Finland’s Disability Inclusiveness Highlights

Finland has gone to considerable lengths to lay the foundations for disability inclusion throughout its development cooperation and humanitarian action – from its external influencing, to its theories of change, to its programme management – with further positive developments in the pipeline. Finland is also one of few ODA providers that channels a large part of its disability-targeted Official Development Assistance through organisations of persons with disabilities ( DPOs – even if organisations of persons with disabilities in the Global South are only involved at the sub-grant stage). The challenge is now to make implementation of Finland’s high ambitions for disability inclusion consistent right across the Finnish Official Development Assistance portfolio.

Current Strengths

  • Finland played a leading role in bringing the Charter onto the agenda of the World Humanitarian Summit; has endorsed the Charter; and supported the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to develop guidelines on the Charter’s implementation.
  • Finland engages extensively in influencing on disability inclusion – a recent example being advocacy for an action plan on the UN’s new Disability Strategy.
  • Disability-inclusive development is included within the week-long training offered to Ministry staff rotating to new positions, and to newly recruited junior professionals and UN Volunteers while more specialised training is offered on an ad-hoc basis in which DPOs participate.

Areas to Improve

  • Finland does not yet have a strategy on disability in international cooperation and humanitarian action, although some of the elements that might be included in such a strategy are captured very briefly in other policies.
  • There is as yet less opportunity for DPOs to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of mainstream development programmes.
  • The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has one advisor specialised in disability inclusion. Disability is also one element of the humanitarian advisor’s brief.

Advocacy Questions

  • DPOs already play an important role in Finnish disability-specific Official Development Assistance. What plans does Finland have to increase the role of DPOs as active participants and experts in the implementation of its mainstream programmes?
  • Has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered making an explicit statement on the need for Finnish-funded programmes to budget for disability inclusion?
  • Is accessibility already a requirement in Finnish ODA procurement? If not, what are the Ministry’s views on introducing an accessibility requirement in future?

More Information – Finland Factsheet [12 KB doc]