The generational goal – the overall goal of Swedish environmental policy – defines the direction of the changes in society that need to occur within one generation if the country’s environmental quality objectives are to be achieved.
With that as a starting point, the generational goal is intended to guide environmental action at every level in society. As from June 2010, a number of important points have been added to it. One is that efforts to solve Sweden’s environmental problems must not come at the price of environmental and health problems being exported to other countries.
Environmental quality objectives
Sixteen environmental quality objectives describe the state of the Swedish environment which environmental action is to result in. These objectives are to be met within one generation, i.e. by 2020 (2050 in the case of the climate objective).
Interim targets/milestone targets
Over the years, the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) has adopted a number of additional and revised interim targets. These targets are now to be replaced on an ongoing basis with milestone targets, which will define steps on the way to achieving the environmental quality objectives and the generational goal. Decisions on these new milestone targets will be taken by the Government.
Strategies in priority areas
The Government later intends to adopt strategies for priority areas. These are to be more flexible than the earlier strategies for meeting the environmental objectives. It is proposed that they should be cross-cutting – relevant to more than one of the objectives – and that they should contain milestone targets, representing clear steps towards achieving the generational goal and the environmental quality objectives.
The idea of the environmental quality objectives is that they should be followed up on a regular basis, with annual reports to the Government and an in-depth evaluation once every parliamentary term. A number of government agencies are responsible for following up and evaluating specific environmental quality objectives. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, working with all the agencies with responsibilities within the environmental objectives system, prepares an overall report to the Government. The results of this follow-up are presented on the Environmental Objectives Portal, under the different environmental quality objectives.