French Polynesia

A large expanse of islands and atolls scattered over 5.5 million square kilometers in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, French Polynesia must reinvent its economic model and overcome the limitations due to its isolation from major markets. AFD is supporting it in its steps towards a sustainable development that reconciles the fight against inequalities, the emergence of a new development model and the preservation and promotion of natural heritage.
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Baie des Vierges, Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia
AFD and French Polynesia: Harmonizing the economic, social and environmental development of the territory
Baie des Vierges, Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia

Fighting economic and social inequalities

Woman, Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia

Fighting economic and social inequalities

The uniqueness of the Polynesian territory is well known: isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, geographic dispersion of the 118 islands and atolls in an archipelago the size of Europe, and concentration of the population on Tahiti in contrast with low population densities in the other archipelagos. With such a geography, harmonious spatial development is a major challenge.

The recent history of the territory also raises questions about progress toward inclusive development for the entire Polynesian society. With the accelerated changes linked to the creation of the Pacific Experimentation Center for nuclear testing, its shut down and the political and economic crisis at the end of the 2000s, economic and social balances have been severely disrupted.

To reduce some of the economic, social and territorial inequalities, AFD focuses on access to basic services. This requires financial and technical support for municipalities, which are front-line actors in the provision of public services to the populations, especially in remote archipelagos. Drinking water, waste, schools, roads: AFD’s loans at reduced interest rates help to support local authorities' investments.

There are also major needs in the health, medico-social and social housing sectors, which are all sectors that AFD supports by directly financing the key players and the country's budget.

Supporting the public and private sectors

French Polynesia, Fatu Hiva, fishing, Girardot

Supporting the public and private sectors

In recent years, French Polynesia has seen a resurgence in growth, reflecting a changing economy. With high tourist attractiveness, maritime potential that is still insufficiently exploited and considerable cultural and natural heritage, the territory has undeniable assets that must contribute to the emergence of a new model of sustainable development.

AFD supports the territory's public and private actors in the new economic dynamic at work by:

  • accompanying the definition of planning tools - essential for planning for the long term - in the territory’s essential sectors: fishing, aquaculture, farming and transport.
  • helping to strengthen municipal teams on management and budget issues to boost local development
  • financing the principal public and private structuring projects that contribute to an ambitious development of the territory (digital technology, transport, energy etc.)
  • through its subsidiary SOGEFOM (Société de Gestion de Fonds de Garantie d'Outre-Mer), guaranteeing loans granted to SOHOs and SMEs by local banks to boost the economic fabric.

Preserving and promoting natural heritage

Fatu Hiva, French Polynésia

Preserving and promoting natural heritage

Natural heritage is at the center of French Polynesia's identity: its marine biodiversity, flora, landscapes and ecosystems are of inestimable social, cultural and economic value. These natural resources are fragile, however, and must be preserved.

The main challenge is to reconcile economic development and environmental protection to preserve this heritage for future generations.

AFD integrates this challenge into its actions in a transversal way:

  • This is reflected in the provision of "green" financial tools (loans at very low interest rates and study grants) to public actors to promote renewable energies and energy savings and to develop projects that take account of the anticipated effects of climate change.
  • This is also the main purpose of the regional approach that AFD intends to encourage through decentralized cooperation between Polynesian actors and local authorities in South Pacific countries, or through regional projects supported in particular by regional institutions such as the Pacific Community (SPC) or the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP). The Agency strives to support regional initiatives that make environmental conservation, protection of biodiversity and the fight against climate change drivers of sustainable development.
Over 60
billion CFP francs invested in 4 years
municipalities funded between 2014 and 2018
jobs created or maintained thanks to the SOGEFOM guarantee in 4 years

Set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more than 17,000 km from its home country, French Polynesia is an overseas territory as vast as Europe but sparsely populated (fewer than 300,000 inhabitants). Its 121 islands and atolls, 67 of which are inhabited, are grouped into five archipelagos and are home to exceptional biodiversity.

Boosted by the activity of the Pacific Experimentation Centre between 1962 and 1996, the Polynesian economy had to find a new direction after the cessation of nuclear testing. But the fragmentation of its territory and its geographical remoteness isolate it from major markets and from France, which handicaps its economic activity. 

However, Polynesia also has great possibilities: a vast surface area of 5.5 million square kilometers and terrific tourist potential. Not forgetting the blue economy: although fishing (protected by a vast exclusive economic zone) and pearl farming have already proven their worth, the maritime potential is still underexploited.

The challenge for the community is to ensure that development is shared equitably. It must find ways to reduce inequality, resolve the unemployment crisis (currently 21.8%) and develop infrastructure.

AFD is a leading partner of French Polynesia. It works together with the private and public sectors to foster economic, social and environmental development, using appropriate tools such as loans, guarantees and advisory support.

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