Although still not many people know the meaning of the term “development cooperation” (30% of all respondents), in comparison to previous years this represents a great leap forwards in terms of the public’s understanding of what development cooperation is: as many as 82% of respondents believe that it is important to provide aid to less economically powerful countries.
“I think that the rise in awareness of what development cooperation is, is first and foremost connected to the war in Ukraine. The same applies also to aid to economically less developed countries, however, it is important to highlight the difference between the society’s support for economically less developed countries and development cooperation,” says Justina Kaluinaitė, political advisor to the Development Cooperation Platform.
“When the war started, many people donated money and started volunteering – which means that people acted on the belief they hold valuable, which is to help one’s neighbour; and so this great leap [in awareness] was brought by the war that is taking place in our region. Additionally, help and support to civil society in Belarus, as well as successful efforts to relocate people of Lithuanian descent from Venezuela, our society’s expressed compassion for victims of war, and the urgent need for humanitarian aid, were all elements that played an important part in this shift in understanding and support for development cooperation.”
Kaluinaitė highlights the importance of transparency when it comes to communicating these topics in a proper manner. “The fields of development cooperation and international humanitarian aid are very subtle and sensitive, because funds are being used outside of Lithuania. That is why it is so extremely important to present to Lithuanian citizens all the information regarding aid and activities that are being supported by our taxpayers’ money abroad in a clear, detailed, and understandable way.”
Kaluinaitė also notes that, according to the survey, the respondents’ knowledge of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals has not changed over the last few years. She attributes this to the lack of communication related to the SDGs and the scarcity of accurate and clear information regarding concrete actions taken in this field in Lithuania.
It is interesting to note that slightly more than half of all respondents (52%) would rather agree that part of their taxes were assigned for poverty reduction in economically less powerful countries, while the majority (78%) responded that it is important for them to invest their money based on the principle of sustainable investment, i. e. investment into transparent and socially responsible businesses.
“It is obvious that global tendencies are also being reflected in Lithuania. Lithuanians are becoming more sensitive to the less fortunate, and they have the wish and the means to share their wealth with others,” says Rūta Trainytė, council member of the Lithuanian Consumers Alliance. “Sustainability initiatives are also becoming more and more popular in our country, whereas caring for one’s environment is slowly but surely also becoming a norm. This tendency is very promising, since it’s our own investments that determine for how much longer we’ll be financing all those planet-unfriendly, climate change-causing businesses such as the gas and petrol industry.”
Trainytė stresses that climate change-induced extreme weather occurrences mainly affect people living in poverty in the less economically developed countries in Africa, Asia, and Oceania, especially women and children. Some development cooperation projects helps them adapt to extreme climate occurrences such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and the lack of food and water.
Consumers Alliance was established in 2012 and currently joins together 10 nongovernmental consumer organisations, which are: APGIDA – the Personal Privacy Protection and Data Security Association, Association “For Honesty in Banking”, Insurance Policyholders Association, the Finance and Credit Management Association, Lithuanian Association of Bank Customers, Lithuanian Citizens Advice Union, Lithuanian Consumer Association, Lithuanian Consumer Union, Consumer Rights Protection Centre, and the Consumer Rights Institute.
Consumers Alliance is the only Lithuanian umbrella consumers organisation that is a member of the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC).
Development Cooperation Platform
National Non-Governmental Development Cooperation Organisations’ Platform (Lithuanian NGDO Platform or Development Cooperation Platform) is an umbrella association uniting Lithuanian NGOs working in the fields of development cooperation, global education, sustainable development goals, and humanitarian action. Established in 2007, it currently unites 22 Lithuanian NGOs.