The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gives us the ultimate master plan to prevent or be more resilient to shocks such as the corona outbreak, says the Director of SDG Nederland, Maresa Oosterman.
‘The Netherlands and the world are shaking. The corona crisis makes clear how vulnerable we are. Think of companies and entrepreneurs who have run out of reserves. Or the public sector that is under more pressure than ever. We see poverty and inequality increasing and domestic violence flaring up. Globally, hunger is doubling. Public life is recovering silently, but for many people the misery is far from over.
However, we must already dare to think about the future because we want to avoid the next crisis, and because we want to stand strong if it ever does happen again. But also, simply because the corona crisis is forcing us to make choices. Choices that will guide our society for years to come. We should not miss this momentum.
The coming weeks and months will be decisive. In the short term, we need a vision of the future that will help us recover from this crisis and put us on the path to a future in balance. And the good news is that an overarching master plan has already been designed and is ready to use. This is the SDGs, a coherent agenda for 2030. The SDGs stand for reliable work, health, education, equality, stability, and climate.
The common thread linking all 17 SDGs is: do not leave anyone behind. This message is essential because, once more, we see that those who previously had a hard time are hit harder by this crisis. For instance, the children in the Netherlands in difficult home situations were affected harder when the schools closed. The one in three citizens of the world who live with water scarcity cannot wash their hands, while good hand hygiene it is now essential to staying healthy.
The SDGs are not new. The Netherlands agreed and adopted the targets in 2015. We did so together with all the other countries of the United Nations and with input from organisations and citizens worldwide. But, apart from climate, the Netherlands has never translated them into national targets. Yet, the SDGs are about so much more.
On 20 May, Statistics Netherlands, the Dutch Government, companies, social organisations and young people, reported how the Netherlands scores on the SDGs – download report (in Dutch). This week, the Dutch House of Representatives will review these reports. We hope that the members of the House of Representatives seize this moment not only to look back, but also to look forward to how we will achieve the SDGs by 2030. Our message to the Dutch Cabinet is clear: convert the SDGs into a national plan and use it as a way out of this crisis.
No plan is so comprehensive and contains all the building blocks that really matter as the SDGs. The goals are also an ingeniously coherent whole: without a healthy planet, no healthy person; without sustainable prosperity, no stability; without solid and inclusive education, no equality. The SDGs provide guidance and are practical and applicable. Even in this time of crisis. For example, when the Dutch Government gives tax relief to businesses, a large part of the population wants sustainable conditions for recovery financing. The Dutch House of Representatives set conditions for social involvement, job retention and sustainability. The SDGs provide a concrete yardstick for this. The same goes for the taxes. The SDGs show exactly what should be taxed higher and lower. By shifting taxes from labour to wealth, the Dutch Government can combat inequality and give employees in sectors such as health care a boost. Anyone polluting, using raw materials and affecting biodiversity pays. Anyone innovating and contributing to a circular economy is rewarded.
We now know that a sustainable restart after the corona crisis is widely supported, with countless petitions, manifestos and fresh ideas as proof. Beautiful citizens' initiatives are flourishing. Young people see how things can be done differently and regard a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right. We now realise which professions are vulnerable and who keeps our country running in difficult times.
We and the wider society call on the Dutch Cabinet to use the SDGs for a sustainable restart. That way we can get out of the crisis stronger than we went in. The SDGs have the advantage that we can start working immediately. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. We already have the master plan in our pocket.'
SDG Nederland is a foundation that brings individuals and organisations together, catalyses joint action and creates synergy around the SDGs. SDG Nederland works closely with national SDG Alliances and is the point of contact for anyone who contributes or would like to contribute to the SDGs. The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) coordinates the SDG 6 Alliance, a group of entities representing the Dutch water sector that work to strengthen the sector’s contribution towards SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation.
The areas of action identified by the SDG 6 Alliance for 2020 are:
If you have a clear view on how the Dutch water sector can contribute to the global agenda and/or if your organisation has SDG good practices to share, contact NWP Project Officer Noortje Pellens at firstname.lastname@example.org.