The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Dutch context
This chapter looks not at well-being as a whole, but at individual themes within well-being. The focus here is on the 17 SDGs of the United Nations. The state of affairs, the trend in the Netherlands and the position of the Netherlands in the EU will be described for each goal, using a number of indicators.
The UN has set 17 global goals and linked more specific targets to each goal. In September 2015, government leaders from 193 countries committed themselves to this sustainable development agenda, which runs until 2030. In addition to the internationally established indicators, CBS sought indicators for these goals that fit the Dutch context. Therefore, in some cases reference is made to policy goals set by the Dutch government or the EU.
For each SDG, indicators are presented that provide information about resources used, existing opportunities and how they are used, outcomes, and how the population perceives relevant aspects of the SDG (subjective assessment). For each theme, quantitative policy goals are mentioned, where these exist.
Figures 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 summarise the position of the Netherlands in relation to the SDGs. It must be noted here that this is a report on the SDGs that are relevant to the Netherlands and that it is, in essence, an SDG-’plus’ report. Apart from the official SDG indicators as established by the UN, we have also added CES indicators, in line with the remit of the Monitor of Well-being. Section 4.3 examines in greater detail the indicators used to describe the 17 SDGs.
With regard to the trend-related development of the SDGs, it is striking that a relatively large number of indicators have a green trend colour (and are therefore moving towards the agreed goal). This is the case for SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth: economy and factors of production) and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities: living environment).
In contrast, for the following SDGs we can see that for a relatively large number of indicators, the trend colour is red (moving further away from the agreed goal): SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities: housing), SDG 15 (Life on land) and SDG 16.2 (Peace, justice and strong public services: institutions).
The living environment dashboard of SDG 11 has many green, but also many red trends.
The picture is largely unchanged as regards the comparison with the other EU countries: the Netherlands continues to be the leader for SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 9.3 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure: knowledge and innovation), SDG 10.1 (Reduced inequalities: social cohesion), SDG 16.2 (Peace, justice and strong public services: institutions) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals).
But the Netherlands is lagging behind for the themes of SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on land).
4.2Measuring the SDGs in the Netherlands
The goals of the 17 SDGs are further broken down into 169 sub-goals. The governments of the UN member states bear responsibility for monitoring progress in relation to the goals and sub-goals. The national statistical offices naturally play a major role in this work.
Integrating the system for measuring well-being (CES framework) with the SDGs in one publication has great advantages. Both frameworks cover the same area in terms of content and policy. While the approach related to well-being expresses a general intention (well-being that is inclusive and sustainable ‘here and now’, ‘later’ and ‘elsewhere’), it is translated into specific goals in the SDG agenda. This gives policy-makers more practical guidance. The two agendas can therefore reinforce each other considerably. This is clearly demonstrated by the positive reactions from society (for example during the SDG event that was organised in May 2019 after Accountability Day) and the government. Numerous ministries have said that they found the linking of well-being and SDGs to be very relevant to their work.
Linking the well-being framework with the SDGs has also helped to translate the SDG agenda in a more specific and practical way for the Dutch context. The well-being indicators enable us to make key underlying principles of the SDG agenda clearer and more comprehensible, even when they are difficult to measure. The main concern here is the aim of the 2030 agenda to achieve a balance, providing well-being for people ‘here and now’ and people ‘elsewhere’, as well as carefully considering the interests of future generations (‘later’). Integrating the two measuring systems also helps to describe and document progress better in the various policy areas thanks to the specific goals set by the SDGs. Lastly, the well-being indicators in Chapter 3 also show clearly whether people can benefit from developments in well-being or are actually disadvantaged. This evidence-based information helps in assessing the ‘leave no one behind’ principle in de SDGs.
4.3Selecting the themes and indicators
A selection of indicators has been made for each SDG and together these form a dashboard. For each indicator, these dashboards supply information on the most up-to-date figure and the direction of the multi-annual trend, as well as the international position of the Netherlands in the EU. The SDG dashboards in this chapter are relevant to the Dutch policy context and can be seen as SDGplus dashboards, as they contain more than just official UN indicators. The following indicators are included this chapter:
- SDG indicatorsnoot1 that are relevant to the current policy debate. This builds on earlier work by CBS in the area of the SDGs. The current edition does not yet include all the SDG indicators that are relevant to the Netherlands, as additional data research has to be done for a number of the current indicators. Timely information is not always available, although CBS has tried where possible to make data available more quickly. In a number of cases, the most recent information is only available for 2016 or earlier. In addition, CBS does not always have access to sufficiently consistent time series, which are essential for working out the extent to which indicators show a significant rising or falling trend. It is only with the help of such information that the colours can be determined for the dashboards.
- Virtually all indicators used to describe the state of well-being in Chapter 2 and which have been drawn from the CES framework are also set out under the 17 different SDGs. These cover some SDGs better than others. In this respect, it is striking that there is a strong emphasis in the work of the UN on ‘here and now’ indicators, while indicators that say something about the consumption of resources are less well represented. In addition, a relatively large number of ‘input indicators’ have been included in the SDG list, but indicators describing outcomes are scarcer. Where necessary, CES indicators have been added to the dashboards to ensure balance in the set of indicators.
- The dashboards also contain additional indicators relating to resources that are used, the opportunities that this creates, the use that is made of opportunities, the outcomes related to that use and the subjective assessments of citizens.
The number of potential indicators was so large for some of the themes in Chapter 4 that a number of SDGs were divided into different themes and dashboards. A limited collection of indicators was put together for each SDG. The selection of indicators is based on a system of decision-making rules. The aim of this system is to make the collection of indicators as balanced and neutral as possible.
Some indicators in the dashboards may give rise to a discussion on how to interpret them. Firstly, a number of indicators for resources and opportunities prompt questions as to the expected effect on well-being. Examples are spending on health care, development cooperation, hours worked in education and environmental investments, where a rising trend does not by definition indicate an increase in well-being. It depends whether the increased use of resources actually brings results. Whether this expenditure, these investments or these hours worked are effective or ‘necessary’ depends on the desired outcomes and this is part of the policy debate. The basic principle of the measuring system is that all these aspects (resources, opportunities, use, outcomes and subjective assessment) should be considered in relationship to one another in this debate.
The selection of indicators, the statistical methods used to compile the dashboards, and the decision-making rules for the observations that are described in the text are addressed in the explanatory notes accompanying this publication (CBS, 2020). For some indicators, the international comparison has been made on the basis of data that deviate conceptually from the Dutch data used to define and document the trend-related development.
For all policy themes, indicators were sought that came from a reliable source and that were as timely as possible, internationally comparable, and consistently measured over time. Where indicators were equally suitable, data quality was the decisive factor, though in a number of cases, the relevance to policy outweighed data quality. However, no international comparison is possible for some of the indicators, because no comparable data are available for other countries.
The Monitor uses colours to clarify the results of the various indicators and make them comparable. For each indicator, two aspects are illustrated: the direction of the trend in the Netherlands in the period 2012–2019, and the position of the Netherlands in the EU28 in the most recent year with sufficient observations.
|For the trends the colours show the following:||For the EU position the colours show the following:|
|The trend is moving in the direction associated with an increase in well-being.||The Netherlands is in the upper quartile of the EU rankings.|
|No significant rise or fall in the trend.||The Netherlands is between the upper and the lower quartile of the EU rankings.|
|The trend is moving in the direction associated with a decrease in well-being.||The Netherlands is in the lower quartile of the EU rankings.|
The colours are allocated on the basis of the first-order effect. For example, in the first order, an increase in individual consumption is good for the consumer. In the second order, higher consumption causes environmental pollution, obesity, water use, and CO2 emissions in other countries, etc.
If an indicator shows a trend that is moving in the direction associated with a decrease in well-being, and the position of the Netherlands in Europe is in the lower quartile, then CBS shows this in the monitor as a ‘red’ trend and a ‘red’ position. The colour code signals to the reader that he or she needs to take a close look at the phenomenon pointed out by the indicator, as there is apparently something going on. The same applies for a completely green indicator: something is clearly going well. Resources and opportunities are not seen in the context of more or less well-being, but only in terms of more or fewer available resources.
The colour codes only serve as signals and they are expressly not a normative interpretation. The Monitor indicates where the Netherlands stands in terms of various aspects of well-being, showing the trade-offs that we as a society are confronted with. It is the task of political decision-makers and policy-makers to consider actions and draw conclusions on policy based on this information.
Footnotes in the dashboards mean the following:
- For the Monitor, CBS has estimated an annual figure for the most recent year in order to facilitate the political debate. This is a provisional first estimate.
- For this indicator, the number of data points in the 2012–2019 period is insufficient for calculating a trend.
- For this indicator, the projection by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has been used for 2018 and 2019.
- For the Monitor, CBS has estimated an annual figure for 2018 and 2019 in order to facilitate the political debate. This is a provisional first estimate.
- In contrast to chapter 2 (Figure 2.4.2), in Chapter 4 this indicator is interpreted as being favourable or unfavourable in terms of well-being. This indicator is defined in the SDG agenda. Each SDG indicator has a desired direction. From this point of view, more spending is seen as increasing well-being.
- For the Monitor, CBS has estimated an annual figure for 2018 in order to facilitate the political debate. This gives an initial indication. The projection by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has also been used for 2019.
- The data quality is insufficient for determining a trend.
SDG 1 No poverty
SDG 1 is focused on reducing all forms of poverty. This includes both financial aspects and the impact of poverty on people’s lives. People’s material well-being is defined here as the standardised disposable income of the household in which they live. This income is the basis for their expenditure, savings or investments. People with a low disposable income are at risk of poverty. If the household is additionally struggling with serious financial problems or is not very active in the labour market, members of the household are also at risk of social exclusion. The level of disposable income also affects how secure people perceive their livelihood to be.
Although poverty issues in the Netherlands are of a different order than those in the world’s least developed countries, people in the Netherlands are also at risk of relative poverty. This dashboard shows income developments in the Netherlands, how high the risk is of income poverty or social exclusion, and to what extent people are concerned about their financial situation (SDG 1.2). There is a mixed picture with regard to trend-related developments. Some indicators show a rising trend for well-being, while others show a falling trend. For the country’s position in the EU rankings, the picture is clear: all indicators for which an international comparison was possible put the Netherlands among the leaders in Europe.
Resources and opportunities concern the financial means people have at their disposal and any support available in this respect. In 2018, the average standardised disposable income per household was 28,521 euros. This amount was adjusted for inflation to make it easier to compare incomes over time. The calculation has also been adjusted for the differences in household size and composition (standardisation). Very high incomes pull up the average; the median disposable income, at 25,620 euros, was therefore below the average disposable income. The Netherlands is high in the European rankings for these indicators. If the standardised disposable income rises faster than consumer prices, the purchasing power of the members of the household involved increases. The median change in the purchasing power of the population in 2018 compared with the same population in 2017 was 0.3 percent. This represents a slight improvement in purchasing power (although half of the population saw purchasing power increase less or even decline).
Use concerns the use of various forms of financial support. For this category, no indicators are currently available that comply with the quality criteria of this report.
Outcomes relate to the proportion of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In 2018, nearly 17 percent of the population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. With this relatively low percentage, the Netherlands occupies a high position within the EU. The risk has declined in nearly all countries, in line with the EU2020 objective of a significant reduction (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2017a; European Commission, 2010). Having affordable independent accommodation is considered to be a basic human need. In 2018, 23 out of every 10,000 inhabitants aged 18 to 64 years – mainly men – slept in temporary accommodation, in the open air or in indoor public places. There is a rising trend, as in 2012 16 out of 10,000 inhabitants were in this situation. The share of the population that has to make ends meet with an income below the critical income threshold rose slightly in the Netherlands in 2018, to 13.3 percent. This pushed the Netherlands down to sixth place in the international rankings, although this is still a high position. The poverty gap, which is how far the median income of poor people in the Dutch population is below the poverty threshold, has widened. For this indicator, too, the Netherlands is in a high position within the EU. The problem of long-term poverty, according to the definition of CBS, is also increasing. Over three percent of households have had a low income for four years or more. In contrast to these upward trends, there has been a gradual decline in the percentage of children up to the age of 12 years who, according to the SCP, live in a household with an income described as ‘not much but adequate’. A trend change can be observed for this indicator: while it used to be grey, the trend is now green.
Subjective assessment refers to how people perceive the security of their livelihood. The percentage of people who say they are very concerned about their financial future has fallen. In 2019, one in four adults were struggling with such worries, while in 2013 – the first year that this was measured – the share was still one in three.
SDG 2 Zero hunger
The objective of SDG 2 is to end hunger. Compared with other countries, malnourishment and food insecurity are not a frequent occurrence in the Netherlands. This dashboard therefore focuses on the sustainability of food production (SDG 2.4) and the impact of food production on the quality of the living environment and animal welfare. The dashboard also includes an indicator for SDG 12.3, which aims to halve per capita food waste by 2030 relative to 2015 (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2017b).
Trends in the Netherlands present a predominantly positive picture. For the position relative to other EU countries, the picture is very variable, with the Netherlands sometimes in a leading position and sometimes lagging behind. For example, agricultural production in the Netherlands is very high compared with other EU28 countries, but the area devoted to organic farming and the area for protein-rich crops are very small on an international scale.
Resources and opportunities concern the land area and labour available for food production. The trend is for the agricultural area in the Netherlands to decrease and in 2018, arable land totalled 43.7 percent of the total surface area. For agricultural production per labour year, the trend is neutral and the international position high, with the Netherlands in second place within the EU.
Use relates to how, and how sustainably, food is produced. The area farmed organically in the Netherlands has shown an increasing trend, accounting for 3.2 percent of the total agricultural area in 2018. This is a small proportion in an international perspective. More and more protein crops such as pulses and soya are being grown, making more meat substitutes available. The area of these crops accounted for 0.5 percent of total agricultural land in 2019. Sales of chemical pesticides per million euros of agricultural production volume show a downward trend. Nevertheless, absolute consumption per hectare can be high and the environmental damage significant. Compared with other EU countries, relatively low amounts pesticides are used per euro earned from agricultural products. There is also a declining trend in the use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Livestock density is very high in the Netherlands. Although a high livestock density is seen as positive from the perspective of food production, it has negative effects on animal welfare and on the environment. The Netherlands has the highest livestock density of Europe, which is seen as negative in the context of sustainable production.
Outcomes describe food affordability and the impact of food production on the living environment and animal welfare. The effects of agricultural production methods on local environment and water quality are related to nitrogen and phosphorus uptake rates, among other things. The crop uptake of nitrogen amounted to 57 percent of total nitrogen input from mineral fertilisers in 2019. The remaining nitrogen evaporates into the surrounding air after fertiliser application (9 percent) or remains in the soil (34 percent), and subsequently leaches into ground and surface water. In terms of nitrogen uptake rates, the Netherlands has a low international position: 13th out of 17 EU countries studied in 2017. The phosphorus uptake is substantially higher than for nitrogen, at 84 percent in 2019, and it is therefore close to balanced fertilisation conditions. Both the market share of organic food (3 percent in 2018) and the proportion of meat with a sustainability label (30 percent in 2018) are following a rising trend. For the Netherlands, the SDG food waste goal translates as 63 kg per capita in 2030. Food waste in the Netherlands fell from 136 to 127 kg per capita between 2012 and 2017.
Subjective assessment relates to how satisfied people are with food quality and supply, and with the living environment and animal welfare. For this category, no indicators are currently available that comply with the quality criteria of this report.
SDG 3 Good health and well-being
SDG 3 aims to achieve good health for people of all ages. Preventing premature mortality as a result of communicable and non-communicable diseases and mental illness is high on the UN’s agenda. These worldwide goals are pursued in the Netherlands in the National Prevention Agreement and the vaccination action plan ‘Verder met vaccineren’, among other things. Tackling smoking, excess weight and problem drinking – major causes of disease burden and premature death – can improve the health of many people in the Netherlands (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, 2018a). In the National Prevention Agreement, the national government is working with other organisations to achieve goals such as a smoke-free generation in 2040. In the context of a healthy weight, the Agreement aims for a maximum of 38 percent of adults to be overweight and a maximum of 7.1 percent obese in 2040.
Another priority is the prevention of serious infectious diseases, which requires more people to be vaccinated. With the vaccination action plan ‘Verder met vaccineren’ (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, 2018b), the Dutch government plans to use measures aimed at boosting the vaccination rate to protect the population as well as possible against outbreaks of infectious diseases.
There is a mixed picture for SDG 3 in relation to developments over time. Of those indicators that show a clear trend, two of them indicate increasing well-being and six point to a decline in well-being. If we look at the position in the EU, we see that the Netherlands has a high position for four indicators, while for two others it is low down in the rankings.
Resources and opportunities relate to the resources used to maintain and improve the health care system. Spending on health care as a percentage of GDP has been declining in recent years. However, in terms of the number of care hours worked per capita, the Netherlands is among the leaders in the European rankings.
Use concerns behaviour that affects health and the use people make of the health care services. Incidences of obesity and smoking are two important indicators of a healthy lifestyle. A growing proportion of the population is overweight. In 2019, 51.0 percent of the population aged 20 years and older had a BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 or more, based on self-reporting of body height and weight. However, the percentage of the population who smoke, as well as alcohol consumption, are gradually decreasing and in 2019, one-fifth of the population aged 12 years and older smoked. An indicator for the use of health care is the basic measles vaccination rate. In the Netherlands, this vaccination is combined with those against mumps and rubella (MMR). Compared with other European countries, the vaccination rate is low, and it is showing a continuing falling trend over time. After declining for years, the vaccination rate for two-year-olds seems to have stabilised recently. There are no figures yet for children who turned two in 2019. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) projects the vaccination rate to be higher in this group, but it expects that the level of 95 percent advocated by doctors and other experts will not yet have been reached. Because children are not given the MMR vaccination until they are 14 months old, babies in particular are at risk of falling ill or even of dying if they come into contact with unvaccinated children.
Outcomes refer to the current physical and mental health of the population in relation to the quality of health care. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases. Being overweight, lack of exercise and age play a role in the risk of developing this illness. Nearly 5 percent of the population currently take diabetes medication. The average hospital stay for inpatients is shorter in the Netherlands than in the other EU countries. For outpatient care, waiting times are lengthening. Health care providers and health insurers apply a maximum acceptable waiting time of four weeks. In nearly 30 percent of cases, the number of days between the first appointment and the start of the treatment exceeds this limit.
A fairly direct way of assessing the current health of the population is the healthy life expectancy – a measure that combines mortality risks and poor health. The healthy life expectancy can be calculated in various ways, because there are a number of ways of defining health. In this Monitor, we chose the variant of life expectancy at birth in health that is perceived as good or very good. This was just over 63 years for women and nearly 65 years for men in 2019. The healthy life expectancy of women in the Netherlands is relatively low in comparison with women in other EU countries. Men in the Netherlands occupy a middle position in Europe. The figures used to make the international comparison are related to another variant of healthy life expectancy, the life expectancy without GALI limitations, in which GALI stands for Global Activity Limitation Indicator.
The mental health of the population is measured in its most extreme form by looking at developments in the number of suicides. In addition to this, the Mental Health Inventory shows how individuals perceive their own mental health, using five questions to ask people how they felt in the previous four weeks. Of the population aged 12 years and older, 88.5 percent obtained a score of 60 or more in 2019 and are therefore considered to be mentally healthy. However, the trend is downward.
For a number of indicators, this Monitor also notes a change in the trend direction. The indicator for diabetes medication, which previously pointed to declining well-being, is now shown to be on a stable path. However, for waiting times in specialist health care and for the mentally healthy population, the stable trend has switched to a downward development.
Subjective assessment describes people’s satisfaction with their own health and with the Dutch health care system. There is a downward trend in the percentage of the population who perceive their health as very good, although this was slightly higher in 2019 than in 2018. The Netherlands occupies a high position within Europe.
SDG 4 Quality education
SDG 4 strives to achieve a good education for everyone. A sufficient education is important for people in all age categories and at all stages of life, from pre-school (SDG 4.2) to lifelong learning (SDG 4.3). The quality of education is a determinant of competencies of pupils and students (SDG 4.1) and the overall population (SDG 4.6). Education additionally ensures that current and future workers will have the skills they need to work in a knowledge-intensive environment (SDG 4.4).
For this dashboard, the picture is mixed, but predominantly positive. For those indicators that show a clear trend-related development, this trend can be seen as positive from the point of view of well-being for six indicators and negative for three of them. In the EU rankings, seven indicators have a leading position, while one is at a low level.
Resources and opportunities relate to the range and affordability of education. Government spending on education as a percentage of GDP is declining. The Netherlands is in a middle position within Europe. The number of hours worked in education per capita has actually increased in recent years, but it remains low in comparison with other EU countries.
Use refers to participation in education. Nearly 98 percent of children from the age of 4 years to the age when education becomes compulsory are already in education. The trend is still downward, but participation in education by this group has been stable in recent years. The Netherlands is high in the European rankings. As for the school drop-out rate, the Netherlands is in a middle position. The Dutch policy target of a school drop-out rate of below 8 percent in 2020 has been achieved (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2020). Following a sharp fall in 2017, the number of early school-leavers rose again in 2018 and 2019, but the trend is still downward. In 2019, 7.5 percent of young people aged 18 to 24 years left education prematurely, for example without a basic qualification. A basic qualification means that a person at least has a senior general secondary education (HAVO), a pre-university education (VWO) or a basic vocational training (MBO-2) qualification, or has obtained an old qualification at a similar level. There are two objectives for early school-leavers: one is international and the other is a national objective derived from it. The international objective in this Monitor concerns the total group of early school-leavers aged 18 to 24 years, and both government-funded and privately funded education. The national objective relates to the new group up to 23 years. CBS publishes both figures. Participation in lifelong learning shows an upward trend and involved 19.2 percent of the population aged 25 to 64 years in 2019. This means the Dutch policy target of 20 percent in 2020 has nearly been reached (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2019). Within the EU, the Netherlands occupies a high position.
Outcomes concern levels of education attained and levels of specific competencies. The policy target for 2020 of more than 40 percent tertiary or higher educated among 30 to 34‑year-olds was achieved as early as 2010 (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2020; European Commission, 2010). More than half of this age category is now highly educated. This target is now coming within the reach of a much wider age category: nearly 40 percent of the population aged between 25 and 64 years were highly educated in 2019. There is a rising trend for both age categories. The proportion of the population with a medium education level, including those having completed practical education courses, has declined in recent years, and the trend here is downward. A comment should be made on the international comparison of education levels: all EU countries report on the education level based on the same international classification (ISCED), but education systems differ strongly between countries. This can contribute to differences in the level of education.
Sufficient language, literacy and numeracy skills are necessary in order for people to participate fully in society. End-of-primary-school tests by the education inspectorate, the PISA scores of 15‑year-olds and the PIAAC tests (among the adult population aged 16 to 65 years) give an impression of the skills acquired.noot2 Because of the wide variety of final tests, the education inspectorate cannot currently gauge pupils’ and students’ skills clearly. There are no figures for 2018 that can be compared with those of earlier years. From the 2020/’21 academic year, a new method will be used to determine whether pupils are sufficiently skilled in literacy and numeracy. The international position is derived from the PISA study carried out among 15‑year-olds in the OECD countries every three years. The Dutch PIAAC scores among adults are high compared with other countries, but the last measurement dates from 2012. PIAAC is an international OECD study conducted among adults, which only takes place once every 10 years. A new round started in 2018 and the results will be published in late 2023. Digital skills are essential in a knowledge-intensive economy. On this point, the Netherlands was at the top of the European rankings in 2019.
Subjective assessment refers to how people experience education and their education opportunities. People in the Netherlands express considerable satisfaction with their education opportunities: 82.4 percent of the adult population were satisfied in 2019.
SDG 5 Gender equality
SDG 5 concerns equal treatment of men and women and their equal position in society. The degree of equality is measured in terms of gender differences in remuneration for work, labour participation and the position of women in management and government positions (SDG 5.5). Another specific goal within this SDG is reducing violence against women (SDG 5.2). The Dutch government has formulated various policy goals with the aim of achieving equality between women and men: more economically independent women; improving job mobility for women, especially for management positions; closing the gender pay gap; and less intimidation and violence against women (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2018).
This dashboard is mainly coloured green for the trend in the Netherlands. The picture is more mixed in relation to the position in Europe. The Netherlands is in a strong position for three indicators, but for three others it is at a low level in the EU rankings.
Resources and opportunities concern the rights and freedoms of men and women and the chances they have to make use of them. For this category, no indicators are currently available that comply with the quality criteria of this report.
Use relates to the extent to which women and men participate in society and the economy. In 2017, women made up the majority of students in higher education in the Netherlands, at 52.3 percent. In most other European countries, the percentage of female students is even higher. If there is a group that is lagging behind here, it is men. The percentage of 15 to 74‑year-olds who are working (net labour participation) has increased in recent years for both men and women. At 73.2 percent for men and 64.4 percent for women, the participation rate for men in 2019 was around 9 percentage points above that of women, but the gap is narrowing. In the EU28, the Netherlands is in a leading position for labour participation. However, this ranking takes no account of the number of hours worked: many women and also a relatively large number of men in the Netherlands work part-time (up to 35 hours per week). In 2019, slightly more than half of workers had a full-time job. There has been a shift in the trend in the net labour participation rates of men and women. In both cases, a neutral trend has turned into a rising one.
Outcomes refer to the effects of participation on gender equality. An increasing share of the population is economically independent: four out of five men and three out of five women. As regards the economic independence of men, the stable trend observed previously has changed to an upward trend. The gender gap in remuneration is gradually narrowing. The difference in the hourly wage between men and women declined to 14.3 percent in 2019. This puts the Netherlands in a middle position within the EU. For both women and men, the percentage of the highly educated is increasing, with the share for women being slightly larger than for men. The picture is less positive in relation to leadership positions. A quarter of higher and middle management positions were occupied by women in 2018. Only in Italy is this percentage lower. The proportion of female Members of Parliament is declining. In 2019, women made up one-third of members of the House of Representatives and in recent years, the Netherlands has dropped to a middle position within Europe in this respect.
The healthy life expectancy, which in this case means the life expectancy in health that is perceived as good or very good, is lower for women than for men. At birth, women are projected to live for over 63 years in health that is perceived as good. For men, the healthy life expectancy is nearly 65 years. Compared with women in other EU countries, women in the Netherlands are low in the rankings, while men have a middle position from a European perspective. The figures used to make the international comparison are concerned with another variant of healthy life expectancy than the figures used to calculate the trend in the Netherlands. The international comparison involves life expectancy without GALI limitations.
One of the focus points of the Dutch government’s policy goal of a safe society for all its citizens is less intimidation and violence against women. Physical and/or sexual abuse by a partner or former partner is one aspect of this. On this point, there is a downward trend. In 2019, 1.3 in every thousand women in the Netherlands reported having been a victim of physical or sexual abuse from their current or former partner since the age of 15.
Subjective assessment relates to people’s experience of gender equality or inequality. For this category, no indicators are currently available that comply with the quality criteria of this report.
SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation
As everybody in the Netherlands has access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities, the focus of this dashboard is water quality (SDG 6.3) and the efficiency of water consumption. Discharge of pollutants, directly or through the soil, affects the quality of natural inland water and groundwater. Water purification reduces the pollution caused by these emissions and improves water quality. Using water more efficiently (higher water productivity) is important for reducing the burden on freshwater sources in times of increasing economic activity.
For this dashboard, the trend in the Netherlands is predominantly positive. An exception to this is the development in the numbers or the distribution of animal species that are characteristic of fresh water habitats. In the last eight years, there has been a limited decline after two decades of growth. For this SDG, a comparison with other EU countries is only possible for a small number of indicators.
Resources and opportunities concern the means used to provide households with clean and affordable drinking water. Drinking water provision is very well regulated in the Netherlands. Production costs of drinking water companies have fallen in recent years. The trend in the average price of drinking water for customers is neutral.
Use relates to the extraction of water from the environment, the efficiency of drinking water use and the degree of purification of urban waste water. The purification efficiency for nitrogen and phosphorus from urban waste water is high: in 2018, it was 85 percent for nitrogen and 87 percent for phosphorus. There is a rising trend for both, which indicates a continuous improvement in the efficiency of water purification. Extraction of fresh water from surface and groundwater was 471 m3 per capita in 2018. Water consumption by agriculture and drinking water companies was higher in the dry summer of 2018; the agricultural sector’s need for groundwater for sprinkling was the highest for 15 years. In contrast, the fact that energy companies need less and less fresh water for cooling slightly reduces extraction per capita. Compared with other countries in the EU, the Netherlands extracts a considerable amount of water per capita from surface and groundwater, mainly because the country has many companies that are intensive users of cooling water. After discharge, that cooling water is once again available for use. Water productivity, a measure of the efficiency of water use by industry, improved further and was 88.5 euros per m3 in 2018, up from 57.6 euros in 2012.
Outcomes refer to the quality, affordability and sustainability of water in general and drinking water in particular. Animal species that are typical of fresh water and marshes have recently started to suffer a decline, after a period of gradual growth. There are various reasons for this declining trend and they differ from one species to another. Although water quality is continuing to improve slowly, it is clearly still far from being good enough everywhere for these specific animal species. Chemical and biological water quality is assessed once every six years according to the European Water Framework Directive system. These data are not up-to-date and are therefore not included here. The general assessment is that water quality still has to improve substantially in order to meet requirements in 2027. The quality of swimming water in Dutch inland waters has been chosen as an alternative indicator in this Monitor. In spite of the exceptionally warm summers of 2014, 2018 and 2019, the quality of inland swimming water showed an improving trend between 2012 and 2019: in 2019, nearly 74 percent was certified as ‘excellent’. Indirectly, this indicator is also relevant for the production of drinking water, as in the Netherlands surface water is extracted alongside groundwater for use as drinking water.
Subjective assessment in this context is related to satisfaction with drinking water. Customer satisfaction with drinking water was high in 2015, the last year in which there was a national measurement.
SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy
The availability, sustainability and affordability of energy have been the most important topics of public and political debate in recent years. As virtually everyone in the Netherlands has access to reliable energy sources, the dashboard for SDG 7 is aimed at sub-goals 7.2 (renewable energy) and 7.3 (energy efficiency). The main causes of greenhouse gas emissions (see SDG 13 on climate) are fossil fuel combustion for electricity, manufacturing, road vehicles, and residential and other buildings. Development and use of technologies for energy conservation and renewable sources are essential to reduce energy use and fossil fuel dependency. This will have a positive effect on future levels of well-being.
The trend in the Netherlands is predominantly positive, including an increase in employment and investment in the growing sustainable energy sector, as well as a decline in energy consumption and the energy intensity of the economy. Nevertheless, compared with the other EU countries, the Netherlands is still lagging far behind for many of these indicators.
Resources and opportunities relate to the availability and affordability of energy and investment in sustainable energy provision. Investment in renewable energy and energy-saving measures is showing a rising trend and represented 1.1 percent of GDP in 2019. Employment in the sustainable energy sector has also seen an upward trend. According to an initial estimate by CBS and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, these companies provided 0.9 percent of total employment in 2019. The fossil energy reserves that were producible from a commercial and social point of view decreased further. The operational capacity for renewable electricity in the Netherlands rose in the period 2012–2019 from 164 to 656 megawatts per million inhabitants. Growth has been exceptional in recent years in particular: in 2019, capacity was up by more than a quarter compared with 2018. This recent rise is largely attributable to the electrical capacity of installations to generate solar power. For the first time, at the end of 2018 there was more capacity available for generating electricity from solar energy than for electricity generation from wind energy. It should be noted here that this refers to the operational capacity, not actual energy generation. For solar energy in particular, the amount of power that is actually generated in the Dutch situation is significantly lower than the potential capacity. In 2018, the Netherlands was in 22nd position out of 26 EU countries for this indicator.
Household spending on energy as a percentage of total consumer spending is used as an indicator for the affordability of energy. This share is on a downward trend and came to 3.4 percent in 2019. In an international perspective, Dutch households spend relatively little on energy: in 2018 the Netherlands was seventh out of 27 EU countries.
Use concerns amounts of energy used and saved.noot3 Total energy consumption declined from 4,634 kg of oil equivalents per capita in 2012 to 4,282 kg in 2018. There is a downward trend, but the Netherlands is in a low position compared with other EU countries. The trend for energy intensity, a measure of the energy efficiency of the economy, was also downward from 2012 to 2019. In 2018, the Netherlands was in 11th position in the EU.
Outcomes relate to the affordability, sustainability and wastage of energy. Consumption of oil products showed a rising trend between 2012 and 2019, from 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes per capita. For fossil fuel imports, a previously rising trend has now become neutral. The Netherlands was ranked lowest in the EU in 2018, although it should be noted that a large proportion of these imports are re-exported. There is an upward trend in the share of renewable energy; it was 7.4 percent in 2018, approximately halfway to the 2020 policy target of 14 percent. The share of renewable energy in the Netherlands was the lowest of all the EU countries in 2018.
Subjective assessment refers to satisfaction with the price and availability of energy. For this category, no indicators are currently available that comply with the quality criteria of this report.
SDG 8.1 Decent work and economic growth: economy and factors of production
GDP (gross domestic product) is a measure for the size of a country’s economy. It can be calculated in three ways: from output, income and expenditure. An increase in GDP usually results in greater well-being in the short term (SDG 8.1). But there is also a downside, as in the long term, economic activities can be damaging to people’s welfare, the living environment and well-being. To produce goods and services, an economy needs input from the various factors of production: capital, labour and raw materials. One important question in this respect is how sustainably and productively these are used (SDGs 8.2 and 8.4). A second question is how profits and income are distributed between citizens and businesses. Together, these factors determine whether economic growth is efficient and sustainable.
There is a very positive picture for this dashboard: the trend for 11 indicators is one of growth, while only two show a decline from the point of view of well-being. The same positive picture can be seen in the international comparison. For eight indicators, the Netherlands achieves scores that put it among the leaders in Europe, while just one indicator places it low in the rankings.
Resources and opportunities concern the volumes of labour, capital and knowledge used to produce goods and services. The trends in this part of the dashboard are rising. The share of gross capital expenditure in GDP is modest from a European perspective. The Netherlands is in the middle as regards the number of hours worked per capita. Median disposable income is high compared with other countries.
Use concerns the productivity and sustainability of the use of resources. A number of economic ratios can be used to measure how sustainably and efficiently factors of production are used. This part of the dashboard is also predominantly favourable, though there are a few negative points. Physical capital stock is following a downward trend, while previously the trend was stable. Labour productivity (value added per hour worked) is high compared with other EU countries and the trend is upward. Of all the EU countries, the Netherlands is most efficient in its use of raw materials in the production process. The country also shows an upward trend and has a high position for knowledge capital stock and consumption. There has in fact been a trend change for consumption, as it was previously stable.
Outcomes relate to the rate, efficiency and sustainability of economic growth. There is a rising trend for GDP per capita and the Netherlands has a high position in the European rankings. The distribution of earnings and profits in the economy is a topical policy issue. The labour-income ratio (LIR) gives a picture of this distribution. The LIR is the share of the total earned income of the Netherlands represented by the remuneration of employees and the self-employed, according to the definition used by CBS, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). In 2019, the LIR was 76.2 percent and a high LIR is favourable for workers. The position of the Netherlands in relation to other countries is indicative. It is difficult to make comparisons with other countries because there are many differences in definitions. For this Monitor, International Labour Organization (ILO) figures were used. The raw materials footprint has not been updated in this edition; CBS is working to improve the methods for calculating it.
Subjective assessment refers to the confidence of consumers and producers in the economy. The business cycle is an important determinant of consumer and producer confidence, but economic policy also has an effect. The trends in this part of the dashboard are green, but the picture for all three sentiment indicators has been less rosy in recent times. Consumer confidence has been dropping sharply since the second half of 2018, and in 2019 there were slightly more pessimists than optimists. Producer confidence also fell in this period: manufacturers were less positive about future output, their order position and stocks. The picture is the same for business confidence among non-financial companies.
SDG 8.2 Decent work and economic growth: labour and leisure time
Decent work is important for people to earn an income and participate in society, and also for their self-esteem. The question of whether they can find and keep a job and whether that job will pay them enough to get by (SDG 8.5) is of great importance for many people. In addition, they want to work in decent conditions, perform relevant and interesting tasks and achieve a good work-life balance (SDG 8.8). Leisure time also makes life worthwhile: people can relax, engage with others and develop themselves further.
For this dashboard, the picture can be seen as positive, with most indicators showing an improving trend in well-being. Positions in the European rankings are also high in most cases.
Resources and opportunities concern options for participating in the labour market, the number of jobs available and income from work. In early 2020, the Commissie Regulering van Werk (Commission on Employment Regulation) issued an advisory report on problems in the labour market, the desirability of change and the possible implications for legislation (Rijksoverheid, 2020a). If policy remains unchanged, the Commission foresees economic as well as social and societal problems. This part of the dashboard is developing positively from the point of view of well-being. The high vacancy rate is good for jobseekers and at the end of 2019 there were 33 vacancies per thousand jobs. In addition, the unemployment rate is falling and a smaller proportion of labour potential is unused. Compared with other European countries, the unemployment rate is low and there is a relatively large number of vacancies for jobseekers in the Netherlands. For long-term unemployment, the Netherlands is in a middle position. The trend here is neutral, but in recent years long-term unemployment (12 months or longer) has become less common.
Use relates to labour market participation. In 2019, 68.8 percent of all 15 to 74‑year-olds were in work: the highest net labour participation rate of the last 50 years. For this indicator, the trend was previously stable and then became rising. The percentage is high, not only over time but also compared with other EU countries. The gross labour participation rate in this age category – the share of people either currently in work or seeking work – was slightly higher, at 71.2 percent. The Dutch government’s gross labour participation target of at least 80 percent of the age category 20 to 64 years oldnoot4 was reached a few years ago. Average weekly working hours are also increasing, but at 27.6 hours worked per week, they are relatively low compared with other European countries.
Outcomes concern working conditions, safety at work and work-life balance. The trend for the number of non-fatal accidents at work remains neutral, in spite of a rise at the end of the trend period. The average hourly wage is relatively high in the Netherlands compared with the rest of the EU. The trend for work-related mental fatigue is no longer neutral, but is now rising. CBS and TNO reported that in 2019, 17.0 percent of employees struggled with burn-out symptoms several times a month.
Subjective assessment relates to whether people are satisfied with their jobs, working conditions and leisure time. Research by CBS and TNO shows that in 2019, 16.5 percent of employees were concerned about job security, which represents a downward trend. The expectations of households regarding their financial situation for the next 12 months are showing a rising trend, even though sentiment in 2019 was less positive. According to CBS and TNO figures, nearly three-quarters of employees were satisfied with their working conditions in 2019. In this regard, the Netherlands was in second place in the EU in 2015. Employees’ job satisfaction was also high compared with other EU countries, with a shift in the trend for this indicator from downward to neutral. Nearly three-quarters of the population were satisfied with the amount of leisure time they had, but the trend here was downward.
SDG 9.1 Industry, innovation and infrastructure: infrastructure and mobility
This dashboard concerns infrastructure – SDG 9.1 – but also personal mobility. Mobility and infrastructure make it possible for people to work, keep in touch with each other and undertake activities in their free time. Commuting between home and work by various forms of transport accounts for a large part of personal mobility. Mobility also has negative effects on society and the environment, including time lost in traffic congestion, unsafe traffic situations and the burden on the environment.
The indicators of this dashboard present a less rosy picture. Five indicators indicate a declining trend in well-being, while two are developing favourably. There is a mixed picture for the position of the Netherlands in the EU.
Resources and opportunities concern resources available for constructing and maintaining the infrastructure network and the possibilities this offers for safe, affordable and efficient transport of people and goods. The length of the Dutch road network is increasing. A vital link for accessibility is good quality public transport that is easy to access. CBS is currently recording the length of railways, light rail, tram and fast tram lines, and metro lines. The share of GDP invested in civil engineering is declining and the trend is downward. In 2019, the total was 2.3 percent.
Use describes the volume of transport movements of various forms of transport. If we consider the relationship between transport movements and the economy, there is a declining trend in the ratio of the volume of passenger transport to GDP. This means that passenger transport is increasing less quickly than the economy is growing, which is seen as negative in the context of mobility. However, the reduction in traveller kilometres does ease the pressure of pollution, energy consumption and congestion. Motorised passenger transport mostly takes place by car (86 percent), followed by train (11 percent). This ratio has remained stable over the course of years. Kilometres travelled by bicycle come from a different data source and can therefore not be compared directly in this respect. The government is encouraging the use of electric cars because it is more fuel-efficient and cleaner than travelling in a conventional car: direct CO2 emissions are lower. The proportion of electric cars in the country’s total car fleet rose sharply from 0.9 percent in 2012 to 3.7 percent in 2019. It is now clear that this increase is continuing: at the beginning of 2020, 4.6 percent of cars were electric. The total number of passenger cars in the Netherlands at the beginning of 2020 was nearly 8.7 million. The number of cars is now growing faster than the number of people aged 18 years and older, which means that car ownership per adult inhabitant is increasing.
Outcomes relate to the effects of mobility, such as traffic congestion and delays, accidents, pollution and noise. Travel is time-consuming due to congestion and delays. The number of traffic victims is relatively low compared with the other EU countries, with 39.3 deaths in traffic accidents per million inhabitants in 2018. The government aims to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2050 (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, SPV 2018).noot5 The trend of CO2 emissions per capita from domestic traffic and transport is neutral. Dutch air transport also contributes to CO2 emissions.noot6 For years, emissions from air transport have been relatively high compared with other countries and in 2018, the Netherlands was in 26th place within the EU.
Subjective assessment refers to noise nuisance and satisfaction with commuting time. An increasing percentage of Dutch people experience noise nuisance from traffic or neighbours. In 2018, this was the case for over 27.1 percent of households, which is a high percentage compared with other EU countries. Only two other EU countries (Germany and Malta) have higher perceived noise nuisance. Satisfaction with commuting time is high – 82.6 percent in 2019 – but the trend is declining.
SDG 9.2 Industry, innovation and infrastructure: sustainable business
SDG sub-goals 9.2, 9.3 and 9.4 focus on making businesses stronger and more sustainable, and increasing access to high-value markets and finance for small companies. Many of these topics come under the heading of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR runs through many SDGsnoot7: access to credit for small businesses, employee conditions, more sustainable production processes, and inclusive and sustainable value chains within and across national borders. In the Netherlands, the main topics in this regard are relations between employers and employees; the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies; and sustainable production processes and products.
This dashboard presents a decisively positive picture. Only one indicator shows declining well-being: confidence in large companies. In other cases, well-being is stable or growing, and the Netherlands occupies average or even high positions in the EU rankings.
Resources and opportunities describe options for businesses to make their production processes, energy consumption and value chains more sustainable. In 2017, 82 of the hundred companies in the Netherlands with the largest turnovers were transparent about their business operations in relation to corporate social responsibility: they published a sustainability report. This share has been fairly constant over the years and from a European perspective, the Netherlands has a high score. Access to finance was cited by 7.9 percent of SMEs in 2019 as the biggest constraint on business operations. This is less than half of the percentage at the beginning of the trend period. The Netherlands is in a middle position within Europe. The importance of companies active in environmental protection and the management of natural resources is gradually increasing. In 2019, the value added of the environmental sector (companies operating in the area of environmental protection and management of natural resources, including energy conservation) represented 2.3 percent of GDP. The environmental sector currently provides 2.6 percent of total employment.
Use concerns companies’ efforts to make production processes, energy use and value chains more sustainable. The energy intensity of the economy – a measure for energy use efficiency – is showing a decreasing trend. Internationally, the Netherlands was in the middle of the European rankings in 2018. In terms of domestic consumption of materials, the Netherlands maintained itself in the highest regions of the EU rankings at 9,379 kg per capita in 2018. Incidentally, there is a trend shift for domestic consumption of materials. Where this indicator previously showed an improvement (green), the trend is now neutral.
Outcomes refer to actual sustainability of production processes and value chains. The Dutch business community consists largely of medium-sized and small companies (up to 250 employees). SMEs were responsible for 61.9 percent of the value added of the entire non-financial sector in 2018. This puts the Netherlands in a middle position among EU countries. The greenhouse gas intensity of the economy is on a downward trend: fewer greenhouse gases are emitted per unit of production. This indicates an improvement in the eco-efficiency of the economy. The high position of the Netherlands compared with other countries with respect to the labour income ratio (LIR) is indicative: an international comparison of this measure of the distribution of earned income between labour and capital providers is difficult to make because there are many differences in definitions. For this Monitor, International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures were used.
Subjective assessment provides a picture of satisfaction with working conditions, together with the level of trust in banks and large companies. There has been a trend reversal for confidence in companies: while confidence used to be stable, it is now on a downward trend. According to CBS and TNO figures, nearly three-quarters of employees were satisfied with their working conditions in 2019. The latest figures for other countries, for 2015, show that satisfaction in the Netherlands is high.
SDG 9.3 Industry, innovation and infrastructure: knowledge and innovation
Knowledge is essential for increasing economic performance and finding solutions to pressing societal issues. It can be converted into new technologies and processes, which in turn can be used to improve products and production processes and make them more sustainable. Added to this, knowledge has sociocultural and intrinsic value. Important aspects in this respect are public and private investment in knowledge, expanding ICT and other technology, and an increasing stock of knowledge capital (SDG 9.5). Access to the internet is an increasingly important factor in access to knowledge (SDG 9.c).
This dashboard presents a very positive picture. Apart from the decline in the physical capital stock, all other indicators show a stable or even rising trend. As regards the country’s position in the EU rankings, the picture is also clearly favourable. Again, there is only one indicator in red: gross capital expenditure.
Resources and opportunities concern money, manpower and infrastructure to develop, share and apply knowledge and innovation. Gross capital expenditure as a percentage of GDP (mainly investment in machinery and equipment) fell for a considerable time following the economic crisis. This percentage has been increasing for a number of years in a row, but compared with other EU countries it is still low. Proportionally, however, there is substantial investment in ICT in the Netherlands. In terms of household access to a broadband internet connection and access to the internet, the Netherlands leads the European rankings.
Use relates to the creation of knowledge, innovations and knowledge networks. There is an upward trend in the number of scientific publications per million inhabitants of the Netherlands. In 2018, however, there were slightly fewer publications per million inhabitants than a year earlier. A relatively large share of Dutch companies are innovative from a technological point of view. The number of patent applications per million inhabitants fell in 2018, just as in 2017. The trend here is neutral. For all three indicators, the Netherlands is very highly placed in the European rankings.
Outcomes refer to the extent to which new technology and knowledge are embedded in the stock of capital goods required by the present and future generations. Against the declining trend in the physical capital stock (machinery, tools and other means of production) per hour worked, there is an increase in the knowledge capital stock. There is a trend shift in the physical stock of capital goods: previously the trend was stable. As far as knowledge capital is concerned, the Netherlands is invariably at the top levels of the EU rankings.
Subjective assessment relates to trust in science and innovation. Confidence in science is gauged every three years by the Rathenau Institute. This confidence has remained constant over the years and with a score of 7.1 (on a scale of 1–10) in 2018, it is quite high.
SDG 10.1 Reduced inequalities: social cohesion and inequality
SDG 10 is intended to reduce inequality within and between countries. This dashboard focuses on an important intangible aspect of inequality within a country: social cohesion. Social cohesion is indispensable for the fabric of society; it is based on the social infrastructure, such as family ties, neighbours, friends, clubs and associations, and interpersonal care and support. People must be able to take part in these relationships (in accordance with SDGs 10.1 and 10.2), in order to feel they are part of a group (SDG 10.3). Migration issues occupy a special place in this system (SDG 10.7).
For this dashboard, the picture is mixed. A large number of indicators show a stable or rising trend. In contrast, there are declining trends for the three indicators that measure contact with family, friends or neighbours, participation in associations and volunteering. The time spent on social contacts is on a downward trend. In comparison with other European countries, the performance of the Netherlands in the area of social cohesion and inequality is average to good.
Resources and opportunities refer to social capital, social structures and income inequality. In the context of this SDG, the aim is to reduce income inequality. Income inequality in the Netherlands is not very high compared with other EU countries. In 2018, the sum of all incomes in the category with the top 20 percent was more than four times higher than the sum in the category with the bottom 20 percent of incomes. The Gini coefficient, which is based on the standardised disposable income, has a value between 0 and 1: the closer to zero, the more evenly distributed incomes are. In 2018 it was 0.28 for the Netherlands and this measure has had a stable value for years. Low income can hinder full participation in society. Relative poverty rose slightly in 2018, to 13.3 percent, and this relatively low percentage puts the Netherlands in the top quartile of the European rankings.
Use refers to social interactions, membership of organisations and clubs, and volunteering. Seven out of ten Dutch people have contact with family, friends or neighbours at least once a week. This is a lot compared with other EU countries. In addition, almost 44 percent of the population participate in activities of a club or association at least once a month. The social infrastructure also relies on voluntary work and support for people outside a person’s own household, such as informal care. One in three people in the Netherlands provide some form of informal help. The trend for voluntary work has shifted from stable to downwards.
Outcomes refer to the extent of social cohesion and to exclusion and discrimination. It is striking how positively the Dutch judge migrants, in relative terms. The Netherlands occupies fourth place in the list of 16 EU countries for which this figure is available.
Subjective assessment concerns how much people trust each other, feelings of shared norms and values, and social exclusion. In the Netherlands, trust in other people is high compared with other EU countries, and the trend is upward. However, nearly 9 percent of the population consider themselves to belong to a group that suffers discrimination. Nearly half of the population say that they think norms and values have remained the same or improved. Furthermore, almost half of the population feel a lot of freedom to decide for themselves how to arrange their lives. This is a large share compared with other EU countries.
SDG 10.2 Reduced inequalities: financial sustainability
This part of SDG 10 concerns the financial sustainability of Dutch well-being and the financial situation of households. Debts are incurred and capital is accrued collectively as well as individually. The financial liabilities of the government and households have an impact on the well-being of future generations. Financial systems may prove vulnerable when confronted with an ageing population, economic crises, increasing globalisation, and changing solidarity between generations and population groups.
There is a mixed picture for this dashboard, with equal numbers of indicators with a red and a green trend. Remarkably, the Netherlands does not occupy a high position in the European rankings for any of the indicators.
Resources and opportunities concern the sustainable financing of the welfare state and the accrual of pensions and capital without placing a burden on future generations. Demographic pressure provides insight into the relationship between the working and non-working part of the population. Grey pressure (the ratio of people aged 65 years and older to those aged 20 to 64 years) and green pressure (the ratio of young people under 20 years to those aged 20 to 64 years) both show an unfavourable development in terms of long-term sustainability of well-being. Within the EU, the Netherlands is in the middle group for both indicators.
The current coverage ratio of the pension funds is the yardstick for their current financial position and reflects the ratio of assets to liabilities. This coverage ratio was 104.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019. A specific objective for pension funds is the policy coverage ratio (the average of 12 monthly coverage ratios). At the end of 2019, this was 102.2 percent. The statutory minimum value for the policy coverage ratio differs per fund, but is at least 104.2 percent.noot8 Government spending on public health and social protection is on a downward trend.
Use concerns the withdrawal of resources from accrued capital. For every 100 participants who accrued pension rights with pension funds in 2018, 58 people received benefits from a pension fund, and the trend is rising. In addition to the continuing ageing of the population, the number of self-employed is also increasing in the Netherlands. Unlike employees, they are responsible for their own pension provision. As they may not accrue a pension, this poses a risk to future well-being.
Outcomes refer to the level of incurred debt and the sustainability of financial systems. Opposite the debts of households are their savings (currency and deposits) and non-financial assets such as their homes. On average, Dutch households have nearly 100,000 euros of debt. This puts the Netherlands at the bottom of the EU rankings. Households with a home loan have an average mortgage debt of 194,700 euros. The level of these debts is on the rise. There is no visible trend for savings. With an average of 53,331 euros per household, the Netherlands occupied a middle position within Europe in 2018. The trend in government debtnoot9, a key indicator of the state of public finances, is downward. Government debt as a percentage of GDP, also referred to as the gross debt ratio, stood at 48.6 percent at the end of 2019. This is almost 20 percentage points below the highest gross debt ratio reached at the end of 2013 as a result of the credit crisis. The European ceiling is a maximum of 60 percent of GDP.
Subjective assessment concerns uncertainty about – and confidence in – the future. The percentage of people who say they are very concerned about their financial future has fallen, but it remains high. In 2019, more than a quarter of the adult population had such concerns.
SDG 11.1 Sustainable cities and communities: housing
SDG 11 concerns sustainable cities and communities. Housing is an important aspect of well-being in cities and communities. A large part of life takes place in and around our home and safe, affordable, good-quality housing with adequate rooms improves the sense of well-being. In addition to the place of work and social relations, the availability of suitable and affordable housing determines to a large extent where people live. Housing market mobility is important for first-time buyers and for those who want to move up the housing ladder. In addition, personal well-being is affected by how much people can enjoy their home and their feelings about how much it costs them to live there.
The trend in the Netherlands is mixed, with five negative trends versus three positive ones. The international position is also mixed, with the Netherlands scoring high on, for example, satisfaction with the living environment and perceived cost of housing. There is even a trend shift from neutral to positive for perceived cost of housing. Internationally, however, the proportion of disposable income a household spends on housing costs is relatively high.
Resources and opportunities concern the number, quality and affordability of own homes and rented homes. The trend in the number of dwellings available per thousand inhabitants is upward, reaching 453 in 2019. Despite the increase, there is tension in the housing market. Rent levels and prices of owner-occupied homes have recently risen sharply. The ratio between the asking price and the selling price followed a rising trend between 2012 and 2019, reaching 1.0 in 2019. This means that the selling price is now on average equal to the asking price. According to the National Housing Agenda (Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, 2018a), the number of available homes should grow by approximately 700,000 between 2018 and 2025, but due to the recent nitrogen and PFAS crisis, it is unlikely that this yearly target will be achieved after 2019. In a letter to the House of Representatives (Rijksoverheid, 2020b), the Minister for the Environment and Housing now assumes an annual figure of some 50,000. The share of income spent on housing stood at 23.4 percent in 2018. This share is high compared with other EU countries.
Use refers to the rented or own homes people live in and their chances of moving up the housing ladder. There are two ways to measure the share of people who live in rental accommodation that does not fit their circumstances: financially and physically. The percentage of households living in social housing with a rent that is too low in relation to income shows a stable trend. In 2018, over 4 percent of the population lived in a home with too few rooms according to internationals standards. This percentage is on an upward trend, but is low compared with other EU countries. The average mortgage debt of households with a residential mortgage rose to 195,000 euros in 2018. No figures are available on the accrued balances for the redemption of savings and investment mortgages at the end of the term.
Outcomes concern the quality of the home, the living environment and perceived cost of housing. The quality of homes is generally good: 85.2 percent of the Dutch population indicated in 2019 that they had no problems with serious defects such as a leaking roof, rotting window frames, or damp walls, floors or foundations. One in ten households stated that they found their housing costs very high. However, this feeling has diminished: the trend has changed from neutral (grey) to green. Compared with other EU countries, this percentage is relatively low. Nearly 70 percent of the population own the home they live in. Although that share followed an upward trend between 2012 and 2019, the Netherlands is at the bottom of the EU rankings.
Subjective assessment refers to how satisfied people are with their housing and their neighbourhood. Almost 88 percent of the adult population say they are satisfied with their housing situation. While this percentage was previously on a downward trend, it has now changed to neutral. Satisfaction with the living environment is also high. However, the percentage of households that experience unpleasantnessnoot10 in the neighbourhood is fairly high in the Netherlands.
SDG 11.2 Sustainable cities and communities: living environment
SDG 11 refers not only to housing, but also to the environment in which people live. The aim of the Dutch government is to provide a safe and healthy living environment, which includes good environmental quality. A living environment that provides space for social functions and where the available space above and below ground is used efficiently. There is a lot of pressure on the living environment and the available space. The government is working on the National Environmental Vision (Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, 2018b) to address issues with consequences for the physical living environment such as urbanisation, sustainability and climate adaptation in a coherent manner. This dashboard therefore focuses on environmental factors: area per person (SDG 11.3), waste management (SDG 11.6) and government spending on the environment (SDG 11.4). Other indicators relate to concentrations of particulate matter in urban air (SDG 11.6) and victims of crime (SDG 11.7). There are no specific policy goals for safety and sustainability in Dutch cities. For air quality, however, the Netherlands is required to comply with the EU exposure limit for particulate matter (PM2.5) to protect citizens’ health, which is 25 micrograms/m3.
There is a mixed picture for this SDG. The trend in the Netherlands is that five indicators are developing in the direction of the SDG goal, which is seen as an increase in well-being. Three indicators point towards a decline in well-being. Compared with other EU countries, the Netherlands occupies a predominantly middle position or a position at the bottom of the list.
Resources and opportunities in this context relate to the space available and expenditure on protecting the quality of the living environment. Because the population of the Netherlands continues to grow, the amount of total space per capita is shrinking. In 2019, there was 79 m2 less available per capita than in 2012: a decline of 3.2 percent. This calculation did not take account of the accessibility or attractiveness of this space; it concerns the total land and water surface of the Netherlands. CBS is developing other indicators to measure spatial pressure. The Netherlands is the second most densely populated country in the EU: only in Malta do people have less space. There is also a declining trend for government spending on environmental protection, expressed as a percentage of GDP. However, this percentage is the highest of all countries in the EU.
Use concerns how people use their living environment. Based on the amounts municipal waste services are collecting, the Dutch are producing less and less waste. Whereas the municipalities still collected 587 kg of waste per person in 2012, this was reduced to 554 kg in 2018. Within Europe, the Netherlands occupies a middle position for this indicator. It should be noted that there are differences between countries in the types of waste collected by municipal services.
Outcomes relate to the quality and safety of the living environment. Per capita emissions of acidifying substances (sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and ammonia) are on a downward trend. The measured urban background concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) was 12.0 micrograms/m3 on average in 2018, well below the EU requirement.noot11
Another aspect of the living environment is nature. As a measure of nature in the city, the indicator for urban birds is included in the dashboard. Urban breeding birds as a group have declined by more than half since 1990. Although some species feel more at home among people and buildings than in natural and agricultural areas, the index has dropped substantially. Of the 20 species of urban birds included in this indicator, 13 have declined since 1990. Only the house martin increased in number. For none of the species was the development in the urban area more favourable than the rural trend. This indicates that the urban environment has become less suitable as a breeding ground for urban birds. A European comparison is not possible for this indicator.
With regard to safety in the living environment, the number of people in the Netherlands who report having been victims of crime is continuously decreasing. In 2019, crime affected 13.7 percent of the population aged 15 years and older.
Subjective assessment describes how people experience their living environment. In 2019, 1.4 percent of the population often felt unsafe in their own neighbourhood and the trend here changed from neutral (grey) to green. However, in 2018, one-fifth of households suffered from unpleasant occurrences such as noise nuisance, vandalism, crime and pollution in the immediate vicinity of their homes. Compared to the other EU countries, this is a large part of the population.
SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
SDG 12 focuses on sustainable production and consumption, which is mainly measured in terms of more efficient use of raw materials. This eases the pressure on the environment and reduces dependence on raw materials, thus limiting the negative impact on future generations. The reduction and reuse of waste and the responsible processing of hazardous substances also contribute to this objective. This dashboard focuses on the transition to a circular economy, in which dependence on raw materials is reduced to a minimum through high-grade recycling of materials. SDG 12.2 focuses on minimising the use of raw materials. The amount of waste is reduced as much as possible and reused wherever possible (SDGs 12.4 and 12.5). Companies (SDG 12.6) and consumers are encouraged to make conscious choices. With the Circular Economy Implementation Programme (Rijksoverheid, 2019a), the government is shaping the transition to a circular economy in the years up to 2030. The programme identifies specific practical steps around five themes: biomass and food, plastics, manufacturing, construction, and consumer goods.
There is a predominantly neutral picture for this SDG. In the trend in the Netherlands, more than half of the indicators are grey. If there is a trend, it is predominantly positive. Within the EU, the Netherlands scores fairly positively with five high-level positions in the European rankings, but no international comparison is available for a number of indicators.
Resources and opportunities relate to the possibilities for sustainable production and consumption. Of the 100 companies in the Netherlands with the highest turnover, 82 published an annual sustainability report in 2017. This percentage is fairly constant and it is high from a European perspective. An annual CSR report provides insight into the extent to which a company produces sustainably. In addition, it can be seen that the importance of the environmental sector in the economy is growing. Companies in this sector are active in the field of environmental protection and management of natural resources, including energy savings. The trend in their value added is upward and it reached 2.3 percent of GDP in 2019. The trend in employment in the environmental sector is also rising, accounting for 2.6 percent of total employment in 2019. Internationally, the Netherlands occupied a middle position in 2016 in relation to the value added of the environmental sector.
Use concerns the volume of raw materials and other materials used and waste generated. The government wants to halve the use of abiotic raw materials between 2014 and 2030, and create a completely circular economy in 2050 (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, 2016a; Ministries of Infrastructure and Water Management, and Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, 2018). There has been a trend shift in domestic material consumption (SDG 12.2) from green to grey. However, the international position of the Netherlands is still high.
Decoupling waste generation from economic growth is also a policy goal (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, 2017). This means that economic growth should be linked to a reduction in waste generation. The amount of municipal waste shows a green (decreasing) trend and stood at over 550 kg per capita in 2018, while the amounts of industrial and hazardous waste remain stable. There is no international comparison available for industrial waste, but for municipal waste the Netherlands is mid-way in the European rankings, and for hazardous waste it is actually in a low position (red). The Netherlands still produces more than 300 kg of hazardous waste per capita.
Outcomes concern how efficiently raw materials are used and the reuse of waste. Dutch producers are becoming increasingly efficient with the raw materials they need: the trend in raw material productivity is green and rising. The Netherlands is at the top of the EU rankings in this area. For the raw materials footprint – the total amount of raw materials used per capita – the trend is unfavourable (red). The raw materials footprint has not been updated in this Monitor; CBS is working on improving the methods used to calculate it. The government aims to halve the amount of waste that is not recycled, composted or converted into energy between 2012 and 2022 (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, 2017). In 2018, three-quarters of industrial waste was recycled. The reuse and composting rate of municipal waste is increasing and amounts to almost 56 percent. The Netherlands has been near the top of the EU rankings in this area for a number of years. More than two-thirds of hazardous waste was recycled in 2016 and the Netherlands is also in a high position for this.
Subjective assessment describes people’s concerns about pollution, wastage, use of raw materials and other aspects of sustainability. In 2019, 15 percent of the adult population in the Netherlands reported experiencing problems with waste, pollution or other environmental issues. This is a high percentage compared with other EU countries.
SDG 13 Climate action
SDG 13 is aimed at tackling climate change as a result of human actions. The Paris Agreement was reached in 2015, aimed at reducing climate change and its damaging effects. The effects of climate change pose a potential threat to humans and nature. The National Adaptation Strategy (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, 2016b) sets out the consequences of climate change for various sectors. In addition, there is the Delta Programme (Rijksoverheid, 2019b), which aims to protect the Netherlands against flooding and the consequences of extreme weather. This dashboard focuses on SDG 13.2, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Energy savings and renewable energy (see also SDG 7) are factors in reducing these emissions. Also relevant in this respect is that by importing goods and services for domestic consumption, Dutch economic activities also affect greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the world.
For the trend in the Netherlands, the picture is primarily neutral to positive, but the international comparison presents a less rosy picture. In spite of the positive developments at home, the Netherlands occupies a low position for several indicators compared with other EU countries.
Resources and opportunities concern means used in the Netherlands to combat climate change and cope with its effects. Government spending related to reducing the Dutch impact on the climate amounted to 0.3 percent of GDP in 2019. This expenditure showed an upward trend between 2012 and 2019.
Use describes the ways in which the Netherlands contributes to climate change. The government’s aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49 percent from their 1990 level by 2030 (Rijksoverheid, 2017). In accordance with the court verdict in the Urgenda climate case (June 2015), the Dutch government must ensure that emissions are at least 25 percent lower in 2020 than in 1990. By 2019, a reduction of 17.7 percent had been achieved in the Netherlands. This reduction was mainly the result of halving methane and nitrous oxide emissions. In 2019, CO2 emissions were 5 percent lower than in 1990. The annual per capita greenhouse gas emissions show a downward trend, but the Netherlands is low in the EU rankings for this indicator.
Companies with the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions are required to participate in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). These companies have an EU reduction target of 21 percent between 2005 and 2020. Twenty countries achieved a larger cut in emissions in 2018, but eight countries – including the Netherlands – did not. For the EU as a whole, the ETS reduction was 29 percent in 2018. With a decline of 4.5 percent, the Netherlands occupied the second-to-last position in the EU rankings in 2018.
Outcomes concern the total Dutch contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. The indicator cumulative CO2 emissions is calculated by taking the sum of annual CO2 emissions from 1860 onwards and dividing it by the sum of the annual population in the same period. The amount of cumulative CO2 emissions is rising, because per capita emissions are higher now than they were when measurements began.noot12 Cumulative CO2 emissions give an indication of the Dutch share in historical CO2 emissions since 1860. The Dutch contribution to these emissions is relatively high from a European perspective. The greenhouse gas intensity of the economy – the volume of emissions per euro GDP – is decreasing, which is positive. The greenhouse gas footprint came to 17.0 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per capita in 2019. The trend for this footprint, a measure of total greenhouse gases emitted as a result of Dutch consumption, is neutral. However, the footprint in 2019 was significantly larger than in 2018. This means that consumption by the Dutch population has recently resulted in higher emissions of the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide, or laughing gas).
Subjective assessment refers to climate concerns and the extent to which people perceive climate change as a problem. In 2016, over three-quarters of the Dutch population were worried about climate change and its effects.
SDG 14 Life in water
SDG 14 is aimed at the protection of seas and oceans. Seawater covers around three-quarters of the planet and constitutes the world’s largest ecosystem. The increasing negative effects of climate change, overfishing and pollution threaten both the intrinsic value of the ecosystem itself and the value and pleasure people get from it. The Dutch marine area comprises part of the North Sea, the Wadden Sea and the coastal inlets. The dashboard focuses on prevention and reduction of pollution (SDG 14.1) and the sustainability of fishery (SDG 14.4) in the North Sea. Because only a few EU countries border the North Sea, it is not possible to make an international comparison for the current indicators.
Work is currently underway to improve the measurements for this dashboard. Although a great deal of measurement data are available on the various marine waters of the Netherlands, there are as yet few summarising indicators with sufficient measurement frequency, timeliness and uncontroversial interpretation that can be included here.
Resources and opportunities concern the size of the marine area and resources used to maintain and protect it. A large proportion of Dutch marine waters are located within protected areas. As various forms of protection and use overlap, this protection is not fully implemented across the whole area. For this reason, it is not possible to give a clear picture of relevant developments.
Use relates to marine economic activity, recreation and nature protection. The Dutch marine area is used intensively for shipping, fishing and recreation. In addition, an increasing part of the North Sea is used for offshore wind farms, and experiments are underway to generate other forms of renewable energy. At the moment no indicators fulfilling the quality requirements of this report are available to describe these uses for the whole marine area of the Netherlands.
Outcomes describe the quality of seawater and natural life in and around Dutch marine waters. The sustainability of Dutch fishing (SDG 14.4) is determined for six main commercial fish species by comparing current fish stocks with sustainable fish stocks, for example stocks necessary to maintain a healthy population. In 2018, the populations of five fish species were large enough to be labelled sustainable; for cod this was not the case. In 2019, nearly 76 percent of Dutch coastal swimming water qualified as ‘excellent’. This puts the Netherlands in the middle of the European rankings. In terms of the more general clean water index (SDG 14.1), the Netherlands is also in the middle group compared with the rest of the EU. An indicator for the marine aquatic and benthic biodiversity including seabirds is the North Sea fauna indicator, which shows a declining trend. The indicator refers to the offshore part of the North Sea, not coastal waters, inlets and the Wadden Sea. The biodiversity of the deep North Sea is therefore under pressure, and especially the benthos.
Experience relates to people’s concerns about pollution and life in the seas and oceans. Indicators are not yet available for this purpose either.
SDG 15 Life on land
SDG 15 concerns the protection, restoration and sustainable management of life on land in all its forms. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity can strengthen resilience to increasing population pressure, intensification of land use and climate change. Healthy ecosystems constitute the basis of processes that have a major impact on well-being, such as the availability of clean water and air, the presence of insects for pollination and the opportunities for relaxation, recreation and education. Nature has an intrinsic value here and now, and for future generations. This dashboard looks at the protection of nature (SDG 15.1) and the conservation of biodiversity (SDG 15.5).
The trend in the Netherlands is predominantly red to grey. Negative developments can be seen, for example, in the biodiversity indicators. In the international comparison, too, the Netherlands is often in a low position, with the exception of the various types of environmental expenditure.
Resources and opportunities concern how much natural space there is and the resources for restoration and protection. Government spending on environmental protection amounted to 1.4 percent of GDP in 2018. Trend-wise, this expenditure has fallen, but the Netherlands does occupy a high position compared with other EU countries. Total environmental expenditure is also on a downward trend, but here, too, the Netherlands is in a high position from an international perspective. The land area of nature and forest was just under 15 percent of the total area in 2015. This means that the Netherlands has the smallest share of natural land and forest out of 26 EU countries. The available area per person in the Netherlands is the smallest of all EU countries with the exception of Malta.
Use concerns the protection and use of natural space and its ecosystems and the pressure put on the natural system by human activities. In the Netherlands, nature is protected within the Netherlands Nature Network (NNN). The NNN comprises existing and new nature areas, including national parks and Natura 2000 areas, as well as land farmed under agricultural nature management schemes and land purchased for nature development. In 2018, the NNN area accounted for more than 20 percent of the land area, and the trend is upward. Phosphorus and nitrogen surpluses, which are caused mainly by agriculture, have negative consequences for the quality of surface water and sensitive ecosystems such as heathland. The nitrogen surplus, for example the part of nitrogen from manure that is not absorbed by agricultural crops but leaches into soil as well as ground and surface water, is very high in the Netherlands compared with other EU countries.noot13
Outcomes relate to the quality of ecosystems and biodiversity. The Netherlands is the second exporter of agricultural products in the world. This production has a downside: a very high deposition of nitrogen, which has consequences for nature. Where nitrogen deposition is greater than natural vegetation can cope with, the critical load value is exceeded. This will threaten the survival of natural areas that are exposed to such conditions and specific species will disappear as a result. In 2018, the critical load value was exceeded in more than 71 percent of all natural land areas in the Netherlands (PBL/WUR/RIVM, 2019). This percentage is high but the trend is neutral. The indicator for farmland birds is a measure of the quality of the agricultural area and concerns meadow and field birds and other breeding birds found on agricultural land. The downward trend for this indicator indicates deteriorating living conditions for these species. Geese are birds that do well, but they are not typical farmland birds because they also breed in other types of terrain. The red list index indicates that more than 60 percent of species, across seven species groups (animals and higher plants) in the Netherlands, are not at risk. However, the trend is negative: the share of endangered species increased between 2012 and 2019. The index for land fauna shows a neutral trend.
Subjective assessment describes how people experience the quality of nature areas and concerns about pollution and the disappearance of species. In the Netherlands, 15 percent of the population experience problems with pollution and contamination or other environmental problems. Compared with other EU countries, this percentage is high.
SDG 16.1 Peace, justice and strong institutions: security and peace
SDG 16 strives to promote a peaceful and safe society. Feelings of a lack of safety – with the accompanying vulnerability and uncertainty – can have a major impact on personal life. How safe people feel therefore has an effect, both objectively and subjectively, on well-being here and now. It is the task of the armed forces, police and judiciary to increase and maintain security, both through prevention and through the legal system. Public trust in these bodies can increase the sense of security.
In terms of trend-like developments, the picture for this dashboard is quite positive, with most indicators pointing to stable or rising well-being. As regards the position in the European rankings, the picture is mixed. For two indicators, the Netherlands occupies a leading position; for two others, the country is low in the EU rankings. It is not possible to make an international comparison for all indicators in this dashboard.
Resources and opportunities in this context relate to the means used to ensure fair legal processes and national security. Government spending on public order and security, and spending on national defence, do not show any particular direction. The Netherlands occupies a middle position in Europe. The operational strength of the police is declining: the number of officers who have direct contact with citizens and/or contribute directly to core tasks fell from a peak of 307 FTEs per 100 thousand inhabitants in 2012 to 292 FTEs in 2018. This is a small number of officers compared with other EU countries.
Use for this SDG is the number of people who come into contact with the judiciary or who appeal to the judicial authorities. The number of people in prisons, penitentiaries and disciplinary institutions is significantly lower than at the beginning of the trend period. In 2012, the total was 80 detainees per 100 thousand inhabitants, while in 2017 it was 63. From an international perspective, this number is relatively low. However, the number of underage suspects who have come to the attention of the police is high compared to other EU countries. This indicator also shows a trend shift: where the trend previously showed a downward development, it is now stable.
Outcomes concern the number of crimes committed and the number of crime victims. The number of people in the Netherlands who report having been victims of traditional forms of crime such as violence, burglary, theft and vandalism is continuously declining. The police have also recorded fewer such crimes: the trend is downward for both indicators. Increasing numbers of victims of traditional crime say that they did not report the crime to the police. Victims of cybercrime (digital forms of identity theft, fraud when buying and selling, hacking and cyber bullying) are recorded separately. Cybercrime is also relatively little reported. The share of the population who report (via surveys) that they have been a victim of crime is average from an international perspective. A proportion of crime remains unrecorded: not all crime is reported, but the types of crimes that are recorded can also differ from one country to another.
It is difficult to gain a picture of victims of human trafficking. Recent data from the National Rapporteur concern only reported victims. This number is steadily decreasing; 2018 even saw the lowest number since the start of measuring in 2009. According to the National Rapporteur, this does not mean that the number of victims is actually lower, because only those victims are known who come to the attention of the authorities. This makes the data quality insufficient to determine a trend for this indicator. In the Netherlands, estimates put the actual number of victims of human trafficking at four or five times the registered number. In other countries, this ratio may be different (National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, 2017).
The number of young men confronted with sexually transgressive behaviour had halved in 2017 compared with 2012. There was also a sharp fall among young women (35 percent). For this indicator, the number of data points is insufficient for determining a trend.
As far as the outcomes are concerned, there is a trend shift for two indicators: for death through both murder and manslaughter, and victims of cybercrime, the trend that used to be green is now stable (grey).
Subjective assessment concerns trust in the judicial system, the police and how safe people feel. Trust in the rule of law is one of the six aspects of good governance measured by the Worldwide Governance Indicators of the World Bank. People in the Netherlands have considerable trust in the judicial system, including the police and judges. Only in the Scandinavian countries and Austria is trust greater. There is a clear decline in the percentage of people who often feel unsafe in their own neighbourhood. There is a trend shift here, from stable (grey) to green.
SDG 16.2 Peace, justice and strong institutions: institutions
In addition to peace and safety, SDG 16 also relates to institutions. Efficient, accountable and transparent institutions are essential to the development, but also the continuance of well-being. The quality of institutions determines policy cohesion and effectiveness. It is also important for institutions to be accountable if a society is to function openly and democratically. After all, trust of citizens in the government is instrumental in active public participation in the community.
In terms of trend-like developments, the picture for this dashboard is mixed. Compared with other European countries, the Netherlands appears to score very well on this SDG. For almost all indicators, it is at the top of the EU rankings.
Resources and opportunities here concern the means the government has at its disposal to carry out its tasks and provide services to its citizens. Government spending on general public services as a percentage of GDP has continued to decline, dropping to 4.2 percent in 2018. This puts the Netherlands close to the bottom in the EU rankings.
Use in this context refers to use by citizens of public services and services of civil society organisations. Active participation by citizens in society is essential for a well-functioning democracy. One indicator to measure participation is the coverage of collective labour agreements. This is linked to trade union membership, but also to the validity of the agreements for other companies and workers in the same industry. The share of employees covered by collective labour agreements has declined further and stood at 77.6 percent in 2017. Another, more direct indicator for active participation is the percentage of eligible voters who vote in general elections. Compared with other European countries, voter turnout in the Netherlands is high. At the last election in 2017, four out of every five eligible voters went to the ballot box.
Outcomes relate to the quality of public services, the openness and efficiency of the government and public participation. A government that functions well is an important condition for developing and maintaining well-being. On a European level, the Netherlands is a leader in issues such as the quality of regulations and the effectiveness of government administration, opportunities for citizens to influence government and freedom of expression, association and assembly. The position of the Netherlands among the top 10 of the Corruption Perception Index (180 countries) shows that the Dutch public sector is seen to be largely free of corruption. Within the EU, the Netherlands was in fourth place in 2019.
To measure government efficiency, the minimum number of days needed to start a business was used. In the Netherlands, this has been reduced to three-and-a-half days, as in Estonia, which is faster than in any other European country.
Subjective assessment here concerns the question of whether citizens trust the government. Trust in institutions is high in the Netherlands compared with other countries in Europe and the trend is upward. In 2019, 63.1 percent of the population said they trusted the police, parliament and the judicial system, up from 57.5 percent in 2012.
SDG 17 Partnerships for the goals
The seventeenth and last SDG concerns the formation and maintenance of partnerships to achieve the other goals. International cooperation is needed to strengthen capacity and resources in order to implement the sustainable development agenda. Achieving the goals will require coherent policy, a cooperative environment and entry into new global partnerships. Unfortunately, no indicators are available for most of the sub-goals under SDG 17. A number of these goals are aimed at developing policy instruments to support sustainable development in countries. These are goals for which it is not possible to devise an indicator in the classic sense. Instead, one can indicate to what extent such policy instruments do or do not exist. This means that SDG 17 cannot be described in the same way as the previous SDGs. Only three of the official SDG sub-goals can be measured: development aid (SDG 17.2); remittances (SDG 17.3); and total imports from LDCs (SDG 17.11).
In terms of development aid and remittances, the Netherlands is fairly high in the EU rankings. In the SDG dashboard, these indicators are interpreted as being favourable or unfavourable in terms of well-being, in contrast to Chapter 2 (Figure 2.4.2). The indicators are presented here in the context of the SDG agenda. Each SDG indicator has a desired direction. From this point of view, more spending is seen as increasing well-being. In the context of the ‘elsewhere’ dashboard in Chapter 2, more development aid is not necessarily seen as increasing well-being, as the money could be spent inefficiently. It should be noted that the percentage of remittances is subject to a number of measurement problems. The indicator refers to transfers of wages and salaries earned by non-residents. However, these figures may also include cash flows from private investors. Among the countries with the highest transfer rates are Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus. Tax advantages may have an impact. Furthermore, it is difficult to distinguish non-residents who live in a country for more than 12 months, and remittances through unofficial bodies are not measured. It is not clear to what extent these measurement problems influence the figures, because payment systems vary greatly from country to country.
For total imports from the LDCs, the Netherlands is highly placed in the European rankings. This is not surprising because the Netherlands has traditionally maintained intensive trade relations with these countries. However, it should be noted that the volume of trade flows may be overestimated, because re-exports are also included in the figures. Re-export refers to products that have been imported by the Netherlands, but which are immediately re-exported after having undergone minor processing. It is still technically very difficult to filter these re-exports out of total imports.
Increasing numbers of people from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA: the 28 EU member states, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) are coming to the Netherlands to study. The increase in the number of English-language study programmes and the number of international students is considered to be beneficial to well-being. Knowledge transfer to other countries is central to this. Highly educated foreign students who stay and work in the Netherlands will contribute to the Dutch economy. The downside is that concerns have arisen about the accessibility of education for Dutch students and about the quality of that education. The percentage of first-year students from countries outside the EEA enrolled for the first time on 1 October for a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme at a university or a university of applied sciences is rising rapidly: from 4.7 percent in 2012 to 8.6 percent in 2018.
It remains difficult to make SDG 17 more measurable – a problem that statistical agencies in other countries are also wrestling with. CBS aims to provide additional indicators in order to describe better the partnerships for the goals.
4.4Summary figure of the SDGplus goals in the Dutch context
Figure 4.4.1 gives an overview of the trends of all indicators measured, broken down into the four types: resources and opportunities, use, outcomes, and subjective assessment. As in the previous sections, these are the trends for the entire set of indicators: the SDGplus indicator set. This makes it easier to pinpoint possible relationships between the four indicator types. The examples below show how this figure can be interpreted. It is then up to politicians and policy-makers to investigate whether there are correlations between the types of indicators.
Below are some examples:
- For SDG 1 (No poverty) what stands out is that resources and opportunities, in this case the average and median incomes of households, have shown a rising trend. At the same time, some of the indicators for outcomes are on a downward trend, including the poverty gap and the number of households in long-term poverty. In contrast, the subjective assessment indicator is rising again. No use indicators are included for this SDG.
- For SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure: sustainable activity) it is striking that resources and opportunities, in this case access to credit and the employment and value added of the environmental sector, are on a rising trend. At the same time, use and outcome indicators are also neutral to favourable, as shown by a decrease in the energy and greenhouse gas intensity of the economy. The subjective assessment indicators show a neutral to declining picture, with a drop in confidence in large companies, for example.
- For SDG 15 (Life on land) what stands out is that the resources and opportunities, including government spending on environmental protection, are mostly declining. For use, there is one indicator – the percentage of managed natural spaces in the NNN – that shows an upward trend. In contrast, the indicators for outcomes are neutral to negative.
Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2020, Kamerbrief over Nationaal Hervormingsprogramma 2020. The Hague
Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, 2016a, Rijksbrede programma circulaire economie. The Hague
Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, 2016b, Nationale klimaatadaptatiestrategie 2016. The Hague
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, 2017, Kamerbrief over Derde landelijk afvalbeheerplaan (LAP3). The Hague
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, 2018, Strategisch plan verkeersveiligheid. The Hague
Ministries of Infrastructure and Water Management, and Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, 2018, Totstandkoming van de transitieagenda’s uit het grondstoffenakkoord. The Hague
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2018, Emancipatienota 2018–2021; Principes in de praktijk. The Hague
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2019 Monitor Streefdoelen onderwijs. The Hague
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, 2018a, Nationaal Preventieakkoord. The Hague
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, 2018b Verder met vaccineren. The Hague
National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, 2017. An estimation of the numbers of presumed human trafficking victims in the Netherlands. The Hague
PBL/WUR/RIVM, 2019, Compendium voor de leefomgeving. Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Wageningen University, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The Hague/Wageningen/Bilthoven
Rijksoverheid, 2017 Vertrouwen in de toekomst: regeerakkoord 2017–2021
Rijksoverheid, 2018, Pensioenwet geldend van 01-03-2018 t/m heden. The Hague
Rijksoverheid, 2019a. Uitvoeringsprogramma 2019–2023. The Hague
Rijksoverheid, 2019b, Deltaprogramma. The Hague
Rijksoverheid, 2020a. In wat voor land willen wij werken?. The Hague
Rijksoverheid, 2020b, Kamerbrief over versnellen aanpak woningtekort. The Hague
Sustainability goals established under the aegis of the UN; see, for example CBS (2018).
A different definition is used for the international comparison: mathematics skills of 15-year-olds.
No indicator is available for energy saving. The EU2020 target for energy efficiency is a reduction
of 20 percent in the period 1990–2020. For the Netherlands, the target was set at primary
energy consumption of just over 60 Mtonnes of oil equivalents in 2020 (European Commission, 2010). The National Energy
Outlook 2017 states an extra reduction of 100 PJ gross final energy consumption in the period 2014–2020 (ECN, PBL and CBS, 2017).
This is the target for the Netherlands (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2017a). The EU2020 target is a net labour participation rate of 75 percent or higher for 20 to 64-year-olds (European Commission, 2010).
As the SDG 3 indicator for road traffic deaths has a clear link to the theme of Mobility, it is included here.
The indicator is measured per capita to reflect the shared responsibility of Dutch citizens and Dutch businesses.
Dutch target: most pension fund policies state a minimum coverage ratio requirement of 104.2 percent after five years. Pension funds also have a recovery plan to realise the required capital within 10 years. This percentage varies between pension funds (Rijksoverheid, 2018).
Government debt (EMU debt) shall not exceed 60 percent of GDP, as determined under the Stability and Growth Pact of the Eurozone.
Neighbourhood nuisances include noise from neighbours and/or the street, vandalism, crime or
violence in the immediate vicinity, pollution, dirt and other environmental problems in the immediate vicinity.
The historical dataset for particulate matter is currently being revised by RIVM, which may have consequences for the picture relating to emissions.
Chapter 2 explains this indicator in greater detail.
For further information on nitrogen in the Netherlands, see www.rivm.nl/stikstof