Norway to establish multi-donor UN fund to help low-income countries navigate COVID-19 fallout

COVID-19 has spread rapidly to all continents in the past month and will have especially serious consequences in vulnerable countries. Norway is, therefore, establishing a new multi-donor fund that will better enable the UN to assist low-income countries facing the lasting consequences of the ongoing crisis.

The proposition was well-received by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and the UN is working to launch it as soon as possible.

The UN is considered to be Norway’s government to be its most important international cooperation body. A joint fund was established in the UN during the 2014 Ebola crisis to contribute to a comprehensive effort in the affected countries, launching emergency assistance and longer-term development projects. With the knowledge and experience from that successful project, Norway is now working to establish a similar fund.

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)

Norway develops digital COVID-19 tracking system

The Department of Computer Science at the University of Oslo has developed a digital data package, which functions as a monitoring system that can be used to track and detect infections of COVID-19 and with whom these people have been in contact. The system, called Health Information Systems Program (HISP), is developed according to standards as presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) and funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, among others.

The University of Oslo's DHIS2 software platform, developed in 1994, has become a standard for health information in low-income countries. The platform can be used to monitor malaria and vaccine programs, for example, and serves as a tool for health departments in 68 countries and covers a population of 2.4 billion people. It’s based on open-source mobile networks and mobile devices.

News article – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway takes lead on international mobilization for COVID-19 vaccine funding

In January of 2020, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein initiated an intensive outreach and effort to mobilize funding for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The ministers have been in direct contact with numerous heads of state and government to raise the funding needed for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The Norwegian government has expressed hope to have a vaccine available in 12 to 18 months.

Several countries are now supporting Norway’s funding call, but the goal of US$ 1 billion has yet to be reached. Among the top donors are Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

Press release – Norwegian Government

Norway pledges US$112 million to higher education and research in low-income countries

Norway has committed NOK 1 billion (US$112 million) to higher education and research in low-income countries. The aim of the funding is to strengthen the quality of education, guarantee the inclusion of marginalized groups, and ensure that education is relevant for contemporary job markets.

Higher education and research are priority areas in Norwegian development policy. The number of students receiving higher education has doubled worldwide since 2000. Nevertheless, marginalized groups across many countries and regions still lack access to higher education.

The money will be allocated over the next six years through the 'Norhed II' development program and managed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Press release – Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway Education

Norway commits to upholding 1% GNI to ODA

The Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, responded to a question from the Progress Party in Parliament, addressing Norway’s commitment to maintaining Official Development Assistance (ODA) at approximately 1% of gross national income (GNI).

Ulstein explained the government’s priorities in development policy and laid out the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the framework for Norwegian development policy: in particular the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. Norway is committed to upholding the current level of assistance.

Norwegian citizens have also expressed strong support for the government’s ODA work. Statistics Norway presented insights in 2017, showing that 87% of the population supports assistance to lower-income countries and that 50% support an increase in Norway's humanitarian budget.

Letter to the parliament – Norwegian Parliament (in Norwegian)

Norway contributes US$13 million for Palestinian refugees

Norway has made a NOK125 million (US$13 million) core contribution to The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for 2020.

The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, met with UNRWA’s Acting Commissioner-General, Christian Saunders, at the Amman New Camp for refugees in Jordan on March 3. Søreide urged other donors, particularly the Gulf States, to maintain or increase their contributions to ensure the renewal of UNRWA’s mandate.

Press release – Norwegian Government


New resource tracking donor funding for COVID-19

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a US-based non-profit organization focused on health, recently released a centralized compilation of information on donor funding for COVID-19. Their analysis is based on publicly available information and details all funding directed toward the global response to the virus. It excludes spending on domestic response efforts or economic stimulus.

Key findings include:

  • Governments, multilateral organizations, and private funders around the world have so far spent an estimated US$8.3 billion responding to the virus;
  • 91% of funds have come from donor governments, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations; and
  • The World Bank is the largest donor so far (US$6.0 billion). The US is the second-largest donor (US$1.3 billion), followed by the Tencent/Tencent Charity Foundation (US$215 million), Alibaba (US$144 million), and the European Union (US$140 million).

KFF plans to update the tracker as this global health emergency continues to unfold.

In addition to KFF's work on donor funding for COVID-19, other efforts to provide data-driven information on the outbreak have begun to emerge. Our World in Data's COVID-19 article is a particularly useful resource. Their aim is to help readers make sense of early data on the coronavirus outbreak. The article will continue to be updated as the situation develops.

Report - KFF

Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise asks for increased funding for strategic partnerships

The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise is asking for the 2021 development assistance budget to allocate NOK715 million (US$79 million) more to business development, of which NOK250 million (US$27 million) should be earmarked for strategic partnerships. Business development currently accounts for about 15% of the Norwegian official development budget.

In the Norwegian newspaper Vårt Land, Director General of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, Ole Erik Almlid, discussed the need for official development assistance to aim at job creation and business development. Almlid is urging the Norwegian government to explore strategic partnerships to financially support value chains, develop local food chains, develop more suppliers and services and vocational training.

Minister of International Development, Dag Inge Ulstein, and Director General of Norwegian Church Aid, Dagfinn Høybråten, have both expressed their skepticism about moving away from more traditional development assistance towards business-oriented assistance, citing concerns that the most vulnerable will be left behind.

Article - Vårt Land (in Norwegian)


Norway gives US$111 million to CEPI, as researchers race the clock in coronavirus vaccine efforts

CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) is working to develop a new vaccine against the coronavirus. Norway is funding the coalition with NOK1 billion (US$111 million) in the period 2017-2021, and NOK600 million (US$67 million) in the years 2021-2025. As of now, NOK175 million (US$19 million) has been invested in the new vaccine and the coalition hopes to have it ready within a year.

CEPI, which coordinates and finance the development of vaccines against infectious diseases with epidemic potential, was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017, with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg as one of the initiators. The vaccine coalition is headquartered in Oslo.

News article – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway doubles annual contribution to Green Climate Fund

The Norwegian government announced its decision to allocate NOK 3.2 billion (US$ 354 million) from 2020-2023 to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in their new agreement. A new agreement, signed January 23, 2020, by Bård Vegard Solhjell, the newly appointed Director-General of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, Yannick Glemarec, entails a doubling of annual funding to GFC.

The hike in financing from NOK 400 million (US$44 million) to NOK 800 million (US$89 million) is a demonstration of Norway’s intent to lead global efforts on climate change. This commitment marks the biggest agreement Norway has ever signed with a multilateral climate organization.

GFC will be the primary vehicle for Norwegian climate-related funding for low-income recipient countries in the coming years.

Press release – Norwegian Government