Accountability day: focus on the SDGs

/ Author: Masja de Ree/Miriam van der Sangen
Today is 15 May: Accountability Day in the Dutch parliament. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) will be presenting the ‘Monitor of Well-being’ in Nieuwspoort press centre. The monitor describes well-being in the Netherlands from the perspective of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Today is also the day the ‘Wereldwijzer’ website will be presented in NEMO Science Museum. This website has been developed for children, explaining to them how the Netherlands is doing in terms of the SDGs.

Monitor of Well-being

CBS Director General Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi will present the ‘Monitor of well-being’ to Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate. In the monitor, CBS gives a wide ranging description of the increasing welfare in the Netherlands. It does this not only on the basis of gross domestic product (GDP), but also explains how themes such as the environment, health, education, labour, safety and trust play an important part in the well-being of the Dutch population. The Netherlands is among the leading countries of the European Union (EU) in the areas of material welfare, well-being, labour and leisure. But indicators in the area of housing, for example, show a trend towards a deterioration of well-being. The Netherlands is also among the EU leaders in terms of a number SDG’s: knowledge and innovation, social cohesion and inequality, and trust in institutions, for example.

Child ambassadors

When the SDGs were adopted by the UN, started the campaign ‘17 goals to share’. is an initiative of entrepreneur and publicist Anne-Marie Rakhorst; it is a platform where initiatives, organisations and businesses come together to share their knowledge and to work towards making the Netherlands more sustainable. Anne-Marie Rakhorst’s aim is to increase awareness of the global goals, and to encourage the use of knowledge and talent in the Netherlands to achieve them. In this context the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed the children in the campaign as child ambassadors for the global goals. They in turn are committed to increasing awareness across the country.

Step forward

This year CBS has been involved in the development of a new website for children: de Wereldwijzer. The title of the website has a double meaning: wiser about the world, but also: guide to the world. took the initiative for the website. They commissioned authors Lotte Stegeman and Sander Koenen to describe the most recent developments in the SDGs for children on the basis of the newest CBS data, which they received under embargo. The site also contains interviews with the child ambassadors. Lieneke Hoeksma and Hermanus Rietveld of CBS were responsible for checking that the data were used and interpreted correctly. It is quite unusual: using CBS data to compile a publication for children. Hermanus Rietveld: ‘This is not something we normally do, but we enjoyed the challenge! It’s a step in a new direction, towards reaching a new audience.’

Data in context

In addition to data and interviews the website also provides tips for children. Everybody can help the world become more sustainable. Lieneke Hoeksma: ‘The webpage for energy (SDG 7), for example, gives tips on how to shorten the time you spend in the shower’. Rietveld: ‘Because the data are presented in a broader context, some of the information in the Wereldwijzer confronts you with quite shocking facts. For example, some two billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water. Presenting data from the perspective of children was quite inspiring: they come up with solutions that adults do not always see.’

Optimistic and positive

The Wereldwijzer emphasises that although things are not always moving in the right direction, we can do something about it. ‘The tone of the stories and interviews on the website is positive’, confirms Hoeksma. ‘The ambassadors are optimistic about solutions to the problems, with refreshing ideas about how to reduce inequality, for example, or how to prevent poorer people from being excluded.’ Following the launch on 15 May in NEMO, the Wereldwijzer will be promoted through various channels, including social media. ‘It is also a great information source for teachers to organise class projects’, says Hoeksma. Rietveld: ‘The idea is to update the Wereldwijzer annually and perhaps develop it further in the future.’