In September 2015, the heads of government of 193 member states of the United Nations met in New York to approve the resolution ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’. At the core of this resolution are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets to ‘make the world a better place in 2030’.

The SDGs are the international guideline for the Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (BHOS) policy. The SDGs promote human rights and in particular the rights of women and girls. They aim to especially achieve improvements for those who are most disadvantaged (‘leave no one behind’). The SDGs thus form the ultimate prevention agenda: to invest in the goals is an investment in maintaining peace in fragile and unstable regions. Progress on the goals can remove the breeding ground for conflicts and radicalisation, contribute to the restoration of the social contract between citizens and the state, and thus prevent the destabilisation of countries and societies.

The themes in Dutch development policy are closely linked to the SDGs: food security, water, sexual and reproductive health and rights, security and rule of law, women's rights and gender equality, climate, private sector development, humanitarian aid and prospects for refugees and host communities (in the region) and migration. This page illustrates how Dutch development policy is in line with the SDGs.


The first Dutch SDG-Report (PDF)


No poverty

SDG 1: No poverty

Internationally, the Netherlands contributes to the eradication of extreme poverty and the creation of sustainable and inclusive growth and development in developing countries, the key objectives of the 2030 Agenda. Dutch efforts abroad are partly determined by thematic result frameworks, including indicators and targets. These indicators are closely related to the specific SDG targets and indicators. In addition, Dutch foreign trade and development co-operation policy focuses primarily on a number of fragile regions, such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (the MENA region). Extreme poverty is increasingly concentrated in these fragile regions. Civil society organisations play an important role in the Dutch foreign trade and development co-operation policy and in achieving the SDGs. The Netherlands supports them, among other things, in the implementation of poverty reduction programmes, both in fragile situations and in more stable environments. The Netherlands also helps the poorest and most vulnerable groups with humanitarian aid.


Zero hunger

SDG 2: Zero hunger

Food security is one of the priorities of the Dutch development cooperation agenda, as set out in the policy letter to parliament on the Dutch commitment to global food security.. Thanks to the efforts and investments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with partners and implementers, 11.4 million people have been provided with better food in 2018, which will combat malnutrition. Moreover, in 2018 an additional 1.2 million farmers received support to increase their productivity and income and the use of 650,000 hectares of land was made more sustainable.

Armed conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, among others, lead to extreme food shortages. Starvation and destruction of food crops and water resources have sometimes been used as deliberate war tactics. In 2018, initiated by the Netherlands, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2417 on addressing the consequences of conflict on food security. This resolution condemns the starvation of civilian populations as a method of warfare.

The Netherlands is committed to the implementation of this resolution by: 1) denouncing food insecurity as a result of conflict; 2) preventing food insecurity by investing in the livelihood of farmers in conflict areas; and 3) addressing the use of starvation as a weapon of war.

In addition, the Netherlands will strive to provide people in (potential) conflict areas with food and water and to better anticipate risks that lead to water and food shortages. Important partners in this context are WFP and the Dutch Red Cross.


Good health and well-being

SDG 3: Good health and well-being

The Dutch development co-operation agenda in the field of health is expressed in the letter to parliament on Dutch support to health systems and policy framework for sexual and reproductive health and rights for the 2016-2020 period, among others. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are a particular focus for the Netherlands. Since progress in this field requires well-functioning and accessible health care, the Netherlands also focuses to a large extent on strengthening health systems. The situation of young people receives special attention, whether through the provision of comprehensive sexuality education in schools, mother/child care, preventing teenage pregnancies or ensuring that young people can be tested for HIV and that HIV-positive people can access necessary services. The efforts of the Netherlands and its many partners enabled 2.4 million women and girls to gain access to modern contraception in 2018. In this way, the Netherlands makes a substantial contribution to the Family Planning 2020 initiative. The Netherlands’ ambition is to provide a total of an additional six million women and girls with access to modern birth control by 2020.

Better access to adequate mental health care and psychosocial support is a priority in Dutch humanitarian aid policy. Since 2018, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag has been actively involved in international advocacy for greater attention to mental health and psychosocial support in areas hit by crises. In addition, the Netherlands is committed to capacity building in affected countries and improving the quality of mental health care.


Quality education

SDG 4: Quality education

Recent years have seen a great deal of improvement in the field of education, especially for women and girls. In 2017, 86% of children in developing countries attended primary school. Education is seen as important because it is a fundamental human right and a catalyst for social and economic development. Education is therefore a priority area within the new foreign trade and development co-operation policy. The Netherlands applies a broad approach to education and aims to invest in all levels of education, with a strong focus on improving the quality of education and equality. The policy therefore emphasises the urgency to focus on learning and on youth in general, and women and children; especially the most vulnerable groups (such as children and young people in conflict-affected countries). Furthermore, the Netherlands supports technical and vocational education and training that helps young people gain access to decent work and contributes to their social and political participation.

By supporting educational programmes, the Netherlands contributes to the future prospects of children in conflict areas and refugee camps. In Lebanon and Jordan, such programmes enable Syrian refugee children to return to school. For instance, in 2017, the Netherlands supported 80,000 children and young people in accessing education in countries around Syria and the Horn of Africa. The quality of education, safe transport to school and the link between the curriculum and the job market are also c.


Gender equality

SDG 5: Gender equality

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that men and women have the same rights. In reality, however, women and girls are still often disadvantaged compared to men and boys. SDG 5 states that by 2030 women and men must also have equal rights in practice. Women's rights and gender equality is a priority in the current Dutch foreign trade and development policy. Freedom of choice for women and girls is an important part of this. Dutch international policy on improving the position of women focuses on four goals: (1) preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls; (2) ensuring a fair share of women in political and powerful positions; (3) enabling economic autonomy and an improved economic environment for women; and (4) ensuring that women represent a fair share of the people involved in conflict resolution, peace building and reconstruction. In the 2017-2018 reporting period, the Netherlands supported 820 civil society organisations working to promote women's rights and gender equality. In addition, more than 49,000 individual women and girls received training in skills that enable them to stand up for their rights and create opportunities for themselves and other women.


Clean water and sanitation

SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

Too much, too little or too dirty water is a threat in many places in the world. The Netherlands focuses on two main areas: improving water security in densely populated deltas and places where water is scarce, and providing sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in urban and rural areas (see the WASH strategy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). This includes support for the development and implementation of measures to combat flooding, salinisation and subsidence, to increase water productivity in agriculture, and to help prevent water related instability by timely identifying and mitigating water related security risks. Improved water management helps countries to adapt to climate change, especially in areas that suffer from water scarcity or flooding. In the case of WASH, the focus is on sustainable access to water and sanitation, and on providing information about the importance of hygienic living conditions. Clean drinking water and robust, clean sanitary facilities also have a positive influence on other SDGs, such as those related to food security, education and health. Clean drinking water leads to fewer infections and clean toilets at schools mean that more girls can attend school, even when they are menstruating. In 2018, a total of 3.6 million people gained access to improved sanitation thanks to support from the Netherlands.


Affordable and clean energy

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

To stop climate change, the world needs to move quickly from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This must go hand in hand with universal access to modern energy by 2030, and energy savings that are twice the current rate.

Global progress on SDG 7 was evaluated during the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2018. The forum concluded that the rapid worldwide increase in the production of renewable energy was a positive development. At the same time, the concern was that many people still do not have a modern energy supply. One billion people lack access to electricity, while three billion people cook on heavily polluting firewood and charcoal, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major health risk for women and children. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4.3 million people die each year from the effects of cooking smoke – more than tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined.

For these reasons, the Netherlands is investing in access to renewable energy, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable, specifically women. One of the 15 key indicators of Dutch development policy is to offer 50 million people access to renewable energy between 2015 and 2030.

In 2017, the Netherlands helped 2.6 million people gain access to renewable energy. We are on track to reach our intermediate target of 11.5 million people in 2020.


Decent work and economic growth

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

SDG 8 focuses on decent work for all and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. This means that everyone who is able to work should have the opportunity to do so in decent working conditions and for a living wage. These jobs should stimulate economic growth without damaging the environment and without child labour. Sustainable and inclusive growth around the world is one of the three main ambitions of Dutch development policy. The Netherlands focuses on improving the local business climate, strengthening entrepreneurship and helping low- and middle-income countries to become more productive and innovative. In 2018, 255,000 direct jobs were supported by Dutch private-sector development, including the Dutch Good Growth Fund. Further details on the SDGs are included in the action plan for inclusive development (see also SDG 1).

The Fund against Child Labour supports Dutch companies to eliminate child labour within their supply chains. And we work with the ILO on living wage benchmarks. The Netherlands also supports civil society organisations worldwide. Civil society organisations support the rights of minorities, women, young people and others to fair and inclusive working conditions. For example, the Building Capacity for Change programme (which includes the Rainforest Alliance) invests in the capacity of young people in rural Indonesia. Through training, they learn to be the driving force behind a sustainable and successful cocoa sector.


Industry, innovation and infrastructure

SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Many developing countries lack basic infrastructure. This includes transport, roads and irrigation as well as energy, information and communication technology. The Netherlands offers low- and middle-income countries financial support to develop and successfully implement infrastructure projects. Dutch companies are also given the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and entrepreneurship. In cooperation with PIDG, FMO, ORET and ORIO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given 47 million people access to new and improved infrastructure.


Reduced inequalities

SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

The Netherlands uses the SDG agenda and its focus on inequality as a framework for the development cooperation policy. Efforts to tackle inequalities are therefore integrated into this policy (see the 2018 Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation document ‘Investing in Global Prospects’). Examples include offering young people prospects through employment, education, equal opportunities and security, and improving the position of women and girls. One of the partners in this work is the knowledge platform INCLUDE. This platform has a diverse member base such as universities, think tanks and other relevant organisations, and focuses on inclusive development.

The Netherlands invests in the important role of civil society organisations in sustainable and inclusive development processes. It supports civil society organisations in strengthening the voice of groups that are marginalised and discriminated. This enables them to stand up for their rights and interests and addresses underlying causes of inequalities. The local organisation United Disabled People in Kenya, for instance, has strengthened the capacity of women with disabilities to advocate for and participate in national and local politics. Among other things, this has led to better health care for people with disabilities and reduced discrimination and inequality.

Within multilateral institutions and the EU, the Netherlands is committed to providing financial resources for the poorest and combating inequality. Substantial contributions are made to World Bank funds, which work towards achieving sustainable and inclusive growth and creating opportunities for women and young people. The Netherlands also takes a constructive position within the World Bank and the IMF to strengthen the representation of developing countries and emerging economies in these institutions. Dutch efforts to promote orderly, safe and regular migration also fall under SDG 10. This includes prospects for displaced persons and host communities (in the region) and cooperation with countries of origin and transit to prevent irregular migration and promote return.


Sustainable cities and communities

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Half of the world's population lives in cities. This proportion is expected to increase: by 2030 nearly 60 per cent of all people worldwide will live in urban areas. Almost all of this urbanisation – 95% - will occur in developing countries. Unfortunately, the growth of urban areas also includes the expansion of slums. Already, some 823 million people worldwide live in slums and that number will continue to grow if no measures are taken. Sustainable growth is the largest challenge facing the cities of the future. With investments in infrastructure, the Netherlands is contributing to sustainable cities and communities.


Responsible consumption and production

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

Goods and services should be produced sustainably and with respect for human rights. Everyone should have the opportunity to find decent work and be paid a living wage. Dutch businesses are linked to businesses and employees in other countries through their production chains. Decisions made here have consequences there. Corporate Social Responsibility here contributes to sustainability and inclusiveness there. The Netherlands wants to make optimal use of these links. We are pursuing an integrated approach to sustainable production and trade, together with the business community and non-governmental organisations like Solidaridad, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and Rainforest Alliance. We aim to utilise the Netherlands’ economic weight and our trade and development relations to bring about positive change.

The Netherlands supports initiatives for sustainable consumption and production within the themes of ‘private-sector development’, ‘women's rights and gender equality’ and ‘climate’ , for example with the help of economic diplomacy, the promotion of responsible business conduct agreements and strengthening the role of women in trade.


Climate action

SDG 13: Climate action

Every country on every continent has to deal with climate change. Global warming is already affecting the daily lives and livelihoods of millions of people worldwide and the effects will only increase in the future. The Paris Agreement is the main framework for the international implementation of SDG 13. The Netherlands makes an important contribution to supporting developing countries in reducing their CO2 emissions and strengthening their climate resilience. Climate action is integrated within Dutch development activities, especially through water and food security programmes. In 2018, the Netherlands helped to improve the climate resilience of 2.4 million people in river basins. In addition, the Netherlands is working with the World Bank and FAO in the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture and the Postharvest Network on enhanced food security and reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. With support from the Netherlands, 750,000 farms have demonstrably improved their resistance to climate stress and shocks.

To help achieve the Paris goals, the Dutch government wants to create momentum with other ambitious states and encourage more countries to raise the ambitions in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) and take climate action worldwide. The Netherlands is doing this a.o. by deploying a public-private contribution to climate finance, which supports developing countries in the implementation of their national climate plans and encourages developed countries to do more. The NDC Partnership, which has more than 90 member countries, supports developing countries in this context. By co-chairing the NDC Partnership with Costa Rica over the next two years, the Dutch government and its Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation will give an extra boost to the partnership's activities. Dutch climate finance amounted to approximately € 800 million in 2017 and is expected to be nearly € 1 billion in 2019. At the same time, the Netherlands supports civil society organisations in their role as watchdogs, holding governments, companies and communities to account on their responsibility to implement laws and standards promoting a more sustainable world.


Life below water

SDG 14: Life below water

Thanks to their temperature regulation properties, currents and underwater life, oceans are a major component of the global systems that make the planet habitable for people. Through international networks and contacts, the Netherlands stimulates technological innovation that contributes to increasing food production from aquatic food sources and increasing resilience to climate change. In places like Bangladesh, the Netherlands is working on restoring the absorption capacity of oceans, seas and coastal waters.

Related themes


Life on land

SDG 15: Life on land

SDG 15 is about protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of ecosystems, sustainable management of forests, combating desertification, combating and reversing land degradation, and reducing the loss of biodiversity. The Netherlands deploys sustainable landscape programmes to support the sustainable management of land and forests. In 2017, this involved more than 1,198,534 hectares of land. The programmes are implemented by IDH ISLA, IUCN, HoA-CCP and the Dutch embassies in Nairobi and Kenya, among others.

Related themes




Peace and justice strong institutions

SDG 16: Peace and justice strong institutions

SDG 16 covers the Netherlands’ efforts to tackle the root causes of armed conflict, instability and irregular migration. These efforts fall largely under the theme ‘security and rule of law’. The Netherlands is committed to an integrated approach to peace, security and the rule of law, especially in countries dealing with violence, lawlessness and exclusion.

The Dutch mine clearance programme is clearing the explosive remnants of war in 13 countries. This has helped more than 900,000 citizens in affected areas to restore their lives and communities. It increases the sense of security and reduces the risk of further displaced persons. Another reason for displacement is the lack of rights. The Netherlands is prioritising the improvement of access to legitimate legal systems in order to resolve problems before they lead to conflicts. Thanks to support from the Netherlands, 136,912 people now have improved access to justice. In addition, Minister Sigrid Kaag is co-chair of the international Task Force on Justice with representatives from Argentina, Sierra Leone and The Elders. This platform aims to strengthen political support and commitment to SDG 16.3, ‘promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all’.

Civil society organisations play an important role in peace and development processes. With Dutch support, they initiate dialogues and build bridges between different stakeholders such as goverment authorities, businesses, ethnic groups, citizens and religious leaders.


Partnerships for the goals

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

SDG 17 is an overarching goal, linked to promoting and achieving the SDG-agenda through strengthening global partnerships. Dutch efforts in aid and non-aid areas come together in this goal. This includes policies on trade, taxation, knowledge, technology transfer and other forms of innovative financing. The Netherlands strives to make its policy as coherent as possible for developing countries. This entails minimising negative side-effects of Dutch policy on developing countries while augmenting the positive effects. This is crucial for achieving the SDGs worldwide.

For this reason, the government has formulated an action plan with concrete goals linked to the SDGs, as well as actions that are monitored over time and reported annually to the Dutch House of Representatives. The action plan on policy coherence for development was revised in 2018. To strengthen policy coherence for the SDGs, the government also introduced the Integrated Assessment Framework for policy and regulations in line with the SDG ambitions in 2019, focusing especially on the effects on developing countries. This adjustment ensures that the SDGs and specific development interests are included in considerations at an early stage in each policy process – both aid and non-aid policies.

As part of the program Dialogue and Dissent, the Netherlands has entered into 25 strategic partnerships with civil society organisations and supports their political role to promote inclusive and sustainable development. In 2017-2018, this strengthened the capacity of 3,284 local organisations in more than 60 countries. This enables them to lobby and advocate for their rights and the interests of marginalized groups. As a result, these groups are better represented in local governments as well as in national and international fora. This improves the position of groups such as minorities, women and young people worldwide. At the same time, the Netherlands supports civil society organisations in their role as watchdogs, holding governments, companies and communities accountable for their responsibility to promote values, implement laws and respect rights for an inclusive and sustainable society. Civil society organisations are crucial partners in sustainable and inclusive development processes. In 2017-2018, the Netherlands supported 5,968 civil society organisations through these strategic partnerships for dialogue and dissent. Civil society organisations also receive political, financial and/or technical support through other partnerships and embassies, which increases their knowledge and capacity