Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Support for development cooperation in Finland at a ten-year high

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Nearly 90 per cent of Finns find development cooperation to be important. Citizens feel that education, in particular, is an area where Finland has a lot to give. The responses were elicited in an opinion poll carried out by Taloustutkimus on behalf of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

An increasing number of Finns are more interested in and find development cooperation to be more important than before. 47% of Finns find development cooperation to be very important, while 41% find it fairly important. The number of respondents finding it very important has increased by 5 percentage points from last year.

“The results are delightful. To me, this indicates that Finns are not looking to be passive bystanders, but actively and responsibly engage in global problem solving,” comments Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen.

Without providing pre-determined choices, the opinion poll asked citizens how Finland could best help developing countries. The most popular answer by far was advancing education and know-how. The answer was indicated by 37% of respondents. The second and third most popular replies were healthcare (13%) and helping women and children (11%).

Based on the poll, Finns put a strong emphasis on the significance of education in development cooperation. According to the respondents, poverty and lack of development are the most significant factors behind low level of education, conflicts and inequality.  Finns find that the most effective tool for battling global inequality is education. Respondents also find that advancing the know-how and professionalism of girls and women is essential.

“In recent years, surveys have indicated that the level of education provided by schools in developing countries is critically inadequate. The discussion revolves around a crisis of learning. A team of experts is currently wrapping up a report for the Ministry on how Finland could be involved in solving this crisis. I am pleased to see that the subject has such a strong support among Finns,” Virolainen says. 

According to the opinion poll, citizens nearly unanimously support the primary objective of Finnish development cooperation, which is the empowerment of girls and women: 98 per cent of respondents find that girls and women should have the right to their own bodies.

Increasing funding for development cooperation is also supported. 61% of all respondents would increase funding, 23% would maintain current funding, 11% would reduce funding either moderately or significantly and 2% would cut funding completely. However, citizens underestimated the current level of development cooperation funding.

1,004 persons around Finland were polled personally between 17 May and 8 June 2018. The margin of error for the survey is 3.2 percentage points with a CI of 95%.

Poll result highlights:

  • Persons who indicated that they actively follow global affairs were highly likely to find development cooperation very important (54% found it very important, 31% fairly important).
  • Persons who indicated that individual actions can have a global impact were likely to find development cooperation important (replies: 64% very important, 29% fairly important).
  • Key factors supporting development cooperation: prevention of conflicts resulting in less refugees and more global stability (33%); moral obligation of wealthy and developed nations to help the disadvantaged (32%).
  • 61% of respondents find Finland’s development cooperation either very or fairly effective in terms of producing results. In contrast, 34% of respondents are more sceptical.
  • Around 50% of Finns have heard of the UN’s sustainable development goals (Agenda 2030).  The increase from 2017 is as much as 20 percentage points.
  • According to the respondents, the three most important development cooperation objectives include clean water (43%), education (36%) and eradication of hunger (35%).
  • Over half of the respondents find that development cooperation has an impact, but is not enough on its own (57%).
  • According to the respondents, the key to the empowerment of girls and women is access to education and vocational training (74%).
  • Most of the citizens find that in general, development cooperation respects human rights, is allocated to the poorest countries and is reliable.  The citizens also feel that all forms of development cooperation have room for improvement.
  • 61 per cent of respondents would also increase funding: 38 per cent of Finns would increase development cooperation funding in order to reach 0.7 per cent of Finland’s GDP during the next or subsequent legislature. 23 per cent would increase funding in order to maintain the current percentage of GDP, and 23 per cent would maintain the current level of funding. 11 per cent of Finns would reduce funding either moderately or significantly, while 2 per cent would cut funding completely.

Report and infographics available at um.fi

Additional information:

Taloustutkimus Research Manager Juho Rahkonen, tel. +35850 375 9008, juho.rahkonen@taloustutkimus.fi

Ministerial interview inquiries: Diplomatic Assistant Tuuli-Maaria Aalto, tel.  +35840 352 0463; other inquiries: Director for Development Communications Erja-Outi Heino, tel. +358295 351 384. The e-mail address format for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland is firstname.lastname@formin.fi

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