CBS develops Green Deal dashboard to monitor climate change

/ Author: Miriam van der Sangen
Flooding in the Netherlands due to climate change
© Hollandse Hoogte
In 2019, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal. This consists of various policy agreements in the areas of climate change and energy transition, environmental quality and circularity, and nature and biodiversity. One of the most important goals of the Green Deal is to combat climate change. Following extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including various ministries and research institutions, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has created a dashboard displaying the Netherlands’ progress on various components of the Green Deal in graphical form.

Organisational challenge

Charlotte Brand is a policy researcher at CBS and also the project leader for the Green Deal dashboard. Her job was to bring together the relevant figures for the dashboard from within CBS and beyond. ‘It was quite an organisational challenge to collect all the figures required. Streamlining the information also involved extensive consultation with colleagues. Who would take which decisions? Were we missing any information? This was the kind of question that we had to answer. As well as a diverse range of CBS data – on greenhouse gas emissions, for instance – we also needed to add information from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) to the dashboard.’ KNMI is an important partner for CBS, and the partnership between the two organisations demonstrates how they complement one another when it comes to data on climate, the weather, the environment and nature.

Coordination with stakeholders

Thom Werkhoven, the project leader for Green Deal at CBS, also emphasises the importance of cooperation in this area: ‘We made sure that we coordinated closely with our stakeholders on the Green Deal dashboard. To do this, we held a symposium/workshop in March 2023 where dozens of stakeholders provided input. We also consulted several user councils and expert groups. That enabled us to talk about the functionality of the dashboard: did it meet the needs of end users? We also asked for input regarding the content. The European Union’s Green Deal goals play an important role in this, and these are reflected in the dashboard, so we can show users broadly where we stand at present.’ Charlotte Brand: ‘We also checked whether the language used in the dashboard reflects the language of end users. Most of them are policymakers working on climate and environmental issues, but the dashboard can also be useful for non-policymakers.’

Participant in the climate protests
© Hollandse Hoogte / Laurens van Putten

Work in progress

The Green Deal dashboard was launched by CBS at the beginning of December 2023. Prior to the launch, the preliminary version was twice presented to end users so that improvements could be made where necessary. Thom Werkhoven: ‘Involving end users in the development of the dashboard in this phase was a very important step, but our work continues. This product will carry on developing. In the next few months we want to add topics involving circularity and the environment, such as figures on water, air and soil. Information on natural capital, biodiversity and financial-economic activities will also be added to the dashboard. And we want to include research results and make those more accessible.’

A broader, more coherent picture

The dashboard is therefore being expanded in close consultation and cooperation with CBS’s data partners. ‘These include various government ministries and research institutions, such as the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM). They are prepared to share data with CBS so that we can provide a broader, more coherent picture. We are particularly keen to prevent data fragmentation with respect to the Green Deal, and we can do this by bringing together the most relevant information, both internally and externally. The structure of the dashboard has two layers: from the general dashboard, users can click on links to the dashboards of other organisations,’ says Werkhoven.

International activity

Finally, how do CBS’s activities on the Green Deal relate to its international activities in the field of climate change? ‘The dashboard focuses mainly on national figures. At the same time, we are seeking to harmonise the figures at the international level through the European Union and the United Nations. The people who are working on this are also contributing ideas on how we can develop the dashboard further. They are also making sure that important national themes relating to the Green Deal are on the agenda at the European and international levels. A good example of this is the key contribution that our colleagues Arthur Denneman and Otto Swertz have made to the work of the UNECE in the field of climate-related statistics and the role of the various statistical offices in this. This brings all the lines together again,’ concludes Werkhoven.