Representatives of Nepal and Finland met in Helsinki in early September to agree on the continuation of cooperation between the two countries. As part of the visit, officials from the Ministry of Finance of Nepal became acquainted with Finnish education and business activities.
Finland has supported the development of Nepal since the 1980s. Finland is now updating its country strategy for development cooperation in Nepal for the years 2016–2019.
Through development cooperation funds, Finland will provide EUR 12 million in support for Nepal each year in 2016–2018.
In the coming years, Finland’s support will focus mainly on improving Nepal’s water supply and developing the quality of basic education. In addition, cooperation will be carried out, for example, on behalf of the employment of marginalized women and to strengthen the legal system. With Finland’s support, good results have been achieved in these sectors in Nepal, and Finland has strong expertise to offer.
With this year’s budget cuts, the amount of development cooperation done by Finland in Nepal has dropped considerably from the level of previous years. As part of the budget cuts, forest sector cooperation in Nepal has to be stopped.
The Finnish and Nepalese delegations stated, however, that Finland will have a very focused and effective programme in Nepal in the future as well. Relations between Finland and Nepal continue to be close.
After the earthquake of April 2015, Finland supported Nepal by giving EUR 2 million in emergency relief, and following repair of the immediate damage has committed itself to assisting Nepal with the reconstruction of schools and homes through an additional input of EUR 2 million. Much work remains to be done, and reconstruction is expected to take five years.
During their talks, the representatives of the Nepalese government and the public servants from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs noted that bilateral relations are excellent. This gives the countries a good foundation for expanding relations in the future to encompass trade to an increasing extent.
Nepal will put much effort into improving the trade and investment environment in the future, among other things by amending legislation and easing regulation. Foreign investment is considered necessary for the country’s development.
Finland can offer its expertise in areas important to Nepal’s development, such as renewable energy, cleantech, education and information technology. Therefore, a programme presenting Finnish expertise in various sectors was organised for the Nepalese guests during their visit.
The guests first had the opportunity to learn about Finland’s education sector during a visit to the Finnish National Board of Education. The discussions focused on vocational education, its assessment and development.
The lunch also break proved to be an important part of the visit: The Nepalese guests were very interested in the sanitary facilities a Finnish company had supplied to a restaurant on the shore. Finnish cleantech expertise, and especially dry toilet solutions, triggered many questions.
For the talks on cooperation between the two countries, Nepal was represented by Ministry of Finance officials Narayan Dhakal and Baikuntha Aryal. Following the day of talks, Jorma Suvanto, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal, took the guests to explore Helsinki from the sea. Photo: Sebastian Gahnström
A Nepal-themed corporate cooperation event was held at Finnpartnership’s premises. A variety of Finnish cleantech, energy and forest service companies attended, and introduced their products and ideas to the Nepalese guests.
Much good information was distributed both about Finnish companies’ know-how and about Nepal’s operating environment. At the same time, useful contacts for the future were made, and the way was paved for the expansion of cooperation.
The author works as the Desk Officer for Nepal at the Department for the Americas and Asia of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.