The 2030 Agenda in Sweden and the involvement of Swedish trade unions

By Oscar Ernerot, National Officer at the International Department of LO Sweden

The 2030 Agenda raises the possibility of a more inclusive, sustainable and equal world. In the current situation, in which populism and protectionism is flourishing at a growing rate, the agenda gives a glimpse of light in the darkness. The Swedish trade union movement (LO) works actively to realise the scope of the agenda. Sweden has high ambitions to fulfill and ratify international standards. Most recently, the Swedish Government announced the preparation of ratification of the ILO’s Protocol 29 on forced labour.

LO has high expectations for the Swedish Government to be a role model and set the standard on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The basis for this implementation is a focus on reaching out to the greatest number of citizens, while living up to Sweden’s international commitments.

In 2016, the Swedish Government appointed a delegation of people from different disciplines in the society. Their assignment is to implement the 2030 Agenda through dialogue and analysis. The starting point of the delegation’s work is the elaboration of a report, consisting of a scan of which of the agenda’s goals and targets Sweden currently fulfills. Based on the report, the delegation will produce and present an action plan for Sweden’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The action plan is set to be developed through a broad consultation with a range of different stakeholders: business, civil society and trade unions among others. LO contributes with expertise on the relation between the function of the labour market and the 2030 Agenda. Initially, LO aimed to be a permanent member of the delegation. The governments composition did not take LO’s request into account. As such, the dialogue plays a crucial role for the democratic process and for ensuring the agenda’s legitimacy.

The scope of the action plan is both national and international. The plan will take Sweden’s existing and adopted development strategies, both nationally and those within which it is involved via the EU, into account. The action plan will also give clear guidance and proposals for Sweden’s domestic policy at the local, regional and national levels.

The position of LO is clear, the autonomy of the social partners must be fully respected in the action plan and the special interest of the social partners are taken into account in the development of the plan in relation to relevant goals and targets.

LO finds Sweden’s ambition and energy in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda positive, but without resources the risk of failure remains huge. Financing its implementation would have two main benefits. The first is capacity building and the establishment of a governance structure for the future work of the agenda. The second is ensuring greater transparency and public accessibility to the agenda. LO can contribute, together with the broader Swedish union movement, by reaching out to its 3.8 million members. This is also in line with the delegation’s assignment to build a digital platform and give suggestions on solutions to promote information.

When the UN’s 193 member countries celebrated the signing of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015 it was hailed a huge success. The realisation of this agenda, with its prospect of providing people a brighter future, demands that countries like Sweden step up their efforts and show solidarity and responsibility. For the sake of workers in Sweden, LO is committed to being a driver for the fulfillment of the agenda, and is committed to maintaining Sweden’s role at the forefront of the global effort for sustainable economic development and decent work and in resisting protectionism and populism.