The ARD landscape in Finland
Research for development is a part of the development policy and strategy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA). MFA is also the main funder of research activities within this area. The Ministry has a long standing cooperation with the Academy of Finland in co-financing development research. The Academy’s yearly research grants are instrumental in strengthening Finnish development research capacity and in mainstreaming development into the broader research agenda. The research projects are academic cross-disciplined and multiyear projects (1-4 years). The international research cooperation (North-South) takes place within the funded projects, whereas the programme level cooperation is between a public research funding organisation (the Academy of Finland) and a development cooperation and policy agency (the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department of Development Policy) at the national level.
The universities are the most important actors in Finnish development research in general. Within the field of agricultural research for development the main actors are the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki, and MTT Agrifood Research Finland, which both have several ongoing research cooperation programmes with developing country partners.
The MFA also directly commissions short-term development policy research projects concerning various current development issues. Commissioned research offers a central tool for policy planning and implementation and serves to strengthen dialogue between the ministry and researchers working with development issues. Annual topics are built on the information needs of the Ministry. The research projects are short-term ( 3-12 months) and applied scientific research.
As part of its multilateral cooperation policy Finland provides core-funding to four centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The centres are chosen based on Finland’s own research priorities and strengths as well as on development policy goals. These are ICRAF, ILRI, IFPRI and CIFOR. In order to strengthen the cooperation between the CGIAR centres and Finnish partners and to target areas where Finland has had only minor presence, the MFA is funding a large scale research programme on Capacity development in Food Security. The programme targets several countries in West and East Africa and has a multi-disciplinary focus on areas in which Finnish expertise can bring added value to the programmes of the CGIAR.
The MFA has initiated a new type of Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI) for North-South collaboration, to strengthen the capacity of partner countries’ public sector institutions and a corresponding programme for Higher Educational Institutions (HEI ICI). Through ICI-programmes e.g. Finnish research institutes may initiate collaboration with national research institutes (NARS) in partner countries. Several of such agricultural research programmes are at the moment in a planning phase. The goal of the HEI ICI programme is to support the institutional cooperation between Finnish and partner country HEIs and to strengthen the administrative, methodological and pedagogical capacity of partner institutions.
The main goal of Finnish development policy is to contribute to the global effort to eradicate poverty through economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development, in accordance with the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Finland strives to ensure that all the work done is ecologically sustainable, preserves biodiversity, combats climate change, prevents desertification and depletion of the soil, and protects the environment. As the majority of the poor in various parts of the world lives in rural areas and earns their livelihoods from agriculture, rural development ranks very high on the development cooperation agenda.
In 2010 new Development Policy Guidelines for Agriculture and Food Security were developed, to support targeted and strategic activity to improve the availability and quality of food and to improve the coherence between different policies and instruments. The main goal of the guidelines is:
improving the conditions for production and livelihood opportunities of smallholder farmers, through supporting the whole value chain; production, infrastructure and financing mechanisms.
climate change adaptation and mitigation through sustainable land use management.
promoting the use of information and communication technology to improve farmers information and market access.
improving food security and safety as well as nutritional status, through education and improved extension methods.
encouragement of agriculture and rural innovation systems (research, counselling, training, farmers' unions, and cooperation with the private sector)
Finland plays a role in international development policy related to rural development, for example, by contributing Finnish experiences, knowledge and research to the discussion and by participating in joint projects. Research plays an important part in addressing future challenges. Finland is therefore actively participating in efforts to enhance targeting of agricultural research at sectors that are important from the future perspective, paying special attention to the needs of poor small producers. Finland supports areas of expertise where it can strengthen the developing countries’ own capacities in collaboration with international research institutions or through national research systems.
The main objectives of the ODA (Official Development Assistance) –financed development research is to provide coherent policy-planning tools to promote development. This should be done through multi-disciplined approaches, strengthening North-South partnership and utilising Finnish expertise to promote capacity development of partner countries (MFA: Development Research Policy Paper, 2005).
International Advanced Research Centres (IARCs)
CGIAR core-funding for ICRAF, ILRI, IFPRI and CIFOR.
Research Projects Funded by the Academy of Finland
Research Funded by the Academy of Finland has been evaluated to be of high quality and relevant from developing country viewpoint. Agricultural research for development heavily relies on the areas of research and technology, in which Finland traditionally has a strong knowledgebase. Therefore, there is a strong focus on forestry related programmes, including agro-forestry. Most of the development research specifically within the agricultural field focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa and include topics, such as sustainable land use strategies, development of potato farming, safety of the dairy chain and animal breeding, to give a few examples.
There are several networks, both within and between universities, working with development research issues. The Finnish Universities Partnership for International Development (UniPID) network is a partnership between 14 of Finland’s 20 universities. Apart from discussion and information exchange between researchers interested in development issues, it participates in the EU -funded CAAST-Net and SANORD-Network which are designed to coordinate and support higher education development cooperation and joint research. A multi-disciplinary network called Viikki Development Studies and Research Network (Viikki-DEVNET) has recently been established at the Univesity of Helsinki and intends to strengthen the capacity and cooperation of researchers in the field of development research, with special emphasis on agro-forestry. An important aspect of establishing new networks with partners in the south are the Finnish University courses taken to the field, i.e. courses organised in developing countries, where students both from the Finnish university and the partner country participate, learn and create networks. There is no one financing model for these courses, which are organised mostly by institutions of the UH, collecting funding from different sources.
Finland’s Centre for International Mobility, CIMO, administers several different types of scholarship programs at both masters and post-graduate level. One example is The CIMO Fellowships programme, which is open to young researchers (after Master-level but not post-doctorate) from all countries and from all academic fields. The scholarship period may vary from 3 to 12 months. CIMO also administers a North-South-South Higher Education Institution Network Programme. The purpose of the programme is to enhance human capacity in all participating countries through interaction and mobility. The aim is also to generate and disseminate knowledge and to create sustainable partnerships between higher education institutions in Finland and in partner countries.
Rural development is an area of priority in current Finnish development policy. Therefore, also the development of agricultural R&D activities is supported by the MFA. Finland specifically supports areas of expertise where it can strengthen the developing countries’ own capacities in collaboration with international research institutions or through national research systems. In the future Finland aims at strengthening its collaboration with international research institutions, researchers and projects as well as developing collaborative programs and synergies.
ARD-Budget (€) Year
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Institutional Cooperation Instruments (HEI ICI, ICI), estimation for ARD projects
Commissioned development policy research, estimation for ARD research
Finland’s Centre for International Mobility (CIMO): estimation for ARD
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
Bilateral project: Improvement of Food Security through Cooperation in Research and Education
University of Helsinki
Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI): Agroforestry and NRM research
Academy of Finland
Academy of Finland: estimation for ARD