In recent years, the Government has concentrated Norwegian aid on key areas such as education and health. Support for global education has doubled since 2013, and a further increase of NOK 190 million is now being proposed. In addition, an increase of NOK 400 million in funding for global health is proposed. This means a historic level of funding – NOK 7.7 billion – for global health and education.
In the budget proposal for 2018, the Government also proposes increasing funding for business development and job creation to a total of NOK 2 billion, and increasing funding for renewable energy by NOK 75 million.
'We know that job creation in developing countries is vital if we are to succeed in fighting poverty and promoting growth and stability. We are therefore proposing to increase our support for business development by NOK 338 million in 2018. Of this amount, NOK 188 million will be an increased allocation of capital to Norfund – the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries. Norfund is our most important instrument for promoting business development in developing countries, and it is a good example of how aid can be used as a catalyst to mobilise other, larger flows of capital,' said Mr Brende.
The budget proposal also includes an increased allocation for efforts to help people affected by humanitarian crises, and clear priority is given to Norway's efforts in countries and regions affected by conflict and fragility.
'Never before have so many people been affected by war, conflict and instability. More than 140 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and humanitarian crises are becoming longer and more drawn-out. In the budget for 2018, we are proposing to increase humanitarian aid by NOK 139 million, to NOK 5.2 billion. At the same time, we are seeking to achieve closer coordination between emergency humanitarian assistance and long-term development aid,' said Mr Brende.
'Conflicts, wars and terrorism have catastrophic consequences for those who are directly affected, and they also create security challenges across national borders and regions. We are therefore proposing to increase our funding for efforts in regions affected by conflict and fragility by almost NOK 283 million. In addition, we are proposing to increase our support for combating global security challenges, such as terrorism and organised crime, by NOK 131 million, and we are proposing a NOK 20 million increase in funding for Norwegian peace and reconciliation efforts,' said Mr Brende.
In the 2018 budget proposal, the Government proposes an allocation of NOK 5.7 billion for efforts relating to climate change, rainforests, the environment and sustainable energy. Multilateral initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund, UN Environment, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) are important partners in this context. Of the total amount allocated to efforts in this area, the Government proposes allocating NOK 3 billion to Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative, which is administered by the Ministry of Climate and Environment.
The Government has taken a number of steps to ensure the concentration of Norwegian aid and to make it more effective. During the 2013-2017 parliamentary period, the number of aid agreements has been reduced from around 7000 to 3300, and the number of countries receiving aid has been reduced from 112 to 92.
The overall aims of Norwegian aid are to fight poverty and alleviate suffering. In addition to the Government's five main priority areas, cross-cutting issues in Norwegian development policy include human rights, gender equality, and anti-corruption. The Government proposes increasing earmarked support for women's health and safe abortion by NOK 180 million in 2018, and increasing support for efforts relating to religious minorities by NOK 30 million.
The budget proposal for 2018 is equivalent to around 1 % of GNI. Of the total aid budget of NOK 35.1 billion, the Government proposes allocating NOK 1.4 billion to measures relating to refugees in Norway. This amounts to 3.9 % of the total aid budget for 2018. This is significantly less than the allocation of NOK 2.9 billion in 2017, which corresponded to 8.7 % of the total aid budget.