Norwegian Development Aid: Making a Difference

“Y” Is Norway Involved in Development Cooperation?

Contributing to making the world a better place is a strong motivation in Norwegian foreign policy. This drive is present daily in my job ‒ for example, when the embassy put in extra hours over Christmas to facilitate Norway’s involvement in the Iran deal.

Another policy area in which Norway strives to do global good is international development. The goal of our development policy is to contribute to democratization and to the spread of human rights, and to help people work their way out of poverty.

Support of international development has been a fundamental pillar in Norwegian foreign policy for decades. It is an area categorized by broad national consensus dating back to the early 1950s.

I am proud to inform you that Norway surpasses most countries when it comes to providing development assistance. For example, in 2014 Norway donated close to US $200M to the United Nations Development Program, making us the fourth largest donor in absolute numbers. Approximately 1% of Norwegian GDP goes to official development assistance. This type of commitment really makes a difference.

While we provide aid to a large number of countries around the world, Norway has identified twelve focus countries where we leave a larger footprint. Six are chosen because they are particularly vulnerable states (Afghanistan, Haiti, Mali, Palestine, Somalia and South Sudan), where we focus on stabilization and peace-building efforts. Six are chosen to support an existing development process (Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal and Tanzania), where our assistance especially support good governance, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and good resource management.

There was much progress on the development stage in 2015. The adoption of the universal Sustainable Development Goals is one example, and substantial progress was made in Addis during the third Financing for Development conference. These were both huge achievements.

“Y” Are Norway and the United States Close Partners in the Development Agenda?

Norway and the U.S. share values when it comes to development cooperation. I feel privileged to have a job where I can help strengthen the longstanding bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Norway, especially in such an important field.

A few weeks ago, I teamed up with Nordic colleagues to meet with the new USAID Administrator, Ms. Gayle Smith, to discuss this cooperation. We Nordics are known for being informal and straightforward, traits that served us well in this meeting, where shared values and priorities took center stage. For years, Norway and the U.S. have cooperated closely, aiming to make the world a better place. A cooperation is mutually beneficial when we both pull in the same direction, thus producing better (and tangible) results.

Health is a specific area where there has been longstanding cooperation. A recent example is Norway’s participation in the core group during the fight against Ebola. Norway, the affected countries and the international community teamed up to solve that crisis. We have also collaborated effectively on HIV/AIDS, and maternal and child health.

Now that Norway is scaling up its efforts on education, the U.S. is a natural partner. As I have written previously, education is another main priority in Norwegian development assistance, rooted in the strong personal engagement of Prime Minister Erna Solberg. That is why Norway is a partner in the All Children Reading grand challenge that USAID launched in 2011. And that is why Norway will take the lead on the education part of the donor conference for the Syrian crisis scheduled for Feb. 4 in London.

It’s all about cooperation. These are just a few of the ways that Norway and the U.S. are collaborating on major global issues. In my next blog post, I’ll tell you about some more. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about “Y” we do things the way we do at the embassy.


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