Asia and Pacific

The record growth in Asia in recent years has a heavy social and environmental impact. Climate change exacerbates the situation. Since 1993, AFD has been a partner of the continent to address this tremendous ecological and societal challenge.
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subway, metro, transport, Bangalore, India
Kishoreganj, Bangladesh

Promoting sustainable urban development

India metro Kochi


Asia has 3.8 billion inhabitants (2015), i.e. 56% of the world’s population, and is home to 15 of the 31 megacities in the world. While rural Asia remains more populated than urban Asia, every year 44 million people move to cities, and there are already over 200 cities with over a million inhabitants. 

This strong growth puts pressure on infrastructure: a third of the urban population does not have access to decent housing, drinking water, sanitation and electricity. In addition, pollution problems have reached record levels in certain cities. According to the World Health Organization, 4 out of the 10 cities with the most polluted air in the world are in Asia.

AFD has set out to address this urgent situation by making urban development that respects health and the environment its priority in this region. Between 2013 and 2016, 61% of our financing in the region concerned the sector (transport, water and sanitation, waste management…). 

We work to achieve integrated and inclusive urban development. In Rangoon, the capital of Burma, we are financing the development of the historic heritage and the river which flows through the city. The aim is to return the city to local populations. To improve urban mobility, we are financing low-carbon means of transport, for example, the new metro in Kochi in India. We are improving waste management in Samarkand in Uzbekistan, thanks to the construction of a landfill which produces biogas.

Improving water management

Cambodia irrigation water agriculture


South and Southeast Asia are characterized by an abundance of freshwater and sea water and by an exceptional concentration of populations in the deltas and coastal regions. These regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change: increased risk of flooding, heavier monsoons and submersion of farmland in the event of rising sea levels. 

At the same time, while progress has been achieved in terms of access to drinking water, some 1.7 billion people, especially in rural areas, are still not connected to sanitation services and the discharge of untreated wastewater affects approximately half of Asian rivers. 

AFD is supporting a number of initiatives which improve water management and reduce the risks of natural disasters. 

We are increasing drinking water production and distribution capacities in Cambodia to connect 330,000 additional people to the network and meet water demand in the capital. We are fighting against rising waters in Vietnam, one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, to secure farm incomes and improve health conditions. Our satellite monitoring program in Indonesia combats illegal fishing and promotes a more effective management of fisheries resources. 

Promoting a low-carbon economy

Solar panels in Thailand electricity


The Asia region poses a crucial climate challenge for the planet due to its demographic and economic weight and its energy intensity: China, India and Indonesia are the 1st, 3rd and 4th largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, respectively. In addition, the region counts 9 countries with annual emissions in excess of 100 Mt CO2. 

To achieve the objectives set by the Paris Climate Agreement, it essential for Asian countries to consolidate their transition towards a low-carbon economy. 

AFD is supporting this transformation by financing projects and through the dialogue with public authorities. We thereby promote the opportunities of this transition: reduce dependence on imports of energy resources (this is especially an issue for Pakistan, Thailand, India, the Philippines and China) and diversify economies which are still largely based on revenues from raw materials (this is, for example, the case for Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Kazakhstan). 

In this context, we develop renewable energies, improve energy efficiency and, more generally, assist in the preparation and implementation of national or local climate change policies. 

In China, for example, we are financing a natural gas-fired trigeneration power plant which will allow the demolition of four coal-fired boilers and supply an entire neighborhood with electricity, steam, heating and cooling. To help the authorities address the energy crisis in Pakistan, we are financing the rehabilitation and construction of hydropower plants which produce sustainable and affordable energy. In Indonesia, we are financing a program to reform the energy sector in order to assist in the transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon and inclusive energy.

Preserving the natural and cultural heritage

Preserved reed beds, preservation, nature, Liaoning, China


Asia is home to an extremely rich natural and cultural heritage. In terms of biodiversity, the region comprises 5 of the 18 countries which have the bulk of the world’s species and key ecosystems: 15% of forests, 40% of mangroves and 35% of coral in the world. This heritage is seriously threatened by climate change and rabid urbanization (deforestation, various types of pollution, destruction of habitat on which animal and plant species are dependent). The administrative and political authorities have become very aware of this loss, but at a late stage. 

In a context of rapid urbanization, the cultural heritage is also often threatened. Yet it contributes to the identity and attractiveness of cities and regions, especially for tourism, and to the integration of local communities.

AFD has made the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage a core objective for its action in Asia. To achieve this, we promote experience sharing with French actors who are recognized for their expertise in participatory heritage management. Our aim is to reconcile economic development and the sustainable management of natural and cultural heritage.

For example, we are financing the creation of a national park in Xianju, in China, with a management method based on French regional nature parks. In Southeast Asia, we are supporting a regional project to preserve a highly endangered Indo-Burmese biodiversity hotspot. We are also financing the protection and development of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Laos, in the former royal capital of Luang Prabang and the pre-Angkorian site of Vat Phu. In Sri Lanka, on the listed site of Anuradhapura, we are supporting the development of the city’s historic and natural heritage, while developing infrastructure to improve urban mobility and protect against flooding. 

countries of operation
of projects implemented by AFD in 2016 are in Asia
of projects implemented between 2013 and 2016 have a beneficial impact for the climate

Asia is a demographic giant and in just a few decades has become one of the engines of global economic growth. The resulting environmental and social challenges are enormous and their consequences, particularly ecological, extend far beyond the regional framework. Consequently, this is where much of the world of tomorrow is being shaped. 

It is this fact which has been guiding AFD’s action in Asia since 1993. Under our mandate for “green and inclusive growth”, our priorities are to promote urban development which respects health and the environment, help improve water management, and assist in achieving low-carbon economic pathways. 

Our action in Asia is based on a partnership approach. To enhance the impact of projects, we promote experience sharing between our partners and international and French actors who have recognized expertise. We also work with other actors, such as the Asian Development Bank, the European Union and JICA, to make large-scale projects possible.

In the region, the least developed countries exist alongside the major emerging countries and middle-income countries. AFD meets the diversity of needs of its public and private partners by mobilizing a wide range of financial tools. We mainly operate via loans, but also through guarantees, grants and technical assistance.

Today, AFD operates in 18 countries in Asia, with some 130 ongoing projects and over EUR 1bn of commitments every year. 

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