Sweden is an ambitious and influential actor on sustainable development. It is committed to making its development assistance more focused, relevant, effective and transparent. Sweden focuses on Ukraine, humanitarian support, democracy, climate action, gender equality, trade, and migration. Its development co-operation has had a clear focus on poverty reduction and sub-Saharan Africa. Sweden’s total official development assistance (ODA) (USD 5.5 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2022 due to in-donor refugee costs. ODA represented 0.9% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Sweden is in the process of developing a new policy framework, following a change of government in October 2022. Bilateral ODA focuses on supporting democracy, civil society and gender equality, targeting mainly least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts in sub-Saharan Africa. Support to Ukraine has been a major focus over the last year.

Sweden actively engages at the global level on sustainable development policy issues, in particular on peace and conflict prevention, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. Sweden has had an explicit and systematic focus on poverty. A strong champion of multilateralism, it historically provided long-term core funding to its priority multilateral organisations, including its United Nations (UN) humanitarian partners. This will be reconsidered in its revised policy. Sweden works with other donors to support the effectiveness of the multilateral system and plays an active role on the governing boards of multilateral organisations. To enhance policy coherence for sustainable development, Sweden requires all ministries to develop action plans on their global contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The OECD-DAC mid-term review, published in 2023, acknowledged Sweden’s effective and efficient development co-operation system, which benefits form high-calibre staff, and encouraged Sweden to retain and build on these strengths. It encouraged Sweden to ensure that its ODA spending is based on clear criteria, is well co-ordinated with other actors, remains poverty-focused and is supported by responsible exit strategies to make the most of Sweden’s long-term investments and partnerships. Learn more about Sweden’s 2023 mid-term review and 2019 peer review.

Sweden provided USD 5.5 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2022 (USD 6.1 billion in constant terms), representing 0.9% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 2% in real terms in volume and a slight decrease in share of GNI from 0.91% in 2021. Excluding in-donor refugee costs, its ODA fell. Sweden was the first country to meet the UN target of allocating 0.7% of GNI to ODA in 1975, and its allocation has remained consistently above this threshold since then. In 2006, the government set a new target of providing 1% of Sweden’s GNI to ODA. In a departure from this long-standing goal, Sweden budgeted for ODA to represent 0.88% of the projected GNI for the years 2023-25. Sweden is committed, at the European level, to collectively achieving a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Within Sweden’s ODA portfolio in 2021, 98% was provided in the form of grants and 2% in the form of non-grants.2

In 2022, Sweden ranked 2nd among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI and 9th in terms of ODA volume. Total contributions to multilateral organisations fell by 24.4% in 2021 from the previous year. Among DAC members, it has one of the highest levels of ODA channelled to civil society organisations (CSOs) at 34.8% of bilateral ODA. It also allocates a high share of bilateral ODA to fragile contexts (43.8%).

Sweden is committed to several international targets, Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Sweden provided a higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2021. Gross bilateral ODA was 66.3% of total ODA. Thirty-nine per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Sweden allocated 33.7% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2022, Sweden provided USD 206 million of gross bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, of which USD 54.1 million was humanitarian assistance (preliminary data). In 2021, it provided USD 33.6 million.

In 2022, Sweden provided USD 72.6 million in ODA for the COVID-19 response. Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, donations of excess doses to developing countries accounted for USD 31.9 million of ODA. In 2020 and 2021, Sweden’s total bilateral support for COVID-19 response was USD 464.8 million and USD 350.9 million, respectively.

In 2021, Sweden provided USD 3.5 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 24.4% in real terms from 2020. Of this, USD 2 billion was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 23.7% of Sweden’s non-core contributions, and 76.3% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Sixty-eight per cent of Sweden’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2021 was allocated to the UN system and the World Bank (in descending order).

The UN system received 52.2% of Sweden’s multilateral contributions, largely in the form of earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 1.8 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Sweden’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were UNDP (USD 290.3 million), UNICEF (USD 270.2 million) and WFP (USD 188.6 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2021, Sweden’s bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 4 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented a decrease of 0.9% in real terms from 2020. In 2021, Sweden focused most of its bilateral ODA on peace, justice, and strong institutions and gender equality goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2021, country programmable aid was 48.6% of Sweden’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 45.2%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 87.9 million in 2021, a decrease of 46.8% in real terms over 2020, and represented 2.2% of Sweden’s gross bilateral ODA.

In 2021, Sweden channelled bilateral ODA mainly through multilateral organisations and NGOs, as earmarked funding. Technical co-operation made up 5.8% of gross ODA in 2021.

In 2021, CSOs received USD 1.4 billion of gross bilateral ODA. Six per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 29.1% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2020 to 2021, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 32.3% to 34.8%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation, and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2021, Sweden’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 1.5 billion was allocated to Africa and USD 381.6 million to Asia (excluding the Middle East), accounting respectively for 37.9% and 9.6% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 341.2 million (8.6%) was allocated to the Middle East. Africa was also the main regional recipient of Sweden’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2021, 23.6% of gross bilateral ODA went to Sweden’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are priority partners, in sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and Syria. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 45.4%, with 4.9% of this unallocated bilateral ODA spent on refugees in the donor country.

In 2021, the least developed countries (LDCs) received 34.2% of Sweden’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 1.4 billion). This is greater than the DAC average of 22.9%. Sweden allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (34.2%) to least developed countries in 2021, noting that 45.4% was unallocated by income group. Sweden allocated 18.7% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2021, equal to USD 742.2 million. Sweden allocated 0.3% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to USD 13.3 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 1.7 billion in 2021, representing 43.8% of Sweden’s gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-nine per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, increasing from 27.6% in 2020, while 21.9% was allocated to peace, decreasing from 23.4% in 2020. Five per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing an increase from 4% in 2020.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2021, close to half of Sweden’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 44.2% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.5 billion), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 756.3 million), education (USD 310.3 million) and health (USD 213.9 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled 7.3% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 240.8 million), focusing on business (USD 134.4 million), energy (USD 85.4 million) and communications (USD 11.7 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 630.2 million (19% of bilateral ODA). In 2021, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused on government and civil society, emergency response and education.

In 2020-21, Sweden committed 73.3% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (down from 83.7% in 2018-19, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 44.4%). This is equal to USD 1.6 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 10% in 2020-21, compared with the DAC average of 4.5%. Sweden includes gender equality objectives in 73.1% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 17.5%. Sweden screens the majority of activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (92.7% in 2020-21). Sweden committed USD 31.7 million of ODA to end violence against women and girls and USD 65.6 million to support women’s rights organisations and movements and government institutions in 2020-21. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020-21, Sweden committed 34.1% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 793.6 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (DAC average of 34.3%), down from 49.7% in 2018-19. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Fourteen per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11.3%.

  • Twenty-one per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 492.2 million) focused on climate change overall (the DAC average was 29%), down from 37.4% in 2018-19. Sweden had a greater focus on adaptation (19.2%) than on mitigation (13.7%) in 2020-21.

  • Twelve per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 269.4 million) focused on biodiversity (compared with the DAC average of 6.5%), down from 16.6% in 2018-19.

Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Sweden committed USD 55.5 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2021, up from USD 19.7 million in 2020. The 2021 value is equivalent to 1.9% of Sweden’s bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

In 2021, Sweden also:

  • Committed USD 8.8 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.3% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and custom duties for ODA-funded goods and services, Sweden sometimes requests exemptions on its ODA-funded goods and services in partner countries and territories. It makes information available on the OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 404 million (13.6% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2021.

  • Committed USD 5.3 million (0.2% of its bilateral allocable aid) to address the immediate or underlying determinants of malnutrition in developing countries across a variety of sectors, such as maternal health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) or agriculture.

  • Committed USD 509.7 million (17.2% of its bilateral allocable aid) to development co-operation projects and programmes that promote the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Sweden uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2021, the Swedish DFI, SwedFund, as well as the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) mobilised USD 524.6 million from the private sector through shares in collective investment vehicles, credit lines, guarantees, and simple co-financing.

In 2020-21, 17.5% of mobilised private finance by Sweden targeted middle-income countries and 6.2% LDCs and other low-income countries (LICs), noting that 76.2% was unallocated by income. During the same period, the top beneficiary region of this financing was Africa (17.3% of the total).

Mobilised private finance by Sweden in 2020-21 mainly benefited activities in the energy (34.9%), health (25.1%) and banking & financial services (17.6%) sectors. Furthermore, 71.1% of Sweden’s total mobilised private finance over this period was for climate action.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

In 2021, Sweden’s DFI Swedfund extended USD 84.3 million in the form of private sector instruments. Of this, loans represented 47%, whereas equities accounted for 53%. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) also provides development guarantees.

In 2021, USD 0.6 million (0.7%) of Sweden’s private sector instruments were allocated to an LDC (Nepal), with 40.4% extended to a LMIC (India). Moreover, USD 49.7 million were unallocated by income, mostly including equity investments with a regional focus.

In terms of sectoral distribution, 59.7% of Sweden’s private sector instruments were extended in support of projects in the banking and financial services, followed by energy (20.2%), health, (12.2%) and water supply and sanitation (7.8%). Health, education and other social sectors received USD 16.9 million through private sector instruments. A share of 28.1% of this financing focused on climate change mitigation and/or adaptation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) oversees Sweden’s development co-operation policy and the related budget. Within the MFA, the Department for International Development co-ordinates, although nearly all departments are involved. The MFA is also responsible for managing the government agencies that implement development co-operation. Sida is the largest implementing agency. The other five main ODA implementation agencies are Swedfund, the Swedish Institute, the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency. Co-ordination between the MFA and Sida is particularly close, and Sweden is working on improving co-ordination with the other implementing agencies. Sida provides country-level staff with a high degree of delegated programme and financial authority to design and adapt programmes to the local context.

An important mechanism for consulting stakeholders is the Swedish Leadership for Sustainable Development network, comprising 26 Swedish companies and institutions, which serves as a forum for knowledge exchange and collaboration. Another is the Forum for Public Agencies, a yearly national forum for knowledge exchange and collaboration between government agencies working with development co-operation, hosted by Sida. The government and Swedish civil society’s joint commitments to strengthen dialogue and collaboration in the area of development co-operation provide the foundation for the Swedish government’s approach to consulting with Swedish civil society in the policy process. CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella body ForumCiv (formerly Forum Syd).

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Sweden’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following a reform of the exercise during 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) has resumed. More detailed results for Sweden based on the 2016 and 2018 Monitoring Rounds can be found here. Monitoring profiles for other providers are available here.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA): https://www.government.se/government-of-sweden/ministry-for-foreign-affairs

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida): https://www.sida.se/English

Swedfund: https://www.swedfund.se/en

Swedish Institute: https://si.se/en

Folke Bernadotte Academy: https://fba.se/en

Swedish Research Council: https://www.vr.se/english.html

Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency: https://www.msb.se/en

CSO umbrella organisation ForumCiv: https://www.forumciv.org/int

Sweden’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=sweden#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1965.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.


← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2019 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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