Development Cooperation

In 2002 Norway celebrated half a century of development co-operation. In the course of these 50 years we have been a prime mover in international development co-operation. Today Norway is a major donor, not only in terms of its substantial allocations to developing countries and international aid organisations, but also in terms of its active participation in the international debate on this subject.

Norwegian development co-operation 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 cut the proportion of people living in absolute poverty in half by 2015.

Multilateral co-operation 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 co-operation 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. For many years, Norwegian efforts to promote peace in the Middle East, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Guatemala have been followed up by targeted development assistance.

Norway bases its development co-operation 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 accountability 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 its 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 co-ordination and the imposition of a range of different reporting requirements. Good donor co-ordination, headed by the recipient country, is therefore an important principle of Norwegian development policy and ensures that limited resources are used more effectively.

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.

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 further increase in overall official development assistance (ODA), which in 2005 amounted to USD 106.5 billion. Although this figure represents a new record, a large portion of this funding was given as debt relief, not least to countries such as Nigeria and Iraq. 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.

Development co-operation is more than 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 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. This policy coherence means that policies in different areas all work together to realise the same goals.

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 role in the effort to combat poverty and promote development.

Source: By the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs   |   Share on your network   |   print