Norway

Norway’s development programme focuses on health, education, and climate and the environment, with a strong bilateral focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Norway is committed to spending 1.0% of gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA), placing it among the Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) most generous donors. Total ODA (USD 4.7 billion, preliminary data) decreased slightly in 2021, representing 0.93% of GNI.

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Norway recognises that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is a shared responsibility, a principle that underpins its approach to development co-operation. Following elections and a shift in Norway’s government in October 2021, new policy papers are forthcoming. Norway’s most recent development policy, “Common Responsibility for Common Future (2016-17)”, was supported by regular thematic white papers, such as Partner Countries in Norway’s Development Policy (2017-18), which identifies two categories for its bilateral partnerships: 1) long-term development co-operation; and 2) stabilisation and conflict prevention. Norway consistently meets the United Nations (UN) target on ODA to least developed countries (LDCs).

A white paper on Norway’s Role and Interests in Multilateral Cooperation (2018-19) guides its strong multilateral commitment. A high share of Norway’s core support to the multilateral system is channelled via the UN, and Norway continues to play an important role in supporting peace and reconciliation processes globally, including through its elected term as a member of the UN Security Council in 2021-22. Through a clear humanitarian strategy, an increased budget and solid partnerships Norway also plays an important role in helping to improve the humanitarian landscape. Norway’s cross-government oceans strategy, Blue Opportunities, outlines domestic and international actions to protect the ocean’s contribution to sustainable development.

The 2019 OECD-DAC peer review praised Norway’s commitment to global action and the multilateral system. It also commended Norway’s strong support for domestic resource mobilisation, such as its tax for development work. The review recommended that Norway clarify its institutional arrangements and further strengthen its results and knowledge management systems. Learn more about the 2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Norway. The next OECD-DAC mid-term review is planned for 2022.

Norway provided USD 4.7 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2021,1 representing 0.93% of GNI. This was a decrease of 11.6% in real terms in volume (when inflation and exchange rate effects are stripped out) and a decrease in the share of GNI from 2020. Norway has been consistently among the top 5 most generous DAC providers since reaching the UN target in 1976. In 2021, Norway fell short of its domestic commitment to allocate 1% of GNI as ODA due to a sharp rise in GNI. However, the government remains committed to this target. Norway provided all of its ODA as grants in 2020.2

Norway ranks 2nd among 29 DAC member countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI, and 10th in terms of ODA volume. With 0.32% of ODA to GNI committed to the LDCs in 2020, Norway also surpasses the 0.20% UN target and a high share (29.6% of gross bilateral ODA) is allocated to fragile contexts. Norway is also among the DAC members allocating a high share of bilateral ODA as core funding for civil society organisations (CSOs), equal to 7.6% in 2020.

Norway is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Norway provided a higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2020. Gross bilateral ODA was 74.9% of total ODA. Forty-five per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Norway allocated 25.1% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, Norway provided USD 258.7 million of gross bilateral ODA for the COVID-19 response, representing 8.2% of its total gross bilateral ODA. Five per cent of total gross bilateral ODA was provided as health expenditure within the COVID-19 response.

In 2020, Norway provided USD 2.5 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 11.7% in real terms from 2019. Of this, USD 1.1 billion was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding that is earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 17.4% of Norway’s non-core contributions and 82.6% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy-six per cent of Norway’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2020 was allocated to the UN system and Other multilateral institutions, notaby Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Green Climate Fund.

The UN system received 53.8% of Norway’s gross ODA to the multilateral system, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 1.3 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Norway’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: UNICEF (USD 234.4 million), the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTFO), (USD 144.4 million) and the UNDP (USD 121.1 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2020, Norway’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 3.2 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 4.9% in real terms from 2019. In 2020, Norway focused its bilateral ODA on addressing the peace, justice and strong institutions; gender equality; poverty reduction; health; climate; and partnerships goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2020, country programmable aid was 32.2% of Norway’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49.7%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 47.4 million in 2020, a decrease of 11.7% in real terms over 2019, and represented 1.1% of Norway’s total gross ODA.

Norway disbursed USD 13.2 million for triangular co-operation in 2020 and a strategy guides its approach. About 70% of the project portfolio of the Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec) are triangular co-operation projects. Learn more about specific projects at the OECD’s voluntary triangular co-operation project repository and more broadly.

In 2020, Norway channelled bilateral ODA mainly through multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding, and non-governmental organisations. Technical co-operation made up 2.5% of gross ODA in 2020.

In 2020, CSOs received USD 890 million of gross bilateral ODA. Eight per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 20.5% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2019 to 2020, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 26.7% to 28.1%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation,and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2020, Norway’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa, the Middle East and Asia. USD 768.9 million was allocated to Africa and USD 323.5 million to the Middle East, accounting respectively for 24.3% and 10.2% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 307.1 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Asia. Africa, Asia and the Middle East were also the main regional recipients of Norway’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with its policy priorities.

In 2020, 21.6% of gross bilateral ODA went to Norway’s top 10 recipients. Norway’s top 10 recipients reflect its policy focus on stabilisation and conflict prevention, with six of its top 10 recipients considered fragile. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 56.8%, mainly due to Norway’s global thematic focus.

In 2020, the LDCs received 24.2% of Norway’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 766.6 million). This is in line with the DAC country average of 24.4%. The second highest share of Norway’s gross bilateral ODA (11.8%) was allocated to lower middle-income countries in 2020. A share of 56.8% was unallocated by income group. Norway allocated 0.4% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2020, equal to USD 12.7 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 938.3 million in 2020, representing 29.6% of Norway’s gross bilateral ODA. Thirty-one per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, decreasing slightly from 33% in 2019, while 19% was allocated to peace, also a slight decrease from 20.1% in 2019. Eight per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing a similar share to 2019, when it was 8.8%.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2020, social infrastructure and services was the largest focus of Norway’s bilateral ODA allocations. Investments in this area accounted for 46.3% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.7 billion), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 743.7 million), health (USD 456.2 million), and education (USD 360.6 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled USD 301.8 million, with a focus on financial and business services (USD 217.5 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 637.6 million (17.4% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations also focused on social sectors in 2020.

In 2020, Norway committed USD 15.8 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.5% of its bilateral allocable aid. Norway also committed USD 499.9 million (14.9% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2020. Norway is among the top 10 providers of aid for trade globally.

In 2020, Norway committed 46.9% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 39.7% in 2019),3 compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 44.6%. This is equal to USD 1.6 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 8.8%, compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 4.8%. Interventions in economic infrastructure and production sectors focus less on gender than other sectors. Norway screens all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2020). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020, Norway committed 20.9% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 697.5 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Convention (the DAC country average was 38.8%), down slightly from 21.8% in 2019. Eleven per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid in 2020 focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, similar to the DAC country average of 10.8%. Seventeen per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 553.6 million) focused on climate change overall, up slightly from 16% in 2019 (the DAC country average was 34%). Norway had a greater focus on mitigation (12.1%) than on adaptation (6%) in 2020. Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Norway committed USD 50.4 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2020, 46.1% less than in 2019. The 2020 value is equivalent to 7.4% of Norway’s bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

Norway provides resource flows to developing countries beyond ODA and makes use of leveraging instruments to mobilise private finance for development.

Norway uses its ODA and other official development finance to mobilise private finance for development. In 2020, Norfund mobilised USD 176.7 million from the private sector through direct investment in companies and special purpose vehicles, shares in collective investment vehicles, and to a lesser extent syndicated loans.

A share of 13% targeted middle-income countries and 25% the LDCs in 2020, noting that 62% was unallocated by income. Furthermore, USD 65.4 million was mobilised for fragile contexts.

Private finance mobilised by Norway in 2020 related mainly to activities in the banking and financial services (62%); energy (27%); and agriculture, forestry and fishing (11%) sectors. Moreover, 27% of Norway’s total private finance mobilised was for climate change mitigation and/or adaptation.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The delivery of Norway’s development co-operation is shared largely between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Norad. The MFA is responsible for formulating policy, while Norad is responsibile for implementing and managing grants. The Ministry for Climate and Environment is responsible for Norway’s international climate and forests initiative (NICFI). Norway’s embassies, Norec (which is responsible for facilitating academic exchanges between Norway and developing countries) and the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund, Norway’s development finance institution) also contribute to Norway’s development co-operation activities. The Office of the Auditor General undertakes studies and publishes reports on the performance of Norway’s development co-operation efforts, including recent reports on Norway’s support to World Bank trust funds (2021) and ODA to education (2019).

Norad hosts an annual conference bringing together key Norwegian stakeholders on different themes. The 2022 Norad Conference focused on reducing poverty and emissions by 2030. CSOs active in development co-operation and humanitarian assistance co-ordinate through umbrella organisations, in particular, the Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment (ForUM) and the Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS). RORG-Network is a network of Norwegian non-governmental organisations engaged in development education and awareness raising in Norway.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Norway’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in Features of Norway’s systems for quality and oversight.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Norway: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/peer-review-norway.htm

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad): https://norad.no/en/front

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA): https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/foreign-affairs/id919

Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund): https://www.norfund.no

Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec): https://www.norec.no/en/home

Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI): https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/id2000712

Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment (ForUM): https://www.forumfor.no/en/om-forum

Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS): https://www.fokuskvinner.no/en

RORG-Network: www.rorg.no

Norway’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=norway#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee since 1962.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

Notes

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Other providers also provide non-grants, which include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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