The environmental objectives system

Environmental problems need to be tackled now, and not passed on to future generations. That is the thinking behind Sweden's environmental objectives – goals that are crucial to welfare, and intended to guide the sum total of Swedish efforts to safeguard the environment.

Generational goal

The generational goal is intended to guide environmental action at every level of society. It indicates the sorts of changes in society that need to occur within one generation to bring about a clean, healthy environment. It focuses environmental efforts on recovery of ecosystems, conserving biodiversity and the natural and cultural environment, good human health, efficient material cycles free from dangerous substances, sustainable use of natural resources, efficient energy use, and patterns of consumption.

Environmental quality objectives

The environmental quality objectives describe the quality of the environment that Sweden wishes to achieve. There are 16 of them, covering different areas – from unpolluted air and lakes free from eutrophication and acidification, to functioning forest and farmland ecosystems. For each objective there are a number of 'specifications', clarifying the state of the environment to be attained.

Milestone targets

To facilitate progress towards the generational goal and the environmental quality objectives, the Government adopts milestone targets in priority areas. These are designed to set out the changes in society needed to meet the environmental quality objectives and the generational goal.

Tracking progress

The idea of the environmental quality objectives is that they should be followed up on a regular basis, with annual reports to the Government and an in-depth evaluation once every parliamentary term. A number of government agencies are responsible for following up and evaluating specific environmental quality objectives. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, working with all the agencies with responsibilities within the environmental objectives system, prepares an overall report to the Government. The results of this follow-up are presented here on sverigesmiljomal.se.