The Managing Director of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Bård Vegar Solhjell, has presented the top three priorities for Norwegian development assistance in 2021, stating that it will be even more crucial this year after the setbacks for lower-income countries in 2020.
The World Bank estimates that there may be 100 to 150 million more people living in extreme poverty in 2021, compared to in 2020.
According to Norad, the first priority is to provide access to vaccines for everyone. The Norwegian government will continue its involvement in the distribution of vaccines and health resources through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). Countries will not see their economies flourishing again until the pandemic is over, so vaccination is an important factor for all other types of development assistance.
Second, Norad will focus on increasing its use of direct cash transfers. The overall goal is to provide an easy and unbureaucratic social security net for the receivers. Broad international research has shown that cash as assistance functions well but has been used less by Norway.
Third, Norad sees the importance of restarting investments in societies and businesses. This could and should be included in efforts to tackle the climate crisis, according to Norad, and the potential benefits for investments in renewable energy, agriculture, oceans, and other sectors are significant as world leaders come together to address climate priorities.