Gov't lacks a "coherent vision" on achieving sustainable economy, council says

Containers in the port of Rotterdam
Containers in the port of RotterdamPhoto: designf21/DepositPhotos

The Dutch government has formulated ambitious sustainability goals, like reducing CO2 emissions by 49 percent by 2030 and achieving a fully circular economy by 2050, but there is no coherent vision on what a sustainable society will look like and how to get to such a society, the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure said in its advisory report titled "Towards a sustainable economy: government control on transitions". 

The government is too hesitant about using effective pricing and regulations to push producers and consumers towards sustainability, especially when it comes to intentionally operating economic sectors, the Council said. "These instruments should be used earlier and more often in the transition to a sustainable economy because of their effectiveness,' the Council said. "In the opinion of the Council, the argument for the international competitive position is used selectively to prevent sustainability, so that it is sometimes unnecessarily delayed. 

According to the Council, the government is rightly looking for a balance between preserving existing economic structure and promoting structural change. But in practice, renewal is being sought too much within the existing system. Existing regulations and institutional structures also favor established parties and interests over innovative newcomers, the Council said. This may put the Netherlands' long term sustainability objectives and economic prospects under pressure. "The government should therefore have an early eye for phasing out economic activities where necessary."

The Council presented it report to the Ministers  of Economic Affairs and Climate, Infrastructure and Water Management, and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality on Tuesday.