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Support for the preservation of tropical forests has uncertain effects and is insufficiently protected against fraud

​In the past ten years, the Storting has allocated a total of NOK 23.5 billion to the preservation of tropical forests in developing countries. The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that progress and results are delayed, that current measures are uncertain in terms of their feasibility and effect, and that the risk of fraud is not handled adequately. “Improved control must be ensured for the use and results of these funds,” says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 5/15/2018 1:00 PM

​Document 3:10 (2017-2018) The Office of the Auditor General of Norway’s investigation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative was submitted to the Storting on 15 May.

The preservation of tropical forests is an important measure for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2008, Norwegian authorities have been the largest financial contributor, and one of the most active, in the international effort to preserve forests in developing countries. Norway has funded successful reductions in emissions in three countries and supported measures for such reductions in several others. Among these countries, Brazil received the most with NOK 7.4 billion, and Indonesia and Guyana each received NOK 1.1 billion up to 2017.

Compared with other large donors, the United Kingdom and Germany, Norwegian contributions from 2008–2016 made up 51 per cent of the contributions from the three countries. “The expectation of increased support from other countries has not been met, and Norwegian contributions make up a higher proportion than anticipated,” says Foss.

Preservation of the remaining large tropical forest areas is considered essential to achieving the goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees. The Office of the Auditor General argues that conflicts of interests between sectors, a lack of capacity and changing political priorities in partner countries hinder and delay measures. There is a continued risk that logging that is stopped in one place will be replaced by new or increased logging somewhere else.

“The international effort to preserve tropical forests has not found solutions to these global challenges. There is therefore uncertainty concerning further implementation and whether the measures create lasting effects,” states Foss.

The Office of the Auditor General points out that Norwegian authorities have insufficient control of implementation and results, and do not sufficiently follow-up on the risk of fraud.

The measurement and reporting of results is only partially in place, and there is inadequate reporting and follow-up of concerns such as indigenous peoples’ rights, poverty alleviation and preservation of natural forests.

The Office of the Auditor General points to instances in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment did not sufficiently prevent or follow up the risk of fraud. This includes inadequate partner evaluations prior to entering into agreements, as well as inadequate reactions when investigations of partners have been initiated due to possible fraud.

The administration has not complied with its own guidelines and has thereby taken unnecessary risks of loss and misuse of Norwegian funds.

“As a substantial donor, Norway should set a good example for handling the risk of fraud,” stresses Auditor General Foss.

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