Netherlands: Must Intensify Policy Efforts to Achieve Environment SDGs
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A report from the PBL Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency has found that the Netherlands' national policy targets and programmes are in line with the environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the government must also take steps to meet targets not currently covered by Dutch policy, such as on sustainable agriculture, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and sustainable development education.

sdg-netherlands29 February 2016: A report from the PBL Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency has found that the Netherlands’ national policy targets and programmes are in line with the environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the government must also take steps to meet targets not currently covered by Dutch policy, such as on sustainable agriculture, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and sustainable development education.

‘Sustainable Development Goals in the Netherlands: Building blocks for environmental policy for 2030′ finds that most Dutch policy targets are designed for 2020, while most SDG targets aim for 2030. It recommends aligning Dutch and EU targets with the timeframe of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In addition, the report finds that the Netherlands’ policy efforts are falling behind its own targets. Achieving domestic targets on air and water quality and nature conservation will require intensified efforts, it reports. In addition, targets on reducing environmental pressure on ecosystems and food waste will require redesigning current policy. The report also stresses that fundamental changes in production and consumption structures are unavoidable if the Netherlands hopes to achieve its environmental policy targets. The report cautions that reaching the SDGs in the Netherlands should not be achieved through shifting environmental burdens to other countries, while observing that the SDGs do not explicitly address international effects.

Another recommendation highlights the importance of policy coherence, in order to address the inter-linked nature of the SDGs and take into account synergies and tradeoffs among the SDGs and their targets. The report recommends close coordination of responsibilities among levels and branches of government, including provincial and municipal authorities, and engaging various groups of society in defining and implementing a national vision and policy targets.

On tracking progress and ensuring accountability, the report makes recommendations for national monitoring, including to possibly adapt the Netherlands’ periodic sustainability report, which uses a broad set of indicators, to reflect the indicators agreed upon by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs).

The report also discusses challenges related to: translating global SDG ambition into national policy targets; and translating non-quantitative targets (such as those calling to “reduce,” “increase” or “minimize” something “progressively,” “significantly” or “substantively,” into a framework and targets to quantitatively assess improvements. [PBL Press Release] [SDGs in the Netherlands]

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