Evaluation: Finland is globally influential in multilateral development cooperation
A comprehensive assessment of Finland’s multilateral influence shows that Finland has been able to make a significant contribution to the activities of multilateral organisations and to promote themes that it considers important globally.For example, Finland has promoted gender equality and the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the principles of humanitarian aid. Photo: Kirsi Tuura
Multilateral cooperation is an important channel for Finland’s development policy and cooperation. If humanitarian aid and EU development financing instruments are included, 47% of Finland’s official development assistance was channelled through multilateral organisations in 2019.
The evaluation commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has now been published, assessed comprehensively for the first time how Finland, the Ministry and its missions have influenced the activities and results of multilateral development organisations.
According to the evaluation, the advocacy work carried out by Finland and the Foreign Ministry is very effective. Finland has been able to exert a prominent influence on multilateral organisations and Finland’s influence is considered more significant than its relative financial share or voting power.
“International development finance institutions and UN organisations, such as UN Women and the World Food Programme, are Finland’s long-term partners and close cooperation with them is a key objective of the Government Programme. We have actively contributed to ensuring that the themes important to us, such as gender equality, are taken into account in the activities of the organisations, and we have promoted the effectiveness and proper management of the organisations we support. As a minister, I am proud of the wide-ranging achievements of Finland’s advocacy work over the years,” says Minister for Development and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
Through its influence, Finland has brought about changes in the policies, strategies, priorities, procedures and practices of multilateral organisations. In addition, organisations have become more aware of the themes important to Finland and changed their operating practices in these areas.
The evaluation found that Finland’s efforts to play an influential role on a global scale has also produced results. For example, Finland has promoted gender equality and the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the principles of humanitarian aid.
Long-term and strategic work
The evaluation concluded that Finland’s reputation as a strong and goal-oriented partner and a credible supporter of many themes builds the foundation for Finland’s success in advocacy. The results have been achieved due to the multiplier effects of different measures and joint efforts of several actors. In addition, the messages of Finland’s advocacy work have remained remarkably consistent over time.
In general, the results have been achieved together with like-minded partners and over a long period of time. A good example of this is the decades-long work carried out by Finland and the other Nordic countries, which has played a fundamental role in the World Bank Group’s increased consideration of gender equality in its activities and its creation of gender equality strategy.
Although Finland’s funding for many organisations is relatively small, it has produced considerable results. Finland’s support for UNICEF, for example, is less than one per cent of the organisation’s annual income, which means that Finland’s influence is smaller than that of major financiers. Finland therefore made a strategic choice in 2016 and earmarked EUR 1.5 million to support UNICEF’s innovation activities. Targeting the aid to one small and carefully selected area was profitable, because it attracted other donors and the Innovation Fund was able to start its operations. At the same time, Finland’s visibility in the field of innovation grew.
The evaluation recommends, among other things, that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs continue its multilateral advocacy work. In addition, political and financial support for advocacy work should be strengthened and human resources in the area increased.
The evaluation assessed 23 multilateral partners of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, eight of which were examined in more detail.
In addition to funding, the means of advocacy work include participation in the administrative bodies and processes of multilateral organisations, financial negotiations, support for organisations by funding Finnish experts on their staff and other official and unofficial forms of influence.