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As infections spike, Norway allocates US$2 million to India for COVID-19 response

Norway has allocated NOK 20 million (US$2 million) to India to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, given through the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The current infection spike in India has resulted in some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases per day and COVID-19-related deaths. The health system is under immense pressure, and the country has asked the international community for assistance to get control of the situation.

While the WHO plays an essential role in distributing medical equipment to support an effective response to the current crisis, the Red Cross helps local communities across India with managing emergency response centers, ambulance services with oxygen facilities, information campaigns, hygiene packs, and protective equipment. 

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership has also chosen to establish a COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce. The partnership is co-chaired by Norway, and the aim of the newly launched taskforce is to ensure access to oxygen supplies in low-income countries.

Several stakeholders, such as Unitaid and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are involved in the taskforce. The Global Fund has, through its COVID-19 Response Mechanism, given over US$11 million to the taskforce to finance oxygen products. Norway has invested NOK 286 million (US$34 million) in the COVID-19 Response Mechanism.  

Press release - The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Press release - The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norway calls for long-term financing solutions for global health security

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg made a statement at the Virtual United Nations Dialogue on Pandemic Preparedness and Response Architecture, emphasizing that global health security is a global public good and a social, economic, and security issue that needs long-term financing solutions.  

Solberg called for clearer international norms and standards, better coordination to develop and distribute technologies and tools, and support for capacity building. She also emphasized the role and importance of a fully-financed World Health Organization with operational independence.  

As co-chair of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council, Norway has taken part in developing a framework for how the contributors can all share the cost of getting ACT-A fully financed. Norway will work to facilitate discussions on a financing mechanism for global health security.  

Transcript – The Norwegian government  

Canada among 29 countries to condemn human rights violations against LGBTI people in Chechen Republic

Canada, among 29 co-signatories, has called on the Russian Federation "to launch an effective, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the systematic persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and to end impunity for its perpetrators."

A report published in 2018 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found strong evidence that Chechnya was engaging in "successive purges against LGBTI persons". LGBTI people in Chechnya face "systematic harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings". Since the release of the report, Russia has failed to implement changes or respond to these human rights violations, and new human rights violations against LGBTI people and opponents of Chechen leadership continue to be discovered, said the joint statement.

The following countries also signed this statement: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Pandemic spending brought global foreign assistance to all-time high in 2020, but "much greater effort" needed, says OECD

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) released the preliminary data on its official development assistance (ODA) flows for 2020. Spending on COVID-19 relief pushed foreign assistance to an all-time high in 2020 (US$161.2 billion, +3.5% from 2019), but the OECD says funds are still insufficient.

Although governments internationally have provided the equivalent of US$16.00 trillion in COVID-19 stimulus measures, just 1% of that spending has been mobilized to help low-income countries respond to the COVID-19 crisis, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. A "much greater effort" is needed to support vaccine distribution and health services and to support the income and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people, he said.

The data showed that in 2020, 22% of bilateral ODA was provided as "non-grants" (loans or equity investments), an increase of 17% from previous years and a 39% increase from 2019 levels. By income group, flows to low-income countries decreased by 4% compared to 2019 while ODA to lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries increased by 7% and 36%, respectively. These trends imply that part of the ODA increase in 2020 is due to loans to middle-income countries at a time when debt relief is increasingly discussed, with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund recently calling for greater assistance to middle-income countries for tackling debt and the climate crisis.

Some of the donor-specific information includes the following:

  • Australia's ODA decreased by 11% due to cuts to bilateral assistance;
  • Canada's ODA increased by 8% due to heightened climate financing and in-country refugee costs;
  • EU Institutions saw a 25% increase in ODA due to a significant amount of additional funds for COVID-19 related activities and with sovereign lending increasing by 136% in real terms over 2019;
  • France's ODA increased by 11% due to an increase in its bilateral assistance and funding for COVID-19, including through lending;
  • Germany's ODA increased by 14% due primarily to the mobilization of additional ODA resources to fight the pandemic;
  • Italy's ODA decreased by 7% due to a drop in bilateral grants as well as in-country refugee costs;
  • Japan's ODA increased by 1% due to heightened bilateral lending;
  • The Netherlands' ODA decreased by 3% due to a loss of gross national income (GNI), as ODA levels were set based on maintaining the previous year's ODA-to-GNI ratio (0.59%);
  • Norway's ODA increased by 8% due to a rise in health-related ODA and contributions to the Green Climate Fund;
  • South Korea's ODA decreased by 9% due to cuts in its overall assistance program;
  • Spain's ODA decreased by 2% due to decreases in bilateral assistance;
  • Sweden's ODA increased by 17% due to heightened contributions to the Green Climate Fund;
  • The UK's ODA decreased by 10%, driven by the decrease in GNI while meeting the ODA to GNI ratio of 0.7%; and
  • The US' ODA increased by 5% due to increased contributions to multilateral organizations.

Press release - OECD

ODA 2020 detailed summary - OECD

More information - OECD

OECD data show Norwegian ODA at record high in 2020

Newly-released Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) numbers show that the Norwegian official development assistance (ODA) budget was at a record-high level at NOK39.5 billion (US$4.6 billion).

This accounts for 1.11% of gross national income (GNI) and is 0.11% higher than the goal of 1% of ODA/GNI. The increased funding was mostly allocated to global health, the collective international response to COVID-19, and humanitarian support. 

The OECD points to Norway as one of the countries with the biggest increase in ODA in 2020 compared to 2019. According to the official numbers from the preliminary figures, Norway’s development assistance increased by 8% from 2019 to 2020 (adjusted for inflation). 

Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein emphasized that no one is safe before everyone is safe and that the increase of budget in this uncertain time has been a natural response. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide said that Norway has shown a great degree of flexibility, which is critical in many of the current humanitarian crises.

Press release - Norwegian government

Norway launches strategy for climate adaptation, prevention of climate-related disasters, fight against hunger

On April 12, 2021, Norway launched a new strategy to combat the climate crisis and hunger that marked a greater focus of Norway’s climate assistance on climate adaptation than before, in line with the Paris Agreement. The budget for climate adaption will increase from NOK3.2 billion (US$377 million) to NOK4.0 billion (US$471 million).

The overall goal of the strategy is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by strengthening partner countries’ abilities to adapt to climate change and prevent and deal with climate-related threats and natural disasters. The support aims to eradicate hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable food systems based on agriculture, aquaculture, and fisheries. 

The strategy has five thematic priority areas: 

  1. Warning systems and climate services;
  2. Nature-based solutions;
  3. Climate-adapted food production;
  4. Infrastructure; and
  5. Innovative finance mechanisms.

Press release - The Norwegian government (in Norwegian) 

Report - The Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norwegian humanitarian development assistance budget reaches record high for 2021

The Norwegian government has allocated a record-high budget of NOK6.3 billion (US$741 million) for humanitarian support so far in 2021.

Among other things, the funding is intended for protecting civilians, providing food security, and supporting people fleeing countries affected by crises and conflict. The protection of civilians is one of Norway's main priorities in the UN Security Council, in which Norway leads the working group for children and armed conflict. 

The core support for several multilateral organizations has increased. The amount contributed to the World Food Programme was increased to NOK800 million (US$94 million), and NOK680 million (US$80 million) has been allocated to the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan together received more than NOK1.0 billion (US$118 million) in total.

The funding is expected to increase throughout the year and will be channeled through the UN, Red Cross, and Norwegian organizations. 

Press release - The Norwegian Government

World leaders join European Council President and WHO Director-General in calling for international pandemic treaty

World leaders joined European Council President Charles Michel and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in signing an op-ed calling for a new international pandemic treaty to ensure improved global pandemic preparedness and response for future potential health crises. 

The op-ed acknowledged that no country or multilateral agency could address the COVID-19 pandemic—or future pandemics—alone and that the current crisis serves as a reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The treaty would encourage an “all-of-government and all-of-society approach” at all levels to enhance cooperation on a variety of preparedness and response measures. It would fortify mutual accountability and use a 'One Health' approach that looks at human health not as an isolated entity, but rather as intertwined with the health of animals and our planet. 

The heads of states highlighted the role that the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) has played in fighting the pandemic, as well as the lessons it has provided, including the need for stronger partnerships for equitable access to treatment and vaccines globally.

Leaders from the following countries signed the treaty: Fiji, Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Romania, the UK, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Press release - Council of the EU

Press release - WHO

News article - Euractiv

Norway, WHO enter two-year funding agreement for efforts against non-communicable diseases

Norway and the World Health Organization (WHO) signed a two-year agreement allocating NOK220 million (US$26 million) for activities aimed at reducing mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and mental health conditions in low- and middle-income countries. Among the projects slated to receive funding is the 'WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health'.

The two-year agreement is a part of Norway’s strategy on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries. Norway is the first donor country to launch an international development strategy on NCDs and mental health.

Press release - Norwegian government

Former European leaders in WHO expert advisory group call for "rethink" of policy to prevent future pandemics

Former European leaders on the independent Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a call to action for policy reform to prevent future pandemics. 

In their report, the members of the expert advisory group called for using lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis to fundamentally rethink policy priorities to implement a ‘One Health’ approach, address issues that have caused so many people to be vulnerable to the pandemic, make changes to the global financial system, promote global public goods for health, strengthen existing global health institutions, and support innovation in health systems. 

The group was chaired by Mario Monti—the President of Bocconi University and former Prime Minister of Italy—and included former presidents, prime ministers, ministers, CEOs, leaders of multilateral organizations, and other eminent leaders.

Report - WHO

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation launches new nine-year strategy

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), has launched a new strategy for the next nine years aiming to increase its efficiency as well as strengthen and systematize the development, sharing, and use of research-based knowledge in Norad.

The overall framework for the strategy is set around how Norad can adjust its work in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Norad plans to disburse funding more strategically, and its overall goal is that the budget will function as a strategic tool for eliminating poverty, slow down the nature and climate crises, and combat various forms of inequality.

Norad also aims to be a central partner in promoting sustainable development, and it wants to boost innovation in development assistance, creating a culture that is conducive to testing out new ideas and expanding on existing good ones.

Norad's Director, Bård Vegar Solhjell, said that to improve efficiency, Norad would likely want to make fewer agreements. 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Donor Tracker webinar will focus on donor governments' funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights; accompanying publication available now

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Donor Tracker webinar to host webinar on donor finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights

On March 11, 2021, at 4:00 PM CET, the Donor Tracker will host its third gender equality webinar with a focus on development finance for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The webinar accompanies the recent publication of a Donor Tracker Insight which analyzes the current funding landscape for the SRHR sector across three subsectors (STD control, including HIV/AIDS; reproductive health; and family planning), highlights trends in the last ten years of spending in the sector, profiles donor countries and multilaterals, and provides recommendations to donors for increasing engagement and impact in the sector.

The Donor Tracker will be joined in the March 11 webinar by Adam Wexler of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on US funding flows to HIV/AIDS projects and global development funding for family planning.

The publication of the final Insight piece completes the Donor Tracker's Pillars of Gender Equality bundle, which also includes the previous two publications on funding for women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion and efforts to end gender-based violence.

Webinar registration - Zoom

Generation Equality? Trends from a Decade of Funding for SRHR - Donor Tracker

Norwegian Minister of International Development calls for action on conflict-driven hunger

The Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag Inge Ulstein, spoke at the 'UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Conflict-Driven Hunger' about the 700 million people in the world without food security and underlined that 270 million of these cases are acute. 

He emphasized that an investment in ending hunger today is also an investment in preventing hunger tomorrow. Food security is closely linked to a broader sense of security, as six out of ten people who are starving live in a country affected by war or conflict, he said.

Ulstein expressed concern about the humanitarian crises in Yemen and Ethiopia’s Tigray region and urged the Security Council to shift its focus from recognition to action to build resilience in local communities. Norway urged donors to undertake more strategic approaches to funding. 

Press release - The Norwegian government 

Norway to provide US$22 million for development of vaccines against future COVID-19 variants

The Norwegian government announced that it is allocating an additional NOK200 million (US$22 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to further contribute to global health efforts aimed at ending the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing future pandemics. 

The funding is aimed at maximizing the development, quality assurance, and production of vaccines. The goal is for Norway and Europe overall to be better equipped against future virus outbreaks. CEPI seeks to develop vaccines that protect against a broader spectrum of viruses, as well as additional variations of the COVID-19 virus.

Norway is cooperating with Germany, the Wellcome Foundation, and other contributors to CEPI for this purpose.

Press release - The Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway increases support to small-scale, rural farmers through IFAD by 40%

The Norwegian government is allocating NOK508 million (US$58 million) to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The funding will be distributed over a three-year period from 2022 to 2025. The amount is a 40% increase from their last project period and supports the ambitions of IFAD to double the organization’s work before 2030. 

The agreement is flexible, meaning that if other countries join the effort and IFAD can secure the funding for low-income countries itself, Norway will provide the full amount as core support. However, if IFAD does not manage to increase support for low-income countries, Norway will still ensure that a very high proportion of the Norwegian contribution goes to low-income countries through earmarked funds. Norway is cooperating with the other Nordic countries to encourage the rest of IFAD's member countries to increase their support. 

IFAD's work is aimed at increasing the pay of small farmers in low-income countries and improving their families' quality of life. The funding is a part of Norway’s action plan on sustainable food systems in the context of foreign and development policy. 

Press release - the Norwegian government

ACT-A Facilitation Council announces funding gap of US$27.2 billion, asks countries not to compete with COVAX vaccine contracts

The Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) had its fourth meeting on February 9, 2021, to discuss its 2021 agenda and needs, including closing the funding gap of US$27.2 billion for 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, co-hosted and began his introductory remarks by welcoming the newly-joined US under President Joe Biden to ACT-A. 

Ghebreyesus stressed that more than 90% of countries currently administering COVID-19 vaccines are wealthy, and 75% of all doses given have been given in just ten countries. Nearly 130 countries, he said, have not administered a single dose.

ACT-A and the COVAX Facility were created as part of global efforts coordinated by the WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, among others, in order to increase access to vaccines and promote vaccine equity internationally, and these goals are being threatened, said Ghebreyesus.

He called for:

  1. Full financing of ACT-A and COVAX: The financing gap is at more than US$27.2 billion for 2021. He called on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries to commit a proportion of stimulus financing and to unlock capital in multilateral development banks to help close the gap.
  2. Respect for COVAX contracts from all countries and a non-competition commitment: He referred here to countries who continue to sign bilateral vaccine deals while many nations have no vaccine doses at all. Ghebreyesus reiterated WHO's goal that the vaccination of health workers should be in progress in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021, which means that countries with more doses need to share and donate doses before going on to vaccinate their lower-risk populations. He warned that if COVID-19 is not suppressed globally, that variants of the virus could result in the world "back at square one".
  3. An urgent increase in manufacturing to increase the volume of vaccines: This could include "innovative partnerships including tech transfer, licensing and other mechanisms to address production bottlenecks".

Experts have warned that all countries need to take an "internationalist", not nationalist, approach to vaccination rollout and tacking COVID-19, otherwise experts fear that some low-income countries may not receive vaccines until 2024.

Visuals from the 'ACT-A Prioritized Strategy & Budget for 2021' presentation illustrate the contributors of a total of US$6.0 billion to ACT-A, as of February 3, and the breakdown of the US$27.2 billion needed for 2021. According to an update as of February 12, ACT-A has an additional US$4.0 billion in projected funding, so the US$27.2 billion funding gap "will be reduced to US$23.2 billion as projected funds are operationalized."

Transcript - WHO

Event website - WHO

Norway allocates US$57 million to global health research

The Norwegian government will channel NOK500 million (US$57 million) to global health research through the Norwegian Research Council over the next ten years.

This newly announced funding will be aimed at reducing challenges related to universal health care and strengthening systems for primary health services in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The long-term funding also aims to reduce the gap between research and practice and to make it easier to ensure that the relevant research is taking part in the outline of new policies. 

Since the early 2000s, Norway has increased its research efforts to provide good health services, combat infectious diseases, and prevent deaths among mothers and children in partner countries. The Norwegian Research Council's initiatives have been essential in this work. 

Press release - The Norwegian Research Council (in Norwegian)

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs launches global platform on gender equality

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and two civil society organizations—Plan International Norway and FOKUS (Forum for Women and Development)—have launched the global campaign 'Action for Equality', with the aim to commemorate and take action on behalf of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform, which is "considered to be the most comprehensive global policy framework for the rights of women".

The two organizations work on advancing children’s rights and international gender issues. The goal is to raise both awareness and action about gender equality and lift women’s rights higher on the global agenda through a digital knowledge platform campaign.

The platform includes a quiz on global gender equality and suggestions on how to start the conversation and act on the topic. The campaign aims to show that none of the world’s countries are in line for achieving full gender equality before 2030. The campaign highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the risk of earlier achievements being reversed. 

Website - Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Plan International, and FOKUS

Norway to redistribute surplus vaccine doses to low-income countries through COVAX Facility

The Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag Inge Ulstein, announced in an op-ed that if all the current agreements go as planned, Norway will have three times the vaccination doses needed for its population. The government has decided that the surplus of vaccines will be redistributed to low-income countries through the COVAX Facility.

Ulstein addressed this situation as a moment of truth for international solidarity and justice. He affirmed that the world needs to secure a fair and equal distribution of vaccines and that Norway will be an active partner to ensure that the consequences of the pandemic for low-income countries are minimized. The Norwegian government has called on more countries to participate in strengthening COVAX and providing vaccines and surplus doses to low-income countries that need them. 

Op-ed - Vårt Land (in Norwegian)