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  The Netherlands


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Basic information

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.


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National Implementation of 2030 Agenda for SD

[No information available]


Leading Ministry and
respective unit
[No information available]
Other ministries involved [No information available]
Main contact point for the
implementation process
[No information available]
Links to main websites/
documents on national
implementation of the
2030 Agenda and SDGs
[No information available]
Voluntary National Reviews


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Mechanisms of Vertical Integration

National — sub-national linkages

There is no separate coordination mechanism for SD between the national and sub-national levels. In sectoral policies, there is coordination between the political levels, e.g. in environmental policy, transport policy, spatial planning or climate change.

In the current policy on sustainable development the sub-national levels are involved. There are, however, some programmes that are a link between the sub-national levels and the national level. Firstly, the ‘Learning for SD’ programme (LvDO) is a mutual-learning process with a focus on a change in society, education and government. There are coordinators of the programme in each of the provinces and a budget for local initiatives. Moreover, many provinces and municipalities developed their own action programmes. Secondly, there is a national programme on ecological and environmental education.

EU linkages


The EU Strategy for Sustainable Development (EU SDS) that was adopted in June 2006 foresees that Member States bi-annually report about how they address the priorities of the EU SDS. The Netherlands have published their first national report on implementing the EU SDS in June 2007.



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Mechanisms of Horizontal Integration

Coordination at the national level is addressed by the regular coordination mechanisms that support the council of ministers, such as the council for infrastructure and environment.

On the level of policy makers the Ministry of Foreign Affairs leads the Task Force Sustainable Development (TFDO – task force duurzame ontwikkeling)


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Evaluation and Review

In autumn 2006, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated a peer review of the Dutch NSDS which was partially financed by the European Commission. Germany, Finland and South Africa were selected as peer countries. From each peer country, four experts were invited to the peer review team, representing the government, business, science and NGOs. During the peer review process, several activities were undertaken, including a scoping meeting and interviews with Dutch stakeholders. From 1-5 April 2007, a peer review workshop took place in which the peer review team discussed relevant issues in-depth with more than 80 invited stakeholders. The final peer review report was presented to the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment on 21 June 2007 and includes 46 recommendations for a new SD framework.

The OECD undertakes regular Environmental Performance Reviews, that also include sustainable development. The latest review of the Netherlands dates from 2003.

General Information


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Indicators and Monitoring

Both the SD Action Programme of 2003 and the 2004 progress report do not specify indicators. A list of 32 is included in the report ‘Quality and the future. Sustainability Outlook’ that was presented by the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP) in 2004. However, the Netherlands do not yet have a fixed set of SD indicators.

Two more outlooks with indicators were produced in 2008; regarding the future of The Netherlands itself:, and regarding The Netherlands in the world:

A new indicator-set was presented in the monitoring report on sustainability in the Netherlands: Monitor Duurzaam Nederland 2009 and the second edition.

The full list(s) of indicators as identified by a study commissioned by Eurostat can be downloaded here:


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There is no National Council on Sustainable Development. The reason for this is that the Netherlands were already applying policy planning procedures involving various governmental and non-governmental actors and agencies long before the NSDS process. At the national level, several existing councils advice the Government on issues related to SD:

The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) is the primary strategic advisory board for the Dutch government and parliament in matters relating to the physical environment and infrastructure. The Council operates independently and provides solicited and unsolicited advice on policy affecting the sustainable development of the human environment.


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Sub-national activities

Many communities, provinces, NGO’s and companies are working at on sustainability. I.e. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Almere, province of Utrecht, province of Noord-Brabant, province of Limburg, etc.

NGO’s: e.g. IUCN, WWF, Urgenda, Solidaridad
Companies: e.g. Philips, Unilever, DSM, AkzoNobel, Ahrend, Desso, KLM, Schiphol Airport, Tendris, ENECO, Greenchoice. Information on SME’s at:




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This Country Profile has been last updated on: Monday, 30 October 2017

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


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