SDG 17 differs from the other SDGs in that it does not set concrete quantitative targets around one theme. It focuses on at creating partnerships in which countries, governments, business and civic organisations work together to achieve the overall agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals. The nature of SDG 17 makes it difficult to measure in statistical terms.
Summary of results
- The Netherlands is high in the EU rankings for spending on development aid and for remittances of non-residents to their countries of origin (wages and salaries of non-residents as a percentage of gross national income).
- The trend for total Dutch imports from the least developed countries (LDCs) is rising and the Netherlands is among the leaders in the EU. The Netherlands imported more fossil fuels in 2022, partly as a result of the sanctions against Russia.
- Following a dip during the coronavirus pandemic, the number of students from outside the European Economic Area enrolling at Dutch universities has risen.
Dashboard and indicators
The seventeenth and final SDG differs from the other sixteen. Its focus is on forming and nurturing partnerships to help achieve the other goals. Collaboration, especially in an international context, is essential to strengthen capacity and make the necessary resources available to implement the 2030 agenda. This requires internationally consistent policies, a cooperative mindset and willingness to enter into new global partnerships. In the – narrower – context of the monitor, SDG 17 examines the effects of certain trends in the Netherlands on other countries; this is the criterium used here to determine whether the dashboard indicators are colour-coded green, grey or red.
Unfortunately from a statistical perspective, no quantifiable indicators are available for most of the sub-goals in SDG 17. Many of these sub-goals relate to policy instruments that support sustainable development in other countries, and no statistical indicators are used for these purposes. Instead, countries are required to state whether these policy instruments are in place in their country. Statistical agencies around the world are grappling with the question of how SDG 17 can be made more quantifiable.
CBS has filled the gap by measuring a few relevant indicators, for a small number of SDG 17 sub-goals. As the classification used for the other sixteen SDGs – in terms of resources and opportunities, use, outcomes and subjective assessment – has no relevance for SDG 17, it is not applied in this dashboard; nor is it possible to describe whether the Netherlands is moving towards or away from the targets of this SDG. For this reason, we only describe trends and positions for the most important results of the individual indicators here. CBS is currently discussing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs how to assess this SDG more reliably for the Netherlands, and which indicators we would need for this. As a result, in this edition we include the footprint indicators (land, raw materials and greenhouse gas footprints) in the dashboard.
SDG 17 Partnerships for the goals
In terms of development aid and remittances (wages and salaries earned by non-residents as a percentage of gross national income (GNI)), the Netherlands is fairly high in the EU rankings: 0.5 percent of Dutch GNI went to development assistance in 2021. Remittances of non-residents to their country of origin amounted to 1.6 percent of GDP and are trending upward. Both indicators are presented here in the context of the SDG agenda. From this perspective, more money is interpreted as improving well-being in the countries receiving the aid or transferred money.
Since 1970, OECD countries have committed to spending 0.7 percent of GNI on official development assistance (ODA), so the Netherlands falls short of this target. Also, it is important to note that measuring the percentage of remittances is not straightforward. It is not clear to how these measurement problems affect the figures, as payment systems vary greatly from country to country.
For total Dutch imports from LDCs, the trend is upward and the Netherlands is high in the European rankings. The value of imported fossil fuels rose substantially in 2022, as a result of the sanctions against Russia and increasing prices. With its major seaports, the Netherlands has traditionally maintained close trade relations with the poorest countries. The economic significance of these trade flows may be overestimated, however, as the data also include re-exports: goods that are imported into the Netherlands and leave the country again in a virtually unaltered state. Although these flows do benefit the Dutch economy, it is still technically difficult to determine by exactly how much and to remove re-exports from total imports.
Following a dip during the coronavirus pandemic, the number of students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA: the 27 EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) enrolling at Dutch universities is rising again. On 1 October 2022, 15.1 percent of all students enrolling for a Bachelor’s or Master’s university programme for the first time came from non-EEA countries. There had been a significant fall (12.6 percent of first-time enrolment) in 2020, the first year of the coronavirus pandemic. From the perspective of knowledge transfer to other countries, the increase in English-language university courses and the number of international students are considered to be beneficial for well-being elsewhere in the world. Effects on well-being in the Netherlands may also be positive: graduates who stay and go on to work in the Netherlands will contribute to the Dutch economy. On the other hand, it could lead to more competition for available places on courses that are in demand among Dutch students. This is a second-order effect from the perspective of SDG 17, however.
We have added a number of footprint indicators to the dashboard to reflect the impact of Dutch consumption on global natural capital. These footprints look beyond Dutch borders; they represent the consequence of Dutch consumption for the rest of the world. CBS is collaborating with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBL to improve and standardise methods to measure footprints.
The PBL land footprint is a measure of land use for Dutch consumption, i.e. how much land in the world is needed to satisfy consumption by Dutch citizens and the Dutch government. A growing population and rising prosperity, for example, may increase demand for biofuels. Larger areas of nature will be turned over to cultivation if erosion, salinisation, urbanisation or desertification make existing farmland unusable. This in turn will lead to a decline in ecosystems and biodiversity. The most recent year for which PBL has calculated this footprint is 2019: 0.62 hectares per capita. As most raw materials required for Dutch consumption are imported, over 80 percent of this land is located outside the Netherlands. Because definitions differ between countries, it is difficult to compare the Dutch footprint with that of other countries. PBL estimated a global average of around 0.65 hectares per capita in 2018. Europeans ‘claim’ an estimated 0.9 hectares per capita, which would mean the Dutch footprint is relatively modest.
The material footprint represents global use of raw materials to satisfy a country’s domestic consumption. It is calculated as the sum of the material footprints of biomass, fossil fuels, and metal and non-metallic ores. To meet the needs of Dutch consumers, across the world 8.2 tonnes of raw materials were extracted per capita in 2020. This figure is indicative and based on methods developed outside CBS.
The greenhouse gas footprint reflects the total volume of greenhouse gases emitted in aid of Dutch consumption. It includes emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide caused by economic activities in the Netherlands, plus emissions of these substances abroad during the production of goods and services imported by the Netherlands. Emissions in the Netherlands caused by the production of goods and services that are exported are deducted from this.
The trend for the greenhouse gas footprint is neutral. No trend can be calculated for the land footprint, as insufficient data are available for the period 2015-2022.