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Voluntary National Review 2017
Introduction to the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The four countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands and St Maarten) report jointly to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. While each autonomous country within the Kingdom has its own political reality and is in a different phase of SDG implementation, all of them are committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Kingdom’s Voluntary National Review includes the views and positions of all four countries, providing detail on progress made and lessons learned by each autonomous country as well as by the Kingdom as a whole. Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten are all located in the Caribbean, while ‘Dutch’ and ‘the Netherlands’ refer to the Netherlands as a territory in Europe and the islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius in the Caribbean.

Partnerships are the key…

‘The Netherlands is fully committed to making the next leap forward,’ Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. The four countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands agree that the key to success in attaining the SDGs is our willingness and resolve to form partnerships at national and international level. In his speech, Prime Minister Rutte gave several examples of Dutch multi-stakeholder partnerships, especially those involving Dutch companies. He affirmed the Netherlands’ intention to make the SDGs its leading policy framework for the next 15 years. Working together across sectors and national boundaries is part of our DNA. We have a solid track record of resolving domestic issues by forging partnerships, for example by involving people from all walks of society in efforts to tackle water-related challenges. This approach is the key to the prominent role we play on development cooperation, combining aid, trade and investment.

Across the Kingdom, partnerships remain vital, both domestically and internationally. For the Netherlands, the European Union is a major partnership. Many current Dutch efforts to enhance sustainability reflect common European policies.

In the development of Curaçao, Aruba and St Maarten as Small Island Developing States, partnerships, as highlighted in the SAMOA Pathway, are imperative. For example, Curaçao considers forging partnerships within the region as crucial, whether through the EU’s Overseas Countries and Territories Association or bilaterally with other countries in the region. Stepping up South-South cooperation will remain essential to SDG implementation.

…to accelerating progress on sustainability…

Across the Kingdom, governments (both national and local), the private sector (including the financial sector), civil society, knowledge institutions and youth organisations have hailed the SDGs as a unique opportunity to accelerate the achievement of their own sustainable development ambitions. Over the past year and a half, Dutch organisations have made considerable progress in building their knowledge of the SDGs and have formed coalitions to achieve them. The SDGs are developing into the guiding framework for these organisations’ activities. This Voluntary National Review, too, is the result of joint efforts by governments, the private sector, civil society, knowledge institutions and youth representatives.

For Curaçao, the SDGs serve as a fresh opportunity to align ministries and stakeholders behind overarching goals for sustainable development. Curaçao is currently in a new phase of the process of adopting its budget and masterplan, and aims to use the SDGs as key objectives as it transforms ways of looking at sustainable development and long-term planning, adopting an inclusive and participative approach.

…while leaving no one behind.

As we make a leap forward, we have to ensure that no one is left behind. This challenge is relevant to both richer countries like the Netherlands and to developing countries, where the challenge is even greater. Specific interventions are needed to reach the poorest and most marginalised people. Inequalities, such as gender-based income gaps or men and women’s unequal access to financial services, must be reduced. The Dutch agenda for aid, trade and investment contributes to attaining this objective, focusing on four priority themes: water, food security, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and security and the rule of law. Moreover, by paying extra attention to private sector development, gender equality and climate change, we help promote sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone. The Netherlands’ Official Development Assistance (ODA) has yielded many encouraging results. For example, Dutch aid has helped 25 million people in developing countries gain access to clean drinking water, and provided 19 million people with access to clean energy. Thanks to Dutch investments, every year approximately 10-20 million people receive improved nutrition, 15 million women and girls obtain access to contraception, and 9 million people gain access to basic infrastructure (roads and public amenities).

An ambitious approach to SDG implementation…

The point of the SDGs is producing tangible results that improve people’s lives. The Netherlands has chosen an ambitious approach to implementing the SDGs, based pragmatically on existing policies and institutions. Tasks are assigned to all the ministries concerned and coordinated by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. An SDG working group with representatives from each ministry has been established and meets regularly. It is chaired by a specially appointed high-level coordinator for national SDG implementation, assisted by a small secretariat.

…involves consultation with partners in society…

The Dutch government believes that the SDGs should be the subject of a lively, transparent, political debate in order to ensure and safeguard broad support for the goals. In our view, the SDGs require support at the highest level, and implementation has to involve all relevant actors to be successful. A collective process is needed, in which a wide variety of actors contribute on the basis of their respective strengths and interests. The Dutch government will produce a national SDG report periodically between now and 2030 on the progress made towards the goals. This report will be sent to Parliament on national Accountability Day (the third Wednesday in May). The first national SDG report was issued this year. It describes the activities of all stakeholders (national and local government, private companies including the financial sector, CSOs, knowledge institutions and youth organisations), illustrating the collective nature of SDG implementation in the Netherlands.

…integration into existing policy cycles…

All parts of the Kingdom are currently integrating the SDGs into their development plans, to ensure continued action to achieve them. Aruba and St Maarten are working closely together, using the UN’s Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) approach to ensure full engagement with the 2030 Agenda. In Curaçao, a vision of combining economic growth, environmental protection and the reduction of inequalities has been embraced by all sectors, from government to the private sector and young people. Long-term political commitment and awareness-raising beyond government will remain important for further implementation. Building active support is essential to ensure a coherent and coordinated SDG implementation strategy.

…and striving for coherence.

The Netherlands is committed to formulating policies that defend the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable groups, and urges other countries to do the same. The SDGs fit well into the ongoing discussion on the importance of policy coherence for sustainable development, which has been central to Dutch development discourse. For example, the Ready for Change initiative united over forty organisations in calling for a greater effort to promote policy coherence on the SDGs. The Netherlands’ action plan on policy coherence for development makes us an international frontrunner in the field. The plan’s eight themes are trade agreements, investment protection, tax evasion, remittance costs, sustainable value chains, access to medicines, climate change and food security. By committing ourselves to goals aligned with the SDGs, taking practical action, and conducting annual monitoring and reporting, we ensure that real progress will be achieved. For example, companies, CSOs, trade unions and the Dutch government are concluding sectoral agreements on responsible business conduct, working together to minimise risks such as precarious work, underpayment and environmental degradation throughout global value chains. Such agreements have already been adopted in the textile industry and the international financial sector. The Netherlands believes this is crucial to achieve the SDGs in developing countries.

The initial results show…

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to survey the starting points of national efforts to achieve the SDGs. The report ‘Measuring the SDGs: An Initial Picture for the Netherlands’, compiled by Statistics Netherlands, was published in November 2016. Data are currently available in the Netherlands for about one-third of the SDG indicators. Efforts are underway by Statistics Netherlands and other bodies to make more data available to measure progress on the other indicators (where relevant to the Netherlands).

…that while more data is needed…

The other countries in the Kingdom are also on track to have their statistical bureaus draw up a zero-base measurement of their SDG status. Like many small island developing states, Curaçao faces challenges in gathering usable, up-to-date data to track SDG implementation. Data collection priorities have therefore been set in its National Development Plan. Setting up a socioeconomic database will be the first step in making development data more readily available. In gathering data for this socioeconomic database, the initial focus will be on indicators related to SDGs 4, 7, 8, and 14.

…that the Netherlands is doing well…

Based on the available data, it is clear that the Netherlands is doing well on many SDG targets and indicators:

  • The Netherlands scores high on economic indicators, including GDP per capita (SDG 8).
  • The Dutch have confidence in their institutions. A majority of the population feels safe in their own neighbourhood, the number of reported crimes is decreasing, and corruption levels are low (SDG 16).
  • Healthy life expectancy has risen in the past period. Feelings of wellbeing are high, and the Dutch are relatively satisfied with their lives (SDG 3).
  • Participation in lifelong learning is high in the Netherlands, and there are proportionately many highly educated people. The Dutch also score well on skills learned through education (SDG 4). The Netherlands attaches importance to the contribution that education, science and culture in conjunction can make to achieving the goals.
  • Over the past several years, Dutch ODA has remained close to or above the international 0.7% GNI target (SDG 17).

…but there is still work to be done.

There are also areas where the Netherlands scores less well:

  • Social inclusion: in 2015, more Dutch people were living below the national poverty line than in 2006 (SDG 1). Although the Netherlands ranks high (4th) on the EU Gender Equality Index, it still faces persistent high levels of gender inequality in various domains (SDG 5). Moreover, several groups in the Netherlands experience perceived discrimination (SDG 10).
  • Environmental pressure: The Netherlands consumes large quantities of fossil fuels and emits high amounts of greenhouse gases per capita (SDG 13). The share of renewable energy in the total energy supply is low compared to other European countries (SDG 7).
  • Biodiversity and ecosystems: The Netherlands places high environmental pressure on low- and middle-income countries. The Dutch food production system is not sustainable enough (SDG 12). Water quality and fresh water extraction, coastal waters and sustainable fishery are major concerns (SDG 14). Moreover, natural habitats and biodiversity in the Netherlands are under considerable pressure (SDG 15).

And where will we be in 2030 if we continue existing policies?

All the countries in the Kingdom can build on a wide range of existing policies in implementing the SDGs. As a first step, the Dutch government has published the first national SDG report to provide an overview of existing policies that contribute to achieving the goals. Following the 2030 Agenda, the government will decide on ways of incorporating the goals into national planning processes, policies and strategies. In some cases it will be sufficient to extend current end dates towards the SDG finish line in 2030. In other cases, new policies will have to be adopted. As the Dutch government reported to Parliament, this gives the Netherlands the opportunity to gradually speed up its transition towards a more sustainable future: from fossil-based to renewable, from linear to circular, and from segmented to inclusive.

St Maarten is building on its experience with the Millennium Development Goals and constructing a database and user portal for policy development initiatives. It can draw on its experience of organising democratic dialogues with different stakeholder groups, and is currently working to engage these stakeholders in SDG implementation. Curaçao is endeavouring to strike a balance between maintaining its existing multi-sector economy, based on shipping and logistics, sustainable tourism, international financial services and oil refining, and adding sustainable solutions to the energy mix. Having installed new windmills in 2017, Curaçao already obtains more than 25% of its energy from renewable sources. Aruba has been very ambitious in planning a transition that will enable it to get 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Partnerships for SDG implementation build on a strong tradition…

As early as 2014, over a year before the SDGs were adopted, more than 70 parties joined forces to support the SDGs both in the Kingdom and elsewhere by signing an SDG Charter in the Netherlands. The Charter now has 110 signatories, and is encouraging organisations to form cross-sectoral partnerships to help achieve the SDGs. There are also several new initiatives, including Community Life Centres in Africa to improve basic healthcare for people at the base of the pyramid (SDG 3), the Human Cities Coalition to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11), and the financial sector initiative SDG Investing to boost investments in sustainable development. The Charter powers a website where all individuals and organisations in the Netherlands can present their activities:

Another bottom-up initiative in support of the SDGs is Gemeenten4GlobalGoals, launched by the Association of Netherlands Municipalities to showcase local governments’ contributions to SDGs such as reducing inequality and improving waste management.

Many partnerships promote sustainable development – in the Netherlands or in the global South – without referring to the SDG process. Examples include:

  • The Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth, which commits over forty organisations (private power companies, environmental organisations, knowledge institutions and government authorities) to reduce their energy use and promote a transition towards sustainable energy.
  • Green Deals, which are cross-sector partnerships on themes like energy, mobility, biodiversity, water, resources, climate, food and construction. They foster economic growth while promoting energy conservation, sustainable fuel use and a clean environment. To date more than 200 Green Deals have been concluded, involving over 1,500 companies and CSOs. The EU Innovation Deals are inspired by this Dutch initiative.

In Curaçao, a long history of sectoral partnerships has paved the way for SDG implementation. In Curaçao’s National Dialogue, government, businesses and trade unions discuss policy paths towards a better future for the country. This National Dialogue played a key role in launching the National Development Plan process. Building on this tradition, the government of Curaçao established a National Youth Council in 2017, which will promote youth development by giving young people a structured way to participate in policymaking and in shaping their future. With regard to implementation, Curaçao’s size demands a multi-stakeholder approach: precisely the approach being taken in implementing its National Development Plan.

…and will help us meet the challenges on the road to 2030.

Broad and inclusive partnerships, both national and international, are the key to success. In the coming period the Netherlands, Curaçao, Aruba and St Maarten will build on existing partnerships, at country, Kingdom and international levels. In the Netherlands, the process of jointly drafting the first SDG report encouraged stakeholders to identify the SDGs they are contributing to. It also highlighted some gaps, for example on renewable energy, gender equality and freshwater withdrawal. Companies are increasingly aware of their responsibility to integrate sustainability in all its facets into their business models. Many actors emphasise the need for sufficient financial and other resources, and the importance of legislation and enforcement in addressing these issues. In addition, many stakeholders feel that the SDG process needs to devote more attention to the impact of current national policies on future generations and on communities in other parts of the world.

Awareness of the SDGs is growing across the Kingdom. The SDGs address complex issues, requiring the involvement of all actors. Ensuring broad involvement and collaboration between different sectors is an ongoing challenge for all the countries of the Kingdom, and SDG implementation must be further aligned with each country’s existing policies. One and a half years after the UN Sustainable Development Summit, however, the first step has clearly been taken in the leap forward that Prime Minister Rutte called for. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is on the right track to meet the challenges in achieving the SDGs. In the race towards sustainable development, the SDGs have taught us to keep in step and advance together towards the same finish line. This is excellent news.
Focal point
Machiel van Stralen
Focal Point Sustainable Development Goals
Multilateral Affairs Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Hague

Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Netherlands is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
10YFP Sustainable Food Systems Programme

The 10YFP Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFS Programme) is a global multi-stakeholder initiative to accelerate the shift towards more sustainable food systems, all along the food value chain, from farm to fork. Among its focus themes are the promotion of sustainable diets; the reduction of food losses and waste; and strengthening resilient and diverse food production systems. The SFS Programme promotes activities that fall under these topics, in the areas of awareness raising, capacity development as well as facilitating access to knowledge, information and tools. The SFS Programme is one...[more]

Co-Lead organizations: Switzerland, South Africa, WWF, Hivos Members of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Honduras, Netherlands, United States, Biovision Foundation, IISD, IFOAM - Organics International, Global Nature Fund, German Development Institute, Hebrew University, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, ENEA, CIHEAM, FAO, UNEP, UNSCN, Barilla, Foo...[more]
Sustainable Development Goals
Centre of Excellence for the Sustainable Development of SIDS

In 2015, the Government of Aruba, UNDP and the Kingdom of Netherlands agreed to create a Centre of Excellence COE for Sustainable Development of SIDS in Aruba.The Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States leverages best practices from SIDS - mainly technical expertise and experience in sustainable development - to provide a platform for strengthening innovation and resilience among SIDS through South-South cooperation and exchange of knowledge on sustainable practices in areas such as energy, public-private partnerships (PPP), water management...[more]

UNDP Kingdom of The Netherlands Government of Aruba University of Aruba TNO Caribbean Bureau Innovation IRENA Hamburg University Caribbean Tourism Organization Organization of Eastern Caribbean States World Bank Group and growing...
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

The best opportunity to slow the rate of near-term warming globally and in sensitive regions such as the Arctic is by cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – most notably methane, black carbon and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Widespread reductions, which complement the need for aggressive global action on carbon dioxide, contribute significantly to the goal of limiting warming to less than two degrees. Reducing SLCPs can also advance national priorities such as protecting air quality and public health, promoting food security, enhancing energy efficiency, and allevi...[more]

111 Partners, 50 State and REIO, 16 IGO and 45 NGO partners (as of April 2016). Full list:
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Fisheries Conservation in the Wider Caribbean Region through FAO's Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC)

The general objective of the Commission is to promote the effective conservation, management and development of the living marine resources of the area of competence of the Commission, in accordance with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and address common problems of fisheries management and development faced by members of the Commission. 16 of WECAFC's 35 members are considered small island developing States.

Member governments: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, France, European Community, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan, Korea (Rep. of), Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United S...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
From water scarcity to abundance on SIDS using solar desalination

The majority of SIDS face water scarcity. Being at the forefront of climate change, with increasing demand through population growth and tourism is the cause. As water is part of everything we do, lack of water means lack of development. Desalination can solve the water shortages. With high energy tariffs on islands, desalination of seawater becomes an expensive exercise. At the same time, islands enjoy the wind, an abundance of sunshine and ocean views. This makes desalination powered directly by renewable energy interesting, with a great potential for decentralized and small-scale island...[more]

The water utility The local, regional and national government Resorts, communities, industries, private properties, municipalities Regulatory bodies Local civil works partners Elemental Water Makers, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Indonesia, Philippines, Mozambique
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network

In 1995, the International Coral Reef Initiaitve called on many nations to commit to increasing research and monitoring of coral reefs in order to provide the data needed to inform policies of nations to sustain coral reefs and to strengthen management. Global reef monitoring was a major theme when ICRI was launched during the United Nations Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States in Barbados in 1994. It was during this time that the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was established to support ICRI’s Call to Action and Framework for Action.T...[more]

United States Department of State, IUCN, National Oceanic and Atmosferic Administration, UNEP, the Netherlands
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), Global Partnership on Wastewater Management (GPWWM) and Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM)

Reduce pollutants from sea and land-based activities, including litter, harmful substances and nutrients from wastewater, industrial and agricultural runoff entering the world's oceans. All countries would have set relevant national targets for nutrient loadings, marine litter reduction and wastewater discharges . The planning of strategies for achieving these targets would have been commenced, through processes such as Regional Seas Action Plans and through functioning Global Partnerships on Marine Litter, Nutrients, and Wastewater Management.

Governments of Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, USA, the European Union; the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA); the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI); International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC); the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); UN-HABITAT; IOC-UNESCO, UNDP, NOAA; UN-Water; UN-Oceans
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
IHO Hydrography Capacity Building Programme for Coastal States

The IHO capacity building programme seeks to assess and advise on how countries can best meet their international obligations and serve their own best interests by providing appropriate hydrographic and nautical charting services. Such services directly support safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, efficient sea transportation and the wider use of the seas and oceans in a sustainable way, including the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, fishing, marine resource exploration and exploitation, maritime boundary delimitation, maritime defence and security, and o...[more]

International Hydrographic Organization (IGO); 87 IHO Member States (Governments); International Maritime Organization (UN); World Meteorological Organization (UN); International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (NGO)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Leadership for Rural and Urban Young Women

The programme seeks to build the capacity and confidence of individual women, particularly rural and urban young women, to participate in decision-making processes and asume positions of leadership, building on existing successful programmes. The programme also invests in the capacity of women's organisations to work together and link to the broader women's movement.

International Women's Development Agency (IWDA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership

The Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership is a first-of-its-kind, multi-stakeholder partnership of Governments, Private Sectors, NGOs and CSOs.LEAP guiding principles include: global, inclusive, consensus, transparency, scientific, comprehensive, continuous improvement and adoption. Objective: To build global consensus on science-based methodology, indicators and databases for understanding the environmental performance of livestock supply chains in order to shape evidence-based policy measures and business strategies. Vision: To support the transition towards m...[more]

Countries: France, The Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Nigeria. Private sector: International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF); European Vegetable Oil and Proteinmeal Industry (FEDIOL); International Meat Secretariat (IMS); International Egg Commission (IEC); International Poultry Council (IPC); International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH); International Dairy Federation...[more]
Sustainable Development Goals
Promoting Effective Partnerships Facility

The Promoting Effective Partnerships Facility is a collaborative effort by five expert partnering organizations to foster dialogue about good partnering practice, offer resources about partnering, guide interested parties to enhance their partnering efforts, showcase trusted materials and services, and become an important network for the global partnering community.

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Collective Leadership Institute, Partnership Brokers Association, Partnerships in Practice, The Partnerships Resource Centre, The Partnering Initiative
Sustainable Development Goals
Supporting Grenada's national transformation to a Blue Economy Ocean State, and development of a National Blue Economy and Oceans Governance Institute

The Parties join forces to support sustainable increases in the productivity of: - marine food systems, - single-use and multi-use coastal and ocean spaces, - coastal people's livelihoods that are threatened by climate change,- practices that contribute to sustainable use of coastal and marine resources.

- Ministry of Economic Affairs (DG Agro), Government of the Netherlands - Government of Grenada
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
The SEED Initiative: Supporting Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development

The SEED Initiative inspires, supports and researches exceptional, entrepreneurial, nascent, multi-stakeholder partnerships for locally-led sustainable development . The initiative focuses on 'business as unusual' - innovative action delivering real solutions through project cooperation among small and large businesses, local and international NGOs, women's groups, labour organisations, public authorities and UN agencies, and others working in the field of sustainable development. The SEED Initiative aims to: support outstanding and innovative start-up entrepreneurs working in partnership in ...[more]

Governments: Government of Germany - Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation & Nuclear Safety Government of India - Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of Netherlands - Ministry for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Government of Norway - Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of South Africa - Department of Science & Technology Government of Spain - Min...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
17 Jul 2017
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21 Jun 2012
7 May 2010
14 May 2008
11 May 2008
9 May 2008
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8 May 2008
7 May 2008
6 May 2008
5 May 2008
9 May 2007
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5 May 2006
3 May 2006
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21 Apr 2005
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3 Sep 2002
United Nations