Capital of Sweden, Stockholm, captured at sunset

Sweden leads sustainable development despite Covid-19

Sweden and other Scandinavian countries are leading the world in terms of working towards a more sustainable future, according to the latest UN-published Sustainable Development Report.

Though Sweden led in terms of its sustainable development goals (SDGs), Denmark was only a few points behind in second place followed by Finland. Norway placed 6th.

The unfortunate impact of Covid-19, in terms of the economy and subsequent negative impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people, dominated the report.

There has been a significant setback in terms of SDGs as a result of Covid-19.

Negative impacts included the slowdown in economic growth and a subsequent reduction in oil prices that may reduce incentives for renewables. There was also an increase in plastic pollution; for example, that used to produce personal protective equipment.

One bright spot was the reduction in negative environmental impacts resulting from the subsequent decline in economic activity, attributed to the pandemic.

The shut down of public transport systems and general population movement saw a significant reduction in pollution levels. Meanwhile, there was a short-term reduction in threats to marine biodiversity and threats to terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity due to reduced global economic activity and consumption.

The report’s authors say that while it was European countries that are leading globally on the SDGs, none are on track to achieve the Goals by 2030.

The greatest challenge for the EU and its member states is on goals related to climate, biodiversity and a circular economy. The largest negative impacts are caused by unsustainable demand for agricultural, forest, and fishery products.

Recommendations include implementing an EU-wide strategy to fully decarbonise the energy system by 2050, strengthening the circular economy to achieve greater efficiencies in resource use and far lower waste and promoting sustainable land-use and food systems by 2050.

It also recommends increasing public and private investments in sustainable infrastructure, including power and transport.

“The biggest challenge now is to restore economic activity without simply restoring [the] old patterns of environmental degradation we are so familiar with.”

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