Mr President, colleagues,
First of all, let me thank the OECD for hosting this meeting and giving me the opportunity to speak to you.
I also want to thank the OECD Secretariat for their hard work in preparing this meeting.
A difficult job, especially now in a period of great international tension.
The terrible and devastating war in the Ukraine has shocked the entire free world.
Europe stands with the people of the Ukraine.
Ladies and gentlemen, this EPOC ministerial meeting comes at a crucial moment and has many important issues to deal with.
Its theme, ‘Ensuring a Resilient and Healthy Environment’, and the issues of climate change and plastics we will discuss today and tomorrow, are important in the global transition to climate neutrality and circular economies.
The new government of the Netherlands, of which I am a proud member, has an ambitious agenda for the environment.
Over the coming decades, we will invest billions in measures to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution, and in climate adaptation.
We aim to be a frontrunner in building a circular economy.
Personally, I consider the circular economy our ‘secret weapon’ to counter climate change.
Attention for this is growing, national and internationally.
Until now, climate talks and actions have, to a large extent, focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
That makes sense – sustainable energy is a very direct way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But there is one aspect that we tend to overlook.
That’s the huge potential to become smarter and more efficient in our use of raw materials.
A growing body of research confirms that enhanced resource efficiency could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by about 20%.
In some regions and sectors, this could be even higher.
If we’re overlooking that, we’re not only missing a big part of the problem, but also an essential part of the solution in fighting climate change.
To frame it positively: it’s our chance to deal with some other big issues too.
Issues like the depletion of resources.
The ever-growing mountain of waste.
Plastic pollution and the loss of biodiversity.
Today only 8.6% of the global economy is circular.
This leaves plenty of opportunities to step up our climate ambitions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
So that we can keep global warming well below 2 degrees, and preferably 1.5 degrees.
We need to rethink the way we use resources and design products.
That’s why the Netherlands is committed to becoming fully circular by 2050.
By 2030 we should be halfway there.
We’re all facing many of the same challenges.
We’re all longing for real-life encounters, to leave the hard part of COVID behind and emerge from this crisis stronger.
To build back better.
A green recovery is the answer: putting sustainability and circularity at the heart of our economies.
It is important to acknowledge that concrete action at home and international action go hand in hand.
We need the OECD to provide us with evidence-based policy advice for our ambitious path to sustainability.
We also need to further refine the agenda for the circular economy, help businesses worldwide, large and small, to decarbonise,
to make less use of primary resources,
to solve the problems caused by plastics and to develop new business models.
Last month in Nairobi at UNEA, we agreed to start negotiations on a legally binding instrument for tackling plastic pollution.
A truly historic milestone.
I hope that the OECD Global Plastics Outlook will also give us leads and insight into the international value chain of plastics.
And into how we, as governments, can accelerate and shape our policy efforts to prolong the useful life of products and to facilitate recycling and better design of plastics.
I’m looking forward to working with OECD member countries and others,
to step up our efforts to implement what we have already agreed, and
to agree on further action and to achieve our ambitious environmental agenda.
By working together, we can seize opportunities and achieve more.
Multilateral cooperation is an essential part of our efforts to tackle the daunting challenges we face.
Thank you for your attention.