‘COVID-19 emergency response and climate action should go hand in hand’

One of the most important long-term threats of the COVID-19 crisis is the risk of short-sighted policy responses, according to Dutch Director-General for International Cooperation Kitty van der Heijden. In a Build Back Better webinar on 1 July 2020, part of London Climate Action Week (LCAW), Van der Heijden said: "What this COVID-19 crisis and its socio-economic impact lays bare is that all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are intertwined. It has also taught us how intertwined we all are. And that is why it is so important that the SDGs are a universal agenda. (…) Not just to go green, but to develop into just global economies with equal chances for everybody."

Kitty van der Heijden at Build Back Better webinar, London Climate Action Week 2020
Kitty van der Heijden participated in the Build Back Better webinar at London Climate Action Week 2020

The will to Build Back Better

The Build Back Better webinar was co-organised by the World Resources Institute and the Dutch Embassy in the United Kingdom. It was one of three LCAW webinars the Dutch Embassy co-hosted.

A recurring theme of London Climate Action Week 2020 was the will to recover from the pandemic-induced economic crisis in a more sustainable way. It also became apparent that it requires a tremendous amount of dedication and effort to make this happen and that a green recovery is not a given. Van der Heijden: “As a public sector at large, worldwide, we are pouring in 17% of global GDP into recovery packages. That is unprecedented. (…) It is about the decisions we take right now, with a humongous amount of money. And Bloomberg is very clear in its analysis: at the moment, of this entire package merely 0.15% – that is negligible – is spent on energy transition, energy efficiency and everything else we need to keep the world from warming up more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.” The same point was made by the Dutch Ambassador for Sustainable Development, Carola van Rijnsoever, in another webinar taking place on the same day, organised by the NDC Partnership, co-chaired by the governments of the Netherlands and Costa Rica. “We can and must do significantly better, there is no other way.”

Val Gnanendran, Director of Climate and Environment at the British Department for International Development, fully agreed that “the decisions taken in the next few months about the recovery are going to lock in the economic trajectory, so it is really important that those decisions drive climate action.”

Recordings of both webinars, co-organised with the World Resources Institute and with NDC Partnership, will come available in due course.

Decarbonising transport: the role of cycling

A third event co-organised by the Dutch Embassy in the UK during London Climate Action Week was about the benefits of cycling. This event was a collaboration with Cycling UK. It was the third webinar in less than a month the Embassy co-organised with Cycling UK. Previous events had focused on what local councils and what employers could do to promote cycling in the UK. Dutch speakers were invited at these events to share what approaches are taken in the Netherlands, where the bicycle has become a very common mode of transport, thanks to decades of investments to improve roads and ensure it is safe and easy, for people of all age groups, to move through towns and cities on a bicycle.

Watch recordings of the three webinars here:

Run-up to Climate Adaptation Summit and COP26

As North Sea Neighbours, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have been ambitious climate partners for years. In these unprecedented times, collaboration is more important than ever. The London Climate Action Week has been a great example of how we can all work together [with participants joining from all over the world]. Two major events that are coming up in the Netherlands and the UK in the next 18 months are the online Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Netherlands on 25 January 2021, and COP26 in November 2021, hosted by the UK. The Netherlands looks forward to continued collaboration, action and debate in the run-up to these events and beyond.

Contact the Dutch Embassy

If you have any questions about Climate policies in the Netherlands, please contact us on LON-PA@minbuza.nl.