Trust Fund for Environmentally & Socially Sustainable Development (TFESSD)

The Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (TFESSD) was established in December 1999, to support the World Bank Group's  (WBG) fight for sustainable poverty reduction. The trust fund provided flexible additional financing for innovative analytical and project work, while acting as a catalyst for encouraging WBG personnel to incorporate environmentally and socially sustainable development issues in all their work. TFESSD was jointly funded by the governments of Norway and Finland.  Working in active partnerships, Finnish and Norwegian researchers, activists, as well government officials interacted with WBG staff, constantly challenging one another to do more for the world's poor and marginalized peoples.

TFESSD provided grant resources for WBG activities aimed at mainstreaming the environmental, social, and poverty-reducing dimensions of sustainable development into Bank work. It developed WBG and client country capacity, promoted inclusion of sustainable development issues into Bank operations, and fostered cooperation between different units on the WBG and with external agencies and groups.

Emphasizing an integrated approach to development, the trust fund brought together four interrelated themes, managed in four windows, corresponding to four sector boards within the World Bank Group: Environment, Poverty, Social Development and Social Protection and Labor.  Through this cross-sectoral approach to development and the financing of catalytic analysis and activities, TFESSD has had a major impact on the WBG's work. The trust fund has now phased out its activities.   


TFESSD Windows
  • Environment Window

    For the Environment Window, TFESSD played a paramount role in supporting the underpinnings for mainstreaming environmental management efforts in country dialogue and country partnership programs, including through strengthening analytical and advisory activities, addressing environmental priorities through project design, and building capacity for sound environmental management.
  • Poverty Window

    The Poverty Window focused on strengthening in-country capacity, analytics and cross-country data to assist countries in the creation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPS). By doing so, it helped define and measure empowerment and gender, training and capacity building, as well as providing key inputs to country dialogue and policy-making decisions. Together, the Social and Poverty Windows were instrumental in introducing Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA), which contributed to informed policy-making.
  • Social Development Window

    The Social Development Window provided opportunities for innovation and experimentation to move the social development agenda forward, particularly through activities that focused on empowering people by transforming institutions into entities that are inclusive, cohesive, resilient and accountable. These activities included analysis of how these issues impact youth, women, access to health services, violence and fragile settings.
  • Social Protection and Labor Window

    The Social Protection and Labor Window was opened to support thematic and cross-cutting work on social protection under the umbrella of the social risk management framework. This work was designed to strengthen the quality and impact of social protection activities through an approach that targets labor market interventions (regulations), social insurance programs, social assistance (cash transfers and workfare) and programs to assist the most vulnerable groups such as the disabled, orphans, children, and the elderly.
Resources and Examples of TFESSD-Funded Activities
  • FAQs

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Information for Task Team Leaders (TTLs) and project developers (PDF, .05 mb)
  • Projects List

    TFESSD Projects List

    Includes Project ID, Grant Approved Amount, Allocations, Total Disbursements, and Fund Closing Date (PDF, .4 mb)
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    Climate Change Knowledge Portal

    Climate change information through an online inter-active portal
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    Youth Leaders in Africa and Eastern Europe used the e-learning materials on the Fundamentals of Climate Change (TF093108)

    World Bank Open Learning Campus
    Awareness raising communities on issues relating to accessing water during dry periods and on improving production...
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    Potential and Socio-Economic Impact of Reducing Deforestation in the Congo Basin (TF096977)

    TFESSD supported the production of a documentary film on the impacts of climate change on tropical forests to cover the "adaptation" aspects. The film captures the story of the Baka, a pygmy community and sends a vibrant message that forest ecosystems and the communities that depend on it are under threat, but at that the same it provided communities a valuable knowledge about the forest...
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    Large Scale Land Acquisition: Providing Economic, Social and Environmental Guidance (TF094944)

    Report: Rising Global Interest in Farmland. Can It Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits? Report includes typology of country situations based on agro-ecological potential
    This book aims to provide key pieces of information needed for informed debate about large-scale land acquisition by drawing on the experience from past land expansions, discussing predictions for potential future demand, and providing empirical evidence of what is happening on the ground in the countries most affected by the recent increase in demand for land...
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    Adapting Rural Livelihoods to Climate Change Risks in the Balkans and Caucasus (TF093008)

    Report: Looking Beyond the Horizon: How Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Responses Will Reshape Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
    Agriculture and climate change are inextricably linked, as agriculture is one of the most climate-sensitive of all sectors. In many countries, such as the four that are examined in this work, the risks of climate change for the agricultural sector are a particularly immediate because the majority of the rural population depends either directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods...
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    Evaluating Conditional Cash Transfers Schemes in Africa as Safety Net Mechanisms for Vulnerable Populations (TF097789)

    Social Protection and Public Works
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    Developing Effective Social Safety Nets to Reduce Inequality and Social Exclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (TF010807)

    Gallup Poll: MENA Residents Put Onus on Government to Help the Poor
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At least eight in ten adults in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia say their respective governments should bear the primary responsibility for helping the poor in their countries, according to a World Bank MENA flagship report...
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    Promoting Inclusive Growth in the Low Income SSA Countries (TF010366)

    Africa Youth Report - The report looks at the inequality of access to employment among youth and the linkage between youth, employment/unemployment and growth, among other topics...
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    Vulnerability to shocks, child marriage, and human development in Africa (TF098830)

    Blog: Eliminating Child Marriage to Boost Girls’ Education
    Child marriage in developing countries remains pervasive. One-third of girls are married before the age of eighteen. That’s 39,000 girls each day, with one in nine marrying before the age of fifteen. Among countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, girls with three years of schooling or less are up to six times more likely to marry young than girls with secondary education...

TFESSD supported the World Bank Group's overall efforts in helping client countries pursue environmentally and socially sustainable development.  The trust fund played an important role in supporting the analytical foundation for mainstreaming environmental management efforts in country dialogue and country assistance programs.   Through the Environment Window, environmental objectives were mainstreamed in adjustment and investment operations, support to policy and institutional reforms was expanded, and environmental health outcomes were more thoroughly emphasized.  

The activities under the Environment Window consistently supported the overall objectives of the World Bank Group Environment Strategy under the five key strategic themes:

1.  Natural Resource Management 
2.  Environmental Health 
3.  Poverty-Environment Linkages
4.  Environmental Policies, Governance and Institutions
5.  Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change and Natural Disasters. 

Under the Environment Window, TFESSD-financed projects addressed linkages between poverty and environment by investigating the relationships between poverty, environmental degradation, and health.  The trust fund also financed studies intended to mainstream environmental considerations into key private sectors such as agriculture, energy, and transportation.

Featured Projects, Grants, Reports, and Studies
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    The Hydro-Agronomic-Economic (HAE) Model for Mekong River Basin and Local Adaptation in Thailand and Lao, PDR (TF093109)

    The activity introduced the concept of integration in addressing issues of climate change and water utilization in countries with a strong sectoral tradition. It developed a methodological basis for model development that is now being used in Thailand and Lao, PDR to help respond directly to the planning needs of various sectors such as irrigation, agriculture and energy.
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    Economic Analysis of Coastal Adaptation to Climate Change in Senegal and the Gambia (TF095925)

    The objective of this grant was to undertake a cost-benefit assessment and to develop a decision-making tool that would improve the effectiveness of strategies and investments of coastal adaptation to climate change in Senegal and in the Gambia, and help initiate a process of long-term planning and resource mobilization for effective climate action. These activities were co-financed by grant resources from TFESSD and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
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    Building the Analytical Capacity to Mainstream Adaptation to Climate Risk into Bank Operations in Africa: A Program Approach (TF092659)

    The objective of this programmatic grant was to mainstream adaptation to climate variability and change into the poverty-reduction strategies of Sub-Saharan African countries, and into the region’s country assistance strategies. This objective is embedded in the first two pillars of the WBG Africa Region’s Climate Change Strategy: to make adaptation a core component of development and to enable Bank and client countries’ capacity and fill gaps in knowledge related to adaptation in rapidly expanding sectors such as transport.
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    Impact and Process Evaluation of Smallholder Biogas in China (TF094735)

    This activity aimed to enhance understanding of health, greenhouse gas, food security, and local environmental effects of smallholder biogas and the factors leading to the successful implementation of projects. The knowledge built will help scale up the use of biogas and other clean fuels, and improve indoor air quality initiatives in China, Sub-Saharan Africa, and other developing countries.
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    Using Forest to Enhance Resilience to Climate Change Project (TF099814)

    This activity aimed to improve the understanding of the use of forests for adaptation to enhance resilience to climate change. Its objective was to disseminate knowledge gained from the study to the relevant decision makers and development practitioners in order to inform policy and project development processes. TFESSD supported the data collection and an analysis on the role of forests for adaptation to changes caused by land use and climate change specifically for the drinking water sector in Honduras and the small holder agriculture sector in Lao PDR.
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    The Economic and Social Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture in Middle East and North Africa (MENA): A Regional Analysis (TF093578)

    This grant helped improve the understanding of the impacts of climate change on agriculture throughout the region and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on policies and program supporting adaptation. The grant delivered a coherent assessment through analytical models and scenarios on the many threats posed by the changing climate, specifically on agriculture, resulting in an improved understanding of climate change impacts in the region. It also contributed to more informed adaptation decisions by the stakeholders.

The World Bank Group mission is to deepen understanding of the relationship between policies, institutions, and the poverty reduction process. Poverty encompasses lack of opportunities (and capabilities), lack of voice and representation, as well as vulnerability to shocks.  WBG support for sustainable poverty reduction centers on action to broaden opportunity, enhance empowerment, and strengthen security.  Within this framework, promoting broad-based growth is a critical priority, considering its proven importance in reducing poverty.  Through the Poverty Window, TFESSD supported evidence-based policy-making using household survey data analysis and often real-time responses to specific client demands. The Window operated in four main areas:

1.  Shocks and vulnerability
2.  Employment
3   Inequality of opportunity
4.  Impact evaluation

The Poverty Window's activities focused on strengthening in-country capacity and analytics. Grants funded research to define and measure empowerment, as well as training and capacity-building activities to support the decision-making and planning processes at the grassroots level.  Most of these activities were upstream WBG studies that influenced policy formulation and assessment. The trust fund also supported downstream monitoring and evaluation, using participatory and quantitative mechanisms.

Featured Projects, Grants, Reports, and Studies
  • The impact of the financial crisis on poverty and income distribution

    Assessing Poverty and distributional impacts of the financial crisis (TF 094729)

    Report: The impact of the financial crisis on poverty and income distribution : insights from simulations in selected countries
    In the midst of the worldwide financial crisis, this grant developed a methodology for predicting and evaluating the distributional impacts of the financial crisis, exploring differences across social groups. Five country studies were completed: Bangladesh, Philippines, Mongolia and Poland. These studies provided a strong base of evidence on the different impacts of the crisis. The findings informed WBG operations such as a policy loan in Poland and the Emergency post-cyclone operation in Philippines. Furthermore, analytical works such as the Mexico Poverty Report and economic updates for Bangladesh also benefited from this work.
  • Mozambique Then and Now An Atlas of Socio-Economic Statistics

    Natural Resources Management in Mozambique (TF052779)

    Report: Mozambique then and now : an atlas of socio-economic statistics - 1997-2007
    This project focused on developing datasets and analytical foundations to help policymakers and practitioners monitor the impact of shocks and ascertain the effectiveness of responses. It developed a Socio-Economic Atlas that reported spatial analysis of poverty and growth. The Atlas helps increase access to socio-demographic and economic information, and informs further analysis on the distributional impact of shocks.
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    Implications of Climate Change for Economic Policies in APEC (TF093403)

    Report: The welfare effects of extreme weather events : insights from three APEC case studies
    Direct responses to climate change related shocks were at the center of projects such as Implications of Climate Change for Economic Policies in APEC, which aimed to explore the usefulness and applicability of market-based instruments and the institutional requirements for deploying such instruments in order to address climate change. The idea was to enable APEC countries to respond to climate-based shocks quickly.
  • Climate Change and Volatility – Tanzania

    Climate Volatility and the Poor in Southern and Eastern Africa (TF092567)

    Report: Climate volatility and poverty vulnerability in Tanzania
    The project aimed to develop a framework for quantifying the impacts of climate variability and change on the world’s poor. The case studies of Southern and Eastern Africa catalyzed more detailed analyses of that region. In addition, the framework was general and flexible enough that it could also be applied to other regions in Africa, as well as to other parts of the developing world.
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    Socioeconomic Mobility and Inequality of Access to Employment in Europe and Central Asia (TF010534)

    Report: Gender, mobility, and middle class in Europe and Central Asia : insights from qualitative research
    The objective of the project was to better understand the determinants of economic mobility and the growth of a stable middle class. This analysis included a profile of those vulnerable to downward and upward mobility, and aimed to link them to policies (education, taxation and social policy) in two countries: Moldova and Tajikistan.

The Social Development Window of the trust fund was established to provide support for innovation and experimentation to move the WBG's social development agenda forward.  The agenda aims to empower people by transforming institutions into entities that are:

1.  Inclusive:  promoting equal access to opportunity for every citizen 
2.  Cohesive:  working together to address common needs, overcome obstacles, and balance diverse interests 
3.  Accountable:  becoming transparent and responding to the public interest in an effective, efficient, and fair way. 

The activities under this window supported analytical innovation and capacity development, and focused on empowering poor and marginalized peoples to become active participants in the development process.  Furthermore, these activities paved the way for governments to craft policies and build institutions that respond to the needs and demands of the poor.  The program also facilitated knowledge sharing in client countries and in many instances fostered strong collaborative programs and partnerships in areas such as social inclusion, community empowerment, violence prevention, as well as community adaptation and resilience in response to shocks and climate change.

Featured Projects, Grants, Reports, and Studies
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    The National Program for Community Empowerment (P122810)

    The activity was the Government of Indonesia’s flagship poverty alleviation program. It built on ten years of successful community driven development (CDD) experience in the Kecamatan Development Program (for which several studies and evaluations were co-financed by the TFESSD) and the Urban Poverty Program. Its development objectives were for villagers to benefit from improved socio-economic and local governance conditions. It covered both the rural and urban parts of Indonesia, and the rural area program was one of the world’s largest community-based poverty reduction programs.
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    Improving Social Inclusion in India's Health Insurance Scheme for the Poor (TF010269)

    The objective of the activity was to improve access to India's subsidized health insurance scheme among socially disadvantaged groups. It aimed to do so by piloting and evaluating outreach interventions in selected districts that increased enrollment and utilization of hospital services among socially disadvantaged groups in Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana.
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    The Large-Scale Land Acquisition: Providing Social Economic and Environmental Guidance project (TF094944)

    The project conducted research on large-scale land acquisition in 11 countries in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa in order to provide the key pieces of information needed for an informed debate about large scale acquisition that could inform action by the Bank, policy-makers and other donors. It resulted in a publication which was the one of the most downloaded publications in the WBG in 2012 and 2013.
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    REDD+ Opportunity Costs Training Manual

    TFESSD supported the production of a REDD+ Opportunity Costs training manual to support client countries in their efforts towards designing policies and incentive mechanisms for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) by helping them assess and respond to the social and economic costs of REDD+ activities and programs. The TFESSD grant complemented related technical preparatory work funded by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which provides a collaborative platform and grants for countries to develop national plans for REDD+ preparation.
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    Social Development Flagship Programs

    TFESSD grants supported the preparation of two significant social development flagship programs: ‘Social Dynamics and Fragility’, and ‘Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity’. Support for the Fragility flagship enabled the WBG to engage more broadly on these issues at the program and policy levels both within the Bank and with clients. Findings from this flagship were operationalized in the field by supporting re-engagement strategies in the Middle East, post-conflict and youth integration operations in Africa, and urban development in Latin America. The Social Inclusion flagship report provided a framework for understanding and moving toward social inclusion and was intended for policy makers, academics, activists, development partners, and anyone who is curious about what inclusion means.
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    Looking Beyond the Horizon: How Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Responses Will Reshape Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

    Another flagship report supported by the TFESSD focused on adapting rural livelihoods to climate change risks in the Balkans and Caucasus. It aimed to identify the exposure and vulnerability in the agricultural sector to climate change, analyse the potential impacts, and link these impacts to pragmatic adaptation responses in Albania, Macedonia, Moldova and Uzbekistan. The study won several awards for successfully achieving these objectives by combining an innovative approach, rigorous modelling techniques, knowledge of international and local experts, and extensive stakeholder consultations at the national and sub-national levels.

The Social Protection and Labor Window aimed to support innovation and new thinking on social policies and programs of WBG projects.  The window's objective was to strengthen the quality and impact of social protection activities in the WBG country assistance programs as well as member countries' own poverty reduction strategies and policies. 

Traditionally, social protection has included policies that provide social safety nets, social funds, labor market interventions, and social insurance.  A newer component of social protection is social risk management which focuses specifically on the most vulnerable and the poorest, as they are most susceptible to risks and typically lack effective risk-management instruments.  In this view, the role of risk management, protection of basic livelihoods and promotion of risk-taking for financial gains, are emphasized.  In practice, social protection involves:

1.  Labor market interventions (regulation, programs, and wage-setting rules)
2.  Social insurance programs (pensions, unemployment insurance, family benefits, and sick pay)
3.  Social assistance (transfers in cash or kind, subsidies, and workfare)
4.  Special programs to assist particularly vulnerable groups (the disabled, orphans, underprivileged children, and the elderly)

TFESSD also played a key role in mainstreaming the disability theme in WBG projects. Here a few examples of these activities:

Promotion of Inclusivity in Education, Employment and Health of Persons with Disability in South-East Asia:  Report (PDF, 1.5 mb)
Afghanistan, Pension Administration and Safety Net (P113421):  Project
India, Exploring Multi-sectoral Engagement in Building Linkages Between HIV/AIDS and Disability Programs:  Report (PDF, .3 mb)
Columbia, Making the New Bus Rapid Transit System Accessible (P101356):  Project
Mexico, Accessibility Training for Bus Drivers:  Toolkit (PDF, 2.5 mb)
Disability and Labor Markets in LAC, Empirical Evidence and Analytical Challenges: Report (PDF, .9 mb)
Accessible transport in Africa, The Dakar Diamniadio Toll Highway (DDTH) Case Study:  ProjectReport (FR) (PDF, 3.9 mb)
Towards Equity and Participation for Students with Disabilities in African Higher Education, The Case Studies of Ghana and Tanzania:  Report (PDF, .4 mb)
Sierra Leone, Social and Economic Situation of Persons with Disabilities:  Report (PDF, .9 mb)
Accessible Transport, Lessons from Urban Transport Projects in East Asia (China, Vietnam, and the Philippines):  China Report (PDF, .8 mb); Vietnam Report (PDF, .3 mb); East Asia Report (PDF, 1 mb)

Featured Projects, Grants, Reports, and Studies
  • DRC Children Affected by Social Conflict

    Evaluating Efforts to Prevent the Phenomenon of Street Children in an African Post-Conflict Country (TF097402)

    The project’s objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of street children prevention initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The activities aimed at improving the effectiveness of the Street Children Project (another Bank project) in particular and inform social policy in DRC regarding the application of the 2009 Child Protection Law and the implementation of the 2009 National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).
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    Developing Effective Social Safety Nets to Reduce Inequality and Social Exclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (TF010807)

    This activity built an engagement platform on social safety nets (SSNs) for citizens in the MENA region that uses an array of tools to promote social inclusion and reduce inequality. It has fostered active knowledge exchange within the region on how to think creatively about program assessments, including outreach to multiple stakeholders (government, civil society, academics, but also ordinary citizens) through a variety of tools (roundtables, consultations, opinion surveys, game experiments).
  • SSNs

    Global Stocktaking of Social Protection Programs (TF010791)

    This grant developed a successful global inventory of social safety nets. It created substantial knowledge both within the WBG and externally. The aim was to improve the information base on existing social protection programs in all low-income countries, instigate a global debate on the role of social protection as a vehicle for pro-poor growth, and inform budget allocation decisions towards social protection programs.
  • Children in Haiti

    Haiti Nutritional Security (TF097257)

    In Haiti, a TFESSD project made a significant difference in improving the country’s nutrition security options. The activity strengthened the capacity and effectiveness of nutrition-related safety net programs thus addressing the persistent problems of severe and chronic malnutrition among Haiti’s most vulnerable populations. The project met its objectives and achieved substantial outcomes on various levels. An analysis of a food security, poverty and cash-for-work program as well as a nutrition and community worker assessment, generated knowledge that informed the Government’s national nutrition policy as well as its new plan for the reduction of extreme poverty.

    Government Agencies
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      NORAD: Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

      Capacity: Environment, Social Development, Poverty
      NORAD administrates long-term government-to-government development cooperation with close to 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America. NORAD also channels a substantial portion of Norwegian development funds through Norwegian partners in 80 other developing countries in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, and Europe.
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      Norwegian Centers for Environmental Assistance to Developing Countries

      Capacity: Environment
      These centres for environmental assistance are organized to assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NORAD, and also contribute to institutional cooperation with partner countries in the field of environment.
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      Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

      Capacity: Environment, Social Development, Poverty
      The main objective of the Finnish Foreign Service is to consolidate Finland's international position and influence, and to achieve favorable outcomes for Finland in international relations. The Foreign Service also prepares and implements Finland's foreign and security policy, furthers Finland's national interests abroad, including its trade policy and commercial economic interests. It promotes international cooperation for democracy, respect for human rights, and sustainable development.
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      Statistics Finland

      Capacity: Environment, Social Development, Poverty
      Statistics Finland combines collected basic data with its own expertise to produce statistics and information services for the needs of citizens, government, businesses, international organizations, and scientific research. It acts as developer of official statistics, the nation's memory and active data disseminator. Statistics Finland produces three-quarters of all government statistics in Finland. Administratively, Statistics Finland operates under the Ministry of Finance, but is fully and independently responsible for its statistics.

    Featured TFESSD Conferences and Workshops



    Contact US
    Colum Garrity
    Program Manager