French expertise mobilized to restore China’s wetlands


The first sod has been dug for the project for restoration, the conservation of endangered species and the development of ecotourism at the National Wetland Park in Qixian in Shanxi Province, which is supported by AFD.

First shovel in the ground

Qixian is a small town located in the center of the Loess Plateau in Shanxi Province, one of the regions that suffers the most from erosion in the world. Emmanuel Debroise, AFD’s Director in Beijing, pulls up the sleeves of his suit and takes the shovel given to him to make his symbolic contribution to the start of works to restore the Changyuanhe wetlands, for which AFD is providing EUR 30m of financing.

Credit AFD

Eighth of global biodiversity threatened

The stakes are high. China is home to an eighth of the total number of species on Earth. The national situation has now become critical, with a very high rate of disappearance of biodiversity. The transformation of natural species, pollution, urban sprawl, overexploitation and the impacts of climate change are the major factors in terms of the threat to biodiversity and its decline in China. The natural habitats which have been the most affected over the last thirty years are forests and wetlands.

Degradation and disappearance of wetlands in China a major cause of concern  

China has some 65 million hectares of wetlands, i.e. 10% of the global surface area of wetlands and 8% of the country’s territory. They provide 55% of ecosystem services, contain 82% of freshwater resources, and are home to over 11,000 species of plants and animals in the country, including 54% of birds in danger of extinction. They are also the only migratory route for a large number of waterfowl. China’s wetlands have experienced a degradation and loss over the past decades which is a major cause of concern: 13% reduction of lakes, 23% of swamps and 51% of coastal wetlands.

Credit MOA

Restoration, conservation and ecotourism

AFD’s loan, for which the financing agreement was signed in January 2015 during the visit to China by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, aims to support the restoration of the ecological status, the conservation of endangered species and the development of ecotourism in the Qixian National Wetland Park.

Invaluable freshwater resources

The Qixian district was historically rich in wetlands, but they have gradually deteriorated over time. In 2011, the district managed to have the Changyuanhe wetlands classified among the three national wetland parks of Shanxi Province. These parks contain invaluable freshwater resources for the region, which is one of the driest in China, and have a remarkable biodiversity on the Loess Plateau.

Model to replicate in the country

The restoration and conservation of wetlands in Changyuanhe will provide a real model for the preservation of wetlands, both on the Loess Plateau and more generally in arid or semi-arid climate regions. The experiences and good practices learned from this project will thereby be able to inspire other regions in China faced with similar biodiversity and/or water management crises.

Credit MOA

Rémy Rioux appointed Chief Executive Officer of Agence Française de Développement by the Council of Ministers today, 25 May 2016


Today, on a proposal made by François Hollande at the Parliament on 27 April 2016 and following a unanimous favorable vote of MPs and a majority of Senators, Mr. Rémy Rioux, 46, Deputy Secretary General of the French Ministry of Foreign affairs and International Development, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Agence Française de Développement, a Public Industrial and Commercial Establishment responsible for development in Southern countries and the French overseas territories. Rémy Rioux, AFD’s 11th Chief Executive Officer, will take over as head of AFD on 2 June 2016.

Rémy Rioux was born in June 1969 in Neuilly-sur-Seine and is an alumnus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm, Sciences Po, and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration. He is a historian by training, a former student of Alain Corbin and Pierre Nora, and Senior Advisor at the Court of Auditors. During his career, he has alternately held responsibilities in France and for development in Africa.

Rémy Rioux appointed Chief Executive Officer of AFD © Alain Buu

At the age of 26, Rémy Rioux discovered Africa during an ENA internship in Benin, and subsequently by campaigning to promote the harmonization of business law in Africa. He has a love of this continent and has travelled across it throughout his career, established close ties there, and acquired a recognized expertise in development issues. He worked at the Directorate of the Treasury from 2004 to 2007, and subsequently from 2010 to 2012, where he contributed to modernizing monetary cooperation with African Franc Zone member countries, participated in the resolution of the Ivorian crisis, and contributed to making the issue of infrastructure and development central to the international agenda of the G20. At the time, he was a Member of the Boards of Directors of AFD and its subsidiary PROPARCO.

Rémy Rioux also conducted control missions in the energy and defense sectors at the Court of Auditors between 1997 and 2004. He worked at the Ministry of the Interior from 2000 to 2002, at the Office of the Minister Daniel Vaillant, where he was responsible for the budget and changeover to the euro. He also held a position at the State Holdings Agency (APE), from 2007 to 2010, as Chief Investment Officer responsible for the transport and media sectors, and sat on the Boards of Directors of various companies (SNCF, RATP, ADP, Renault, France Télévisions, France Médias Monde, Arte, le Grand Port Maritime du Havre).

In 2012, he was Director of the Office of the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade, Pierre Moscovici. He was actively involved in redefining economic relations between Africa and France and in the work conducted by Jacques Attali on economic Francophonie. Two years later, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, appointed him Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry, in charge of economic issues. Alongside the Minister, he managed the financial component of the negotiations for COP21.

Following the announcement made by the French President in September 2015 of a revival of France’s Official Development Assistance policy and an increase in development and climate finance (by EUR 4bn by 2020, to reach EUR 12.5bn of annual commitments, including EUR 5bn for the climate), he was entrusted with a preparatory mission for the establishment of closer ties between Agence Française de Développement and Caisse des Dépôts, which aims to provide France with a tool capable of meeting the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He is a man of dialogue and conviction and is deeply attached to the Massif Central region, particularly Corrèze and Lozère, where he regularly stays with his wife and three children.

Key Dates

  • 26 June 1969: Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
  • 1997: Auditor at the Court of Auditors on leaving ENA (Marc Bloch Class), where he became Senior Advisor in 2013
  • 2001 and 2002: Budget Advisor at the Office of Daniel Vaillant at the Ministry of the Interior
  • 2003: Control missions in the energy and defense sectors at the Court of Auditors
  • 2004: General Directorate of the Treasury, Head of the Office for Monetary and Development Cooperation with African, Caribbean, Pacific and Franc Zone countries
  • 2007: Deputy Director for the transport and audiovisual sectors at the State Holdings Agency (APE)
  • 2010: Deputy Director for international financial affairs and development at the General Directorate of the Treasury
  • 2012 to 2014: Director of the Office of Mr. Pierre Moscovici at the Ministry of the Economy and Finance
  • 2014: Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in charge of economic affairs
  • 2015: Responsible for financial matters in the French negotiation team for COP21.
  • June 2016: Appointed the 11th Chief Executive Officer of Agence Française de Développement.

AFD is supporting low-carbon district heating in China

AFD has supported three Chinese cities as part of its mandate to promote sustainable and low-carbon urban development. The aim is to improve the energy efficiency of their urban heating systems and thereby contribute to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.

World’s second largest urban heating market
China is the world’s second largest urban heating market and the sector is experiencing very rapid development. However, heating networks are less efficient than in industrialized countries, with significant losses due to the outdated equipment and networks and insufficient investment.
This results in intensive energy consumption, which reaches 12% of the primary energy consumed.

Renovation of old and inefficient heating systems and networks
In Taiyuan and Jinzhong, in Shanxi Province, the projects financed by AFD have reached completion and the equipment is fully functional during this winter heating period.
In Jinan, the capital of Shandong, the project is currently reaching completion. The old and inefficient heating systems and networks have been renovated thanks to a total of EUR 100m of loans.

Quality of life, reduction of pollution and GHG emissions

The three projects promote technical innovation and efficient network management and have participated in the heating sector reform in China. They directly contribute to the fight against climate change: it is estimated that the replacement of small boilers in Taiyuan and Jinzhong, as well as the program for the renovation and extension of urban heating networks in Jinan, avoid the emission of 935,000 tons of CO2 a year.
They also lead to a significant reduction in very harmful local pollutant emissions: a total of over 4,570 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 9,755 tons of soot are no longer emitted.
The quality of life has been improved for residents with a better heating service and less polluted air.

Trigeneration and gas to replace coal
AFD’s Board of Directors has just approved a fourth project in the city of Qingdao in Shandong Province. It is planned to finance a trigeneration plant thanks to a EUR 20m loan. This natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant will generate electricity, steam, heating and cooling for companies, as well as commercial and residential buildings, in a high-tech development area in the north of Qingdao.
By replacing coal, this decentralized energy generation project will both sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with AFD’s Climate mandate, and significantly limit emissions of local air pollutants in a city which is part of China’s Pilot Low-carbon Cities initiative.

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