in Norway

Norway’s Office of the Auditor General investigation into Norway’s rainforest billions: “Progress and results delayed, uncertain feasibility and effect, risk of fraud not well managed”

Over the past ten years, Norway has handed out almost US$3 billion (NOK 23.5 billion) on stopping tropical deforestation. On 15 May 2018, the Office of the Auditor General completed its investigation into Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. The report is critical.

A press statement on the Office of the Auditor General’s website highlights the key findings:

“The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that progress and results are delayed, that current measures have uncertain feasibility and effect, and that the risk of fraud is not well-managed.”

Per-Kristian Foss, National Auditor, comments that, “There is a need to ensure better control of the use and results of these funds.”

Foss adds that,

“International efforts to preserve tropical forest have not found solutions to address these global challenges. There is therefore uncertainty about further implementation and whether the measures give lasting effect.”

The press statement continues:

The Office of the Auditor General refers to cases where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment have not prevented and followed up the risk of financial fraud. This includes inadequate partner assessments prior to entering into an agreement and a lack of response when collaborative partners have been investigated for possible financial fraud. The administration has not complied with its own guidelines and has taken unnecessary risk of loss and abuse of Norwegian funds.

This is an important report, not just for Norway, but internationally. Norway is by far the largest REDD donor, and the findings are relevant for the international attempt to implement REDD.

Currently the report is only available in Norwegian (the following is based on a Google translate of a summary on the Office of the Auditor General’s website). REDD-Monitor looks forward to seeing an English translation of the full 137-page report.

Key findings of the Office of the Auditor General’s report:

The results of REDD+ so far are delayed and uncertain

  • Conflicts of interest and alternating political priorities in the partner countries prevent and delay measures and results.
  • In five out of eight of the bilateral cooperation cases, payment for emission reductions has been delayed.
  • The weak implementation of REDD+ at the national level and in central tropical forest countries means that stopping logging in one place can still be replaced by logging elsewhere.

The Norwegian contribution to REDD+ has not triggered enough funding from other donors

  • Norway is the largest donor of funds for REDD +. Compared with other major donors, Britain and Germany, Norway accounted for 51 percent of the contributions in the period 2008-2016.

The control of the implementation and results of REDD + does not work well enough

  • There is not good enough follow-up of social and environmental safeguard mechanisms, such as indigenous peoples’ rights, poverty alleviation and conservation of natural forests. The recipient countries have little reporting. The Ministry of Climate and Environment does not compensate sufficiently for this.
  • Measurement, reporting and verification of reductions in emissions due to REDD+ are only partially in place. Progress on this work has been low in Brazil, and elsewhere.

The Ministry of Climate and Environment is not systematic enough in the collection and use of information about the results of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative

  • The Ministry of Climate and Environment has developed a framework for measuring progress towards milestones and targets. However, a small system of data retrieval and analysis weakens the ministry’s foundation for management and learning from REDD+ testing.

The ministries’ follow-up of risk of fraud is not good enough

  • The survey shows cases where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment have not prevented, followed up and handled the risk of fraud against Norwegian recipients of Norwegian funds.

The Office of the Auditor General’s report also makes a series of recommendations for the Ministry of the Environment and the Environment:

  • further develop measures to address the need for lasting results in REDD+ through work towards the UN Climate Change Convention and in bilateral cooperation
  • strengthen the Ministry’s information base on the safeguarding of social and environmental security mechanisms in payments for results
  • strengthen the follow-up of the Norwegian contribution to REDD+ through systematic retrieval and processing of information about progress and results in Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative
  • provide responsible and active follow-up of risk and use of responses to deviations and alerts about possible financial fraud
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