March 7, 2022
In order to make good, smart decisions, we must have a thorough understanding of the changes in our operational environment and listen to our key people.
This was the main idea when we started to work on our stakeholder survey. We wanted to know what our key people – such as our owners and other financiers, investee companies, co-financiers, civil society, political decision-makers, media, and other influencers both in Finland and abroad – think about our work. Our staff, the Board of Directors, and the Supervisory Committee were also clearly among these key people.
On one hand, we wanted to receive feedback on cooperation and communication. On the other hand, collect some thoughts and ideas on how Finnfund’s operations should be developed – particularly in terms of the rapidly changing operational environment. In addition to all this, there was an idea that we could use this information for a materiality assessment, and, hence, have a more in-depth understanding on what are the most important aspects of sustainability and impact for our stakeholders – and how it is reflected with what we at Finnfund think is important both now and in the future.
I strongly believe that today, no organisation can afford to ignore listening to its stakeholders, its key people.
Listening to stakeholders is particularly important when the operating environment is rapidly changing – whether it is about the COVID-19 pandemic or the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Or simply about the continuous development in the fields of development finance and impact investing, or the regulation of sustainable finance.
We have developed our operations – and it shows
How well is Finnfund’s mission reflected in its operations? Which areas of impact and sustainability are the most relevant for Finnfund – and which ones it should particularly develop in the future? When thinking about the field of development finance, what are the trends or issues that will be in the focus in the next few years? How well has Finnfund been able to generate and communicate the development impacts it has created through its investments? How well are sustainability or transparency reflected in Finnfund’s operations? These are some examples of the topics we were interested in.
So, what kind of responses did we get? It was great to see, that the strong emphasis we have had on developing our operations in recent years was also reflected in the responses. For instance, many respondents said they had noticed the developments in our sustainability work, e.g. in the fields of human rights and impact measurement. Increased transparency and access to information, as well as our pursuit of developing our stakeholder engagement and dialogue, were praised. Finnfund’s expertise in sustainable forestry and climate were recognised. And so forth. In many parts, the good grades we had previously received rose even further – both in terms of internal and external responses.
However, there is also room for improvement. Many of the respondents feel that they know Finnfund only from a certain point of view that is often related to their own work. There is also a desire for increased transparency, information sharing, and closer cooperation. We hear you and will keep on working on these issues.
Development finance and impact investing in constant development
It is clear, that Finnfund must stay on top of, and preferably, at the forefront of the latest developments in the fields of development finance and impact investing. The change is rapid. Impact investing and developing markets are gaining more and more interest, new players are joining, and the sustainability regulation, as well as international standards and best practices, are constantly evolving. Simultaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges, and political risks have materialised. It is evident that finding new, bankable projects is not always easy.
At the same time, it is clear that development financiers and impact-minded investors like Finnfund are sorely needed. The UN Sustainable Development Goals or the targets set by the Paris Agreement cannot be met without private sector involvement. According to the UN, developing countries will need up to USD 4,000 billion in additional investments to achieve the SDGs.
Discussion and collaboration
Very recently, Finnfund launched a new strategy that will guide our work until 2025. Another important step is the opening of Finnfund’s first regional office in Nairobi later this spring. We also strive to further develop many aspects of our work.
In all this, we will continue to need your feedback, ideas, and support – our dear stakeholders and all of you interested in Finnfund’s work and development finance. So please do get in touch (and do not only wait for the next stakeholder survey). Let the cooperation and debate continue.
Communications Manager, Finnfund