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The environment


The environment is becoming an ever more important factor for entrepreneurs operating internationally. You may be faced with risks such as higher costs, reputational damage and a poor relationship with local communities. Fortunately, there are not only risks but also opportunities.

When tackling environmental problems, innovations are often conceived to help make businesses more future-proof. Moreover, there is a worldwide need for Dutch knowledge and solutions to tackle environmental problems.

Environmental guidelines

Ideally, we would like you - as a Dutch business - to lead the way in sustainable business practices. To that end, you should be guided by the following guidelines and standards:

What complying with these guidelines means for your business, strongly depends on the following:

• the type of activity;
• the risk in the specified country or sector;
• the type of support that you receive from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Action plan

To start with, you should make a good assessment of the potential environmental risks and opportunities. You can manage the risks identified by setting up an environmental management system tailored to the risks and possibilities of the business.

In addition, you may need to perform an environmental impact analysis or a life cycle analysis (LCA). An LCA provides a good picture of the total environmental impact of a product through every stage. A good LCA score can also provide an important competitive advantage over other suppliers, materials or products.

For more information, contact our experts.

Sustainability Development Goals and the environment

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on climate and environmental degradation. Combined with the OECD Guidelines, they form an important underlying principle of the Dutch policy on foreign trade and development cooperation (PDF). Therefore, the environment plays an important part in Netherlands Enterprise Agency's policy. This implies that tackling environmental problems or offering solutions, may constitute a requirement for obtaining financial support from the government.

The public authorities, organisations and the private sector focus on achieving the SDGs, while they also make funds available for this purpose. The Agency's international instruments can help you to utilise opportunities.

Tools and links

The standards described below will help you to create good environment conditions:

  • ITC's Standards Map provides information on the applicable environmental standards in various countries and sectors.
  • ISO140001 and EMAS are examples of environmental management systems that provide insight into the impact of your activities on the environment.
  • Practical examples that you can also use to improve environmental performance are described on the European Union website.
  • A Guide to Biodiversity for the Private Sector published by the IFC helps to raise awareness among businesses in emerging markets of the impact of their business processes on biodiversity.
  • Various sectors have drawn up IBRC agreements to address problems in the supply chain. The environment forms a key aspect of sectors including natural stone, clothing and textile, and forestry management.