Thierry Paulais was born in Paris in 1952. After passing his baccalaureate he began studies in Philosophy, only to abandon them to devote his time to boat building and sailing.
After four years of doing so, he resumed his studies, this time in architecture. He worked in architectural firms until he graduated in 1980. The following year he obtained a diploma in urban planning from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées civil engineering school and gained a particular interest in development economics, urban economics and the economic analysis of projects. He began working in engineering firms while continuing his training in economics. In 1989 he graduated with a PhD in Economics from the University of Paris X.
He spent nearly fifteen years in various engineering companies where his work included directing studies on urban development projects financed by the World Bank in Africa, renovation projects in France, as well as many urban economics studies and economic analyses of projects in numerous locations.
In 1994, he was hired by the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (France’s state-owned savings bank for financing urban development, housing and facilities). Here he was given the responsibility of implementing a loan allocation scheme for local authorities in financial difficulty. In 2000 he joined the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, the French agency for international development), where he was initially an urban consultant for the Mediterranean and Middle East zone, before becoming Head of the Urban Development Division when it was created in 2002.
In 2007 he was seconded for four years to Cities Alliance (a trust fund located at that time at the World Bank in Washington) to lead a research and publications program on local cities financing Africa. In 2012, following his return from the United States and after a brief stay in the AFD Research Department, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Africa Department, responsible for countries in the Horn of Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.
This succession of positions led him to work in France, French Overseas Departments and Territories, South East Asia, the Middle East and in over forty-five countries on the African continent.
In the summer of 2015 following a six-month leave for personal convenience, he applied for and was appointed Director of the AFD agency in French Polynesia. His duties include the position of Administrator for a leading local bank, an airline and an international airport. His job entails travelling extensively within the five Polynesian archipelagoes to appraise projects regarding infrastructure, environment and biodiversity. He has worked with the Government of French Polynesia on public policy development, particularly in the offshore fishing and aquaculture sectors, and has initiated regional cooperation projects in the Cook Islands and Fiji.
Thierry Paulais is the author and co-author of books, booklets and articles on subjects relating to his professional activity which are presented on this website (most of which are downloadable). The most recent of these, published by the Polynesian publisher Au Vent des Iles was co-written with anthropologist colleagues and deals with the issue of commons and environmental management in the South Pacific.
He has also recently published a personal work of a different genre. Liberia, a unique history published by Cavalier Bleu in Paris, is a history book- a history that he calls “augmented” since it combines sociological and economical resources in addition to the historical elements.
The relatively eclectic nature of the subjects covered by the works he has published reflects the changes in his fields of interest throughout his professional career that have led him from urban to development economics, then environmental economics, and in conjunction with this, history. Thierry Paulais retired in the summer of 2019. He lives on the Atlantic coast in France and divides his time between writing and sailing. He is currently working on several book projects.