Today sees the opening of the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality – a global conference with 600 participants from over 100 countries. The Forum will bring together activists, academics, politicians and entrepreneurs who put their energies into making the world more gender-equal.

After two weeks of talks and intensive negotiations, the Commission on the Status of Women was concluded on 23 March and the agreed conclusions adopted. On the agenda were women’s and girls’ rights, with a focus on women in rural areas, which was the theme of this year’s meeting. Despite a tougher world climate, progress has been made. The final document now contains important formulations on the fight against violence and sexual harassment, protection of women human rights defenders, and sexuality education in schools, as well as the right of women to own land.

Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and human rights counsellor Colin Gonsalves are some of the 500 gender equality actors who will participate in the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality on 15–17 April. The global forum is about strengthening women’s and girls’ rights, representation and access to resources.

It took the Iraqi army three years to break Daesh/ISIL’s territorial hold of Iraq, which at one point amounted to a third of the country. The war against Daesh/ISIL resulted in large-scale destruction and humanitarian needs on a massive scale. At its peak, over 5 million Iraqis fled their homes and just under half are still waiting to go back.
Many of the major cities formerly held by Daesh/ISIL were completely destroyed as a result of the conflict. One example is Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, renowned for its rich cultural and historical heritage. Following the liberation of the city in July 2017, the focus is now on rebuilding basic infrastructure so that internally displaced persons can go back to their homes and resume some form of normality. However, the challenges of doing so are turning out to be a lot greater than anyone had expected. The Embassy visited Mosul to observe the work of the UN in the area and to see the challenges of stabilisation in the aftermath of war.

Floating islands of plastic garbage. Endocrine disruptors in marine organisms . Overfishing and illegal fishing driving species close to extinction. Increasing water temperatures triggering coral bleaching. Rising sea levels threatening coastal communities, eco systems and whole nations. The list of alarming reports on the state of the ocean is long, and their frequency has increased dramatically in recent years. We’re running out of time to reverse the trends.
“It is clear that we humans have severely mismanaged one of our global commons – the ocean,” says the newly appointed Swedish Ambassador for the Ocean, Helen Ågren.

De senaste åren har de alarmerande rapporterna om havens tillstånd duggat tätt. Öar av plastskräp som flyter omkring på haven. Hormonstörande kemikalier i vårt dricksvatten. Arter på gränsen till utrotning på grund av intensivt och olagligt fiske. Uppvärmning av havet som leder till blekning av koraller. Havsnivåhöjning som hotar kustsamhällen, ekosystem och hela nationer. Listan är lång och tiden är knapp för att vända de negativa trenderna.
– Det är uppenbart att vi har misslyckats med att förvalta vårt gemensamma hav, säger Sveriges nyutnämnda havsambassadör Helen Ågren.

In December, the City of Gothenburg handed over to Peru 51 well-preserved textiles from the more than 2 000-year-old Paracas textile collection. The textiles, purchased by Sweden’s Honorary Consul in Lima Sven Karell from the Nazca and Paracas cultures, were brought to Sweden in 1935.
“It feels wonderful to return them to Peru,” says Gunilla Bökmark, the City of Gothenburg’s Director of International Relations.

25 years ago, the Foreign Ministers of nations in the Barents region gathered in Kirkenes, Norway, to sign the declaration that is the foundation of the Barents cooperation. Many politicians, officials, local and regional decision makers have since then met in different forums to take action for peace, stability, and regional development to the benefit of the people in the Barents region.

On 11 December, the Swedish Embassy in Mexico hosted a seminar on how the gender perspective could be enhanced in the analysis and protective measures offered by the Mexican government to protect journalists and human rights defenders. The event took place in connection with International Human Rights Day, which this year particularly focused on freedom of expression, and the two-week campaign to highlight and combat violence against women.

The best gift we can give each other is to make the world a better place. Our Global Goals Calendar has featured some examples of what Sweden is doing to help achieve the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and live up to the 2030 Agenda – both at home and abroad.