Increase in Finland’s development cooperation funding to Ukraine

A significant part of Finland’s support to Ukraine comes from development cooperation funds. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we have both increased and adjusted the cooperation so that it better responds to the acute distress and strengthens Ukrainian society in the midst of the war,” says Senior Adviser Matti Väänänen.

Ukrainian refugees have gathered together.
The activities of Finland’s ongoing cooperation projects in Ukraine have been adapted and support has been directed to acute emergency relief. Photo: EU.

Is development cooperation possible in Ukraine at the moment?

“Finland’s goal in Ukraine is to strengthen the Ukrainian resilience and to support Ukraine’s own reforms on a long-term basis. We do this especially by supporting improvements in primary and vocational education, by reinforcing the rule of law and by promoting sustainable energy and climate solutions.”

“It is clear that the war affects the operating conditions and the targeting of cooperation measures. In practice, this means that we have adjusted the activities of the ongoing cooperation projects and instead directed support to acute emergency relief. We will not be able to proceed with all planned activities, and we must take into account such matters as security, operating conditions and Ukraine’s needs. Although Russia's invasion has put to test the functioning and resilience of the Ukrainian society, the Ukrainian central government and authorities have mostly been able to continue their work.”

Finland has increased its development cooperation funding to Ukraine. What does it mean in practice?

“Finland’s proposed support for the 2021–2024 Country Programme for Development Cooperation in Ukraine totals EUR 29 million. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, additional support has been channelled to the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine.”

“While they all want to support Ukraine in the acute situation, they also want to limit the negative long-term effects of the war and prepare for the Ukrainian society’s recovery from the war. Examples of support to Ukraine include helping the local media, providing legal assistance to evacuees, documenting information about missing persons, and helping the authorities with facilities, information security and communication equipment.”

A Ukrainian girl is colouring at the table with another child.
Ukraine’s goal is to keep all Ukrainian children attached to the Ukrainian education system, even if they have fled the war abroad. Photo: Begum Iman / EU.

In his speech to the Finnish Parliament, President Zelensky hoped that Finland would continue to support Ukraine’s education sector. What is happening now? Can Ukrainian children go to school?

“Because of the war, all teaching is currently based on distance learning in Ukraine. A key tool in this is the All Ukrainian Online School, which includes learning materials and live lessons mainly for grades 5–11. There is a shortage of online learning materials for pre-primary education, primary education (grades 1–4) and vocational education and training."

“The Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science wants to keep all Ukrainian children attached to the Ukrainian education system, even if they have fled the war abroad. Uninterrupted continuation of studies in the Ukrainian language and history is considered particularly important. The Ministry has a website that lists all the textbooks in Ukrainian that are freely available outside Ukraine.”

What kinds of results have previously been gained from Finland’s support to the Ukrainian education sector?

“Finland has been supporting the Ukrainian education sector in reforms of primary education and vocational education and training. In primary education, the focus has been on training teacher trainers, head teachers and other teachers, improving the quality of textbooks, developing the pedagogical competence of subject teachers and producing learning materials on Ukrainian as a second language. In 2021, the number of people attending training exceeded the targets many times over because trainings was provided online.”

“In vocational education and training, Finnish experts have supported Ukraine’s efforts to reform their vocational and educational standards and to update their curricula based on the standards. In addition, we have focused on training teachers and head teachers so that all the reforms will be put into practice in the educational institutions."

Finland has supported the strengthening of the rule of law in Ukraine. Will these efforts continue and what has been achieved so far?

“Finland has been supporting the strengthening of the rule of law, democracy and human rights in Ukraine as part of EU and Council of Europe action plans. These efforts have already been adjusted because of the war, and we are planning how to support Ukraine even after the war has ended. Some of the themes, such as safeguarding the rights of internally displaced people are more topical than before because of the war."

“As the most important achievements of this cooperation, Ukraine has completed the constitutional reforms of its judicial system, founded a new Supreme Court, launched a national prosecution service, improved the legal status of internally displaced persons and developed its public legal aid system.”

“Finland has also increased its support for project cooperation through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Support will be channelled to promoting legal aid and human rights, to reinforcing preparedness for chemical threats and to countering smuggling of Ukraine’s cultural heritage.”

Finland has offered its support to Ukraine in climate matters. What is the situation in climate matters in terms of support and results?

“Finland is supporting Ukraine to develop its energy efficiency and use of renewable and alternative forms of energy through a fund managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). The fund has backed up more than thirty projects that make use of Finnish expertise and technology, too. Because of the war, the fund has allocated part of its funding to mending damage to district heating networks, among other efforts. The fund’s possibilities of providing emergency relief more extensively are being reviewed."

“At the start of 2022, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center launched a four-year cooperation project to develop weather services and early warning systems. These services will enable the forecasting of extreme weather events and strengthen preparedness capacity. The possibility of investigating the environmental damage caused by war will be examined within the framework of this cooperation.”

What is the outlook for development cooperation between Finland and Ukraine?

“Development cooperation will remain an integral part of Finland’s foreign and security policy in Ukraine. Finland can use it to support Ukraine in the acute situation, and we are committed to supporting Ukraine in the future, too.”

"The current themes of Finnish-Ukrainian development cooperation, education, the rule of law, energy and climate, will meet some of the needs of the Ukrainian society in a protracted war, in recovery from the war and in the reconstruction of Ukraine. Ukraine has drawn attention to Finland’s expertise especially in teaching and in managing natural resources. It will be even more important than before to take into account Ukraine’s own needs and to coordinate cooperation efforts with the increasing focus and resources on Ukraine.”


Milma Kettunen

Unit for Communications on Sustainable Development and Trade