En solcellsdriven varmvattenberedare monteras på ett tak till ett bostadshus i Cape Town.

A South African woman installs a solar water heating unit on the roof of a home in Kuyasa outside Cape Town.

Photo: Nic Bothma/EPA/Scanpix

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Environment and climate

Published: 18 June 2009 Updated: 4 June 2015

People living in poverty are often directly dependent on natural resources such as forests, land, rivers and seas, and are therefore hit particularly hard by environmental pollution and climate change. This is why investments in environment- and climate-friendly development help people lift themselves out of poverty. The Swedish government puts environment and climate change among the top three priorities within the country’s development cooperation.

Environmental and climate change particularly affect people living in poverty, who have little opportunity to handle these effects on their own. Poor people living in slums or in remote rural areas are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution and degradation of ecosystems. Effects of climate change increase the vulnerability of people living in poverty and affect their development and livelihoods.

Investments in environment- and climate initiatives can contribute to sustainable development in many different ways. Improved use and management of natural resources and ecosystems, including access to energy can, for example, grant poor people better livelihoods and increased incomes. Reduced pollution, access to clean water and clean air can improve people's health and ability to lift themselves out of poverty.

Sweden and Sida have taken the lead to bring up the issues of environment and sustainable development on the global agenda. By working to offer marginalised groups the opportunity to participate and demand accountability in planning, decision-making and implementation of environment- and climate initiatives, their human rights have been strengthened, and the processes have contributed to development of democratic structures. It is particularly important to involve women, who often have a central role in providing livelihood for their families, as well as management of natural resources on the local level through their active role in the processes.

In the aid policy framework, the government has set up a special milestone for improved environment, limited environmental footprint and enhanced resistance to environmental effects, climate change and natural disasters. In order to reach this target, the following five results are considered to be particularly important:

  • Strengthened resistance to environmental effects, climate change and natural disasters, as well as reduced impact on the environment and climate.
    The climate issue needs to be tackled in several ways at the same time. It takes preventive measures in the form of restriction of gas emissions, adaptation and disaster risk reduction. In order to avoid dangerous climate change, all countries and communities should adjust to a low-carbon sustainable economic development that at the same time promotes development opportunities and poverty reduction. Reduction of gas emissions will help cut down or completely avoid future damages and thus reduce the need for adaptation. Sida supports adaptation efforts in areas such as water supply, fishery, agriculture, forestry, infrastructure and energy.
  • Strengthened institutional capacity in environmental management and environmental institutions.
    Institutional capacity in environmental management and environmental institutions are often weak in Sida's partner countries, which results in environmental degradation and an aggravated situation for many people living in poverty. Through collaboration with various stakeholders, Sida supports capacity development, including development of laws and regulatory frameworks, as well as tools for following-up, monitoring and supervision within institutions, elected assemblies and among political actors. Such support strengthens the ability of different actors for national collaboration, e.g. in order to improve the country’s capacity to live up to the objectives of international environmental conventions.
  • Sustainable cities.
    The world's cities are facing vast demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges. Urbanisation is a powerful force for development and six out of ten people in the world are expected to settle in urban areas by 2030. Sustainable cities can be promoted e.g. through efficient and environmentally friendly use of resources with help of new technologies, recycling, access to renewable energy, improved management of chemicals and sustainable use of water. In order to be able to contribute to sustainable cities, strengthened capacity for urban planning and sustainable urban development is essential.
  • Improved access to sustainable energy alternatives.
    Almost one in five people on the planet still lack access to electricity. More than twice as many, nearly three billion people, are dependent on wood, charcoal, dried animal dung or coal for cooking and heating. This is a major obstacle to eradication of poverty and building of common prosperity. Sida’s contributions help poor people gain greater access to renewable energy, spread the use of technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.
  • Sustainable management of ecosystems and sustainable usage of ecosystem services.
    The world's ecosystems and their services, such as clean water, food and energy must be protected. Resistant ecosystems and biodiversity preserve future development opportunities, and prevent and alleviate natural disasters such as floods, land degradation and drought. Sida supports a change towards more productive, sustainable and resource-efficient agriculture, forestry and fishery systems. This also contributes to a sustainable use of ecosystem services, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced deforestation, and improved conditions for income, increased employment and improved health of people living in poverty.

Political priority

All of Sida’s initiatives and all sectors of development cooperation must have integrated environment- and climate aspects. Efforts are assessed both on the basis of their sensitivity to environmental and climate change, and how they can contribute to environmentally sustainable development. The expected development prospects are balanced against the risks of adverse environmental impacts. Sida shall identify and make visible different conflict of goals that might occur, and develop suggestions on how they should be handled in the best way.

In order to be able to address cross-boundary environmental and climate issues, cooperation between different actors on global, regional, national and local levels is required. The basis of Sida's work with sustainable development is strengthening countries' own capacity and ability to create strong ownership among decision makers on various levels. Support to both authorities as well as individual organisations is important. Cooperation with other donors and international agencies is also important, as well as collaboration with business sector and research institutions.

Sida’s work with environmentally sustainable development

In 2012, approximately SEK 1.9 billion of aid channelled through Sida was used for efforts aiming to promote environment and sustainable development.

Additional SEK 5.5 billion were used for operations that aimed to promote environment and sustainable development.

Approximately SEK 2.4 billion of aid that was channelled through Sida in 2012 were classified as climate funding.

Page owner: The Communication Department

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