Funding for development cooperation has been a hot topic recently. Why are people making such a fuss?
At the moment, the funding for development cooperation in Finland is far from the level we are used to, and that is what has caused the recent heated debate. Until 2014, the funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs which was allocated to development cooperation had been increasing steadily for a long time, aiming for the goal of 0.7 per cent of the gross national income which the UN had set for rich countries. That goal was never reached, however, and during the past few years the funding for development cooperation has been in dramatic decline. 2016 saw severe government cuts come into force, which meant a drastic reduction in the funding for organisations by 43 per cent and ended approximately 200 ongoing development cooperation projects virtually
The government cuts were directed towards actual development cooperation work, i.e. the funding that goes to NGOs, among others, via the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Many Finnish organisations involved in development cooperation are small, and the funding from the Ministry
for Foreign Affairs has been the main thing enabling them to carry out their projects. This also applies to SYL’s development cooperation sector. Predictable long-term funding is one of the most crucial factors for successful development cooperation, and the Ministry’s support has been
reliable from this perspective. However, the cuts were a surprise, and the investments that had already been put into many projects were wasted as there was not enough time for them to generate results. This had a direct and concrete impact on the lives of over a million people living in developing countries, and that is why the cuts to development cooperation are particularly harsh.
Finland has committed to reaching the UN’s goal of 0.7 per cent, but the Government has still announced that it will continue to cut another 25 million euros from development cooperation annually. We hope that Finland will keep its promises and that the funding for development cooperation will increase in the future. This is, however, not simply down to hope; we can influence the issue by bringing it to the public debate and eventually by voting. In the meantime, SYL’s development cooperation is also in trouble. SYL has been carrying out development
cooperation since 1950, and we do not want to stop improving the conditions for students in developing countries – that is why our campaign matters.
University of Turku, Geography student