New strategy to raise ambition regarding global efforts for environmental sustainability

Reduced emissions, increased resilience to climate change, and more sustainable management of water, ecosystems and natural resources. These are some of the goals aimed for in development efforts. In March 2018, the Government decided on the new strategy for Sweden’s global development cooperation in the areas of environmental sustainability, sustainable climate and ocean, and sustainable use of natural resources. The strategy applies for the five years 2018–2020.

Man with a boat on a beach.
"Water is a fundamental prerequisite for all life on Earth, and therefore also a condition for human health and well-being." says Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate. Photo: UN Photo/Milton Grant

"Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Our blue planet has a fever. Those affected most are those with fewest resources, and this is why development cooperation in this area is extremely important," says Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate.

The goal of Swedish international development cooperation is to create opportunities for better living conditions for people living in poverty and under oppression, and to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. The new strategy also aims to – within Swedish development cooperation focused on a sustainable environment, climate and ocean, and on the sustainable use of natural resources – contribute to development of the global normative framework, global policy and methods, as well as strengthened capacity among organisations and institutions.

The strategy will steer the global efforts of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in three areas: climatically sustainable development, environmentally sustainable development and sustainable use of natural resources, and sustainable ocean and water resources. The 10 goals for operations set by the Government include reduced climate emissions and increased resilience to climate change, increased access to renewable energy, strengthened protection and sustainable management of ecosystems and natural resources, and sustainable management of water and ocean, with reduced pollution and littering.

Climatically sustainable development

This area concerns, among other things, preventing climate change and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. It also concerns sustainable energy systems, and contributing to reduced vulnerability of people who live in poverty, and to increased resilience to handle climate change and natural disasters. A new area in this strategy, compared with previous years, is that a focus on the ocean is included.

"I am delighted that Sweden, through this strategy, also continues to highlight the importance of ocean issues," says Ms Lövin. "For many small island nations, climate change is an immediate existential threat."

There is a major need for adaptation to ongoing and future climate change, and it is particularly important to build resilience in the least developed countries, in small island nations and for the most vulnerable population groups.

Environmentally sustainable development and sustainable use of natural resources

This area concerns, among other things, sustainable management and sustainable use of land-based ecosystems, biodiversity and species, natural resources, including agriculture and forestry, and ecosystem services. It also covers an aspiration to achieve environmentally sustainable cities, sustainable production and consumption patterns, preventive control of chemicals, and ensure that more people who live in poverty gain access to sustainable renewable energy at an affordable cost.
Increased access to sustainable and modern energy services is key to poverty reduction. And it is necessary to transition to sustainable consumption and production of goods and services to reduce the negative impact on the climate, the environment and human health.

Sustainable ocean and water resources

This area concerns cleaner water and ocean, reduced emissions of pollutants and reduced littering. It also covers biodiversity and sustainable management and use of marine, coastal and freshwater ecosystems.

"Water is a fundamental prerequisite for all life on Earth, and therefore also a condition for human health and well-being. Marine-based industries therefore need to take economic, social and environmental sustainability as their starting point," says Ms Lövin.

Long-term sustainable water use, with functioning ecosystems and ecosystem services that can clean and buffer access to water, requires integrated and transparent water management both within and between countries. Cross-border cooperation on water can also contribute to preventing conflicts.

Sweden's development cooperation shall always be based on and characterised by a rights perspective and poor people's perspectives on development, and this also applies to this strategy. By contributing to the strategy's goals, activities can support low- and middle-income countries accession and implementing commitments under international environmental conventions and agreements. Increased knowledge, access to information, dialogue and participation that promotes equality and gender equality are cross-cutting themes that contribute to the development of global policy and methods, as well as capacity-building. Increased participation in decision-making processes, access to justice and transparency also promote environmentally sustainable development and contribute moreover to preventing conflicts.

Fact box – strategy for a sustainable environment, climate and ocean, and sustainable use of natural resources

  • The strategy has a total budget of SEK 6.5 billion.
  • The strategy applies for five years: 2018–2022.
  • The strategy is to be particularly based on a number of the Global Goals in the 2030 Agenda and, within the framework of activities, contribute to achieving these. The Global Goals in question are:

- Clean water and sanitation (Goal 6)
- Affordable and clean energy (Goal 7)
- Sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11)
- Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12)
- Climate action (Goal 13)
- Life below water (Goal 14)
- Life on land (Goal 15)

  • Synergies between the different areas of the strategy must be harnessed.
  • The strategy will be followed up according to the principles and processes stated in the Government guidelines for strategies in Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
  • Reporting is to be conducted with reference to how activities contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.