Statement at "Nordic Collaboration through UN Procurement"

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's statement at the high level panel "Nordic Collaboration through UN Procurement" .

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
representatives from the business community and UN agencies,
dear friends,

  • As we embark on this new – and challenging – year, we know that partnerships will play an increasingly important role in the effort to meet humanitarian and development needs. We also know that government spending can be a powerful tool for change – typically accounting for 15 to 30 percent of a country’s GDP.

  • Partnerships across countries, sectors, organisations and companies can drive development and facilitate the scaling-up of relevant technology and new solutions, leading to better results than any individual partner could achieve on its own. This holds especially true in light of today’s challenges. I am happy to see the impressive list of UN agencies and organisations and Nordic companies taking part in this procurement seminar and would like to extend a special welcome to the Norwegian companies participating.
  • The private sector is key to sustainable economic growth – not just in our part of the world, but in the rest of the world as well. Doing business while doing good will be of enormous value in encouraging economic growth and job creation throughout the post-Covid world – but also very much in today’s situation, while we are still facing the pandemic. This will only become more essential as we build back a better, more sustainable and greener world.
  • The private sector has always been a key partner to the UN. However, if we are to achieve the ambitions set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, it will require an increase in the use of private sector capacity and competence, as well as greater innovation in how we forge UN-private partnerships.

  • The way we spend our resources is critical in this context. We need to use procurement as a strategic tool to support our efforts, and to emphasise the importance of high environmental, social and governmental standards.

  • I am pleased to be here together with 42 Norwegian companies that all represent state-of-the-art products and services that can contribute to humanitarian and development efforts.

  • As part of Norway’s humanitarian strategy, Innovation Norway and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the Humanitarian Innovation Programme (HIP), which facilitates and contributes to financing partnerships between humanitarian organisations and private companies. We know that collaboration on innovation between different actors is essential if we are to maximize the potential for generating innovative ideas and learning across sectors. To render the testing and scaling-up of solutions for innovative action possible is indeed one of the priorities outlined in Norway’s humanitarian strategy.

  • I am happy to note that the Humanitarian Innovation Programme has already led to Norwegian companies partnering with the UN and other humanitarian and development organisations to develop better, more effective solutions to identified needs. Let me highlight a couple of examples:
  • Providing access to renewable energy for off-grid communities, in sustainable ways. Working to ensure that solar products have a long life cycle, and enter into local, circular economies at the end of their lifespan, instead of becoming waste.
  • Or another example in which Norwegian actors are engaged: employing brand-new technologies to find improvised explosives in war-torn contexts, saving lives and preventing children and adults from being maimed.
  • Norway is a longstanding and committed partner to the United Nations and is one of UN’s top financial contributors.
  • In our commitment to the UN, Norway also sets clear requirements for a modern, effective, transparent and sustainable United Nations, equipped to meet future challenges and take advantage of future opportunities. One of the dimensions in this context is procurement – which must be results-oriented and pragmatic, and must uphold humanitarian principles and the integrity of the humanitarian actors.

  • Contracts should promote environmental considerations, working conditions and social conditions. In sum – we would like to see an even more innovation-friendly UN procurement process.
  • I am excited to see what kind of partnerships will emerge from the meetings today and tomorrow, between the UN and the companies that are present, and perhaps between companies in the Nordic region as well.
  • Norway stands firm in our commitment and support to the UN and I am happy to showcase the Norwegian suppliers attending today.

  • Thank you.