Importance of environmental sector increasing

In 2016, the Dutch environmental sector represented a value added of 15.8 billion euros, contributing 2.2 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) that year. The share of the environmental sector in the Dutch economy still stood at 1.7 percent in 2001. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of new figures which have been compiled on the Dutch environmental sector.

The environmental sector consists of companies and organisations which carry out economic activities aimed at protecting the environment and managing natural resources. Environmental protection activities include for instance the measurement, prevention and correction of environmental damage caused by air, water and soil pollution. Other examples are waste management, waste water treatment, limiting noise nuisance and protection of ecosystems.

Management of natural resources includes production of cleaner technologies, products and services, such as the production of renewable energy, electrical transport, and energy-saving activities such as insulation work. In addition, activities such as water management and recycling of materials are classified under natural resource management.

The share of the environmental sector in the total economy increased steadily between 2001 and 2016. The share of activities related to management of natural resources has doubled, from 0.55 percent in 2001 to 1.02 percent in 2016. The share of environmental protection activities remained virtually unchanged at 1.2 percent in 2016 compared to 2001 (1.1 percent).

Environmental sector, value added (% of GDP) (%)
 Environmental protectionNatural resources management
20011.110.55
20021.130.56
20031.180.55
20041.160.55
20051.120.58
20061.150.59
20071.160.60
20081.200.66
20091.250.70
20101.240.69
20111.250.76
20121.240.76
20131.260.82
20141.250.92
20151.221.00
2016*1.211.02
*provisional figures

Employment growth continues

Between 2001 and 2016, employment in the environmental sector increased from 115 thousand to 135 thousand full-time jobs, an increase of 18 percent. Employment related to environmental protection remained virtually the same over this period. However, a shift is seen from waste management and waste water treatment to other activities which are aimed at environment conservation. For instance, there has been an increase in employment related to eco-labelling and monitoring, consulting, and manufacturing of environmental equipment.

Employment related to natural resource management increased from 41 thousand to 61 thousand full-time jobs between 2001 and 2016. This growth was predominantly seen in activities aimed at energy conservation such as insulation work in the construction sector and renewable energy production. Renewable energy production includes both energy production and the development, production, installation and construction of the necessary energy systems, such as the installation of solar panels on houses or construction of off-shore wind farms. Employment related to water management, control of mineral resources (recycling) and other activities aimed at natural resource management has also increased.

Employment in the environmental sector, by environmental domain (x 1,000 full-time jobs)
 Waste water managementWaste managementSoil and surface water protection and restorationOther env. protection activities incl. government activities, consulting, educationEnergy resources managementWater managementMineral resources managementOther natural resources management activities
Environmental protection, 200127181019
Environmental protection, 201624181023
Natural resources management, 200134430
Natural resources management, 201649641

Size of Dutch environmental sector around the EU average

Throughout the European Union, the contribution of environmental activities to GDP was 2.0 percent on average in 2015. The Dutch average was only slightly higher with a value added share of 2.1 percent in GDP. Estonia, Austria and Switzerland have relatively high shares at 4.5 percent, 3.6 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. At the bottom of the ranking are Ireland, France and Slovenia with respective value added shares of 0.7 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.5 percent in GDP.

Environmental sector, value added (% of GDP) (%)
 20152014
Estonia4.54
Austria3.63.7
Switzerland3.33.2
Denmark3.12.9
Latvia2.82.6
Czech Republic2.62.5
Lithuania2.42.3
Portugal2.42.4
Poland2.42.5
Netherlands2.12.1
European Union*22.1
Spain22
Romania22.3
Belgium1.91.9
Germany1.71.8
Croatia1.71.8
Bulgaria1.71.5
United Kingdom1.61.5
Sweden1.51.6
Slovenia1.51.8
France1.51.5
Ireland0.70.8