Speech by Ardalan Shekarabi at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, 18 July 2017

New York, 18 July 2017

Check against delivery.

Your Excellences, ladies and gentlemen. Dear friends.

As seen in this short film, it has been a long journey for Sweden to reach the society of today. I'm proud to present here, Sweden's first National Voluntary Review.

I am also proud to note that several international analyses have concluded that Sweden has a favourable starting position. According to Statistics Sweden, we already fulfil 49 of the agenda indicators. Poverty, gender equality, education, health, water and infrastructure are example of areas showing positive results.

What have we learnt from our work with sustainable development?

An essential factor behind the positive development and the implementation of the agenda is the peaceful and democratic conditions that characterise our country. This has fostered the development of a culture of cooperation. For Sweden building transparent and accountable institutions has been key. We have a dynamic, innovative private sector and a strong economic growth. The social partners are well organised and have a focus on finding solutions through negotiations. This Swedish societal model is built on a long tradition of cooperation. A focus on cooperation and partnerships is also crucial for the Agenda.

Through the democratic and political path, we have been able to develop a welfare model with the ambition to provide access to health care, school and education, housing, employment and social protection for all citizens.

Many of these fundamental services are managed by our municipalities. The fundamental principle of local self-governance provides freedom to adapt services to local priorities and a changing world.

The local and regional levels also have a significant role in cooperation with local business and civil society. The business sector has a key role in the implementation of the Agenda. Companies are encouraged to use their creativity and innovation capacity to make their contribution.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the Agenda was adopted several initiatives have been taken by the Swedish government. A multi-stakeholder National Committee for the 2030 Agenda was appointed in 2016 with the task to promote the implementation and to propose an overarching action plan.

86 agencies have reported on how their activities relate to the 2030 Agenda. Statistics Sweden has published a statistics-based state-of-the-art of Sweden's implementation of the Agenda.

These reports and analyses, together with valuable contributions from a broad range of stakeholders have provided a basis for the report presented by Sweden today. Our ambition has been to present a factual analysis of all goals, based on the targets and indicators of the Agenda.

However, Sweden also has challenges. A major challenge is our unsustainable consumption and production patterns.

In a long perspective, Sweden has, over the years taken steps towards an equal society. But still, challenges related to inequality remain, between people and between different geographic parts of our country – and have actually risen over time.

We need to work hard to provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities, LGBTI - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex - persons, other minorities and immigrants. We need to reduce income gaps. Sweden has an explicit feminist government, but we still have challenges related to gender equality. For example, women and men are still not equally payed for the same work. We must also eliminate disparities in employment rates between women and men and increase the disposable incomes of certain vulnerable groups.

Differences in health, well-being and access to healthcare need to be reduced.

Furthermore, regarding education, we need to ensure that all students have the same opportunities for learning, regardless of differences in preconditions and background.

Climate change affects each and every one of us. We need to find methods for quick and efficient contribution to prevent climate change both in Sweden and in other parts of the world. The situation for our oceans and seas pose global and national challenges.

Clearly, we still have a lot of work to do.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Sweden has high ambitions for the further implementation of the 2030 Agenda – both nationally and by contributing to its global implementation.

For Sweden the implementation of the Agenda involves a process of successive transformation and further development of Sweden's societal model as a modern and sustainable welfare state.
A number of stakeholder platforms and partnerships with a bearing on the 2030 Agenda have been created and are becoming increasingly important.

Solidarity is a cornerstone of our work. I am proud to say that the Swedish Government has strengthened policy coherence that gives a central place to the rights perspective and the perspective of poor people. The rights of women and girls are key. In accordance with our feminist foreign policy we bring all our foreign policy tools into play for gender equality including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Sweden is fully committed to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development. I am happy to note the broad engagement among the Swedish private sector and civil society to engage in enhanced partnerships to this end.

Development cooperation will continue to play a part in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. For the last decade Sweden's aid has amounted to about 1 per cent of GNI annually. In December 2016, the Government presented a new policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian aid, based on the 2030 Agenda.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

The need to continue the work for sustainable development and poverty reduction is something we must do this together, learning from each other. Dialogue on urgent issues is of utmost importance, such as addressing challenges to our seas and marine resources and climate change. Sweden recently co-hosted together with Fiji the Ocean Conference in New York. Last month a new climate law was adopted by the Parliament promising zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. In Sweden we have a set of Environmental Quality Objectives since 1999. Now we all need to step up to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. For this we need leadership. Sweden has the ambition to be one of the leading countries in the implementation of the Agenda.

Our leadership is about standing up for rights, sharing the burden, tackling challenges and working together in building innovative partnerships.

The 2030 Agenda is about transforming our world to the better. A world we can enjoy but also hand over to our children and grandchildren.
The Swedish government must work hard and take its full responsibility. But the government is not alone. We have the local engagement and a broad engagement in all sectors of the Swedish society to be partner for fulfilment of the Agenda. Young people's perspective is crucial.

To conclude, I would like to take you on a time travel into the future and listen to what the young people hopefully will say about our progress in 2030.