Record-high Norwegian development assistance

Norway provided an all-time high of NOK 39.5 billion in development aid in 2020, which is 1.11 % of Norway’s gross national income (GNI).

‘The GNI target is a meaningful way to motivate more countries to increase their development assistance efforts and is important for ensuring a long-term approach that enables us to reach our objectives. Norway’s allocations are more important than ever in light of the ongoing pandemic,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

Norway’s record contribution was announced today when the OECD released its preliminary figures for official development assistance (ODA) in 2020. The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is responsible for compiling the overview. A total of 16 of the 30 DAC members increased their development assistance funding in 2020 compared to 2019. The OECD highlighted Norway as one of the countries that increased its contributions most.

‘If there is one thing the coronavirus crisis has taught us, it is that nobody is safe until everybody is safe. And although the pandemic affects us all, it does not affect us equally. Once again, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who are suffering the most. Norway has increased its assistance in this year of crisis in order to provide as much help as possible to people affected by the pandemic and other crises at the same time,’ said Mr Ulstein. 

Adjusted for inflation and currency fluctuations, Norwegian development aid increased by 8.4 % from 2019 to 2020. The increase is due in part to a rise in the provision of health aid. Other countries that showed an increase in assistance in 2020 included Hungary (+35,8%), Sweden (+17,1%), Slovakia (+16,3%), Germany (+13,7%), France (+10,9%), Switzerland (+8,8%), Finland (+8,1%), Iceland (+7,8%), and Canada (+7,7%).

Norway’s humanitarian funding for 2020, which totalled NOK 5.5 billion, was channelled primarily through the UN, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and Norwegian humanitarian organisations. Countries that received the most humanitarian assistance from Norway last year included Syria and its neighbouring countries, Yemen, and South Sudan.

‘All the countries receiving high levels of humanitarian assistance from Norway have significant and growing humanitarian needs. The situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, both directly and indirectly. Norway gives priority to protecting the civilian population and alleviating widespread food insecurity in its humanitarian efforts. The working conditions for humanitarian actors are extremely challenging in many of the current crisis situations, and it can be very difficult for humanitarian aid workers to gain access to those in need of help. This has made Norwegian humanitarian efforts more critical than ever because Norway as a donor has been able to exercise a high degree of flexibility,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Norway is one of few donor countries to reach the UN target of contributing 0.7 % of GNI to ODA. In 2020, six DAC countries reached this target. In addition to Norway, these were Denmark, Luxembourg, the UK, Sweden, and Germany. Norway has reached the UN target every year since 1976.

‘When the pandemic struck, stable, wealthy countries such as Norway were able to provide crisis packages for their business sector and allocate large sums to enable individuals and institutions to deal with the ramifications of the resulting economic downturn. Developing countries and, in particular, the poorest countries were far less equipped to address the negative impacts of the pandemic. They had to cope with reductions in trade and tourism, a decrease in remittances from individuals working abroad and financial flows to wealthy countries. The impacts of this are now clearly visible,’ said Mr Ulstein.

The increase in Norway’s development assistance is in large part due to the allocation of funding for international cooperation to combat Covid-19. A significant proportion of the collective international funding to combat the pandemic and its impacts in developing countries is being channelled through multilateral organisations.

‘Norway has worked actively to transfer more funding to international cooperation to combat Covid-19. By contributing to WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Norway is supporting the development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines as well as other vital vaccines. Global health has been a key priority in Norwegian development policy for more than 20 years. It is in everyone’s interests to ensure that diagnostics, treatment, and vaccines are accessible to all. And to achieve this, health systems must function properly as well,’ said Mr Ulstein.

The Minister of International Development is particularly concerned with ensuring that the pandemic does undermine efforts in the long-term to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

‘Norwegian development assistance helps. When societies close down, low-income countries have even fewer opportunities to generate revenue. For developing countries, tax revenues are six times more important than aid, but even before the corona crisis these countries did not have sufficient tax revenues to finance basic public services. And as revenues have decreased, the need for health services, education and food security for the most vulnerable groups has risen. It is the most vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, women and girls that are most severely affected. These are precisely the groups that the Government is seeking to reach,’ said Mr Ulstein.

Press contact: Tuva Raanes Bogsnes, tuva.bogsnes@mfa.no, mob.: (+47) 93 23 18 83