Øyvind Eggen, welcome as our new director!

Changes at the top are not a common occurrence at Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN).

Øyvind Eggen, Rainforest Foundation Norway’s new director, after assuming the mantle from long-term director Lars Løvold (left). The event was marked with speeches, flowers and cake. Photo: Rainforest Foundation Norway

Lars Løvold has been the Norwegian environmental & human rights organization’s director since 1990, except a brief interlude when he spent two years in Brazil in 2013 – 2015.

Plenty of gratitude, congratulatory speeches, flowers and cake where therefore quite in order when Løvold handed over the keys to the director’s office to Øyvind Eggen this week. Rainforest Foundation Norway's new director comes from a position as researcher and project manager at the Norwegian think tank Civita. He is one of Norway’s most prominent experts on aid effectiveness, and one of the most well-known participants in public debate on development policy, often with a critical view on mainstream development aid.

- Does the Rainforest Foundation now become Norway's most effective aid organization?

"Even with all that I have learned about effective aid, I don’t have any magical formulas for effective assistance that RFN’s staff does not already know. Rainforest Foundation Norway is already a very effective aid organization, comparing favorably with most other actors in the field, whether it's non-profit organizations or the UN system”, Eggen says.

"I do, however, have a lot of experience that will enable us to communicate about results and effectiveness in a good way so that private donors, government agencies and other interested parties can get an even better picture of what we actually achieve.

– Rainforest Foundation Norway produces amazing results!

After several years as a researcher, and a period as policy director in Norad, Eggen felt an ever stronger need to work more practically. Instead of continuing to analyze the results created by others, he wanted to help to create results himself.

Rainforest Foundation Norway fits him perfectly in this regard.

"Rainforest Foundation Norway already produces amazing results, but I also think it is the Norwegian aid organization with the greatest potential; we’re among the best in the world when it comes to solving one of the greatest challenges on this planet, but we are much less known than we deserve, in particular outside Norway. That means there’s a potential to achieve a lot more.

– Speaking of which: it seems everyone agrees that the rainforest must be saved. Although deforestation is slowed, it hasn’t been halted altogether. Why not?

"I don’t have a final answer, but it is certainly not a new issue: we humans have a long tradition, indeed an intrinsic talent, for destroying our own livelihood, often against our better judgement. Efforts to curb deforestation are particularly difficult because the relevant businesses involve a huge number of people in a worldwide economic venture, most of whom do not have a grasp of the global consequences of their actions.”

Øyvind Eggen (47), Rainforest Foundation Norway’s new director.

Previously: researcher and project manager at the Norwegian think tank Civita.

  • Policy Director at Norad
  • Senior Research Fellow at Norwegian institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
  • Consultant for public and non-profit development agencies
  • International director at the Development Fund

By academic background, Eggen is a social anthropologist specializing in the effects of development aid and international aid discourse. He also has practical experience from development aid as well as expertise in natural resource management, indigenous peoples’ rights and civil society. He has been politically active in the liberal democratic party Venstre.

Looking forward to celebrating new victories

The challenges may be steep. The new director is nevertheless crystal clear that the rainforests can be saved. This is due to both the ever stronger international resolve to halt deforestation, and the fact that Rainforest Foundation Norway achieves ever more important results.

- You’ve already hit the ground running. What are you looking forward to the most?

"Rainforest Foundation Norway and our many partners around the world make many contributions, big and small, to the reduction of deforestation and lasting protection of important rainforest areas. I'm looking forward to celebrating ever more victories in the fight for the rainforest, "says Eggen.