French Polynesia

Made up of a multitude of islands and atolls scattered over 5.5 million square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean, French Polynesia needs a new economic model that will overcome the limitations caused by its remoteness from major markets. AFD is supporting it on a path to sustainable development that reconciles the fight against inequality, the emergence of a new development model and the preservation and enhancement of its natural heritage.
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Baie des Vierges, Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia
AFD and French Polynésie: harmonizing the territory's economic, social and environmental development
Baie des Vierges, Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia

Developing the territories

French Polynesia, Fatu Hiva, fishing, Girardot

Developing the territories

French Polynesia is composed of 118 islands and atolls, a major challenge for achieving equitable development. In some municipalities, the inhabitants lack basic public services such as drinking water, electricity or waste collection.

To address this situation, AFD helps local authorities reduce inequalities and develop the archipelagos in a harmonious manner. We finance community investments by focusing on services and major infrastructure projects (marine and air transportation).

Our actions specifically include:

  • Funding the renovation of school facilities;
  • Increasing the supply of social housing by financing public and private developers;
  • Supporting the territory in the implementation of its public policies in the areas of health, transportation, agriculture and aquaculture, dee-sea fishing and vocational training;
  • Modernizing hospital facilities by financing their buildings and equipment;
  • Stimulating public procurement;
  • Facilitating access to essential public services.

Preserving the natural heritage

Fatu Hiva, French Polynésia

Preserving the natural heritage

French Polynesia has a remarkable natural heritage. Its marine biodiversity, flora, landscapes and ecosystems are of inestimable economic, social and cultural value. But its natural resources are also very fragile. The main challenge is to reconcile economic development and environmental protection in order to preserve this heritage for future generations.

AFD is committed to:

  • incorporating environmental criteria into the projects it finances;
  • participating in local discussions on climate change and biodiversity conservation;
  • encouraging innovative solutions for adapting to global warming;
  • promoting rational management of local natural resources.

For example, we are cooperating with the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) on the RESCCUE project. Its objective is to improve the resilience of Pacific terrestrial and marine ecosystems confronted by climate change, and to encourage sustainable use of natural resources by local populations. In French Polynesia, the sites selected are Opunohu Bay in Moorea and Mangareva in the Gambier archipelago.

Supporting the public and private sectors

French Polyneésia, coco

Supporting the public and private sectors

Harmonized development in Polynesia requires greater support for the public and private sectors. AFD works with local public stakeholders to:

  • train municipal teams on management and budget techniques;
  • define sector-related planning tools, essential measures for the creation of public policy over the long term (developing the primary sector – fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture – or the transport sector, for example);
  • improve medical and health care.

Every year since 2014, we have published an Observatory of French Polynesian communes, providing a comprehensive overview of the general situation of local finances. This publication enables elected municipal officials and their teams to see how their commune compares with others in their archipelago. It can be used as a decision-support tool to help stakeholders better understand financial trends and plan ahead for operational and investment measures.

Increasing companies' room for maneuver is the other aspect of our work. After all, a financially healthy company creates jobs. To this end, we deploy numerous financial tools to strengthen companies: Sogefom guarantees to facilitate their access to financing, direct loans to companies, or equity financing from Proparco, an AFD subsidiary. Since 2012, more than 1300 Polynesian companies have benefited from Sogefom guarantees. 

million euros committed between 2012-2017
Polynesian companies supported since 2012

Set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more than 17,000 km from its home country, French Polynesia is an overseas territory as vast as Europe but sparsely populated (fewer than 300,000 inhabitants). Its 121 islands and atolls, 67 of which are inhabited, are grouped into five archipelagos and are home to exceptional biodiversity.

Boosted by the activity of the Pacific Experimentation Centre between 1962 and 1996, the Polynesian economy had to find a new direction after the cessation of nuclear testing. But the fragmentation of its territory and its geographical remoteness isolate it from major markets and from France, which handicaps its economic activity. 

However, Polynesia also has great possibilities: a vast surface area of 5.5 million square kilometers and terrific tourist potential. Not forgetting the blue economy: although fishing (protected by a vast exclusive economic zone) and pearl farming have already proven their worth, the maritime potential is still underexploited.

The challenge for the community is to ensure that development is shared equitably. It must find ways to reduce inequality, resolve the unemployment crisis (currently 21.8%) and develop infrastructure.

AFD is a leading partner of French Polynesia. It works together with the private and public sectors to foster economic, social and environmental development, using appropriate tools such as loans, guarantees and advisory support.

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Research document

Renewable Energy in the Pacific Islands: an overview and exemplary projects

More largely, in the context of the fight against climate change, the subject of renewable energies takes on considerable importance. A large number of island States in the Pacific zone ...
Oct 2014