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Basic Information

  The Netherlands

Year of approval of the
SD strategy and updates

The Action Programme “Sustainable Action” was adopted by the Dutch Government in 2003 and since than several progress reports have been published.

Following an international peer review, the government revised its policy in 2008 in a programme known as the cabinet-wide approach to sustainable development: Kabinetsbrede Aanpak Duurzame Ontwikkeling, (KADO). The English translation of the KADO letter (2008) can be downloaded following this link.
In the KADO-programme the Cabinet adopted a three-pronged approach, which involves the setting and achievement of policy outcomes, committing the national government to further the cause of sustainability in its everyday operational activities and by entering into a dialogue with society.
February 2009 saw the publication by Statistics Netherlands, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research of the first Sustainability Monitor for the Netherlands. The most recent Monitor was published in September 2011.
In May 2010, the Social Economic Council (SER) published its vision on sustainable development in the report Meer werken aan duurzame groei. In 2010, a new coalition was formed. In its coalition agreement it stipulated that it will proceed with programmes and initiatives such sustainable energy, corporate social responsibily, sustainable trade (IDH), sustainable food, cleaner transport and sustainable procurement.

The current government’s coalition agreement (Building Bridges – October 2012) has a chapter on sustainable growth and innovation. Specific issues and goals that are mentioned are an ambitious international climate policy, complete sustainable energy supply by 2050, a 16% target for renewables for 2020, and Green Deals.

On March 28, 2013, the cabinet sent a Green Growth policy paper (“Green Growth: for a strong, sustainable economy” - only in Dutch) to Parliament. The policy has four pillars:

1. Smart use of market incentives,
2. A dynamic legislative and regulatory framework that should stimulate green growth,
3. Innovation and,
4. Government as networking partner.

These four pillars carry the focus on 8 areas that offer great challenges but also opportunities. These 8 focus areas are:

1.Energy (towards a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy supply)
2. Biobased Economy (towards substitution of fossil fuels by green materials (biomass)
3. Climate (towards an ambitious (inter) national climate policy
4. Waste (from waste to resource)
5. Construction (towards an energy efficient built environment)
6. Food (towards a sustainable agriculture and food supply)
7. Mobility (towards sustainable modalities of transport)
8. Water (working sustainably with water)

Statistics Netherlands provides excellent information (in English) on the state of sustainability issues in the Netherlands, in general and for the different policy areas.

Regularly PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency publishes reports on various sustainability issues  (mostly with an environmental focus). Recent examples are reports on environmental taxes and green growth (April 25, 2013), and on conditions for greening the Dutch economy (March 4, 2013).

Type of SD strategy

The current sustainability agenda covers all three dimensions of SD, with an emphasis at the national level on the “planet” and "profit" issues (since many of the goals in the “people” pillar have been met). It focuses on both the national and international level.

Lead ministry/institution in
the SD strategy process

It depends on the government level who is the leading authority: 

Regional level – some sustainable development policies have been delegated to regional but even more to municipal level.

National level – the Minister of Environment is responsible for coordination of national sustainable development policy. The usual division of the three P’s is present within the various ministries (such as social policy at Ministry of Social Affairs, economic policy at Ministry of Economic Affairs, environmental policy at Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (and also partially at Ministry of Economic Affairs which is responsible for biodiversity and nature matters).

EU and international level – the coordination of SD policies at the EU and international level is in hands of both Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

The current Netherlands’ Ambassador for Sustainable Development is Ms. Kitty van der Heijden.

Link to the SD strategy

Further information about
the SD strategy process

See documents mentioned above.


This Country Profile has been last updated on: Wednesday, 22 May 2013

For the sources used in the country profiles, please click here.


More information about The Netherlands




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