Finland’s development policy is responding to current challenges. Results rest on a long-term approach, responsiveness and commitment to values.

Finland’s development cooperation is achieving results that contribute towards meeting its foreign policy objectives and international commitments. By engaging in development cooperation, Finland can contribute to solving of the major problems facing humankind.

The results are produced through a combination of funding and expertise. Cuts in official development assistance made in 2016 have reduced the amount of results achieved. Finland should focus on a limited number of themes and interventions.

A long-term approach is essential as societal changes take time. At the same time, development cooperation must be able to renew itself because the operating environment constantly changes and new information becomes available.

The results already achieved are threatened by conflicts, climate change, inequality and the learning crisis.


1. Finland should focus its resources towards the most important objectives

Finland can achieve the best results when funding is combined with adequate human resources. In the coming years, Finland should prioritise its objectives and focus its resources. This helps to ensure that expertise, dialogue and influencing work can support the achievement of the results targets that Finland has set.

Finland’s commitment to sustainable development should manifest itself in a steady growth in development funding. Finland needs a clear plan to raise the share of its development assistance to 0.7 per cent of the GNI and work towards multiplying private funding for climate and development measures.

2. Results require long-term commitment and responsiveness

Achieving results through cooperation with development partners and partner countries requires a long-term approach. Over the next few years and the coming government terms, Finland should build on the current development objectives and avoid substantial revisions in the policy and priorities. However, the work must be continuously adjusted in response to changing circumstances and to findings based on results monitoring. When feasible, programmes should be scaled-up where good results have been achieved.

Development cooperation funding decisions should also in the future be based, not exclusively on results, but on careful consideration of multiple factors. Finland’s support is often targeted towards solving difficult challenges in high-risk operating environments where providing support is justified even though there is uncertainty whether the objectives set will be achieved.

3. Adhering to values makes the policy more impactful

Finland is a strong pioneer in promoting inclusive education, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It also has a strong record on tackling multiple and intersectional discrimination. In the coming years, it would be important that Finland continues its work in these areas as a pioneer seeking strategic partnerships and approaches. Continued support in these areas is essential. In bilateral cooperation, Finland must act skilfully, respecting the ownership of the partner countries.

Finland should also ensure that increased attention is paid to human rights, persons with disabilities, climate sustainability and gender equality in the programmes that it funds. Supporting the least developed countries should be a key consideration.

4. Fragile states and countries affected by conflicts must be supported to get on their feet

The risks of conflicts, natural disasters and climate change
as well as the potential impact they have on results should
be taken better into consideration in Finland’s international
cooperation. Like for many other countries, an increased share of Finland’s development cooperation takes place in fragile states and situations where grant-based development cooperation is an important instrument. Many of these countries suffer from the combined impact of conflicts, prolonged poverty and climate change. They are also more poorly prepared for disasters than other states. Better approaches should be developed to support these countries in a comprehensive manner.

5. Reforms in development cooperation practices and development finance need to continue

Achieving development results requires a broad range of different funding channels and policies. Finland should continue innovative development financing schemes (such as financial investments) that supplement grant-based financing and are expected to lead to multiply the amount of results.

Real change in the partner countries should remain as the objective of Finland’s development cooperation, with sustained results even after Finland is no longer concretely engaged in the work. Substantial improvements have been achieved is this regard. At the same time, however, further effort should be made to develop the planning as well as the result and impact monitoring processes. Thematic leadership and results-based management, as well as ability to adapt to changing cirucmstances must be strengthened, while at the same time, clear objectives must be set for the influencing work.

6. A more comprehensive approach can lead to better development results

Sustainable development goals are promoted through all of Finland’s policies. Increased attention should be paid to development policy objectives in foreign and security policy, and in climate, energy and trade policies, and when updating corporate responsibility and international tax rules.

The ability of development policy to achieve results and support changes in the long term should be seen in the context of achieving and monitoring sustainable development goals that are promoted by a wide range of also other policy sectors and actors.

Synergies between different modalities of development cooperation should be strengthened so that better results can be achieved in the future. More comprehensive reviews, more clearly set joint priorities, more uniform ways of setting and monitoring objectives and more uniform practices provide a basis for cooperation. It is important to further develop cooperation between the Finnish civil society, the private sector, as well as parties responsible for investments, research and innovation as well as with the government actors.