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How the Dutch are doing in terms of sustainable development

MAY 23, 2017
The Dutch statistics agency, Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, recently conducted a baseline measurement of Dutch sustainability. Where do the Netherlands stand in terms of achieving the targets set by the Sustainable Development Agenda?

The Dutch are performing well in some areas. When compared to other European countries, the Netherlands stand out in terms of the state of its post-crisis economy. Its citizens tend to have confidence in government institutions and the rule of law. Also, an increasing number of Dutchmen are committed to lifelong learning.

Nonetheless, there is room for improvement. The Dutch appear to be lagging behind in terms of climate protection, renewable energy consumption, as well as economic and social equality. The Dutch greenhouse gas emission rate per capita is high when compared to other European countries. Renewable energy use is still minor: barely 6% of total energy consumption in 2015. And, last but not least, healthy life expectancy of Dutch women is relatively low.


Hugo Von Meijenfeldt, coordinator of the implementation of the global goals at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hopes that the publication will trigger a productive debate about Dutch progress on sustainable development. He hopes that a wide variety of actors will have their say – government agencies, as well as knowledge institutes, the private sector, and civil society at large.

“The private sector increasingly focuses on incorporating the sustainable development goals. Companies are finding ways to express them in their company policies,” says Von Meijenfeldt. He is excited about this prospect. “Anything is possible. These numbers should inspire us, all of us, to move forward and to keep going,” he says.


In September of 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Paraphrasing the United Nations: “Over the next fifteen years, with these new goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind”. The goals are part of a new sustainable development agenda. It aims to help focus policy making of government, the private sector and civil society the world over.