Oslo says forest aid must continue despite corruption

Norway is urging rich nations to provide deforestation aid money to poorer countries, despite the risk of corruption.

The news came last Thursday, when the country’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim, said that if developed countries wait for corruption to be eliminated, there could soon be hardly any trees left in the Congo. He also called again on Jakarta to work to enforce a USD 1 billion agreement made with Oslo last year in a bid to combat deforestation in Borneo and across Indonesia.

Despite having acquired its wealth from offshore oil drilling, Norway has spearheaded the majority of anti-deforestation projects as part of an UN initiative to slow climate change. The plan aims to preserve forests because trees consume harmful greenhouse gasses and give off oxygen as a by-product.

Solheim said that other countries must follow Norway and accept risks associated with funding programmes, pointing to the nation’s NOK 3 trillion (EUR 394 billion) fund derived from its oil revenues. He said that per capita, this amounts to more than NOK 500,000 (EUR 65,000) for Norwegian citizens.

According to Reuters, Mr Solheim said during a seminar: “Norway does not want to do this alone. If it ends up that we are the only — or by far the biggest — financial contributor, it will be a failure.” He added “If we wait until Congo is like Switzerland — there is also corruption in Switzerland, but much less — there will hardly be a tree left.”