Multilateral cooperation

The most important international organisations engaged in multilateral cooperation are the United Nations together with its specialised agencies and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Important development finance institutions include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). International cooperation is also conducted in questions relating to taxation, the environment and climate change. 

Approximately a third of the exclusive ODA budget item administered by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is channelled through multilateral cooperation partners.  Finland allocates its contribution to the European Union's development cooperation budget from its budget item for other development cooperation expenditure.  In 2019, it totalled EUR 221 million. 

Multilateral cooperation is an integral part of Finland's development policy

Participation in multilateral development cooperation offers Finland an important channel of influence when it comes to targeting development finance and efforts to improve conditions in developing countries. 

Finland supports multilateral actors financially and is actively engaged in advocacy work among them. Funding consists of membership fees and core contributions, financial contributions to development banks and environmental and climate funds, as well as thematic and regional/country-specific aid. Together with other EU Member States, Finland exerts also political influence when decisions are made on the targets of funding and on how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are promoted globally.

Multilateral development cooperation has several strengths. It can be conducted efficiently and effectively in wide geographical areas and multilateral operations cover a large number of themes.  Additionally, multilateral development cooperation has a wide funding base and its impacts are good.

Important channels for exerting political influence include the UN General Assembly; the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); boards of governors and boards of directors of organisations, funds, programmes and finance institutions; and bilateral meetings and visits. Advocacy work is done also in negotiations on replenishments and increases in capital relating to the so-called grant windows of development banks and climate and environment funds.

Finland also helps organisations upgrade their operating practices. We emphasise strategic planning of activities, effectiveness, efficiency, openness, coordination with other actors, and evaluation of the results.

Multilateral actors’ use of funds and their success in achieving the targets set for them are closely monitored. Finland is a member of donor countries’ Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network, which monitors the performance of international organisations and the results achieved by them.

Finland plays on important role in UN agencies promoting gender equality

The countries of the world active in the United Nations played a central role when the new global Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda)  were drafted.  The achievement of these goals is evaluated at the UN on an annual basis. 

In its multilateral development cooperation, Finland gives priority to the UN agencies that promote gender equality and work to reduce inequality:

  • UN Women - the UN Entity for Gender Equality. Finland emphasises combat of violence against women and the role of women in peacebuilding, economic development and decision-making. Finland is one of the biggest and most influential donors of the organisation. In 2020, Finland’s core funding to UN Women amounted to EUR 19 million.
  • United Nations Population Fund UNFPA. Finland stresses the need for proactive intervention in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Finland is one the organisation's biggest donors. In 2020, Finland's core funding to UNFPA was EUR 33 million.
  • United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF. Finland prioritises girls’ education and child protection. In 2020, Finland’s core funding to UNICEF was EUR 7 million.

Finland also supports the work of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

International cooperation helps to combat environmental degradation and climate change

Finland supports international organisations and funds in their environmental and climate work. The aim is to develop multilateral environmental and climate cooperation and to ensure that international treaties and conventions are observed.

The cooperation helps developing countries in their efforts to introduce more effective environmental and climate measures. This is particularly important in countries with limited administrative resources. There is conclusive evidence that sustainable management of natural resources contributes significantly to peaceful development in developing countries.

Through the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Finland supports developing countries in their efforts to achieve low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) serves as the official funding channel for a number of environmental treaties and conventions. In GEF, Finland gives priority to the gender equality perspective and more effective cooperation in the private sector.

Tax justice through multilateral cooperation

Strengthening developing countries’ capacity for tax collection requires multilateral cooperation. Finland focuses on supporting Africa, where it works to support multilateral cooperation in providing peer support and peer learning through the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) ja Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA). The prevention of illicit financial flows (IFF) is the first step in efforts to strengthen Africa's own tax capacity, and it is therefore prioritised in multilateral work in Africa and in the EU-AU partnership.

Finland also supports global multilateral cooperation in tax matters mainly in Africa. This includes, for example, support to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) , which promotes accountable management of extractive resources, to the Publish What You Pay campaign (PWYP) and to UNDP for the Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative (TIWB).

Development banks support the efforts to reduce poverty

Development finance institutions (also called development banks) are institutions owned by a large number of countries, which provide developing countries with soft loans, grants, capital investments, guarantees and technical assistance. Their basic mission is to reduce poverty and support sustainable development. Development banks are also major providers of climate finance, because 28–40 per cent of their funding (depending on the bank or fund) is directed to support climate action in developing countries. 

Traditionally, funding for developing countries has been channelled to the public sector. Nowadays, development finance institutions are increasingly channelling support to the private sector. Funding is provided for such purposes as improvements in the operating prerequisites of companies.

In autumn 2017, Finland and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank Group, established  a joint climate fund to support renewable and clean energy solutions and other climate projects in developing countries.

The World Bank is the second largest channel after the EU for Finland’s official development assistance. The Ministry of Finance is the main body responsible for matters relating to the World Bank in Finland. The Finnish Minister of Finance represents Finland in the Board of Governors of the World Bank. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development acts as the deputy representative. Read more about the World Bank and Finland’s role in the institution:

Finland exerts its influence through trust funds

Finland is a party to about 40 trust funds in the World Bank. This is also called Trust Fund cooperation. The trust fund with the biggest financial resources is the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund whose main role is to assist in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. 

Other funds supported by Finland include the Human Rights and Development Trust Fund (HRDTF), the Donor Funded Staffing Program (DFSP), the Digital Development Partnership (DDP) and the Foundational Learning Compact Trust Fund (FLC).

Finland is also active in the following regional development finance institutions: African (AfDB)Asian (AsDB) and Inter-American American (IADB) Development Banks the European Reconstruction and Development Bank (EBRD) and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) and  the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

In the international finance institutions, decisions are made by their boards of directors, in which member countries act through their own voting groups. For example, in the World Bank, Finland belongs to the same voting group as the other Nordic countries and the Baltic states. In the African Development Bank, Finland acts together with Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India and Ireland, whereas in the Asian Development Bank, Finland’s partners are Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland. 

Finland also provides funding for bilateral cooperation through development finance institutions.

Helsinki is also a UN city

The United Nations is an important partner for Finland in the collaboration concerning digitalisation and in innovations. Finland seeks to contribute to an increasingly effective utilisation of expertise, technology and innovations to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  Digitalisation and technological solutions should be built paying special attention to human rights.  The aim should be to find solutions that promote the rights and wellbeing of people in the most vulnerable position in the long term.

Helsinki hosts a number of UN actors The United Nations Technology Innovation Laboratory UNTIL was founded in 2018. UNTIL aims to resolve problems with a view to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. UNTIL works in close cooperation with the private sector, civil society organisations and universities.

The Sustainable Infrastructure Impact Investments Office (S3I) under the administration of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Global Innovation and Technology Challenge have also moved offices to Helsinki. The S3I focuses on large infrastructure projects in developing countries in three sectors: renewable energy, affordable housing, and health infrastructure.

The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research UNU-WIDER is located in Helsinki. It promotes sustainable and equitable development by offering high-quality economic research to support political decision-making.

Helsinki is also home to the HELCOM Secretariat (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) and the Country Office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Finnish experts around the globe

Since 1965, Finland has provided financing from its development cooperation funds to recruit Junior Professional Officers and volunteers for UN agencies and international financing institutions. The purpose of the programme is to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations, increase the number of Finnish development cooperation experts and, above all, to encourage Finns to apply for tasks in international organisations.

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