Sweden country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
3 min read
In June 2017, the national delegation to the UN HLPF submitted the report ‘Towards sustainable welfare – the 2030 Agenda’ to the Swedish government, which included proposals for an action plan for SDGs. Six priority areas were outlined in the action plan, including sustainable cities (SDG 11); the circular economy (SDG 12); as well as sustainable and healthy food (SDG 2) (Kingdom of Sweden, 2017a).

The government adopted Sweden’s Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda with the intention of reinforcing efforts to achieve the SDGs and indicating how government agencies and other actors in society can contribute (Kingdom of Sweden, 2017). The Action Plan includes key political measures for the years 2018-2020. It also highlights six cross-sectoral focus areas, including a socially beneficial, circular, and bio-based economy; corporate social responsibility; a sustainable and healthy food chain; and knowledge and innovation (Government Offices of Sweden, 2018).

Sweden’s actions towards SDGs with an environmental dimension focus on SDGs 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. 

Sweden’s environmental objectives have been decided by the Riksdag and constitute the national objectives that contribute to attaining the environmental dimension of the SDGs. At the same time, Agenda 2030 can also revitalise and provide new conditions to catalyse the achievement of the country’s environmental objectives (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 2020).

The Swedish parliament has approved several of the government’s communications and bills that have a bearing on the 2030 Agenda. All ministries produced action plans which provided the basis for the 2016 Government Communication on the Sustainable Development Goals (Kingdom of Sweden, 2017a). 

In 2015, the government established the Scientific Council for Sustainable Development tasked with serving as a platform for dialogue between the government and the scientific community and helping to provide a sustainable development policy with a scientific basis (Kingdom of Sweden, 2017a). In addition, Sweden’s budget proposal for 2018 indicated the contribution of fiscal policy to sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda is mentioned in the financial plan and in most of the 27 spending areas, showing an almost two-fold increase in areas compared to the 2017 budget (Kingdom of Sweden, 2017b).

Sweden submitted a VNR to the UN in 2017.

In 2017, the Swedish VNR identified several challenges, such as establishing sustainable energy (SDG 7); and climate resilient pathways (SDG 13); achieving the targets for sustainable seas and marine resources (SDG 14); and the transition towards sustainable consumption and production processes (SDG 12) (Kingdom of Sweden, 2017a).

The latest in-depth evaluation of the environmental quality objectives/EQOs performed by the Swedish EPA (2019) emphasises that there is a negative trend in ecosystem recovery and biodiversity conservation (SDG 15). GHG emissions must be reduced at a faster rate, the ecological links in the landscape need to be strengthened, and the dispersion of dangerous/hazardous substances must be reduced. 

In 2018, Statistics Sweden was tasked by the government with setting up a national monitoring system by coordinating the development and production of statistics on Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda and making these statistics available (Government Offices of Sweden, 2018). 

In October 2019, Statistics Sweden carried out a statistical follow-up of the SDG actions, which includes proposals on the timing of national statistical reviews, on national indicators and on developing some statistical measures (Government Offices of Sweden, 2018). 



Government Offices of Sweden, 2018, ‘The Government adopts Sweden’s action plan for the 2030 Agenda’, Government of Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden, accessed 2 June 2020.

Kingdom of Sweden, 2017, Agenda 2030, Kingdom of Sweden, accessed 23 November 2017.

Regeringskansliet, 2018, Handlingsplan Agenda 2030: 2018–2020(Fi 2018:3), Regeringskansliet, Stockholm, Sweden, accessed 2 June 2020. 

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 2020, ‘Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development’, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency , Stockholm, Sweden, accessed 13 June 2020. 

Statistics Sweden, 2017, Statistisk uppföljning av Agenda 2030(SCB 010-479 40 00), Statistics Sweden, Sweden, accessed 17 January 2018.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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