Opportunities and Challenges for Meeting the UN 2030 Agenda in the Light of Global Change—A Case Study of Swedish Perspectives

This study explores how geopolitical aspects can affect actors’ sense of agency to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its ambition to transform the world sustainably by studying the linkages between global change and the 2030 Agenda as described by Swedish change agents. Sweden has a self-declared ambition for leadership in the 2030 Agenda. The world’s high-income countries, including Sweden, have been given a specific responsibility to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The results of this focus group study show that the geopolitical landscape encompasses a multitude of actors and roles whose relationships are filled with tension, creating dichotomies between them.
The analysis indicates that Sweden is assessed to be dependent on functioning ecosystems, both locally and globally, as well as causing global environmental change. Two narratives have emerged: (i) the narrative of the 2030 Agenda, referring to deliberate societal transformations that can be controlled and steered, and that have a direction; and (ii) the narrative of geopolitics, indicating perceptions of emergent transformations that appear uncontrollable, drifting aimlessly towards an unknown future. These narratives might influence the understanding of societal transformations, and need to be considered in the facilitation of platforms for deliberative transformations or responses to emerging transformations.
Keywords: UN 2030 Agenda; sustainable development goals; sustainability; societal transformations; geopolitics; environmental change; Sweden; focus groups; sense-making

Authors of this publication

Karin Eliasson , Tina-Simone Neset , Victoria Wibeck ,