Swedish national statement for High-level Political Forum 2020, delivered by State Secretary for the Environment, Eva Svedling
Stockholm, 14 July 2020.
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Excellencies, ministers, colleagues, friends,
The outbreak of COVID-19 reminds us of the importance of a strong multilateral system to tackle cross-border and global challenges.
We need to build back better to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Today’s challenges are multifaceted and require a holistic response. The Government recently presented a bill to the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) to accelerate action and delivery on the SDGs. We have set an overarching goal to achieve the 2030 Agenda with an emphasis on policy coherence for sustainable development, spanning across different policy areas. We are weaving the SDGs into our national fabric.
I’m convinced that if we all nurture the SDGs by working together and integrating them into our recovery, we will build stronger, more resilient societies that will stand steady beyond 2030.
This pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on people in vulnerable situations. Delivering on the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ is crucial to reaching the goals for everyone, everywhere.
We need not only to combat growing inequalities and a lack of gender equality, but also to target actions towards those living in poverty, marginalisation and exclusion.
While Sweden has favourable conditions for sustainable development, we also face multiple challenges. Inequalities and gender gaps are growing. Socioeconomically disadvantaged areas in Sweden are worse hit by COVID-19. We need to work harder towards equity in health care, equal access to lifelong learning and sustainable economic growth.
Sweden has a long history of a universal welfare system that has been key in building an open, inclusive and more gender-equal society. Social protection is a human right and universal policies, including floors, are key to upholding the principle of leaving no one behind.
Globally, we continue to show leadership for sustainable and inclusive growth, reduced inequalities and promotion of social dialogue together with the ILO, the OECD and a core group of countries, companies, employers’ organisations and trade unions in the Global Deal partnership.
As we enter the Decade of Action, we need to focus more on the conditions and opportunities of future generations.
The proportion of young people in the world is the largest in history. Children and young people deserve equal access to services and opportunities. A special focus needs to be placed on girls. Young people must be recognised as agents of change and meaningful partners in decision-making.
The message from our young people on climate change is clear. We need to act, and we need to listen. Recovering after the COVID-19 crisis should speed up a green transition towards carbon neutrality and resilience. Sweden aims to become the world’s first fossil-free welfare state, reaching net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest.
Mitigating and adapting to climate change, ensuring more efficient and circular use of resources, and safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem services will be vital to improving resilience and safeguarding the future of both people and the planet.
In 2022, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first UN Conference on the Human Environment, which was held in Stockholm. We believe it is our responsibility to use every possible milestone opportunity to act, to accelerate a transformation that leaves no one behind and to ensure a healthy planet for all. This is what we hope to achieve in Stockholm in 2022 with a high-level global meeting, and we look forward to working with all of you on this.
Leaving no one behind requires the full realisation of human rights, gender equality and access to participation for those who are frequently left out of the conversation, including women and girls, people with disabilities, LGBTI people, minorities and newly arrived immigrants.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the pushback of sexual and reproductive health and rights and exposed more women to domestic violence and sexual exploitation. Sweden has a feminist government and we believe in prioritising gender equality and women’s and girls’ enjoyment of all their human rights at this crucial period.
The response to COVID-19 should not compromise the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and gender equality. Sweden’s Drive for Democracy provides support to democracy’s institutions, processes and defenders.
My hope is that this year’s High-level Political Forum will enable us to learn valuable lessons from coming together through technology and innovation. It is time for delivery on the SDGs. For this we need leaders, doers, who are prepared to step up and come together to build back better and leave no one behind.