Sweden’s environmental policy includes an overarching goal of handing over to the next generation “a society in which the major environmental problems in Sweden have been solved”. Most significantly for PRINCE, this must be done “without increasing environmental and health problems outside Sweden’s borders”. This Generational Goal is meant to guide environmental action at every level of Swedish society.
For a wealthy and heavily import-reliant OECD economy like Sweden’s, the Generational Goal is an impressive commitment. It acknowledges a degree of responsibility for environmental impacts outside Swedish territory, and outside the jurisdiction of Swedish law. And it determines that a cleaner domestic environment, and a higher quality of life for Swedish citizens, will not come at a high cost to others.
PRINCE is designed expressly to support the Generational Goal. Firstly, the new monitoring framework will measures pressures related to consumption both inside and outside Sweden in consistent ways, allowing comparison of domestic and extra-territorial impacts, across product groups and over time, to reveal how Sweden’s consumption footprint is changing. Secondly, it uses multi-regional input-output (MRIO) modeling to trace the flows of commodities and potential environmental pressures back along complex global supply chains, including not just the commodities that reach Sweden but also “embedded” materials and pressures – for example related to the production and use of fertilizers to grow agricultural commodities, or fuel used in transportation.
MRIO also reveals countries where production and associated environmental pressures took place. With this information it is possible to use knowledge about the local environment, production techniques etc. to give a more nuanced picture of environmental pressures; for example, differentiating between water use in a producer country with high water scarcity and one without.
Finally, by giving sufficient detail about consumers (dividing into private and government) and “hotspot” product groups and production locations, the PRINCE indicators can be of direct use in guiding policy decisions, for example on where to direct relevant technical cooperation.
Alongside the Generational Goal are 16 Environmental Quality Objectives”, each describing a goal of environmental policy in a specific area, to be achieved by 2020 (2050 in the case of Objective 1: Reduced climate impact). You can read more about the Generational Goal and the Environmental Quality Objectives here.