Petition to the Dutch Government and Parliament on Footprints and Human Rights 2019–2030

The ‘Broad Prosperity Monitor’ of the Dutch Central Statistics Bureau (CBS) makes clear that our wealth and ecological footprint are attained at the expense of people elsewhere on Earth and seriously threaten the welfare of our children and future generations. Because of this, we are violating many human rights. Fortunately, the government is planning to reduce our CO2 emissions considerably, because climate disruption already leads to very serious damage worldwide and hundreds of thousands of victims every year.* But measures are also needed in other areas, because there are other threats besides just climate change – for example, a dramatic decline in the biodiversity, quality, and productivity of agricultural and fishing grounds, our disproportionate claim on those grounds, and the pollution of the Earth and our own environment that is occurring everywhere. Continuing to strive for even more unqualified economic growth is irresponsible. Effective and just measures are needed to solve the problems mentioned in a coherent way. That is why we urge the government to draw up a policy plan and to develop measures to drastically reduce our ecological footprint within 10 years.

* See the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2nd edition (2012) from DARA, Madrid

Explanation of the petition

After many years of research into new indicators and debate about them, in 2018 the ‘Broad Prosperity Monitor’, a 124-page report, was finally published by the Central Statistics Bureau of the Netherlands (CBS). For the first time, the Dutch Parliament discussed the drawbacks of our prosperity in full breadth. Key concepts of the monitor are the quality of life ‘Here and now’, ‘Later’, and ‘Elsewhere’. The analyses and figures show that the Netherlands seizes an unjustly large part of global ecospace. As long as the Earth had enough space, this did not seem like a problem. But around 1970, humanity shot through the ‘sustainability barrier’ of the Earth. The planet became too small for us. Already then, with an ever-growing world population , we should have made plans to distribute limited resources fairly and to reduce overshoot. Despite several serious warnings, such as ‘Limits to Growth’ by the Club of Rome (1972), ‘Our Common Future’ of the United Nations (1987), and recently the ‘Scientists’ Warning to Humanity’ of over 21,000 scientists from 184 countries (2017), humanity has hesitated to take the necessary measures in time, and the Netherlands certainly has not shown leadership. Now, we are being made to face the facts by, among other things, the ‘Planetary Boundaries’ analysis of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the recent IPCC climate report. On many fronts, bottlenecks are looming and we are in a hurry to offer our society and that of the planet a somewhat safer future. That is why reducing our global footprint has become highly necessary; it is a question of human rights and of surviving together, for now and for many generations after us. This is an unprecedented social and political responsibility!

“It is no secret that the Netherlands has a large footprint. We also have the obligation to clean up our own mess.” Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, after the presentation of the ‘Broad Prosperity Monitor’ (2018).

“What we need is national unanimity as if we were in a war.” Prof. Ingrid Robeyns (Utrecht University) in the daily newspaper NRC, 21 August 2018.

Increase of global footprint and decrease populations of vertebrate species

On the left the increase of our global footprint, and on the right the decrease of populations of vertebrate species. Around 1970 we went through the ‘sustainability barrier’ of the Earth (world biocapacity). Source: the Living Planet Report 2018.

This petition is a joint initiative of these national and international civil society organizations in the Netherlands, together representing more than 2,900,000 members/donors:

Board VVM-sectie Biodiversiteit – Both Ends – Civis Mundi – De Natuur- en Milieufederaties – Economy for the Common Good NL – ESA Group, Wageningen University and Research – Fair Climate Fund – FNV – Greenpeace – Institute for Environmental Security – IVN – Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens – Milieudefensie – Natuur & Milieu – Natuurmonumenten – NIVON Natuurvrienden – Omslag Werkplaats voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling – One Planet Foundation – Our New Economy – Oxfam Novib – Platform Duurzame en Solidaire Economie – Solidaridad – StandUpForYourRights – Stichting Aarde – Stichting LIFT – Transitie Nederland – Urgenda – Vereniging voor Biologisch-Dynamische Landbouw en Voeding – Ware Winst Brabant – Werkgroep Voetafdruk Nederland – Women Engage for a Common Future NL

January 2019

After the petition was presented to Parliament the following organizations have also endorsed the petition:

ActionAid – Raad van Kerken – Waddenvereniging – Wereld Federalisten Beweging Nederland – Stichting EcoPositief – Foundation Max van der Stoel – Partos – Cordaid – Hivos – Club of Rome