First review for Swedish environmental goals

National agencies propose actions to achieve sustainable development in one generation

About 20 national Swedish regulatory agencies and authorities have issued reports on how they intend to achieve 15 overarching environmental goals adopted this spring as a framework for achieving national sustainable development by 2020 (ENDS Daily 29 April).

The reports mark a first step in the process, and were described by the government today as pieces in "the large environmental goals jigsaw puzzle". "The environmental goals signify a new way of thinking about the environment," said Rolf Annerberg, head of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is coordinating the initiative. "The responsibility is now shared by all sectors of society."

Reflecting this objective, national authorities with a wide range of responsibilities have issued reports. In addition to the EPA, they include the agencies for housing, fisheries, agriculture, national antiquities, forestry and health as well as the National Chemicals Inspectorate, National Radiation Protection Institute and the Swedish Geological Survey.

The intermediate and sectoral goals proposed by the authorities involve not only "traditional" environmental issues, but also cultural and health topics and related issues such as housing. The Swedish Board of National Antiquities, for example, fears that limestone buildings are even more sensitive to acid pollution than human health and proposes a new ambient air limit for sulphur dioxide of five micrograms per cubic metre.

Environmental improvements proposed by the EPA include much stricter limits on air pollution by small particulates and more effort to reduce acidification and eutrophication. Levels of nitrogen oxides in urban air need to be cut by 40-60%, the agency says, while low-level ozone pollution needs to be halved, requiring considerable international as well as domestic reductions.

Other intermediate EPA goals are to halve the number of acidified lakes and watercourses and to cut Swedish emissions of sulphur dioxide by 25%, of nitrogen oxides by 50% and of ammonia by 15%, all from 1995 levels by 2010.

The EPA also calls for a complete end to the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, better long-term protection for water bodies, no introduction of genetically modified organisms that can jeopardise biological diversity, more protection for mountain environments and better rules controlling the fishing industry.

The authorities' reports will be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee, which is due to report back next summer. A next parliamentary decision on the process is expected in 2001.

Sweden's 15 environmental goals are: clean air, high quality groundwater, sustainable lakes and watercourses, flourishing wetlands, a balanced marine environment and sustainable coastal areas and archipelagos, no eutrophication, natural acidification only, sustainable forests, a varied agricultural landscape, a magnificent mountain environment, a good urban environment, a non-toxic environment, a safe radiation environment, a protective ozone layer, and limited influence on climate change.

Follow Up:
Swedish EPA, tel: +46 8 698 1000.

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