On the 25th anniversary of becoming the first country in the world to establish a Ministry of Environment, Norway is today recognised as a major force in international environmental co-operation. 'Since the outset of the environmental movement, Norway and the other Nordic countries have been initiators and driving forces in international environmental policy,' said Tone Bratteli, an adviser at the Ministry of Environment. 'Norway's policies, principles and concepts have developed into a kind of theme song at international negotiating tables in recent years.' Norway was one of the first nations to respond to threats to the world's ozone layer - with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in spray cans replaced by harmless aerosols 10 years before such requirements were embodied in international agreements. The Norwegians also led efforts towards a global-climate convention in response to the 'greenhouse effect' and the country remains one of the few that has introduced a carbon dioxide tax. Another initiative was the 'cradle to the grave' principle of waste disposal. 'Norwegian environmental policy demands the monitoring of manufactured products from production until they are discarded,' Mr Bratteli said. 'The purpose is to develop products which require a minimum of energy to produce and leave the least possible waste. As much as possible is used over and over again. Waste can be viewed as a resource, and not something to be dumped in landfills.' Since the 1960s, the environmental issue for Nordic countries has been acid rain. 'The sight of black, ghost-like trees with naked outstretched arms in the moonscape surrounding Nikel, Russia, is enough to persuade everyone that emissions there have far exceeded what nature can stand,' Mr Bratteli said. 'Norway, too, suffers serious harm from acid rain. Half the lakes are devoid of fish.' Norway and Sweden were the first countries to establish the consequences of acid rain. This effort led to the European Convention on Long-range Transboundary Pollution. One concrete achievement of this is a programme to transfer expertise in cleaner technology to Eastern Europe and Russia. 'Companies carry out environmental analyses under the guidance of Norwegian consultants - and agree measures to conserve energy, reduce waste quantities, emissions and discharges and improve the enterprise's production and profitability all at the same time,' he said. 'The results of this programme are good and may provide the basis for fruitful environmental and industrial co-operation between Norway and Eastern Europe. 'These efforts have also attracted international attention.' Now, Norway is spreading its environmental expertise far and wide. 'In certain countries it is practical to participate in projects under the auspices of the World Bank/Global Environmental Fund,' Mr Bratteli said. 'The Ministry of Environment has entered into environmental agreements with Indonesia, China and South Africa and established a network aimed at transferring Norwegian environmental expertise to developing countries.'