Statistics Netherlands visualises green growth

/ Author: Gert Jan Wijma
© Hollandse Hoogte / EyeEm Mobile GmbH
How can the Dutch economy grow without this having a negative impact on the environment? And could this create economic opportunities and if so where? From today, a new online visualisation is available showing the results of ‘green growth’, based on the themes economic opportunities and natural resources.

Sustainable economy

Traditionally, economic growth has long been the main indicator of how well a country is doing. In recent years, however, society has come to realise that there is more to this than economic growth alone. Cor Pierik, project manager of environmental publications at Statistics Netherlands: ‘It’s good that we can now show green growth alongside economic growth. It shows how economic growth burdens the natural environment. What do the indicators tell us?’ Sjoerd Schenau is project manager of environmental accounts at Statistics Netherlands and partly responsible for measuring green growth. According to him, green growth can be defined as economic growth that does not have a negative effect on the environment. ‘How can the economy grow without increasing emissions or waste? How can we make better use of natural and sustainable resources? The green growth project looks at whether the transition to a sustainable economy could create opportunities in terms of investment in the environment and additional employment.’

Establishing indicators

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) introduced its green growth strategy in 2011. It set up a framework of environmental economic indicators comprising six themes to measure green growth: environmental efficiency, resource efficiency, natural resources, environmental quality, green policy instruments and economic opportunities. Sjoerd Schenau: ‘Within the OECD framework we are working with stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, to define important indicators. We looked at which indicators are available within Statistics Netherlands, and where possible we supplemented them with other sources. This can be difficult because some indicators are outdated or cannot be compared with each other’. In the end, Statistic Netherlands selected five or six indicators for each theme. If necessary, the indicators can be changed. Schenau: ‘For the theme ‘natural resources’ for example we have now added the Living Planet Index (LPI) and replaced ‘conversion of land to built-up area’ with ‘forest and open natural area’ and ‘built-up area.’

Traffic lights

The green growth visualisation tracks trends for the Netherlands and the position of the Netherlands within the OECD. Using a ‘traffic-light’ system it shows users whether the trend is positive (green), negative (red) or neutral (yellow). Policymakers, researchers and politicians can see how green growth is developing on the basis of the themes and the indicators. Pierik: ‘Although farmers have been doing a lot recently to reduce nutrient surpluses, the visualisation shows that there is still a way to go in the Netherlands.’ But, Pierik says, a lot of progress has been made in areas like environmental investment and employment. Schenau: ‘Sustainable energy indicators show that the Netherlands is lagging behind the rest of Europe. But if you look at the investment that has been done in this area you can see that the Netherlands is catching up in leaps and bounds.’

Web publication

Green growth visualisation

Background information