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News, 02/09/2016

Satu Santala returns from the World Bank to the Ministry

"Development cooperation must always be relevant, efficient and effective," says Satu Santala.

Satu Santala. Photo: Samuli Siirala.
Satu Santala. Photo: Samuli Siirala.

After three years as Executive Director in the World Bank Group, Satu Santala, 50, will start as Director General of the Department for Development Policy in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 1 September.

"I want that our development policy and development cooperation work in the Ministry is of such high quality that the citizens can be proud of the results of our work," she says.

Santala considers that development cooperation must be linked with big global issues, such as climate change and the root causes of migration. Work must be effective. We must achieve results and the citizens must be told about them in clear language.

It is also important to consider in which activities it is worthwhile for Finland to participate.

"We need to ask why we are doing this, what are our goals, and how do we know if we will succeed or not."

In the World Bank Group, Santala served as the Executive Director representing the Nordic and Baltic countries. The World Bank is a development finance institution, which provides loans and grants to poor and middle-income countries.

My understanding of development finance became clearer, Santala sums up her experience in the Word Bank.

According to her, grants continue to play an important role in the so-called fragile countries, where it is difficult to conduct business activities, as well as in efforts to establish democracy through strengthening developing countries' civil societies.  In many developing countries, power plants, for example, can be built using private funding.

"Development finance must be understood more widely," Santala says.

Today's concept of development is based on the idea that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be financed by means of development cooperation only, but also through private investments and partner countries' own tax revenue.

Back to a familiar department

Satu Santala was serving as Director General of the Department for Development Policy in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs when Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen appointed her to the World Bank Board.
The appointment was a sensation. Santala left behing 37 applicants, including former ministers.

She only notes that she knew "the people, the matters, and the Board's functioning". Her work in the Foreign Ministry had involved provision of advice related to Finland to the representative of the Nordic and Baltic countries in the World Bank Board.

Now she is returning to a department that she knows well. "I want to be a director who creates a pleasant work atmosphere."

Santala joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1994.

She took her Master of Social Sciences degree at the Åbo Akademi University in 1994 and her diplomatic career started when she was selected to the Training Course for Newly Recruited Diplomats in the Foreign Ministry in 1996. After the course, she served for several years in the Finnish Embassy in India and the Embassy in Tanzania.

Päivi Ängeslevä

The writer is a freelance journalist familiar with development issues.

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Updated 02/09/2016

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