Southeast Asia is undergoing significant change: rapid economic growth, galloping urban development. And despite the vas differences between least developed countries (Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos) on one hand, and middle-income countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand) on the other, ASEAN member countries face many common challenges.
The region is deeply exposed to the consequences of climate change, it faces a growing demand for energy, as well as extreme pressure on natural resources.
AFD: a longstanding partner of ASEAN member countries
AFD has been present for more than 25 years to support ASEAN member countries in their transitions and their sustainable and inclusive development.
"France's securing of the status of development partner is fully in line with our strategy in the Indo-Pacific, and will enable us to strengthen our contribution to sustainable development, peace and security, and stability in the region," said Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
"France already maintains close relations with all the countries of Southeast Asia, which are embodied in particular through long-standing and forward-looking cooperation. It relies on an important regional network of economic, cultural and scientific cooperation (...) as well as on the mobilization of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), which has been present in the region for 25 years, and which has financed more than 170 projects there since 2010, representing a commitment of more than 4 billion euros.”
Focusing on ASEAN priority themes
Through its actions, AFD is already contributing to this partnership, which is set to grow stronger over the next few years. In addition to the work carried out with each member country, AFD finances regional projects: for example, a project to protect biodiversity hotspots in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, or a project to combat dengue fever and leptospirosis, which recently included a component on Covid-19. It also works closely with the Mekong River Commission, notably with a project to set up a network for the collection and transmission of hydro-meteorological measurements in real time.
AFD also plans to finance a project aimed at improving air quality in the cities or provinces of several Southeast Asian countries, with an advocacy dimension with ASEAN to take into account air quality issues in public policies at the regional level.
Finally, a year ago it joined the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF), an initiative of ASEAN and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that aims to generate more than one billion dollars of investment in green infrastructure in Southeast Asia.
This partnership opens up new avenues of work between France and ASEAN, and AFD is mobilized to contribute. "We would like to go further,” said Yazid Bensaïd, AFD Regional Director in Southeast Asia, adding that he would like to discuss collaboration with the General Secretariat of ASEAN, “to encourage the sharing of experience, identify subjects of common interest, particularly around climate and the environment, and set up joint programs."