Will the Swedish environmental quality objectives be achieved?

Environmental Quality Objective

Assessment of prospects of achieving the objective.
Forecast for 2020.

Begränsad klimatpåverkan. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 1. Reduced Climate Impact

"Concentrations of greenhouse gases are rising. In the long-term, global emissions need to be around zero in order to keep the temperature rise as far below 2°C as possible, and thus limit the scope of climate change. To achieve this, both societal changes and technological developments will be necessary. The ambitions of the climate partnership both globally and within the EU must be strengthened, and more stringent and new national policy instruments are also needed.

Frisk luft. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 2. Clean Air

"Recent decisions and a positive trend improve the potential to achieve the environmental quality objective, but further investments are essential. Internationally, initiatives must be implemented to reduce concentrations of particulates and ground-level ozone. At a national level, emissions of nitrogen oxides from traffic and particulates from the use of studded types must be reduced, as must emissions of particulates from heating systems and the use of solvents.

Bara naturlig försurning. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 3. Natural Acidification Only

"The deposition of pollutants causing acidification has declined in recent decades, as has the number of acidified lakes and watercourses. However, further action is needed in order to cut emissions from land-based sources in Europe and from international shipping. The new clean air strategy and the revision of the National Emission Ceilings Directive in the EU are key initiatives. At national level, action is needed to mitigate the effects of forestry in particular.

Giftfri miljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 4. A Non-Toxic Environment

"Some toxic pollutants are declining, while others are increasing. We know little about the health and environmental effects of many substances. Growing global consumption is resulting in increased production of chemicals and goods, resulting in an increase in the dispersal of dangerous substances. Robust measures are needed to ensure that alternatives to dangerous substances are developed and used. The legislation and the work of companies needs to be developed in order to bring about a non-toxic ecocycle.

Skyddande ozonskikt. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 5. A Protective Ozone Layer

Depletion of the ozone layer has ceased, with much evidence indicating that it has started to regenerate. The Montreal Protocol is the key policy instrument for this and has proved successful. However, emissions of nitrous oxide, continuing use of the ozone-depleting substances and emissions from end-of-life products remain a problem. Further international work and the national management of demolition waste, among other things, are important.

Säker strålmiljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 6. A Safe Radiation Environment

Radiation safety is acceptable within many areas. Nonetheless, the number of skin cancer incidences has been rising for many years. Reducing exposure to UV radiation is vital if the number of incidences of skin cancer is to be reduced. To achieve this, lifestyles and attitudes to personal appearance and sunbathing need to change. Even if exposure does decline, incidences of cancer will continue to rise for some time, as it can take decades for skin cancer to develop.

Ingen övergödning. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 7. Zero Eutrophication

"Nutrient loads are declining. In some areas, symptoms of eutrophication are abating, but much of Sweden is still affected. Conditions are worst in the Baltic Sea. Initiatives to curb nutrient emissions have produced results, but emissions must be cut further if we are to realise our objective. The recovery time for the environment is protracted. International cooperation is of vital importance.

Levande sjöar och vattendrag. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 8. Flourishing Lakes and Streams

"Too few lakes and watercourses have a good ecological and chemical status. Physical impacts, eutrophication, acidification and environmental toxins are all problems. The restoration of lakes and streams should increase and will require more resources. Exploitation of the beach zone must be reduced, and more consideration needs to be given to cultural environments. It is vital that the water management action programme is implemented if the objective to be achieved.

Grundvatten av god kvalitet. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 9. Good-Quality Groundwater

"Better monitoring is essential in order to identify, prioritise and address groundwater problems. The work to protect groundwater resources must be accelerated. More effective measures are needed within environmental supervision, societal planning and water management. The extraction and use of natural gravel needs to be cut.

Hav i balans samt levande kust och skärgård. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 10. A Balanced Marine Environment, Flourishing Coastal Areas and Archipelagos

"Eutrophication, dangerous substances and weak fish stocks all represent challenges. Other concerns are marine litter and alien species, as well as the disturbance or destruction of sensitive habitats and cultural environments. The action programme relating to the marine environment and water management is important if the objective is to be achieved in the long term. However, much remains to be done to develop and implement policy instruments, both in Sweden and at EU level.

Myllrande våtmarker. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 11. Thriving Wetlands

"Natural and cultural values and ecosystem services are primarily adversely affected by older drainage and water regulation, but more recent drainage and water regulation measures also play a role. Inadequate management, nitrogen deposition, climate changes and alien species all have a negative impact. The measures that have been carried out are producing good results, but need to be expanded, as does consideration for land and water use. Legislative compliance and certain instruments must be improved.

Levande skogar. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 12. Sustainable Forests

"The environmental initiatives are not sufficient to achieve society’s adopted environmental objectives for forests. Measures to combat habitat loss and fragmentation are vital in order to conserve biodiversity. Formal and voluntary protection of forests with high natural values, management based around nature conservation and the application of clear-felling forestry methods are key cornerstones. Initiatives are being carried out to ensure that more consideration is given to the environment in connection with felling.

Ett rikt odlingslandskap. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 13. A Varied Agricultural Landscape

"Trends concerning this environmental quality objective vary. Several clarifications are considered to have an acceptable state, while others are a long way from achieving the objective. Many species and habitat types do not have favourable conservation status. The rural development programme is a key instrument in conserving and managing the natural and cultural values of the agricultural landscape. Viable agriculture throughout the entire country is essential if we are to achieve the objectives in the long-term.

Storslagen fjällmiljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 14. A Magnificent Mountain Landscape

"Many stakeholders make use of the mountains of Sweden and there is an urgent need to map and accommodate them. Climate change and reduced management represent clear threats to the values of the open mountain landscape. Off-road driving is a growing problem. More knowledge and measures are needed as regards the cultural environment of mountain areas. The restoration of mountain trails and the establishment of avalanche warning systems are positive developments for both outdoor recreation and mountain safety.

God bebyggd miljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 15. A Good Built Environment

"Progress towards a sustainable built environment represents the biggest challenge. Many municipalities and cities are adopting an increasingly holistic approach to urban development, and focusing on car-free transport such as public transport, cycling and walking. The construction sector has implemented a number of initiatives to manage the environmental impact of buildings from a lifecycle perspective.

Ett rikt växt- och djurliv. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 16. A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life

"Many species and habitats are at risk of disappearing and ecosystems are becoming impoverished. Alien species continue to expand. Resources must be used with greater care, and natural environments better protected and managed. Policy instruments are not in place or not being applied, which will mean that biodiversity and ecosystem services will not be conserved in the long term. The pace of the work relating to protected areas and the action programme for threatened species was accelerated during 2016.

Key to symbols

Yes. The environmental quality objective will be achieved with policy instruments already decided on and with measures implemented before 2020.


Close. The environmental quality objective has partly been achieved or could partly be achieved by 2020.


No. The environmental quality objective has not been achieved and cannot be achieved by 2020 with existing and approved instruments and measures.


Positive. The trend in the state of the environment is positive.


Neutral. No clear trend in the state of the environment can be seen.


Negative. The trend in the state of the environment is negative.