AFD’s 75th anniversary
"To continue to keep the values of solidarity and resistance alive"



AFD has just celebrated its 75th anniversary. This event was marked by the signing of an alliance with Caisse des Dépôts, the presentation of a new strategic project, and a new image for AFD. A new era? An interview with Rémy Rioux.

Last June, you charted an ambitious way forward for AFD. Where do we stand six months on?

When I arrived as head of AFD, I expressed the will to build a larger, more partnership-oriented, more responsive and more innovative agency. This is the mandate which the highest authorities of the State have now entrusted us with: the French President has confirmed that our annual commitments will increase from EUR 8bn a year to EUR 12bn by 2020, the Prime Minister and Government expressed their confidence in us during the Interministerial International Cooperation and Development Committee meeting on 30 November 2016, and the Parliament is currently voting for additional resources for us.

In practical terms, the new AFD will do more for the climate, a major challenge of this century (from EUR 3bn to EUR 5bn). There will be more grants, for the most fragile countries, with a facility of EUR 100m a year to take action in crisis-stricken areas. We will do more in the French overseas territories, by doubling our loans in order to invest in these remarkable territories of innovation, at the center of the Republic and very close to our partners in the South. We will be investing in new fields which the Government has just entrusted us with, such as governance, higher education and research, or cultural and creative industries. We will be working even more with all development actors to fight against poverty, non-sovereign actors in particular, which already account for 50% of our financing: NGOs, the private sector, French and foreign local authorities. We will also be doing more in France, thanks to the alliance with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, and because development education for the French is part of our new mandate.

In what way is AFD’s strategy in line with the international agenda?

In 2015, the international community led development into a new era. Universal objectives (Sustainable Development Goals), more public and private financing (Addis Ababa Conference), multi-actor networks and a framework applicable to all (such as the Paris Agreement): Official Development Assistance (ODA) takes on its full meaning in this new equation. It is a tool for solidarity which is going to be scaled up, a social and financial utility, with a capacity to mobilize which we cannot gauge today.
Building on a renewed mandate, increased resources, a mobilization of our partners and increasing support from the French, AFD is going to fully play its role in this new international environment. It will continue to keep the values of solidarity and resistance alive, which it draws from its origins, as we are the oldest development institution, created in London in 1941 by General de Gaulle. At the same time, we need to anticipate and innovate, by seeking to become the youngest and most creative development bank, because in 2016, the world of development assistance is bustling with activity. It is a "hive" where actors, investors, researchers and projects come together and where solutions thrive, in both directions. 
We have just celebrated our 75th anniversary with a week of reflection and exchanges, on the history of AFD, on the theory of the commons and its potential applications for development, on overseas France, at the center of the challenges of tomorrow. On 6 December, we signed a Strategic Alliance Charter with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and gathered all our partners at the Musée du Quai Branly, in the presence of the French President. This gives us strength and pride.

Indeed, Pierre-René Lemas and yourself signed a Strategic Alliance Charter with Caisse des Dépôts during this 75th anniversary, in the presence of the French President. What is it going to change?

Caisse des Dépôts needs an international dimension, and we need a stronger link with our own country. We are going to align our strategies, create common financial instruments, such as an investment fund for infrastructure in Africa, and conduct staff exchanges, which will open up richer career paths. Caisse des Dépôts has a tremendous network in France, and we have a formidable international network, in 90 countries, which we are going to connect together. 

“A Common World” is AFD’s new motto. What does it mean?
“A Common World” reflects the opinion of the French, who are informed and have a sense of solidarity. 77% of them think that what happens in the South will have consequences on their life in France. 70% of them support our country’s development policy and are in favor of maintaining or increasing its resources. In a period of crisis, it is a strong message which honors us and gives us obligations.

“A Common World” is also a way of expressing the pressing need to come up with new economic and governance models to preserve our common goods, these local or global resources which neither the State nor the market will be able to regulate single-handedly. AFD’s 12th International Conference on Development gathered researchers and practitioners from every continent to discuss this in Paris on 1 and 2 December 2016. 

“A Common World”, finally, is not yet “a communal world”. The subtle difference between the two speaks volumes, marks the road which still lies ahead, and expresses movement, effort, action. It compels us to achieve the five major transitions we are all engaged in and which are set out in AFD’s strategy: energy and ecological transition (essential for the climate); territorial transition (cities AND rural areas); demographic transition (this is where Africa’s wealth lies); digital transition (a common good par excellence); political and citizen-based transition (in crisis situations, for strong, transparent and inclusive institutions). This is our roadmap at AFD, the same as that of our big sister, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations.

A word about AFD’s new image. What do these three colors, these two circles which are in motion and come together, mean?

Our new project needs to be embodied in a new visual identity. It keeps two markers, which are strongly asserted and on which our identity is based today and will continue to be based tomorrow. Firstly, the three letters, A-F-D, are clear and sharp. They are our name and our signature. We are an agency actively working in the field. A bank is more than a bank. A bank not like any other. A bank of solutions. And we are proud of this identity. Secondly, the three colors, blue, white and red. We are the operator for France’s development policy and tomorrow, even more so than yesterday, we are going to become far more rooted in France, to promote the expertise and experience of all the development actors in our country, and permeate our territories with the innovations and expectations seen in our countries of operation.
Our new logo expresses what is new in our project. These rings represent the world, and take up the symbolism of the SDGs, the new planetary horizon, in order to strike a sustainable balance between meeting everyone’s needs and the limits of our planet. They are in motion, in transition from one state to another. They reflect the fact that nothing is set in stone and that we can influence development pathways. Two circles with two colors, with exactly the same size and same intensity, blend together, build together and exchange their experiences, in both directions. The exchange is made on an equal footing, between the North and South. This is our new mandate. Finally, these circles converge and join together, to mark our commitment to partnerships with all development actors and our alliance with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, whose slightly orange-tinted red now blends with our blue. 

Last update in December 2016

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