France and development research


France’s development research policy

Globalisation makes States increasingly interdependent and exacerbates the vulnerability of States in the global South. France and the Southern States are firmly of the belief that access to science is the pathway to stronger economic growth and sustainable development. On the strength of this conviction, France engages in initiatives in the global South to bring about a better and more equitable sharing of knowledge.

These initiatives are built on the three foundations of knowledge: training, research and innovation, in close collaboration with the partner States. They are an integral part of France’s scientific diplomacy, which works to extend the reputation of France’s scientific research and maintain the nation’s competitiveness.

Today’s world faces many challenges, all of which are more keenly felt in the global South. In 2000, the United Nations set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one of which was to halve the rate of extreme poverty in the world by 2015. In pursuit of this goal, France supports the scientific community in developing countries in order to build its capacity to meet the economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges of development.

France’s external efforts to promote development research are an integral part of its Official Development Assistance (ODA). Total spending by all those involved in development research in France amounts to some €350 million annually, equivalent to 4% of total ODA. This is sufficient to fund numerous initiatives, most of which are implemented by bodies specialising in development research.

French research development policy is directed towards four main objectives:

promoting training for young researchers and their inclusion in international teams;

promoting networking by South/South and North/South teams in order to build capacity in the developing countries (and in particular the capacity for innovation) and reduce the scientific divide;

strengthening the national expertise of partner countries to provide the answers required by political decision-makers and reinforcing the role of the scientific community as a force for development;

contributing to the pursuit of scientific excellence by implementing concrete actions in the field to ensure the development of research and higher education institutions in the most underprivileged countries.

Development research initiativesIn pursuit of these objectives, the MAE contributes to funding for initiatives by bodies active in the development research field, including the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the Centre for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), over which it exercises joint authority with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

As part of the implementation of development research initiatives, the MAE also supports a number of other instruments, including:

the Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP), which in recent years has financed some thirty research programmes in almost 60 countries. These projects target priority needs in response to the major challenges for development research, helping to strengthen scientific research teams and institutions in the global South and helping to form research networks (the FSP initiated the PARRAF programme to support network-based research in Africa, for example).

international technical expertise: the MAE provides funding for around a hundred international technical experts (ITE) in development research, tasked with providing institutional support to political decision-makers or national and regional research structures, particularly in the fields of health and agriculture. France tailors its cooperation policy specifically to ensure a more in-depth approach in the field over the longer time-spans best suited to scientific research.

France provides support for African research platforms, such as the International Centre for Medical Research of Franceville (CIRMF) in Gabon and the Niamey Centre for Medical and Health Research (CERMES) in Niger, a member of the international network of Instituts Pasteur.

bilateral programmes providing funding for international mobility among researchers and promoting the emergence of new partnerships (such as COFECUB with Brazil). Regional scientific partnerships help to build research capacity in regions encompassing a number of different countries (in Asia, for example, in the field of biodiversity and natural substances).

The six major challenges facing development research Health: combating emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and rare or neglected diseases

Environment, water, climate and natural disasters: gaining a better understanding of climate variability, the dynamics of water resources, preventing natural disasters and countering desertification

Energy and transport: providing access to clean energy for all

Societies: gaining a better understanding of the process of globalisation and current population dynamics

Food security, biodiversity: achieving robust, sustainable food production

Modelling, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT): helping the global South to develop its own digital models

Research Institute for Development (IRD) website

CIRAD website

Useful links