The Swedish Parliament has adopted targets for environmental quality within 16 different areas. These objectives describe the desirable quality and condition of Sweden’s environment, natural and cultural resources which can be environmentally sustainable over the long term.
Each year, Sweden’s Environmental Objectives Council reports to the government concerning how far the work has come in achieving the environmental quality objectives.
It is essential that these objectives are supplemented with goals for the economic and social dimensions. The Sustainable Development Goals of the UN are an appropriate way of managing the complex sustainability issue.
A holistic view is essential!
Sweden’s business sector affirms the overall objective of sustainable development and considers that environmental quality objectives are justified, insofar as they ensure that work on behalf of the environment proceeds in the intended direction. A holistic view is necessary, however, to ensure that the environmental work should not have counter-productive effects in practice.
The environmental quality objectives are not indeed necessary for the environmental work of the companies. That is because if these objectives were to disappear, the environmental work by the companies would still continue. Nevertheless, these objectives serve as a good compass for the internal environmental work and to obtain an overview of Swedish policy on behalf of the environment. Swedish steel companies make products that contribute to environmental solutions and to reduced emissions during their useful life.
Work for environmental quality objectives = everyday environmental work
The Action Strategies included in the environmental quality objectives nowadays comprise the foundation for Sweden’s environmental policy. It is, therefore, important that the work to realise the environmental objectives is not seen as a separate phenomenon – it is the same as the environmental work undertaken by companies and organisations and is a result of the shared environmental policy.
When steel companies adopt measures that improve the state of the environment, this also contributes to the delivery of the environmental quality programme. To carry out everyday environmental work is the same as working towards the realisation of environmental objectives. Parts of the programme delivery are of course dependent on the inputs from trade and industry.
To attain the following outcomes: well-substantiated impact assessments; good results from negotiation; clear-sighted targets and environmental policies, a continuous interaction is required at several different levels. This extends from the industry trade groups centrally down to the companies at the local level. It is essential to assess the international environmental impact and what can be done within the national system.
- The work to achieve environmental objectives should not be seen as a separate phenomenon – the work for environmental objectives is the same as everyday environmental work out in the companies and is a result of the shared environmental policy. The environmental aspects on production of a product must be seen together with the benefits of that product during its useful life. It is not sufficient to only look at the emissions in the production process.
- Always pay regard to international negotiations in the case of cross-border environmental problems; such as those for the reduction of greenhouse gases or for airborne emissions.
- Steel has long been included in an efficient eco-cycle. Steel has the outstanding characteristic that it can be recycled endlessly without comprising on the product quality.
- The business sector (trade and industry) shall always be a collaboration partner in the formulation of all environmental policies.
- Clarify the significance of the ecological dimension in sustainable development and ensure that impact assessments of the objectives and measures adopted incorporate a sustainability perspective, so that the economic and social dimensions are illuminated.
- Base the work for environmental quality objectives on a proactive eco-cycle approach.