Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Two out of three Finns consider development cooperation important

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According to a recent survey, 68 per cent of Finns consider development cooperation very or fairly important. About a quarter of Finns say that their attitudes have become more negative recently. The majority believe that Finland’s development cooperation has improved the position of women and girls in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. The results are based on a survey carried out for the Foreign Ministry by Taloustutkimus.

A clear majority of Finns support development cooperation. However, attitudes towards it are strongly disaggregated by respondents’ gender and party affiliation.

The majority of the respondents felt that their opinions had remained unchanged in recent years. At the same time, 27 per cent of the respondents considered that their attitudes towards development cooperation had become more negative, against 14 per cent of people who had started to hold a more positive attitude.

“More than four out of five Finns consider eradication of poverty and inequality from the world very important. This is goal number one among the objectives of Finland’s development cooperation. The same objective must be pursued by other means, such as trade,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.

Although reducing poverty and inequality, and support for development cooperation are considered important, the majority of the respondents do not believe that the activities are efficient and effective.

“We must listen to this concern carefully and make sure that people get enough information about our work and its effectiveness in future. Prolonged conflicts and disasters, for example, may give rise to doubt whether we can achieve sustainable results at all. Based on our own monitoring, we know that we have achieved results,” Minister Skinnari says. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will submit a comprehensive report on the results and effectiveness of development cooperation to Parliament in autumn 2022.

Afghanistan causes concern, support believed to be effective

Taloustutkimus conducted the survey at the end of August when news from abroad focused on the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. A clear majority (86%) of the respondents was worried for the position of women and girls under the Taliban regime.

The majority (65%) of them believe that Finland’s development cooperation has improved the position of women and girls in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Humanitarian assistance to Afghans is considered important by 75 per cent of the respondents. However, scepticism was expressed towards the start of long-term development cooperation with Afghanistan: Of women, 48 per cent and of men 31 per cent were in favour of long-term development cooperation.

New method introduced in opinion polls

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has examined Finns’ opinions on development cooperation annually for nearly twenty years. In recent years, the surveys have been conducted in the form of personal face-to-face interviews. This year, the method was replaced by an online panel. Therefore, this year’s results are not comparable with the results from previous years.

“In surveys where we used both an online panel and face-to-face interviews simultaneously to ask the same questions, the online panel as a method has explained the number of negative and doubtful views of development cooperation and the shift compared to previous years. It appears that in a faceless online environment it is easier to give critical answers than in a one-to-one encounter, where respondents admit the interviewer into their home and may, as a rule, find it easier to be more receptive and sympathetic,” says Juho Rahkonen, Research Director at Taloustutkimus.

There are significant differences in the results with regard to some of the questions, even though the population groups are represented by the same percentages in both methods, for example according to age, gender and party affiliation.

A total of 1,173 people participated in the survey in different parts of Finland. With a 2.7 per cent margin of error, the confidence interval (CI) of the survey results is at 95 per cent.

Inquiries:

Ville Cantell, Director, Unit for Sustainable Development and Trade, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 50 383 5791, ville.cantell@formin.fi

About the research: Juho Rahkonen, Research and Customer Manager at Taloustutkimus, tel. +358 50 375 9008, juho.rahkonen@taloustutkimus.fi

Requests for interviews with Minister Skinnari: Kirsi Airio, tel. 050 574 1729, kirsi.airio@formin.fi

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