Working towards Sweden’s environmental objectives

In 1999, the Swedish Parliament adopted a generational goal and fifteen environmental quality objectives. In 2005, a sixteenth quality objective was introduced. These environmental objectives serve to guide the sum total of environmental action in Sweden.

The overall goal is to hand over, by 2020, a society in which the major environmental problems in Sweden have been solved, without increasing environmental and health problems in other countries. The environmental quality objectives describe the state of the Swedish environment which environmental efforts are intended to result in, ranging from air free from pollution and lakes unaffected by eutrophication or acidification, to healthy forest and farmland ecosystems.

Evaluation as part of the environmental objectives system

Assessing the state of the environment and evaluating different interventions are key elements in achieving the environmental objectives. Progress towards the objectives is monitored in an annual report and in an in-depth evaluation undertaken every four years. Eight government agencies are responsible for one or more of the environmental quality objectives, and each agency reviews progress towards the objective or objectives assigned to it. The results of these reviews are then collated by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in a combined report to the Government.

In the government bill proposing the environmental objectives system, the following points were made regarding evaluation:

To be able to monitor progress towards the national environmental objectives, good basic information is required. The data needed to follow up, analyse and evaluate the environmental objectives should therefore be a priority, together with international reporting. … Both the state of the environment and the effects of different measures and interventions need to be regularly reviewed and evaluated. The information obtained from environmental monitoring, statistics, inquiries, research etc. forms the basis for such reviews and evaluations. (Government Bill 1997/98:145)

EviEM’s role in achieving the objectives

EviEM’s work helps to secure progress towards Sweden’s environmental objectives and to make efforts to achieve them more effective. Among other things, EviEM reviews the effectiveness of specific interventions, the aim being to create a better evidence base for decision-making. Our evaluations of how effective potential or existing environmental protection measures are provide decision-makers with a better basis for determining what actions they should initiate or continue to pursue.

EviEM also looks at the causes of environmental problems, examining for example how different human activities affect the natural environment. This knowledge can improve our understanding of where measures should be deployed to tackle the problems.