Sustainability - Dutch policy instruments for a circular economy: the Green Deal workshop

2018 was the year of extreme drought during the summer in Sweden. In the Netherlands the widely discussed ‘climate tables’ (klimaattafels) took place. World leaders were struggling to find compromises to fight climate change, while the reports of IPCC continuously highlighted the importance of action. Even though action is needed now, governments and international organisations have a difficult time finding concrete policies. As Sweden and the Netherlands face similar challenges regarding finding sustainable solutions, this is a suitable topic to learn from each other and each other's best cases.

That is why the Dutch Embassy in Sweden has been busy exploring ways to make green initiatives more successful. There are a lot of success stories in both Sweden and the Netherlands, so why don’t we learn from each other? Elin Bergman, chair of Cradlenet Sweden, has highlighted this bilateral possibility in an interview as well.

A major success in the Netherlands was the so-called Green Deal approach. The Green Deal approach is a bottom-up initiative to identify and tackle the bottlenecks of organizations that want to become more sustainable. These barriers which these organizations meet can be overcome by collaborating with the government in a Green Deal in different ways, depending on the obstacles. This can be done by: harmonizing laws and regulations or interpreting them differently, by having the government strengthen networks as an independent party, or by supporting the market through procurement and certification. The agreement between the government and the participants is on a voluntary basis, so it only attracts partners that are willing to take action. Another benefit of these Green Deals is that they set a clear long-term vision from the government, which makes it safer for companies to invest in sustainability efforts, long-term policies are more predictable. Since its start in 2011, over 200 Green Deals have been sealed.

For these reasons, the Embassy organised a Green Deal workshop in which the possibilities to use the Green Deal as a policy instrument in Sweden were explored. Sweden has set itself the goal to become climate neutral in 2045 and to become the first fossil- free welfare state. The country is therefore in search of best practices and possible policy instruments to reach these ambitious goals. We did this in collaboration with RE:Source – a Swedish Strategic Innovation Program. The sessions focused on circular economy: how to make a sector to recycle everything and therefore to become circular? The outcome of this day was that the Swedes regard the Green Deal approach as a good addition to current policies, however probably not as a policy instrument on itself.

First of all, we hope to see the first Swedish Green Deal in 2019! More information about everything around Green Deals can be found here. Furthermore, we will continue to focus on promoting sustainability and circular economy in 2019. How? Perhaps through a future cooperation with the Nuon Solar Challenge, whose car visited Stockholm in December 2018. We will be present at Almedalen with to promote this topic. Moreover, cooperation with Fores is on its way. So, there are many things to come! Stay updated about our projects on circular economy via our special circular economy part on our website. In order to reduce our own ecological footprint, we are working on a Rank Your Embassy strategy. So, a lot of things are about to happen. To be continued!

Sustainable cycle with Dutch tulips