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Development policy and humanitarian efforts

Worldwide, 800 million people are living in extreme poverty, and 70 million people have been forced to flee their homes. We have a global responsibility to help people in need and contribute to long-term development and a more just world.

Photo: Ken Opprann/Norad

The world has made great progress in many areas. The Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 was achieved. Never before have so many people had such good living conditions. And never before have so many had access to education and health services. However, the gap between those who are living in prosperity and those who are living in poverty keeps widening, and more and more people are in need of protection and humanitarian aid. Climate change and infectious diseases are not contained by national borders, and the challenges posed by migration are increasing.

Norway’s development policy is based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by all UN member states in 2015. These goals provide the global framework for efforts to promote sustainable development, peace and justice by 2030.

Five areas are given priority in Norway’s development policy:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Climate change, the environment and the oceans
  • Private sector development, agriculture and renewable energy
  • Humanitarian aid

Human rights, gender equality, climate change and the environment, and anti-corruption are cross-cutting issues.

Humanitarian aid and long-term development assistance must be coordinated. We will improve our chances of success if we focus on prevention and on reaching the most vulnerable groups. By doing so, we will also reduce the need for humanitarian aid in the future.

Development policy covers far more than just aid. Trade, investments, cooperation in fields such as technology development, research and culture, and efforts to strengthen the international legal order are equally important. This is why these areas are also an essential part of our policy.

Our aims

Norway will contribute to the efforts to:

  • eradicate extreme poverty by 2030
  • ensure good governance and respect for human rights for all by 2030
  • promote rights-based implementation of the SDGs
  • save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity in humanitarian crises
  • promote sustainable development and help to make countries independent of aid

Support for private sector development

Over the next ten years, one billion young people will be looking for work. The private sector provides nine out of ten jobs in developing countries. This is why support for private sector development, for example through Norfund, is an important part of Norwegian development cooperation.


Education for displaced children

59 million children and 65 million young people do not have access to school. A significant share of Norway’s support for education is used to provide schooling for children and young people who have been forced to flee their homes or who live in areas of conflict.


The oceans and marine litter

Some 80-90 % of marine plastics come from land-based sources. In 2018, Norway established a fund to help developing countries to develop waste management systems, increase their knowledge about marine litter and carry out efficient clean-up operations.

Current efforts

Norway is:

  • promoting closer coordination between humanitarian relief and long-term development
  • using aid to trigger private investments and create jobs
  • strengthening humanitarian relief and long-term development in areas affected by fragility
  • helping to enhance respect for women’s and girls’ rights
  • intensifying efforts to promote girls’ education and education in situations of crisis and conflict, and to improve the quality of education
  • playing a leading role in efforts to reduce child and maternal mortality, and to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases
  • actively promoting more ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally
  • investing in renewable energy with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions
  • providing around 1 % of GNI a year for development and humanitarian efforts

Combating illicit financial flows and corruption

National income generation, taxation, and combating illicit financial flows and corruption are far more important for development than aid. A number of analyses show that the impact of illicit financial flows and corruption may be more than USD 1 trillion a year. In comparison, global aid is around USD 140 billion.

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Maternal and child health

Norway recognises the importance of education for maternal and child health. Girls who go to school and gain an education tend to marry and have children later. Education for girls and women is therefore crucial for improving maternal health and reducing child mortality.


Knowledge transfer

Norwegian expertise in the fields of natural resource management and taxation is increasingly sought after by developing countries, and we are happy to share it. We do so through the programmes Fish for Development, Oil for Development, and Tax for Development. In addition, the Digitalisation for Development programme was launched in 2018.

History and background

Ghana is a lower middle income country in West Africa, a region where Norway has a limited tradition for development cooperation. Economic and commercial cooperation takes center stage in our bilateral relations and this fits well with Ghana’s ambition of moving “beyond aid”. The development cooperation is concentrated on areas of common interest and expertise, in particular in the petroleum, marine and maritime sectors. Norway’s main development cooperation program with Ghana is the Oil for Development capacity building program, which aims at supporting sustainable resource, environmental and financial management of Ghana’s petroleum sector.

Norway and Ghana are active contributors to global efforts for peace and security, and have cooperated for decades in relevant UN bodies and in peacekeeping operations. Norway supports Ghanaian and ECOWAS institutions in Ghana that promote peace, stability and maritime security in Africa.

The embassy has an agreement with UNDP on support for Ghana's work on climate change adaptation (Disaster Risk Reduction).

Norway also supports The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre KAIPTC which is an ECOWAS "center of excellence" in peace and reconciliation. Training of civilian, police and military personnel and research are the main activities. The centre used to be part of the Norwegian Training for Peace program. Norway, Germany, Sweden and Denmark are among the largest donors to KAIPTC.

But Norwegian bilateral assistance to Ghana is dominated by the Oil for Development program.


Oil for Development

Since Ghana found commercially viable oil and gas deposits in 2007, the two countries have cooperated to avoid the pitfalls and develop the benefits of Ghana’s petroleum related economic activity. Norway and Ghana shares a vision of environmentally and financially sound exploitation of our natural resources, including oil and gas. The main tool for our cooperation is the Oil for Development program.

Under the Oil for Development program Norway shares relevant experiences from 50 year of oil and gas exploration and production with Ghana. Norwegian government institutions and experts offer strategic, technical and legal support to Ghana’s petroleum related ministries and institutions. The main aim is to build a strong Ghanaian capacity for resource management, environmental protection and revenue management, including with support to the legal and regulatory frameworks. Norway also shares relevant Norwegian experiences from civil society dialogue and mechanisms for coexistence between the petroleum sector, fisheries and local communities shared.

Around ten Norwegian, public institutions are involved. Important initiatives have been developing a new Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill and support to the regulator, The Petroleum Commission, as well as support for environmental impact assessments. A new program within revenue management are about to be implemented.

The Oil for Development program is the backbone of the development cooperation between the two countries. The program is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through NORAD,  with relevant Norwegian ministries and institutions as implementing partners. The Norwegian Embassy in Accra is program manager.