Social and humanitarian initiatives

Social and humanitarian initiatives

Social initiatives

Our initiatives aim to improve the quality of life and opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people in Denmark. Special focus will be on interventions that promote healthy weight among children and young people, and on efforts to improve the learning opportunities for vulnerable children and young people. The Foundation will support knowledge generation, research and implementation of research-based efforts that have the potential to be upscaled.

Strategic focus areas: Healthy weight and learning opportunities for children and young people
Our support in the social area aims to improve the opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people in Denmark through health initiatives, education and other relevant awareness-raising activities.

  • Healthy weight initiatives: build on the vision that all children should be entitled to a healthy weight and have the opportunity to maintain it throughout life. Healthy weight is understood as a bodyweight that leads to physical, psychological and social well-being and provides the foundation for a healthy adult life. Overweight among children is associated with increased risk of chronic lifestyle diseases, depression, lack of self-esteem and various psychiatric disorders such as eating disorders, as well as a significantly increased risk of being exposed to bullying. Treating overweight as just being a question of calorie intake and physical activity is too simplistic, as there are many contributing factors, such as social inequality, well-being, sleep, eating and drinking habits, screen time, exercise, physical surroundings and the way society is in general. By supporting such initiatives and helping to put healthy weight on the public agenda, the Novo Nordisk Foundation advances the opportunity for children to lead healthy lives.
  • Focus on learning: Our initiatives aim to improve the opportunities for growth and learning among disadvantaged children and young people in Denmark. Differences in the preconditions for growth and learning can be detected early on in childhood, as vulnerable children generally have greater difficulties in terms of their language, cognitive and socio-emotional competencies. These difficulties tend to persist throughout the school years, and after ninth grade, 15-20% of the children do not have the necessary learning competencies to start a youth education. By addressing such differences in children’s preconditions for learning at an early age, the Novo Nordisk Foundation contributes to improving the prospects for socially disadvantaged children.

Grants in the social area
The Novo Nordisk Foundation supports social initiatives through open calls, where grants are offered to applicants in open competition, as well through major strategic partnerships:

  • Thematic calls: are aimed at initiatives within the Foundation’s strategic focus areas and provide the opportunity to experiment with innovative approaches as well as advance research and learnings from the initiatives. The themes may vary and focus on different target groups.
  • Strategic partnerships: are collaborations with selected partners around initiatives within the Foundation’s strategic focus areas. We collaborate with a wide range of actors from the research community, the authorities, municipalities, regions as well as health personnel.
  • National centre: The Novo Nordisk Foundation currently works on the establishment of a national centre for the promotion of healthy weight through collaborative research, innovation and development of evidence-based interventions and prevention efforts with particular focus on children and their families.

Humanitarian initiatives

Our support for humanitarian and development aid initiatives aims to improve the opportunities of disadvantaged children and young people in selected geographical areas outside Denmark through health initiatives, education and other empowerment initiatives.

Strategic focus areas: Youth empowerment and fighting non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
The global displacement crisis remains one of the largest humanitarian challenges of our time, with more than 68.5 million refugees and displaced people across the world. Given the scale of the problem, the Foundation must prioritize strategically and geographically to achieve the greatest possible impact:

  • Youth empowerment: Our focus is on enhancing young people’s educational, technical and vocations skills as well as their social competencies, to improve their prospects for making positive life choices and becoming active citizens. Geographically, the Foundation supports initiatives in countries affected by the conflict in Syria, focusing initially on Jordan and eventually expanding the support to Lebanon and Syria. Our support is targeted young Syrian refugees as well as vulnerable youths in the host countries. The Foundation will support initiatives that e.g. offer psychosocial support as well as technical and vocational training, and which strive to create better access to education and employment, helping the young people to become positive agents of change in a region marked by conflict.
  • Fighting NCDs: The Foundation supports initiatives to combat NCDs such as diabetes through prevention and treatment, e.g. by contributing to an enhanced focus and capacity within the healthcare system in various developing countries. This includes selected countries in East Africa, such as Tanzania, as well as countries affected by protracted humanitarian crises: Jordan, Lebanon and potentially Syria.
    NCD rates are high and increasing all over the world, and NCDs are a leading cause of mortality, not least in developing countries. Furthermore, people living with diseases such as diabetes are particularly vulnerable during protracted humanitarian crises, as NCDs require continuous care.

Grants for humanitarian and development aid
The Novo Nordisk Foundation supports education- and health-related initiatives, partly through emergency response calls and thematic calls, where grants are offered in open competition, and partly through major strategic partnerships.

  • Emergency response calls: Focus on supporting vulnerable people in humanitarian crises all over the world. These calls make it possible for organizations to apply for grants outside the Foundation’s thematic priorities, as focus here is on all regions across the world affected by acute crises.
  • Thematic calls: Target initiatives that fall within the Foundation’s strategic focus areas and make it possible to explore innovative approaches as well as to advance research and learnings from the initiatives.
  • Strategic partnerships: Partnerships with selected relevant actors, mainly humanitarian organizations based in Denmark, with the capacity to implement efforts on a large scale in close collaboration with the most eligible local partners and other international partners, such as the UN. The partnerships are formed around initiatives within the Foundation’s strategic focus areas.

Focus on quality, learning and results in social and humanitarian initiatives

For the Novo Nordisk Foundation, it is vital that we only support initiatives of the highest standard and that they create the best possible results for the target groups. As a result of this, our grant recipients are required to sign and work in accordance with the Foundation’s Code of Conduct.

At the same time, it is crucial that the social and humanitarian initiatives we support draw on existing knowledge and lessons learned from previous efforts with the most impact, while contributing systematically to gathering and documenting new knowledge and insights, which must be made widely available.

Finally, the Novo Nordisk Foundation emphasizes that the initiatives we support create a level of local involvement and ownership, and that they have a clear exit strategy, so that that the initiatives are ended responsibly and ensure lasting results.

Our applicants for humanitarian initiatives are also required to commit to the Core Humanitarian Standards, which offer a principle-based approach to ensure that development and emergency aid is as effective as possible. In addition, the standards can be used as a tool for continuously assessing and improving the quality of humanitarian efforts. Read more about it here.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has established an advisory panel with leading Danish and international experts, named Humanitarian and Development Aid Advisory Panel (HUMDAP). Read more about it here.