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Norec Grant for Exchange Cooperation

About the Grant

The Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec) is an executive body under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the basis of annual letters of allocation, Norec manages grant resources in support of global partnerships for sustainable development. Through collaborative work exchanges and the sharing of competence and expertise, Norec helps young professionals develop international expertise in sustainable development.

Norec maintains a diverse portfolio in support of SDG 17. The grant scheme for 2023 also aims to strengthen global partnerships for SDG 2, 7, 11, 13, 14 and 15, specifically in the fields of food security and climate change (climate adaptation, hunger, environment and marine ecosystems).

The grant scheme is application based. Applications are processed and approved or rejected on the basis of the guidelines and criteria set out in this call for proposals.

The grant scheme is competition based. Applications are subject to a comparative assessment in relation to other applications. No applicants are automatically entitled to a grant under this scheme, even if they meet all the formal and practical criteria.

Applicants will be notified of the status of their application as soon as possible.

Applications Deadlines for Norec grant

Deadline for Norec feasibility study: 15 August 2024

Deadline for Norec projects: 1 June 2024, for projects starting 2025

Important: All projects must complete a Feasibility Study before applying for a Collaboration Agreement.

Objectives of the Grant Scheme

Norec supports global partnerships for sustainable development and strives to maintain a diverse portfolio of thematic areas and types of partners. Norec addresses the overall development policies and priorities of the Government of Norway, anchored in the 2030 Agenda. Through this call for proposals, Norec looks for partnerships that contribute to:

  • New knowledge and relevant skills and expertise working towards sustainable development;
  • Improved capacities for diversity management and inclusive work environment;
  • Strategic and institutional learning, innovation and development across the partnership and within the grant recipient organisations;
  • Innovative and global networks and reciprocal partnerships created or sustained by grant recipients;
  • Reciprocal learning, exchange of knowledge and expertise in support of SDG 17;
  • Increased intercultural understanding and tolerance;
  • New, or improved quality of services delivered by grant recipients;
  • Development impact on local community;
  • Attainment of SDG 2, 7, 11, 13, 14 and 15, specifically in the fields of food security and climate change (climate adaptation, hunger, environment and marine ecosystems).

Who Can Apply for Grant Funds?

The following entities are eligible for Norec grants:

  • Civil society organisations;
  • Public institutions;
  • Private sector companies, or:
  • Multilateral and global organisations.

The applicants must be legal, registered entities as per the categories above. Accurate and complete information about the nature of the entities must be provided.

The applicants must be based in Norway or in one or more of the countries on Norec’s partner list.

In exceptional circumstances, where Norec sees that the project carries strategic relevance against the overall objectives set and with transformative potential, a partnership may include countries beyond the above partner list. Projects must at any given time be implemented in a country eligible for Norwegian development assistance (ODA countries).

Eligibility Criteria for Grant Funds

Applications must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The project must be in line with the objectives of Norec’s grant scheme and must seek to meet a specifically defined need;
  • The applicants must have the necessary management expertise, administrative and financial capacity to be able to implement the project,
  • The applicants must demonstrate good insight into the issues concerned and must have a realistic results framework for the project;
  • The applicant must confirm that there are ethical guidelines for the entity, the ethical guidelines must satisfy the minimum requirements set out in the Norec guidelines and ethical principles;
  • The applicant must confirm that sufficient risk assessments have been carried out for its exchange participants and the project, and the necessary measures are taken through, for example, visa and work permits, training, own guidelines, insurances and equipment;
  • The applicant must demonstrate the strength and reciprocity of the partnership, joint ownership of the results framework and collaboration through the project description.
  • The applicant must present a plan on how the exchange participants will be followed-up before, during and after the exchange period.

Furthermore, Norec adheres to the principle of ‘Leave no one behind’. Beyond the overall priorities and eligibility of Norec’s grant scheme as described above and below, Norec will strive to facilitate the inclusion of actors and exchange participants who otherwise may not engage in global partnerships for sustainable development. Primarily two categories of actors are considered here:

  • Entities that are not traditional aid recipients and that wish to strengthen their international engagement and collaboration.
  • Entities that comprise of, or work, with marginalised or vulnerable groups.

Types of Project Activities Covered

The Norec grant scheme is primarily designed to cover budgetary costs related to the reciprocal exchange of young professionals (allowance, housing, travel, training).

Grants may thus be awarded for the following types of project activities (not exhaustive):

  • Physical exchange of employees and/or volunteers aged 18 – 35 for a minimum of 6 months. Exceptions may apply;
  • Use of innovative and/or digital methods and tools to strengthen project outcomes and partnerships;
  • Organisational development and learning, including use of alumni networks and communities of practice;
  • Sharing of, and building knowledge and expertise across partnership and with end-users and local communities;
  • Strengthening international cooperation and organisational development through sharing of knowledge, expertise and learning;
  • Strengthened ownership, knowledge and outreach of the project and partnership including work with relevant staff across the partner organisations;
  • Strengthened focus on cross-cutting issues in Norwegian international development cooperation; human rights, women’s rights and gender equality, climate and the environment, anti-corruption.

Risk Management and Cross-Cutting Issues

Grant recipients must identify risk factors that may have a negative impact on four cross-cutting issues, and must analyse and manage these risks throughout the project cycle:

  • Human rights, with a particular focus on participation, accountability and non-discrimination;
  • Women’s rights and gender equality;
  • Climate change and environment;
  • Anti-corruption.

Norec will assess whether the applicant’s risk analysis and management give sufficient insurance against unintended negative consequences.

Norecs Assesment Criteria and Process

All eligible applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • The project must have clearly defined, realistic and measurable goals, and applications must include a description of the current situation/baseline and indicators that will make it possible to measure and report results (results-based management);
  • The applicants must demonstrate existing staff capacity and management structures to manage the project and intended exchange rounds;
  • The applicant must substantiate how the project is ‘catalytic’, or ‘transformative’ in its approach and results chain;
  • The project must be cost-effective, and this must be reflected in the budget;
  • The applicants must declare all public funding granted to the project;
  • The project must comply with the OECD/DAC criteria for ODA support;
  • The applicants must substantiate that the project is anchored within the entities’ strategic direction and management.

In its assessment of the application, Norec will consider a number of additional factors, including:

  • The project’s relevance in relation to Norwegian development policies and priorities;
  • Relevance to the objectives of Norec’s grant scheme and theory of change;
  • The composition of the portfolio under Norec’s grant scheme;
  • The extent to which the project strengthens the development of reciprocal international partnerships;
  • The extent to which the project facilitates the strengthening and reciprocal exchange of knowledge and capacity between the partner organisations.
  • The project’s relevance to the local context and development priorities;
  • Degree of additionality of Norec’s support;
  • Where relevant, the extent to which the project addresses cross-cutting issues;
  • Due diligence of project and project partners, including reference checks where relevant;
  • Risks and risk management systems of the applicants;
  • For returning applicants, experiences from previous grant allocations and projects (reporting, risk and financial management, RBM, support to exchange participants and partner collaboration) will be assessed.

The grant scheme is competition based. Applications are subject to a comparative assessment in relation to other applications. No applicants are automatically entitled to a grant under this scheme, even if they meet all the eligibility and assessment criteria.

Norecs Performance Criteria

In its own reporting, Norec uses the following indicators to measure results from successful project applications:

Results achievement:

  • Extent to which partners have gained technical expertise within sustainable development;
  • Extent to which partners have achieved reciprocal learning;
  • Extent to which partners have improved capacity to reach their end-users/target groups;
  • Extent to which partners are able to apply new learning and knowledge within their organisation;
  • Extent to which participants have gained new expertise and skills;
  • Extent to which participants have gained new perspectives.

Project management:

  • Extent to which partners guide, support and follow-up their employees on exchange;
  • Extent to which partners are able to manage an international partnership and collaboration;
  • Extent to which partners are able to facilitate learning, skills and knowledge acquisition;
  • Extent to which partners are able to execute sound financial management.

Norec also reports on the number of partners, participants and working hours contributing to the sustainable development goals across the project portfolios.

Requirements Relating to the Grant Application

To apply for a Collaboration Agreement (CA), the applicants must have completed the Feasibility Study. Prior to a CA award, all reporting from the Feasibility Study must be submitted to, and approved by Norec.

Applicants can apply for a short-term agreement from 1 to 3 years, or a long-term agreement from 3 to 5 years. New applicants can in their first round apply for a collaboration agreement of maximum 2 years. Applicants with a previous and successful collaboration agreement with Norec can apply for a long-term agreement from 3 to 5 years.

Applicants will continue working with a programme advisor who will guide and support the partnership throughout the process.

Final applications will be assessed in accordance with the process and criteria described above. If necessary, Norec will collect internal and external advice in the application assessment.

Applications will be treated in accordance with the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act.

Detailed information about the application requirements and process (including guidelines) can be found here.