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Norway

Transparency Regarding Rainforest Funds (NO0049)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Norway National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Climate and Environment

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Environment and Climate, Fiscal Openness, Public Service Delivery, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Norway End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Norway Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: Not enough information available about to whom the climate and forest funds have been disbursed and about the strategy of the initiative. Main Objective: More transparent external communication about where the funds are going and how the partner countries are selected Brief Description of Commitment (140 character limit): Reader-friendly summaries on regjeringen.no about how the climate and forest funds are distributed and the underlying strategy of the initiative. Relevance: Provides greater openness and transparency into the climate and forest funds. Easier for the public and the press to see where public funds are disbursed, to which countries and to which institutions. Ambition: The website of the climate and forest initiative shall provide summaries that are equally as good as those on Norad's web pages for other aid funds. This provides easily accessible information to the public.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

5. Transparency regarding rainforest funds

Commitment Text:

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: Not enough information available about to whom the climate and forest funds have been disbursed and about the strategy of the initiative.

Main Objective: More transparent external communication about where the funds are going and how the partner countries are selected.

Brief Description of Commitment: Reader-friendly summaries on regjeringen.no about how the climate and forest funds are distributed and the underlying strategy of the initiative.

Relevance: Provides greater openness and transparency into the climate and forest funds. Easier for the public and the press to see where public funds are disbursed, to which countries and to which institutions.

Ambition: The website of the climate and forest initiative shall provide summaries that are equally as good as those on Norad's web pages for other aid funds. This provides easily accessible information to the public.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Climate and Environment

Supporting institution(s): None specified

Start date: Autumn 2015 End date: Spring 2017

Context and Objectives

Through Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), the country has pledged 'up to 3 billion NOK a year to help save the world's tropical forests, while improving the livelihoods of those who live off, in, and near the forests.'[Note: See NICFI’s website, https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/id2000712/. ] This commitment aims to improve access to information on how these funds are distributed and spent in countries where NICFI funds projects. The commitment covers both the presentation of information at the dedicated government website,[Note: Ibid.] and an ambition to develop an ICT tool to allow end users to generate data related to NICFI. Although much of this information can be accessed on recipient websites, stakeholders maintain that it is an important and laudable principle that a dedicated website provide good oversight of how public money is being spent on NICFI.[Note: Telephone interview with Nils Hermann Ranum, Rainforest foundation of Norway, 15 December 2017.] The commitment is clearly relevant to access to information, yet certain aspects of the commitment lack specificity. Some of the activities have set start and end dates prior to the action plan period, and it is impossible to verify the ‘new information’ on a given website.

This commitment has a medium level of specificity. For instance, it is not clear what 'new information' is still to be provided on regjeringen.no, a milestone that is included in the commitment even though it is listed as having been completed in autumn 2015, prior to the current action plan period. Other elements of the commitments are more specific, though not always measurable.

The activities proposed, especially the new ICT solution, will potentially lead to significant changes in how NICFI data are presented. More importantly, the solution will let end users generate what they consider relevant data. This commitment is coded as potentially having a moderate, rather than transformative, impact on transparency related to NICFI. This is due to the limited scale and scope of the commitment. A potentially transformative commitment could, for instance, have allowed end users to generate NICFI information based on open data, rather than merely promising an 'enhanced graphic presentation.'

Completion

The new planning tool and public presentation of NICFI expenditure are delayed for technical reasons and budgetary constraints.[Note: Self-assessment report and telephone interview with commitment PoC, Ane Broch Graver, Ministry of Climate and Environment, 29 November 2017.] According to the government’s point of contact, information on the government’s website improved in the first year of the action plan.[Note: Telephone interview with commitment PoC, Ane Broch Graver, Ministry of Climate and Environment, 29 November 2017.] The delay related to the ICT solution has partly to do with the various platforms used by the different ministries and agencies involved, and security challenges related to communication across these platforms.[Note: Ibid.] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassies, and NORAD use one platform, whereas the Ministry of Climate and the Environment uses another.

With regard to publishing information about NICFI, the government website for Norwegian REDD+ disbursements has been somewhat updated. This website provides a list showing that Norway has disbursed close to 20 billion NOK over the period 2008–2016 to more than 10 countries, several regional initiatives, and 20 global programs or thematic areas.[Note: See https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/kos-innsikt/how-are-the-funds-being-spent/id734170/. ] There are only three links on the entire page, two of which concern Guyana and lead to 404-error pages on the Norwegian government website.[Note: See https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/kos-innsikt/how-are-the-funds-being-spent/id734170/~/link/ac72dcef3f65490b91072f796142a482.aspx?id=592318, and https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/kos-innsikt/how-are-the-funds-being-spent/id734170/~/link/c4ac10aac28f4a1791fb746c783d15f5.aspx. ] The third link is to Norway’s embassy in Tanzania, which contains some project related information. This website is effectively a dead end, and provides no information on disbursements totaling 20 billion NOK. The main NICFI website[Note: See https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/id2000712/.] provides more detailed project information, divided by recipient countries or Norwegian funding for multilateral collaboration. Here, more links are provided, for instance, to the Amazon Fund. Although some improvements have been made, according to stakeholders interviewed, this commitment is far from completed.[Note: Telephone interview with Nils Hermann Ranum, Rainforest Foundation of Norway, 15 December 2017.]

The IRM researcher finds that the pages, altogether, provide limited information on the amounts disbursed. The official from the Ministry of Climate and Environment acknowledges that the level of information available is suboptimal, and the IRM researcher has received no reply to an email asking for possible steps toward alleviating this shortcoming temporarily.[Note: Email sent to commitment PoC, 30 November 2017.] As far as the IRM researcher understands, the Ministry of Climate and Environment works together with NORAD and the MFA to facilitate more transparent communication of NICFI disbursements, possibly developed along the lines of the NORAD database on official development aid (ODA) expenditure. NORAD already has a dedicated website for NICFI disbursements to civil society.[Note: See https://www.norad.no/en/front/funding/climate-and-forest-initiative-support-scheme/grants-2013-2015/projects/. ]

While the IRM researcher finds it plausible that technical and security obstacles have delayed the ICT planning and information tool, it is critical, nevertheless, that the government website provides such limited information.

Next Steps

Considering the size of the NICFI expenditure, it is important that transparency increases significantly. It is recommended that:

The government explore a temporary measure to increase transparency, if nothing more, by providing useful links to pertinent information.

The government carry forward this commitment to the next action plan, and implement it in close collaboration with NORAD. NORAD’s experience with ODA transparency measures would be of tremendous benefit to the government.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. Transparency regarding rainforest funds

Commitment Text:

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: Not enough information available about to whom the climate and forest funds have been disbursed and about the strategy of the initiative.

Main Objective: More transparent external communication about where the funds are going and how the partner countries are selected.

Brief Description of Commitment: Reader-friendly summaries on regjeringen.no about how the climate and forest funds are distributed and the underlying strategy of the initiative.

Relevance: Provides greater openness and transparency into the climate and forest funds. Easier for the public and the press to see where public funds are disbursed, to which countries and to which institutions.

Ambition: The website of the climate and forest initiative shall provide summaries that are equally as good as those on Norad's web pages for other aid funds. This provides easily accessible information to the public.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Climate and Environment

Supporting institution(s): None specified

Start date: Autumn 2015  End date: Spring 2017

Commitment Aim:

Through Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), Norway has pledged “up to 3 billion NOK a year to help save the world's tropical forests, while improving the livelihoods of those who live off, in, and near the forests.”[Note21: NICFI’s website, https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/climate-and-environment/climate/climate-and-forest-initiative/id2000712/. ] This commitment aims to improve access to information on how these funds are distributed and spent in countries where NICFI funds projects. The commitment covers both the presentation of information on the dedicated government website,[Note22: Ibid.] and an ambition to develop an ICT tool to allow end users to generate data related to NICFI.

Status

Midterm: Limited

The new planning tool and public presentation of NICFI expenditure was delayed for technical reasons and budgetary constraints.[Note23: Self-assessment report and telephone interview with commitment PoC, Ane Broch Graver, Ministry of Climate and Environment, 29 November 2017.] With regard to publishing information about NICFI, the government website for Norwegian REDD+ disbursements has been somewhat updated. For more information, please see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm report. 

End-of-Term: Limited

According to the Ministry of Climate and Environment, no specific progress has been made related to the commitment since midterm.[Note24: Telephone interview with commitment PoC, Ane Broch Graver, Ministry of Climate and Environment, 28 September 2018.] However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a strategy for increased digitalization in its development policy which may affect this commitment in the long term.[Note25: The digitalization strategy (in Norwegian only), https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/digitalstrategi_2018/id2608197/ ] The completion status thus remains limited.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

As indicated in the description above and the progress report, crucial aspects of this commitment have not been implemented or have been completed only to a limited degree. There is no indication that existing practice on making information on NICFI projects accessible has been changed.

Carried Forward?

This commitment is not carried forward in the next action plan.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership