Dutch organisations are still a long way from realising the SDGs

23 Jan 2023 12:00 | Centre for Economic Transformation

In this first-time report titled the SDG Barometer 2022, the Netherlands can gain important insights regarding the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Dutch organisations. This research has been carried out by Amsterdam School of International Business (AMSIB) at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), Maastricht School of Management from Maastricht University, and TIAS School for Business and Society of Tilburg University.

With the deadline of 2030 only seven years away, 69% of Dutch organisations are currently integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their organisational strategy to some extent.

According to Carolyn O’Rourke, Researcher and Senior Lecturer Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability at AMSIB:

the research indicates that the biggest obstacles for organisations to adopt the SDGs in their strategy have to do with the lack of knowledge of how to incorporate them into strategy. Our university can play a bigger role in bringing relevancy of the SDGs to business by better incorporating them into our curriculum and educating future business leaders.

Positive trends

Awareness of the SDGs among Dutch organisations is high. The report indicates that of the 316 organisations and businesses that participated in this research, 91% are familiar with the SDGs. Only two percent do not pay any attention to sustainability. Compared to two years ago, three out of four organizations say their attention to sustainability has increased.

Another reason for optimism is that sustainability and the SDGs seem to have become the responsibility of senior management. In almost half of the responding organisations, SDG-related initiatives are the responsibility of senior managers, a member of the management team or a member of the executive board, making sustainability no longer a peripheral issue.

However, the study also found that there is still a lot of variance. Sustainability laggards are the next-door neighbours of sustainability leaders. For example, 9% of organizations are not at all familiar with the SDGs while 12% of organizations do not have a sustainability strategy and 11% have not integrated the SDGs and are not planning to do so. A total of 14% of organisations did not take the SDGs into account when developing strategies and policies. In terms of ‘sustainability maturity’, 21% stated that they were in a (very) low phase of maturity. Furthermore, 76% of organisations either do not measure, or measure very limitedly the impact of their actions.

At AUAS, our aim is to generate input for transformational business education and academic research on new business models incorporating the SDG’s. To this end, we will also provide open access to our data for educational and academic purposes.

Stated Vincent van den Berg, Researcher and Lecturer Business Research and Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability at AMSIB.

Today's volatile world is not making it any easier

Just over the halfway mark towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development we are recovering from a global pandemic, the war in Ukraine is causing uncertainty in Europe, and we

have escalating global economic and social uncertainties. Inflation and the possibility of a recession are putting pressure on many organisations' commitment to the SDGs.

About the SDG Barometer

At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2015, 193 countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Netherlands is among the 193 countries that have ratified the SDGs.

Having reached the halfway mark between the 2015 adoption of the Agenda and the 2030 ‘deadline’, the Dutch SDG Barometer is the first national survey on the adoption and implementation of sustainability and the SDGs by Dutch organizations. In 2022 a total of 316 Dutch organizations participated in the online survey. Corporations represent the largest group of respondents (69%), followed by educational institutions (13%), governmental (9%) and not-for-profit organizations (9%).

Following the Belgian report, the Dutch SDG Barometer is a longitudinal research study executed by Amsterdam School of International Business at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht School of Management at Maastricht University, and TIAS School for Business and Society at Tilburg University).

The survey will be repeated on a biennial basis to continue monitoring progress, or lack thereof.