French urban expertise


The PFVT's mission is to promote French urban expertise at the international level (capacity reinforcement, project management, support for the governance process, urban planning) while emphasizing enhancement of the skills of PFVT members in conjunction with action undertaken in the framework of economic diplomacy. In this framework, the technical secretariat:

  • regularly organizes meetings in conjunction with visits of foreign delegations, in liaison with embassies and economic services;
  • promotes French expertise in response to requests from partners.

 The PFVT breakfasts

The PFVT breakfasts, launched in June 2014, are an opportunity to present initiatives, organisations or news. Each quarter, a speaker is invited to exchange ideas with PFVT members.

The French Global Environment Facility

The aim of the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) is to protect the global environment, which covers biodiversity, climate change, international waters, desertification, soil degradation, chemical pollution and the ozone layer. The first PFVT breakfast took place on 17 June. Afterwards, Janique Etienne, an FFEM expert, agreed to answer questions from the technical secretariat.


How can cities initiate cooperation with the FFEM within the framework of the "sustainable urban areas" component?

The FFEM's steering committee meets three times a year to review project proposals (notes of opportunities) submitted by FFEM funding recipients. With regard to "sustainable urban areas", it is mostly local authorities who submit dossiers, which are sometimes put together with assistance from French partner cities. Insofar as there is no call for proposals, they open up dialogue with the FFEM either through the intermediary of AFD agencies in the countries involved, the embassies of France or member institutions, or by contacting the secretariat directly.

What are the characteristics of the projects the FFEM backs?

Projects are accepted based not only on their contribution to the preservation of the global environment and local development, but also on their groundbreaking nature, which might be called the FFEM's "trademark".

How does the FFEM help to strengthen local capacities?

Contributing to local development usually goes hand-in-hand with actions helping to strengthen the local players' capacities. That's important for the FFEM, which relies on public or private international expertise and fosters the transfer and exchange of good practices between operators and managers at the regional and international levels.

Can the FFEM, supporting innovative projects, have a leverage effect to obtain co-funding?

Yes, it can. A leverage effect is even sought by the FFEM, which contributes no more than 30% of a project's total funding.

What does a FFEM project bring to a partner city?

In addition to its funding, the FFEM facilitates dialogue with, if not commitments from, public and private French partners as well as other bilateral or multilateral donors.

Do you have specific needs when it comes to French expertise?

Public or private French expertise on these matters, especially urban hydrology, eco-hydrology, urban planning and country planning, is one of the reasons motivating requests from local communities, especially in Latin America.

Any last words about your future strategy?

Through its funding, the FFEM mainly aims to reduce environmental, social and economic vulnerabilities, particularly in two areas:
• Protection of natural and semi-natural areas in cities by restoring the natural seepage of runoff and vegetation to reduce heat islands, storage to limit waste flowing into networks, etc., development of approaches that integrate these adaptation functions into the development of economic activities and preservation of the cultural and ecological heritage.
• Promotion of the "sustainable" renovation of neighbourhoods with precarious housing, which are often the most exposed to environmental hazards and social inequality. The FFEM would like to intervene in these areas to complement wider programmes to support innovation and its related economic activities (recycling, peri-urban agriculture, on-site water management, etc.). It backs integrated renovation and development approaches in these neighbourhoods: housing, transport, vulnerability to hazards, energy consumption and environmental quality.

The FFEM is drafting its 2015-2018 strategy. Our new Strategic Planning Framework (Cadre de Programmation Stratégique, CPS) will be available on the FFEM site in the fourth quarter of 2014.

For all the news about the FFEM: FFEM.


Standardization and Sustainable and Resilient Development

 At the second PFVT breakfast held on 28 October 2014, AFNOR representatives Mélanie Raimbault and Etienne Cailleau gave a talk on standardization and sustainable development. They also answered some questions.

 What does AFNOR do?

AFNOR, an international group that can be found in over 36 countries, is active in four main areas: certification and evaluation, standardization, publication of professional normative and regulatory information content solutions, and training and consulting. AFNOR coordinates and promotes standardization in France. The players involved in standardization are government bodies, manufacturers, consumer advocacy groups, environmental organisations, retailers and entrepreneurs, representing some 20,000 members. Standardization and the dissemination of standards are recognised as being in the public interest (2009 decree).

What is standardization?

It is important to distinguish between voluntary standards (AFNOR) and regulatory standards (set by laws and decrees). Voluntary standards are reached by consensus and serve as a benchmark for product quality and safety, for example. Upstream, standardization provides benchmark methods and results. Downstream, it fosters the spread of groundbreaking ideas and technology.

Eighty percent of standards are developed in Europe and internationally. What is at stake for France?

AFNOR promotes and defends France's position at European and international level to the boards responsible for developing standards. Its position is reached by consensus by a Standardization Committee where members can defend their expectations and strategy.

What does standardization aim to achieve in the area of sustainable and resilient development?

The goal is to help cities and local communities become sustainable and resilient. The first task is to promote initiatives both nationally (benchmarks, guides, etc.) and internationally (development banks, OECD, UN Habitat, etc.). The second is to ensure the representation of all of the players involved in the standardization process. For example, progress can be made in involving local authorities. Although not members of the standardization boards, they can refer to the CCNC, an AFNOR consultation body.
Another goal relates to the different approaches that can be taken: the "technological" smart city approach (developed by the European Commission) or the more holistic sustainable city approach (promoted by the ISO). Communicating on these tools (voluntary technologies and tools) as well as on terminology is also crucial.

How does AFNOR make the French players' voices heard at European and international level?

AFNOR participates in the governing bodies of the 33-nation European Committee for Standardization and acts as the secretariat for 21% of the technical committees that draft standards (ranking second). A European Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities Coordination Group is currently working on identifying the stakeholders and mapping existing standards. A report coming out in late 2014 will put forward recommendations and identify future needs.

AFNOR is the third-biggest contributor to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). France chairs and serves as the secretariat of the ISO/TC 268 Sustainable Development in Communities technical committee, which is responsible for drafting standards and technical documents in the area of sustainable development.
So far, two documents have been published:

- ISO 37120:2014 Sustainable Development of Communities - Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life;

- ISO TR 37150:2014 Smart Community Infrastructures - Review of Existing Activities Relevant to Metrics.

Five standards are being developed: two in the area of sustainable and resilient development and two in the area of smart community infrastructure. The fifth involves listing and analysing existing indicators on the sustainable development and resilience of cities.
The French Sustainable and Resilient Development Standardization Committee (AFNOR ADR) consensually prepares the positions that France brings before the ISO/TC 268 technical committee. The Standardization Committee is tasked with establishing a coordinated French position, gathering expertise and participating in the development of standards (checking, organising public inquiries, voting and proposing topics).

How can players become involved in the standardization process?

Getting involved in standardization allows players to anticipate the market's future requirements and promote their practices, products or services. Any interested player can participate, depending on the conditions of access. In France, they can take part in the ISO/TC 268 technical committee and/or monitor the projects being developed by joining the Sustainable and Resilient Development Standardization Committee (AFNOR ADR).

All news and events:


 Cities Alliance

On the occasion of a breakfast with Serge Allou, Lead Urban Specialist at Cities Alliance, members of the PFVT were invited to learn more about Cities Alliance and discuss the different ways in which it takes action.

How did Cities Alliance come into being?

PDej CitiesAlliance3Cities Alliance is not so much an Alliance of cities as an Alliance for cities. Cities Alliance was born out of a joint initiative of the World Bank and UN Habitat in 1999, at which time the number one priority was combatting urban poverty, particularly in slums. The Secretariat of the Alliance, initially based at the World Bank, has been provided for by UNOPS for the past two years. The Secretariat is based in Brussels.
Today, Cities Alliance is a global partnership with a multi-donor trust fund supported by the financial contributions of its members with the aim of promoting the role of cities in development.

How do you contribute to the development of inclusive cities?

At first, Cities Alliance functioned like a grant-making facility mainly geared towards the redevelopment of neighbourhoods (slum upgrading), the development of strategic urban planning (City Development Strategies), and subsequently the development of National Urban Policies.

Its activities are currently structured around four business lines:

  • Country programmes seek to put urban issues on the development agenda of a certain number of countries in the world
  • The Catalytic Fund provides financing for innovative projects selected through a call for proposals
  • Analytic and Strategic Activities help foster the production and sharing of knowledge among Cities Alliance members on emerging key issues
  • Communication and Advocacy activities promote the Cities Alliance’s key messages on urban development in order to encourage policies and practices that contribute to the vision of sustainable cities without slums

 CitiesAlliance FocusAfrica

Do you have the opportunity to create synergies with French players in the context of your actions?

Yes of course. We did it in Burkina Faso, for example, where the Country Programme (through its themes and priority areas of intervention) is interlinked with French Cooperation’s project on urban governance and local taxation. French Cooperation is also a member of the Programme's steering committee.
In general terms, these programmes offer opportunities for French expertise: synergies between the actions of partners already positioned in the countries of intervention, possible partnerships, etc.

What is the theme of the call for projects launched recently?

The Alliance has launched a Catalytic Fund call for proposals on Migration and the inclusive city. The inclusion of migrants in cities is a major challenge for sustainable urban development. 85% of migrants are internal migrants in their own countries. Provided that they make the necessary preparations, cities can offer opportunities in social and economic terms and greater security against the risk of conflict or natural disasters.
The call is intended to fund innovative projects, operational actions as well as actions aimed at building capacity or knowledge production. It is accessible to all types of institution (NGOs, local authorities, states, university and research structures, etc.).

Which geographical areas are concerned?

All geographical areas are eligible, but preference will be given to countries with which Cities Alliance has no country programme. Projects in countries in a post-crisis situation can also be presented.
The proposals need to be sponsored by one or more members of Cities Alliance. France is a member of the Alliance and is represented by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI).
Proposals must be submitted by 8 May at the latest (Information).

Do you perform monitoring and evaluation of your projects?

The projects are subject to regular monitoring (technical and financial) by the Secretariat of Cities Alliance. Many of them are also the subject of mid-term and final evaluations.
For the first time this year, Cities Alliance is publishing a Corporate Scorecard to reflect its results and its performance against a number of indicators. This Corporate Scorecard will be available by the end of April on the Alliance's website, in addition to the Annual Report.

Cities Alliance regularly calls on external experts to assess the quality of project proposals and conduct ex-post field evaluations in particular. A roster of experts is currently being established which can be referred to as needed. In fact, French experts are also eligible to apply.

In 2016, the Habitat III Conference will be held, how is Cities Alliance gearing up for it?

Cities Alliance has set up a working group around some of its leading members so as to be actively involved in preparing the Conference.

The work is naturally based on the activities of the Alliance and a number of priority areas identified in its medium-term strategy for 2014-2017 and which are also the focus of working groups, including: equitable economic growth (AFD is a member of this working group); gender; resilience (recommended by the MAEDI, the PFVT is participating in the working group); emerging topics such as children and migrants, for example. These themes will help convey messages in the international debate for Habitat III.

 More information