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Finnish development aid falls to near half of UN target

Development spending is down in part because of lower costs related to the reception of refugees and asylum seekers.

Finland's bilateral development cooperation partner countries. Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Finland spent 14.6 percent less on development aid last year, when compared to the previous year. In 2018 Finland devoted 833 million euros to development cooperation, making it the ninth largest donor in the European Union.

This most recent level falls short of both UN and EU targets, which set development cooperation levels at 0.7 percent of a nation's gross national income (GNI). The 2018 figures in Finland correspond to 0.36 percent of GNI, while in 2017 this number was 0.43 percent.

The Foreign Ministry outlines three reasons for the decrease on the previous year: development cooperation investment fell by 68 million euros, refugees and asylum seeker reception costs dropped by 20 million euros, and Finland’s share of the EU development cooperation budget declined by 26 million euros. This means the actual amount of expenditure in 2018 fell by 129 million euros compared to 2017.

Finland allocated 84 million euros for humanitarian aid last year. The four main bilateral development cooperation partners were Afghanistan (19 million euros), Ethiopia (14 million euros), Nepal (12 million euros) and Indonesia (12 million euros).

Global levels down by 2.7 percent

Over half of Finland’s development cooperation funding was provided through the EU (216 million euros), the UN (152 million euros), and the World Bank Group (94 million euros).

According to the Foreign Ministry, the largest world-wide donors in 2018 were the US, Germany, the UK, Japan and France. Of the 30 largest providers of aid who are members of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark and the UK exceeded the 0.7 percent UN target.

Iceland, Hungary and New Zealand increased their spending the most among the DAC members, while Finland was joined by Austria, Greece, Italy, Japan and Portugal in contributing lower amounts.

Globally, development cooperation decreased by 2.7 percent in real terms compared to 2017.

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