Norway's reallocation of ODA budget will have major repercussions, says UNDP head

In the revised state budget, the Norwegian government proposed the reprioritization of NOK4 billion (US$425 million) from the development assistance budget to manage a potential refugee crisis due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government proposed funding cuts for several international development organizations, including several UN agencies.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is one of the UN agencies hardest hit by the government's proposed cuts. According to the proposal from Norway, the funding towards UNDP will be cut by 95%, from NOK 464 million (US$49 million) to NOK 24 million (US$2 million). This includes the withdrawal of all core support, which is funding not linked to specific projects. 

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said in an interview that these kinds of cuts are destabilizing both for the organization and for its partners.

The government has also met criticism from several other actors. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to express his concern. The Socialist Left Party, the government's budget partner, and the Labor Party's own youth organization have also criticized the move. In a response to the revised budget, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions expressed that they stand against cuts in funding for international development. 

Critics are especially concerned that Norway's budget cuts could lead to a domino effect in which other donor countries could be more likely to pull in-country refugee costs from their core international development budgets. Steiner said that if a country like Norway decides to reduce its funding, it is more likely that others will follow. The Netherlands followed in Norway's path recently, signaling that it will reallocate US$150 million from its ODA budget for in-country refugee costs.

News article – Aftenposten (in Norwegian)