in the multilateral development banks and contributes to their associated development funds, such as the International Development Association, the World Bank’s “soft loans” agency.

It finances the specialized agencies of the United Nations, “vertical” funds such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Green Climate Fund, and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which finance projects related to global issues worldwide.

In 2017, France established a multilateral assistance strategy, which sets out France’s priorities in multilateral forums and highlights how to optimize the links between bilateral and multilateral assistance and limit aid fragmentation.

Updated: March 2021