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Voluntary National Review 2021

Watch video of panel where the VNR was presented


Sweden’s Voluntary National Review 2021 builds on progress made on its implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda since 2017.

Sweden is well ahead in achieving the SDGs but some challenges remain

Sweden is in a favourable position in its implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Peaceful and democratic conditions, ambitious national targets for a sustainable transition, openness to collaboration with others at home and abroad, and a dynamic business climate have together created a strong foundation for sustainable development and welfare. Sweden ranks highly in many international comparisons on SDG implementation. However, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are hampering progress and exacerbating existing challenges. Economic and social inequalities in Sweden are increasing. Young people are exposed to more mental health challenges, violence and bullying. Sweden also has challenges relating to sustainable consumption and production, and the transition towards a circular economy.

SDG delivery and accelerated actions require:

- Political commitment to policy coherence for sustainable development

In December 2020, the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) approved a government bill with an overarching objective for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: Sweden will implement the 2030 Agenda to achieve economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development through a coherent policy nationally and internationally. Implementation will be guided by the Agenda’s ‘leave no one behind’ principle.

- Delivery on leaving no one behind

Sweden is committed to delivering on the principle of leaving no one behind. This is a commitment to realising human rights, gender equality, addressing inequalities within and between countries, universal social protection, strengthening empowerment and participation, and the transition towards resource-efficient, resilient and climate neutral economies. Moreover, Sweden views promoting multidimensional poverty reduction, social dialogue and decent work as critical elements, as well as improving data to monitor progress on compliance with the principle.

- Child and youth perspectives

The perspectives, engagement and innovation of young people are of great importance to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Issues of importance to Swedish young people include the environment and climate, gender equality and preventing oppression and discrimination.

- A whole-of-society approach

Multiple actors in Sweden are involved in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Government agencies and municipalities are working together to implement the 2030 Agenda. The research community is contributing with cutting-edge research and innovation on sustainable development. Civil society is paving the way through its own efforts and by pushing decision-makers to act. The business community is at the forefront of integrating the 2030 Agenda into their business models and driving new innovations. Trade unions are pushing for social dialogue and decent working conditions.

- Going local

Municipalities and regions play an important role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs are put in practice and innovations are developed and tested at the local level, which in turn contributes to implementation nationally and globally. In conjunction with Sweden’s VNR, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions has conducted a voluntary regional review. Helsingborg, Malmö, Stockholm and Uppsala have also carried out voluntary local reviews for the first time.

- Going global

Sweden will remain a strong voice for the global implementation of the 2030 Agenda and be a trusted partner worldwide. Sweden will work to build back better and greener in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mitigating and adapting to climate change, and halting biodiversity loss and restoring ecosystems, are necessary to achieve all SDGs. Sweden has increased funding to tackle climate change and has stepped up efforts to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems. Sweden will continue to focus on global health, including the fair distribution of vaccines. Sweden will always stand up for democracy, the rule of law and equality, including gender equality.

- Financing for development

Sweden is one of the most generous aid contributors globally and the Government is committed to allocating 1 percent of Sweden’s GNI to official development assistance (ODA). However, ODA is not enough. New forms of partnerships and innovative financing are needed, and domestic resource mobilisation must be strengthened. Debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries need to be addressed by engaging all official and private creditors. Financial flows need to shift by adopting green financial instruments and stopping investment in fossil fuels.

Voluntary National Review 2017
Leaving No One Behind

Leaving No One Behind - Long version from Swedish MFA on Vimeo.

Main messages

Sweden wants to be a leader in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda – both nationally and globally.

The 2030 Agenda involves a process of gradual transition and further development of the Swedish social model as a modern and sustainable welfare state. Everyone should be involved in this process; no one should be left behind! It is essential with broad ownership, among all actors in society. Ownership and participation that are developed and deepened over time. The shared commitment, building on knowledge and insight, from local to national level, creates the necessary foundation.

The effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda is demonstrated through decisions and measures in day-to-day activities and existing governance processes. Regular activities in the public sector – and in society as a whole – must be permeated by sustainable development as expressed in the 2030 Agenda.

The strenghtened cooperation between all actors that will be needed to implement the 2030 Agenda reinforces the core values and cohesion of Swedish society. This increases Sweden’s competitiveness as a knowledge and innovation nation and enables Sweden to contribute at global level.

The partnership-driven process in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda will be developed with innovative thinking in terms of strategic and operational governance. This is the key to strengthened institutional capacity and willingness to change, as well as effective mobilisation and use of resources, in the public and private sector as well as in the civil society.

Internationally, Sweden is working for increased cooperation and new partnerships between countries, business, the social partners, civil society organisations and the knowledge-based society in different parts of the world. Sweden’s focus and contributions target equitable and sustainable global development. The Government is pursuing an ambitious coherence policy that places the rights perspective and the perspective of poor people at the core. Solidarity is a cornerstone of this work. Engagement at local level is crucial. Gender equality and all women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of human rights is a prerequisite for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Sweden and in the world.

Strong starting position, but also challenges

Sweden has a favourable starting position for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Peaceful and democratic conditions have characterised the country for a long time and have enabled the development of a culture of collaboration between different actors in society – political, economic and social. Economic growth has been strong over time. It builds on a dynamic private sector with an international outlook. The social partners have been well organised and clearly focused on negotiations to find solutions. Through the democratic and political path, Sweden has been able to develop a welfare model with the ambition and the ability to guarantee all inhabitants access to health care, school and education, housing and employment.

Since the 1990s and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Sweden has been working actively on sustainability issues at local, national, and international level. Sweden’s first national sustainable development strategy was adopted by the Government and the Parliament in 2002. In the same year, a provision was added to the Swedish Constitution stating that sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations must be promoted by the State. At the end of 2003, the Parliament adopted a policy for equitable and sustainable global development – the Policy for Global Development – which stresses that coherence between different policy areas is needed to promote sustainable development. The Government pursues a feminist policy. Gender equality is core for setting priorities and decisions, both nationally and internationally.

In 2003, the Parliament decided on the Swedish objective for public health policy – to create social conditions for good health on equal terms for the entire population. In recent years, the Government has had a particular attention on antibiotic resistance. In 2010, the Government appointed the Cross-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives with a mandate until 2020, tasked with presenting proposals on how Sweden’s environmental quality objectives and the generational goal can be achieved. The generational goal means that the conditions for solving environmental problems are to be met within one generation and that environmental policy should be directed towards ensuring that. In recent years, migration policy and the refugee situation have been high on the agenda for Sweden, from a national and an international perspective, with purpose to facilitate well-functioning migration.

A systematic follow-up is an important and integral part of Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals. The government authority Statistics Sweden has drawn up a report providing the preliminary assessment of how Sweden is living up to the various goals and targets. In several areas, Sweden is doing well by international standards – for example in terms of the poverty and hunger goals, and the goals on education, health, water and infrastructure. As regards the climate goal, Sweden’s emissions of greenhouse gases were reduced by 25 per cent between 1990 and 2015.

There are several challenges that Sweden faces in ensuring that the goals and targets can be achieved. Not least, it is important to find methods to quickly and effectively contribute to sustainable energy and climate resilient pathways both in Sweden and in other parts of the world, and achieve the targets for sustainable seas and marine resources. Sweden faces major challenges regarding the goal of achieving sustainable consumption and production in Sweden and abroad. At home, Sweden also faces a number of challenges related to inequalities: to reduce income gaps (including between women and men for the same work), increase the disposable incomes of certain vulnerable groups and achieve health equality and equal opportunities for learning. People with disabilities, refugees and other migrants and some older and young people have a harder time establishing themselves on the labour market. There are still a number of challenges in Sweden in achieving gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls.

Institutions and governance

Extensive work is under way in Sweden that contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The knowledge and commitment of the population is of fundamental importance. The Parliament has examined and decided on several of the Government’s Communications and Bills that have a particular bearing on the 2030 Agenda. All ministries have produced action plans that provided a basis for the Government Communication from 2016 on the Policy for Global Development linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, and have reported on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The reports show that all of the sustainable development goals are reflected in the activities of the ministries.

In March 2016, the Government appointed a committee tasked with supporting work on Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda nationally and internationally. The committee presented on 1 June 2017 a proposal for an action plan for the 2030 Agenda. The proposal, which will be considered by the Government in 2017, will serve as a basis for establishing a national action plan for the Agenda. The Committe is also conducting a broad dialogue on sustainable development with government agencies, county councils and municipalities, the social partners, the business sector, civil society and the research community.

The important process of making the 2030 Agenda an integral part of the Government Offices’ regular activities has begun. It will be a crucial task for the Government Offices to ensure that future annual budget processes integrates the 2030 Agenda.

Partnership at all levels

At the core of the Swedish social model is a long tradition of cooperation and collaboration, both nationally and internationally, which is essential for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, a number of multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships with bearing on the Agenda were created.

The Policy for Global Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development are key instruments for the fulfillment of the Agenda 2030. Sweden’s international development assistance, with its goal of 1 per cent of GNI, is an important means of implementation.
Focal point
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Department Global Agenda
Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Sweden* is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

The best opportunity to slow the rate of near-term warming globally and in sensitive regions such as the Arctic is by cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – most notably methane, black carbon and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Widespread reductions, which complement the need for aggressive global action on carbon dioxide, contribute significantly to the goal of limiting warming to less than two degrees. Reducing SLCPs can also advance national priorities such as protecting air quality and public health, promoting food security, enhancing energy efficiency, and allevi...[more]

111 Partners, 50 State and REIO, 16 IGO and 45 NGO partners (as of April 2016). Full list:
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Connecting and Protecting Our Seas: Initiatives in the Baltic and the Mediterranean

Sweden and Monaco share a deep commitment to the preservation of our oceans a well as a clear intention to support the implementation of sustainable development goal number 14 of the Agenda 2030 - SDG14. The two countries also have a strong will to engage government agencies, academia, companies and civil societies in these efforts as a broad approach has proven to be key to success. By organizing a follow-up event to The Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017, Sweden and Monaco wish to join forces in moving from words to deeds in facilitating the exchange of experiences and know-how in d...[more]

The governments of Sweden and Monaco , The Prince Albert II Foundation, The Stockholm Resilience Centre, University of Stockholm, Race for the Baltic, Centre Scientifique de Monaco, WHO Collaborating Centre for Health and Sustainable Development, Monaco
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
IHO Hydrography Capacity Building Programme for Coastal States

The IHO capacity building programme seeks to assess and advise on how countries can best meet their international obligations and serve their own best interests by providing appropriate hydrographic and nautical charting services. Such services directly support safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, efficient sea transportation and the wider use of the seas and oceans in a sustainable way, including the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, fishing, marine resource exploration and exploitation, maritime boundary delimitation, maritime defence and security, and o...[more]

International Hydrographic Organization (IGO); 87 IHO Member States (Governments); International Maritime Organization (UN); World Meteorological Organization (UN); International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (NGO)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals

Societal Innovation enabling Sustainable Development and a cross-sector eco-system transitioning to a Circular Economy. A modular scaleable platform supporting and connecting a network of ‘smart circular regions’ supporting the technical infrastructure to facilitate efficient community resource management. Supporting resource categories that include secondary material markets, transparent food systems, physical asset management, product-service network. Promoting the circular economy to enable regenerative communities and a wellbeing economy. Supporting Cities & Regions, organisations...[more]

Locals.Global, SmartUse AS, myTurn pbc., Circular Oslo, Nesoddliv, Impact Playground, Brox Consulting, ELVA Hållbart
Sustainable Development Goals
PCSD Partnership – A multi-stakeholder Partnership for Enhancing Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development

The initiative aims to: Provide a forum for exchange of knowledge and expertise among governments, international organisations, civil society, think-tanks, the private sector, and other stakeholders on the policy implications of SDG implementation. Help governments and stakeholders to strengthen their capacities for analysing policy coherence challenges, and adapting institutional mechanisms, policy-making processes, and policy coherence monitoring and reporting systems to the needs and vision of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; and Support national efforts for reporting progress on SDG Target 17...[more]

Government of Sweden; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - Policy Coherence for Development Unit (OECD-PCD Unit); Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI); Center for Global Development (CGD); The OECD Informal Network of National Focal Points for Policy Coherence for Development; LEAD Pakistan; Lady Lawyer Foundation; The American University of Nigeria; The Work Fou...[more]
Sustainable Development Goals
Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development

The Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development initiative seeks to identify and support new and sustainable approaches to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy solutions for increasing agriculture productivity and/or value in developing countries.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Duke Energy, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
The Learning and Knowledge Development Facility (LKDF)

The Learning and Knowledge Development Facility (LKDF) is a platform that promotes industrial skills development among young people in emerging economies. Working with the private sector through Public Private Development Partnerships, the LKDF supports the establishment and upgrading of local industrial training academies to help meet the labour market’s increasing demand for skilled employees, ultimately contributing to inclusive and sustainable industrial development. The long-term success of local industrial academies that partner with the LKDF is ensured through constant monitoring of e...[more]

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Komatsu, Festo, Scania, The Volvo Group, Aikagroup, Government of Finland, Government of Japan, Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA-KRG), Ministry of National Education and Vocational Train...[more]
Sustainable Development Goals
18 Jul 2017
22 Jun 2012
12 May 2011
12 May 2011
6 May 2010
6 May 2010
4 May 2010
15 May 2008
14 May 2008
9 May 2008
9 May 2007
2 May 2007
11 May 2006
5 May 2006
3 May 2006
3 May 2006
3 May 2006
3 May 2006
21 Apr 2005
20 Apr 2005
20 Apr 2005
21 Apr 2004
3 Sep 2002
United Nations