Norway steps up support for UNEP in landmark partnership

Steindalsfossen, Norheimsund.
Steindalsfossen, Norheimsund. Tobias Tullius/Unsplash

 Norway and UNEP have signed a new cooperation agreement of around $ 53 million (NOK 520 million).

Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference, which led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the organization has received policy, programming and financial support from its Member States. In 2022, as UNEP marks its 50thanniversary, one Member State – Norway – is strengthening the relationship with the signature of a new cooperation agreement of around US$ 53 million (NOK 520 million).

Core funding is critical

Secretary-General António Guterres poses for a group photo during the Stockholm+50
Secretary-General António Guterres poses for a group photo during the Stockholm+50 Conference.
 At second from left in the backrow is Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme Executive Director.

Core and flexible funding are critical for UNEP to implement its programme of work and to respond to emerging environmental challenges. It enables UNEP to continue innovating and delivering high-quality science and policy support on the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, pollution and waste.

“We at UNEP are very grateful for the unwavering support that we have received from Norway over the past few decades,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “We see our strong collaboration as a testimony, both to the importance of our mandate and to the trust that Norway places on UNEP’s ability to provide solutions to the triple planetary crisis. This new agreement will provide much-needed funding for UNEP thematic funds to achieve climate stability, live in harmony with nature, and move to a pollution-free planet. This support will strengthen UNEP so that we are able to deliver results for people and planet.”

Supports policy and lawmakers

For five decades, UNEP has monitored the state and health of the environment, set the global environmental agenda, and helped identify the best action to tackle environmental challenges. This work supports policy and lawmakers in all countries to base policies and legislation on science and evidence, so that the actions they take will promote all aspects of sustainable development. UNEP works in partnerships, and has a central role in coordinating efforts and supporting countries to deliver on their environmental goals and commitments under international agreements.

The environment has been central to Norwegian policies for the past five decades as well. Like UNEP, the Norwegian Ministry of climate and environment also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

On the domestic front, Norway’s priorities include sustainable land and ocean management and the green economic transition to meet climate targets under the Paris accord. At the international level, Norway supports a strong environmental governance system and is engaged in efforts to preserve tropical forests and fight plastic pollution.

Early supporter on plastics and marine litter

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), participates in the interactive art exhibit. “

The country started working with UNEP in the 1970s on environmental legislation, norm-setting, programmes and campaigns. It has supported several key UNEP initiatives, including strengthening evidence-based policy making through environmental monitoring and assessments, like the Global Environment Outlook,  environmental protection in post-conflict situations, creating a greener UN system, and fostering gender equality.

Norway has also been an early supporter of the work on plastics and marine litter, including funding UNEP’s global assessment of marine plastic litter and pollution, From Pollution to Solution. In 2022, at the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2), held in Nairobi under the Norwegian Presidency, a historic resolution was endorsed to end plastic pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including production, design and disposal.

In total, 14 resolutions were adopted at UNEA 5.2 addressing diverse issues, including the sound management of chemicals and waste, nature-based solutions, biodiversity and health.

Multilateral cooperation at its best

Espen Barth Eide
Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment. UN Photo

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said Espen Barth Eide, the President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment at the meeting. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”

This is a large agreement of flexible funding, because we really value UNEPs fundamental role as the number one global authority on environment.

Since 2006, Norway and UNEP have had an overarching framework agreement in place on programme cooperation. Since 2015 the agreement strives to support the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries. Between 2006 and 2021, the financial value of these agreements totalled US$ 141 million.

The new agreement of around $53 million, signed on 1 July 2022, by Inger Andersen and the Director-General of Norad, Bård Vegar Solhjell, aims to strengthen UNEP and enable the effective implementation of its Medium-Term Strategy (2022-2025).

Since 1973, Norway has contributed its share to the Environment Fund – the core source of flexible funds for UNEP – and has consistently been among the top 15 contributors.

(Source: UNEP)