Donor Profile


Last updated: May 7, 2024


ODA Spending

How much ODA does Sweden allocate?

Sweden is the 2nd largest donor relative to its economy. Sweden’s commitment to development cooperation remains one of the strongest in the world, ranking 1st in the Center for Global Development’s 2023 Commitment to Development Index.

How is Swedish ODA changing?

Sweden has a long history of providing development assistance and, since 1975, the country has exceeded the UN target of 0.7% of GNI for ODA. However, in September 2022, Sweden's new right-wing government announced that it was ending the country's commitment to spend at least 1% of its GNI on ODA. Instead, the government aims to decouple Swedish ODA from a specific funding target and set it at a fixed amount for three years (2023-2026) to make spending more predictable.

The government’s 2024 budget set the ODA budget at SEK56 billion, or US$6.1 billion, annually in 2024-2026, which represents 0.88% of projected GNI.

The 2024 budget set an 8% cap for the use of Sweden’s development budget to cover IDRCs.


The budget also highlights that Swedish ODA will be redirected from multilateral organizations to civil society. In addition to increased support to Ukraine, Sweden’s humanitarian assistance will increase. Priorities for Swedish ODA in 2024 include:

  • Promoting Agenda 2030;
  • Poverty reduction and health initiatives for the most vulnerable;
  • Support for human rights defenders and champions of democracy;
  • Expanded and streamlined climate assistance; and
  • Women’s and girls’ rights and opportunities, including improved SRHR.

Where is Swedish ODA allocated?

Sweden has traditionally been a strong supporter of multilateral systems, although this support, especially for the UN system, has been declining. Sweden's right-wing government has announced that it plans to redirect funding from multilateral organizations to CSOs.

Support for multilateral organizations is composed of earmarked funding through multilaterals for specific sectors or regions as well as core funding to multilaterals.

Between 2014-2022, the cost of hosting refugees in Sweden accounted for a large share of the country’s reported ODA, peaking at US$2.7 billion in 2015, or 34% of ODA, before gradually dropping to a decade low of US$88 million in 2021, or 2% of total ODA. The cost of hosting refugees rose again in 2022 to the highest level since 2018, reaching US$426 million.

Bilateral Spending

Sweden channels a third of its bilateral ODA through CSOs, well above the DAC average of 11%. The government recognizes CSOs’ key role in reducing poverty, strengthening democratic development and supporting human rights.

Virtually all of Sweden’s ODA, or 97% in 2022, consists of grants. The remaining 3% (US$132 million) is made up of capital subscriptions, or equity investments, by the MFA into Swedfund, Sweden’s state-owned development finance institution.

More than half of the funding in the area 'government and civil society', which received the largest share of bilateral ODA in 2022, goes to projects supporting democratic participation or human rights. These areas remain salient for Sweden, especially following multiples instances of democratic backsliding, aggravated by the pandemic.

Accounting for 16% of bilateral funding, humanitarian assistance was the 2nd largest spending area of Sweden’s bilateral ODA in 2022. Humanitarian assistance remains a growing funding area for Sweden, with a particular focus on conflict-affected areas.

The 2016 Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance states that bilateral funding must be focused on the lowest-income and most vulnerable countries. This policy is backed by funding data: 31% of Sweden’s bilateral ODA was allocated to LICs in 2021. Sweden has recognized that an increasing proportion of global poverty is found in MICs, but the government is likely to continue to strengthen its focus on fragile states.


Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Sweden has traditionally been a strong supporter of the UN, with 40% of core contributions to multilaterals in 2022 having gone to the UN. Sweden supports UN reform efforts and pushes its ‘women, peace and security’ agenda. Its priorities in the UN include conflict prevention, peacebuilding, gender equality, global development, climate, and human rights. Despite this longstanding support, Sweden’s right-wing government has signaled it intends to redirect funding from multilateral organization to CSOs.

Funding to multilateral organizations is disbursed in line with the January 2018 Strategy for multilateral development policy, which defines the orientation of Sweden’s multilateral engagement and provides guidelines to the three main stakeholders for this area: the MFA, Sida, and Swedish embassies.

Recent commitments to multilateral organizations are summarized below.

Politics and Priorities

What is the current state of Swedish politics?

Sweden is a parliamentary democracy. At the national level, the people are represented by the Riksdag, which has legislative power. The government implements the Riksdag's decisions and draws up proposals for new laws or amendments. There are general elections every four years. The three dominant political parties are the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the Moderate Party, and the Sweden Democrats.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of the Moderate Party took office in November 2022. Kristersson leads a right-wing coalition government encompassing the Liberal and Christian Democratic Parties, supported by the right-wing, anti-immigrant Sweden Democratic Party in parliament.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström (Moderate Party) presented Sweden's Statement of Foreign Policy, which summarizes the government’s ODA priorities, to parliament on February 14, 2024. Ukraine will remain a Swedish foreign and development policy priority. In 2024, the country is expected to become the largest recipient of Swedish bilateral development assistance.

In 2023, the Swedish government unveiled its new strategic framework for the country's development assistance, titled Development assistance for a new era - freedom, empowerment and sustainable growth. The reform agenda is set to recalibrate Sweden's approach to international ODA, infusing it with a focus on sustainability, transparency, and efficacy.

Sweden also aims to use ODA as a lever to strengthen countries’ democracy and participation in the international economy. Sweden has an ambition to make ODA more focused, relevant, effective, and transparent. Objectives will be set in terms of quality and results.

In addition to support for Ukraine, ODA will prioritize poverty reduction and health initiatives for the most vulnerable, humanitarian support, democracy and human rights, enhanced climate action, and initiatives for the rights and opportunities of women and girls.

Who is responsible for allocating Swedish ODA?

What are Sweden's development priorities?

The government’s 2016 ‘Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance’ outlines the overall objectives of Swedish development cooperation and sets eight focus areas:

  • Human rights, democracy, and the rule of law;
  • Gender equality;
  • The environment and climate change, and the sustainable use of natural resources;
  • Peace and security;
  • Inclusive economic development; 
  • Migration and development; 
  • Health equity; and 
  • Education and research.

In 2024, Sweden launched a five-year strategy for enhancing development cooperation, centered on cooperation in the areas of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The strategy has a budget of SEK900 million (US$86 million) in 2024.

Conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance are also seen as key priorities. Conflict prevention focuses on women, peace, and security, including training and integration of women in peace negotiation processes. Sweden’s humanitarian assistance is needs-based and presented separately from development focus areas in the 2016 Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, but there is a focus on strengthening cooperation and increasing synergies between humanitarian initiatives and long-term development cooperation.

Given the new government’s particular focus on immigration, development assistance policy will focus on counteracting irregular migration, increasing repatriation, and effectively contributing to voluntary returns. Development assistance will also encompass effective measures to reduce the root causes of migration.

Synergies will be strengthened between Sweden’s global trade, export promotion and ODA policies. Sweden has therefore named a single minister responsible for development assistance and foreign trade. The incoming minister for development assistance and foreign trade has also been given special responsibility for Sweden’s support to the reconstruction of Ukraine.

In an interview on June 6, 2023, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell stated the government's ambition to bring increase private sector involvement in development policy. Forssell emphasized the need for a modern approach to development, where trade and assistance are seen as two sides of the same coin.

By Issue

Gender Equality: Sweden, a longstanding champion of gender equality, was the first country to implement an explicitly feminist foreign policy in 2014. The country’s right-wing government has announced it will not continue implementing this policy because, according to the new minister of foreign affairs, “the label obscures the fact the Swedish foreign policy must be based on Swedish values and Swedish interests.” Gender equality is nonetheless expected to remain a development priority.

Read more about Sweden’s ODA to Gender Equality

Climate: Sweden is also committed to environmental protection and resilience, and disaster risk reduction, with a special emphasis on marine resources. This focus is demonstrated at the multilateral level; Sweden is the largest per-capita donor to both the GEF and GCF. Sweden committed SEK2 billion ( US$217 million) to GEF for 2018-2022, a 50% increase in SEK compared to 2014-2018, and almost doubled its contribution to GCF to reach SEK8 billion ( US$869 million) for 2020-2023. In October 2021, the Swedish government announced plans to double its climate development assistance budget to SEK15 billion ( US$1.8 billion) by 2025, compared with 2019 levels.

Read more about Sweden’s ODA related to Climate Change 


Global health, agriculture, and education are key development focus areas for Sweden, but are not prioritized within policy.


Explore the deep dive on Sweden’s ODA for Global Health  

Explore the deep dive on Sweden’s ODA for Agriculture 

Explore the deep dive on Sweden’s ODA for Education

By Region

SSA: In March 2022, Sweden adopted a new Regional strategy for development cooperation with Africa, which will focus on strengthening regional cooperation and integration in environment and climate, democracy and human rights, migration and development, economic integration, and peaceful and inclusive societies. The new strategy covers SEK4.7 billion ( US$464 million in 2022 prices) in total for the period 2022-2026.


What are the sources of Sweden's ODA budget?

Sida traditionally allocates the largest share of Sweden's ODA budget. It administers and executes development policy implementation in cooperation with CSOs, embassies, and other government agencies.

The agency also provides increasing amounts of public guarantees, including for climate, environment, and agriculture. In Sweden's 2023-2024 budget, Sida was set to manage 47.1% of the ODA budget. The MFA, which oversees development policy and financing and decides on core funding to multilateral organizations, managed a significant portion at 33.7%. Other agencies, including the Nordic Africa Institute, Folke Bernadotte Academy, and the Swedish National Audit Office, managed the remaining 19.2%. This funding envelope covers asylum seeker costs (capped at 8% by the 2024 budget), EU contributions, and ODA evaluation.

Sweden’s right-wing government’s 2023-2024 budget introduced a new framework with a fixed ODA amount (SEK56 billion, or US$5.5 billion, annually) set for three years (2023-2025), which represents 0.88% of projected GNI. The government also outlined that ODA will be redirected from multilateral organizations to civil society. Sweden aims to increase conditionality in its support for multilateral organizations with a clearer focus on results, good and effective governance, sustainability, and zero tolerance for corruption. ODA channeled via multilaterals will be more aligned with the government’s strategic priorities, focusing on humanitarian assistance, support for refugees, and children’s rights.

How does Sweden determine its budget?

The Swedish budget process runs over a two-year period. It starts in the year that precedes its implementation and continues during the current fiscal year; the ongoing budget can be amended in spring and autumn.

The Spring Amending Budget Bill may be used to divert or reallocate funds originally allotted for the current year. The ongoing budget can also be amended in September when the government presents its budget bill to Parliament for the next year.

The Donor Tracker team, along with many DAC donor countries, no longer uses the term "foreign aid". In the modern world, "foreign aid" is monodirectional and insufficient to describe the complex nature of global development work, which, when done right, involves the establishment of profound economic and cultural ties between partners.

We strongly prefer the term Official Development Assistance (ODA) and utilize specific terms such as grant funding, loans, private sector investment, etc., which provide a clearer picture of what is concretely occurring. “Foreign aid” will be referenced for accuracy when referring to specific policies that use the term. Read more in this Donor Tracker Insight.

Our Sweden Experts

Lauren Ashmore

Lauren Ashmore