In 2011, Sweden paid out some 36 billion kronor ($5.33 billion) in overseas development assistance (ODA). This corresponded to 1.02 percent of gross national income (GNI).
According to statistics compiled by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), this put Sweden at the top of the list of the world’s largest aid donors when viewed as a proportion of GNI.
Scandinavian neighbour Norway followed close behind, contributing 1 percent of GNI, while Luxembourg was third with 0.99 percent.
”We’re keeping our aid promises at a time when a lot of other countries are breaking theirs,” development aid minister Gunilla Carlsson (Moderate Party) told news agency TT.
In terms of sheer volume, the United States and Germany were the biggest givers, but the GNI statistics showed the two economic powerhouses contributing a comparatively meagre 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
Overall global aid volumes dipped in 2011, however, as countries continued to grapple with a long-running economic crisis.
“Sweden coped well with the economic downturn and, unlike many other countries, was able to maintain a high level of aid to poor countries,” said Carlsson.
A rise in GNI in 2011 meant Sweden’s aid contribution increased by 10.5 percent in monetary terms.
The government has previously faced criticism for the the measures it uses to calculate development aid, such as the inclusion of debt relief to poor countries.
Minister Carlsson said she expected that criticism to persist, but explained that the government had opted to go by the rules laid out by the DAC when calculating its contribution.
This in turn allowed the DAC to include Sweden in its comparative ranking, said Carlsson.
”And now the DAC thinks we’re the best in the world,” she said.
But while Carlsson confessed to being very pleased with the result, she underlined that there still remained much room for improvement.
”We’re not going to change the poverty situation in the world if we don’t work with companies. The major shift in the way of looking at development aid is the realization that we must work more with the business world. On that point, we are also in agreement with the aid organizations,” she said.