Combining Economic Growth with Environmental Sustainability

In Sweden, both the private and public sectors agree that climate-smart and sustainable companies are more competitive in the global market. 
Legislation as well as environmental awareness have made Swedish companies both innovative and efficient in their operations. Low-impact production techniques, in particular within industrial production, are often exported to other countries. Sweden aims to be a leader in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—both nationally and globally. The coronavirus pandemic has made the importance of addressing pressing global challenges, such as climate change, even more evident.

Sweden has managed to significantly increase its GDP while lowering its greenhouse gas emissions. Between 1990 and 2018, Swedish GDP grew by 85% while emissions from Swedish territory fell by 27%. The Swedish government has set ambitious goals for sustainability, including becoming the first fossil-free welfare state, reaching net-zero emissions by 2045, and relying on 100% renewable energy. The Swedish green model means integrating business and sustainability. Together with its Nordic neighbors, Sweden has shown how green growth can drive transition through technical innovation.

Approximately half of the world’s climate emissions, and more than 90% of the world’s water shortages and biodiversity losses, result from inefficient resource management. Using materials more efficiently increases their lifespan and value, and reduces landfill waste and the extraction of new raw materials. Sweden has adopted a national strategy for a circular economy that is smarter, is better for the environment, and creates opportunities for new jobs, innovations, and sustainable businesses.
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Sweden reached its goal of a 50% renewable-energy share in 2012, several years ahead of the government’s 2020 schedule.

​​​​​​Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/
Biological waste—such as food waste that has not been composted to make soil—can be used to produce biogas, which serves as fuel and for heating or electricity generation. Sweden is a front-runner when it comes to the transformation of separately collected food waste to energy. Swedish food producers are also among the world’s leading innovators in the fields of sustainable farming and organic food production.
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Sweden’s ambition is to be a leader in implementing the 2030 Agenda – both at home and through contributing to its global implementation. Global partnership is key to our success.

The Smart and Sustainable City:
​​​​​​​Meeting the Urban Challenge

Cities around the world are growing, and more people are moving from rural to urban areas. Almost 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050, and as cities continue to grow, they need to develop in ways that are resident-friendly and sustainable. Smart cities use information and communication technologies to improve the quality, performance, and interactivity of local government services; reduce costs and resource consumption; and improve relations between citizens and government authorities. The coronavirus pandemic has further shown the possibilities of designing more decentralized and sustainable cities and communities.
  • In a smart city, innovations, digitalization, and environmental and climate technologies create opportunities for meeting society’s challenges in an efficient and sustainable way. Cities should provide an environment in which people can live without wasting the earth’s resources.​​​​​​​
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Sweden offers innovative solutions and extensive know-how in waste collection and recycling. The waste-to-energy systems have turned waste into value. Only 1% of waste ends up in landfills.
As much as 99% of household waste is recycled, either as material or as energy.
​​​​​​​Photo: City of Stockholm/
Construction on building in Lindkoping, SwedenConstruction on building in Lindkoping, Sweden
​​​​​​​The need for sustainable and smart mobility is becoming increasingly critical in urban areas all over the world. Mobility is key to creating a green, smart, and sustainable city.

Vallastaden, in Linköping, is a new neighborhood built for the future. Timber is used as structural building material, and a pilot four-story building is created to facilitate changes over time. Interior walls, windows, and balcony doors can be moved with little effort.

Photo: Ida Gyulai/

The Smart and Sustainable Industry:
​​​​​​​Unlocking the Potential

The Swedish journey toward net-zero emissions is underway.
The Fossil Free Sweden initiative has encouraged business sectors to set their own goals and road maps for how to lower their emissions and contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement targets. In these road maps, industries describe when and how they will reach their goals, what technological solutions need to be developed, what investments need to be made, and what obstacles need to be removed.
HYBRIT—short for Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology—is a joint venture of SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall that aims to replace coal with hydrogen in the steelmaking process. HYBRIT is a groundbreaking effort to reduce CO2 emissions and decarbonize the steel industry. The goal is to have a solution for fossil-free steel by 2026.​​​​​​​
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Sustainable Underground Mining—a project between LKAB, ABB, Combitech, Epiroc, and Sandvik—aims to set a new global standard for mining at great depths.
Photo: Fredric Alm / Alm & ME AB
Photo of robotics equipment in Vasteras, SwedenPhoto of robotics equipment in Vasteras, Sweden
Robotdalen, or Robot Valley, based in Västerås, is a natural hub for Swedish robotics. Industrial robots aim to improve productivity, product quality, and worker safety.
Photo: Simon Paulin/
The Leadership Group for Industry Transition, LeadIT, launched by the governments of Sweden and India, supports companies and countries that are willing to take the lead in transitioning heavy industry toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. ​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​The US joined LeadIT in 2021.
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Photo: Åsa Bäcklin/SSAB