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Modernization of the French international solidarity policy: where are we at?

Published 14 May 2021 in Analysis

Evaluation of the implementation of MP Hervé Berville’s recommendations

In 2018, the President of the French Republic mandated MP Hervé Berville with a mission to modernize France’s official development assistance (ODA) policy. Released in August 2018, the report A common world, a future for all (in French, English summary here) presented the results of this mission: 36 proposals aimed at adapting France’s international solidarity policy to current challenges.

Two and a half years after the publication of the ‘Berville report’, at a time when the COVID-19 is a stark reminder of the interdependencies between world regions and the critical role of international solidarity, MP Hervé Berville has commissioned Focus 2030 to assess the progress made in the implementation of his 36 recommendations.

Focus 2030 has just published the results of this assessment: Modernization of French official development assistance: where are we at? The report takes stock of the actions undertaken by the French government and its operators since 2018 to modernize France’s development and international solidarity policy, with regards to the proposals of the Berville report.

Read the full report (in French) or keep reading to discover the main takeaways.

Main takeaways

Interviews with key actors, completed by desk research, revealed that 7 of the 36 proposals have been fully implemented across various areas:

  • A clearer strategy:
    • France promulgated a new law on Inclusive Development and the Fight against Global Inequalities on August 4th, 2021. The law sets three objectives to French ODA: the fight against poverty, inequalities, hunger, and the promotion of education and health ; the promotion of human rights ; and the protection global public goods. In addition, gender equality became a transversal objective of French ODA.
    • New EUR 79.5Bn NDICI-Global Europe instrument to support EU’s external action for the next Multiannual Financial Framework period (2021-2027), gathering together 10 existing mechanisms and the European Development Fund.
  • Private resource mobilization:
    • Proparco – the private sector financing arm of the French Development Agency (AFD) – allowed EUR 2.5Bn of financial commitments in 2019 (x2.5 compared to 2017).
    • Domestic resource mobilization was one of the priorities of the French G7 presidency in 2019.
  • Funding for innovation:
    • Launch in 2021 of an independent Development and Innovation Fund to support innovative development projects, chaired by Nobel Prize Laureate Esther Duflo.
  • Civil society inclusion:
    • The AFD launched in 2020 a 2-year EUR 1.5M pilot program to send experts ‘with a strong connection to Africa’ in partner countries to assist on a collectively determined topic.
    • The AFD funded the “Tour de France” of the SDGs, organized by French NGO Comité 21 over 2017-2022, to inform on the SDGs and engage all types of actors in their realization.

Besides, 7 of the 36 proposals had been largely implemented at the time of the writing, of which 3 should be implemented following France’s adoption of its new law on development:

  • Reinforced strategic and accountability frameworks of French ODA:
    • The new law on development sets a financial ODA trajectory until 2022, with the aim to reach the 0.7% ODA/GNI target in 2025. The planned budget law for 2022 confirms this ascending trajectory, with a planned ODA increase of EUR 974M between 2021 and 2022.
    • Elaborate a bilateral strategic framework with each partner country to guide funding and actions (planned in the new law).
    • Establish an independent evaluation commission of the French ODA (planned in the new law).
    • Increased clarity of budgetary documents since 2018 – although still difficult to track the disbursement of engagements.
  • Increased targeted ODA funding:
    • Humanitarian relief (from €60M in 2017 to €126M in 2020 through the MoFA’s Support and Crisis Center) (not reaching the target set in the Berville report).
    • For local initiatives, through French embassies (from EUR 32M in 2017 to EUR 60M in 2020) (not reaching the target set in the Berville report).
  • European Union:
    • New EU-Africa Pact (in discussion, European Union-African Union Summit postponed to 2022).

In addition, one third (12) of the proposals have been partially implemented, either not reaching the targets set by the Berville report (9/12) or expected to be implemented over a longer time period (3/12). The purpose of six of those 12 proposals was a more rational institutional organization, while three proposals aimed at a larger ODA resource mobilization.

Finally, 10 of the 36 proposals have not been implemented. Of these, the competent authorities deemed eight too similar to existing mechanisms or not compatible with the applicable legal provisions and were discarded. The other two proposals were deemed relevant but not implemented due to a lack of resources. The majority of these 10 proposals (6) aimed at a better citizen engagement in the definition and implementation of French ODA.

Further reading

Modernisation de la politique française de développement : où en est-on ? Understanding development aid (an overview) Increase of Development Aid in 2020