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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

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)

Norway sends emergency medical team to Haiti after earthquake

In response to Haiti’s urgent need for medical assistance following a devastating earthquake, Norway is supporting the country with an emergency medical team.

Haiti has experienced massive devastation caused by an earthquake, and damage was intensified by a tropical storm that arrived two days later. 

Norway will support Haiti's recovery operations with an expanded emergency medical team called Nor EMT. This team includes health, logistics, operations, and security personnel. After Norway has completed the medical mission, the gear will be donated to the Haitian medical system. 

Nor EMT consists of expertly trained personnel, which can treat more than 100 patients per day. The team can be quickly deployed to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters and serious outbreaks of disease if the UN,  EU, individual countries request assistance.

Press release – Norwegian Government 

Norwegian institute launches learning lab to promote knnowledge sharing for effective development assistance

Development Learning Lab (DLL) is a new initiative from Chr. Michelsen's Institute (CMI), the Norwegian School of Economics, and the University of Bergen to contribute to more effective development assistance by closing knowledge gaps. By producing insights, comparing programs, gathering relevant research, and measuring effectiveness, the lab will work to assist organizations and states in decision-making on future programs. 

Through collaboration with Norwegian Church Aid and Save the Children, CMI has observed that it is difficult for organizations to create the most effective projects when they do not have access to research on how the programs work. The DLL will have a structure that allows actors who work with the same topic, such as civil society organizations, UN organizations, Norad, and embassies, to sit together and learn from each other's experiences and learn from the research-based knowledge summary that DLL prepares.

Article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway to reconsider development assistance plan to Afghanistan

In light of the current situation in Afghanistan, the Norwegian government is reconsidering how its official development assistance should be provided to the country.

At the donors' conference in Geneva in November of 2020, Norway pledged up to NOK650 million (US$77 million) in assistance to Afghanistan in 2021, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but Norway will now assess whether there is need to implement changes because the increased humanitarian need. Afghanistan was, at the time, one of the largest recipients of Norwegian humanitarian assistance.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' grant portal, a total of NOK190 million (US$22 million) has been disbursed to various projects in the country so far this year, less than a third of what was promised. Nearly half of the assistance disbursed has gone to projects relating to governance. The emergency assistance sector has received just NOK55 million (US$6 million)

Article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

At annual Norwegian development policy debate, parties spar over priorities, methods

At this year’s Arendalsuka, a yearly political festival, the debate about Norwegian development assistance focused on the differences between the left-wing and the right-wing parties in relation to development assistance and the upcoming election. The discussion centered around three main questions:

  • How will the September election affect development assistance?

  • How will climate change impact development assistance?   

  • What factors are most important to political parties' priorities within development assistance?  

The right-wing parties emphasized the importance of a broad focus on climate change and reducing inequality. Norway's largest political party, the Labour party, argued that middle-income countries are experiencing increased inequality and that Norwegian ODA is an important tool to contribute to the creation of fair tax systems, help establish labor unions, and reduce economic inequality in partner countries. Norway should use development policy to create social change, promote democratic infrastructure, and put climate change on the agenda, they argued.

Current Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, represented his party, The Christian Democrats, in the debate. Ulstein argued that development policy should center around three elements: poverty alleviation, the protection of vulnerable groups (especially children), and issues related to climate change. The Christian Democrats highlighted the importance of collaborating with partner countries and civil society and of long-term thinking in development policymaking. the party also sees the need for a strong professional environment in charge of managing development assistance. 

The Center Party argued that Norway’s development assistance must focus more on climate, food safety, and renewable energy. In addition, they underlined the importance of discussing the channels used to distribute development funding, arguing that multilateral cooperation gives Norway less control of assistance funding. As a result, the party believes there may be a need to withdraw from these kinds of partnerships. 

Recorded event - Utviklingsfondet (in Norwegian)

New Norwegian climate fund to invest US$1.2 billion in renewable projects in low-income countries

The Norwegian government announced that it would give NOK10.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) over a five-year period to a new climate fund, to invest in renewable energy in low-income countries with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the supply of sustainable energy.

Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, says the establishment of the new climate fund is a milestone in Norwegian development assistance history. Solberg argued that this type of fund is vital for addressing the climate crisis globally and especially for helping countries that have done the least to cause climate change but are feeling the impacts the most.

Allocating money to renewable investments in partner countries also contributes to targets set out in the Paris Agreement for climate action and sustainable development goals (SDGs). Solberg highlighted that the fund aims to ensure that all countries, including low-income countries, can be a part of the transition to a low-emission society. 

Dag-Inge Ulstein, the Minister of International Development, describes the climate fund as the beginning of a new kind of collaboration between public and private capital that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase climate financing, and provide returns on investments.  

The funds will be administered by the Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for low-income countries. The allocation of the total NOK10.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) will be NOK2.0 billion (US$241 million) per year for five years from the state budget and Norfund, starting in 2022. 

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

New Norwegian strategy underlines importance of freedom of expression in development policy

The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, has presented a new strategy for freedom of expression in Norwegian foreign and development policy. The aim of the strategy is to emphasize the importance of ensuring freedom of expression and a free, diverse, and independent media, which is a significant priority in Norway's international work, said Søreide.

The strategy described how Norway will work to promote freedom of expression at all levels, including in the UN, regional organizations, civil society, and while meeting authorities from other countries.  

Søreide stated that freedom of expression is a fundamental right in an open and democratic society. It gives everyone the opportunity to express their own opinions and partake in society on equal terms, which is essential to guarantee other human rights too.

The new strategy underlines that the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists will continue to be an important priority for Norway in foreign policy. In many countries, including in Europe, journalists and the media are under considerable pressure. Threats and attacks have increased due to communication and information-sharing taking place on digital platforms. Female journalists and women working in media are especially exposed to digital violence. Søreide argued that these violent attacks are attacks on people’s freedom of expression and are undermining the equality of the media.

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norwegian support for vaccination and other measures against COVID-19 in Syria

Norway remains concerned about the humanitarian situation in Syria, which has become worse during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, Norway will give the World Health Organization (WHO) NOK20 million (US$2 million) to help Syria with vaccinations and other measures against COVID-19.

The WHO works with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Syrian authorities to distribute COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, the global vaccine initiative. 

Norway is one of the countries contributing the most humanitarian assistance to Syria and neighboring countries. It is estimated that Norway has donated more than NOK15.0 billion (US$1.8 billion) to Syria throughout the last ten years. This is the largest humanitarian effort that Norway has ever made. Norway will also donate at least NOK1.6 billion (US$193 million) this year.     

As a member of the UN Security Council, Norway, together with Ireland, has taken a special responsibility for humanitarian issues related to the crisis in Syria. Ine Eriksen Søreide, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, has underlined that Norway will continue to work on ensuring safe and unhindered access for representatives from the UN and humanitarian organizations in Syria.  

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs   

Norway announces new agreement to increase food security and climate resilience in Niger

Dag-Inge Ulstein, the Norwegian Minister of International Development, announced in a press release that Norway has signed an agreement of NOK100 million (US$12 million) to strengthen food security in Niger, a partner country to Norway in the Sahel, an African region which is known for especially contending with conflicts, poverty, climate change, and population growth.  

The new agreement follows Norway's new strategy for the Sahel region, which focuses on supporting civil society and continuing previous work on improving governance in the Sahel countries.  

The Norwegian funding to Niger will go to a collaborative project together with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and CARE Norway. The project will run for five years and ensure that over 280,000 people in communities with low resilience to the climate crisis are offered better and healthier food. The project will also help create jobs in Niger.   

With the support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NMBU, CARE Norway, and the National Agricultural Research Institute of Niger (INRAN) will work together on solutions regarding how the agriculture sector in Niger can ensure sufficient nutritious food. The aim is to support farmers in adapting their food production to climate change, as well as increase the revenue from small-scale agriculture. It is estimated that 40,000 households will be reached by 2026. Another important aspect of the project is to ensure entrepreneurship training for women and the younger generations in Niger.  

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Norway provides 452,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX

Norway has announced that it will provide over 450,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, to Nicaragua, Uganda, and Haiti. The Norwegian donation is a part of the 'Team Europe' plan for sharing COVID-19 vaccines.  

Like other EU countries, Norway is currently vaccinating the majority of its population, and its society is reopening. At the same time, many lower-income countries in the world are experiencing a completely different situation, with little access to vaccines and a third wave of COVID-19 cases.

Since vaccines have been available, the World Health Organization has been urging higher-income nations to do their part and share vaccines with countries that have little to no access to vaccines, in order to help end the pandemic for all. 

Norway has also donated 182,900 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Kosovo through the EU.

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Norway becomes one of biggest contributors to Global Partnership for Education, with US$441 million pledge

On June 21, 2021, the Norwegian Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein attended the digital Nordic Midsummer Festival together with his Scandinavian colleagues, where Ulstein announced that Norway will give NOK3.7 billion (US$441 million) to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) for 2021-2025.

This corresponds with Norway's NOK740 million (US$88 million) per year to GPE, which means an increase of NOK 50 million (US$6 million) per year compared to the previous period (2018-2020). The donation makes Norway one of the biggest contributors to the partnership.  

Ulstein underlined that GPE is an important partner to ensure that all children get access to education. He argued that education is the most effective tool for securing equal opportunities for all, and it is a key element to ensuring social and economic development.  

The funding from Norway will give 88 million children, including 46 million girls, access to education. It will also provide 175 million children with basic reading skills.  

Press release – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian) 

Norway publishes review of Norwegian assistance to Palestinian education system

On June 18, 2021, the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) published its report that was commissioned by the EU on Palestine's educational material. This came after Norway's announcement in 2020 that it would withhold 50% of its yearly funding to the Palestinian education system until Palestine stopped using textbooks that Norway perceived as promoting hate and violence.

The GEI report found many improvements "in the Palestinian curriculum since 2017, especially in terms of human rights, gender equality and diversity" and that "several unacceptable illustrations" have been removed or adjusted. The report also acknowledged that the textbooks reflect that Palestine has lived under occupation and the subsequent conflict for decades. The report stated that the Palestinian Authority should "improve more of the content in textbooks and continue to improve the quality of the education".

Norwegian State Secretary Audun Halvorsen said that Norway will monitor the progress made and continue the dialogue with the Palestinian authorities as Norway decides the next steps on providing development assistance. 

Halvorsen stressed that Norwegian assistance to the Palestine education system is vital for the children growing up in the area, as well as education will be a key element in a future Palestinian state, stability, and development in the area.  

Press release – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Norway concerned about humanitarian situation in Myanmar, increases support by US$1 million

Norway announced an increase in humanitarian assistance of NOK10 million (US$1 million) to Myanmar, amounting to a total of NOK58 million (US$7 million) this year.

Since the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, over 190,000 people have been displaced in the country. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, stressed that there is a great need for humanitarian support.

Humanitarian organizations working in Myanmar must have safe and unhindered access to the population of Myanmar, said Søreide in a press release.  

Press release – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Survey shows record-high support for Norwegian development assistance

A recent survey conducted by Statistics Norway, on behalf of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), indicates that support for Norwegian development assistance has never been higher. Nine out of ten people support development assistance to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This is an increase from the survey in 2017 and is on par with the highest support recorded in the last 50 years.

The main findings included the following: 

  • When it comes to the structure of development assistance, there seems to be support for more development assistance for global public goods such as biological diversity, climate, peace, and economic development assistance, and this is true especially among the youngest. 
  • The survey also shows increased support for funding that is set aside for development assistance compared to previous years. There seems to be high support among the various population groups studied, but there is a clear tendency that the younger age groups increasingly believe that the budget should be increased further compared to the older age groups. 
  • Most people (90%) know at least one assistance organization. The Red Cross is mentioned by most (58%), but other organizations such as Save the Children, Red Cross, and Norwegian Church Aid are also mentioned.  
  • A majority of the people asked (89%) say that they are interested in matters regarding low-income countries in the media. 
  • Even though the support for development assistance is high, the knowledge about Norwegian assistance is low. Only one in three (33%) are familiar with the countries that receive support. The five most mentioned countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, and Sudan. Very few are aware that Syria, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia received the most money from the assistance budget in 2020. 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Report - Statistics Norway (in Norwegian) 

Norwegian State Secretaries argue that patent rights are not main problem to increase production of COVID-19 vaccines

In an opinion piece in the Aftenposten, a major Norwegian news platform, Jens Frølich Holte and Aksel Jakobsen, two of the State Secretaries at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, argued that the patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines are not the main challenge to increase the global vaccine production.

They wrote that experts on vaccine production have expressed that the fastest way to increase production is to ensure the transfer of technology through the collaboration between manufacturers and participants in the market.  

According to Holte and Jakobsen, instead of changing the current patent rights, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is in need of a holistic approach in which international trade substantiates the work on global health. In order to efficiently produce vaccines, Holte and Jakobsen argued that we are dependent on both patent rights/licenses and complex value chains. Restrictions affecting the export in these value chains could potentially make it impossible to increase vaccine production. As a result, Norway and other member countries in the WTO have initiated a Trade and Health Initiative, with the aim of limiting the current export restrictions.  

The opinion piece also highlighted that the Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, last year launched four principles to ensure quicker, cheaper, and more equal access to products related to COVID-19: 

  1. Speedy and widespread approval of products;
  2. Transparency about agreements regarding the purchase of tests, medicines, and vaccines;
  3. Transparency about the number of vaccines ordered, and the cost (low-income countries should only pay the cost price); and
  4. Increased production capacity through technology transfer by vaccine manufacturers.

 There is a growing support for these four principles also from parts of the pharmaceutical industry.  

Op-ed - Aftenposten (in Norwegian)

Norway outlines its global priorities in run-up to 2030

On June 2, 2021, at a digital conference about Norway’s work on sustainability, Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein spoke about Norway's global priorities, focusing on five important elements in the lead-up to 2030: 

  • Inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic: The number of people facing hunger has increased, and the most vulnerable have been hit the hardest by the fallout of the virus. Women are facing more violence, and children around the world have lost access to proper education.
  • International cooperation, particularly in renewable energy and energy efficiency: Ulstein said his Ministry will look into the possibility of establishing a separate climate fund for investments in renewable energy in low-income countries. 
  • The ongoing pandemic and the importance of keeping global health high on the development agenda: Norway has stepped up its efforts and is supporting the development, production, and distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs to combat COVID-19. Through the COVAX initiative, Norway will work to ensure an efficient distribution mechanism for equitable access to vaccines.
  • Financing for development: Although Norwegian ODA is at a record-high (1.11% of GNI), Ulstein still sees this as insufficient. Corruption and illegal capital flows cause bottlenecks for low-income countries receiving financial assistance.  
  • Norway’s priorities in the UN Security Council: Norway will prioritize peaceful conflict resolution, women's participation and rights in peace processes, the protection of civilians, and the mitigation of security challenges brought on by climate change.  


Speech – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)

Norway transfers additional vaccine options to COVAX AMC

Norway has contributed to the fight against COVID-19 through the redistribution of future surplus vaccines, by providing financial assistance, and by transferring vaccine options through the COVAX distribution mechanism. 

The transfer of the remaining vaccine options will provide 164,000 Janssen doses and 895,000 Novavax doses to the distribution mechanism, supplying a total of 1.7 million vaccine doses to the COVAX AMC to be distributed among healthcare workers and high-risk groups in low-income countries. 

In addition to transferring vaccine options, Norway is also contributing with NOK 1.3 billion (US$155 million) to the COVAX distribution mechanism, sponsoring the purchase of 25 million vaccine doses which will be distributed to low-income countries. 

Press release – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

UK's ODA cuts will hurt poorest and most vulnerable, warns Norwegian development minister

The Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein expressed his concern regarding the British government's plans to cut official development assistance (ODA) spending from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income in a written answer to Trine Skei Grande, a parliamentary representative from The Liberal Party. The letter came after a mid-April bilateral meeting between Norway and the UK in which Ulstein had also raised the issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world’s poorest countries the most profoundly. Ulstein highlighted that Britain’s cut in ODA spending could debilitate the development work being done in these countries, which depends on ongoing and increased support, particularly in the areas of food security, health, and education. The reduction would weaken the international work on sexual and reproductive health, Ulstein noted; the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, is slated to lose 85% of its current UK funding.

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway to donate five million vaccine doses to combat COVID-19 globally

At the Global Health Summit on May 21, 2021, hosted by the Italian G20 Presidency and the European Commission, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that Norway will donate approximately five million vaccine doses to the global effort to combat COVID-19. The donation will consist of surplus vaccines, which is estimated to be one vaccine dose per capita in Norway.  

Norway attended the Summit together with South Africa, which also serves as Co-Chair of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council. The Council is a multilateral collaboration, with the aim of increasing the global access to vaccines, treatments, and tests.  

In Solberg’s speech at the digital Summit, she underlined the importance of wealthier countries sharing vaccine doses with the countries that have not received an adequate amount. As an example, Solberg pointed to the fact that only a little over 1% of the African population has gotten their first vaccine dose. Solberg also stated that accelerated access to vaccines is vital in the fight against new variants of the virus, which can potentially make current vaccines less effective.  

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)