Photo description: Aerial photo of Griftpark in Utrecht where white circles are painted on the grass to encourage visitors to keep their distance and so help stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Foreword

For the fourth year in a row, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) is publishing the Monitor of Well-being & the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to meet the growing demand for better measures of well-being. Well-being encompasses so much more than just the economy and income; it also concerns health, education level and people’s feelings of safety, as well as matters such as the cohesiveness of society, the accessibility of facilities, the quality of the natural living environment and many other factors that affect people’s lives and well-being. The Monitor not only looks at the level of well-being ‘here and now’, but also at the extent to which the pursuit of well-being puts pressure on future generations in the Netherlands (well-being ‘later’) and in other countries (well-being ‘elsewhere’).

This publication describes the development of well-being in the Netherlands where possible up to the end of 2020. The Monitor focuses on the medium term (2013–2020). However, COVID-19 is having a huge impact on many aspects of society. It has once again underlined the major importance of matters such as universal access to health care, social and financial safety nets, trust in institutions and access to unspoilt nature for people’s well-being and quality of life. This Monitor shows that well-being held up well in 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic. The medium-term trends show that the Netherlands is well on course to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It is nevertheless clear that the Netherlands is still making heavy demands on natural capital.

The question whether we as a society can shape well-being in such a way as to leave sufficient resources for future generations remains highly relevant. It is also important to examine the distribution of this well-being among the population. In order to assess the progress made in specific policy areas, the United Nations SDGs have been used as the thematic basis of this publication. In February 2020, at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CBS published an interim review of the SDG agenda, after five years of implementation and ten years before the finishing line. For the first time this also included the most relevant policies.

After three editions the Monitor of Well-being is now a firmly established part of the Accountability Debate. CBS wishes to meet the demand for increased use of the Monitor. To this end, at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, a regional report was published for the first time in the autumn of 2020.

For this fourth edition of the Monitor, the dashboards for SDGs 1, 6 and 10 have been updated in consultation with a focus group comprising ministries and government policy analysis institutes, and with the SDG alliance coordinators. A first attempt has also been made to ascertain the resilience of systems and to identify trade-offs and synergies between the SDGs themselves. In addition, the results of the natural capital accounts were included for the first time. Particular effort has been made in this edition to ensure that the figures are as up to date as possible. Provisional 2020 results have been calculated for the Monitor wherever possible. This Monitor will be released on ‘Accountability Day’ and will be presented to the House of Representatives by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy together with the response from the Dutch government.

Director General

Angelique Berg

The Hague, Heerlen, Bonaire, July 2021

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CBS responds to developments in Dutch society by providing statistical information as facts that matter, and communicates on these facts with the outside world. In doing so, CBS offers insights into current developments in society and helps answer policy questions. Research at CBS is focused on broad trends in society and how these are interrelated.

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