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The Nordic Region and the 2030 Agenda

  • Published on December 22, 2021

How the Nordic countries and the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Aland are working towards the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals through national implementation and involvement of parliament and civil society. 

The countries in this report are some of the most progressive regarding sustainable development. As detailed in the report, each of the Nordic countries have national action plans to achieve the goals in the 2030 Agenda. However, as noted in Figure 1 in the report, SDG 12 is the only SDG where each country still has major challenges that remain. Below is an overview of each of the countries detailed in the report. 

Beginning with Denmark, their priorities within the 17 SDGs is furthering human rights, peacekeeping work, and gender equality and reproductive health. Denmark's National Action Plan is led by the parliament and the government but invited all ministries and societal stakeholders to be involved and add to the work. They have created the 2030 Panel, an advisory panel for the 2030 agenda, of representatives from the business sector, civil society, and the research community to support the political work towards achieving the SDGs.

Finland, historically, has been a leader in sustainable development. Their focus is a societal commitment with clear principles and objectives for sustainable development. This commitment drives policy coherence and draws together a plethora of actors ranging from government to local organisations. This has led overall assessments of Finland's sustainable development to be inclusive and holistic. Similar to Denmark's 2030 panel, Finland has created the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development to bring together its significant actors. This Commission is highly influential regarding sustainable development in Finland because of its wide collaboration. One notable panel that collaborates with the Commission is the Finnish 2030 Agenda Youth Group made of 20 people ages 15-28 to allow them a voice in national planning and implementation. 

Iceland's focus within the SDGs is the sustainable development of their marine areas and land resources, gender equality, development of renewable energy sources, and migration and health issues. Unlike the two countries previously detailed, Iceland does not have an independent national action policy regarding the 2030 Agenda, but it uses the Agenda itself to direct policies and strategies. However, they created The Government's Interministerial Working Group on the 2030 Agenda to prioritize the SDGs and achieve their goals. Within Iceland, most of the implementation happens on a societal level from local authorities and municipalities. 

Norway's government is actively working on their National Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda, prioritizing human rights, gender equality, climate change, and anti-corruption. To ensure that multiple perspectives are included in the goals for the plan, societal and international actors could provide their input to the Plan. For Norway, there is an emphasis on achieving sustainable development within the state's budget. 

Sweden has aimed to lead the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within Sweden and in collaboration with the EU. They pride themselves on their cross-party focus on environmental conservation and sustainable development. Their focus within the SDGs are goals 3,4,5 and 6. Similar to the other countries, they emphasize a collaboration between societal and national actors to implement sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. Like Finland, they see the value of all opinions and encourage the participation of young people in vulnerable environments. 

The Faroe Islands have already implemented the goals of the 2030 Agenda into their national policies. Their focus is on high-quality education, health issues, sustainable use of the ocean's resources, sustainable energy, and other sustainable aspects critical to an island community. Their implementation is largely focused on government and parliament, as opposed to society. 

Sustainable development outlined in the 2030 Agenda is a priority in Greenland. Their focus is on increasing the quality of education, growing and diversifying the economy, modernising the public sector, and strengthening the welfare of society. Their government with members of society are implementing economic, social, and environmentally sustainable development within their national budget. They value the collaboration between the public and business sectors, along with municipalities. 

The Aland Islands actively follows Finland's national implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Similar to the Faroe Islands, their resources are precious so they focus on improving water quality and protecting biodiversity within the local ecosystems, along with developing renewable and sustainable energy sources. The civil society in the Aland Islands is highly engaged to implement the SDGs under the Agenda 2030 and engage the Nordic region with support from the Aland government. 

While each countries' progress towards sustainable development affects sustainable consumption and production, it is not currently their focus. However, the shifts that they are striving to achieve in favor of sustainable development affect everyday lives and will alter consumption and production. Further, their acknowledgment of the significant challenges with SDG 12 demonstrates their ambition to focus on this goal. Each country has campaigns and events aimed at increasing knowledge sharing and societal engagement regarding the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, including SDG 12: responsible consumption and production. 

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