Sustainable Cities

So that each city dweller can enjoy a decent quality of life and the economic advantages of controlled urbanization, AFD promotes and supports the development of sustainable cities. These are safe cities open to all women and men, that enable access to housing, essential services, jobs and efficient means of transport. They also offer their inhabitants security faced with the impacts of climate change, among other issues.
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AFD and sustainable cities: conceiving and developing today the city tomorrow
Souk, old-town, médina, Tripoli, Lebanon, Petit

Financing and supporting urban development

Balcony, street view, Côte d'Ivoire, man, Terdjman

Financing and supporting urban development

There are very big gaps between cities’ needs in investments and their capacities for financing. The challenge at this stage is to expand their financial room for maneuver.

AFD’s actions have the following aims:

  • to strengthen the capacities of cities and to create revenues for municipal governments (through local taxes),
  • to help local authorities develop sustainable urban development plans.

To do so, AFD implements a wide range of financial products: direct loans to municipalities, banking intermediation, urban microcredit and public-private partnerships (PPP), etc.

We favor partnerships with political actors and administrative authorities, and we encourage participative approaches that involve the inhabitants.

Promoting environmentally friendly cities

Metro, Istanbul, Turkey

Promoting environmentally friendly cities

Cities are home to half the world’s population and most of its economic activities. They are heavy consumers of energy and emit a high level of greenhouse gases (GHS). Because cities are often situated by rivers or lakes or in coastal areas, they are also frequently very vulnerable to natural disasters (floods, rising sea level, coastal erosion, etc.).

AFD works with cities to help them develop and set up strategies for low-carbon urban development resilient to environmental risks. To do so, we:

  • finance low-carbon infrastructure projects (public transportation and green belts),
  • renovate city centers to fight against urban sprawl,
  • adapt cities to climate risks. To better deal with the risks of flooding, AFD finances protective infrastructures (dikes, drainage canals, or storm water retention basins, for example) as well as projects that help in understanding how to manage flooding risk thanks to measurement and data-management systems or to early alert mechanisms.

Furthering social cohesion

Vietnam, Hanoï, electric-grid, energy, city lights

Furthering social cohesion

Precarious neighborhoods and the huge urban sprawl found throughout the world are symptoms of uncontrolled urban growth. They are also sources of inequalities and tensions among city inhabitants. Nearly 1 billion people live in slums. They have no or very little access to basic services such as drinking water, electricity and public transportation.

In light of this, AFD gives priority to three types of interventions:

  • renovating precarious neighborhoods and increasing the number of decent housing units,
  • promoting generalized and equitable access to urban facilities, 
  • improving mobility to make the city and its services accessible to all.

Strengthening local economies and creating jobs

new train station, TER, regional train, Tardif

Strengthening local economies and creating jobs

Cities are places of creation and where wealth is concentrated. They actively contribute to their country’s economic growth. But because this growth is not distributed equally, it rarely leads to reduction of poverty. Unemployment rates remain high, especially among young people.

AFD supports initiatives to create jobs. We finance:

  • the construction or rehabilitation of commercial and transportation infrastructure (such as markets and bus stations),
  • operations to preserve and develop the urban and natural heritage of cities,
  • the strengthening of industrial activity zones and the creation of business incubators and industry clusters.

Supporting the growth of secondary cities

Woman filling her jug of water, Bangladesh

Supporting the growth of secondary cities

Population growth is affecting secondary cities above all. In fact, the cities experiencing the fastest pace of urban growth are those in Asia and Africa with populations of less than 5 million people. But these secondary cities are often less equipped than the biggest cities (in not only infrastructure but also local management capacities and financial resources).

AFD supports the development of secondary cities, which are an important lever in balanced territorial planning. Our action consists in:

  • strengthening access to the essential services of drinking water, electricity and transportation,
  • guiding territorial planning,
  • supporting the decentralization process to strengthen the autonomy of cities.
billion euros committed over 2014-2016 to support the Sustainable Cities strategy
million inhabitants benefit from a waste collection and draining service
inhabitants of disadvantaged neighborhoods whose housing was improved in 2015

The urban population has been growing at an unprecedented rate. Today, half of humanity (3.5 billion people) live in cities, one third of whom in precarious neighborhoods. If nothing is done, 2 billion people will be living in such neighborhoods in 2030, and 70% of the world’s population will be city dwellers by 2050.

This phenomenon is above all affecting Africa and South Asia, where the massive influx of newcomers is generating unplanned urban sprawl. On both continents, big cities are facing very many challenges: increase in the number of precarious neighborhoods, difficulties in access to essential services, congestion, adaptation to the effects of climate change, lack of jobs and of economic attractiveness, shortfalls in resources for financing infrastructures, as well as limited local governance.

As part of its Sustainable Cities strategy, AFD takes action to finance, promote and support the development of sustainable cities that make social cohesion, preservation of natural and cultural heritage, and economic performance compatible with one another. In 2016, AFD committed nearly 1.5 billion euros in the form of loans or donations to cities. This included 696 million euros in Overseas France (48%) and 759 million euros in developing countries (52%).

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