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Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

MFA finds Finns believe development cooperation enables effective refugee response

Kai Mykkänen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, FinlandThe results of a survey commissioned by Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) and carried out by market research company Taloustutkimus indicate that development cooperation is considered very important or rather important by 84 per cent of Finns. As many as 80 per cent think that development cooperation can play a role in preventing refugee crises and reducing the need to leave one’s home country. Finns specially value activities aiming at people's well-being and the functioning of societies, including the improvement of education, water supply, health care and good governance.

“I’m very happy to see that Finns recognise the role of development cooperation in resolving migration issues and also other global crises. Contrary to what the general atmosphere might suggest, people understand the importance of development cooperation and support it more than before,” said Kai Mykkänen, Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development. “This issue has been debated a lot in the past year. People can see that there is a connection between the developing countries standing on their own feet and a reduction in uncontrolled immigration. If people feel safe and have work and an income, they have future perspectives in their own country and do not feel forced to leave.”

The impact of work

Finns find that the significance of development cooperation lies, in particular, in activities with long-lasting impact, such as strengthening democracy and good governance, education and gender equality.

Taloustutkimus conducted computer-aided personal interviews with 1,004 Finns over the age of 15 in during May and June 2016. The MFA has surveyed citizens’ views of development cooperation every year since the early 2000s. The 2016 MFA survey on development cooperation indicates:

  • 84 per cent of Finns (2015: 87 per cent) think that development cooperation and development policy are very or rather important, while 13 per cent (2015: 12 per cent) feel that they have relatively little or very little significance.
  • 80 per cent of Finnish citizens are confident that development cooperation can prevent the emergence of refugee crises, and 24 per cent think that it can prevent refugee crises significantly.
  • Finns believe that the best way for preventing refugee crises is support for democracy, good governance, gender equality and education through development cooperation, as well as peace mediation.
  • 18 per cent (2015: 11 per cent) of the interviewees were in favour of an increase in development cooperation appropriations, while 62 per cent (2015: 61 per cent) thought they should remain unchanged, 18 per cent (2015: 26 per cent) would cut them, and 2 per cent (2015: 3 per cent) had no opinion.
  • 61 per cent of Finns regard Finnish development cooperation as effective and efficient, while 31 per cent disagree.
  • 84 per cent of Finns (2015: 90 per cent) think that Finnish humanitarian aid is very or rather important, while 15 per cent (2015: 8 per cent) believe it has rather little significance or doesn't make any difference.
  • 34 per cent of respondents had heard about the new UN sustainable development goals. Elimination of hunger, securing access to clean water and guaranteeing good health and well-being for all were seen by Finns as the most important goals.
  • The interviewees (25 per cent) thought that development cooperation through the European Union is the most significant form of Finnish development cooperation (2015: humanitarian aid 34 per cent). Supporting the private sector was felt the least important.
  • 58 per cent of Finns think that paying taxes is the most efficient way of helping developing countries as a private person (2015: 52 per cent).