Swedish development assistance is effective and generous


Sweden is one of the world’s most generous donors. It is now raising its ambitions to make its development assistance more focused, relevant, effective and transparent. The focus is on Ukraine, humanitarian support, democracy, climate action, gender equality, trade and migration.

Ukraine and the neighbourhood in focus

Development assistance to Ukraine and the Eastern Neighbourhood is an important part of Sweden’s development assistance. Freedom, democracy, good governance, trade and closer ties to the EU are important guiding principles for our support. Our initiatives will support the reconstruction of Ukraine, taking a long-term and sustainable approach that includes enabling and promoting trade and investment.

Humanitarian support increasingly important

More than 330 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance worldwide. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has exacerbated the situation, not least because of rising food and energy prices. The Government is increasing its humanitarian support to meet the growing needs. Sweden’s support will help build resilience and prevent humanitarian crises.

Democracy and human rights defenders

Global democratic backsliding and serious global challenges require an uninterrupted focus on democracy, the rule of law and human rights, including women’s and girls’ rights. Support to democracy and human rights defenders, and to organisations working to protect human rights and democratic principles, is a priority, not least in our neighbourhood. Support to pro-democracy movements will increase and a special initiative is being planned to improve the conditions for free elections.

Expanded and more effective climate aid

Sweden is stepping up its climate action through expanded and more effective climate aid. Sweden’s climate aid will contribute to emissions reduction, the transition to fossil-free energy and energy efficiency. Adaptation is an important part of our support to vulnerable countries. Through more expanded and more effective climate aid, Sweden contributes to partner countries’ capacity and implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Poverty reduction and health initiatives for the most vulnerable

Poverty reduction and health initiatives are needed to help the most vulnerable and to promote health. Swedish support will, among other things, contribute to more people in the world getting vaccinated and to strengthening health systems. Harnessing the potential of digital transformation is an important part of this work. The Government will also contribute to international efforts to prevent and respond to pandemics and other health threats.

Gender equality promotion focusing on sexual and reproductive health

For decades, Sweden’s development cooperation has focused on promoting gender equality. Sweden continues its work to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), combat all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and advance the economic empowerment of women and girls, and educational opportunities.

Trade to increase prosperity and reduce poverty

Development assistance can help countries build capacity, but the path from poverty to prosperity requires a well-functioning market economy and active trade. The private sector has a key role to play in creating innovative and sustainable solutions, and productive employment. Being able to earn a living is one of the most important factors in poverty reduction. To increase the returns on development assistance the Government is linking development policy, promotion and trade policy.

Increased focus on migration

Development assistance policy will be used as a tool to counteract irregular migration, increase the proportion of people returning to their countries of origin, and effectively contribute to voluntary returns. The Government intends to make parts of development assistance conditional, with the aim of ensuring that recipient countries take responsibility for their citizens in matters concerning returns. Development assistance policy will also focus on effective measures to reduce the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement.

Sweden’s international development engagement

A fixed development assistance budget of SEK 56 billion per year for 2023–2025 makes Sweden’s development assistance more predictable, and Sweden is likely to retain its place among the top five donors in the world relative to GNI.

The UN and other international organisations

Sweden is reducing its core support to many UN agencies, funds and programmes; however, it will continue to do far more than its share of what is a collective responsibility. The Government will continue to push for a broader donor base, reforms, greater effectiveness and new thinking in the UN system, not least to ensure that the UN can more effectively achieve results on the ground. UN agencies continue to be important partners in Sweden’s bilateral development cooperation.

The EU – a major global development actor

Together, the EU and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of development assistance. The EU is an important channel for Swedish development assistance. The Government is now increasing its efforts to gain greater influence over EU development assistance. During the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Government will work to strengthen the EU’s role as a global actor.

Multilateral development banks and climate funds

The World Bank and other regional development banks continue to be our obvious partners. They help to mobilise private and public resources and develop new forms of financing. They are also important partners in the reconstruction efforts in Ukraine. The work of the Green Climate Fund is central to both the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to mobilising additional private capital for climate finance.

Civil society’s important role in development assistance

Civil society organisations often have strong grassroots support and continue to play an important role in development assistance – not least in the Government’s democracy efforts and other priority areas.