Speech Minister Ploumen Sustainable Development Goals New York

Speech by Minister Ploumen at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July 17th, New York.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,

I came to show you a special picture, telling you how the Kingdom of the Netherlands is doing on the Sustainable Development Goals.

I will not do this alone. Our youth representative is joining me and so is my colleague Prime Minister Rhuggenaath from Curacao – one of the four countries of our Kingdom.

Mr. President,

The picture I am presenting here today, is a selfie – a snapshot of the Netherlands taken by the Netherlands. This is the kind of voluntary self-monitoring we agreed upon two years ago. But, is it also the kind of monitoring the SDGs deserve?

In a selfie, we show the best version of ourselves. And what the SDGs need, ofcourse, is a realistic image. The #nofilter version. Brutally honest. Are we doing enough? That is the question we need to constantly ask ourselves, especially during this unsexy implementation phase. Our combined selfies can provide the answer, creating a group photo revealing our global progress towards 2030.

But this requires at least three things:

First: our selfies must be realistic and objective. The data must be allowed to clearly show the gaps in the road.

Second: our selfies must have global coverage and consist of comparable images. Clear instructions from the UN on how to conduct a realistic Voluntary Review, will help.

Third: if we are serious about leaving no-one behind, we need specific and detailed monitoring of marginalized groups. For instance, people with a disability. There are many smart initiatives to achieve this. Now we need to combine them, and scale up.

Mr. President,

This year we’ve taken up the challenge. We set up a rigorous and inclusive process, with a central role for Statistics Netherlands. All four countries of our Kingdom, as wel as youth, private sector, local governments, knowledge institutions and civil society contributed. I am truly proud to present the result: a realistic selfie, showing both successes and challenges on our road towards 2030.

It shows we are well on track:

High scores on welfare, on trust in institutions, life expectancy, education and skills, as well as healthcare – to name just the main ones.

Of course, there is room for improvement:
The Netherlands has work to do when it comes to the use of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases per capita. The same goes for our share of renewable energy as part of the total energy supply.

There are social challenges as well. We score 4th place on the EU Gender Equality Index, but the gender pay gap remains too high and inequality in leadership positions persists.

We are actively addressing these issues in our policies. We recently agreed on an Energy Transition Package that will bring significant improvement towards sustainable energy for all. The Climate Agenda (2013) and the National Adaptation Strategy set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with EU-targets. As we approach the 2030 horizon, we will continue to keep you updated on our progress on issues identified in the Review.

We will take our selfie seriously ;-)

Mr. President,

SDGs at home and abroad are, of course, interlinked. We want to align our national policies back home with the interests of the poor. Be coherent, in line with the universal nature of the SDGs. We are firmly committed to supporting other countries achieve the SDGs.

In our approach, two elements stand out.

First: we focus our development cooperation on area’s where the need for support coincides with our relevant expertise. Such as water, sexual and reproductive health and rights, security & rule of law, food security.

Second: we tackle problems by building partnerships, where government, private sector, academia and civil society are involved. This was, for example, our approach in improving global value chains. When all stakeholders signed their Responsible Business Conduct Agreements, people in the producing countries benefitted – and so did the environment.

Mr. President, in closing:

We are looking forward to discussing the findings of our review. A selfie, after all, is meant for interaction.

I hope that many other countries will present their selfies in the coming years. That we can strengthen the monitoring role of this forum – it will help determine our success in 2030.

With that in mind, I would now like to give the floor to our Youth Representative Martijn Visser. I am delighted that the voice of our next generation will thus be heard in this debate. It is, after all, their future: of 2030 and beyond.

Thank you.