Measuring the SDGs: an initial picture for the Netherlands

Prompted by the UN list of provisional indicators to monitor progress on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), CBS has conducted a baseline measurement of where the Netherlands stands in terms of achieving the targets set for the SDGs. Relevant available data show that overall the Netherlands is doing well in many domains, but that there are also some areas of concern. For each SDG there are positive and less positive points and the picture may differ depending on the indicator used.

The report notes some reservations with respect to this first picture. Firstly, only one third of the SDG indicators are directly measurable for the Netherlands. In this report a number of supplementary and alternative indicators have been added. Many SDG indicators have still to be developed; this will pose a challenge, partly because the national SDG strategy in the Netherlands is still under development. National ambitions and targets have yet to be set for many SDG and sub-goals. Once they are set, priorities within the indicators will become clearer.

Secondly, a pictures based on SDGs is not a complete picture of the position of the Netherlands in terms of sustainability, as the SDGs do not make trade-offs between the economy, environment and society visible. The SDGs focus less on the future - what effects will our actions here and now have on the next generation? - and on elsewhere: what are the effects of our use of natural resources in other countries.

This report is intended as a trigger for discussion between policymakers, researchers, civil society and business about how to shape national SDG monitoring and reporting and about where the Netherlands currently stands on measuring SDG indicators.