Finland and Nepal diplomatic relations Jubilee Year in 2024 – a recognition to the longstanding partnership

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Finland and Nepal. Half a century is an important milestone for the excellent relations and friendship between our countries. The Embassy of Finland in Kathmandu is proud and privileged to acknowledge this joint journey.

Riina-Riikka Heikka, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal
Riina-Riikka Heikka, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal.

Finland is often characterized as the country of thousands of lakes and the richness of forests is an important feature to us as well. Nepal is portrayed through the majestic peaks of the Himalayas and the beauty of its diverse scenery. Finland’s work with Nepal focuses on development cooperation, which we in fact started together in the 1980’s within forestry, supporting forest coverage and community forestry solutions.

Today, Finland’s focus areas in development cooperation in Nepal are education, gender equality and social inclusion as well as water, sanitation and hygiene, climate resilience and livelihoods. Our commitment within these sectors have been longstanding and results based, together with the Government of Nepal. Interventions have always been designed together with Nepal with genuine ownership. This dialogue and joint planning has been of utmost importance.

Some highlights from our work include: through Finland’s WASH-projects over 2 million people have access to drinking water. We have also built hand-washing facilities and toilets to many schools. We have supported women’s economic empowerment and livelihoods. Our support to Nepal’s schools and education has made a difference and supported the fact that literacy rate in the country has progressed. Inclusion is key in our work and we pay special attention to the rights of persons with disabilities and other marginalized persons.

The Embassy team on a school visit with WFP related to a school-feeding program, washing hands together with the young students before the school meal.
The Embassy team and WFP on a school visit in Nuwakot, highlighting the importance of school feeding.

Since Nepal is very prone to climate change impacts and natural disasters, our work on climate resilience has been extremely important. A good example of our work is improving capabilities to respond to the increased risks of natural disasters, conducted by the Finnish Meteorological Institute in collaboration with the Nepali Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. Another example is contributing towards arsenic safe drinking water.

Our work would not have been possible without good partners. Finland has a number of strategic and innovative partnerships in Nepal. Collaboration with the European Union and the Team Europe approach – together with the EU delegation and EU countries – is key to our work. We also work closely together with UN Women and UNICEF. In our country program we are aiming high and striving for transformative change within socially harmful norms and practices. This long-term work is crucial in order to support women and girls.

What also makes a difference in our countries’ relationship are the people to people connections. Finnish Civil Society Organisations have a long history in Nepal. At the moment, around 20 Finnish civil society organisations are working in Nepal together with and through their local partners. Their work also gives us grassroot-level access to local communities and villages, which are often difficult to reach because of Nepal’s mountainous topography. The Finnish CSOs are also working on numerous themes and groups such as persons with disabilities, disaster risk management, women entrepreneurship, livelihoods etc – just to mention a few areas of work. In addition to these themes, the work adds to democracy, human rights and the enabling environment for civil society actors.

Finland and Nepal have a successful, versatile foundation to build on in the future. We are looking ahead with a bright view, congratulating Nepal for its forthcoming LDC (Least Developed Country) -graduation and continuing our partnership – together with Nepal and for Nepal.

Text: Riina-Riikka Heikka, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal