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Norway Leads the Way on Environment 14 Feb 1996

THE EARTH TIMES

FEBRUARY 12, 1996

A MEETING WITH PER NYGAARD

Norway and environment

By Ashali Varma

UNITED NATIONS-The opening words of Norway’s National Report to the  Istanbul City Summit are: “The goal of the Norwegian government is a safer and more just society, with employment for all and a better quality of life for the individual.”

“At the beginning of this century, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe,” said Per Nygaard, the head of the delegation of Norway to the Social Summit PrepCom, held at the United Nations in New York. Norway is among the major donor countries and gives 1 percent of its GDP in development assistance, which is about US$1.25 billion annually.  For 1996 the government is planning to step up the share of development assistance spent on environmental support.

For Habitat II, Nygaard, who has been with his delegation since 1989, said that at the beginning their one main concern was that the Habitat Agenda should be clear, understandable and define implementation goals. “We still have to wait and see what the final version will be,” he said.

“At this meeting we are concerned with NGO – participation. We would like it to be as broad as possible and as active as possible,” Nygaard said. To make this possible Norway, has provided US$400,000 to Habitat II  and has earmarked a large portion for participation from developing countries and for NGOs from developing countries to be present at the meetings. “We have also told the secretariat that we would like to include women NGOs.” The Norwegian delegation includes three NGO representatives. Nygaard said they work together like a team and he finds their input valuable.

He thought the participation of youth, women and children was also very important at this meeting. “We have to thank Secretary General, Wally N’ Dow for this. He has really tried hard to include the different actors.”

Another priority for Norway is the issue of sustainable consumption and production. “At

this point we would like to stick to the Rio definition of sustainable development,” Nygaard said.

According to Nygaard more than the document, the process leading up to the Conference has brought a heightened level of awareness within nations regarding urban problems. This awareness has created a political process within both developing and developed countries that has led to national reports and discussions on the problems facing urban settlements. In the end this will also help to get resources from donor countries.

“Everyone should be concerned about mega-cities and the urban situation because it is not only a desperate problem for the people that live in them but also these cities contribute to the overall global environmental problem,” Nygaard said.