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Press Releases, 3/17/2009

The Finnish development policy responds to the challenges of the time

Press release 81/2009

“The Finnish development policy programme provides a solid foundation for responding the current development policy challenges: the economic crisis, the food crisis and the climate change,” says Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Director General, Department for Development Policy, when answering the recent midway review of the Finnish development policy, conducted by Service Centre for Development Cooperation KEPA.

Finland practices open development policy. During the current term of government, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has significantly increased its cooperation with the whole field of Finnish stakeholders in questions related to development policy. The purpose of common discussion and preparation meetings is to ensure that the expertise of all actors is taken into account. Successful achievement of Finland’s development policy goals requires that the state administration, the private sector as well as the civic society participate extensively. The government’s development policy programme is the common frame of reference, on the basis of which we pursue our goals.

In the development policy, even the weakest groups are taken into account. The overarching themes, such as strengthening women’s and girls’ rights, the rights of the disabled, and fight against HIV/AIDS, are strongly presented in Finland’s multilateral and bilateral development cooperation. In the UN and the EU, Finland is well-known as promoter of women’s and girls’ rights and supporter of action against HIV/AIDS. Finland has increased its support to various UN actors. Finland has also increased its funding via the World Bank, which is the biggest donor in the educational sector in developing countries. The questions of social marginalisation have traditionally been Finland’s forte. Finland has also been able wield its influence so that our international cooperation partners promote these goals in their own activities.

Making the voice of developing countries heard

Finland has systematically enhanced the opportunities of making the voice of the poorest developing countries heard in trade negotiations and encouraged the employment of the flexibility allowed by the rules and regulations for the benefit of developing countries. In discussions handling the global economic crisis, Finland has systematically emphasised the critical impact of the economic crisis on the developing countries, for which reason we should pay special attention to the needs of the developing countries when addressing the crisis. We must comply with our development funding commitments.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ cross-departmental food crisis coordination group has specified the focus areas for Finland’s activities. Finland has been channelling food crisis assistance both via international organisations – such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) – and on a bilateral basis. In most partner countries, Finland supports agriculture and rural development by means of budget support. In addition, Finland supports agricultural productivity and availability of agricultural products in Mozambique, Vietnam and Nicaragua through agricultural and rural development sector programmes. In various countries, Finland supports agricultural production of small farmers, agricultural industry, and market entrance by means of project support.

Ownership as the starting point for activities

Finland’s development cooperation is implemented with the local needs as the starting point, employing local expertise and via strong international coordination. The selection of sectors is based on the own programmes and priorities of the cooperation partners, in accordance with the principles of the Paris Declaration. Supplementing the operations of other actors, the support is targeted to sectors in which Finland has strong expertise. In Mozambique, Finland has increased its support for the educational sector and the development of information society. Correspondingly, Finland is pondering the possibility of leaving the health sector, which would promote better division of labour at the country level. As a result of common strategic preparation between the donors, Finland retired from the educational sector in Zambia at the country’s own request. Correspondingly, Finland increased its support for the environmental sector, which, in Zambia’s own view, needed additional support.

Finnish expertise to be observed in division of labour

The utilisation of Finnish expertise and additional value has been the main theme in Finnish development policy even during the previous terms of government. In the light of international division of labour, it must be assessed which donor would have the most added value to contribute to common development efforts. The partner country’s own development goals still remain the primary starting point for development policy measures.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has developed modes of cooperation with private sector actors and institutions in order to be able to respond to the needs of developing countries for increased capacity. The Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI) and the planned strengthening programme of the capacity of institutions of higher education in particular are used as means to make good use of the resources and expertise of the public sector. The public sector support is essential, but focusing on that alone in a too narrow way is not sufficient to generate sustainable economic development.

Additional information: Director General Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Department for Development Policy, tel. +358 40 830 4868, and Economic Adviser Laura Torvinen, tel. +358 40 022 7577


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Updated 3/17/2009

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