Minister Tvinnereim’s remarks at the launch of Norway's new humanitarian strategy

(as delivered)

High Commissioner, dear friends, and colleagues, welcome to this launch of Norway's revised humanitarian strategy. It sets the course for our humanitarian policies in the years to come.

We meet against a bleak backdrop. Humanitarian needs have drastically increased in the five years since we last revised our strategies. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has more than doubled in those five years, from 135 million in 2018 to 300 million people in 2024.

We know that a growing number of people are experiencing food insecurity, as we just heard from South Sudan. Accelerating climate change is triggering more crises. The number of armed conflicts is a staggering 110 ongoing in the world today. And you all share the grave concern for the safety of humanitarian workers. We see that their safety is increasingly threatened, and the respect for international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles is challenged.

So this is the bleak backdrop. Needs are increasing. However, the international community has never before mobilized more resources to the humanitarian system. And we, the humanitarian consortium, or whatever we can call ourselves, are more efficient and better coordinated than we have ever been.

This strategy is a product of active involvement from many of you here today, partner organizations, diplomatic missions. We have promised to be inclusive, and I trust that we have delivered on that promise. Therefore, I'm very pleased that we are gathered here today. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, leaders from humanitarian organizations, experts on international humanitarian law, and we have Norwegian embassies with us following the stream. And all of you in the audience, civil society, academia, private and public sectors, and representatives from the diplomatic community in Oslo. Thank you for coming.

Let me first emphasize, it is more important than ever before that we insist on the values and principles underlying our humanitarian engagement. Our efforts will always be based on international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence. Norway has a long-standing tradition of humanitarian leadership and funding, and we have also a tradition of being a principled actor. With this strategy, we recommit to that tradition. We must do our bit to safeguard a humanitarian system that is the difference between life and death for millions of people.

Let me highlight the priority areas of the strategy. First, we will continue to prioritize the urgent need to protect civilians from violence and abuse. We will place emphasis on combating sexual and gender-based violence, on the protection of children and young people, protection of refugees and internally displaced people, the protection of health and educational institutions, and the humanitarian consequences of landmines and other explosives, and the particular impact of urban warfare.

Second, we will strengthen our efforts to combat hunger. One of the most disheartening features of today's world is the sheer number of people affected by food shortage and hunger. This situation has drastically deteriorated over the past five years. Climate change will also, of course, make these efforts even more important.

Third, we will continue to be a major humanitarian donor to the UN, the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and non-governmental humanitarian organizations. We will continue to promote rapid, flexible, and predictable financing. We want to enable you to respond swiftly. We will demand from our partners quality and results, and willingness to innovate and reform. This includes clear expectations regarding good systems and practices to prevent and respond to sexual abuse.

We will promote locally-led humanitarian responses, and the gender perspective is to be integrated into all efforts. The causes of humanitarian crises and armed conflicts are complex. We can't prevent, remedy, or solve them by humanitarian interventions alone. So, a dedicated chapter of this strategy provides guidance on a comprehensive approach. And what does that entail? It describes how several foreign policy instruments must interact to have a real, lasting impact. We may call it nexus, we may call it triple nexus, whatever you like. The point is to work in a way that may reduce the needs over time, and to identify durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced people.

Let me say a few words about the upcoming MFA-NORAD reform and partnership. And let me reiterate, Norwegian humanitarian aid will continue to be principled, fast, and flexible. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to an even greater extent to take humanitarian initiatives and be a leading actor in international humanitarian policies. We must recognize that humanitarian efforts and long-term development aid are two different professional fields. In acute crises, it's paramount to react quickly and decisively.

In the transition of grant management responsibilities from the ministry to NORAD, we will ensure humanitarian expertise, understanding of the context, and conflict sensitivity. I look forward to hearing from our panelists and our humanitarian partners present here today. What do you find in this strategy that can strengthen and help your efforts? What should we be, as a ministry, aware of in the implementation of this strategy? And above all, how can our partnership respond even better, saving even more lives? Thank you.