The Social Sustainability Forum

The Social Sustainability Forum is a forum for exchanging knowledge and experience that contributes to developing society in a socially sustainable manner through reducing health inequalities and by meeting people’s basic needs and rights.

The Forum is under the joint responsibility of the Public Health Agency of Sweden (PHAS) and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR).

Our goals are to:

  • increase knowledge on social sustainability, the measures that are necessary to be implemented, how they can be implemented in practice and how development can be followed up;
  • increase knowledge on various social sustainability issues (for example, public health, human rights, gender equality and social cohesion), how they are related and how knowledge exchange between the various issues can be strengthened;
  • contribute to strengthening collaboration on social sustainability within the public sector, civil society organisations, the business sector and academia;
  • identify future needs and challenges within social sustainability and contribute to the development of measures and strategies to tackle these.

To develop society in a socially sustainable manner necessitates the involvement and collaboration of various society players. The Forum’s activities are therefore open to elected representatives, public servants and other people active within the municipalities, county councils, the state, the business sector, civil society organisations and academia.

Why do we need joint efforts on social sustainability?

Sweden, like many other countries in the world, is facing major pressures on the economy, the environment and on social issues. An ageing population, migration, urbanisation, the depopulation of rural areas, and health inequalities between various groups pose tremendous challenges for society. Social sustainability, together with the economic and environmental elements, constitutes a holistic approach to the work with sustainable development.

Working more actively with social sustainability is therefore essential if we are to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow – not the least if we are to realise the UN Sustainable Development goals (the 2030 Agenda).

What does social sustainability mean for us?

Social sustainability is of critical importance for a democratic society and is absolutely essential from a socio-economic perspective. A socially sustainable society tolerates pressures and is adaptable and resilient. An equal and fair society in which people live a good life with good health and without unfair differences. It is a society with high tolerance, the central pillar of which is people’s equal worth; this requires people to have confidence in and trust each other, and to take part in the development of their society.

If social sustainability is to be relevant it must be more clearly defined and implemented in practice, based not only on the needs and conditions found at local, regional or national level but also on the undertakings of the different organisations regardless of whether they are public, private or idealistic remits. Municipalities, county councils/regions and the state all carry a large responsibility for social development through their official commitments.

The business sector, civil society organisations and academia also have important roles to play.

One condition for social sustainability is a cohesive view of what a welfare society should offer. This is to:

  • meet all people’s basic needs and ensure that people’s rights are secured in practice;
  • contribute to the inclusion of all people – regardless of gender, education, income, social status, ethnic affiliation, religion or other belief system, place of residence, sexual orientation, trans-gender identity and expression, age, and disability;
  • be adapted and designed based on the groups whose needs are greatest.

Contact us

Jonas Frykman
Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR)
jonas.frykman@skl.se

Sara Kollberg
Public Health Agency of Sweden
sara.kollberg@folkhalsomyndigheten.se