You’d be forgiven for thinking that Tom Cruise and French President Emmanuel Macron have nothing in common.

But when, in June 2023, Macron rallied nations to tackle climate and global crises head-on with promises of shaking up an 80-year-old financial order that was no longer fit for purpose, his resemblance to Jerry Maguire shouting “Show me the money” was uncanny. 

The Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, hosted in Paris on June 22-23, was called for by the French President to take stock “on all the means and ways of increasing financial solidarity with the [Global] South.” In front of heads of state and government from all over the world, Macron pledged to “lay the foundations for a renewed international financial system… so that no country has to choose between reducing poverty, combating climate change, and preserving biodiversity."

Yet, just eight months later, France’s Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has announced the country is slashing its Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget by almost €800 million — a 13% cut. ODA is funding, provided by governments of wealthy nations to developing countries, and is an essential tool for assisting those living on the frontlines of climate disasters and humanitarian crises. It goes towards things like improving access to water, healthcare and high-quality education, protecting biodiversity, and combating the climate emergency.

France is currently the world’s fourth-largest ODA donor. In 2022, it allocated 0.56% of its Gross National Income (GNI), or €15.2 billion, to this public policy. However, it has never met the international commitment, set as a target by the United Nations in 1970, to contribute 0.7% of their GNI to ODA. 

It all seemed to be going so well when, in 2021, a bill enshrined a historic step forward, stipulating France’s intention to reach that 0.7% goal by 2025. However, the government discreetly backtracked on this commitment in July 2023, pushing the target back to 2030, on the occasion of the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID). As Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France director of the ONE Campaign said at the time: “Committing oneself to strive is not committing oneself to get there.”

The most recent announcement of a budget cut is a backward step on the commitments proclaimed by President Macron and, according to an open letter published in Le Monde and signed by a group of over 100 humanitarian and development NGOs including Global Citizen, “calls into question the principles of justice and solidarity, tarnishes France's international reputation and, most seriously of all, puts human lives at risk.”

As well as having a symbolic significance, this decision will impact millions of lives, namely that of people on the frontlines of climate and humanitarian crises who have no access to essential services. While this cut is a drop in the ocean of France’s total budget (the €742 million cuts represent under 0.2% of the state's total budget), the impact cannot be understated. As Louis-Nicolas Jandeaux, Senior Humanitarian and Finance for Development Policy Advisor at Oxfam France told Global Citizen: “This cut is synonymous with thousands of lives sacrificed.”

“Beyond the figures,” Jandeaux says, “it is above all crucial aid to the most vulnerable populations, whether in terms of access to healthcare, water, education, coping with the challenges of climate change, or responding to humanitarian crises, that is being called into question.”

Indeed, this cut could mean the cancellation of several projects that would have made it possible to respond to these crises as well as pursuing other objectives of the UN Global Goals such as promoting gender equality, guaranteeing the protection of human rights, protecting the environment and biodiversity, and supporting civil society in poorer countries among other things. 

By way of illustration, Focus2030 points out that cutting the same amount from the budget of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would mean 800,000 fewer lives saved, 18 million new cases across the three diseases, or 1.1 million people unable to access antiretroviral therapy.

Let's flood Emmanuel Macron's timeline with demands to reverse the cuts and uphold France's commitment to global solidarity. Join Global Citizens around the world putting the pressure on by sending an urgent tweet now.


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