On 19 November 2018, WECF the Netherlands co-organised an expert meeting in The Hague with the national ‘Building Change coalition’. We discussed the next steps that need to be taken in the Netherlands to reduce our ecological footprint, limit global warming and contribute to reaching the SDGs internationally. The opening remarks by speakers Herman Sips (GCA) and Kiane de Kleijne (Radboud University, chapter scientist of the IPCC Report) set the tone for interesting discussions between 30 representatives of Dutch civil society, youth organisations and Member of Parliament Matthijs Sienot (D66). Sienot even became a new ambassador in the Dutch ‘Adopt an SDG’ Campaign! Read more about the results of the event here.

“Politicians are at the ‘thermometer of the earth’”, were the words of opening speaker Herman Sips of the Global Center on Adaptation. This illustrates the main conclusion of WECF and Building Change’s event on 19 November 2018: more coordination is needed from our Dutch government in order to reach the SDGs. Kiane de Kleijne, chapter scientist of the IPCC report, fully supported this view. If the Netherlands, and the rest of the international community, do not take action for mitigation and adaptation NOW, the SDGs will not be reached. This will have disastrous consequences for our environment, biodiversity along with our way of living and the economy. The Dutch government, in other words, needs to use its influence to create change. In the discussion about climate action, the focus needs to be on the benefits instead of the costs and risks.

During this afternoon event in The Hague, small groups of representatives of NGOs and youth organisations discussed recommendations to the Dutch government regarding renewable energy and climate action (SDG 7 & 13), water and land (SDG 6, 14 & 15), and sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12). At the end of the afternoon, MP Sienot promised to be the new adoptive parent of SDG 7 & 13 for our ‘Adopt an SDG’ campaign. That brings the total number of adoptive parents of SDGs in the House of Representatives to 25! A great outcome of a nice meeting, so let’s continue to work together for a clean climate!

The recommendations of the  session

Financing Climate Action

The goals of the Paris Agreement can only be reached if we combine financing for sustainable development with the fast and complete phasing out of public financial support fossil-related projects by 2020.
Climate financing needs to be accessible for the most poor and most marginalised groups. Public money is essential for adaptation, because these groups do not present a ‘business case’.
Connecting to local needs is crucial. We need to aim for decentralised renewable energy solutions. These solutions are often faster, cheaper and more sustainable than big-scale infrastructure projects.
To reach the goal of 1,5 C global warming, it is necessary to find new resources for climate financing. These need to be more focused on adaptation, not only mitigation.

Stimulating Innovation

The current Dutch and European trade deals put the rights of sustainable farmers in developing countries at risks. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to promote open food innovation, for example by removing patents for fruits and vegetables. The government needs to ensure that negative effects of mitigation initiatives on biodiversity and the environment are reduced as much as possible, for example in the Dutch water sector.

Sustainable Consumption

There are many opportunities in changing people’s behaviour towards sustainable consumption, for example with the environmental damage caused by sanitary waste. Here, the consumer also needs to be made aware of effects on health. The government has a responsibility when it comes to changing the behaviour of the Dutch consumer. For example by (financially) promoting a shift from animal to plant-based proteins.
We advocate for a CO2 tax. This will enlarge the consumer’s awareness of the ecological costs of what we consume, produce and import. The revenues from these taxes can be used for innovation and sustainability.

Regulation for plastics

Regulation is essential for protecting the environment against the negative impacts of plastics. In the context of UNEA, the Netherlands needs to express their full support for the Norwegian initiative to come to global agreements on micro-plastics. The maximums for hazardous substances and micro-plastics in consumer products need to be lowered in both Dutch and EU contexts. The consumer needs to be informed about these amounts more clearly, on labels and tags. Regulation for monitoring soil and water quality needs to be screened and improved where needed in order to minimise the amount of micro-plastics in soil and waters.

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