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Norsk Hydro initiates partnership with United World Colleges

September 25, 2001, 01:00 CEST

As part of its investment in Corporate Social Responsibility, Norsk Hydro has entered into an agreement with the United World Colleges, a global provider of education at pre-university level, through its affiliate, the Norwegian UWC Foundation.

The agreement is designed to enable promising young people from low-income countries to participate in the unique two-year fully paid educational experience offered by the organisation.

The United World Colleges, established in 1962 in Wales, has grown to include 10 colleges in countries including Canada, Swaziland, India, Norway and Hong Kong. It was established in response to the challenges and risks resulting from the cold war aftermath of the Second World War, and was largely based on the ideas of Kurt Hahn, the educational pioneer. The Red Cross Nordic UWC, located in Fjaler, Norway, was opened in 1995. 

The ten colleges offer a unique mixture of high quality secondary education based on the International Baccalaureate diploma, and an extensive community services programme including rescue services, as well as a broad spectrum of activities in adventure, arts, sport and social activities.

The program is designed to reach out to young people from the widest possible range of backgrounds, and offer them a full scholarship based programme, irrespective of their race, religion, country and social class. Students are selected through a stringent procedure designed to focus on individual merit only by national committees in more than one hundred and ten countries.

Rolf Lunheim, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility in Norsk Hydro, says: "Education is a primary key to sustainable development, particularly in third world countries, and is therefore emphasised in our social investment strategy.

United World College provides an excellent opportunity for young people to achieve high quality education in a culturally diverse setting promoting international understanding. We are very excited about this partnership and the opportunities it presents for business units and our employees to get involved. The agreement between United World College and Hydro represents a novel approach to relationships between NGOs and companies.

This is not a sponsorship, but a business deal between equal partners with complementary competencies and capabilities. We are convinced that a close relationship between United World College and Hydro in the years to come will constitute an important positive influence on both organisations. This is not about philanthropy, but a practical partnership approach to socially responsible business, to the mutual benefit of involved individuals, host countries, and organisations."

Elaine Hesse Steel, Director General of the United World Colleges, in Oslo to announce the agreement, says: "We are delighted with this agreement, which we believe has several ground-breaking qualities. A publicly traded global company is resolved to invest in what can only be described as a long term and not easily quantifiable return.

They are coming into this agreement with a multi-year perspective, and are willing to help strengthen our abilities to serve on a broad front. It gives me great hope that a company of this stature is willing to take such mature and forward thinking responsibility. I believe this could mark a turning point for the way global companies perceive their role as builders of immaterial value and as an inevitable compliment to the more obvious and tangible responsibilities they have to their shareholders and communities".

The United World Colleges is a non-profit organisation with its head office in London, England. Nelson Mandela is its Honorary President and HM Queen Noor of Jordan is President of the UWC International Movement Lord Richard Attenborough, director of films such as "Gandhi" and "Cry Freedom", and Thor Heyerdahl the explorer and environmentalist, are International Patrons.

 "I sailed on rafts across the world's oceans, with a crew as diverse as you are now. You will learn here what I and my crew found out: that there is indeed only one human family. But you will learn more…" (Thor Heyerdahl, International patron UWC)


United World Colleges