Netherlands: not all SDGs set by UN achieved

© Hollandse Hoogte
On 25 September 2015 the United Nations formulated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Worldwide, these SDGs are considered to be the most important policy issues for the next 15 years. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has conducted a first measurement to evaluate the progress the Netherlands has made towards realisation of these objectives. In many areas, the Netherlands is performing well, but there is also cause for concern, as CBS reports today in Meten van SDGs: een eerste beeld voor Nederland (Dutch only).

The SDGs cover many areas with various sub targets, including promoting equal distribution of wealth, combatting climate change, stimulating clean energy and strengthening the rule of law and security. Within each SDG, some issues are handled more successfully than others. The picture can vary for each indicator.


What is going well?

Relative to other EU countries, the Netherlands is performing well economically, in terms of rule of law and institutions and in some areas of education and health. Internationally, the GDP (gross domestic product) per capita is very high: in 2015 the Netherlands occupied fifth place among the 28 EU countries. Despite the recession, which started in 2008, the GDP per capita was higher in 2015 than in 2000. Confidence in institutions is high in the Netherlands compared to other EU countries (third place on a list of 18 EU countries in 2014). Apart from that, a growing number of people are engaged in lifelong learning, positioning the Netherlands in fourth place in the EU 28 in 2015.

What is going less well?

In other areas, e.g. climate protection, renewable energy and economic and social inequality, the Netherlands performs less well. The greenhouse gas emission rate per capita is relatively high putting the Netherlands in place 25 on the EU ranking list in 2014. The amount of renewable energy annually used in the Netherlands is very small; only 5.9 percent of total energy consumption in 2015 (26th of the 28 EU countries). Healthy life expectancy for Dutch women is also relatively low in the EU (20th among the 28 EU member states in 2014); Dutch men are in the middle bracket (12th place).

First measurement of SDGs

The main reason for drawing up this inventory - which only takes EU countries into account - is the UN publication of a list of preliminary indicators to monitor various sub targets of the SDGs. Currently, only one-third of SDG target indicators for the Netherlands can be measured directly. Furthermore, various additional and alternative indicators have been applied. Many SDG indicators are still in the process of being developed, a major challenge. For many (sub) targets, national ambitions and goals have as yet not been formulated. They will affect the choice of which indicators will be developed first.