Heidi Hautala, Minister for International Development, Finland 2012

❝(..) NGOs contribute to the building of societies by providing people with means of expression and influence. NGOs promote pluralism, diversity, and tolerance in society while protecting and strengthening cultural, ethnic, religious and other identities. NGOs motivate citizens to act, rather than depend on state power and beneficence.

Deservedly, NGOs are now widely recognised as development actors in their own right. They have increased in number and stand out thanks to their capacity to reach out to, empower, represent and defend vulnerable and socially excluded groups, and trigger social innovation. Against this background, governments in several countries have strengthened their engagement with NGOs.

Civil society is an important partner for the Finnish Government. The underlying principle of the current Finnish Development Policy is that development result can become sustainable only if the civil society can operate freely. Thus, we see NGOs as fundamental and strategic actors in achieving open and democratic societies and are committed to strengthening their capacity through increased support and improving effectiveness of their development cooperation activities.

I warmly support the initiative to establishing an international World NGO Day. The calendar day can also serve as an opportunity to aim towards more capable and strong NGO sector and to ensure that there is also an enabling working environment for these organisations in every part of the world(..)