Mixed success for Norwegian green advice scheme

Most local authorities drop, downgrade, consultancy positions after government funding ends

A Norwegian programme launched during the mid-nineties to create local government jobs for environmental specialists appears to have run out of steam. According to NaFo, the trade union representing 4,600 university-trained environmental consultants, most of the country's 448 local authorities accepted government subsidies to pay for an environmental officer for three years. But since the pilot scheme ended in 1997 more than 250 have dropped the position, widened its remit, or shared environmental responsibilities among several departments.

"These environmental jobs have simply become ciphers in the municipal budgets", according to a union official quoted in Nationen newspaper. "It is very short-sighted of the local authorities to divest themselves of environmental expertise."

The Norwegian Society for Conservation of Nature (NNV), arguing that the trend in environmental management is towards decentralisation and that the need for local environmental expertise is therefore more important than ever, says it plans to raise the issue with environment minister Siri Bjerke.

Follow Up:
NaFo, tel: +47 22 44 78 77.

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