Two and a half years into the adoption of the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the focus clearly has shifted from theorization to implementation in Sweden. Ranking first on SDSN’s SDG Index, the country has demonstrated its determination to tackle the challenges relating to SDG achievement, and at the current state is roughly 15 percent away from achieving the Goals (see SDSN’s SDG Index).

The public evening event, hosted by the Stockholm School of Economics, Sida, SDSN, Global Utmaning, and SDSN Northern Europe on May 15, 2018, took place in the gracious presence of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, an SDG Advocate.

Keynote speaker Prof. Jeffrey Sachs highlighting Sweden’s forefront role on the SDG Index. Photographer: Juliana Wiklund

During this event, keynote speaker Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN, highlighted the link between a high tax-to-GDP ratio to both relatively high results on the SDG Index and the World Happiness Report. He stressed the key role of Nordic countries and especially Sweden in making the SDGs a reality, acknowledging that their current strong leading position will help other countries identify best practices on the path towards Agenda 2030.

“Sustainable development can comfortably be achieved. Sweden, continue your leadership for the SDGs and keep inspiring the rest of the world.”
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs

Sweden´s scorecard on the SDG Index.

In the following discussion, renowned panelists from politics, academia, and civil society, highlighted their view on the sustainable transformation underway and concrete examples from Sweden were shared. Carin Jämtin, Director-General of Sida, stressed the fact that Official Development Assistance is a necessary, but insufficient means of achieving the Goals, and that the Swedish and international business community will have to adhere to a whole new set of standards that makes the SDGs not an added, but an integral part of their strategy moving forward.

Discussing remaining challenges: Moderator Alexander Crawford with Carin Jämtin, Marie Dahllöf, Johan Rockström, Mette Morsing and Jeffrey Sachs. Photographer: Juliana Wiklund

Marie Dahllöf, Secretary General of the Postcode Foundation, reminded the audience of the foundation being the third largest private funder to sustainable development in the world. Their funding supports projects that promote positive social development or seek long-term solutions to global challenges and therefore open a valuable opportunity for civil society projects to receive funding and making a change. The concrete examples given embrace the broad topics of culture, nature and environment, people, and sports. She also emphasized the critical task of spreading the message widely across all levels of society.

Mette Morsing, Professor at Stockholm School of Economics, pointed towards the importance of sustainable finance in the process towards SDG achievement and explained the basic but crucial steps in making the Agenda 2030 an integral part of university curricula including the financial study tracks. The Stockholm School of Economics aligns research projects, education, and outreach activities in terms of their connection to the SDGs and thereby carries their message across the various academic fields.

Despite Sweden’s very good track record regarding the SDGs, especially those with a strong social component, Johan Rockström, member of the Swedish Delegation for the Agenda 2030 and Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, pointed towards the most pressing areas of improvement: SDGs 13, 14, and 15. “As a global pioneer in the sustainable development agenda, Sweden does have the responsibility to committedly solve these issues on a national level in order to lead by example,” Prof. Rockström noted.

Marie Dahllöf, Alexander Crawford, Jeffrey Sachs, HRH Crown Princess Victoria, Mette Morsing, Guido Schmidt-Traub, and Carin Jämtin. Photographer: Juliana Wiklund