Sweden

Sweden is an adept, ambitious and influential actor on global sustainable development. It has a coherent but broad framework for its development policies. It provides consistently high levels of official development assistance (ODA), investing in long-term partnerships with multilateral and civil society organisations (CSOs). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is responsible for the development co-operation policy and budget, with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) being the largest implementing agency. Sweden effectively mobilises development finance from the private sector.

The 2019 OECD-DAC peer review commended Sweden for its leadership at the international level on peace and conflict prevention, environmental sustainability and climate change, and gender equality. It welcomed Sweden’s co-ordinated approach to addressing the development, humanitarian and peace nexus in fragile and crisis contexts. The review suggested that Sweden consolidate its policy priorities and better capitalise on synergies among its multiple strategies, and that Sweden do more to partner with and use the systems of developing country governments. Learn more about the 2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Sweden.

Sweden’s 2016 policy framework sets out five perspectives – poor people, rights, environment and climate, gender equality, and conflict – that provide a comprehensive foundation for Sweden’s development co-operation and play to Sweden’s comparative strengths. Sweden has a clear focus on poverty, and Sida developed a multidimensional poverty analysis to help to leave no one behind. Sweden is a global leader on gender equality, confirmed through its Feminist Foreign Policy. Sweden’s selection of partner countries is well aligned, overall, with its policy focus on least developed countries (LDCs) and the most vulnerable countries.

Sweden provided less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 5.4 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.99% of Sweden’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The fall of 4.8% in real terms from 2018 was due to a lower volume of in-donor refugee costs reported in 2019 compared to 2018. Sweden was the first country to meet the United Nations (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. Sweden is also committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. In 2019, Sweden ranked third among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 5.4 billion in 2019. Within Sweden’s gross ODA portfolio in 2019 (USD 5.4 billion), 98.2% was provided in the form of grants and 1.8% in the form of non-grants.2

Sweden is a valued partner of multilateral organisations, providing flexible and predictable resources, and allocating a high share of its multilateral aid to the UN system. Sweden’s bilateral ODA is focused on supporting democracy, civil society and gender equality, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Sweden provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 65% of total ODA, of which 34% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Sweden allocated 35% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including EU institutions.

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In 2018, Sweden increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 3.5 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 21.4% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 2.2 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 24% of Sweden’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 76% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, Sweden’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the UN, the World Bank Group and the EU institutions. These contributions together accounted for more than 80% of Sweden’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 53%, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 1.8 billion to the UN system, the top four UN recipients of Sweden’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Development Programme (USD 277 million), the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 266 million), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USD 156 million) and the World Food Programme (USD 152 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, Sweden’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 4.0 billion as gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented an increase of 0.8% in real terms from 2017.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 41% of Sweden’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 525 million in 2018, a decrease of 37% in real terms over 2017, and represented 19% of Sweden’s total net ODA.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Sweden channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding, non-governmental organisations and the public sector.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 1.2 billion of gross bilateral ODA. Six per cent was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 24% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Sweden (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 28% to 30%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, Sweden’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa and Asia. USD 1.2 billion was allocated to Africa (mostly to sub-Saharan Africa) and USD 674 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 31% and 17% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 175 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe and USD 126 million to Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2018, bilateral allocations increased especially to sub-Saharan Africa and South and Central Asia. Africa was also the main regional recipient of Sweden’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with its policy priorities. Forty-five per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 22% of gross bilateral ODA went to Sweden’s top 10 recipients. All of its top 10 recipients are priority partners. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 53%, of which 25% was expenditure for in-donor refugees.

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In 2018, the LDCs received 30.3% of Sweden’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 1.2 billion). This is above the DAC country average of 23.8% and is an increase from 26.9% in 2017. The LDCs received the highest share of gross bilateral ODA in 2018, noting that 53% was unallocated by income group. Sweden allocated USD 6 million to small island developing states in 2018, equal to 0.2% of gross bilateral ODA.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 1.5 billion of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (39.1% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 48% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of Sweden’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 47% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 2.0 billion), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 1.2 billion). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 444 million (11% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on social infrastructure and services in 2018.

In 2018, Sweden committed USD 33 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 1.0% of bilateral allocable aid, an increase from 0.1% in 2017. Sweden also committed USD 548 million (16.1% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, Sweden committed 87% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (the same level as in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 2.9 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 17%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. Sweden has a strong focus on gender equality in all sectors. Sweden screens virtually all activities against the gender marker (98.9% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, Sweden committed 56% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 1.9 billion) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, up from 38% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Sixteen per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Forty per cent (USD 1.4 billion) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, up from 21% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Sweden has a greater focus on adaptation (33% in 2018) than on mitigation (24%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Data analysis for the OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Sweden committed USD 123 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2018, amounting to 3.6% of bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about ODA focused on the ocean economy.

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In 2018, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Sweden’s development finance institution, Swedfund, together mobilised USD 179.2 million from the private sector through guarantees, shares in collective investment vehicles (CIVs), simple co-financing arrangements, syndicated loans, and direct investment in companies or project finance special purpose vehicles (SPVs).

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Note: CIV: collective investment vehicle; SPV: special purpose vehicle.

Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18, 46% targeted middle-income countries and 54% targeted LDCs.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country.

Sweden’s private finance mobilised in 2017-18 mainly related to activities in the banking and financial services (33%); industry, mining and construction (28%); energy (17%); and agriculture, forestry and fishing (16%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) has the mandate to define Sweden’s development co-operation policy and to oversee the related budget. Within the MFA, the Department for International Development is the main hub for co-ordination. However, nearly all MFA departments are involved, ensuring strong coherence between Sweden’s foreign policy and development co-operation objectives. In 2018, the MFA directly implemented 51% of reported total ODA.

The MFA is also responsible for managing the government’s agencies that implement Sweden’s development co-operation. Sida is the largest implementing agency, responsible for 46% of Sweden’s total ODA in 2018. 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. Enhanced co-ordination between the MFA and Sida has enabled it to deliver a cohesive and coherent programme, and Sweden is working on improving alignment also between the MFA and the other implementing agencies.

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The government bodies in charge of evaluation are Sida and the Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA). Sida’s Unit for Evaluation has a dual mandate of supporting the agency’s various units regarding decentralised independent evaluations of Sida-funded programmes and undertaking more independent and strategic evaluations. EBA, on the other hand, is a government committee mandated to evaluate and analyse the direction, governance and implementation of Sweden’s official development assistance with a specific focus on results and effectiveness. Sida reports to the government, the MFA and the Department for International Development Cooperation; so does EBA, albeit with a more independent mandate. In addition, the Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) may, at the request of the Swedish government, carry out studies and evaluations of the management of the Department for International Development Cooperation. Read more about Sweden’s evaluation system.

EBA is currently evaluating Sweden’s long-term development cooperation with Ethiopia, and Swedish central authorities’ reform co-operation in the Western Balkans. EBA is also currently investigating the effects of Swedish and international support for democracy. Read more about EBA’s ongoing studies.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Swedish development co-operation.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs: 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

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 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

© OECD 2020

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