A woman beside a water pump in Mali. Sida is supporting the World Bank’s programme for water and sanitation in Africa. 
Photo: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

A woman beside a water pump in Mali. Sida is supporting the World Bank’s programme for water and sanitation in Africa. Photo: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

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Environmentally sustainable development vital in combating poverty

Published: Thursday, June 18, 2009

Changed: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Poor people are often directly dependent on natural resources such as forests, land and water. At the same time, groups that are already vulnerable suffer particularly from environmental degradation and climate change. Working to promote social development that is environmentally sustainable is therefore a very important part of Sweden’s development assistance work.

Sida’s task is to contribute to a fair and environmentally sustainable development. Economic growth is crucial in combating poverty, but the growth needs to be sustainable. That means taking into account different factors such as environmental impact, climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

In many of Sida’s partner countries, climate change and depletion of ecosystems is already evident, which has largely affected people’s health and their ability to support themselves. Adapting to climate change is crucial for the developing countries’ ability to face the challenges of poverty and climate change. 

All Sida’s initiatives are to be characterized by an environmental and climate features, in all sectors. The overall goal of Sida’s policy for environment and climate change reads: improved environment, sustainable use of natural resources and strengthened resilience towards environmental effects and climate change in developing countries, and a limited impact on the climate.

Sida focuses on environment, climate change and sustainable development by supporting initiatives within five areas:

Greater access to basic public services, energy, water, sanitation and housing, is vital for combating poverty and economic development. This is also a foundation on which to base other human rights. Sweden and Sida have been pioneers in getting the issues of environment and sustainable development on the global agenda, including issues concerning participation and gender equality.

One important aspect when considering different development cooperation initiatives is to carefully weigh the expected development opportunities against the risk of negative environmental impacts. This should be made visible in strategies and other documents through identification of different conflicts between goals and by suggesting the best way to address them.

Cooperation between different actors is crucial when handling cross-border issues such as environment and climate change, on both global, regional, national and local levels. The starting point for Sida’s work with environmentally sustainable development is strengthening its partner countries’ own capacity and ability, and creating a strong ownership with decision makers on different levels. Support to authorities and non-governmental organisations is therefore important, as well as collaboration with trade and industry and research.

Sida cooperates with global development agencies such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Sida also supports the NGOs Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SNF) and WWF and their environmental work in developing countries. Another example is Diakonia that works with climate change adaptation in Kenya in cooperation with the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).

Sida cooperates with the business sector through its programme Business for Development, through which companies can contribute to a sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Examples of efforts that Sweden is involved in: 


Sida’s work with environmentally sustainable development

In 2010, about SEK 2.1 billion of Sida’s bilateral development assistance was used in promoting the environment issues and sustainable development.´

A further SEK 6.5 billion were used for efforts in which the subsidiary objective was to promote the environment and sustainable development.

Some of the development assistance for environment also comes through the dialogue work, particularly within frameworks for sector- and budgetary support.

Sida also finances a number of climate change adaptation initiatives funded by the Swedish Government’s Special Climate Change Initiative 

Funds to promote environment and climate are also supplied through the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, primarily through support to UN organisations, development banks as well as for theGlobal Environment Facility (GEF).


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Policy document

Our work with sustainable development is guided by a policy that sets out the Swedish Government's general position regarding environmental and climate issues within development cooperation.

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