OECD Review Urges Norway to Show How Development Aid Contributes to SDGs
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The peer review of Norway’s humanitarian and development aid system finds much to praise, including Norway’s support for multilateral solutions, its increase of funding to 1% of gross national income for ODA, its 2017-2024 research strategy, and its improved approach to working in fragile contexts.

Recommendations focus on the need for comparability of reporting, demonstration of impacts beyond the project level, including contribution of projects to the SDGs, and adoption of risk management approaches, especially in fragile contexts.

May 2019: Members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a peer review of Norway’s humanitarian and development aid system, and provided recommendations for improvement. The review finds much to praise, including Norway’s support for multilateral solutions, its increase of funding to 1% of gross national income (GNI) for official development assistance (ODA), its 2017-2024 research strategy, and its improved approach to working in fragile contexts. Recommendations focus on the need for comparability of reporting, demonstration of impacts beyond the project level, including contribution of projects to the SDGs, and adoption of risk management approaches, especially in fragile contexts.

The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) reviews the policies and programmes of its members every five years. The DAC peer review process takes a system-wide approach that focuses on the performance of each government overall, not only on the work of its development cooperation agency.

In the report titled, ‘OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Norway 2019,’ DAC reviewers found that Norway has increased its support of the multilateral system to deliver global public goods, but that this has limited the interface between Norwegian aid and those who implement projects. To address this situation, the DAC recommends that Norway engage with multilateral institutions at the board level to ensure that aid money is used effectively. The DAC cautions against creating new financial instruments to support multilateral action, so as to avoid fragmentation in the multilateral system.

Norway’s emissions reduction targets are at odds with its support for its domestic petroleum sector.

The review finds that Norway’s climate policy and emissions reduction targets are at odds with its support for its domestic petroleum sector, and recommends that Norway tackle the issue of policy coherence and assign clear responsibilities for implementation.

While Norway has implemented a Results-Based Management framework across its humanitarian and development aid programmes, the review finds that the system gives significant responsibility to grant recipients to define and report results. Reviewers note that this limits Norway’s ability to show how its work is contributing to the SDGs. They recommend clearly articulating portfolio-level goals, and giving more guidance to staff in collecting and aggregating results to show impacts beyond the project level.

Reviewers welcome Norway’s recently adopted framework for working in fragile contexts. They recommend improving risk management by conducting conflict analysis and risk monitoring consistently in such contexts. In particular, they cite the need for taking anti-corruption measures and guarding against the risk of sexual abuse and exploitation in projects.

Reviewers also affirm Norway’s 2018 establishment of a Knowledge Bank, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 2017-2024 research strategy. They suggest building on these steps by implementing a formal approach to knowledge management that will capture lessons learned across the development aid system. They note that the current “do no harm” policy has limitations, including lack of staff understanding of its implications, and propose seeking opportunities to also “do good.”

Finally, they note that the distribution of responsibilities across national institutions has produced overlaps and inefficiency, and they welcome planned organizational reforms, while cautioning that the skills and core capabilities currently located in Norad, the Norwegian development aid agency, should be safeguarded in this process. [Publication: OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: Norway 2019] [Main findings and recommendations]

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