At Rijkswaterstaat, sustainability is a multifaceted approach aligned with the Netherlands’ commitment to a greener future. Our expertise in sustainability revolves around three main pillars: energy and climate, the circular economy and sustainable land use.
Rijkswaterstaat is driven by the ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, while promoting a national sustainable energy ecosystem in maintained regions. In terms of circularity, Rijkswaterstaat not only aims to be 100% circular, but also expects its contractors and suppliers to adopt a similar ethos.
Our sustainability goals cover five domains: climate-neutral and circular business operations; infrastructure; sustainable land and water management; contributions to the energy transition; and nature and biodiversity. While our direct influence is stronger in the first two domains, we are actively engaged in all areas.
Indeed, we continuously strive for significant impact, better outcomes, and holistic sustainability in our operations and partnerships.
Responsible leadership: Rijkswaterstaat’s role in promoting sustainability
It is imperative for the Netherlands to set an example in sustainable practices, and the government must lead by example. Rijkswaterstaat, responsible for the country’s infrastructure, is a significant contributor to national greenhouse gas emissions. Given this significant footprint, the organisation’s role in the Netherlands’ sustainability journey is twofold.
First, we must embody the government’s sustainable ethos and ensure that our operations demonstrate feasible sustainability. Second, given the sheer volume of emissions and primary materials attributed to Rijkswaterstaat, our sustainability initiatives can be a game changer on a national scale.
In addition, we work with other public bodies to promote a unified approach to sustainability. This alignment ensures consistent objectives, promotes market innovation and drives collective efforts towards overarching sustainability goals.
Circular infrastructure: Rijkswaterstaat’s transition paths to a greener future
Rijkswaterstaat is at the forefront of sustainable infrastructure with its strategy ‘Towards a climate-neutral and circular infrastructure’. The strategy revolves around four key transition paths that address the infrastructure segments with the highest environmental impact: road construction, construction works, waterway and coastal maintenance, and machinery and equipment.
For example, innovations such as the circular flyover showcase modular, reusable design concepts. Rijkswaterstaat emphasises sustainable procurement, particularly through construction companies responsible for infrastructure projects.
Its two-tiered approach includes standard measures for the ‘peloton’ and advanced measures for ‘front runners’, with rewards for those who go above and beyond. Our sustainability efforts are based on European standards and include holistic life cycle assessments with a focus on carbon emissions and an environmental cost indicator.
All these efforts are underpinned by a robust communication and learning network, involving the entire organisation of around 10,000 professionals, and driven by national commitments such as the 2019 Dutch Climate Agreement.
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