UNDP Administrator’s mission to Paris: Breaking the cycle of debt crisis and advancing the UNDP-France partnership

February 22, 2023

Photo: France - Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs\ 2023. Left to right French Minister of State for Development, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner

Paris, France, 22 February 2023

On 22 February, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner travelled to Paris to hold a series of bilateral engagements and public events with French partners, including the Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, the Director General of the French Development Agency (AFD- Agence française de développement), the Chair of the French Foreign Affairs Committee and academic partners in Science Po. France is currently the 10th core donor to UNDP ­– see here the highlights of the partnership in 2021-2022.

Meeting with the French Minister of State for Development

Photo: France MFA\ 2023. Left to right French State Minister for Development, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner

The UNDP Administrator and the French Minister of State for Development discussed the contribution of France in crisis response and resilience building efforts, including where UNDP has launched a new Sahel Regeneration Programme  and two Stabilization Facilities in Lake Chad and Lipkato-Gourma, as well as, in Ukraine– where France  directly supports UNDP’s mine action work, and Yemen, in relation to the rescue and effort of the FSO Safer.

In line with French international commitments, they also exchanged around how to strengthen the multilateral action for climate action and explore avenues to collectively provide more efficient financing to help the most vulnerable countries and scale-up co-investments to support just-energy transitions around the world. In the run-up to the One Forest Summit co-organized by France and Gabon on 1 March, they also discussed opportunities for joint action around biodiversity and forest protection, including through the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).

More specifically on financing for sustainable development, the exchanges also focused on the preparations for President Macron’s Summit for a new Global Financial Pact in June 2023. The UNDP Administrator detailed the UN Secretary General SDG Stimulus plan and presented the latest analysis on possible ways to address the debt crisis (see below), before his participation in the meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.


Strengthening the cooperation between multilateral and bilateral actors around financing for development was also a central topic of the discussions between UNDP and the Director-General of the French Agency for Development (AFD). Around the world, AFD and UNDP are notably undertaking several joint initiatives as part of the Finance in Common network of public development banks to further align financial flows with the SDGs and reconcile development and climate goals.

Photo: UNDP\ 2019. Director General of Agence française de développement Rémy Rioux and UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner.

The importance to support multilateral development cooperation in a time of poly-crisis

Meeting with the Chair of the French National Assembly Committee of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Louis Bourlanges, Achim Steiner also reiterated the importance of multilateral solutions to global development challenges and valued the France-UNDP partnership in crisis response around the world, including in Ukraine. The Administrator also further presented UNDP’s response to the devasting earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. 

Photo: UNDP\ 2023. Left to right Chair of Foreign Affairs Committee to Parliament Jean-Louis Bourlanges and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

Breaking the cycle of debt crisis

Photo: UNDP\ 2023. At Science Po with, Arancha González Dean of Science Po, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

Photo: UNDP\ 2023. At Science Po with, Arancha González Dean of Science Po, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and Anne-Laure Kiechel Science Po Chair in Sovereign Debt.

Invited by Arancha Gonzalez Laya, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and current Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences-Po, the UNDP Administrator gave a public lecture to students and academic partners.

Detailing the pressing challenges of the current debt crisis and the imbalances in the global financial architecture, the Administrator elaborated on UN plans for a stimulus plan to breakthrough from a complex global financial deadlock and further encouraged reforms to the current financial architecture.

The latest UNDP brief – ‘Building Blocks Out of The Crisis’ – indeed identifies 52 low and middle-income developing economies either in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s poorest people. It shows how a 30 percent haircut on their public external debt stock in 2021 could help save up to $148 billion in debt service payments over eight years. 

·      Read the Administrator’s statement here at Science Po

·      Watch here the lecture at Science Po and how UNDP has identified debt savings of up to US$148 billion could rebalance low and middle-income developing economies. 

“The debt crisis is now a systemic problem, demonstrating the urgency of the call in the UN “Our Common Agenda” for a stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system. Multilateral action remains critical to respond to global risks and to leaving no country behind.”

Contact: UNDP Geneva Partnerships Manager, Alexis.laffitan@undp.org