From theory to practice and back: the role of implementing agencies
Alongside development banks and agencies, implementing agencies have a role to play in turning into concrete results the objectives spelt out in a number of key strategies for peace, stability and security, which will drive the world’s response for the next decade.
1.6 billion people live in situations of fragility. Half of people living in extreme poverty in the world also live in fragile states. Poverty and fragility are therefore intertwined, not to mention the growing impact of climate change in these vulnerable environments. More than ever, there is an urgency to adjust policy and operational responses to better address fragility and vulnerabilities, to build resilience with partner countries and local communities. Implementing agencies are expected to be increasingly present in these contexts, but what can they bring to the table?
Deploying key security-development strategies on the ground.
The ambition of France and the European Union is to deploy an effective response to security-development challenges. This priority is reflected in strategies and action plans — such as the latest G7 “Sahel Partnership Implementation Plan”, the EU Global Strategy and France’s Approach for “Prevention, Resilience and Sustainable Peace”.
Public agencies in charge of international technical cooperation — also called implementing agencies — such as Expertise France, contribute to turning these strategies into results on the ground. Deciding in which geographies and projects to intervene is, in turn, guided by their supervisory authorities — in the case of Expertise France, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Implementing agencies design project documents and activities by leveraging the theoretical and policy guidance of such strategies — including defining and understanding the security-development nexus.
While not necessarily in a position, or equipped, to provide upstream research for strategic analysis, these agencies can nevertheless provide tailored and concrete solutions for project implementation in fragile contexts. This paves the way for a virtuous cycle, from theory to practice and back.
“More than ever, there is an urgency to adjust policy and operational responses to better address fragility and vulnerabilities, to build resilience with partner countries and local communities.”
Feedbacks from the field
By growing a corpus of hundreds of implemented projects and lessons learnt from them, implementing agencies can feed back into strategies. Based on an ability to build from scratch, to attract experts and competencies from various ministries and to work across borders for regional initiatives, agencies can provide a reality check on potential ideas, pinpointing those that are feasible and highlighting the riskier one.
On topics such as stabilization in Syria and Lebanon, maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO), anti-money laundering (CFT-AML) and counter-terrorism in the MENA region, Expertise France is growing a knowledge and learning base that will provide inputs for future geographic or thematic priorities.
As illustrated by the role currently played by Expertise France in supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force, practice makes habit. Implementation of major, long term programs is a source of continuous improvement and encourages flexibility and agility for their continuation. This, again, can be taken into account by partners and supervisory authorities in designing more effective answers to the world’s security and development challenges.
This knowledge sharing dynamic is also underway through cooperation in Europe, such as with the Practitioners’ Network for European Development Cooperation. It also feeds global, overarching objectives as set out by the Sustainable Development Goals and the Pathways for Peace.
Effectiveness from the field
We are already witnessing a gradual shift toward more decentralized work, more devolution on the ground, while focusing on inclusive approaches and dialogue with partner countries. There is also greater emphasis on effectiveness of the resources spent, in light of genuine expectations by European citizens as they ultimately contribute to the funding of many of our projects.
Working alongside bilateral development agencies — such as the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group, which Expertise France is being integrated into — implementing agencies can provide more effective delivery mechanisms in crisis contexts. Building on this effort, Expertise France is working alongside its partners to increase the local presence of projects in key regions of the Sahel and the Middle East, whether through the PARSEC project or QUDRA next to Germany’s GIZ.
“There is also greater emphasis on effectiveness of the resources spent, in light of genuine expectations by European citizens as they ultimately contribute to the funding of many of our projects.”
There are many limits and constraints to address, one of them being the rapid mobilization on the ground of the best suited experts, another one being the management cost of complex, multi-purpose and sometimes multi-country projects. We must be able to adjust the implementation of programs when needed, with the backing of donors and beneficiaries, in order to maximize our impact. Such an approach can help us become more agile and, ultimately, more effective in making change happen on the ground.
This, in turn, will also feed back into the strategies that we aim to contribute implementing, ultimately ensuring our common objective: bringing peace, stability and security to the population in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.
Views expressed in this publication are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paris Peace Forum.
Jérémie Pellet; Chief Executive Officer of Expertise France, the French agency for international cooperation
Jérémie Pellet was previously Deputy Director General of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), in charge of the agency’s activities with local authorities, public companies, the private sector and NGOs, and coordinating strategy, communication, partnerships, research and innovation.
Jeremie was previously a financial advisor at the private office of Prime Minister Manuel Valls (2014-2016). He also worked at BNP Paribas as a head of regulatory affairs for CIB (2009–2014) and at CDC Entreprises as an investment director (2007–2009). He started his career at the ministry of foreign affairs (2000–2002) and ministry of finance as a deputy head of merger control and state aid (2004-2007).