This paper compares the respective contributions of the Swedish sustainable development strategy (SDS) and the country’s National Environmental Quality Objectives (NEQOs) in establishing what Steurer and Martinuzzi (2005) refer to as “strategic public management”, an ideal model of what an effective governance framework for promoting sustainable development might look like. Key elements of strategic public management that are considered are the facilitation of policy learning, horizontal and vertical policy integration and the meaningful engagement of relevant non-governmental stakeholders. The paper identifies the central achievements and challenges of the SDS and the NEQOs in establishing these central elements of strategic public management in practice. In this context, it also addresses how these two governance instruments have faired in tackling some of the past shortcomings of sustainable development strategies in delivering an effective framework for strategic public management, resulting in the “administered strategies” described in Steurer (2008). It argues that the NEQOs’ relative success in influencing policy making processes in Sweden is linked to its strong political and institutional foundation as compared to the comparatively weak political mandate and low level of institutionalization of the SDS. Among other things, it relates this to the different political processes leading to the establishment of the two instruments. Despite the achievements of the NEQOs, however, the paper also identifies important challenges for leveraging the NEQOs' strong monitoring system for shaping concrete policy making processes and engaging stakeholders. Based on these insights, the paper concludes with a discussion on the future potential of the NEQOs and the SDS as frameworks for strategic public management in Sweden and draws more general lessons for the establishment of more effective governance frameworks for sustainable development.