Ilkka Räisänen to join the EBRD Board of Directors
Next autumn, Counsellor for Foreign Affairs Ilkka Räisänen will take up a position at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD. Finland is proposing Räisänen for the position of Alternate Director in the EBRD Board of Directors. Since Räisänen has lived and worked in many of the Bank's countries of operation, his earlier experience will be useful.
“This is a delightful return to my roots. After graduation, I started to work in the private sector and I have been involved in various projects throughout my career. I became interested in technology transfer and in how Finnish expertise could be beneficial around the world. I applied to work for the UN and ended up in Mexico City. Now I’m returning to a similar sector – work in industry and investments,” says Räisänen.
What are Finland’s priorities at the EBRD?
“The national goals presented in the Development Policy Programme. For example, improving women's rights is very important to us. In general, the inclusion of the private sector in development cooperation is very important in promoting the sustainable development goals.”
What are Finland's strengths?
“Finland has a very good reputation in the EBRD's countries of operation. Finland is seen as an example of how a poor agrarian society can develop into a post-industrial society within a hundred years. The EBRD President has acknowledged this in public. The countries of operation are very interested to learn how things are done in Finland.”
What challenges will the EBRD face in the upcoming years?
“Examples of the future challenges include environmental and social impact assessments when large projects are prepared. The EBRD is already at the leading edge and has produced valuable results, but the expectations and demands have also grown. Finland and the Nordic countries have been active in matters related to environmental and social impact assessments.”
“The EBRD has decided not to provide funding for new projects in Russia for the present. The decision is based on the situation in Crimea and Ukraine. EBRD financing in the countries of operation supports the private sector and with raising standards of living in them, we have reason to expect faster transition to democracy. And this opportunity is now left unused.”
What do you know about EBRD projects?
“I have been working in projects in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Estonia, which are also among the EBRD's countries of operation.
For example, in Belarus the EBRD is engaged in major projects to improve the condition of the Baltic Sea. The country has rivers flowing into the Baltic Sea, which requires city wastewater treatment plants. Finnish experts have been involved in the projects from the beginning.
Therefore, I know some of the people and projects of the Bank pretty well through my work. It is nice, as from London, these matters might appear to be far away.”
Last year you were Senior Adviser for international procurements at the Department for Development Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. What will you take with you from that year to London?
“In Finland I have enjoyed cooperation with different companies and I have managed to promote matters that are important to Finnish business life when Finnish companies are in contact with banks. When in London, I will encourage Finnish companies to be active and to present innovative solutions.”