Author: CBS
CBS Multi-annual Programme 2024-2028

Strategic objective 1: Societal challenges are central

Increased flexibility

The world around us has grown more complex. Developments move fast and are sometimes unpredictable. Examples are the COVID-19 pandemic, rising energy prices, the war in Ukraine and shortages in the labour market. These often result in an unexpected, acute need for statistical information. CBS aims to respond with reliable, objective information, providing the insight that the government and society require. That demands a high degree of flexibility. The societal challenges that the Netherlands faces now and in the future require coherent, cross-domain information. CBS performs its public duties with the aim of providing reliable and objective, factual information on current societal developments. CBS uses its administrative and innovative strength to contribute to the public debate through statistics and the provision of data. Our data can provide a foundation for policy in these areas.

CBS conducts statistical (mostly multi-annual) research at the request of government organisations. These statistics are financed partly by the basic funding from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and partly directly by interested government organisations. All these statistics are an integral part of CBS’ work programme and do not differ in terms of their societal value. Quality requirements and publication conditions are clearly stated and do not depend on the financing method. The importance of the information is key in determining whether or not requests will be fulfilled; financial revenues are never a motive for CBS. CBS strives for broad, multi-annual funded statistical programmes for government organisations with scope to address relevant ad hoc questions. CBS remains cautious with regard to requests that fall outside such programmes and could also be fulfilled by commercial operators. CBS leaves third-party requests to the market as far as possible.

Cooperation with others

CBS will of course carry out its regular work programme during the planning period. This consists of statistical research for the European Union and (central) government, which is compiled and published on a regular basis. The work programme section in this Multi-annual Programme provides an exhaustive overview of the regular work programme. Based on the external consultation conducted in order to assess the need for statistical information, CBS will focus on major societal challenges in the forthcoming planning period. CBS is actively pursuing collaboration with other parties to meet the information needs relating to these challenges. The substantive issues involved play a central and determining role. The necessary financing must then be found. As far as CBS is concerned, any development costs should not be an obstacle to the compilation of the information.

Single point of information

Good factual information is indispensable in order to address societal challenges effectively and efficiently: it provides a specific picture of problems and a means of targeting measures and resources. CBS aims to create a single point of information for a range of challenges jointly with knowledge partners, thereby providing a clear set of key figures for policymaking. An example is the State of Public Health and Care. CBS has a great deal of statistical information and can compile further information on request. But even then the information jigsaw will still not be complete. Other organisations may also have other types of valuable information that is needed for such a single point of information.

Several steps are necessary to obtain a clear and coherent picture, starting with a survey of the required information. Together with responsible policy departments and knowledge partners, CBS first determines what information is needed to create a joint single point of information relating to the identified societal challenges. On this basis, it examines what information is already available, either within CBS or within knowledge partners, and which parties will be able to compile which information. This analysis shows what else is required, in terms of sources, partners and financial resources. CBS enters into partnerships to jointly meet the overall need for factual information on a societal challenge. It thus builds on existing initiatives such as the Criminal Justice System Data Alliance and the Woonopgave (a central government target to tackle the housing shortage). Various sources must be made accessible and data must be securely combined and processed into statistical outcomes. CBS aims to use its knowledge of data, data storage, processing and related standards in such collaborations and can play a coordinating role in consultation with the parties.

Focus on challenges

Meeting the need for coherent statistical information that provides insight into societal challenges is the first strategic objective. To this end, CBS will develop new information and present existing information more coherently. Based on the external consultation, CBS has chosen within this strategic objective to focus its attention and administrative and innovative power initially on the following challenges:


The availability of a suitable home is a primary necessity of life that is increasingly under pressure. The Netherlands has had to contend with a shortage of (affordable) housing for some time now. Prices have risen sharply and the supply is limited, so first-time buyers and households with modest incomes are barely able to find a suitable home. The housing theme is diverse and complex and is often subdivided into smaller segments to keep it manageable. The interplay between the sale market and the social and private rental market and themes such as affordability, construction, contraction and growth regions, sustainability and gentrification are inextricably linked. CBS aims to make core statistical information available.

Climate and sustainability

Climate change and the transition to a sustainable energy system are one of the major challenges facing the current generation. CBS is actively involved in the European Green Deal. The European Green Deal provides a solid and coherent basis for addressing themes such as energy transition and consumption, biodiversity, nitrogen, land use, acidification, circular economy, well-being and the sustainable development goals. Monitoring the energy transition with reliable and objective statistical information can help provide a clear picture of the challenge.

Digitisation, knowledge and economy

Innovation and digitisation have brought changes to production and services, communication and societal processes. They often make things simpler, faster, cheaper, easier or better, but sometimes also more complicated or more problematic: enterprises have to reinvent their revenue model, markets are shaken up by new types of players, and dominant, globally active digital platforms can make it harder for firms to compete. This all has a major impact on the economy. Correct answers to policy questions require knowledge, for example of innovation activities, research & development, intellectual property rights, connectivity, the platform economy, online trading, ICT use and investments, supply-use/input-output of digital products and services, value of data, and cyber security.

Globalisation & value chains

Due to the increasing internationalisation of the production of goods and services, national economies are becoming increasingly interconnected. That applies particularly to an open economy like the Netherlands. The process of economic globalisation is characterised by growing international trade, foreign direct investment and the increased importance of multinationals. The other side of the coin is that globalisation leads to dependencies, with less influence on the quality and security of supply of services and goods, such as raw materials, than in the case of production close to home.

Inequality & poverty

Inequality has various causes, such as educational attainment and the housing and work situation. The socioeconomic position also largely determines the degree of inequality between groups and the opportunities they have for full participation. Poverty in particular is an impediment to participation. High inflation, caused in part by the sharp rise in energy prices, exacerbates the risk of poverty. Not being able to participate – or not being able to participate sufficiently – causes inequality of opportunity and a risk of poverty. This has a major social and societal impact. A good understanding of these societal phenomena and the associated developments requires a statistical description that also covers the relationships between inequality, poverty and social participation.

Demographic development

The Dutch population is constantly changing. Themes such as population ageing, migration and health characteristics differ in terms of the population composition. Increasing pressure on facilities due to a rapidly growing population in one region contrasts with a shrinkage in another region. Demographic trends have a direct impact on the other themes in this Multi-annual Programme.

Security & subversive crime

Crime and feelings of insecurity affect quality of life and have an impact on various aspects of our daily existence. Ensuring greater security is therefore one of the major challenges our country faces. Subversive crime, in which criminals use legal enterprises, service providers and citizens, is a societal problem. This form of crime undermines our rule of law and has impacts on society. CBS aims to address this challenge by making even more data available on various aspects of security.

Pandemic preparedness

The coronavirus crisis has shown that the availability of up-to-date, reliable information in such a health crisis is indispensable to enable the government to act decisively. It is therefore important that access to data is regulated and that CBS becomes more agile so that it can provide relevant information quickly in a crisis situation. Attention also needs to be focused on effective and secure exchanges of data with partners and optimal facilitation of research by others within the applicable parameters.

Labour market

The labour market is constantly evolving. Periods of unemployment alternate with shortages in occupational groups, the labour market is becoming increasingly flexible and population ageing is leading to a decrease in the supply of labour. There are currently major shortages in the labour market, with clear economic effects. At the same time new groups are entering the labour market, for example as a result of labour migration. New forms of work and services are leading to the appearance and simultaneous disappearance of occupational groups and hence a need for continuous learning.

The focus on the above challenges is intended to serve as a starting point for the early years of the planning period. The past planning period taught us more than ever about the need for agility. In its annual plans, CBS will describe the specific objectives it is pursuing in the relevant year with regard to the challenges. The current needs of society may also result in CBS prioritising a new challenge and deferring work on a challenge that is less urgent at that time. Strategic objective 3 of this Multi-annual Programme is aimed at increasing CBS’ flexibility by investing in IT and modernising its processes, so that it can respond even more effectively to the latest events and new societal challenges.

As part of strategic objective 1, CBS has prioritised the introduction of more subdivisions within the societal challenges. It aims to produce more regional versions of statistics, so that local and regional authorities can also access key figures relating to government policy in their field. Attention will also be focused on cross-border issues. The availability of regional and cross-border statistics contributes to higher-quality decision-making and implementation, which is increasingly required at a local and regional level in a context of decentralisation. CBS is also working to improve the findability, accessibility and interpretability of regional and cross-border statistics.