Europe, New in Lobbying

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France has launched a public relations campaign to boost the profile of the French-led effort to bring together the world’s public development banks in tackling climate change and other global challenges.

The French Development Agency (Agence Francaise de Development, or AFD) has hired US-based Portland PR Inc. to reach out to English-language media about the new initiative that was unveiled last fall. The contract is for $56,000 and runs from Dec. 3, 2020 until April 16, 2021.

The contract was signed by AFD Group communications chief Mathilde Schneider and Portland CFO Alexandra Farley. Neither AFD nor Portland responded to a request for comment.

The international partnership was announced at the Finance in Common Summit during the Paris Peace Forum in November 2020. Convened by the AFD under the patronage of French President Emmanuel Macron, the first global summit of the world’s 450 public development banks promised closer cooperation in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic, fighting climate change and biodiversity loss, and achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The banks include national institutions such as the US International Development Finance Corporation as well as multilateral lenders such as the EU’s European Investment Bank, the world’s largest multilateral lender. All told public development bank investment amounts to $2.3 trillion per year, about 10 percent of the annual global total from both public and private sources.

Source: Finance in Common

“We, Public Development Banks of the world, gathered for the first time in Paris, commit to support the transformation of the global economy and societies
towards sustainable and resilient development,” the banks said in a joint declaration on Nov. 12, 2020. “For greater impact, we are committed to join forces and form a global coalition of all PDBs around the world.”

In an apparent nod to the improved odds for trans-Atlantic cooperation under President Joe Biden, the Portland contract says the firm will highlight public development banks’ key role “in the global context of a renewal of multilateralism.” Since taking office Biden has rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement that President Donald Trump abandoned in 2019 while telling the Munich Security Conference last week that “the transatlantic alliance is back.”

Remy Rioux / French Development Agency

Portland will notably highlight the public development banks’ role in “financing climate and biodiversity protection, with a focus on English-speaking media.” The firm will also “shed the light on the newly formed Coalition of all PDBs, and its potential to tackle global challenges” and “follow up on the deliverables” from the November summit.

France, which is footing the bill after all, will also get a PR boost.

The contract calls for Portland to “enhance” the AFD’s presence in English speaking outlets.

The firm is also tasked with positioning AFD CEO Remy Rioux, who is also the president of the public development bank coalition, as a “commentator on global international development and multilateralism issues.” The contract mentions the United Kingdom’s recent creation of a new state development bank to help fund green infrastructure projects in neglected parts of the country as one such topic.

Portland PR’s parent company is London-based Portland Communications. First founded by Tim Allan, an adviser to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Portland Communications is now led by Mark Flanagan, another former Blair adviser. The firm is part of the Omnicom public relations group.


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Portland PR is currently registered to lobby for Qatar and Azerbaijan in the United States. Leading the AFD PR effort are Portland PR Vice President Meghan Powers and Government Advisory Manager Jamie Enright, both of whom work out of the firm’s Washington office.