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Voluntary National Review 2021

Watch video of panel where the VNR was presented

Volountary national review process

Norway's second voluntary national review (VNR) describe Norway's continuous efforts towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and provide an overview of the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 2016 until 2021.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are responsible for the preparation of this VNR. The Office of the Prime Minister, all Ministries and several government agencies contribute to the review.

The Main focus of the VNR is local and regional commitment to achieve the SDGs. To gain insights on the work with sustainability in Norwegian municipalities and regions a partnership agreement with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) was established.

Three key actors from the civil society are involved to coordinate feedback from a vast group of stakeholders. The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment (ForUM) coordinates feedback on Norway's progress on all 17 SDGs from their network of 50 organizations working with development, environment, peace and human rights. UN Global Compact Norway and SDG Norway contribute with views and recommendations on the government implementation of the SDGs from the business and industry sector, and the education and academic sector.

The Governments of Indonesia and Denmark cooperated with Norway in the preparation of the VNR by reviewing the draft report and sharing their recommendations.

Policy and enabling environment

In January 2020, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation was appointed coordinating body for national implementation of the SDGs. This has increased cross-sectoral cooperation and a more holistic approach to sustainable development. The government will submit Norway’s first national Action Plan for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda to Parliament in 2021. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates Norway’s global efforts on SDG implementation.

Progress on SDGs

According to the SDG Index, Norway’s performance for goals 1 (no poverty), 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 10 (reduced inequalities) and 17 (partnerships for the goals) in particular is high. On the SDG Index, Norway currently ranks as number 6. The key challenges for achieving the SDGs in Norway are related to unsustainable consumption patterns, climate gas emissions and the state of biodiversity. Gender-based violence and labour market disparities remain and show that persisting or rising inequalities between groups of society must be addressed.

Leaving no one behind

The Norwegian welfare society is key to ensure that no one is left behind, by securing opportunities for income, providing education and health services for everyone. A strong focus on equality and non-discrimination is also key to ensure that no one is left behind. Norway is at the forefront of developing legislation to ensure non-discrimination online. The LNOB principle is mainstreamed also throughout Norwegian foreign- and development policy.

SDGs in Norwegian municipalities and regions

The SDGs are relevant to all aspects of the local government activities. Since 2016 implementation has gained momentum in municipalities and in regional authorities. Their experience indicate that political commitment is vital for the direction and speed and that knowledge sharing and collaboration across levels of government foster success.

The context of COVID-19

Covid-19 measures have led to severe social and economic setbacks that cannot be ignored. Structural issues that were present in Norway before the COVID-19 pandemic have become more prominent. At the same time, the pandemic has also accelerated ongoing processes such as the digitalisation of society.

Governance for sustainable development

Human rights and gender equality are an integral part of Norwegian foreign and development policy. Norway seek to increase awareness about discriminatory practices and reduce inequalities and promote inclusion on a global scale. Norway provides financial and political support to a pluralistic civil society, which contributes significantly to the objective of leaving no one behind.

The 2030 agenda including the Sustainable Development Goals is the framework for Norwegian foreign- and development policy. The Norwegian Prime Minister is co-chair, together with The President of Ghana in the Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group. Norwegian development policy will contribute to getting the world back on track in achieving the SDGs, in a greener, fairer and more resilient manner. The Government’s long term commitment to allocate 1 % of GNI to development will continue.

Voluntary National Review 2016

The 2030 Agenda: A roadmap for national action and global partnership

Norway regards the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a transformative global roadmap for our national and international efforts aimed at eradicating extreme poverty while protecting planetary boundaries and promoting prosperity, peace and justice. It is a universal agenda, to which all countries and all relevant stakeholders can and must contribute. With the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change in place, the SDGs will be a powerful driver for national policy action, international cooperation, and collaborative partnerships. Norway will follow up the 2030 Agenda, nationally and internationally, and in cooperation with other member states. The process of preparing Norway’s initial Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) has in itself contributed to greater political and public awareness about the SDGs in Norway. The Government has already taken important steps to identify challenges and integrate SDG reporting into the annual budget documents. The Prime Minister is also engaged internationally, as Co-Chair, with the president of Ghana, of the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocacy Group. This review starts with a summary of key features of Norway’s initial national follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. Details of national and international follow-up are covered in the Policy section, under ‘Goals and targets’. This Summary highlights policies, partnerships and practices that Norway believes could be of particular interest to the wider UN membership and stakeholders.

Challenges at the national level

UN reports and various international indexes show that Norway ranks high in terms of global implementation of the SDGs. At the same time, it is evident that implementing the 2030 Agenda will be demanding for Norway, too. The Government has identified a number of targets that pose particular challenges for domestic follow-up in Norway. These challenges relate to several of the SDGs and all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, and environmental. Among the targets that are likely to remain the focus of political attention and policy development are those relating to sustainable consumption and production, health and education, equality, employment, and migration. The Government is giving priority to ensuring quality education and employment, especially for young people and those at risk of marginalisation. This is an important contribution to realising the 2030 Agenda vision of leaving no one behind. Challenges that have been identified at the national level include:

  • Reducing non-communicable diseases and promoting mental health
  • Increasing high-school completion rates
  • Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls
  • Reducing the proportion of young people not in employment, education or training
  • Ensuring sustainable infrastructure
  • Sustaining income growth of the bottom 40% of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • Improving urban air quality
  • Halving food waste and reducing waste generation
  • Reducing the impact of invasive alien species
  • Reducing all forms of violence and related death rates and combating organised crime.

As for the crucial area of climate change, national follow-up of the Paris Agreement will constitute the main basis for action to fulfil SDG 13. Norway is committed to reducing emissions by at least 40 % by 2030, compared with the 1990 level. Norway is engaged in a dialogue on joint fulfilment of its 2030 commitment together with the EU.

National participation and ownership

Norway regards participatory, inclusive and representative decision-making as fundamental for a well-functioning society. Participation is vital for ensuring the national ownership necessary for effective and transparent follow-up of the SDGs.

At present, 40 % of the members of the Storting (Norwegian parliament) are women. The Storting has debated the post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs several times, most recently in November 2015. The Storting’s approval of the annual state and national budget, which are key political documents in the Norwegian democratic system, is required to give the Government the mandate it needs to carry out its policies. Following the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015, the Government developed a plan for national follow-up of the SDGs in Norway, which is linked to the budget process. Responsibility for each of the 17 SDGs is given to a coordinating ministry, which is to consult with other ministries involved in the follow-up of various targets under the goal concerned. Each ministry is to report on the status of follow-up for its respective goal(s) in its budget proposal. The Ministry of Finance will then sum up the main points in the national budget white paper, which is presented to the Storting annually, along with the state budget. This ensures annual reporting on the follow-up of the SDGs to the Storting, in a well-established process. The indigenous peoples’ assembly, the Sámediggi (Sami Parliament), will be involved through dialogue with the line ministries and formal consultation mechanisms. The Government will also make use of existing mechanisms for cooperation with local and regional authorities. Dialogue and partnerships with stakeholders including civil society, the business sector and academia is an enduring feature of the Norwegian political and democratic system in all relevant policy areas. The Government will continue to benefit from consultations with stakeholders in the SDG follow-up process. Engagement with the private sector and business will be important, including in achieving scaled-up implementation and financing with a view to realising the SDGs at global level. As far as spreading knowledge about the SDGs is concerned, the recommendation by the Ministry of Education to include the SDGs as part of the curriculum in schools is valuable.

A commitment to international solidarity to eradicate poverty and protect planetary boundaries Norway has a long tradition of solidarity with developing and vulnerable countries, including through its provision of support for the UN and fulfilment of the target to allocate at least 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA). The commitment to work for poverty eradication and provide ODA, currently at around 1% of Norway’s GNI, continues to enjoy broad political and popular support. Norway’s international follow-up of the SDGs and the global partnership in SDG 17 are discussed in this review.

Effective implementation also requires financing in the form of domestic resource mobilisation and tax collection, as well as business and private sector investments. Norway will continue to promote technology and knowledge transfer; open trade and market access; and capacity building to ensure effective and accountable governance institutions and respect for the rule of law and human rights. Gender equality and rights for women and girls, access to education and health for all, and a human rights-based approach, are crucial factors for reducing extreme poverty and creating equal opportunities for all, including people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and marginalised groups. These policies are essential if we are to “leave no one behind” in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Examples of Norwegian priorities and partnerships in these areas include:

  • Increasing ODA for education, with a special focus on girls’ education, education in emergencies and education quality
  • Maintaining a high level of investments in global health, in particular efforts to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality
  • Working in partnerships, including with the private sector, Every Woman Every Child, the vaccine alliance GAVI, and the Global Partnership on Education (GPE)
  • Engaging in partnerships under the UN, World Bank and other organisations to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality in economic, social and political life, which is crucial for economic development and growth.

Sustainable natural resource management and climate change mitigation and adaptation are priority areas for Norway. Integrating climate and environment concerns into all our SDG follow-up efforts is key to achieving lasting sustainable development results.

Addressing the responsible use and protection of oceans and marine environments is particularly pressing. This is important for Norway and other coastal states, whose livelihoods and welfare depend on the sea. Clean oceans and seas are a global common good, and crucially linked to the efforts to address climate change and reduce CO2 emissions through the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. Healthy oceans are key to the ‘blue economy’. Fisheries are a growing source of global nutrition and food security, while shipping trade routes are vital for global trade and hence for economic growth. Norway has established integrated ecosystem-based management plans for its sea areas. In May 2016, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) adopted a Norwegian Action Plan for Biodiversity, aimed at achieving the Aichi targets, and debated a new white paper on securing an efficient and climate-friendly energy supply. Norway will continue to share its experience and assist developing countries’ efforts to manage and protect marine and other natural resources, including fisheries, forests, and energy. The objective must be to promote national welfare as well as global common goods. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and other agreements to ensure well-regulated and responsible marine resource management are of fundamental importance in this regard. Examples of Norwegian priorities and partnerships in these areas include:

  • Working with Latin American, African, and Asian partners in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+).
  • Supporting climate financing for vulnerable nations, including LDCs and SIDS, via multilateral mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund, where Norway is a major donor.
  • Support for promoting renewable energy in African and Asian countries, and sharing experience in the management of petroleum resources, a sector in which Norway is a major exporter.
  • Reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as part of sustainable management of fish stocks, including cooperation with Russia in the Barents Sea.
  • Stepping up efforts to reduce marine plastic litter and micro-plastics, including through an initiative taken at UNEA, and working with the US and others to make the ‘Our Ocean’ process a success.

Integrating SDG 16, connecting peace and poverty

The governance targets embedded in SDG 16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions represent an important innovation and pillar of the 2030 Agenda and they were a key topic in the debate on the SDGs in the Storting in November 2015. Goal 16 is cross cutting and helps integrate the social, economic and environmental dimensions with stability and security issues through its focus on the root causes of poverty, hunger and migration. Peace, justice and freedoms are key elements. In 2015, a white paper on human rights, and another on global security challenges, provided important policy guidance in this regard. Norway will continue to support peace, conflict prevention, and reconciliation efforts – which we see as a crucial foreign policy supplement to humanitarian and development assistance – including in situations of fragility and vulnerability. Examples of Norway’s international engagement include:
  • Chair of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) for assistance to the Palestinians. Facilitator, together with Cuba, in the Colombian peace process. Cooperation with the African Union in support of African peacekeeping and capacity building.
  • Support to international governance and institution building to promote transparency and accountability, counteract corruption and capital flight, and consolidate the rule of law.
  • Work with multilateral, regional and bilateral partners to promote democracy and relevant human rights norms and standards, including by supporting the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and engaging in the Council of Europe.
Focal point
Mr. Paul Gulleik Larsen
Project Manager
Section for UN Policy
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Norway is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
The Survive and Thrive Global Development Alliance

The Survive and Thrive Alliance is a public-private partnership established to achieve significant reduction in maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in low-resource settings through strengthening the performance of providers, as well as improving the quality of facility-based maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services to prevent maternal and child deaths. The US Government has joined with country nationals to implement, facilitate and integrate evidence-based interventions by mobilizing multi-sectorial technical experts from pediatric, obstetric and midwifery professional asso...[more]

Government: US Agency for International Development (USAID), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD); Private Sector: Laerdal Global Health, Johnson & Johnson, University Research Corporation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; NGO: Save the Children, Jhpiego, Global Health Media Project, Project CURE; FBO: Catholic Medical Mission Board, Latter-day Saint Charities, Professional Associa...[more]
Sustainable Development Goals
Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

The best opportunity to slow the rate of near-term warming globally and in sensitive regions such as the Arctic is by cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – most notably methane, black carbon and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Widespread reductions, which complement the need for aggressive global action on carbon dioxide, contribute significantly to the goal of limiting warming to less than two degrees. Reducing SLCPs can also advance national priorities such as protecting air quality and public health, promoting food security, enhancing energy efficiency, and allevi...[more]

111 Partners, 50 State and REIO, 16 IGO and 45 NGO partners (as of April 2016). Full list:
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism is an organizational network of tourism stakeholders of the public and private sectors, non-profits, UN agencies and programmes, international organizations and academic institutions. Partner organizations share the common vision and understanding of the goal of "sustainable tourism" and collaborate internationally, regionally or nationally to transform tourism globally. The mission is to transform the way tourism is done worldwide by building partnerships to support the implementation of sustainable tourism practices at destinations through adop...[more]

United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Croatia, the Government of France, Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Morocco, Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea, the Travel Foundation, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
IHO Hydrography Capacity Building Programme for Coastal States

The IHO capacity building programme seeks to assess and advise on how countries can best meet their international obligations and serve their own best interests by providing appropriate hydrographic and nautical charting services. Such services directly support safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, efficient sea transportation and the wider use of the seas and oceans in a sustainable way, including the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, fishing, marine resource exploration and exploitation, maritime boundary delimitation, maritime defence and security, and o...[more]

International Hydrographic Organization (IGO); 87 IHO Member States (Governments); International Maritime Organization (UN); World Meteorological Organization (UN); International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (NGO)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Islands Diesel Replacement program (“the Islands program”)

The project will catalyze a comprehensive transformation of economies and communities from a reliance on imported fossil fuels to a new paradigm anchored on clean, efficient, and reliable energy systems. CCI and RMI-CWR currently work in Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Colombia (San Andres and Providencia), Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Norway, Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Lighthouses Initiative

IRENA has developed the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative to support the strategic deployment of renewable energy in SIDS, to bring clarity to policy makers regarding the required steps, and to enable targeted action. As a joint effort of SIDS and development partners, this framework for action will assist in transforming SIDS energy systems through the establishment of the enabling conditions for a renewable energy-based future, by moving away from developing projects in isolation to a holistic approach that considers all relevant elements spanning from policy and market frameworks, through technol...[more]

Antigua and Barbuda, Mauritius, Bahamas, Nauru, Barbados, Palau, Cabo Verde, Samoa, Comoros, São Tomé and Príncipe, Cook Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Fiji, Seychelles, Grenada, Solomon Islands, Guyana, Tonga, Kiribati, Trinidad and Tobago, Maldives, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, ENEL, New Zealand, European Union, Norway, France, SE4ALL, Germany, ...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals

Societal Innovation enabling Sustainable Development and a cross-sector eco-system transitioning to a Circular Economy. A modular scaleable platform supporting and connecting a network of ‘smart circular regions’ supporting the technical infrastructure to facilitate efficient community resource management. Supporting resource categories that include secondary material markets, transparent food systems, physical asset management, product-service network. Promoting the circular economy to enable regenerative communities and a wellbeing economy. Supporting Cities & Regions, organisations...[more]

Locals.Global, SmartUse AS, myTurn pbc., Circular Oslo, Nesoddliv, Impact Playground, Brox Consulting, ELVA Hållbart
Sustainable Development Goals
Nansen Initiative

It aims to set in place back-stopping measures that address the needs of people and communities who are displaced from the impacts of natural hazards and the adverse effects of climate change within, and across borders.To reach this goal technical assistance and capacity building can provide the basis to increase the required awareness from the community to the political level and complement and strengthen national adaptation policy. In the event that displacement occurs, government will have institutionalised safe-guard measures that protect people who are displaced and the receiving communit...[more]

The Nansen Initiative: The Steering Group is composed of national governments who initiates, hosts, oversees and steers the Nansen Initiative process and is co-chaired by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland. Member states to the group include Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines in addition to the co-chair countries, Norway and Switzerland. ...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE)

PCREEE aims at improving access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services, energy security and mitigation of negative externalities of the energy system (e.g. local pollution and GHG emissions) by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, markets and industries in Pacific Island countries. PCREEE coordinates, executes and co-funds programmes, projects and activities in the scope of the following areas:

PCREEE, UNIDO, Austria, Norway
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Saving Mothers, Giving Life

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) is a five-year initiative to rapidly reduce maternal and newborn mortality in low-resource, high-burden sub-Saharan Africa countries. Launched by Secretary of State Clinton in 2012, this public-private partnership strengthens health services by increasing demand, facilitating access to quality, lifesaving care for the most vulnerable women, and strengthening health systems at the district level. The initiative was given the ambitious goals of reducing maternal mortality by 50% and perinatal morality by 30% in 8 pilot districts in Uganda and Zambia, and then s...[more]

Founding partners: USG (USAID, CDC, OGAC, DoD, Peace Corps), Government of Norway, Government of Zambia, Government of Uganda, Government of Nigeria, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Every Mother Counts, Merck for Mothers, Project C.U.R.E. Other stakeholders: Swedish Sida, Lafarge Foundation Zambia Zamnet, ELMA Philanthropies
Sustainable Development Goals
Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE)

Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) is a multi-stakeholder coalition among public sector, private sector, and civil society actors that aims to provide leadership and resources for catalytic action to increase the number of young people engaged in productive work. The S4YE coalition was founded, in partnership, by Accenture, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Youth Foundation (IYF), Plan International, RAND Corporation, the World Bank, and Youth Business International (YBI). The mission of S4YE is to provide leadership and catalytic action and mobilize efforts to signific...[more]

* Accenture * Microsoft * Government of Germany * Government of Norway * Government of Albania * Plan International * Youth Business International (YBI) * International Youth Foundation (IYF) * RAND Corporation * International Labour Organization (ILO) * Hilton * Rockefeller Foundation * MasterCard Foundation * Mozilla Foundation * Envoy for Youth, United Nations * World Bank * E...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
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