Sustainable development of the economy

Expected autumn 2019
What role can the central government play in the transition to a sustainable economy? Do the nature, scope and expected economic impact of the transition challenges give cause to revise this role? What lessons can be learned from the transition in the energy-intensive industry?
foto with smoke from industrie and windmills

Background and request for advice

The Dutch Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) has started an unsolicited advisory project examining the sustainable development of the Dutch economy, focusing on the energy-intensive industry as a case study. The key question being considered concerns the role of the central government in the transition to a sustainable economy. The Council aims to examine how the nature, scope and expected economic impact of the transition challenges will affect the government’s fulfilment of its role. The advisory project is being undertaken in the context of a new climate agreement and the ongoing debate about the relationship between economic growth and sustainable development. The advisory report will devote particular attention to transitions relating to a sustainable energy supply and the circular use of raw materials. The Council aims to cover a number of specific topics in its report, including the division of roles between the private sector, civil society and the government, the possible interventions available to the government, how they may be used, and the conceivable or desirable alternative solutions.

Case study: energy-intensive industry

The Council has selected the energy-intensive industry as a case study to gain more concrete insight into the policy choices and perspectives for action that result from consideration of these questions. The Council has decided to focus on this sector on account of the scope of the transition challenges and the potential socio-economic impact. In light of the market-driven nature of the energy-intensive industry, an examination of this sector will also shed light on the division of roles between the private sector and government.


A number of elements will be elaborated in the advisory report. The Council will identify the transition challenges in the energy-intensive industry, take stock of the actions taken by government and the private sector to address the sustainability challenges, and of the mutual expectations of government and the private sector, and will collect insights from relevant scientific literature on economic development, innovation and transition processes in order to gain an overview of strategic options and policy decisions. The advisory report will then focus on those areas where the parties’ objectives, commitments and expectations and their existing conceptual frameworks and basic principles may present difficulties in light of the transition challenges. Recommendations for the central government will then be formulated based on the findings. As part of the advisory process, various meetings will be organized between the advisory committee and external experts and stakeholders from industry, central government departments and regional and local government authorities, as well as scientists and researchers.

Composition of advisory committee

Jan Jaap de Graeff, chair of the Council on the Environment and Infrastructure and committee chair
Ingrid Odegard, junior Council member

External committee members

Fred van Beuningen (Director of Clean Tech Delta)
Hans Stegeman (Head of Research & Investment Strategy at Triodos Investment Management)

Information or response: 

For more information or to respond, please contact Luc Boot, projectleader, e-mail