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Finnish development co-operation efforts receive both acclaim and criticism from OECD - Embassy of Finland, Abu Dhabi : Team Finland

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News, 11/11/2012

Finnish development co-operation efforts receive both acclaim and criticism from OECD

Finland should set clearer objectives for its development policy, estimates the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

OECD:n kehitysapukomitean puheenjohtaja Brian Atwood kehuu Suomen kehityspolitiikkaa vertaisarvion julkistamistilaisuudessa Helsingissä.Chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee Brian Atwood commends the Finnish development policy in the launch of the OECD-DAC Peer Review in Helsinki. However, he points out that Finland still has catching up to do in comparison with other Nordic countries. Photo: Eero Kuosmanen.

The Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) evaluated the Finnish development policy and development co-operation efforts in the peer review report launched on 6 November. The OECD describes Finland as a practical, flexible and responsible actor.

Finland still has room for improvement in sharpening the focus of its objectives.

“The partner countries are totally overburdened. There are so many countries and organisations implementing development co-operation efforts that co-ordination and follow-up of the projects swallow up all their time. Development policy is far too fragmented,” agonises Chair of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee Brian Atwood in the launch of the OECD-DAC Peer Review in Helsinki.

“Finland should also sharpen the focus of its development co-operation efforts and set clear benchmarks for each objective. It has tried to include too many issues in its Development Programme,” Atwood continues.

Recommendations for improvement have already been addressed

Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala responds to the criticism by stressing that many of the recommendations made in the peer review have already been implemented.

Heidi Hautala kommentoi OECD:n vertaisarvion tuloksia Helsingissä.Heidi Hautala fully agrees with the OECD that Finland should increase its development co-operation contribution. There is also always room for more effective action. Photo: Eero Kuosmanen.

For example, the Development Policy Programme issued in spring underscores enhancement of co-ordination with other donor countries and organisations in particular.

However, Hautala would not go into listing more detailed goals in the programme, since the needs of the partner countries differ very much from each other.

Instead, the priorities can and must be made clearer by means of policies, action plans and other guidelines.

“The preparation of country programmes is in good progress, and they will combine the policies with implementation. They are based on the long-term partner countries’ own development plans and I believe that these plans will provide us a tool by which we can sharpen and better focus our assistance efforts,” Heidi Hautala says.

Concern about the level of Finnish assistance

Sweden, Norway and Denmark already allocate 0.7 per cent or more of their GNI to official development assistance. In the peer review, the OECD urges Finland to verify how it intends to meet its commitment to reach the same level by 2015.

Kehityspoliittisen toimikunnan pääsihteeri Miia Toikka OECD:n vertaisarvion julkistamistilaisuudessa.It is important for Finland’s reputation that we meet our 0.7-per cent target, says Miia Toikka, Secretary-General, Service Centre for Development Co-operation. Photo: Eero Kuosmanen.

“The Government is committed to increasing the otherwise frozen development assistance funding by using the auction revenues obtained from the EU Emission Trading System,” says Heidi Hautala. “We are doing our best to ensure that Finland will meet its target.”

“The 0.7-per cent target is also a question of prestige. Other countries assess Finland on its basis," adds Miia Toikka, Secretary-General of the Service Centre for Development Co-operation.

“However, the biggest challenge for Finland is to ensure that the decisions made by other ministries are not in conflict with our development policy,” Toikka continues.

Everyone has something to learn from the peer reviews

The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) reviews the development policy and co-operation systems of the member states every four to five years. This time, the peer review of Finland was conducted by Switzerland and Austria in collaboration with the OECD-DAC secretariat.

13 recommendations were made to Finland for enhancement and more effective implementation of its development policy. The OECD also follows up on the implementation of the recommendations made. The previous Development Assistance Committee review of Finland was conducted in 2008.

“It is very useful that the OECD and its member states evaluate our activities. I believe that every country benefits from the fruitful discussions conducted during the process,” Hautala commends.

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