Policy on Biodiversity in the Netherlands

Nature is of vital importance to human wellbeing. Nature provides resources and services that form the basis under our economy. A rich and varied natural environment is indispensable for our health and general well-being.

During the last century species richness and surface area of unspoiled nature have diminished worldwide. Global policy agreements have therefor been reached on order to stop these negative trends. The Dutch government, together with civil society partners, has developed a ‘nature vision’ as a firm foundation for future policy making. This Government Vision 2014 ‘The Natural way forward’ was published in 2014 and covers the period until 2025.

Nature Policy of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a varied nature with plants, animals, forests, swamps and sea. Nature not only is beautiful, but also important for the economy and well-being of people. During the last centuries the quality of nature has strongly declined. That is why the government protects nature. Dutch Nature policy traditionally focusses on protected areas and the protection of the plants and animals that depend on them. Conservation of species is established by creating and enhancing natural habitats and improvement of environmental conditions (via spatial planning and water- and environmental policies). Instruments such as the Dutch National Ecological Network (formerly Ecological Main structure), Natura 2000 and the Nature protection law remain important to preserve the species richness and protected areas in the Netherlands.

The Dutch government is responsible for setting the boundaries and ambitions of Nature policy. The twelve provinces are responsible for detailed development and execution of the policies. The regulations for this division of responsibilities are laid down in the ‘Agreement on decentralization of nature policy’ of 2011 (in Dutch) and later further elaborated in the ‘Pact for Nature’ of 2013 (in Dutch), send to Parliament by the state secretary of that time Dijksma.

The Dutch Government calls upon its citizens and the private sector to help successful execution of the Nature policy. A challenge which among others has been accepted in the context of the ‘Deltaplan on Biodiversity recovery’ (in Dutch: Deltaplan Biodiversiteitsherstel), which in 2022 launched a 'Toolbox for Biodiversity', in dutch: Toolbox voor Biodiversiteit) and by the 'Nature Inclusivity Collective' (in Dutch: the Collectief Natuurinclusief). The latter is a collaboration between public and private parties under the leadership of the National Nature Inclusivity Council (in Dutch: Natuurinclusief Nationaal Overleg (NiNO) under coordination of the 'Consultation Body for the Physical Environment' (in Dutch: Overlegorgaan Fysieke Leefomgeving, OFL). In 2023 this Nature Inclusivity Collective published the Nature Inclusivity Agenda 2.0, which was send to Parliament by the Minister for Nature and Nitrogen.

In response to the Global Assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the IPBES (Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) the Dutch government has set up the Programme ‘Reinforcement Biodiversity’ (in Dutch: ‘Versterken Biodiversiteit’). See also:  the announcement letter (in Dutch) of October 2019 and the letter to Parliament (in Dutch) on the Programme ‘Versterken Biodiversiteit’ (Reinforcement Biodiversity’) of October 2020.

In relation to the 15th Conference of Parties of the CBD in december 2022 the Government of the  Netherlands sent a letter to Parliament on the expectations (in Dutch: ‘Verwachtingen biodiversiteitsconferentie COP15’).

Early 2023 also the outcomes were presented in a letter to Parliament (in Dutch: ‘uitkomsten COP15 VN-Biodiversiteitsverdrag’).

Since medio 2023 The Netherlands is working on the preparation of a new ‘National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). In the context of one of the 2030 targets, number 18 on the identification and reduction of harmful subsidies and the scaling up of positive incentives, already a methodology has been developed.

Status of biodiversity and nature in the Netherlands in relation to policy targets

On a regular basis reports are published about the status of biodiversity and nature in the Netherlands in relation to the targets that have been set. Some of the most recent editions of these reports: