The Environment - an integrated part of development policy

The environment has a decisive influence on the daily lives of millions of people, especially in the poor parts of the world. When the environment is ruined, it is the poorest who suffer the most. Those of us who live in the Western world are much better equipped to protect ourselves against climactic change, air pollution and a reduction in the quality of water. The poor, on the other hand, often stand completely unprotected and vulnerable in the face of environmental destruction. They are the ones who have to pay – both for their own as well as our transgressions against the environment.

People are in the process of destroying the global environment. We use too much water, overexploit the world’s fishing resources, pollute the air, change the climate and wipe out animal species. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we use 60 percent of the resources the ecosystem supplies us with in a non-sustainable way. The economic cost of the destruction of the ecosystem is significant and it inhibits the growth that developing countries must have in order to reduce poverty. It is possible to reverse this negative trend, but it demands the will to change our behaviour and, especially, our political vigour and courage.

The current Norwegian government’s goal is that the country will be a global leader in the area of environment-related assistance. We know that we have to get environmental problems under control in order to solve the problems of poverty facing the world. We also see constant examples of how environmental collaboration makes an important contribution to peace, security and regional development. Environmental consideration must be safeguarded in all developmental cooperation.


Norway shall be a driving force for the environment becoming an area of focus for the UN and World Bank. The environment will also be a constant theme in the dialogue we have with authorities in other countries, just as it was when the Minister of Environment and I were in China in September 2006. China has made enormous economic progress during the last few years – hundreds of millions of people have been brought out of poverty, new industries are growing, and many people can now afford to buy a car. However, economic growth also entails environmental problems. Therefore, China is interested in collaborating with Norway on technology that can improve the environment. A small contribution towards solving China’s environmental problems is also in our own interests.

Environment-related assistance has been a neglected area in recent years in Norwegian development policy. This is due partly to the fact that the political focus has been elsewhere and partly because it hasn’t sunk in until recently how strong the connection between combating poverty and the environment is. This is in the process of changing. The environment and combating poverty are inextricably linked together. It is a question of life and death, and if we are going to combat poverty then we also have to combat the destruction of the environment.


Erik Solheim
The Norwegian Minister of International Development


Related articles

Latest articles

Mother-Daughter Ship to Boost Short Sea Cargo

More goods will need to be transported by ship to meet stricter environmental guidelines. A Norwegian maritime cluster has found the answer in a ship-in-ship short sea cargo concept.

More Sustainable Fish Feeds

The Norwegian seafood industry is experimenting with new sustainable fish feeds like tree yeast and sandhoppers that won’t compete with the foods we eat and also help farm more fish.

Spotlight Tanzania: New Offshore Gas Opportunities

Africa is both promising and challenging. The Norwegian offshore industry is eyeing petroleum field developments in Tanzania for possible opportunities.

Norway's Future Green Fleet

A dramatic fall in battery costs and stricter emission regulations are spurring the Norwegian maritime to develop the most environmentally friendly fleet of coastal vessels.

The Fishy Biotech Future

There is something fishy about two of the Research Council’s six large projects under the new strategic initiative “Digital Life.”

Engineering Nanoparticles to Boost Oil

Norwegian scientists are combining nanotechnology with petroleum research to enhance recovery. In the future, even nanoparticles from trees could squeeze out more oil.

Ship Energy Efficiency: The Fourth Wave

Shipping has seen three waves of energy efficiency trends since 2007. The latest buzz is the Big Data revolution.

Sustainable Fish Farming Solutions: From Feed to Egg

The challenge of rising fish feed and sea lice costs is stimulating new sustainable technology solutions in Norwegian aquaculture. In the future, producers might raise salmon in egg-shaped offshore farms.

Standardization Key During Low Oil Price

The Norwegian petroleum industry is focusing on standardized solutions, inspired by Formula One and Lego, to help tackle rising field development costs.