In September 2015, 193 countries agreed on a set of ambitious and aspirational global goals and targets for sustainable development; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are also about environmental issues and apply to all countries, rich and poor. The Netherlands already has national policy targets and policy programmes in line with the environment-related SDGs, but certain adjustments will be required.
New and updated policy targets for 2030
To implement the SDGs in the Netherlands, the national government should first decide upon its long-term ambitions. Subsequently, implementation can build on existing national policy targets and policy programmes, but these not yet correspond, one to one, to the SDGs. Not all SDG targets are covered by existing Dutch policy targets. Furthermore, most existing targets are set for 2020, while the SDGs aim for 2030.
Interrelations between SDGs require policy coherence
Successful SDG implementation requires close coordination of policy efforts and responsibilities between various ministries and provincial and local authorities, thus ensuring policy coherence. In addition, a shifting of the environmental burden to other countries should be avoided in achieving SDG targets domestically.
The role of monitoring should be defined beforehand
Systemic follow-up and review by monitoring sustainable development will promote effective SDG implementation. Periodic monitoring reports may serve this purpose. Such reports can serve various policy objectives, such as to track progress, promote accountability or evaluate policy performance. The actual role of monitoring depends on the political ambition and should be defined beforehand.