Speech/statement | Date: 23/01/2018
By Former Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup (Oslo, 23 January)
Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup's opening address at a seminar for researchers, MFA and Norad employees, and the civil society about the research program Norglobal-2.
The world is changing rapidly.
Our ability and capability to adjust policy in response to significant global change is vital. Political choices and actions must match the very real challenges that arise:
Climate change, war and conflict, youth in low-income countries without education or jobs, humanitarian crisis, global epidemics, trade barriers, economic stagnation, forced migration – just to mention a few.
Financial resources are important to meet these challenges, but even more crucial is knowledge.
We invest in research and development to help ensure that policy development and decision-making reflect research-based knowledge, and lead to better results.
Of course – the combined level of knowledge within the MFA and Norad on issues related to global development is high, and my confidence as new Minister of International development is based on this know-how and broad experience.
Still – we should never lean back and think that we have all the knowledge and insight we need. Fighting poverty in all its forms - and leave no one behind - is the most difficult job in the world. We need the best minds to do it.
Some of them are here today! I am pleased that the researchers leading the 11 first Norglobal-2 projects are here to present their work.
Norglobal-2 is the major research programme on international development we are funding through the Research Council.
We have high expectations that these projects will produce important new knowledge of high quality on topics that are relevant – not only for policy development and decisions at the MFA and Norad, but for all actors joining forces to reach the sustainable development goals.
The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals represent a break with the tendency to consider development as primarily dependent on aid. Aid alone is by no means sufficient to finance the SDGs.
In line with the new global agenda for development, we are moving towards broader political and economic partnerships with low-income countries. Partnerships based on common interests, co-operation, trade and investment.
Norwegian research institutions have extensive expertise in many fields of international development. Norglobal-2 provide opportunities to strengthen this expertise further, and to produce new knowledge where gaps are identified.
I am pleased that the programme requires co-operation and partnerships between Norwegian researchers and excellent researchers from other countries.
And not least: That a specific goal is better communication and dialogue between researchers and knowledge-users and practitioners.
We will only be able to reach the SDGs if relevant knowledge of high quality actually is used to create better policies and practises.
The seminar here today is an excellent example. I expect that staff from the MFA and Norad are familiar with relevant and updated research-based knowledge, and that international development researchers actively reach out to us and promote their work.
Also NGOs would obviously benefit from using research-based knowledge actively in their work.
The partnership must also include private sector both at home and in the recipient countries. They play a key role in securing lasting development and poverty reduction.
A well-functioning business sector is decisive for job creation and economic growth, and fundamental for national resource mobilisation to finance welfare for a nation's own population.
Knowledge, innovation and technology are keys to secure progress in all countries – rich and poor.
When governments, NGOs, researchers and private sector all do their part and forge partnerships pulling in the same direction, reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is not only a vision, it is possible.
Thank you for your attention.