National Voluntary Review to the HLPF: Sweden

Monday, July 3, 2017
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Sweden wants to be a leader in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda – both nationally and globally.

The 2030 Agenda involves a process of gradual transition and further development of the Swedish social model as a modern and sustainable welfare state. Everyone should be involved in this process; no one should be left behind! It is essential with broad ownership, among all actors in society. Ownership and participation that are developed and deepened over time. The shared commitment, building on knowledge and insight, from local to national level, creates the necessary foundation.

The effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda is demonstrated through decisions and measures in day-to-day activities and existing governance processes. Regular activities in the public sector – and in society as a whole – must be permeated by sustainable development as expressed in the 2030 Agenda.

The strenghtened cooperation between all actors that will be needed to implement the 2030 Agenda reinforces the core values and cohesion of Swedish society. This increases Sweden’s competitiveness as a knowledge and innovation nation and enables Sweden to contribute at global level.

The partnership-driven process in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda will be developed with innovative thinking in terms of strategic and operational governance. This is the key to strengthened institutional capacity and willingness to change, as well as effective mobilisation and use of resources, in the public and private sector as well as in the civil society.

Internationally, Sweden is working for increased cooperation and new partnerships between countries, business, the social partners, civil society organisations and the knowledge-based society in different parts of the world. Sweden’s focus and contributions target equitable and sustainable global development. The Government is pursuing an ambitious coherence policy that places the rights perspective and the perspective of poor people at the core. Solidarity is a cornerstone of this work. Engagement at local level is crucial. Gender equality and all women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of human rights is a prerequisite for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Sweden and in the world.


Sweden has a favourable starting position for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Peaceful and democratic conditions have characterised the country for a long time and have enabled the development of a culture of collaboration between different actors in society – political, economic and social. Economic growth has been strong over time. It builds on a dynamic private sector with an international outlook. The social partners have been well organised and clearly focused on negotiations to find solutions. Through the democratic and political path, Sweden has been able to develop a welfare model with the ambition and the ability to guarantee all inhabitants access to health care, school and education, housing and employment.

Since the 1990s and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Sweden has been working actively on sustainability issues at local, national, and international level. Sweden’s first national sustainable development strategy was adopted by the Government and the Parliament in 2002. In the same year, a provision was added to the Swedish Constitution stating that sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations must be promoted by the State. At the end of 2003, the Parliament adopted a policy for equitable and sustainable global development – the Policy for Global Development – which stresses that coherence between different policy areas is needed to promote sustainable development. The Government pursues a feminist policy. Gender equality is core for setting priorities and decisions, both nationally and internationally.

In 2003, the Parliament decided on the Swedish objective for public health policy – to create social conditions for good health on equal terms for the entire population. In recent years, the Government has had a particular attention on antibiotic resistance. In 2010, the Government appointed the Cross-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives with a mandate until 2020, tasked with presenting proposals on how Sweden’s environmental quality objectives and the generational goal can be achieved. The generational goal means that the conditions for solving environmental problems are to be met within one generation and that environmental policy should be directed towards ensuring that. In recent years, migration policy and the refugee situation have been high on the agenda for Sweden, from a national and an international perspective, with purpose to facilitate well-functioning migration.

A systematic follow-up is an important and integral part of Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals. The government authority Statistics Sweden has drawn up a report providing the preliminary assessment of how Sweden is living up to the various goals and targets. In several areas, Sweden is doing well by international standards – for example in terms of the poverty and hunger goals, and the goals on education, health, water and infrastructure. As regards the climate goal, Sweden’s emissions of greenhouse gases were reduced by 25 per cent between 1990 and 2015.

There are several challenges that Sweden faces in ensuring that the goals and targets can be achieved. Not least, it is important to find methods to quickly and effectively contribute to sustainable energy and climate resilient pathways both in Sweden and in other parts of the world, and achieve the targets for sustainable seas and marine resources. Sweden faces major challenges regarding the goal of achieving sustainable consumption and production in Sweden and abroad. At home, Sweden also faces a number of challenges related to inequalities: to reduce income gaps (including between women and men for the same work), increase the disposable incomes of certain vulnerable groups and achieve health equality and equal opportunities for learning. People with disabilities, refugees and other migrants and some older and young people have a harder time establishing themselves on the labour market. There are still a number of challenges in Sweden in achieving gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls.


Extensive work is under way in Sweden that contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The knowledge and commitment of the population is of fundamental importance. The Parliament has examined and decided on several of the Government’s Communications and Bills that have a particular bearing on the 2030 Agenda. All ministries have produced action plans that provided a basis for the Government Communication from 2016 on the Policy for Global Development linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, and have reported on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The reports show that all of the sustainable development goals are reflected in the activities of the ministries.

In March 2016, the Government appointed a committee tasked with supporting work on Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda nationally and internationally. The committee presented on 1 June 2017 a proposal for an action plan for the 2030 Agenda. The proposal, which will be considered by the Government in 2017, will serve as a basis for establishing a national action plan for the Agenda. The Committe is also conducting a broad dialogue on sustainable development with government agencies, county councils and municipalities, the social partners, the business sector, civil society and the research community.

The important process of making the 2030 Agenda an integral part of the Government Offices’ regular activities has begun. It will be a crucial task for the Government Offices to ensure that future annual budget processes integrates the 2030 Agenda.


At the core of the Swedish social model is a long tradition of cooperation and collaboration, both nationally and internationally, which is essential for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, a number of multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships with bearing on the Agenda were created.

The Policy for Global Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development are key instruments for the fulfillment of the Agenda 2030. Sweden’s international development assistance, with its goal of 1 per cent of GNI, is an important means of implementation.

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National Voluntary Review to the HLPF: Sweden