1 Opening statement by the Prime Minister
Photo: Eirin Larsen/Office of the Prime Minister
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges to our efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Progress on some goals has slowed and there have been setbacks on others. This presents us with a choice: we can choose to sit back, or we can view the challenges as a call to action. The enormous effort needed to bring life back to normal also provides an opportunity to build back better.
Norway’s second Voluntary National Review will serve as a roadmap. We identify our positive results and point out where we have not yet succeeded. Our ambition is to learn from the past and plan for the future.
Norway ranks high on the SDG Index. But we, too, have challenges to resolve. Although we have free, high-quality state schools, too many students are dropping out. And while women in Norway have the same legal rights as men, obstacles such as gender-based violence and labour market disparities are preventing us from achieving full gender equality. There is inequality between different groups in society. Mental health is an area of concern. Greenhouse gas emissions are decreasing, but due to unsustainable consumption patterns there is too much waste and emissions remain too high. There is much work that remains to be done.
The 2030 Agenda has become more integrated in Norwegian policy planning since 2016. Nonetheless, the Office of the Auditor General has pointed out that the follow-up of the Sustainable Development Goals has not been coordinated effectively enough and that Norway needs a more comprehensive plan for implementation. The Government will present a White Paper and an Action Plan on this in 2021. These will set out national targets and indicators, identify challenges and provide a common platform for further action. We hope the plan will pave the way to a more integrated approach, greater coherence and more rapid progress.
I am very pleased to see the clear increase in knowledge, involvement and activities to achieve the 2030 Agenda throughout the Norwegian society. Today, 69 per cent of the Norwegian population is familiar with the 2030 Agenda. Eight out of ten consumers want to contribute to sustainable development through the choices they make. 73 per cent of Norway’s largest companies now give priority to the Sustainable Development Goals in their business strategies, which is three times higher than in 2017. Children have become actively involved. This gives me hope for the future and the important tasks ahead.
I hope that you will find our review useful reading. I would like to thank all the participants for their valuable contributions, views and recommendations during this process. Your efforts make it possible for us to continue to work towards a society that leaves no one behind.
Prime Minister of Norway