Sweden - Climate


'Environment and climate change' is a focus area in Sweden's development cooperation policy

In 2020, Sweden committed US$259 million of its bilateral allocable ODA to projects which targeted action against climate change as a principal or significant objective, making it the 15th-largest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to the issue, in absolute terms. In relative terms, Sweden was the 18th-largest DAC donor to climate-related issues in 2020, having committed only 17% of its bilateral allocable ODA to climate change-related projects (down from 33% in 2019). 

Climate-related commitments have been on the decline since 2019, dropping to US$723 million from US$1.4 billion in 2018, before declining further in 2020. This trend stands in direct contrast to the Swedish government’s commitment to double its climate development assistance budget to SEK15 billion (US$1.6 billion; in 2020 prices) by 2025, compared to 2019 levels. 

Climate finance: funding for projects tagged in the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database with the Rio markers for climate change mitigation and/or climate change adaptation. Projects can be tagged with either or both markers.

Each marker has three possible scores:

  1. principal, for projects in which climate change mitigation or adaptation is a fundamental and explicitly stated goal,
  2. significant, for projects in which climate change mitigation or adaptation is not a key driver but still an explicitly stated goal, or
  3. not targeted, meaning the project does not address climate change mitigation or adaptation.

Not all projects are screened against the Rio markers; this funding falls into the ‘not screened’ category.


The ‘2019 OECD DAC peer review’ commended Sweden’s international leadership on environmental sustainability and climate change, highlighting its work in assisting countries in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and its adoption of an ambitious national target (net-zero emission by 2045). Following the inclusion of environmental and climate indicators in the upgraded version of the UN’s ‘Human Development Index Report,’ Sweden moved up one place to the sixth position; it ranked seventh in the traditional index. Within Sweden’s 2016 ‘Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance,’ ‘the environment and climate change, and the sustainable use of natural resources’ is one of eight focus areas for Sweden's development cooperation.  

Sweden’s ‘strategy for global development cooperation in the areas of environmental sustainability, sustainable climate, and oceans, and sustainable use of natural resources’ covers 2018-2022 and highlights three main goals: 

  1. Climate-resilient sustainable development (including preventing climate change and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, reducing vulnerability, and increasing resilience to climate change and natural disasters, and supporting sustainable energy systems based on renewable energy); 
  2. Environmentally sustainable development and sustainable use of natural resources (including supporting land-based ecosystems biodiversity and species, increasing access to sustainable and affordable renewable energy, improving the sustainability of cities, improving access to basic services and housing in urban areas, and supporting sustainable production and consumption patterns); and 
  3. Sustainable oceans and water resources (including protecting and restoring marine, coastal and freshwater ecosystems, biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystem services, and working towards cleaner water and oceans).  

The strategy is backed by a funding envelope of SEK6.5 billion (US$706 million).  

Funding is slightly skewed toward climate change adaptation over mitigation 

In 2020, 83% (or US$216 million) of Sweden’s total climate-related ODA went to projects supporting climate change adaptation, while interventions aimed at climate change mitigation accounted for 79% (or US$203 million) of climate-related funding. As apparent from the relative size of these percentages, there is also significant overlap between the two markers. This is because a project can target both adaptation and mitigation. US$161 million (or 62% of total climate-related funding) went to projects tagged with both markers. (For more information on the markers, see box). 

Focus on climate adaptation is reflected in Sweden’s ‘Strategy for Development Cooperation in Sustainable Environment, Climate and Marine Resources, and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources’, in which the government highlights the opportunities for synergies between climate adaptation, sustainable use of natural resources, and disaster risk reduction.  

The emphasis on the overlap between climate adaptation and the use of natural resources drives Sweden’s investment in climate-smart agriculture, including forestry and fishing: agriculture received the third-largest share (13%) of climate-related spending in 2020, just behind environmental protection (39%) and other multisector (14%). By comparison, agriculture is the sixth-largest sector of Sweden’s overall bilateral funding (including ODA not related to climate objectives).  

According to OECD data, in 2020, 9% of Sweden’s bilateral allocable ODA targeted climate change as a principal goal—in line with the DAC average of 9%. 8% of funding was spent on projects with a significant climate change component (DAC average: 14%). The remaining 83% of Sweden’s bilateral allocable ODA did not target climate change or was not screened against the Rio markers in 2020 (DAC average: 77%).  

Sweden closely collaborates with and supports climate funds; it is the largest donor per capita to both GEF and GCF 

In line with its overall ODA policy, Sweden works closely with multilateral organizations, to which it contributes significant amounts of funding, though not all these funds are counted as ODA. It includes contributions to the following multilaterals: 

  • Global Environment Facility (GEF): Sweden is a strong supporter of the GEF and its largest contributor per capita. In the seventh replenishment of the GEF, Sweden pledged SEK2.0 billion (around US$217 million) to the organization for 2018-2022—more than a 50% increase over its previous 2014-2018 pledge.  
  • Green Climate Fund (GCF): Sweden is also the largest donor per capita to the GCF and announced a doubling of its contributions to the organization in September of 2019; its pledges for the 2020-2023 period total SEK8.0 billion (US$869 million). 
  • Adaptation Fund (AF) and Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF): On the same occasion, the Swedish government announced SEK520 million (US$56 million) for the AF, a fund that focuses on climate adaptation and resilience, and SEK520 million (US$56 million) for the LDCF, a fund established in 2001 to support the LDC work program under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and operated by the GEF. 
  • Climate Investments Funds (CIF): Sweden is one of 14 donors to the World Bank’s CIF. In December 2020, it pledged a total of SEK300 million (US$33 million) for the 2020-2022 period to help low-income countries and their industries develop roadmaps and climate strategies.  

The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs share responsibility for international climate cooperation 

At a ministerial level, the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the government’s environmental and climate policy. It focuses primarily on domestic policies (biological diversity, chemicals, nature, and forest conservation), although its portfolio also includes international climate cooperation. Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the most relevant department for climate policy is the Global Agenda Department, responsible for coherence in the Ministry's work on climate issues (including in the United Nations and the European Union), governance, and evaluation of Sweden's development cooperation around the environment and climate, and security and development policy aspects of energy issues. It is also in charge of the governance and evaluation of funding via multilateral climate funds. While the government decides on strategies, Sweden’s development agency, Sida, has a strong mandate to integrate these objectives into its regional, country, and thematic strategies, and to implement them. Under the Ministry of Environment, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency carries out international cooperation with select countries and organizations.  

Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on commitment. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.