Sweden has historically been known for its universal welfare system, which provides equal access to quality health care, education and other services to every resident. Most Swedes are also at the most one or two generations away from rural life in an agricultural economy, which has spawned a great interest for the environment and for sustainable development.
Sweden is paying great attention to environmental protection and is one of the leading countries in the transition to ecologically sustainable development. A new environmental code took effect in 1999 to ensure that energy and other natural resources be used efficiently; that materials be reused or recycled, and that technical development be directed towards low-resource products and methods.
The Stockholm Water Prize
The Stockholm Water Prize is an international environmental award presented by the Stockholm Water Foundation annually in honor of outstanding achievements in science, engineering, technology, education or public policy related to protection of the world´s water resources.
For further information about the prize, please go to www.siwi.org
Health Care and Social Welfare
The Swedish health care system is universal. All residents are covered by a national health insurance. Despite its universal character and high quality, the cost for health care is low by international standards, Sweden also has a well developed system of social welfare with care provided for the old, the disabled, babies and children.
Gender equality is another fundamental feature of Swedish society. Almost 50% of the labor force is made up by women - the highest number in the world! The system of subsidized daycare for children is one of the factors behind this development.
Quality education for everyone is an important element of Sweden's international competiveness. Nine years of schooling is compulsory for all children from age 6 or 7. Almost everyone (98%) also attend three years of senior high school. Higher education is provided at some 40 institutions of higher learning around the country.