Finland’s Action Plan for Climate Smart Foreign Policy

Finland is among the first countries to have drawn up an action plan for its foreign policy on climate change. The declared aim is to mainstream climate change into all levels of foreign policy and to promote a global transition towards low emission and climate resilient societies.

A solar panel drives the pump in a water sector project in Kenya. Photo: Liisa Takala.

In climate change mitigation and adaptation, Finland is one of the world’s most ambitious countries: it strives to become climate neutral by 2035, aiming to be the world’s first fossil-free welfare society. As a global frontrunner, Finland is able to speed up climate action in the rest of the world by setting an example and also through practical cooperation.

Since 2019, Finland has had its own Action Plan for Climate Smart Foreign Policy that covers all the policy areas of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs: security policy, trade policy and development policy alike. Finland’s climate smart foreign policy is coordinated by the Ambassador for Climate Change.

What does climate smart foreign policy cover?

Finland promotes climate objectives beyond its borders through diplomacy as a member of the European Union and also in cooperation with the Nordic countries, within the UN and in other international bodies.

Sustainable development, and climate change mitigation and adaptation have long been part and parcel of the trade policy pursued by Finland. Finland continues to actively advocate for climate issues in EU trade policy, during free trade agreement negotiations and in the WTO context, to name but a few. One of the key issues is the promotion of the global emissions trading scheme.

In the development policy field, Finland is funding climate change-related projects in the poorest countries of the world. Finland is determined to increase climate funding in an effort to achieve a balanced breakdown of the funds between climate change mitigation and adaptation. Support will be targeted at the least developed countries in particular. Finland will use investment-based and loan-based funding to effectively accelerate private sector investments in climate solutions.

Climate change is linked to security policy through phenomena such as natural disasters, migration, epidemics, and water and food security. Finland boasts a long experience in fields such as water resources management and transboundary water cooperation. Conflicts can be prevented by promoting a fair distribution of natural resources.

Excellence in meteorology and circular economy

Finland’s foreign missions play a key role in the country’s climate smart foreign policy, communicating effective climate solutions and promoting Finnish expertise in the climate field. Circular economy, the battery industry and the meteorology sector are some of the fields in which the climate solutions produced by Finnish companies and other players have a global demand.

On the other hand, Finland’s climate smart foreign policy will facilitate the adoption of global trends and approaches as part of the Finnish climate debate.

In its own Environmental Programme, too, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs seeks to take measures that promote energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. These internal objectives have to do with the practices, mobility issues, acquisitions and properties of the Ministry in both Finland and in its diplomatic missions around the world. Finland’s mission to Washington was, for example, the first Embassy in the United States to have achieved the highest level of recognition in the esteemed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification that measures the energy efficiency and environmental friendliness of buildings.

Finland’s climate smart foreign policy explained

  • Finland plays an active role in the EU’s climate work. As the world’s largest climate funder, the EU has the capacity to contribute to the global transition away from coal and towards renewable energy.
  • Finland and Chile have together founded an international Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, which already has more than 50 members. The idea of this Coalition is to make climate concerns a more integral part of the overall planning of central government finances.
  • Arctic issues have major importance for Finland. Finland has channelled funding and expert work towards initiatives aimed at reducing black carbon emissions from global industries and global transportation because they have a warming effect on the region.
  • Finland strongly advocates the linkage between climate change and human rights. Climate change does not treat all countries and all population groups equally, and this should be observed in international climate work.
  • Finland has dedicated development cooperation funds to support the setting up of weather and climate services and early warning systems in more than 50 developing countries under the expertise of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It has also engaged in cooperation within the UN on the assessment of forest carbon resources. Finland has laid a foundation for climate action by the private sector by making investment-based and loan-based climate funding available through Finnfund and the Finland-IFC climate fund, among others.