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The civil society: an important actor and development cooperation partner

In 2014, the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to Finnish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and foundations amounted to about EUR 110 million. We support e.g. development cooperation projects run by these organisations in different parts of the world and their communication efforts and global education actions in Finland. We also support international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).

Kansalaisjärjestötoiminnalla voidaan saavuttaa niitäkin ihmisryhmiä, joihin julkisen kehitysyhteistyön keinot eivät aina ulotu. Kuva: Milma Kettunen.NGOs can reach groups of people not necessarily covered by official development assistance. Photo: Milma Kettunen.

Globally, Finnish NGOs promote sustainable development

About 300 Finnish non-governmental organisations are involved in development cooperation activities. They manage projects supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a hundred developing countries all over the world. In the partner countries engaged in Finnish bilateral development cooperation, the NGOs are encouraged to complement the other activities pursued by Finland.

The aim of the NGOs' development cooperation is to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their activities usually target the basic needs and rights of the poorest people in developing countries in fields such as social development, education, health and better livelihoods, and rural development.

Another important goal is to strengthen the developing countries' own civil societies so that their own organisations can take better care of their basic tasks: service provision, policy dialogue and information. This will strengthen the role of citizens in the development process.

Find out about the projects and programmes financed with Finnish development cooperation funds. Visit the organisations' own web pages for more detailed information on their development cooperation projects.

In Finland, NGOs play an important role in communications and global education

NGOs perform valuable work promoting public discussion about development issues in Finland. The aim is to reinforce global responsibility, i.e. citizens' commitment to human rights and democratic decision-making and their willingness for participation and working towards global development.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has supported communication projects and long-term global education projects run by NGOs with around EUR 2 million annually. Part of the partner organisations' activities also concern communications and global education.

Global education seeks to promote global solidarity amongst individuals and communities. In global education, organisations are encouraged to work together with schools and other actors in the education sector.

Facts about communications and global education projects implemented in 2013:

  • The projects concerned e.g. taxation and capital outflow, environmentally harmful aid, and the position of women, children, refugees and other minorities;
  • More than 270,000 people participated in various workshops, seminars and events across Finland;
  • Over 11,000 teachers, 51,000 school children and 250 business representatives were trained;
  • The media circulation of four large communication projects exceeded 11 million.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and NGOs also cooperate with the National Board of Education to promote global education in Finnish society and in the work of schools.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs supports both big and small NGOs

The Ministry has 16 partner organisations that receive support for multi-annual development programmes, allowing them to promote development consistently on a long-term basis.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs grants support to three special foundations that finance local organisations in developing countries working in the fields of human rights, the environment, and the disabled.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs supports specific development cooperation projects conducted by small and medium-sized organisations.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs grants programme support to Kepa, the umbrella organisation for Finnish non-governmental organisations interested in development issues, and to Kehys, the Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU. Kepa and Kehys provide training and advice for Finnish NGOs and conduct advocacy work.

The following UN-related organisations receive organisational support from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to conduct e.g. communication and global education activities:

International NGOs also receive support

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also supports the work of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) with development cooperation appropriations. INGOs promote development policy goals that are in line with Finland's priorities by carrying out e.g. advocacy and campaign work and providing know-how. The amounts of support vary from year to year.

In 2014, the support totalled EUR 14.5 million and it was targeted at e.g. strengthening good governance and democratisation in Africa, peace-building in fragile states, and the promotion of human rights worldwide.

The priority themes for Finland's human rights activities were the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, the strengthening of women’s and girls' rights and their ability to participate, the work of human rights defenders, and the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

We support non-profit organisations that are politically and administratively independent of all governments. They must have considerable expertise, experience and good cooperative relations with developing countries.

The Local Cooperation Fund strengthens civil societies in developing countries

Finland's missions abroad support local NGOs through the Local Cooperation Fund (LCF).

The missions' LCF projects promote e.g. human rights, including the rights of disabled persons and indigenous people, the sustainable use of natural resources, renewable energy sources, entrepreneurship, education, and the fight against corruption. Visit the Finnish missions' web pages for further information on their LCF projects.

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