Sustainable & inclusive entrepreneurship

Aligned with our agenda for foreign trade and development cooperation, the Netherlands strives to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth at home, in developing countries and worldwide. These efforts are in keeping with international climate agreements as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations.

Creating enabling conditions and measures for inclusive growth will boost the global efforts to achieve sustainable developments in economic, social and environmental areas. The Netherlands has extensive knowledge and experience in climate adaptation, climate change mitigation and the circular economy. Combined with a strong track record in promoting corporate social responsibility and public-private cooperation, the Netherlands can significantly contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth in other countries. Areas of attention for sustainable and inclusive growth worldwide include:

  • International climate action
  • Mobilising the private sector for the SDGs
  • Digitalisation
  • An integrated approach to value chain sustainability and corporate social responsibility
  • Investing in a future-proof trade and investment system

All sub-themes


Rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and severe droughts: the climate crisis is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. The level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is higher today than at any point in the last 3 million years. It affects us all. And what affects us all, concerns us all.

Circular economy

The world is facing complex social and environmental challenges. The Netherlands strongly believes that a transition to a circular economy is key to achieving the SDGs. Current ways of production and consumption are not sustainable and with the current take-make-waste approach the planet is facing its boundaries. A change is needed.

Water and maritime

Water covers 70 per cent of the planet. It sustains and connects continents, cities and communities. The impact of climate change on our vital resources is huge. Rising sea levels, drought and increased extreme weather events are signs that we need to take urgent action. Only by working together can we ensure clean and safe water for all, and healthy and productive oceans.

Food security

Feeding the global population in a sustainable manner is one of our greatest challenges today. The expected global demand for food will double by 2050 because of combined effects of population growth, rising income and urbanisation. This requires us to rethink the way we produce our food and how we can increase supply, while minimising environment impact. 

Clean energy

Increasing demand on energy as the result of population growth and modern development is one of the factors accelerating climate change. This compels us to look at innovative and integrated ways to generate sustainable energy.

Healthy living

Rising living standards and improvements in healthcare and technology mean that people are living longer. Cooperation between multiple disciplines is crucial in order to create measures and innovative solutions that enable healthy living and save people’s lives.


Sport is an important enabler of sustainable development. With the aspiration of leaving no one behind and its promotion of tolerance and respect, it can be used as a platform to continue advancing economic development, encourage social inclusion and embrace environmental protection.

Smart mobility

With increasing rate of urbanisation, mobility and quality of life is becoming an urgent issue. The Dutch government works closely together with international business and research communities in developing innovative technologies to solve mobility, environmental and safety issues.

Secure society

In modern society, security covers a broad range of topics. Resilient societies have the appropriate means in place to anticipate unforeseen threats in such a way that the core fabric of society remains intact and functioning.

Smart cities

Across the world, cities are growing rapidly; around 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050 compared. At present that figure is 55%. The increase in urban population presents several urgent challenges, putting substantial strain on resources with life-threatening implications.

Data innovation

Digital technology was already transforming the way we do things before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In the Netherlands the level of connectivity, digital skills, internet services, online transactions and integrated data systems put the country in a good position to weather effects of lockdown.

Top sectors

The Netherlands strives to create integrated joint solutions across sectors through partnership between government, companies and research and knowledge institutions. This approach, known as ‘Triple Helix’ is proven to be successful. To maintain top-level engagement in helping the world to solve global challenges, all businesses in the Netherlands are engaged ten key sectors nominated by the Dutch government.