8 Means of implementation

Picture of two people climbing a mountain.

Photo: Aleksander Myklebust

8.1 Key changes/lessons learned

  • International cooperation and development assistance are important for supporting developing countries, but a focus on coherence is also necessary.
  • Technology is an important tool for developing and sharing knowledge, monitoring and reviewing.

8.2 Sustainable development in the Norwegian state budget

One of the main priorities in the Norwegian state budget since 2016 has been to promote the transition to a carbon-neutral society by 2050. In 2020 the Government allocated approximately NOK. 4,5 billion to a green transition package to reduce the negative effects of COVID-19. The funding was allocated to research, innovation and the transition to a climate-neutral society in the private sector and municipalities. NOK 11 billion, (approximately EUR 1,1 billion ) has been added to the budget for 2021 to promote climate and environmental efforts. This is followed up by the revised budget for 2021.

The Government has allocated NOK 1 billion to the Green Platform, a commitment over a three-year period. The Green Platform, will promote a coordinated, enhanced and more focused effort to stimulate the transition to a carbon-neutral society, and NOK 333 million is allocated in 2021. The platform builds on established schemes in Innovation Norway, The Research Council of Norway (RCN), SIVA and ENOVA.

The RCN granted NOK 193 million to innovation projects in the public sector in 2020. Approximately NOK 50 mill was granted to a planning programme. One of the projects focuses on developing a framework for localising the SDGs in regional and local planning.

The switch to electric cars is a priority. Norway now has one of the largest share of electric cars in Europe, due to the taxation system. ENOVA plays an important role in supporting investments in infrastructure for charging electric cars in parts of the country where the market is not sufficient.

8.3 Norway’s official development assistance

Norway has for several years given around 1 per cent of GNI in official development assistance (ODA). As shown in the figure below, Norway was one of the six member countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) which met or exceeded the United Nations’ target of 0.7 per cent of GNI going ODA in 2020.

Figure 8.1 Development assistance as a share of GNI

Graph showing Norway's development assistance as share of GNI.

Source: Norad

In recent years the share of Norwegian official aid to the least developed countries (LDC) has been above 0.25 per cent of GNI. The UN target is to give between 0.15 and 0.20 per cent of GNI to LDCs.

The main goal of the Norwegian development policy is to combat poverty and promote economic growth and welfare in developing countries, within the framework of human rights, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, and in support of the overall target of developing countries to become aid independent.

Norwegian development assistance has grown substantially over the last decade and totaled NOK 39.5 billion (USD 4.2 billion) in 2020. The SDGs are interconnected, and most development projects contribute to several goals. The figure below gives a simplified and aggregated overview of Norwegian development assistance based on the SDG for each development project. The size of each SDG represents the share it makes up of Norway’s total development assistance in 2020. The illustration is partly based on the OECD’s methodology for reporting the SDG focus on development co-operation activities.

Figure 8.2 Norwegian development aid by SDG, 2020. Share of total aid

Illustration showing Norwegian development aid by SDG in 2020.

Source: Norad

Norwegian development cooperation is concentrated in five priority areas: education; health; climate, environment and oceans; private sector development, agriculture and renewable energy; and humanitarian assistance.

Women’s participation and gender equality is a priority area as well as a concern underpinning all Norwegian development assistance. Other such cross-cutting issues are human rights, anti-corruption and climate/environment.

CASE: The health of oceans

Norway has initiated and is leading international processes to safeguard the health of the oceans. Together with partners in the High-level Ocean Panel, Norway promotes a sustainable ocean economy. In December 2020, 14 heads of state and governments in the Ocean Panel committed themselves to sustainably managing 100 per cent of national ocean territories by 2025. The Panel urges other coastal and ocean states to join this effort so that all ocean areas under national jurisdiction are sustainably managed by 2030. Norway will continue to play a central role in the implementation of the Ocean Panel’s action plan.

Special attention is given to the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised groups, to leave no one behind. Programmes and strategies are being developed to fight modern slavery and to include persons with disabilities.

During the pandemic, the digital divide has become increasingly visible, and Norway is working to digitalise our development cooperation. The use of technology and digital solutions makes it easier to reach the most vulnerable.

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad, administers a big part of the Norwegian development budget and has a main role in evaluation and knowledge building. The Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation, Norec (formerly FK – Fredskorpset) is responsible for exchange programs between private companies and organisations.

International organisations like the UN agencies and the World Bank and other development banks are main channels for Norwegian development assistance. Core support for multilateral institutions is a Norwegian priority and accounts for a large proportion of total Norwegian development aid. This Norwegian policy is in recognition of the key role that the multilateral institutions have in global efforts to achieve the SDGs. Core support is of vital importance for the activities of multilateral institutions and for securing a coherent multilateral response. Civil society organisations also manage a substantial part. The Norwegian Investment Fund for developing countries, Norfund, is a central vehicle for mobilising funding from the private sector for joint investments and job creation in developing countries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Norway has increased its efforts in the area of health and vaccines. The pandemic has had devastating effects on the world economy, and the poorest and most vulnerable have been hit the hardest by the measures to curb the contagion. In order to be able to open up societies and get schools and businesses running again, broad access to vaccines is essential. Through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) our focus has been on strengthening health systems in general and providing equitable access to diagnostics and treatment as well as vaccines.

8.4 The Knowledge Bank

Technical assistance plays an important role in Norwegian development cooperation. Many low- and middle-income countries request knowledge and the sharing of experiences rather than funding. Norway has been involved in technical cooperation between Norwegian public institutions and equivalent institutions in partner countries. In 2018, Norway established a platform to strengthen and coordinate such programmes, known as the Knowledge Bank. The Knowledge Bank is managed by Norad.

The Knowledge Bank contributes to increased competence and capacities in public institutions in partner countries in areas in which Norway and/or multilateral organisations have relevant and sought-after competence.

The technical cooperation aims to foster good governance characterised by effective, accountable, transparent and inclusive institutions, in line with SDG 16. Technical cooperation shall also strengthen mobilisation of national resources for sustainable development, thereby contributing to SDG 17. The Knowledge Bank includes programmes in several sectors, which are also linked to other SDGs.

The ‘Tax for Development’ programme is aimed at improving tax systems and increasing tax revenues in developing countries (SDG 17). The Fish for Development programme aims to increase the ability of fishery and aquaculture sectors to contribute to socio-economic development (SDGs 14, 1 and 2). Oceans for Development programme is closely interlinked with the Fish for Development programme and promotes a strengthened, sustainable and inclusive ocean economy in cooperating countries (SDG 14). The Oil for development programme contributes to economically, environmentally and socially responsible management of petroleum resources (SDGs 1, 16, 17). This programme is under revision to align it better with the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Gender Equality for Development programme aims to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to prepare and implement legislation and policy that yield results for women’s rights and gender equality (SDG 5). The Cooperation on Statistics and Registries shall increase the demand, availability and quality of statistics and statistical analysis with a view to strengthening evidence-based policy-making and good governance (SDGs 16, 17). A programme on Anti-corruption and Good Governance includes support for countries for implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (SDG 16). The Knowledge Bank also comprises a programme for digitalisation (various SDGs), renewable energy (SDG 7), higher education and research (SDG 4 and others). Agriculture for Development programme is under establishment (SDG 2).

Several Norwegian public institutions contribute to the Knowledge Bank. Bilateral institutional collaboration is complemented by support for multilateral organisations that develop norms, contribute to policy development and offer capacity-­building of the public sector in partner countries.

8.5 Research and innovation enhancing SDGs

Research and innovation are crucial components for achieving the SDGs. The complexity of the challenges ahead requires better structures for research and cooperation across sectors, funding sources and countries. At the same time, these compound challenges mean that it is essential to view basic research, applied research, innovation and value creation as a whole.

The main strategy of the Research Council of Norway (RNC), Research for Innovation and Sustainability 2015–2020, states that Norway is well positioned to support research that will promote achievement of the SDGs.

Norway’s main public funding organisations for research and innovation, e.g. the RCN and Innovation Norway (IN) have integrated the SDGs into their strategies for the next years in order to generate knowledge and identify solutions to the SDG challenges. The RCN has also named sustainable development as one of the three main objectives of its new strategy (2020–2024). To better address major global societal challenges, the RNC will further refine its funding instruments for research and innovation, and increase efforts to facilitate collaboration across countries, academic disciplines, sectors and funding sources. Innovations Norway contributes to sustainable growth and exports for Norwegian businesses through capital and expertise. Innovation Norway has taken a proactive role in the effort to steer companies towards thinking and acting in a more sustainable way. Today, about 50 per cent of the total financial portfolio has an environmental focus.

Close collaboration with the university sector and international expert communities helps give direction to and increases the national pace of innovation. Norway’s participation in the EU’s regional cooperation programme Interreg 2021–2027 gives regional and local stakeholders access to knowledge, competence and experiences that boost sustainability through for example green transformation and future-oriented services.

In 2020 the Government issued a White Paper on Innovation in the Norwegian Public sector. The document outlines three main principles for innovation in the public sector:

  • Politicians and officials must provide a framework and incentives for innovation.
  • Decision-makers must develop the capability and culture for innovation, where contributors has the courage to think outside the box and learn from mistakes and successes.
  • Public entities must seek new forms of cooperation.

Following the White Paper, the Government also presented ten political measures to accelerate innovation in the public sector. One of them is enabling the public sector to use testing and piloting more systematically in developing and implementing innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable society.


The Research Council of Norwegian, Innovation Norway and Enova have established a funding scheme, called PILOT-E, to accelerate development. The main goal is to support more rapid development and use of new products and services that support the green transition in Norwegian markets and abroad.

For several years, PILOT-E has funded research and innovation in areas such as emission-free transport, climate-neutral industry, hydrogen value chains and building and construction activities. The scheme has contributed to the development of electric and hydrogen-powered trucks and excavators. At sea, PILOT-E has contributed to the financing of electrified ferries and tourist vessels and hydrogen supply systems.

Future of the fjords is an example of an electrified speedboat that was developed with support from PILOT-E. Electrical technology makes the boat both noise-free and emission-friendly, which makes it possible to visit vulnerable sea areas in a gentle way.

CASE: SINTEF and Eco-Solar

For more than 70 years, SINTEF has been developing solutions and innovation for society and customers all over the world. In recent years, the organisation has strengthened its sustainability efforts, where the SDGs guide research projects and the establishment of start-up companies. One such example is the EU-project Eco-Solar, withs is coordinated by SINTEF in collaboration with business partners and researchers. Eco-Solar envisions an integrated value chain to manufacture and implement solar panels in the most ecologic way by maximising resource efficiency, taking into account reuse of materials during production and repurposing solar panel components at end-of-life stage. The project has helped reduce the ecological footprint from solar cell production by 45 per cent, whilst also reducing costs by nine per cent. This shows the importance of focusing on technological innovation and commercialisation of discoveries in a way that both contributes to profitability and the achievement of the SDGs.

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