Nepal and Finland entered into diplomatic relations on 21 September 1974. The relations between Nepal and Finland have been deeply informed by goodwill, friendship and mutually benefitting cooperation on both sides.
The Finnish Embassy was opened in Kathmandu at the Charge d’ Affaires level in 1992, which got upgraded with the appointment of its Ambassador in September, 2011. As of now, Nepal has no residential Embassy in Helsinki. The Embassy of Nepal in Copenhagen is concurrently accredited to Finland. Prior to the establishment of Nepalese Embassy in Copenhagen, Nepalese Ambassador to the United Kingdom was concurrently accredited to Finland.
Exchange of Visits
Among several high-level visits between Nepal and Finland, the recent and prominent ones include: the visit of Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to Finland on April 1-3, 2009 at the friendly invitation of the Prime Minister of Finland H.E. Mr. Matti Vanhanen. The then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms Sujata Koirala also visited Finland in March 2010.
From the Finnish side, Finnish Foreign Trade and Development Minister Mr. Paavo Vayrynen visited Nepal on 3 February 2009. Ms. Heidi Hautala, Minister for International Development visited Nepal from December 2-6, 2011.
Finnish cooperation in Nepal commenced in 1982 with the grant assistance of 6000 MT of chemical fertilizers. Such assistance has only come to increase and widen in the recent years. Today, Nepal is one of Finland’s eight long-term development partner countries.
Earlier the Finnish development programme in Nepal was focused on energy, forestry and water resources. Forestry Master Plan (1983) and National Forest Policy, Forest conservation and community forestry, WASH (since 1989) were the major instances. In a similar vein, Finland’s contribution for the detailed engineering design of the Kali Gandaki Hydro Project, Rural electrification and Multi-fuel Diesel Plant remains highly appreciated in Nepal.
Of late, Finnish development cooperation has been shifted towards alleviation of poverty, environmentally sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, and promotion of democracy, human rights, equalization and participatory system of governance.
Finland provides assistance including through international agencies such as FAO, ILO, UNICEF and UNFPA.
Finland provided 3 million worth of relief aid to the victims of 2015 earthquakes through WHO, UNICEF, Red Cross, Fin Church Aid, and Save the Children.
Bilateral consultations between the two countries on development cooperation were held between Nepal’s Ministry of Finance and Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2003, 2007, 2010 and January 2013 in Kathmandu.
Finland’s share of the support to the Nepalese Government’s School Sector Reform Plan, SSRP, in 2009-2016 amounted to EUR 23 million.
Finland supported the TEVT Soft Skills project with EUR 1.6 million (2012-2015) under the SSRP. The objective of the technical assistance project is to improve secondary education students’ vocational skills and capabilities to enter the labour market.
Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project in Western Nepal, RWSSP-WN, concentrates on improving the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in Western Nepal. The second phase of the project started in September 2013.
Rural Village Water Resources Management Project, RVWRMP II, in the Far West Region is based on the concept of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). The second phase (2010-2015) drew to a close in 2015 and now, is running in its third phase (2015-2020).
Finland lent its support to the Wash for All Initiative of UNICEF in 2011-2015.
The Finnish-Nepalese Project for Improved Capability of the Government of Nepal to respond to the increased risks related to weather-related natural disasters caused by climate change (FNEP) is an institutional cooperation project. It is implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and their Nepali counterpart Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. Both ICIMOD and FMI implemented projects were supposed to end in 2015.
Finland had a significant role in the development of the forestry sector of Nepal in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2009 – 2014 Finland funded a Forest Resource Assessment Project, FRA, which aimed at developing a uniform system to collect and share information about the forest stock, biomass and biodiversity in Nepal.
The Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme, MSFP, seeks to reduce poverty directly by improving the livelihoods and resilience of poor and disadvantaged people in Nepal. The project is planned to last ten years (2011-2021), of which the initial transition phase is now under way (2012-2016). The programme is co-funded together with Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Strengthening of Environmental Administration and Management in Nepal, SEAM-N, completed in the end of 2014, was a project which aimed at strengthening local administrators’ and industries’ capacity to plan, manage and monitor environmental issues and to reduce pollution from different sources in the project area at Dharan-Biratnagar’s industrial tunnel and surrounding districts.
Support to good governance and human rights
Finland supports strengthening of the rule of law in Nepal through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). EUR 5.4 million has been allocated to the Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights Protection System in Nepal (RoLHR) in 2014-2017. The main implementer of the programme is the Supreme Court of Nepal.
Finland has supported the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, of Nepal with EUR 0.6 million in 2010-2014.
Women and Conflict
Finland supports the women victims of conflict through the UN Women’s Strengthening Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Nepal by means of EUR 1.3 million in 2012-2016.
Finland supports the economic empowerment of women through UN Women with EUR 4 million in 2015-2017.
Current Finish Development Policy (2016):
Finland’s development policy and development cooperation are guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, endorsed within the UN. Under the Agenda, Finnish development policy will have a special focus on the following priority areas, enshrined in the Finnish Government Programme: enhancing the rights and status of women and girls; improving the economies of developing countries to ensure more jobs, livelihood opportunities and well-being; democratic and better-functioning societies; increased food security and better access to water and energy; and the sustainability of natural resources.
The values and principles underlying the Finnish Development Policy include democracy and the rule of law; gender equality and human rights; freedom of speech; a sustainable market economy and sustainable use of natural resources; and the Nordic welfare state, including a high level of education. The Nordic social model enjoys a good reputation in many developing countries, and there is a demand for related know-how.
A MoU between FNCCI and its Finnish counterpart was signed in 1993 during the then Nepalese Prime Minister’s Visit to Finland. Similarly, an agreement between Nepal and Finland on Promotion and Protection of Investment was signed on 3 February 2009.
The Department of Industry data reveals that there were 5 joint ventures with the Finnish investment of Rs. 2.5 million until July 2012, which created 149 jobs.
Nepal exports handicrafts, woollen carpets, ready-made garments, woollen goods, wooden and bamboo goods to Finland. Likewise, Nepal imports telecommunication equipment, machinery and parts, industrial raw materials, fertilizer, electrical goods, radio cassette and parts, guns and cartridges, wooden pole etc. from Finland. Nepal has been experiencing negative balance of trade with Finland over the past years. Finland has been a major trading partner of Nepal among the Nordic countries for the past few years.
A sizable number of Finish tourists visit Nepal every year. Though the number at present is not very significant, there are prospects of attracting more tourists from Finland. In 2000 about 1500 Finish tourists visited Nepal. In 2004, the number had been dropped to 664. In 2011 and 2012, Finnish visitors travelling to Nepal stood at 2,276 and 2,464 respectively.