Statistics Norway has been involved in international development cooperation for more than 50 years, with the overall aim to contribute to developing strong national statistical systems in partner countries. 

In 2023, there was a surge of activities, reflecting the first year without Covid-related travel restrictions for international cooperation since 2019. In total, Statistics Norway hosted 16 study visits. This included high-level visits from national statistical offices and ministries in partner countries, as well as technical missions related to a broad range of topics. The Norwegian experience of using administrative data to produce statistics is a popular topic that also involved visits to other key data owners in Norway, such as the Norwegian Tax Administration, the Mapping Authority, and the Directorate of Immigration (UDI). 

In addition, twelve regional workshops and south-south study visits were organised, which facilitated more cooperation between our partners. Ghana hosted two study visits for our partners, and other NSOs have expressed their willingness to host such visits in the future. These activities were highly appreciated, broadening the cooperation across countries, and adding value to our cooperations. More regional and south-south cooperation will continue to be part of our future projects, including joint study visits to Norway.

In 2023, Statistics Norway had bilateral collaborations with national statistics agencies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ukraine. Statistics Norway and the Central Bureau of Statistics of Sudan have had a long and good cooperation. Several activities were implemented with Sudan in early 2023, until the project was put on hold due to the outbreak of the civil war in April 2023. 
Statistics Norway also cooperates on a smaller scale with several other countries, often in collaboration with regional or international organisations. Our long-term cooperation with COMESA on food security statistics included six countries in the first phase, and new partners will join for phase two starting in 2024.

In the past, Statistics Norway has worked mainly on bilateral cooperation with selected countries, known as twinning projects. These are long-term projects covering a broad range of topics, including statistical domains and cross-cutting functions that support the whole institution. In the last few years, there has been a shift towards sector programmes and thematic projects. These projects are usually narrower in scope but involve more partners, allowing for improved collaboration both nationally and internationally. Working on one particular topic with a group of partners also facilitates the sharing of best practices and the possibility of scaling up successful solutions to more countries.

The different types of development cooperation projects are closely interlinked. Combining projects creates synergies that have proven beneficial across project types for the partner countries. For example, when developing a solution within a twinning programme, more countries can benefit if it is widely shared. This was achieved with the national accounts tool, NADABAS, which is now used by more than ten countries but was initially developed in Mozambique as part of a Scandinavian project in 2004. Similarly, developing methodologies or standards requires global cooperation, while the results can benefit partner countries. Statistics Norway has over many years been active in the work to establish international guidelines for statistics on refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and stateless persons, that are now implemented in many countries.

The UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics (FPOS) sets out ten main principles that all members of the statistical system should follow, ensuring the reliability, accuracy, and impartiality of official statistics that differentiates it from other statistics. The 10th principle, international cooperation, states that “Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries”. From our experience, we believe that international development cooperation, in its many different forms, is of great value to all partners. 

Most of Statistics Norway’s international development cooperation is financed by Norad and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Norwegian embassies.