SINGLE COUNTRY PROFILE

Basic Information
Year of approval of the SD strategy and updates

Sweden’s very first Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) was published in 1994 to implement the results of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio 1992. Between 1994 and 2002 the Government presented several publications on each ministry’s different Sustainable Development (SD) activities and priorities. The next National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) was prepared in 2002 and adopted by the Swedish Government in 2004. A further revision of the NSDS was undertaken in 2006. All three dimensions of SD are covered in the NSDS which is coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment.

Type of SD strategy

NSDS covers all three dimensions of SD.

Lead ministry/institution in the SD strategy process

Ministry of the Environment – Coordination of National SD

Further information about the SD strategy process

Previous NSDS: 'A Swedish Strategy for Sustainable Development - Economic, Social and Environmental' (2004) (English summary)

Agenda 2030 Implementation

In 2016 the Swedish government appointed a multi-stakeholder National Committee to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda throughout Swedish society. Dialogue om how to further the implementation with civil society organizations, municipalities, academia, private sector and trade unions was one strand of the assignment. The second strand of work was to put forward proposals on how to strengthen the implementation to the government. The assignment expired in March 2019. The Committee finalised its work by presenting a final report in March 2019. The report contains several proposals on how the government can strengthen and integrate SDGs with a whole of government approach and how national agencies can be given a clearer mandate to work with the agenda in their core businesses. The report also stresses the importance of engaging civil society organizations, municipalities, academia, private sector and trade unions.

Sweden welcomes the initiative by the Secretary General to establish an SDG Advocacy Group of eminent persons to promote implementation of the 2030 Agenda, in which Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden participates.

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) should become a truly relevant arena for peer-learning and science-based and effective follow-up of SDG-progress. We should all make efforts to contribute and ensure multi-stakeholder contribution and participation.

A National Action Plan (NAP) 2018-2020 was adopted by the Government in 2018

In February 2020 the Government appointed former Minister of health and sports, Gabriel Wikström, as national coordinator for the 2030 Agenda. The national coordinator will help strengthen implementation, promote and deepen the work of different actors. The coordinator’s work will focus in particular on the perspective and participation of children and young people, and on those in a particularly vulnerable situation

Before the summer in 2020, the Government plans to submit a bill to the Riksdag setting out the direction for Sweden’s work on strengthening the integration of the Agenda and promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, nationally, at EU level and globally.

Themes

Sweden has taken the lead in several areas to implement the SDGs, both nationally and internationally. Domestically, Sweden aims to become the world’s first fossil-free welfare state by 2045 and will the Government will issue its first green bond this year.

Internationally, Sweden co-facilitated a political declaration with Bahamas, that was adopted by UN member states during the SDG summit in 2019. The ten points outlined in the political declaration serve as a roadmap to accelerate action and commitments now and in the years to come. Sweden has shown leadership and accelerated action in multiple areas: a scaling up of the Feminist Foreign Policy; the launching of a Drive for Democracy; a doubling of contributions to the green climate fund in 2019. Together with India, Sweden launched the leadership group for industry transition at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York 2019. Sweden continues to promote inclusive growth and social dialogue together with ILO, OECD, and a core group of countries, companies, employers’ organizations and trade unions in the initiative the Global Deal.

In 2017, Sweden co-hosted a UN-Conference on implementing SDG 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans and marine resources together with Fiji.

Regarding the SDGs: The NAP 2018-2020 did amapping of all SDGs and identified six cross-sectional themes and four key factors:

Priority areas (six cross-sectional themes): reduced inequalities and improved gender equality; sustainable societies; circular and green economy; strong industrial life and sustainable business; sustainable and healthy grocery chain; improved knowledge and innovation.

Leading Ministry and respective unit

The Minister for the Environment and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for coordinating and promoting the implementation of the Agenda at the national level in Sweden. The Minister for International Development Cooperation is responsible for coordinating the work with Sweden’s contributions to international implementation.

Other ministries involved

All ministries are responsible for the implementation of the Agenda in their departments.

Main contact point for the implementation process

No information available. 

Links to main websites/documents on national implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs
Voluntary National Reviews
Vertical Integration

All municipalities and county councils follow the same national legislation and essentially have the same responsibilities and tasks, even though there are great differences between them. All activities carried out by the municipalities and county councils are covered by local self-government. This means that the municipalities and the county councils make independent decisions on local issues, which also provides the opportunity for local adaptations based on different needs and conditions.

For the 2002 NSDS, ‘reference groups’ were established involving a number of different stakeholders, including sub-national representatives.

The 2006 elaborated Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) presented a set of indicators, developed by Statistics Sweden and a working group that involved cooperation between political levels.

The Council for SD, which existed between 2005-2007, was a platform for the link between the different political levels. The Commission on SD replaced the Council 2007-2009.

National conferences, the so-called ‘Envision’ conferences, have taken place biannually. They have been organised by the City of Västerås, the County Council and the Regional Administrative Board of Västmanland in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, the Association of Municipalities and other sub-national stakeholders. The conferences function as a platform for exchange and offers a possibility of cooperation between the political levels.

In 2008 The Government has appointed a Delegation for Sustainable Cities for a two-year period 2008 – 10. The main task of the delegation was to bring together government, industry and municipalities in a national platform for sustainable urban development withthe aim to stimulate urban development projects that both serve to enhance the environment and climate change mitigation as well as to facilitate Swedish environmental technologies export.

In 2000 the Government summoned a National Committee to implement and develop Agenda 21 and Habitat. The committee submitted its final report in 2003. The report describes future challenges and proposed measures.

Sweden has 16 environmental quality objectives for the future state of the national environment. These goals – adopted by the Swedish Parliament, the Riksdag – are intended to ensure that, within one generation, the country’s major environmental problems have been solved. The environmental quality objectives describe a state of the environment that is sustainable in the long term. They are a promise to future generations of clean air, healthy living environments and rich contact with nature.

The objectives have served as signposts for environmental action in Sweden since 1999. In June 2010 the Swedish Parliament adopted a Government bill on a new target structure for environmental work, a new organisation and a new basis for assessment of the environmental quality objectives A Parliamentarian committee has been set up to advise the Government on how the environmental quality objectives can be reached. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the follow-up of the objectives.

EU linkages

Since the adoption of Agenda 2030 in September 2015, the EU has expressed a firm determination to become a world leader in the implementation of the agenda. Sweden has been a strong advocate for the EU taking the lead on implementation. On June 20, 2017, the European Union adopted Council conclusions defining the EU's response to Agenda 2030 and an implementation strategy at EU level. The conclusions emphasized the importance of achieving sustainable development in the social, economic and environmental dimension. The conclusions also confirmed that sustainable development should be integrated into all policy areas.

In May 2017, the EU's new development policy was adopted: The New European Consensus on Development, which is aligned with Agenda 2030 and the three dimensions of sustainable development. Sweden welcomed the Joint Synthesis Report on the Consensus on Development including the impact of their actions in support of the 2030 Agenda in developing countries presented by the EU during the High-Level Political Forum in New York on the 18th of July 2019.

On December 10, 2019, the Council adopted new conclusions on the EU's implementation of Agenda 2030 highlighting the need to accelerate efforts both within the EU and in other parts of the world to achieve the objectives of Agenda 2030. These conclusions urged Member States to raise the national level of ambition and actively integrate Agenda 2030 into national policies, budgetary frameworks, planning tools and strategies. Ahead of the new Commission's accession on 1 December 2019, President Ursula von der Leyen presented the political guidelines for the Commission's work 2019-2024. The policy guidelines contain six overall ambitions that clearly use the UN's Sustainable Development Goals as a compass. In the Commission Work Program for 2020 presented on January 29, 2020, the Commission reaffirms that its work will be guided by Agenda 2030 and that the SDGs will be at the heart of political decision-making and guide all work in all areas, both in and outside the EU. Sweden will actively take part in efforts towards integrating the SDGs in the six priority areas, not least the European Green Deal.

Furthermore, the EU's common foreign and security policy, including the implementation of the EU's global strategy and the strategy for resilience in the EU's external action, is important for the implementation of Agenda 2030. Within the EU's common security and defense policy, Sweden has worked for a strengthened capacity for civilian and military crisis management. The Council of Europe's activities are increasingly linked to Agenda 2030. This also applies in key areas such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Another example of Sweden's contribution to sustainability work within the Union is the EU decision in March 2017 on the EU emissions trading system. The new system is aligned with the Paris Agreement and Objective 13 on combating climate change in Agenda 2030.

Horizontal Integration

Coordination mechanisms exist at different levels and within different policy areas.

The fundamental aspects of SD, economic, social and environmental, are covered in the Swedish Constitution (chapter 1 para 2). Sweden also has comprehensive coherence policy.

All government decisions are taken collectively and preceded by a collective preparatory mechanism that include all relevant ministries. In March 2019 the national delegation submitted its proposals to the Government see above) . In order to further anchor overarching implementation efforts with the parliament and across all policy areas, the Government plans to submit a bill to the parliament setting out the overall direction for Sweden’s work on implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Between 2003 and 2007 Sweden had a Coordination Unit for SD. Its task was to coordinate SD within the Government Offices, function as a think-tank and promote the further development of the NSDS.

A working group on Green Economy with participants from different ministries has been established in 2010. The working group is led by the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications and meets regularly.

Within the Swedish Government Offices the coordinative responsibilities of the SDS are shared between several ministries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the Ministry of the Environment, with support from other relevant ministries are responsible for the coordination of the Nordic SD cooperation. The EU SDS is coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for coordination of the global SD work.

Review

The Government has intensified its work to integrate the  2030  Agenda  in  the  governance and  follow-up  of  the  government  authorities.  In spring 2017, all ministries have summarised and reported their implementation work.  These  reports  show  that  the  implementation  of  all  the  global  goals  are  reflected  in  the activities of the ministries. The aim was to start to the process of making the Agenda an integral part of daily business and ordinary operations. It is and will be an urgent task to ensure that the forthcoming annual processes at the Government Offices observe and help to live up to the Swedish objectives for implementing the Agenda.

Indicators

The 2006 NSDS formulates a set of 91 indicators for sustainable development. The indicator set, which comprises 12 headline indicators, is structured around 6 thematic areas and has been developed on the basis of the work of Statistics Sweden.

Statistics Sweden (SCB) has been assigned to produce assessments on where Sweden stands and to develop a system for follow up.  Each year, they present a statistical review of Sweden’s progress towards reaching the SDGs and targets based on a list of indicators aligned with national indicators. The latest review is from 2019.

Participation

In March 2016, the Government appointed a national delegation with a commission to 2016 – 2019 support and stimulate the work with Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda, both nationally and internationally. On 11 March 2019 the delegation presented its final proposals and assessments for Sweden’s continued implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Delegation has carried out its work in close contact with different actors, both public and private as well as civil society organisations and the social partners at the Swedish labour market.

The delegation consisted of twelve members, one of whom was the chair. The members have broad experience and knowledge from different parts of society.

In 2015 - 2018, the Government has had a specially assigned Scientific Council for Sustainable Development. The council has included a panel of prominent researchers representing different multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches. The council has provided the Government with a number of reports. The main purpose of the council was to give advice to the government in scientific aspects of issues related to sustainable development. As part of that work it provided the Government with reports on key issues. It also had the role to facilitate a dialogue between the government and the scientific community and to promote the role of science in the development of Agenda 2030 on both national and regional level. To that end the council held a number of seminars. 

The Government has five strategic innovation partnership programmes are based on the National Innovation Council’s assessment of the areas in which Swedish society is facing several challenges. These are challenges that have good prospects of leading to globally competitive solutions. The most important task of the innovation partnership programmes is exchange between public sector actors, the business sector and academia to find innovative solutions to the social challenges of today, while strengthening Sweden’s global innovativeness and competitiveness. The five innovation partnership programmes are not expressly related to the SDGs but are closely linked to them: The next generation's travel and transport, smart cities, circular and bio-based economy, life sciences and connected industry and new materials.

Subnational Activities

In 2018 the Swedish UN-organisation and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions startade in collaboration a project in order to educate and engage in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the local and regional level. In 2020 there are 130 municipalities (out of 290) and 16 regions (out of 20), in total 146 participants, engaged in the project.

The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions arranges seminars, activities or publications on SD. Many municipalities take part in international cooperation projects and networks such as Aalborg commitments, ICLEI, CEMR and The European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign.

The County Administrative Boards are engaged in the implementation of 2030 Agenda and arranges both multi stakeholder conferences and seminars on the agenda. Since 2008 they have been commissioned to work in broad collaboration with regional climate and energy strategies. To co-ordinate the work on regional climate and energy strategies the County Administrative.