New Paths to International Environmental Cooperation

June 26, 2013 - nr.84
Summary

Conclusions and recommendations

The need for environmental problems to be tackled multilaterally is greater than ever. A study of future scenarios has shown that, in a business-as-usual scenario, the next few decades will see a sharp escalation in global environmental problems, such as climate change and loss of biodiversity, and shortages of fresh water, agricultural land and natural resources. Many environmental issues cannot be solved by market forces alone and are therefore described as public goods or services; in these cases, regulation and governance are needed to correct market failures.

In many cases, environmental problems have a transboundary element and can be resolved only through multilateral cooperation or cooperation between like-minded countries. At the same time, we are forced to conclude that inadequate progress has been achieved on these issues since the Rio conference of 1992. The growing complexity of environmental and scarcity issues and their connections with other international issues go a long way towards explaining the current stagnation in multilateral environmental and climate talks. Coherence between international environmental policy and development cooperation, economic cooperation, human rights policy and security policy is also still in its infancy. More attention must be given to mainstreaming the environment into other international issues, and on policy coherence, for a number of reasons:

  • Development cooperation that fails to take account of the effects of climate change and the risks of a growing environmental burden may unintentionally leave the world’s poorest people even more vulnerable.
  • Economic cooperation, particularly international trade and investment can, under certain conditions, contribute to sustainable or green growth and to efforts to curb environmental degradation.
  • Human rights policy strengthens the resilience of vulnerable groups – usually the world’s poorest people.
  • Security policy can help prevent environmental and scarcity issues from escalating into security risks.

In the opinion of the AIV, mainstreaming and coherence would constitute a significant step forward, but in themselves will not suffice. Like gender and good governance, international environmental issues are currently a cross-cutting theme in development policy. An integrated vision of international cooperation should form the foundation of a new approach to transboundary environmental issues. This means that environmental cooperation will need to be upgraded to a priority or focal point of international cooperation policy, with its own budget.

In practice, therefore, responsibility for the international cooperation agenda, including global public goods, should ideally be placed in the hands of a single body. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose remit includes foreign trade and development cooperation, would be the best equipped to take on this role. At the same time, the expert knowledge of the specialist ministries will be vital for the elaboration of policy on the five priority environmental themes: climate change and energy, water, land and food, biodiversity and resource security, so they too will have an important role to play in the international cooperation agenda. The current divisions between the policy areas of environmental cooperation, economic cooperation, development cooperation, human rights policy and security policy must therefore be removed step by step. More than institutional changes, this will require a radical change in culture.

Against this background, the AIV advises the government as follows on the questions set out in its request for advice.

  1. What specific agenda and input is needed from Dutch and European foreign policy to contribute to effective delivery and regulation of global environmental publicgoods?

The AIV agrees with the WRR that global public goods are becoming an increasingly important point of reference in foreign policy. The AIV has interpreted the concept of global environmental public goods broadly, to encompass the deterioration in environmental conditions due to pollution, the impact of this degradation on ecosystems, and future regional or global shortages of natural resources such as fresh water, agricultural land, energy and raw materials, and the associated consequences for security of supply. Given the international examples of market failure, it is both desirable and necessary to have policy aimed at the security of supply of environmental goods and at curbing adverse environmental effects. Reducing the environmental pressure caused by high-income countries and the emerging global middle classes is vital if we are to stay within ‘safe’ environmental limits while at the same time creating scope for low-income countries to develop, with the environmental burden that that entails. This will have implications for the Netherlands, too, in regard to the principle of ‘responsible sovereignty’, whereby states take account of the transboundary effects of their own policies. The Netherlands will therefore inevitably have to adjust its patterns of production and consumption. The Netherlands and Europe will have to lead by examplein order to overcome traditional differences in international environmental diplomacy.

The AIV would make the following specific recommendations for Dutch policy on the delivery and regulation of global environmental public goods:

  • The Netherlands should advocate integrated international cooperation on climate change and energy, water, land and food, biodiversity and resource security.
  • A good balance can be struck between environmental and development goals by linking the concept of the planetary boundaries (environmental ceiling) with development goals such as access to food, water and an adequate income (social foundation).
  • The need to reduce environmental pressure in high-income countries demands that the Netherlands take measures too.
  • The Netherlands should strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries on transboundary environmental issues, and raise environmental issues at international forums, where possible through the EU or in ad hoc coalitions of like-minded countries.
  • The Dutch share of global funding for international environmental cooperation could rise to an estimated €3 billion a year by 2020. This will require new and additional funding.
  • A proportion of the additional funding can be acquired by expanding private-sector contributions and investments from industry and wealthy private individuals.
  • Another way of increasing the financial resources available for international environmental cooperation would be to introduce additional fiscal and economic instruments such as the auctioning of emission allowances, carbon taxes and royalties for fossil fuel extraction.
  • Until there is international agreement on new modalities of ODA, these funds may be used only for international environmental policy that also contributes to poverty reduction in low- and middle-income countries.
  • At EU level the Netherlands should advocate public-sector capacity-building in lowincome (and possibly middle-income) countries to enable them to enforce compliance with environmental rules and legislation by both foreign and domestic companies.
  • New financial frameworks must be devised at EU level for future expenditure on climate and transboundary environmental policy. The Netherlands could foster the development of knowledge concerning financial instruments for global environmental public goods.
  • Better use should be made of the scientific knowledge available on global environmental public goods in support of innovative environmental policy.
  1. How does our international cooperation policy fit in, particularly with regard to the Dutch and European objectives on climate, energy and raw materials, security of supply and security generally?

Globalisation and the growth of the global economy not only place a huge burden on our environment, they also cause new social problems for the world’s poorest people. Given the relevance of the environment to development and the importance of protecting the environment worldwide, the agendas of these two policy areas must be further integrated. However, we cannot take it for granted that this will happen. Development policy is based on principles like solidarity between rich and poor countries, the right to development, altruism and enlightened self-interest. International environmental policy assumes that everyone shares responsibility for global environmental problems, that the planet’s resilience is limited and that one country should not cause environmental damage in another. As a result, emerging economies that cause a growing proportion of greenhouse gas emissions should also assume growing responsibilities.

Sustainable development can take away the inherent conflict between economic growth, preservation of a healthy living environment and prosperity, and open up new paths to development. Twenty years on from the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, we are forced to conclude that the paradigm of sustainable development is still not common currency in international forums. Many countries are concerned that the emphasis on environmental issues will in fact entail huge costs for them and have a negative impact on their economic development.

Whereas, just a few years ago, the Netherlands was an outspoken supporter of additional funding for international environmental policy over and above the 0.7% of GDP norm for development cooperation, the Dutch government has now decided to reduce the development budget because of the need for public spending cutbacks. It has also been decided that international climate policy will henceforth be paid for from the development budget. The AIV believes it is important, in the debate on ODA criteria, to adhere for the time being to the principle that ODA should contribute to reducing poverty and inequality and enhancing self-sufficiency. The AIV would recommend that ODA spending and spending on international environmental cooperation be kept as separate as possible in the HGIS development budget.

As regards the post-2015 development agenda, the AIV would recommend that the successors to the MDGs be couched in terms of sustainable development goals (SDGs) that apply equally to high-income countries and middle- and low-income countries. Within the EU the Netherlands should advocate incorporating the priority environmental themes (climate change and energy, water, land and food, biodiversity and resources) into the SDG agenda. Like the MDGs, the SDGs could be formulated as targets, and gradually gain in authority. This will require long-term goals (for 2050, for example) with strict underlying medium-term goals (for 2030, for example) and a consistent set of indicators.

  1. Which governance structures are desirable for a better delivery of global environmental public goods, particularly since private actors are stepping up their work on sustainability – notably through supply chain management?

Multilateral cooperation on global environmental issues is increasingly coming under fire because of the apparent impossibility of achieving international consensus on a common climate policy or on a strategy for preservation of biodiversity. At the same time, most countries are aware that cooperation on transboundary environmental issues via the UN will remain necessary. Genuine concerns about the quality and mandate of multilateral institutions must be recognised, and international action will be required to strengthen governance at these institutions. Since multilateral action and coordination are sometimes difficult to achieve within the UN, it may be strategic for ad hoc coalitions of like-minded countries to take the lead in developing new international environmental agreements on various issues. Regional partnerships could also agree on more farreaching environmental action where there is still insufficient support at UN level. The EU, for example, has agreed more stringent targets for energy and climate policy. The AIV believes that the EU should take a pioneering role on other global environmental public goods, too, so that EU action will set a benchmark for new multilateral environmental agreements.

The entry into force of the EU’s Maastricht Treaty (1992) enshrined the principle that environmental objectives should be integrated into other EU policy. Mindful of the principle of ‘responsible sovereignty’, the EU agreed in the Lisbon Treaty (2009) that it would contribute to the sustainable development of the Earth and, more particularly, that it should stimulate sustainable economic, social and ecological development in developing countries. Since climate change may have a negative impact on the economic growth in developing countries, they will need to take climate adaptation measures. Europe has thus far not done enough to put its intentions regarding climate adaptation in developing countries into practice. The AIV believes this has damaged the EU’s credibility and negotiating position at the UN.

The AIV recommends that the Dutch government campaign at EU level for more cooperation on global environmental goods and for practices and systems concerning global public goods developed at EU level to be scaled up to global level. The Netherlands might also seek to effect a broadening of the policy dialogue on sustainable business in the EU, including the development of standards and targets for sustainable business. Finally, sustainable development partnerships between cities are a promising development.

Multi-level governance enhances policy coherence by providing a legally binding framework that guides the activities of all social actors and public authorities in the Netherlands in cooperation with other actors and authorities in other countries. It can be concluded that a top-down approach (via the UN) and bottom-up measures (via city partnerships, ad hoc coalitions of like-minded countries or via the EU) need not be mutually exclusive. Complementarity and synergy should be actively pursued in environmental policy at local, national, regional and global level.

The private sector is playing an increasingly significant role in devising and implementing sustainable development strategies. While state actors derive their power to act from agreements in treaties and other international agreements, multinational companies are often encouraged by their shareholders – under pressure from public opinion – to pursue corporate social responsibility in a sustainable development context. The OECD and the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) have drawn up guidelines for multinational enterprises. The government could aim for further development and application of these voluntary standards. The private sector also needs long-term objectives, set by government, and a level international playing field. The development and harmonisation of standards is key in this respect. Civil society organisations can also help broaden international support for corporate social responsibility, since the Netherlands has a large number of internationally-oriented NGOs. Broader application of existing guidelines and systems of standardisation and certification is desirable from an environmental point of view. Some systems may need to be tightened in the interests of improving effectiveness. Sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries requires the balanced, step-by-step application of these instruments. Support will also be needed to build the capacity required for their implementation.
 

Advice request

Mr F. Korthals Altes
Chairman of the Advisory Council
on International Affairs
P.O. Box 20061
2500 EB The Hague

Date: March 2012
Re: Request for advice on global environmental public goods


Dear Mr Korthals Altes,

The foreign policy of the Netherlands is increasingly concerned with complex global issues. This complexity is described in the report Attached to the World by the Advisory Council on Government Policy (WRR), which deals with global issues such as climate, energy and security. The report states that:
• National problems are increasingly interwoven with global issues.
• Global issues increasingly overlap in terms of content.
• These issues are no longer only dealt with in the interstate arena but also in intrastate and non-state arenas.

Global environmental public goods, in particular, are fraught with complexity and uncertainty. These goods – a stable climate, access to energy, access to raw materials, sufficient water and the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems – are crucially important for global stability and security, sustainable economic growth and prosperity. Improved ‘delivery’ and regulation of these goods is essential for the growth and stability of wealthy nations, emerging middle-income countries and poor countries alike. The WRR’s report Less Pretension, More Ambition, about development cooperation, advocates a Dutch globalisation agenda that takes international cooperation on global public goods as an important reference point. In its policy responses to both WRR reports, the government acknowledges the importance of global public goods and the need for targeted and coherent foreign policy.

In the years ahead, countries all over the world will be confronted with extra expenditure for tackling global challenges in the areas of food, energy, water and climate policy. They will also face rising costs for their energy and raw material supplies. Some emerging economies are now seeking market dominance for geopolitical aims. Many developing countries are seeing their potential for economic growth marred by environmental degradation, increasing water scarcity and climate change. Moreover, their energy and mineral resources are not being deployed effectively enough for sustainable growth, and they are suffering from loss of biodiversity and depletion of soil and water resources.

Yet developing countries also have potential for economic development, poverty reduction and self-reliance. They possess abundant natural wealth and therefore opportunities to create more prosperity for a substantial proportion of the world’s poor, who currently number around one billion. This calls for a combination of effective management of natural resources, international market forces and global environmental conditions (such as a stable climate), innovative technologies and technology transfer, regulation and cooperation. The absence of any one of these elements imperils not only natural resources but also sustainable economic development.

Local development, coupled with national self-interest, is increasingly bound up with international opportunities and threats. For this reason, links should be sought between the global public goods approach and the current agenda for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The simultaneous climate, food and financial crises have sharply highlighted the inadequacy of existing international arrangements (the agreements on regulation, institutions and finance). In the years ahead, various interconnected scarcity issues (energy, raw materials, water and biodiversity) will further underline the urgent need for effective international cooperation. It is currently bilateral, regional and multilateral in nature, with the European Union able to function as an important channel for pooling resources and exerting influence on responses to global challenges by strengthening its own geostrategic role. Any form of cooperation needs to take account of the diversity of views and interests with regard to the sustainability issue, such as exist between rich countries, developing countries and emerging economies, as well as between population groups (indigenous and other peoples, for example) within individual countries. Given this situation, achieving the desired cooperation is anything but simple.

This request for advice may be seen in relation to earlier policy documents such as the study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (‘A global public goods perspective on environment and poverty reduction’, March 2011), the Raw Materials Memorandum (letter to parliament of 15 July 2011), the policy memorandum ‘The Development Dimension of Priority International Public Goods’ (letter to parliament of 4 November 2011) and the Sustainability Agenda of October 2011.

Against this background, the AIV is requested to address the following questions:

What specific agenda and input is needed from Dutch and European foreign policy to contribute to effective delivery and regulation of global environmental public goods? The basic principles are security of supply, security and stability, strengthening Europe’s geostrategic role, respecting the planet’s capacity, and economic development and innovation both in Western countries and elsewhere (i.e. in the emerging economies and those that are still poor). How does our international cooperation policy fit in, particularly with regard to the Dutch and European objectives on climate, energy and raw materials, security of supply and security generally? To some extent, the report requested will constitute follow-up to AIV advisory report 54 (of April 2011) on the post-2015 development agenda, which needs to be linked to international public goods. Which governance structures are desirable for a better delivery of global environmental public goods, particularly since private actors are stepping up their work on sustainability – notably through supply chain management?

The report should tie in with the outcomes of the Rio+20 agenda and the debate about linking the Sustainable Development Goals and MDGs.

This request for advice has been included in the AIV’s work programme for 2012. We look forward to receiving your report.

Yours sincerely,
 

Uri Rosenthal                                     Ben Knapen
Minister of Foreign Affairs              Minister for European Affairs
                                                               and International Cooperation
 

Government reactions

Letter of September 2013 from the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in conjunction with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Agriculture to the House of Representatives on the AIV advisory report ‘New Paths to International Environmental Cooperation’

In response to a request from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation of the first Rutte government, the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) has published an advisory report on global environmental public goods. The AIV presented its report, ‘New Paths to International Environmental Cooperation’ at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11 July 2013. The report outlines current and future environmental problems, recommends a rough outline of future Dutch foreign policy, and calls for an integrated vision.

This letter examines the AIV’s recommendations, and sets out the specific steps I intend to take in response to the report.

1. ‘New Paths to International Environmental Cooperation’
In its 64-page report, the AIV paints a picture of global deterioration in environmental conditions, a threat of resource shortages and implications for water, food, energy and resource security worldwide.

The AIV concludes that there have been multiple market failures when it comes to the environment, with no charge being placed on environmental pollution or scarcity. Future environmental degradation and shortages, in particular, are not adequately reflected in prices. Given this failure of the market, policy on the supply of global environmental public goods is needed. The AIV argues that high-income countries must reduce their environmental burden if we are to remain within (or return to) ‘safe’ environmental limits, and that scope must be left for development in low-income countries, including the environmental pollution it will entail.

Without wishing to diminish the quality of the report as an integrated whole, I should like to comment on its most important recommendations.

The AIV calls first for a targeted approach to global environmental issues, designed mainly to protect low-income countries, where the negative impacts are felt most, and the world’s poorest people, who are also the most vulnerable.

The AIV distinguishes five themes for global environmental public goods: climate and energy, water, agriculture and food, biodiversity and natural resources. The Council recommends that the Netherlands lobby for integrated international cooperation on these themes.

The AIV argues that it is crucial that the environment be mainstreamed in international affairs, and that greater policy coherence be achieved in this area. But this in itself will not be enough, in the Council’s view. Given the global challenges and the risks associated with not acting, the AIV recommends that environmental cooperation be upgraded to a priority or focal point of international cooperation, and that it be given its own budget. The financial resources needed for international environmental cooperation at global level are set to increase sharply over the coming years. The Dutch contribution could rise to an estimated three billion euros a year by 2020, based on the Netherlands’ share of the global ecological footprint as estimated by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The AIV calls for new and additional funding to be made available for this purpose, part of which could be provided by the private sector and through innovative forms of funding such as the auctioning of emission rights and a carbon tax.

The AIV also highlights a European Council decision of December 2009 which stipulates that ODA resources may only be used to fund activities associated with international environmental cooperation if they also benefit the fight against poverty. The Council calls upon the government to cease funding its international climate policy from the development budget as soon as the Netherlands has recovered from the current economic and financial crisis, and to maintain the distinction between ODA and international environmental cooperation in the Homogeneous Budget for International Cooperation (HGIS).

The AIV argues in favour of further integration of the environment into the development agenda. Sustainable development can neutralise the inherent tension between economic growth, preservation of a healthy living environment and prosperity, and open new paths to development. In the context of the post-2015 development agenda, the AIV recommends that the Netherlands lobby for the priority environmental themes – climate and energy, water, land and food, biodiversity and natural resources – to be placed on the agenda for the new sustainable development goals (SDGs). The AIV pays a lot of attention on the role of the private sector and its contribution to sustainability through international corporate social responsibility. It also advises the government to encourage the further development and application of voluntary standards, such as those drawn up by the OECD and the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), not least in view of the need within industry for an international level playing field. The AIV believes that civil society organisations can help broaden international support for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Finally, the AIV emphasises the importance of cooperation on transboundary environmental issues in a UN context, and calls for ad hoc coalitions of like-minded countries to be formed to take the lead on new international environmental agreements. The AIV believes that the European Union should play a pioneering role in this matter and recommends that the government call at EU level for more collaboration on sustainable use of global environmental goods and for best practices and systems developed in the EU to be scaled up to the global level. It also calls for the Netherlands to broaden the EU policy dialogue on sustainable business. The Council argues that the government can encourage the further development and application of voluntary standards; industry needs long-term goals defined by the government and a level international playing field.

2. Acknowledgement of the report
The report of the AIV makes a valuable contribution to Dutch policy on international environmental cooperation. It paints a clear and alarming picture of the future, prompting us both to think and to act. Many of the recommendations support the policy I set out in the policy document ‘A World to Gain’.

The policy document states that separate environmental programmes will be phased out and that the theme of environment will be integrated into the four policy priorities where relevant. This does not of course mean that there is no policy on international environmental cooperation; indeed, safeguarding global public goods and making international agreements are becoming all the more important. I have therefore opted to focus strongly on global public goods, in accordance with the recommendations issued by the Scientific Council for Government Policy in 2011. I will be doing so, in line with the AIV’s recommendations, in close coordination and collaboration with the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment and the Minister of Economic Affairs.

My policy document points out that climate change and the exhaustion of natural resources place restrictions on the social and economic development of rich and poor countries alike. In relation to the themes in the AIV report, my policy focuses specifically on sustainable food production, improved water management, climate and raw materials supply security, with the preservation of natural resources and ecosystems. Access to water and food, and increased resilience for vulnerable groups, with a special focus on women, are vital. Activities will contribute both to mitigation of climate change, through support for programmes focused on renewable energy and preventing deforestation, and to adaptation, by making food and water programmes climate-proof. Assistance with choosing crops, planting, water storage and reducing the impact of flooding are examples of measures falling under the priorities water and food security which will be taken to limit the impact of climate change.

Climate change causes natural disasters like flooding, and also drought, higher food prices, degradation of ecosystems and destruction of part of the natural production base. This hits the world’s poorest – often women – first and hardest. Given the impact of climate change, I have stated that climate-proofing ODA investments is an important priority of water and food security programmes. To achieve this, it is essential that we use the knowledge and skills of Dutch and international networks, and I wholeheartedly support the AIV’s plea for this. It is for this reason that I maintain structural collaborative ties with institutions like the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (MER), the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and internationally renowned organisations like the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), as well as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which collects knowledge by supporting innovative programmes focused on international environmental cooperation. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs also help improve our knowledge base: through UNEP (which regularly compiles the Global Environment Outlook), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the UNEP International Resource Panel.

I endorse the call for coherent policy on international environmental cooperation. Firstly, my own ministry must set about devising an integrated approach to issues associated with shortages of public goods like water, food, energy and natural resources. I work at transboundary level, in the field of water management for example, where I fund programmes that support shared management of transboundary rivers. I do so via regional development banks and also through bodies like river basin management organisations. Collaboration of this kind boosts regional development and reduces the chance of conflict, which also contributes to security.

As Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation I am also responsible for coordinating international policy on the environment and sustainability. I work in a number of ways to safeguard global environmental public goods. Firstly, by joining with my colleagues, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Minister of Economic Affairs and the Minister of Finance, and with fellow EU and UN member states, in calling for improved global agreements and treaties, like the existing ones on climate (UNFCCC) and biodiversity (CBD), and by helping replenish the Global Environment Facility for the period 2014-2018, to provide continued funding for projects that address climate change and other issues. Secondly, by contributing to sustainable investment and initiatives, such as efforts to make production chains sustainable by funding the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and to the programme in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. The Natural Capital Implementation Agenda (House of Representatives, 22/06/2013) on the themes of sustainable production chains, sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine environment, sustainable agriculture and the valuation of natural capital, was recently published. In the implementation of the agenda, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and my ministry will work, among other things, to reduce loss of biodiversity. Thirdly, by working closely with business and civil society to contribute to the definition and implementation of standards, such as those for the production of palm oil, soya and tea. This is also in line with the Social Responsibility Advisory Report presented to the government by the Corbey Commission in May this year. And finally, by contributing to World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) programmes for the economic valuation of ecosystem services in order to increase transparency and accountability, thereby contributing to the conservation of natural capital, as well as enhancing transparency and integrated reporting.

The recommendation to achieve a Dutch contribution of three billion euros to international environmental collaboration by 2020, from new and additional funding, is not realistic in my view. I do however see potential in the longer term for new international mechanisms that primarily set prices for emissions, which, besides yielding environmental benefits, could also generate income that may be used to achieve climate goals. The Netherlands is already supporting the development of a number of innovative new funding mechanisms that also safeguard sustainability criteria, such as the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment’s Green Development Initiative, which aims to enhance the transparency and accountability of projects for sustainable land use.

The government has chosen to fund international climate policy entirely from the ODA budget. The programmes supported as part of international climate funding must all, without exception, benefit poverty reduction. They concern activities that contribute to both climate mitigation (such as programmes designed to improve poor people’s access to renewable energy and to prevent deforestation) and climate adaptation (improving poor people’s access to water, protection from flooding and enhancing vulnerable people’s resilience to the impact of climate change on agriculture). Climate funding will rise gradually over the coming years. In 2013 I am aiming for 200 million euros in climate funding; this is expected to rise to 340 million euros in 2014. I shall also be looking to include private sector contributions, including from the financial sector, in climate funding. Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of a sustainable supply of raw materials and are prepared to invest in measures to safeguard it. That is why I work with business on activities that enhance the sustainability of investments, improve working conditions and improve the living conditions and rights of local people. For example, I am funding a programme by knowledge and network organisation CSR Netherlands that encourages pioneering Dutch SMEs to take account of social and environmental issues in low-wage countries and emerging markets. Another important strand of my policy is encouraging green growth, which contributes to global sustainable development by focusing on countries’ economic development potential, social structures and relations, and ecological constraints. Attempts to achieve a circular economy, in which green growth can take shape, will promote the themes championed by the AIV. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, working on the basis of the Natural Capital Implementation Agenda, will work towards sustainable land use by, for example, supporting public-private partnerships whose aim is to remediate degraded land.

In my letter of 4 July 2013 to the House of Representatives, concerning the post-2015 development agenda, I indicated that the new sustainable development agenda must promote green and inclusive growth that addresses urgent challenges in terms of the environment and climate change. The new sustainable development goals (SDGs) should incorporate considerations associated with climate, environment and other public goods, taking sustainability as a cross-cutting criterion. Consideration of the environment must be a specific prerequisite for all relevant goals. I also believe it is important that one or more goals specifically address international environmental challenges. I shall lobby for these goals in the negotiations.

The distribution of global public goods cannot occur on a supply and demand basis. The market is good, but not perfect. International regulations and cooperation are needed, not only in the interest of the poorest, but in our own interests too. That is why I am working with the European Union, and also with international organisations like UNEP, the World Bank and the World Resources Institute, as well as with NGOs and business. NGOs are well informed about – and work closely with – vulnerable groups, and the private sector plays an important role in enhancing the sustainability of production chains and of the regions where they source their raw materials.

The private sector plays a major role in international environmental cooperation. In our letter of 28 June 2013, Minister Henk Kamp and I stated that we would introduce measures to promote CSR, such as sector risk analysis and measures in the fields of education, transparency and multi-stakeholder dialogue. Like the AIV, I set great store by a level international playing field for business. Within the EU and the OECD, the Netherlands is working on legislation and policy that will enforce or promote sustainable commercial activities.

This government wholeheartedly supports the AIV’s recommendation concerning the formation of ad hoc coalitions of like-minded countries and the role of the European Union vis-à-vis global environmental public goods. Examples where such an approach has been applied successfully include the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Cartagena dialogue on climate.

3. Conclusions
I am pleased that the AIV has produced a roadmap towards international environmental policy in the longer term. I can see the added value of a number of its recommendations, and will adopt them where possible. However, I also want focus in my policy, not least because of budgetary restrictions. The report has drawn attention to global public goods, and I am grateful to the AIV for this fact. I look forward to discussing its report with the House.

During the discussion with the House of my policy document ‘A World to Gain’, we exchanged ideas on the size of my budget and my policy priorities, including my choice of priority global public goods. This is the compass that guides the course I follow, and I see no reason to deviate from that course in light of the AIV report.
 

Press releases

[Not translated]