Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Of Sweden’s population, 85 per cent live in urban areas. Slums do not exist in any conventional sense; virtually all homes in Sweden’s cities have functioning water, sewage, heating and orderly street networks with lighting and functioning waste management. However, there is a certain level of overcrowding. According to the norm applied in Sweden, a household is considered overcrowded if more than one person per bedroom lives in the home. Cohabiting couples can, however, share a bedroom, while children are to have their own bedrooms. A person living alone in a one-room apartment is considered overcrowded. With these definitions, 16 per cent of all persons aged 16 and older, were living in overcrowded conditions in 2014 and 2015. Six years earlier, the proportion was just under 15 per cent.

A comparison between urban growth in terms of area and urban growth in terms of population 1960–2015 shows that the growth of cities in terms of area since 1980 was greater than their population growth, i.e. urban areas use relatively more land per resident.

The quantity of particles in the air is of great importance for the health of the population, not least in urban areas, and the Swedish environmental objectives system has an environmental quality objective for clean air. Achieving this requires, inter alia, reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides and particles. The most recent follow-up using data from 19 Swedish urban areas shows that the development for air quality is largely positive, but that the objective will not be achieved.

Legislation and other rules exist for urban planning, which requires consultation with civil society and residents in areas to be developed, altered or planned for the future. A new policy for the designed living environment, architecture, form and design is currently being prepared at the Government Offices and aims to strengthen qualities in both urban and rural living environments.

Access to nearby green areas is in general relatively good in cities in Sweden. The proportion of the population in the 37 biggest cities with access to green areas within 200 metres of their home was 92 per cent in 2010.

As of 2015, the Swedish Discrimination Act (2008:567) states that inadequate accessibility can be a form of discrimination. Accessibility and usability need to be seen in the light of the population’s diversity and are a prerequisite for an inclusive urban and social life.

Household waste is disposed of in organised forms using various treatment methods. Of the proportion of household waste that was recycled in 2015, 49 per cent went to energy recovery; 35 per cent to recycling; 15 per cent to biological
recycling and 0.8 per cent to landfill.

The total proportion of the population subjected to violent crime, that is assault, threats or mugging, amounted to 6.8 per cent in 2015. The proportion subjected to assault was 2 per cent, the proportion subjected to threats 5 per
cent, and the proportion subjected to mugging 0.9 per cent. Sexual offences are not included in the combined figure for violent crime above. The proportion of the population subjected to sexual offences amounted to 1.7 per cent in 2015.

Men are subjected to assault, robbery and fraud to a greater extent, while women are more often subjected to sexual offences, threats and harassment. In an international perspective, Sweden is affected by few fatalities and injuries due to major natural disasters. There are no comprehensive national calculations of economic losses caused by natural disasters.

Sweden faces several challenges regarding sustainable urban development with good security, and satisfying the need for more housing. Segregation in residential areas must be broken. Continued urbanisation is also placing greater demands on an expanded and environmentally friendly public transport with good accessibility also for persons with disabilities. An outstanding challenge is also to work preventively for disaster risk reduction in accordance with national and local action plans in line with the Sendai Framework.

Swedish development cooperation is based on the challenges of growing cities faced by many low and middle-income countries, such as health and environmental problems, inequality, poverty and security problems. This is an important issue, not least in the context of the thematic focus on environmentally and climate-friendly sustainable development. Sweden provides the least developed countries with a limited support for the construction of resilient buildings using local resources.

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