Sweden ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in January 2011. Since then, the Institute for Language and Folklore has an assignment from the Swedish government to develop working methods on the Convention, and to be the coordinating state agency responsible for work with the Convention in Sweden.
The Institute has developed an organization which includes a central coordinating authority and four “nodes” for different areas (oral traditions and rituals; handicraft; music and performances; and nature), each of these with its own broad network of different organizations, associations and non-profit organizations within the domains of the Convention. This organization can be seen as a path to new forms of creative and deepened collaboration between various players who are not normally in constant contact with each other. In addition, the Sami Parliament has formed a special Sami working group.
Non-governmental organizations play an important role in implementing the ICH Convention in Sweden. Two organizations were accredited by UNESCO in 2014 – the Eric Sahlström Institute (folk music) and the Storytelling Network Kronoberg (oral tradition).
During 2012, guidelines were drawn up to establish an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Sweden. The importance of participation was stressed, i.e. that the work should be anchored among the culture bearers. The Institute for Language and Folklore has the overall responsibility for this work and it is carried out together with a range of stakeholders. Anyone who is interested can submit proposals. The Swedish inventory was launched in September 2015. It is an online, living document constantly updated. It is connected to a database which continuously preserves all incoming submissions.
Several organizations and institutions such as museums, archives, educational institutions, voluntary and non-governmental organizations (including the accredited NGOs) are involved in training, safeguarding and documenting intangible cultural heritage in Sweden. In addition, the cultural heritage of the national minorities is safeguarded by organizations and associations which represent Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Roma and Jewish minorities and make them visible. Many of these actors participate in the direct work with the Convention in Sweden.
There are also many courses in ethnology and anthropology at the universities as well as at the large higher education establishments and research institutions; some related to the intangible cultural heritage. At present there are no courses specifically dedicated to the Convention.
On 31 May 2017 Parliament approved the Cultural Heritage Bill (prop. 2016/17:116). The Bill devotes a special section to the work with the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguaring of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It stresses that the premise for the application of the Convention in Sweden should be “to promote and strengthen civil society’s own potential to preserve, pass on and develop the intangible cultural heritage.” To strengthen this work, a new state grant is established, to be distributed to non-profit cultural work. The aim of the grant is to stimulate participation and co-creation so that players in the non-profit sector are given better opportunities to participate fully in work with the cultural heritage.