On Tuesday, State Secretary Diana Janse answered questions about, among other things, the government's support for Swedish civil society, the reduced core support to the UN and the priority that aid should benefit Swedish interests. Photo: FUF.


The State Secretary on the reform agenda: "We should not try to do everything everywhere"

The government's changes in Sweden's aid policy mean, among other things, an increased focus on trade, migration and Ukraine. But the changes have provoked reactions, not least from civil society organisations. So how does the government actually view the role of Swedish civil society in development cooperation? And why has it been chosen to reduce nuclear support to the UN in a world filled with crises? These were some of the issues that were discussed during FUF's conversation with Diana janse, State Secretary to the Minister for Aid and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell (M). 

- We shall not try to do everything everywhere. We must reprioritize where we do not feel that we have a strong enough added value.

State Secretary Diana Janse said so during the conversation with FUF on Tuesday.

The background to the conversation was that the government presented in December the reform agenda which indicates the new direction for Swedish aid. According to Diana Janse has the implementation of this policy has already begun through the phasing out of several strategies. For example, aid to Mali, South Sudan and Burkina Faso is to be phased out in 2024.

That the aid should benefit Swedish interests, including Swedish companies, is something that was questioned during the conversation - as the cornerstone of the aid has previously been that it should go towards global sustainable development and poverty reduction. But Diana Janse believes that the government is not abandoning this goal at all.

- I don't see opposite conditions here. We look at which of all possible efforts are good, and that they both fit from a development perspective and Swedish interests, she says.

According to the reform agenda, the government must also prioritize supporting civil society. Despite that, civil society in Sweden has already been hit hard by the government's re-prioritization - among other things through the scrapping of the funding for information and communication as well as FBA's support for civil society. In addition, the government has flagged that it will raise the requirement for civil society organizations' own contribution, i.e. how much of the organization's funds they have collected themselves, in the coming years. So how does the government actually see the role of Swedish civil society?

Diana Janse believes that the government sees civil society as an important partner in the implementation of aid, but that support to civil society within peace and security has been "administratively demanding" because it has been handled by two authorities.

- We saw an opportunity to switch over to Sida taking care of it. Ultimately, it is about resources. This was a way to go, and I think it feels completely reasonable.

So you have no plans to reduce support for Swedish civil society?

- No, answers Diana Janse.

Reduced support for the UN and development research

Another questioner in the audience pointed to the serious situation in the world, and wondered why the government has chosen to reduce Sweden's nuclear support to the UN. Diana Janse believes that it is "unreasonable" that Sweden should bear such a large responsibility for the contributions to the UN.

- We still provide a lot of core support, and also a lot of project support. We are still a disproportionately large donor, she says.

Another issue concerned the reduced support for research and education - which the government has greatly reduced. The questioner pointed out that, on the one hand, the government wants to invest in Swedish companies and their skills, but that the reasoning is the opposite when it comes to development research. How does that work?

- It is about what we believe contributes to good global development and the geopolitical dimension that is there. Yes, we have cut research funding to make ends meet. We value research enormously, but we want to do it in a different way, says Diana Janse.

Another topic that was touched upon was Sweden's under-representation in international institutions such as the UN and the EU - and how the government plans to work with it, as opportunities to gain a foothold in the industry are reduced, for example by cutting funding for JPO services.

- I do not share the picture that the roads to the UN and the EU are closed, she says and believes that there are other ways to curb the problem of under-representation than spending more money on JPO services. 

Is there something in the text that is not correct? Contact us at opinion@fuf.se

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