Launch of Finland’s Development Policy Framework Programme for Africa in New York

Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Under-Secretary of State , New York, 13 October, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and warmly welcome to the Consulate General of Finland in New York.

It is a great honour to be here today to present to you Finland’s new development policy framework programme for Africa. This programme creates a strategic frame of reference for strengthening the partnership between Finland and Africa through development policy measures. The African countries have traditionally been and continue to be the most important partners of Finland’s development policy.

Significant economic and social development has taken place in most African countries during the past decades. However, despite this positive development trend, Africa is still the continent where the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals faces the greatest challenges. The global economic and financial crisis, as well as climate change and the food crisis, constitute additional challenges for development efforts and even threaten progress already made.

The points of departure of this framework programme are the development opportunities and challenges that African countries are facing, as well as Finland’s possibilities to bring added value to national and international development efforts.

The programme is anchored in the Finnish Government’s Development Policy Programme of 2007 and steers its implementation in practice. The main goal of Finland’s development policy is to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development in accordance with the UN Millennium Development Goals. The achievement of these goals requires broad-based partnership and deepening of our cooperation with Africa. The aim of this framework programme is also to complement and bring added value to the activities carried out within the EU-Africa Partnership. Closer partnership reinforces Africa’s equal participation in international interaction and global development. Finland and Africa are partners in global development policy and partners in development cooperation.

The framework programme sets out guidelines for Finland’s growing support for Africa’s own development efforts and steers Finland’s participation in dialogue taking place in international fora. In addition, it supports Finland’s efforts to respond rapidly to the new challenges the changing global operating environment brings to Africa.

The programme adopts a holistic view and puts the concept of sustainable development as its foundation. The key to success is ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development. The main principles guiding the implementation of the programme are coherence, complementarity and effectiveness.

Concerning the main sectors of cooperation, Finland channels its development cooperation into fields in which the potential for creating Finnish added value and exploiting Finnish expertise and experience is strong. Finland has internationally competitive knowhow in various fields, including sustainable forest management, agriculture, renewable energies, clean technologies and the information society. Along with these sectors, the framework programme focuses on the prevention and management of crises and support for peace processes.

The role of the private sector and trade as engines of economic development also receive increasing emphasis. This priority links well with the Aid for Trade Action Plan launched last year by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. These two programmes are complementary to each other, and both recognize the importance to strengthen the productive capacity of developing countries by creating an enabling environment and by enhancing private sector development in order to achieve sustainable development. The Finnish private sector can play an important role in strengthening private sector development in our partner countries.

Furthermore, the framework programme examines the different instruments for implementation from continent-wide, regional and country-specific perspectives. In the future, the continent-wide and regional perspectives will receive increasing emphasis. Many African development opportunities as well as development challenges are cross-border in nature, relating to environment, use of natural resources, trade or, for example, conflicts and migration.

The programme gives an overview of Finland’s cooperation activities. Finnish development policy is implemented bilaterally, multilaterally, at the EU level, in cooperation with non-governmental organisations and the private sector, as well as through humanitarian aid. All these channels form a complementary system that is the cornerstone of the effectiveness of Finnish development policy.

More than half of our present bilateral appropriations for development cooperation, and at least half of additional funds, are directed to Africa. Finland’s long-term partner countries in Africa include Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. Taking into account our special focus on countries recovering from violent crisis, we are also present in Sudan and Somalia. Other bilateral cooperation countries include Namibia and South Africa. Along with our traditional areas of regional cooperation – Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa – the framework programme also presents some very interesting examples of Finland’s activities to promote sustainable development in Western and Central Africa as well as Northern Africa and the Mediterranean region.

Finnish NGOs carry out and support activities in over 30 African countries and about half of all NGO projects are targeted at Africa. The main focus of our humanitarian assistance is Africa.

As an EU member state, Finland is committed to providing focused support for the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. The strategy acts as a central framework for the cooperation. Concerning concrete actions, Finland supports for instance the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund and the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between the EU and ACP countries. Finland also plans to allocate EPA support to the ACP countries by participating in the EPA support funds that are currently under preparation.

Cooperation with the UN is a central channel for multilateral cooperation in Africa. The most important partners in Africa include the UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO. In addition to these, Finland is providing increasing support to develop food security and the rural economy through the FAO, IFAD and WFP.

Of the international financing institutions, the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank Group are the most important Finnish cooperation partners in Africa. In order to promote regional integration, Finland is working closely for example with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and SADC (Southern African Development Community.

To conclude, as I have already mentioned, sustainable development is the basis of Finland’s development policy. Finland has recently proposed two initiatives that are of importance for Africa. First of all, in January 2009, Finland took the initiative to launch a sustainable development partnership with the African Union. The objective of the initiative is to promote closer dialogue and cooperation between Finland and the AU, based on economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development. On the basis of its own development history, Finland is able to bring added value to the AU’s efforts to promote comprehensive and balanced development in Africa.

The main elements of this partnership between Finland and the AU will include strengthening the development of the information and knowledge society in AU member states and supporting the peacebuilding efforts of the AU. One concrete step has already been taken as Finland is in the process of setting up the Dar-es-Salaam Institute for Sustainable Development in cooperation with Tanzania. The aim of the institute is to build the capacities of African countries to achieve international development goals and to participate in international trade, environmental and climate negotiations. Another activity underway is a cooperation programme that aims to develop the AU’s peace mediation capacity. Finland’s partner in the implementation of this programme is the South African organisation ACCORD.

Secondly, Africa is also central in the so-called Transatlantic Partnership for Sustainable Development, an initiative proposed by Dr. Paavo Väyrynen, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development. Building on the traditional and long-standing dialogue between the European Union and the United States, the initiative aims at advancing policy level and strategic dialogue and at identifying common ground in supporting developing countries in their efforts to overcome the challenges they face. Three initial areas for cooperation have been identified and they are all very important from the African perspective: food security and rural development, climate change and development as well as Millennium Development Goals. African regional economic integration is also an important element of this partnership.

I look forward to the commentaries by

  • Mr. Tegegnework Gettu, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director, RegionalBureau for Africa, UNDP
  • H.E. Mr. Augustine P. Mahiga, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania

I hope a lively discussion will follow.

Thank you!