Dossier Well-being and the Sustainable Development Goals

“Well-being refers to the quality of life here and now and the extent to which it is or is not achieved at the expense of the well-being of future generations and/or people elsewhere in the world.”

Where gross domestic product focuses on the material aspects of life – how much a country consumes and produces, and how much money it earns from this – well-being encompasses all the things that contribute to quality of life. Although a certain degree of material prosperity is indispensable in this respect, for most people ultimately it is the immaterial things that determine how satisfied they are with life: quality of relationships, good health and a pleasant place to live. Alongside these shorter-term aspects, future prospects also play and important role. Will our children be just as well off as we are? Will we leave enough natural resources for them? And will these resources be fairly distributed (equality of opportunities)? Today the Netherlands is a country with close ties to the rest of the world. Many goods the Dutch consume are produced outside the Netherlands. This means that choices that Dutch people make have direct effects on the well-being of people in other countries, especially in the world’s poorest countries.

Current publications


What is Well-being?

To make sure that everyone can share the world’s natural resources and the well-being these resources generate, and to improve quality of life for as many people as possible, the UN has introduced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs can be seen as an international standard for well-being, which can be adapted to local culture and norms and can be used as a guideline for national policies. Systematic monitoring is essential to implement the SDGs and related policy programmes successfully: countries need to measure how they are faring in terms of well-being in general and the SDGs in particular. With this in mind, the Dutch government commissioned Statistics Netherlands to develop the ‘Monitor of Well-being and the Sustainable Development Goals’ to measure well-being in line with the relevant CES recommendations.

Well-being in the Netherlands is now monitored annually at various levels: national, provincial, NUTS 3 and municipal), and for the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom. The SDGs serve as a guideline in this monitoring, but where possible, extra indicators are developed to be able report at more detailed levels.

Publication of the results of this monitoring is tied in with two important moments in the Dutch political year: the national monitor covering the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is published annually on Accountability Day in May, while factsheets (Dutch only) containing key data to help ministries draft their annual policy plans are published on Budget Day in September.

Monitor of Well-being & the SDGs

Monitor of Wellbeing and SDGs Caribbean Netherlands