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Environment and climate

People living in poverty are often directly dependent on natural resources such as forests, land, rivers and oceans for their survival. They are therefore particularly affected by climate change and environmental degradation. Sida's environment and climate efforts increase countries' own capacity to develop in an environmentally sustainable way and improves people's living conditions.

Progress has been made

Knowledge and commitment increase

Awareness is growing of the scale of environmental and climate problems, such as changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity and increased pressure on the world’s ecosystems.

Key global agreements made

Countries have adopted several global agreements to address the challenges facing the world. Examples include Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals, the Climate Change Convention, the Paris Declaration and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Combating plastic pollution

Several countries around the world have taken action against plastic pollution, for example by banning plastic bags. This shows how the world can make a difference if the will is there.1

Challenges remain

The richest are responsible for most of the emissions

The poorest half of the world’s population accounts for only ten percent of global emissions, while the richest ten percent account for around half of emissions.2

Natural resources are being depleted

Land-use change, deforestation and exploitation of natural resources threaten people’s livelihoods, limit the ability of societies to withstand and recover from crises and make poverty reduction more difficult.

The oceans are threatened

Ocean temperatures are rising due to climate change. Fish stocks are declining and small-scale fishermen in the least developed countries are hardest hit.

Sida's work with the environment and climate

Climate change and the loss of biodiversity is one of the defining issues of our time. Functioning ecosystems, rich biodiversity and a stable climate are essential for all life on earth. Managing and protecting the earth’s resources is a prerequisite for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Environmentally sustainable development is linked to the democratic and economic development of societies. Exploitation of natural resources often leads to impairment of human life, health and safety.

Climate change prevention, adaptation and reduced emissions

Countries and communities need to be better equipped to withstand droughts, extreme rainfall and floods, for example. Rehabilitating degraded land, strengthening roads and buildings or using water more efficiently are examples of climate adaptation.

When people lack access to renewable energy, this hinders environmentally and economically sustainable development. Today, around 800 million people lack access to electricity and around 2.8 billion people lack access to clean energy for cooking. The use of dirty fuel creates poor indoor air quality and is estimated to lead to around 2.8 million deaths each year, most of them women and children. The lack of energy and fuel can give rise to conflicts, deforestation and ecosystem degradation.3

Greater access to renewable electricity

Two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity.4 Forests are cut down to supply firewood for cooking, and fossil fuels power simple light sources in the evenings. Sida is supporting Power Africa, an initiative that increases people’s access to renewable energy, leading to lower emissions and cleaner indoor air.

Power Africa

Reduced subsidies for fossil fuels

One obstacle to the transition to renewable fuels is that fossil fuels are heavily subsidised, including by the World Bank. Sida is urging the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) to increase support for reforms aimed at transforming the energy sector by reducing fossil fuel subsidies and becoming more energy efficient.

ESMAP website

Support for sustainable energy companies

In many countries, companies find it difficult to finance their operations, even though they have business ideas that could increase access to sustainable energy. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sida, USAID and the bank ProCredit are working together to help small and medium-sized enterprises in renewable energy and sustainable energy solutions to borrow in order to start up or scale up their businesses.

ProCredits website

More environmentally sustainable public services

Sida supports the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and the World Bank’s Climate Resilience and Environmental Sustainability Technical Advisory (CREST) initiative. These help the public sector to better understand the impact of decisions on climate and the environment and to build capacity to engage the private sector to make infrastructure and public services more environmentally sustainable. The aim is also to ensure that low-income countries meet their national climate plans.

CREST on the PPIAF website

Better irrigation and restored farmland

In Burkina Faso, 80 % of the population lives in rural areas and depends on rainfall for their agriculture.5 As the climate changes, dry spells increase and small-scale irrigation is required. In cooperation with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture, Sida is contributing to small rainwater ponds for growing vegetables, fruit and raising fish at village level. The ponds are also used for irrigation. Small-scale producers are trained to manage the ponds.

Environmentally sustainable development and the sustainable use of natural resources

Climate change, unregulated urban migration, conversion of forests to farmland, illegal logging and the expansion of infrastructure and hydropower plants are threatening nature and biodiversity around the world. This is happening not only in the Amazon or the Arctic, but also in Europe and Africa.


Less pressure on forest resources

Deforestation is a huge problem in Burkina Faso.6 Here, the organisations Tree Aid, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, SNV and the UN programme UNCDF (Unlocking Public and Private Finance for the Poor) are working to decentralise forest management, promote small-scale forest enterprises and reduce pressure on forest resources.

Development of resilient crops

For the world’s growing population to be able to eat their fill without damaging the environment and the climate, agriculture needs to provide larger volumes of nutritious food with less impact on the environment. Through CGIAR (a global partnership in agricultural research), Sida supports, among other things, the development of plant varieties that are more resilient to a changing climate and that can better withstand drought, heat and floods, for example. This makes agriculture less vulnerable to extreme weather.

CGIAR website

Biodiversity protection

Through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sida contributes to efforts that increase environmentally sustainable development. This is done through initiatives focusing on the protection of biodiversity, sustainable management of water and marine resources and improved food systems.

About climate change adaptation on the UNDP website


Scope and governance of Sida’s work with the environment and climate

In 2021, Sida disbursed approximately SEK 3.8 billion (14 per cent of total aid) for work on the environment and climate. This is an increase of around SEK 300 million compared to 2020.

Environment and climate aid is extensive, ranging from support to countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America, to regional and global organisations. The work is guided by a strategy for environmental, climate and marine sustainability, and sustainable use of natural resources.

Updated: October 7, 2022