Policy Areas

Development cooperation

Norway actively seeks to deepen cooperation with the European Union on common global challenges such as poverty, the environment and peacebuilding. By increasing its development assistance and trade with developing countries, Norway contributes to a Europe promoting global solidarity. Furthermore, the cooperation between Norway and several EU Member States in the “Utstein Group” seeks to promote a better international development policy and influencing the EU and global cooperation forums in the development field.

In the course of the last 50 years, Norway has been a prime mover in international development cooperation. Today Norway is a major donor, not only in terms of its substantial allocations to developing countries and international aid organisations, but also because it participates actively in the international debate on this subject.

Norwegian development cooperation focuses on fighting poverty. It gives priority to the least developed countries and to especially vulnerable groups. This is in keeping with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the first and most important of which is to halve the proportion of people living in absolute poverty by 2015.

Multilateral cooperation is essential for a small country. Norway has always been a loyal supporter of the UN system and an important contributor to the work of the World Bank. Norway also supports the work of the United Nations Development Programme, which is responsible for monitoring the efforts to achieve the MDGs.

Many of Norway’s development cooperation activities also promote peace. Permanent improvements in people’s welfare and rights are an important element of the work for peace, which means that our development policy is a vital part of our foreign policy. The Norwegian efforts to promote peace in the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Guatemala have for many years been followed up by targeted development assistance.

Norway bases its development cooperation on its partner countries’ own priorities. Norwegian efforts are intended to help achieve the MDGs and implement the countries’ own development plans and poverty reduction strategies. Norway requires the individual recipient country to take full responsibility for the use of Norwegian funds. Recipient responsibility is a guiding principle in Norwegian development policy and calls for a close dialogue between the recipient country and the Norwegian development assistance administration.

Norway is only one of many donor countries and organisations that are promoting development in developing countries. It is difficult for a recipient country, with its limited administrative resources, to deal with such a large number of different actors, each with their own aims and working methods. It is therefore very important that donors do not strain the already stretched capacity of recipient countries’ administrations by poor coordination and the imposition of a range of different reporting requirements. Good donor coordination is an important principle of Norwegian development policy. Norway is therefore seeking close cooperation with the European Union and other main donors both bilaterally, in the recipient countries and within different international organisations.

The Utstein Group, which consists of Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Norway, has become an important forum for coordinating development cooperation. This group has assumed a proactive role in the international donor community and has in particular focused on poverty reduction, anti-corruption, donor coherence and untying aid.

Untying aid is an important step in the process of simplifying international aid and making it more effective. Most Norwegian aid is already untied. This means that Norwegian development assistance is not tied to the purchase of Norwegian goods. In this case, when a project is put out to tender internationally the recipient, whether it is a multilateral organisation or a particular country, will get the product that is best suited to its needs. Norway therefore welcomes the efforts made by the European Union to implement the DAC recommendation on untying of aid to Least Developed Countries and the steps taken towards further opening of Community aid.

There is broad consensus that more resources are needed if the MDGs are to be achieved for the least developed countries. It is estimated that reaching the MDGs will require double the current amount of official development assistance (ODA), which is about USD 50 billion. Most donors, including major actors such as the EU and the US, have announced a considerable increase in their development budgets. The Norwegian government’s aim is to increase the amount of ODA to 1 per cent of gross national income by 2005.

Development co-operation is more than euros, dollars and kroner. Good conditions for trade, debt relief and more investment are a greater stimulus to development than transfers of money. Norway has introduced duty- and quota-free access to its domestic market for all goods except weapons from the least developed countries. We are also pursuing an active debt relief policy, and through the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (NORFUND) we provide investment capital, loans and guarantees for the development of profitable and sustainable economic activity in developing countries.

The government’s Action Plan for Combating Poverty in the South outlines the main challenges in Norwegian and international development co-operation, and sets out ways in which Norwegian policy in a number of sectors, such as agriculture, energy and education, can contribute to poverty reduction in developing countries. This policy coherence means that policies in different areas all work together to realise the same goals. The government considers it important that Norwegian policy does not hamper efforts to reduce poverty in developing countries, and undertakes reviews of all its policies so that they can be adjusted if necessary.

Norwegian development policy is implemented by a number of different public- and private-sector actors. The Agency for Development Co-operation, NORAD, is of course the main actor, but Fredskorpset, other NGOs, the private sector, research and cultural institutions, and a number of government bodies also make significant contributions.

The goals of Norwegian development policy are ambitious. Norway intends to continue its active part in the fight against poverty and for development.

Contact point at the Mission of Norway is Anne Sofie Bjelland: [email protected] / +32 (0) 2 234 1 34

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Minister of International Development Erik Solheim. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Main partner countries for Norway in 2004.Photo: Map: Norad

Women from Gujarat, India, discussing with trade union representatives.Photo: Gunnar Zachrisen / Norad