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.