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Announcement: Application for Strategic Partner Status

Civil society organisations that meet certain criteria may apply to Norad for approval as a strategic partner. More information about the Strategic Partner scheme is available here.

Applications for strategic partner status may be submitted from 1 August 2023. This announcement is open-ended (no specific application deadline).

Applications may be submitted by email to: plusspartner@norad.no. Kindly use "Application for strategic partnership" as subject.

Purpose

The purpose of the Strategic Partner scheme is to introduce a model for strategic partnerships for large, strategically important partners (strategic partner(s)) with good systems and procedures. Status as a strategic partner will trigger the right to follow-up at a more overarching level and a simplified application process for grants, which will free up more time for strategic dialogue with an emphasis on results, innovation and learning.

Norad emphasises that the good cooperation with organisations that do not qualify as strategic partners, or that do not wish to enter this form of partnership, will continue in its present form and are important contributions to Norwegian development policy goals.

Approval as a strategic partner does not in itself entitle the strategic partner to grants. Strategic partners must apply for grants when Norad issues calls for proposals.

Who can apply for approval as a strategic partner?

Civil society organisations which consider themselves to meet the criteria (lenke til regelverket) for approval as a strategic partner can apply.

For international federations and membership organisations, only the Norwegian organisation may apply for strategic partner approval. However, if there is no Norwegian organisation, the international part of the federation may apply.

Further information about the conditions is provided in Appendix 1 to this call for proposals: Rules for Strategic Partnerships for Civil Society Organisations (Strategic Partner) (the "Strategic Partner Rules").

Criteria for approval as a strategic partner

The following seven criteria must be met to be approved as a strategic partner:

  • Legal entity
  • Threshold value
  • Professional competence
  • Programme approach
  • Results management and learning system
  • Risk management, including follow-up of zero-tolerance policy
  • Holistic and documented corporate governance

These criteria should be met to be approved as a strategic partner:

  • Integrated climate and environmental considerations throughout the applicant’s operations.

It will be viewed favourably if:

  • The applicant has participated in and led civil society consortia and has experience with other development aid actors.

More information about all of the above criteria is provided in section 5.2 of the Strategic Partner Rules (Appendix 1 to this call for proposals). For the first two criteria (legal entity and threshold value), the information is also provided here:

  • Legal entity: The applicant must be a legal entity. Accurate and comprehensive information must be provided about the legal structure of the organisation.
  • Threshold value: The applicant must be able to document a total annual programme portfolio in ODA-approved countries of:
o   a minimum of 100 million Norwegian kroner (NOK million)
or
o   a minimum of NOK  50 million in grants from Norad/the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (including Norwegian embassies)/Ministry of Climate and Environment for programme activities in ODA-approved countries in at least one of the past three financial years.

When the applicant is part of an international federation/membership organisation, only the applicant's own programme portfolio will be assessed for approval.

Amounts in foreign currency are converted into NOK in accordance with Norges Bank’s exchange rate as of 1 January 2023. The threshold values will be indexed from and including .

How to apply for approval as a strategic partner

The applicant must submit a brief initial application in Norwegian or English to Norad (plusspartner@norad.no). The initial application must contain a brief description (maximum 200 words) of why the applicant considers itself to be a strategically important partner for Norad and to Norwegian development policy goals as well as documentation showing that the applicant meets the threshold value.

 If the applicant does not have an ongoing grant agreement with Norad, it is also requested to enclose documentation of the legal structure of its organisation which demonstrates that the applicant is a legal entity, as well as its overarching strategy.

The applicant will be contacted by Norad for information regarding the timeframes for processing the application and will be invited to a meeting to clarify what documentation is necessary for the assessment. When the applicant is an existing Norad partner, documentation and assessments/reviews that Norad already has available will constitute part of the documentation.

Norad will give priority to processing applications from applicants that have specific plans to apply for grants under one of Norad’s grant schemes in the current year.

If the applicant is part of a global federation/membership organisation and shares common systems and guidelines with that, these will be part of the assessment.

If the applicant has valid, internationally recognised certifications and/or has achieved good results in partner assessments conducted by other major international donors, these may be included as part of the documentation of the conditions for being approved as a strategic partner. These can be documented by a statement of certification and/or results of a partner assessment(s), as well as through relevant supporting documentation. 

Norad may grant strategic partner approval if the criteria that need to be met are considered to be met, i.e., the first seven conditions listed above (section 5.2(a)-(g) of the strategic partner rules). Even if the applicant meets these requirements, the applicant is not automatically entitled to strategic partner approval. When assessing whether to approve applications, Norad will assign importance to the degree of fulfilment beyond the required minimum level, fulfilment of the criteria relating to climate and environmental considerations and participation in consortia referred to above (section 5.2(h) and (i) of the strategic partner rules), as well as Norad’s need for strategic partners within various priority areas for Norwegian development policy.

Approval as a strategic partner may be granted for one or more thematic areas in which the applicant has documented excellent expertise and capacity (see section 5.2(c) of the strategic partner rules).

Approval as a strategic partner is valid for five years and may be renewed.

Rights and obligations of strategic partners

Approval as a strategic partner confers rights and obligations across all grant schemes which Norad manages within the thematic areas for which the strategic partner has been assessed and approved. The rights and obligations include:

Rights:

  • Scalable agreements (when calls for proposals allow for such)
  • Simplified application
  • Flexible financing
  • Overarching results management
  • Overarching follow-up, including strategic dialogue

Obligations:

  • Duty of disclosure
  • Statistical reporting
  • Facilitate control measures
  • Results information

More information concerning these rights and obligations is provided in sections 9 and 10 of the strategic partner rules, as well as in the description of the scheme here: LENKE.

The right to overarching follow-up and strategic dialogue (see Section 9(e) of the strategic partner rules) does not entitle strategic partners to have their views from the dialogue taken into consideration when drafting broader priorities, grant scheme rules or calls for proposals. Strategic dialogue will not include suggestions for the formulation of specific calls for proposals.

Strategic partners have the right to submit simplified applications for all calls for proposals for grants issued by Norad within the thematic areas their strategic partner approval applies. When submitting applications for calls for proposals within thematic areas that a strategic partner has not been approved for, a full application must be submitted in the same manner as for other applicants. If the application includes both thematic areas for which the strategic partner has been approved and thematic areas that were not part of the strategic partner assessment, the strategic partner must document competence and capacity for the latter-mentioned thematic area, see section 5.2(c) and section 9(b) of the strategic partner rules.

For organisations that already have a grant agreement with Norad on the date they are approved as a strategic partner, there will be a transitional period of up to 12 months during which the existing agreement will be revised.

Revocation of strategic partner approval

Upon being granted strategic partner approval, the applicant/organisation is deemed to have accepted the conditions and requirements that are set for status as a strategic partner in sections 9-10 of the strategic partner rules.

If the conditions for strategic partner approval cease to be met during the approval period, Norad may decide to revoke the approval.  

Norad may also decide to revoke the approval if the organisation/applicant has breached the duty of disclosure in section 10(a) of the strategic partner rules. Breach of the duty of disclosure may, for example, relate to information that the strategic partner's operations are in breach of the law or other relevant regulations, and this has been documented by another public authority. A decision to revoke approval may also be made by Norad where the strategic partner has otherwise been in material breach of the provisions in the strategic partner rules or conditions stipulated by Norad pursuant to the strategic partner rules, for example, through guidelines.

The strategic partner must be notified and has the right to respond before Norad decides to revoke approval.

Rejection of application

Rejection of an application for strategic partner approval and decisions to revoke strategic partner approval pursuant to section 8 of the strategic partner rules may be appealed. Appeals must be submitted to Norad, who may reverse the decision to reject the application. If Norad does not reverse the decision, the appeal will be sent to the appellate instance (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) for consideration and decision. 

If a decision to reject an application or revoke approval is upheld following an appeals process, the organisation may reapply for strategic partner approval no earlier than 12 months after the date of the final decision.  

Contact details of the responsible department

Questions concerning this announcement can be directed to the Section for Grant Management Systems at Norad-Forvaltningssystemer@norad.no.

Appendix 1: Rules for Strategic Partnerships for Civil Society Organisations (Strategic Partner) (the "Strategic Partner Rules").

 

 

 

 

Published 02.07.2023
Last updated 02.07.2023