Development cooperation deemed increasingly important

A new foreign ministry-commissioned poll has found that the vast majority of Finns do not back cuts in funding for development cooperation.

Image: Radek Pietruszka / EPA

The new government has announced a cut of 300 million euros, or more than 40 percent, to the annual development aid budget.

According to a new survey, carried out by the pollster Taloustutkimus, around one quarter of people are in favour of cutting appropriations for development cooperation. That figure is up from the 16% who gave the same response in a poll on the issue last year.

Most people, however, just over 60% say they would prefer to see the previous level of funding hold steady, while 11% would back even more aid spending.

87% of the Finns believe that development cooperation and development policies are a very or rather important part of the work of the government.

This figure represents a 12 percentage point jump in only one year. Development cooperation is favoured especially by the young, 95% of whom have a positive view of aid to developing counties.

Humanitarian aid is seen as the most important form of development cooperation, having the backing of 90% of respondents in the poll.

Priorities

This past week, Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Lenita Toivakka, told a gathering of OECD development ministers that although budget cuts are being made, Finland intends to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of its development cooperation.

“We will prioritize and build on what works well and what we are good at, like sharing of expertise or building institutions.”

Toivakka said that the development policy priorities of the new Finnish Government revolve around four key themes.

She listed the empowerment of women and girls, stable and well-functioning societies, the capacity to generate and manage energy, water and food in a sustainable way, and strengthening of private sector, job creation and taxation capacity in developing countries as the areas of focus.