International water policy and cooperation

Water is critical for both sustainable development and security, and Finnish water expertise is at a high level. Therefore, water plays an essential role in the implementation of development policy and trade policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including in the conduct of foreign and security policy in general.

Photo: Antti Rautavaara

Finland’s International Water Strategy

Finland’s International Water Strategy (the Finnish Water Way) aims to ensure responsible and fair water security globally. The strategy, which extends to 2030, emphasises sustainable management of water resources.

Special Envoy for Water Antti Rautavaara coordinates the implementation of the Finnish Water Way strategy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Centre for Peace Mediation.

In cooperation with other central government parties, the Special Envoy promotes matters involving water globally, enhancing the coherence of Finland’s international water policy.


Antti Rautavaara
Special Envoy for Water
tel. +358 295 350172

Development cooperation in the water sector

Finland has long supported sustainable and equitable management of water resources and promoted transboundary water cooperation globally and regionally. The first development cooperation projects in the water sector were launched in Tanzania more than forty years ago, and water remains among the cornerstones of Finland’s development policy.

Finland’s development cooperation has been very effective: from 2019 to 2021, around 1.5 million people got access to water services in Nepal and Ethiopia.

Water supply point in Thaprek in central Nepal. Photo: Narendra Shrestha

Water stewardship

In Finland, water resources management and transboundary water cooperation are of top quality. However, more than half of the water footprint of Finnish consumption comes from abroad, including from areas under water stress. Finnish companies’ value chains extend to areas suffering from water scarcity, contamination and management problems. Due to the nature and extent of business activities, companies have a key role and responsibility in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda). The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to ensure access to water and sanitation for all is essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda and has strong links to many other SDGs.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is one of the founding members of the Water Stewardship Commitment. The other members are Aalto University, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of the Environment, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and WWF Finland.

The Commitment encourages companies to identify risks related to water in their procurement and value chains, to ensure a responsible approach to water in their premises, and to develop sustainable use and management of water in cooperation with stakeholders both in Finland and globally. The Water Stewardship Commitment was established as part of Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development(Link to another website.). The Ministry for Foreign Affairs urges companies to make their own commitments and to follow the steps and principles of the Water Stewardship Commitment.

Responsible approach to water in production and consumption is one of the goals of Finland’s International Water Strategy. Another goal has been set for Finnish companies to become world leaders in water stewardship by 2030.

Finland joined the Glasgow Declaration for Fair Water Footprints(Link to another website.) in 2021. The Declaration links Finland’s national water stewardship goals more firmly with Finland’s water footprint and with global sustainability goals and engage different parties to achieve the goals.