Last updated on:
Tuesday, 18 August 2020

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.