Everything is connected to everything, as former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland once put it. The maxim applies no less to development. A just and sustainable development can only occur if policies pull in the same direction, without undermining each other. This includes international rules and agreements, national laws and regulations. Norwegian policy that has ramifications for prospects in developing countries should be coherent.
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s government has recognized this. The Sundvollen declaration, the coalition government’s political platform, states clearly that the Norwegian Government will “pursue an integrated development policy, in which measures within the various sectors point in the same direction to the greatest possible degree.” This is a worthy ambition, but to date it is difficult to see what, if anything, our Government has done to move towards achieving this goal.
Written by Irja Vormedal and Leiv Lunde at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, the Norwegian Forum
for Development and Environment (ForUM, a network of 50 Norwegian NGOs) has commissioned
this report for the simple reason that, in our view, too little has taken place for too
long to advance the issue of policy coherence for development. Since the Policy Coherence
Commission’s report in 2008, policy coherence has been reduced to a neglected chapter of
the National Budget. Written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these annual reports have failed
to arouse much interest from, let alone debate within, the Norwegian parliament.
ForUM’s member organisations grapple with the issue of policy coherence on a daily basis.
Examples of incoherent policy abound:
- Norway takes a lead on peace issues, but continues to export military equipment to repressive regimes.
- Norway seeks to advance the environment agenda, but remains a major producer of fossil fuels.
- Norway has a strong position on human rights, but is often shown to be weak on human rights in its investment practice.
To make progress, the Government needs to up the ante, with a more systematic effort to realize ambitions. This report suggests a number of institutional reforms that can facilitate this. The analysis and the recommendations are those of the authors, but we hope that these will provoke a debate about how to move the agenda forward, and, more importantly, lead to concrete measures to make it happen.