Focus is on food security, climate smart agriculture and sustainable fishing
Norway was the sixteenth-largest donor country in development funding for agriculture, forestry, fishing and rural development in 2016 (latest year for which full data is available). It invested a total of US$131 million, corresponding to 3% of its official development assistance (ODA). This is below the members’ of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 7% and makes Norway the 28th-largest donor to agriculture in relative terms of 29 DAC members (in 2016). Between 2015 and 2016, ODA to agriculture, forestry, fishing and rural development dropped by 22%, driven by decreases in bilateral funding, before increasing again to reach US$115 million in 2017. Based on government data, bilateral funding to agriculture stood at US$108 million in 2018. (Note: Government data is not comparable with OECD when it comes to core contributions to multilaterals.)
Although agriculture is historically one of Norway’s development priorities, in a December 2017 recommendation to the government, Norway’s parliament highlighted the need to increase efforts towards food security and climate-smart agriculture. A new, separate budget line for agriculture and food security at NOK902 million in 2019 (US$109 million shows the government’s efforts in this area. In the 2019 budget, the government announced a NOK60 million increase (US$7 million) in the 2019 budget specifically for climate-smart agriculture and food security. Norway follows a rights-based approach; its support includes increasing smallholder’s participation in decision-making, building resilience, and enhancing productivity, particularly towards women.
Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) published an ‘Action plan for sustainable food production system’ in June 2019, after phasing out Norway’s agriculture and food security strategy in December 2016.= The action plan draws on extensive consultations with academics and civil society, and takes a holistic approach to food production systems. Norway will prioritize its partner countries as well as regions vulnerable to famine and with poor access to nutritional food, especially in sub-Sahara Africa. Food production and value-creation and market are two thematic areas of the action plan, along with nutrition and diet, and policies and governance. Food production includes 1) increased sustainability and climate-adapted food production, and 2) increased productivity from a varied agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture. Value creation and markets includes increased sustainable value creation and business development in the food sector, with the aim to give stable access to healthy and safe food with less food waste.
The plan also sets eight concrete targets: 1) increased knowledge and technology, 2) increased biodiversity in food production, 3) increased climate-friendliness and sustainability, 4) preparedness to natural disaster and negative consequences of climate change has increased, 5) improved sustainable value chains from resources to market, 6) strengthened food security and animal and plant health, 7) improved measures for better nutrition for school children and adults, and improved knowledge about mother and child health, and 8) increased number and improvement of global and regional frameworks and national policies for sustainable food systems. The action plan will be implemented through both development projects and political dialogue.
Drawing on its expertise with marine resources, Norway is one of very few countries who focus on fisheries, falling under the scope of agriculture ODA by OECD reporting standards. In 2016, the government launched a program called ‘Fish for Development’, as a way to reduce poverty through promoting food security, sustainable fisheries management, and more profitable business activities. In 2017, the program’s budget stood at NOK170 million (US$21 million).
Norway channels most of its ODA to agriculture and rural development through bilateral cooperation. In 2017, it amounted to US$115 million, up from US$90 million in 2016. Increased funding went to agricultural development (largest sector of agriculture bilateral ODA, 26% of the total), fishery development (17%), and fishing policy and administrative management (10%), in line with Norway’s policy priorities.
About a fifth of Norway’s total cooperation for agriculture is channeled to multilateral organizations as earmarked funding (22% in 2016). For instance, US$25 million went to specific programs carried out by the United Nation’s (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2017. Geographic priorities include eight countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa (see box).
Core multilateral contributions to agriculture and rural development stood at US$39 million in 2016, remaining stable compared to 2015. The largest recipients were the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the African Development Fund (AfDF). Norway also collaborates with the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Crop Trust, and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other organizations.
Decision-making and funding is split between different MFA departments
The most relevant departments in setting agriculture priorities within the MFA are the Department for UN and Humanitarian Questions, the Section for UN Politics, and the Private Sector Section under the Department for Economy and Development. This is because a lot of Norway’s support for agriculture is channeled through private-sector development, research programs, and international financing channels (e.g., the FAO, IFAD, WFP). The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) steers programming through its Department of Climate, Energy and Environment and the Section for Environment and Food Security. Responsibility for the ‘Fish for Development’ program funding and implementation lies with the MFA and the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, a Norwegian government agency that provides input for policy-making around fisheries. The secretariat sits within Norad. The Norwegian private sector also plays a lead role by pushing the topic in the public debate. The EAT Foundation is also a leader in this area.