Theater of Cruelty

Critical success

Norad's information support has achieved amazing results – although several of the changes have met with a lot of resistance along the way.


The Norad-managed information support for Norwegian organizations must have a clear social impact. Norad points out that the support will ultimately "contribute to global and sustainable development effects". When the Solberg government took office, many of us were afraid that this good Norwegian scheme would disappear. Admittedly, there have been several blows, but the scheme still survives.

Within the summer, I will quit my chairmanship in the Rorg collaboration (an association of NGOs supported by Norad, ed. Note). My chairmanship period has been devoted to ensuring that we still have a pot that ensures that all aspects of Norwegian development policy can be illuminated. We can be proud that we live in a country where organizations receive state aid for conducting critical information work – even when the authorities find it unnecessary, wrong or stupid. Here lies the strength of the Norwegian model.

Organizations receive state aid for conducting critical information work – even when the authorities find it unnecessary, wrong or stupid.

An ethical pension fund. In February, a major seminar was held at the Storting where it was stated that the ethical guidelines for the Government Pension Fund Global would not have existed without Norad's information support scheme. This is radical knowledge and concerted development in practice – really something to hit your chest for. The background for the seminar was the report "Results of Norad's information support scheme and the ethical guidelines for the Government Pension Fund Global, 1997–2017", led by the pen of Rorg's senior adviser Arnfinn Nygaard.

Global development effects. Norwegian civil society got involved early in the work on the management of the Oil Fund and has contributed to a significant impact on society and development.

The Storting has made a number of decisions on the Oil Fund based on this. Among other things, ethical guidelines for the fund have been adopted. The Oil Fund will withdraw from investments in weapons that violate basic humanitarian principles, as well as tobacco and coal. Furthermore, the UN and the OECD have determined that Norges Bank, as a minority shareholder through the Oil Fund, has a responsibility for companies in which it is invested, respecting human rights.

Multi-year framework agreements. When the information support has been able to contribute to these good results in such an important area, it is because the information support over the last 20 years has opened up to focus on development policy issues beyond development assistance. It has stimulated critical debate and encouraged the role of civil society as a driving force and watchdog in development policy. Moreover, the results would hardly have been so startlingly good if the support had not been based on multi-year framework agreements that have ensured predictability and long-term perspective in civil society's work.

Civil society in Norway has been good at creating and using networks nationally and internationally. We have built up competence over time and made good reports with thorough, objective and balanced information. This has provided new perspectives and proposed solutions to current issues.

Who would have thought that Norad's information support would lead to such fantastic results? Some of these have met with much resistance. Today, however, most politicians and organizations will say that the changes are for the good – for Norway, for the world, for you and me.

Andrew P. Kroglund
Andrew P. Kroglund
Kroglund is a critic and writer. Also Secretary General of BKA (Grandparents' Climate Action).

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