New report on sustainable development published

/ Author: Miriam van der Sangen
© Sjoerd van der Hucht Fotografie
On 7 March 2018, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) presented an update on the Netherlands’ progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals were unanimously adopted by all participating countries during a United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2015. CBS presented the report at the international press centre Nieuwspoort in The Hague, preceding a debate on the SDGs in the Netherlands among representatives of the business community, civil society organisations and members of Parliament.

Societal debate

In November 2016, CBS published the report ‘Measuring the SDGs: an initial picture for the Netherlands’, providing a detailed review of the country’s position with regard to the UN SDGs. The report also drew a comparison between the Netherlands and other EU countries in this respect. The publication contributed to a broad societal debate on the SDGs. Hermanus Rietveld, coordinator of the Sustainable Development Goals at CBS explains: ‘With this report, we established both a national and an international standard. There was a lot of praise for our work and CBS was frequently invited to attend conferences and symposia on the subject.’

Input from external organisations

A public consultation of over thirty external organisations produced interesting results for the second report: ‘As commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we consulted a number of external organisations for their input between March and September 2017. First of all, we asked them to provide additional information so we would be able to present a more complete picture of where we stand. Furthermore, they were able to make suggestions for improvements,’ says Rietveld. He welcomes the fact that the report covers 51 percent of the indicators requested, compared to around 35 percent of indicators available in the first report. Rietveld and his colleague Lieneke Hoeksma, who was also closely involved in the civil society consultation, note that the SDGs feature ever more prominently on the agendas of the various organisations.

Social initiative

Maresa Oosterman is Director of the SDG Charter Foundation, an organisation whose ambition is to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Oosterman: ‘These goals have been determined by and for all of us. Right away, it was obvious that we can only achieve them through collaboration between the public sector, the private sector and civil society. Our ambition is to advance in the area of the SDGs together with these stakeholders, both at a national and an international level. The collaboration between these three sectors already started in 2013 as an initiative from within society itself, which was unique in the world. The intention is for this to remain an initiative from society.’ To facilitate cooperation, we established the SDG Charter Foundation, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs playing a key role in the process. The organisation has since made contributions to various events focusing on the SDGs, including a broad l debate at Rotterdam Erasmus University at the end of 2016. To date, the SDG Charter Foundation has attracted the interest of 130 companies, NGOs, knowledge institutes and other organisations.


The SDG Charter Foundation is supported by a steering group consisting of the following members: the Netherlands Network of UN Global Compact, the Dutch Youth Council, IUCN NL, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CSR Netherlands, VNG International, NWO-WOTRO, Partos and the Major Alliance. Various partnerships have been established in the meantime. ‘Our goal for the next two to five years is to expand the networks of all these member organisations and form a strong coalition around each of the SDGs, from which more partnerships can grow. We are also hoping to involve SMEs in the SDGs.’


Oosterman is very positive about the collaboration with CBS: ‘CBS performs fact-based work, which is extremely important in the whole SDG discussion. The Netherlands is truly an international frontrunner. CBS maps out the state of play and based on that, we as SDG Charter together with the private sector and civil society try to determine where the opportunities and challenges lie and how we are going to tackle them. In the current government coalition agreement, the SDGs are not mentioned explicitly except in the part covering development cooperation and international trade. The agreement does include policies which will contribute to the SDGs and how society and politics can reinforce each other in that respect.’

Link to news release

More information on the SDG Charter