Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development

Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development consists of 17 global goals for a better world. It is a plan of action for a sustainable future for mankind and our planet. Sweden’s environment objectives address the challenges that exist at the national level, specifically with respect to environmental sustainability.

This is Agenda 2030

In September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution containing 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a better world: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The goals were specified in more detail in 169 targets and 231 global indicators. It is not possible to achieve lasting sustainability without addressing the three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. No goal can be achieved at the expense of another one – and success is required in all areas for the goals to be reached.

Swedens environmental objectives to reach the Global Goals

Sweden’s environmental objectives were established by the Riksdag (Swedish parliament) and therefore carry weight in the context of national initiatives. Sweden’s environmental objectives system is an established system that has involved systematic monitoring for many years. The environmental objectives are more precise in terms of the environmental quality required for a good environment than the goals in Agenda 2030. This level of detail is needed in order to monitor environmental progress and, in doing so, to understand which measures to prioritise. Agenda 2030 bolsters environmental initiatives and creates opportunities to think innovatively and work in new constellations based on the three dimensions in Agenda 2030.

We need national and global transformation

To reach the Global Goals and the national environmental objectives, transformation is needed in society – both nationally and globally. This requires a transition towards sustainable consumption and production processes to limit climate change and to preserve the functions of ecosystems so that we and future generations can utilise their services.

The implementation of Agenda 2030 requires global solidarity to ensure that no country or group is left outside the development process. Agenda 2030 thus emphasises the responsibility of nations to help reduce environmental problems in other countries.

Monitoring implementation of the Global Goals

Monitoring the implementation of Agenda 2030 is carried out under the auspices of the UN and progress is reported on annually during the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Each country can produce its own supplementary indicators to better reflect the national context and challenges. They also have the option to produce a Voluntary National Review to present at the HLPF. The Swedish Government presented its first Voluntary National Review at the 2017 HLPF. The review shows that while Sweden had a favourable starting point, it faces some significant challenges.

Statistics Sweden (SCB) has been tasked with coordinating statistical monitoring to determine how Sweden is living up to the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets in Agenda 2030. In autumn 2019 SCB issued its first statistical status report on Agenda 2030 implementation in Sweden. The report is based on global indicators and an additional 50 or so nationally adapted indicators.

How the Swedish EPA is contributing to the Global Goals

Sweden’s environmental objectives and its outdoor recreation objectives form the basis for the work that the Swedish EPA does.

The environmental objectives address the environmental dimension in Agenda 2030 and the outdoor recreation objectives relate to the environmental, social and economic dimensions. The Swedish EPA is involved in cooperation nationally, within the EU and globally. The Agency works in cooperation with other government agencies, municipalities, the private sector and organisations on reaching the environmental objectives and the SDGs.

In an in-depth evaluation of the environmental objectives submitted to the Government in 2019 we describe a number of proposed measures to reach the objectives, many of which were produced in cooperation with other agencies. In this evaluation we conclude that it is presumably not possible to reach the environmental objectives unless the public sector endeavours to reach both the economic and social dimensions in the SDGs.

The Director General of the Swedish EPA and the DGs of around 80 other government agencies are working together to implement Agenda 2030 in Sweden within the framework of the DG Forum. In a joint letter of intent, the DGs have expressed their intention to contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2030 by integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development into their activities based on their respective core missions. Since the beginning of 2020, the Public Health Agency of Sweden has had responsibility for coordinating the DG Forum’s activities.