Global environmental cooperation
Sweden is a driving force in various international environmental processes in the UN and the OECD, for example, as well as in various international environmental conventions. Global cooperation is a pre-condition for sustainable development. To a great extent, environmental problems are transboundary problems and therefore require cooperation between states at regional and global level. For example, some of Sweden's environmental quality objectives can only be achieved through international cooperation.
Since the poorest people are affected worst by environmental degradation, Sweden adopts a global development perspective in its environmental work. It is very important to create better conditions for the poorest people within the framework of the Swedish policy for fair and sustainable development. Sweden is also working to enable the poorest countries to participate in various ways in multilateral development cooperation.
In the early 1970s Sweden took the initiative of placing environmental issues on the UN agenda. The Stockholm Conference in 1972 was the first major global environmental meeting held by the UN. UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, was formed after the Stockholm Conference. Sweden, which was one of the initiators of the body, works to strengthen UNEP and increase its influence and role as the leading environmental body. UNEP's work includes promoting international environmental cooperation, monitoring the world environment situation and coordinating environmental work in the UN. Sweden has long been one of the main funders of UNEP.
Twenty years after the Stockholm Conference, the UN Conference on Environment and Development was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Rio Summit, as it is known, adopted Agenda 21 - an action programme for the 21st century. The Summit also gave international recognition to the principle that all development has to be sustainable, which means that economic, social and environmental factors have to be taken into account in decision-making. Sweden has been active in following up and further developing the decisions taken. For example, all Swedish municipalities have adopted a local Agenda 21.
Sweden was also one of the leading member countries in work to prepare the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The follow-up work from this Conference is being handled by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), in a two-year work cycle. The CSD work programme has been settled until 2017.
At present, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has thirty member countries in the rich part of the world. Sweden takes part in its environment minister meetings, which take place every 3-5 years; participates in the work of the Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) and various working parties, including the working party for national environmental policies; and also follows how environmental issues are handled in the overall OECD work programme. The OECD is an important platform for dialogue with countries such as the United States and Japan. This applies to common lines of action in matters like sustainable consumption and production patterns, chemicals, the reduction of environmentally harmful subsidies and the drafting of investment guidelines.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
The GEF is an important source of support for developing countries participating in activities concerning the environmental conventions. It is the main source of funds for work under the environmental conventions, and in the period 2007-2010 Sweden is contributing SEK 850 million to the Facility. The Ministry of the Environment has an important role concerning the governance of priorities in and between work on various environmental conventions.
The global environmental conventions play a central role in international environmental governance. Sweden attaches high priority to the global conventions on biological diversity, the climate and chemicals.