“It’s about thinking globally and acting locally”

Published 30 June 2017 in:

Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

In June, the Swedish Government published its report on Sweden’s progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The report, which will be presented to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July for voluntary national review, shows that Sweden is on the right track – but is also still facing major challenges.

Sweden’s report, which will form the basis of the review, was produced in close collaboration with government agencies, municipalities and county councils, civil society, business, trade unions and higher education institutions. It was based largely on a study undertaken by Statistics Sweden, as well as reports from ministries and government agencies, the 2030 Agenda delegation’s status analysis, and input from embassies and Ministry for Foreign Affairs departments.

“We have also engaged in a broad process with stakeholders in society, which has provided us with a large number of examples. A collection of these examples is appended to the report,” says Kajsa B Olofsgård, Ambassador for the 2030 Agenda.

“We have tried to keep the report as factual as possible, to avoid falling into the trap of making it into a political pamphlet. We have put the emphasis on how we – the whole of Sweden – are implementing the 2030 Agenda,” she says.

Sweden has already met one fifth of the global indicators, and our position is comparatively positive.

“If you look at international evaluations – for example by the OECD – of countries’ efforts to achieve the Global Goals so far, Sweden consistently does very well – often coming top of the class,” says Ms Olofsgård.

Nonetheless, she points out that we cannot pat ourselves on the back and rest on our laurels. Sweden still faces a number of challenges. The challenges identified in the report include inequalities in health, education and establishment in the labour market, growing gaps in society, and the fact that Sweden is seeking to set an example in reducing climate emissions. With respect to the climate goal, Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 25 per cent between 1990 and 2015, but this is not enough: a more rapid and effective climate transition is required.

The report also highlights conflicts between goals, such as consumption and sustainable global development, and business and problematic markets. But it also cites concrete tools: the environmental objectives, gender mainstreaming and Sweden’s Policy for Global Development, for which all ministries have produced action plans since the end of 2014.

“We also highlight themes and initiatives: the Ocean Conference, feminist foreign policy, gender equality, the Global Deal, international climate support, initiatives against antibiotic resistance,” says Ms Olofsgård.

She points out that partnerships are important for implementation:

“This is something that we are all doing together. The Agenda actually encourages efforts beyond aid, using the resources that are available, rather than trying to produce add-ons. New alliances are important: between universities and think tanks, for example, or when the Swedish Steel Producers’ Association collaborates with mining companies on fossil-free steel production. And in several sectors we have seen that businesses play an absolutely crucial role in development.”

Ms Olofsgård also highlights the important role played by municipalities. Many municipalities are already far ahead, she says, and they are working on many fronts, from welfare goals in Helsingborg to collaboration with industry and academia on transport in Gothenburg.

“It’s about thinking globally and acting locally,” she says.

Ms Olofsgård explains that many Swedish embassies have done exemplary work to highlight the Global Goals and the #FirstGeneration initiative, citing the Embassy in Bogotà as one of several examples:

“They are also doing good work on results follow-up and visibility. Many embassies have organised good discussions, and we in the Global Agenda Department have also noticed that there is a desire to do more on the 2030 Agenda. In the second half of this year we therefore plan to focus on how we can support missions abroad in this,” says Ms Olofsgård.


Sweden’s report:

  • This is the first report by the Swedish Government on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
  • It will be presented to the High-Level Political Forum in New York on 18 July by Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi. The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will take place on 10–19 July 2017, and Sweden will also be holding a number of side events.
  • The 2030 Agenda encourages all countries to develop action programmes, and undertake regular reviews of progress made.
  • Review by the UN is voluntary, but in the view of the UN each country should report at least twice by 2030.

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