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International organisations and development financing institutions

Finland’s role in international development policy exceeds its actual size as a nation: multilateral development cooperation enables Finland to support development even in countries where we are not represented.

In practice, Finland’s multilateral development cooperation means working through international organisations, such as the UN, and development financing institutions like the World Bank. Other forms of multilateral cooperation include international environmental cooperation and climate financing. In 2014, Finland spent a total of EUR 516 million on multilateral development cooperation.

Multilateral cooperation – an integral part of Finland’s development policy

Through multilateral cooperation, Finland can have a say in the targeting of development funding and the enhancement of conditions in developing countries. In return, we benefit from new knowhow, research results and cooperation opportunities.

Finland finances the activities of multilateral actors, seeking actively to make its voice heard. The funding consists of membership fees and core contributions, financial contributions to development banks, as well as thematic and regional/country-specific aid. Together with other member countries Finland is involved in deciding how these funds are being used.

Important channels for exerting political influence include the UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the governing boards and executive boards of organisations and financing institutions, various bilateral meetings and visits, and negotiations on additional funding for development bank loan funds.

When Finland chaired the Executive Board of UNICEF in 2013, it was able to promote issues which it holds important: human rights, child protection, gender equality and effective working methods.

During Finnish chairmanship, the goals for UNICEF humanitarian aid were defined and indicators for measuring goal achievement were set.

In practical work, Finland has underlined the importance of devoting attention to children with special needs and child-friendly learning environments.

Finland works with UNICEF in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nepal, Zambia, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

We also contribute to the improvement of practices within these organizations, laying special emphasis on the strategic planning of activities, on their impact and transparency, coordination with other actors and evaluation of results.

Finland, an important player within UN agencies promoting equality

Finland focuses its efforts on UN agencies that strive to promote gender equality, reduce inequality and foster environmentally sustainable development.

Some priorities for Finnish UN action:

  • The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women: we focus on eliminating violence against women and on the role of women in peacebuilding, economic development and decision-making. With a core funding of EUR 14 million in 2015, Finland is one of the main and most influential funders of UN Women.
  • The UN Population Fund, UNFPA: we stress proactive intervention in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. With a core funding of EUR 33.5 million in 2015, Finland counts among the main funders of UNFPA.
  • The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF: our priorities include education for girls and child protection. In 2015, the core funding granted by Finland amounts to EUR 20 million.
  • The UN Development Programme, UNDP: our primary focus is on promoting democratic governance and the rule of law, as well as crisis prevention and recovery from crises. In 2015, Finland’s core funding exceeds EUR 15 million.
  • The UN Environment Programme, UNEP: our key goal is to bolster the position of UNEP as the body responsible for environmental issues and their coordination within the UN system, including implementation and monitoring of future sustainable development goals. The core funding of EUR 6 million in 2015 makes Finland a major funder and player within UNEP.
  • We also grant support to, among others, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint UN HIV/AIDS programme (UNAIDS), the UN Partnership on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNPRPD), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The UN plays an important role in drawing up and monitoring global development goals. Common objectives are recognized as a good way of encouraging national governments to take measures.

Helsinki is also a UN city

The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research, or the WIDER-Institute, is located in Helsinki. The amount of general aid granted by Finland in 2015 is nearly EUR 2 million. WIDER produces valuable research data on the challenges of global sustainable development to aid decision-making in the field of development policy and cooperation.

Helsinki also hosts the HELCOM Secretariat (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission), and the regional office of the IOM, the International Organization for Migration.

Development financing institutions: a window on global knowhow

Owned jointly by several countries, development financing institutions (DFI), or development banks, provide soft loans, aid in the form of grants, and technical assistance to developing countries. Their basic mission is to reduce poverty and support sustainable development.

Funding has habitually been channelled through the public sector of the recipient countries. Today, however, DFIs also increasingly support private-sector activities, and funds are being directed at, for instance, improving the operating environment of enterprises.

The second biggest channel for Finnish ODA – after the EU – is the World Bank. In Finland, the primary responsibility for World Bank-related issues rests with the Ministry of Finance. Finland is represented in the Board of Governors by the Minister of Finance, whose deputy is the Minister for Development. Click here to learn more about the World Bank and Finland’s activities within it:

Finland is also active within regional development financing institutions, i.e. African, Asian and Inter-American development banks, the Nordic Development Fund and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

Some priorities for Finnish action:

  • African Development Bank group, AfDB: we focus on promoting inclusive growth and green economy in African countries. The bulk of Finnish funding is channelled to the poorest countries on the African continent.
  • Asian Development Bank group, ADB: our policy goals include supporting the group’s work on inclusive growth and clean energy.
  • Inter-American Development Bank group, IADB: our priorities include responding to partner countries’ development needs, consulting the civil society, and devising country-level planning systems.
  • Nordic Development Fund, NDF: Finland is one of the main funders of the NDF, whose goals correspond to Finland’s Development Policy Programme: sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection and climate resilience in developing countries. The NDF relies heavily on Nordic knowhow in developmental and climate issues.
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD: our goal is to focus the Fund’s activities on the least developed countries and fragile states and mainstream climate change adaptation and equality issues into all IFAD work.

In international development financing institutions, decisions are made in voting groups. Within the World Bank, for example, Finland is a member of the same voting group as the other Nordic countries and the Baltic states. In the African Development Bank, Finland acts together with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and India.

During 2013–2016 Finland bears responsibility for coordination within both groups, representing the voting group in the Board of Directors of the Bank. This provides a very good opportunity for Finland to get its voice heard.

Finland also funds bilateral cooperation with development financing institutions. In this context, only Finnish resources and knowhow may be used.

International environmental cooperation enhances environmental measures in developing countries

Finland supports the work of international environmental organisations and funds, with the goal of bringing about multilateral environmental agreements and cooperation and advancing the implementation of contractual obligations.

Environmental cooperation boosts the environmental measures taken by the developing countries themselves, which is of prime importance for countries with scarce administrative resources. There is evidence that a sustainable management and use of natural resources makes a major difference in enabling and fostering peaceful development in developing countries.

Some priorities for Finnish action:

  • Green Climate Fund, GCF: through this Fund, Finland strives to support low-carbon and climate-resilient development in developing countries.
  • The areas of work of the Global Environment Facility, GEF, include functioning as a formal funding channel for five environmental conventions (climate change, biological diversity, desertification, persistent organic pollutants, and mercury). Finland emphasizes the promotion of the gender perspective and private-sector collaboration, underlining the position of the GEF as a key environmental fund.
  • The UN Environment Programme UNEP and the UN Human Settlements Programme UN-Habitat.

Monitoring and evaluating the performance of international organisations

The use of funds by multilateral actors and their goal achievement are monitored through the organisations’ own mechanisms and by external actors.

Finland is a member of the MOPAN donor network (Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network), which evaluates the results of the work of international organisations and their organisational effectiveness. The purpose of MOPAN is to encourage dialogue among the funders and promote joint planning of multilateral activities.

Finnish expertise made available for multilateral actors

Ever since 1965, Finland has used some of its development cooperation funds to second Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) and volunteers to serve in UN agencies and international financing institutions. Finland has also been financing the EU Junior Professionals in Delegation (JPD) programme since 1995. Finnish support for this activity amounts to EUR 9.5 million in 2015.

The purpose of these programmes is to raise UN operational capacity, increase the number of Finnish development cooperation experts and, above all, promote the recruitment of Finns into international organisations.

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