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Environment and climate

People living in poverty often rely directly on natural resources such as forests, land, waterways and seas for their survival. That is why they are particularly affected by climate change and environmental degradation. Sida’s support strengthens countries’ own ability to drive environmentally sustainable development that improves people’s living conditions.

Progress has been made

Increasing knowledge about climate change

Awareness of the extent of environmental and climate problems and the negative impact they have on world development is increasing globally. Knowledge is increasing about such issues as changing precipitation patterns, rising temperatures and sea levels, the loss of biodiversity and increasing pressure on the world’s ecosystems.

Global agreements

Several global agreements have been adopted to address the challenges with which the world is now confronted. Examples include Agenda 2030 and the Global Sustainability Goals, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Mobilisation against plastic pollution

The reduction of plastic pollution in the seas is concrete proof that the world can mobilise if the will to do so is there. Numerous countries around the world, including many developing nations, have imposed bans on, e.g. plastic bags. Several of Sida’s partners are working to overcome the problems.

Challenges remain

The world’s richest people emit the most

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

Resource deplation

Altered land use, deforestation and the depletion of forests, and the exploitation of natural resources threaten habitats and biodiversity. The preservation of biodiversity and protection of ecosystems is closely intertwined with people’s ability to pull themselves out of poverty and the capacity of societies to withstand, manage and recover from various crises (such as climate change) and reduce the risk of disease spread in pandemics.

Rising sea temperatures

Sea temperatures are rising as a consequence of climate change, and this affects fish stocks and leads to declining catches in many parts of the world. Small-scale fishermen in the least developed countries and small island nations are hardest hit.

Sida's work with the environment and climate

Climate change, together with the increasing loss of biodiversity, is one of the most urgent issues of our time. Well-functioning ecosystems, rich biodiversity and a stable climate are essential to all life on Earth. The management and protection of our planet’s resources is a prerequisite for poverty reduction and sustainable development – for both current generations and future ones.

Environmentally sustainable development is closely linked to the democratic and economic development of societies. There are many examples of instances when the exploitation of natural resources has led to crimes against humanity, health and safety.

Prevention of climate change, adaptation, emissions reduction, and pollution

More than 2.6 billion people currently lack access to clean energy for cooking. When poor people lack access to renewable energy, this hinders environmentally and economically sustainable development.

A large part of the world’s population lacks access to electricity and relies on wood and charcoal to cook and fossil fuels for lighting. The use of dirty fuel creates poor indoor air, which in turn is estimated to lead to around 3.8 million deaths each year, most of them women and children. The lack of energy and fuel leads to conflicts, the devastation of forests/ecosystems, and increased risks for women and children who collect the fuel.

Access to renewable energy

Two out of three people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. The forests are felled in order to obtain firewood with which to cook, and other fossil fuels power simple light sources in the evenings. Sida supports the Power Africa initiative, which increases people’s access to renewable energy. This reduces emissions and provides families with cleaner air in their homes.

Power Africa 

Reducing fossil subsidies

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

ESMAP web page

Supporting small businesses

In many countries, companies find it difficult to finance their activities, even though they have business ideas that could increase access to sustainable energy. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sida, USAID and ProCredit are collaborating to enable small and medium-sized enterprises in the renewable energy and sustainable energy solutions sectors to take out loans to start or scale up their businesses.

About the collaboration on the ProCredit Bank web page

Environmentally sustainable development and the sustainable use of natural resources

Climate change, unregulated urbanisation, the conversion of forests into arable land, illegal logging and the development of infrastructure and hydroelectric power stations threaten nature and biodiversity all over the world – not only in the Amazon or the Arctic, but also in Europe and Africa.

Preventing deforestation

Deforestation is a huge problem in Burkina Faso. The organisations Tree Aid, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SNV), and the UN’s UNCDF (Unlocking Public and Private Finance for the Poor) programme work in the country to decentralise forest management, promote small-scale forest entrepreneurship and reduce pressure on forest resources.

Development of hardier plant varieties

To feed a growing population without harming the environment and the climate, the world’s agriculture must deliver larger volumes of nutritious food with a lower environmental footprint. Through CGIAR (a global partnership in agricultural research), Sida supports, inter alia, the development of hardier plant varieties that can cope with the results of a changing climate (such as drought, heat and floods). This makes agriculture less vulnerable to extreme weather.

CGIAR web page

Interventions for sustainable transition

Through the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Climate Change Adaption Sida contributes to the integration and funding of interventions that protect biodiversity and strengthen sustainable development. This is accomplished, e.g. through the management and control of water and marine resources, the expansion and acceleration of climate change measures, and the transition to cleaner and renewable energy sources.

About Climate Change Adaption on the UNDP web page

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

In 2019, 19 percent of Sida’s total aid was earmarked for climate and the environment. This corresponds to SEK 12.2 billion. This support went to interventions that have the environment and climate as their main objective (SEK 4 billion) and to interventions that have the environment and climate as their significant milestones (SEK 8.2 billion). The work is guided by the Strategy for Sweden’s Global Development Cooperation in the Areas of Sustainable Environment, Sustainable Climate and Seas, and the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources 2018-2022.

Sida’s actions in the field of environmental and climate-related aid are extensive, and range from support to countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America to regional and global organisations.

Updated: June 10, 2022