The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Norway has maintained an international development programme for many years. In fact, it started in the post-1945 period when the United Nations system was being established, following World War II. Norway started channelling development through the UN system towards the end of the 1940s, and its bilateral engagement started in 1952. International development cooperation is an integral part of Norway’s social development, cultural history and foreign policy. In 2012, Norway’s aid budget exceeded NOK 30 billion (US$ 5.1 billion), double its 2004 budget. Norway’s official development assistance (ODA) is second only to Sweden when measured as a proportion of gross national income.
On average, 50 per cent of Norway’s international aid is bilateral, directly state-to-state. The other half is distributed through international organizations, multi-lateral aid, and non-governmental organisations. Voluntary organizations have become increasingly important channels for aid, and development aid has also been channelled through Norwegian businesses operating in developing countries.
The main goal of Norway’s ODA is poverty reduction, through an equitable distribution of social and economic goods and sustainable development. The strong interdependence between environment and development has been emphasised by the Government, thus the budget for climate change adaptation and mitigation has increased strongly over recent years. The main priorities for Norwegian Climate Finance are reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promotion of renewable energy and energy conservation/efficiency. Adaptation to climate change is another priority, with particular focus on food security, disaster risk reduction and climate services. In addition, efforts are being made to integrate climate change concerns into all development efforts. Africa receives the largest share of the adaptation support, about 40 per cent of the total adaptation budget in 2012. In the country level, Haiti, Mozambique and India received the highest amount of funding for climate change adaptation in 2012.
Norway has an expressed interest in the issue of societal adaptation to climate variability and change. All countries and regions of the world are interconnected in many ways, this is especially true when it comes to weather, climate and oceans. Many complex factors drive and influence these elements, but Norway, positioned on the edge of Europe facing the vast North Atlantic Ocean, has an important role to play.
Norway’s historic contribution to global exploration also spurs its interest in this area. The famous Norwegian seafarer Leif Eriksson, the Viking who made it to the North American landmass 500 years before Christopher Colombus, had acquired advanced understanding of the elements before he steered ship west toward the unknown. Roald Amundsen, who discovered the Northwest Passage between Greenland and Northern Canada on his 1903-1906 voyage, led the first expedition to reach the geographic South Pole (on 14 December 1911).
Interestingly, modern meteorology started in Norway – in Bergen – where conceptual models were first developed to help early weather forecasters to better understand the atmosphere and its movements. The Bergen School of Meteorology produced the basis for much of modern weather forecasting. Founded by Prof. Vilhelm Bjerknes in 1917, the Bergen School attempted to define the motion of the atmosphere using the mathematics of hydro- and thermodynamics.
The Global Framework for Climate Services is high on the agenda for Norwegian priorities. Norway believes it is essential to help the world to adapt to climate change and prevent weather related disasters. The GFCS will enable better management of the risks of climate variability and change and adaptation to climate change, through the development and incorporation of science-based climate information and prediction into planning, policy and practice on the global, regional and national scale. Experience from earlier extreme events and disasters shows that thousands of lives may be saved if countries are prepared, early warning systems are in place and people in vulnerable areas receive preparedness training in combination with other adaptive and preventive measures. Norway has lead the international push to direct investment in the building of in-country meteorological capacity that is a necessary to provide data or content for climate information as well as financially supporting the building of the framework itself. Norway is keen to encourage other governments to follow its example.
Nature of the Support
Norway’s support, in the first instance, was in participating in the High-Level Task Force that established the GFCS. It then contributed to the development the GFCS Office and developing African based GFCS programmes. More recently, discussions have been around encouraging cross-agency cooperation within the UN system itself as well as with world-leading institutions in order to merge natural and social sciences to inform the development of climate services.
This support is central to Norway’s international development aid programme and in accord with its long-standing tradition for multi-lateral cooperation.