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Norway leads UN Security Council in January, focuses on role of women to promote peace

Norway assumed its presidency of the UN Security Council in January of 2022 and will serve for the duration of the month; both Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt will lead meetings while Norway holds the presidency. 

Norway will focus on the role of women in promoting peace, focusing on the importance of including women in securing effective peace solutions. Huitfeldt highlighted that women taking part in peace processes around the world are subject to both reprisals and threats, jeopardizing not only individual women but also the peace-making process at large.

Huitfeldt will serve as chair for the first formal meeting on the topic with the Security Council and intends to push for concrete measures to protect women's participation in peace processes. Norway and Germany have jointly called on other countries to support a fund that will assist women working in peace processes. Norway has also argued the importance of letting women speak in the Security Council and has invited several international organizations to secure female participation during the Norwegian presidency. 

News article – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Norway contributes US$11 million to UN's 2022 Afghanistan response plan, focuses on food security

The UN and its partners have launched a plan to deliver humanitarian relief to 28 million people in Afghanistan and five countries in the surrounding region. According to the UN, half of the Afghan population currently faces acute hunger.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign affairs, Norway will allocate NOK100 million (US$11 million) to support food security efforts and other humanitarian support options in the region. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs is especially concerned about children in the region - thousands are at risk of dying from malnutrition. As such, Norway has called for financial support from other high-income countries to prevent an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

World Bank’s IDA mobilizes US$93 billion for replenishment, but UK contribution drops 55% leaving US, Japan, France, Nordics as top donors

While the World Bank managed to secure a record US$93 billion for its 20th International Development Association (IDA) replenishment, it fell short of its target to reach US$100 billion, partly as a result of a dramatic decline in UK funding.

IDA is the World Bank's low-income lending arm and the largest joint venture for multilateral funding in the world; IDA20 is especially important for preventing an abrupt drop in the World Bank's funding to low-income countries. More than 100 million people have been affected by extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

In total, IDA20 ended at a record high with US$93 billion for the 2023-2025 period - US$11 billion more than the previous donor replenishment in 2019. The World Bank, donors, and recipient countries have agreed to prioritize gender equality, business development and job creation, climate action, health and education, and support for vulnerable states for the 2023-2025 period.

The UK government reduced its commitment to the replenishment by 55% or an estimated US$1.8 billion. The reduced funding commitment will result in the UK losing its position as the most generous donor to IDA, a role it held for many years. The cuts are a direct result of the UK government’s decision to reduce its ODA budget from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5% from 2021 onwards.

Japan, the US, and France all increased their pledges. The US, Japan, and the UK, are the top three donor countries to IDA20, respectively. The Baltic and Nordic countries together mobilized a total of US$2 billion - over 8% of IDA20's total funding. If Nordic funding is amalgamated, the Nordic countries are the third-largest donor to IDA20

Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it will give more than US$366 million in funding to IDA20, a 7% increase compared to Norway's 2019 contribution. Approximately US$11 million of the funding will be targeted towards debt relief contributions in low-income countries. 

News article - Devex

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

News article - Bistansaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway increases funding to UN Central Emergency Response Fund

On December 8, 2021, at the High-level Pledging Event on the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for 2022, Norway announced a pledge of NOK450 million (US$50 million) over the next four years. 

Humanitarian needs are at a record high globally. According to the UN, 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022 due to conflicts, COVID-19, political crisis, and climate change.  

Since the establishment of CERF in 2006, Norway has been one of the Fund's largest donors. The funding provided through the CERF is part of Norway`s humanitarian strategy to secure effective and coordinated measures at country level.

Press release – Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Norway partners with NDC Partnership to support green transition in low-income countries

Norway has entered into an agreement to support a green transition in low-income countries, with the NDC Partnership, a global initiative to help countries achieve national climate commitments and ensure financial and technical assistance is delivered as efficiently as possible. The initiative was established in 2016 at COP22 in Marrakech and is a partnership between the World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). 

The agreement between Norway and the NDC Partnership is operated through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and UNOPS. The agreement will be effective from 2021 to 2025 with a total contribution of NOK70 million (US$8 million) from Norway.

According to Bård Vegar Solhjell, Director General of Norad, the partnership will play a crucial role in ensuring an effective implementation of climate measures in low-income countries. 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Norway allocates US$221 million to combat global COVID-19 pandemic

The Norwegian Government, consisting of the Labor Party and the Center Party, has recently come to an agreement with the Socialist Left Party on a new State Budget for 2022. In the budget, the Government allocated NOK2.0 billion (US$221 million) to the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), a comprehensive partnership focused on global COVID-19 pandemic response. 

Since 2020, Norway and South Africa have led ACT-A; it was recently announced that Norway and South Africa will continue as leaders of the partnership until September of 2022. 

Jonas Gahr Støre, the Norwegian Prime Minister, underlines that the aim of Norway's allocation to ACT-A is to address global vaccine inequity. Støre emphasizes that the funding will ensure better testing capacity, treatments, vaccine coverage, and protective equipment for health professionals. 

Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Norway met its goal of giving five million COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX, the vaccine distribution partnership. Støre confirmed that Norway will continue to share vaccine doses with other countries. 

News article – VG (in Norwegian)

Norwegian governing coalition and Socialist Left Party agree on 2022 budget, maintain stable development allocation

The Norwegian minority government, consisting of the Labor Party and the Center Party, together with the Socialist Left Party (SV) have agreed upon a new State Budget for 2022. The discussion between the three parties began on November 15, 2021, and negotiations lasted two weeks.

In discussions with the minority government, SV managed to reverse parts of the government's efforts to reduce the development assistance budget. As such, the three parties agreed to spend NOK207 million (US$23 million) more on international development than initially proposed. The UN Development Program (UNDP), women's and gender equality, humanitarian assistance, and tax administration will be receiving more funding than the initial proposal called for. 

The Government and the Socialist Left Party have chosen to prioritize the following measures: 

  • Humanitarian emergency assistance: NOK200 million (US$22 million);
  • Disarmament subsidy scheme: NOK15 million (US$1 million);
  • Women and gender equality in Africa: NOK100 million (US$11 million); 
  • Tax for Development: NOK72 million (US$8 million); 
  • Measures against marine litter: NOK100 million (US$11 million); and
  • UNDP core support: NOK100 million (US$11 million). 

In addition, the three parties also agreed to reduce the funding of the following measures in the development assistance budget:

  • World Food Program (WFP): NOK120 million (US$13 million); 
  • Human rights development: NOK30 million (US$3 million);
  • Business development and trade: NOK100 million (US$11 million); 
  • International Financing Institute: NOK60 million (US$6 million); and
  • Strategic cooperation related to multilateral development assistance: NOK20 million (US$2 million). 

News article – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Human rights advocates threaten legal action against Canada, Germany, Norway, UK over global COVID-19 vaccine inequality

On November 25, 2021,  human rights lawyers threatened legal action against the Canadian, German, Norwegian, and UK governments for obstructing global efforts to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and other healthcare technologies. 

The action comes as state delegates prepare to negotiate the future global rules governing the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and other healthcare technologies at next week’s Ministerial Conference of the WTO. The development of prospective domestic lawsuits in each country will be pursued if these governments fail to support the waiver of intellectual property over COVID-19 vaccines and healthcare technologies proposed by South Africa and India in response to the pandemic at the WTO last year. The waiver of intellectual property would allow for COVID-19 vaccines to be developed by more companies, which would expand access to vaccines and healthcare technology in low- and middle-income countries that are currently struggling to access COVID-19 vaccines. 

A letter signed by multiple organizations and human rights experts warned that if Canada fails to support the intellectual property waiver, the decision could be challenged in domestic courts as a failure to implement Canada’s human rights obligations in good faith through international cooperation and that such a decision could be challenged as a violation of the right to life, security of person, and equality in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Furthermore, activists noted that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer have repeatedly emphasized that an effective global strategy is imperative to limiting the spread of COVID-19, preventing the emergence of more transmissible or deadly variants, and protecting public health globally.

Press release - Oxfam Canada

Norway successfully donates 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX, meeting 2021 goal

This year, Norway pledged to donate five million COVID-19 vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 24, 2021, Norway announced that it has met its pledge of successfully sharing five million vaccine doses with COVAX, the international vaccine collaboration project. 

The sharing of vaccine doses will contribute to improving access to vaccines in countries with a low vaccination rate. Meeting the goal of giving five million vaccine doses is important because there is a great demand for vaccines in low-income countries, in addition to demonstrating that Norway is fulfilling its international commitments. 

The Norwegian Government will continue to be actively involved in efforts to combat communicable diseases and will continue to contribute to the development, financing, and equal distribution of vaccines and other health technologies. Investing in health supports social, economic, and environmentally sustainable development.  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Norway announces new support for Afghanistan to be channeled through UN

Experts are worried that Afghanistan is in danger of undergoing both a humanitarian crisis and an economic collapse as a result of cessation of funding to the Afghan government. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, announced that Norway will continue its funding to Afghanistan through the UN and other non-state actors. 

More specifically, Huitfeldt underlines that Norwegian funding will provide support services to civilians in Afghanistan and will be funneled through the Afghanistan Special Trust Fund, managed by the UN Development Program (UNDP). 

This year, Norway has provided NOK275 million (US$32 million) in humanitarian funding to Afghanistan. With the new announcement, Norway will increase the funding by NOK 50 million (US$5 million). The new funding will be distributed to partners in the field who support the most vulnerable Afghan citizens, especially young girls and women. As a result, some Norwegian funding will go to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide protection and assistance to Afghan women. UNFPA`s work includes both efforts related to reducing sexualized and gender-based violence and supporting reproductive health.  

Norway's total funding to Afghanistan this year will be NOK325 million (US$38 million). In addition, Norway will continue to support its longstanding relationships with international and Norwegian organizations operating in Afghanistan.  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norway increases funding to Palestinian refugees through UNRWA

During a high-level conference in Brussels, the State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Norway will increase funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  

UNRWA provides assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees. The agency supports approximately 6 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined UNRAW`s important work in protecting the rights and needs of Palestinians, as well as stability in the region in addition to highlighting that the agency is critically underfunded.

In addition to increasing Norway`s core contribution to UNRWA this year and next year, the government decided to increase humanitarian support for UNRWA in Lebanon by NOK17 million (US$2 million). Currently, Norway`s core contribution to UNRWA's NOK217 million (US$25 million).  

Press release – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norway commits to double climate finance by 2026, reaching US$1.6 billion

Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, the Norwegian government announced a new target to double its total climate finance, an increase from NOK7.0 billion (US$809 million) in 2020 to NOK14.0 billion (US$1.6 billion). Norway aims to reach the target by 2026 at the latest.

Norway’s funding is aimed at supporting lower-middle-income countries in financing both the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening resilience to future climate change. This announcement marks the first time Norway has established a quantifiable target for its consolidated climate financing. 

Norway’s climate finance includes funding via the development assistance budget for climate-related actions and investments, mobilization of private capital through Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for low-income countries, and the newly announced climate investment fund.

In 2020, Norwegian climate finance comprised NOK6.6 billion (US$763 million) in public funding and NOK400 million (US$46 million) in mobilized private capital. 

Press release – Norwegian government 

UN Security Council unanimously supports joint Nigerien-Norwegian resolution to protect education in conflict zones

A unanimous vote of the UN Security Council committed to strengthening the protection of education with the newly adopted resolution on the protection of education in conflict zones. Niger and Norway sponsored the resolution and led negotiations.

With this resolution, the Security Council urges parties to commit to facilitating safe access to education and emphasizes the vulnerability of girls and women in conflict zones. The Council also calls on UN member states to implement concrete measures to prevent attacks on schools and universities, which endanger the lives of children, students, and teachers. 

This resolution, on the protection of education and education facilities in conflict zones, is the first of its kind to be adopted by the Security Council. Norway is a top investor in education for refugees and others affected by crises.

Press release – Norwegian government 

Norway to hit 1.01% GNI ODA target in 2022 budget, double climate finance by 2025

The Norwegian government's overarching development policy strategy is to promote sustainable economic development and welfare in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and contribute to combating poverty. The proposed 2022 government budget includes a record-breaking development assistance budget of NOK41.9 billion (US$ 4.7 billion), corresponding to 1.01% of gross national income (GNI). 

The government wishes to continue its focus on the fight against infectious diseases and support for maternal, child, and adolescent health. Efforts to remedy non-communicable diseases, such as mental health, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are also priorities. 

The government emphasizes combating climate change and supporting climate adaptation to prevent natural disasters in its strategy. Increased efforts against hunger, including an increased focus on food from the sea to ensure global food security, are an important part of climate adaptation and COVID-19 response work.

The government proposes NOK8.2 billion (US$ 926 million) for climate measures through the development assistance budget, which includes both climate and forestry programs. With this increase, Norway is on track to double its climate assistance by 2025. 

The government also proposes strengthened development assistance through civil society organizations in the 2022 budget. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)  

Norway increases humanitarian assistance budget by US$45 million to meet rising sector concerns; total assistance rises to US$734 million

The UN Emergency Aid appeal for 2021 estimates that more than 235 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, an increase of 40% from 2020. The Norwegian government, therefore, proposes an increase of NOK400 million (US$45 million) for emergency and humanitarian assistance in 2022, totaling NOK5.2 billion (US$587 million).

In addition to the additional funding, the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will receive NOK1.35 billion (US$ 152 million). In total, the proposed assistance budget for 2022 is a record-breaking NOK6.5 billion (US$734 million). With the proposed increase, the Norwegian humanitarian budget has doubled since 2013.  

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian) 

Norway top global public good ODA spender, new report shows

A report published by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) shows that one-fifth of Norway's official development assistance (ODA) goes towards funding global public goods, making Norway the top spender internationally in financing global public goods with ODA.  

Norway's focus on climate and the environment, including major rainforest programs in South America, Indonesia, and Central Africa, are large portions of Norway's ODA. Between 2015-2020, climate and environment accounted for 72% of total development assistance for global public goods. 

The report is intended to make both the public and decision-makers aware of the trend and indicate implications for the future of ODA. The report only looked at ODA that is earmarked for various purposes, not multilateral support. NORAD has followed the methodology and definition of global public goods developed by Development Initiatives. 

Article – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway enters US$56 million agreement with Global Crop Diversity Fund to ensure food security

Norway is entering a ten-year agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust to improve food security and to secure increased chances of viable crops for vulnerable small farmers despite more extreme weather occurrences.  

At the UN Food Systems Summit, Norway promoted a new initiative on seed safety. It is important that small farmers choose which seeds to sow, which are subsequently input into the seed system. The seed system is important for both farmers' rights and food security.  

Norway supports the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development (BOLD) program as part of its agricultural development strategy. One of BOLD's core aims is to improve the genetic characteristics of seeds so they can withstand more extreme weather to increase food safety.

The agreement consists of approximately NOK500 million (US$56 million) over ten years. As a part of the program, 15 national gene banks in low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) will receive assistance to support biological diversity and, thus, ensure regional food security. Furthermore, seeds will be preserved in Svalbard's global seed vault. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian) 

Sweden takes first place in Center for Global Development's ranking of high-income countries' committment to development

The Center for Global Development, an independent thinktank, published their Commitment to Development Index, (CDI) which measures development policy engagement in 40 major economies. The report consolidates key findings in development finance, investment, migration, trade, environment, health, security, and technology.

The CDI, rooted in "genuine policy effort" relative to country size, added health as a new component this year, taking into account pandemic preparedness as well as other health issues like pollutant concentration and prevention of medication resistance. 

Key findings included:

  • Sweden ranked first in overall development efforts, with top spots in both environmental and migration policies;
  • The UK slipped back to fifth place overall, suggesting a general decline in its development superpower status;
  • China ranked 36th and struggled with migration, security, and a lack of transparency;
  • The US dropped from 18th to 22nd in overall development commitments, indicating fallout from Trump-era policies;
  • France ranked second overall, the highest of the G7 countries;
  • Norway placed third overall with strong performances in development finance and migration; and
  • Australia moved up to fourth place following the introduction of health measurement indicators.

The CDI celebrated successful development policies and made recommendations for improvement for each of the countries it evaluated.

Commitment to Development Index - Center for Global Development

Norway to discontinue oil-based assistance program, focusing on climate-friendly goals

Norway announced that it will discontinue its program, Oil for Development, which assists in oil resource management competency in more than 30 countries.

The Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, stated that the Norwegian development assistance budget should have a strong climate profile, aim to fulfill the Paris Agreement, and ensure the long-term needs of low-income countries. While phasing out Oil for Development, the Norwegian government will re-prioritize the funds to meet its current development goals.  

The Development Assistance Program, Oil for Development, was established in 2005, its principle aim to assist partner countries in the management of oil and gas resources to promote sustainable economic growth and welfare. The program will be phased out gradually until 2024, with the exception of Colombia, where the program will continue until 2025. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian) 

Left-of-center coalition probable following Norwegian national elections

Parties on the left in Norway gained a clear majority in parliament following the September 13, 2021, national election, indicating the end of the center-right government's eight-year rule.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, is now in a position to negotiate a new left-of-center coalition. Coalition partnerships are not confirmed, however, the Labour Party, Socialist Left Party, and Center Party are expected to meet for negotiations in the coming days, signaling the prospect of a new government formation.

The potential left coalition has cross-party support for global health initiatives and discussions on the use of multilateral funding mechanisms are expected, led by the Center Party. Agriculture is also expected to be a priority on the agenda.

Article - NRK (in Norwegian) 

Political Program - Center Party (in Norwegian)

Political Program - Labour Party (in Norwegian)