Netherlands’ UN position at 9th globally reflects emphasis on public services!

Published on January 25, 2024

The Netherlands, a country often celebrated for its windmills, canals, tulips, and bicycles, has been making remarkable strides beyond its traditional charm.

In a recent UN report/survey, it secured the 9th position out of 193 countries, marking another climb (even if only by one place) since 2020.

Notably, it has cemented its place as a digital frontrunner, showcasing continuous progress. Also, the country’s ascent to the 3rd spot in the Digital Economy and Society Index 2022 (DESI) speaks volumes about its relentless pursuit of technological advancement.

What’s intriguing is how the Netherlands has managed to consistently elevate its status on these global scales.

Beyond its scenic landscapes, the nation has been fervently investing in digital innovation and infrastructure. It’s been a hotbed for pioneering initiatives, constantly redefining the standards.

From cybersecurity measures to nurturing a culture of digital inclusion, the Netherlands has taken a multi-faceted approach to stay ahead in the digital game.

I truly believe that this commitment to progress and innovation shows the Dutch mindset that continuously seeks improvement and adaptation. It’s this very attitude that positions the Netherlands as a (global) digital prowess.

So, what changes has the government been making recently?

The new Priority Framework for Digitalization

When the new cabinet was formed in January 2022, the National Digitalization Strategy (then) was replaced by a fresh blueprint known as the Priority Framework for Digitalisation.

This framework outlined four key areas:

●      strengthening the foundations for digitalization

●      digital economy

●      digital government

●      digital society

These broad government-wide priorities weren’t just ideals but were methodically dissected and expanded upon through separate agendas. One such comprehensive agenda, the Value Driven Digitalisation Work Agenda established on November 4, 2022, took an important stance by placing public values at the forefront of the entire digital metamorphosis.

It addressed important topics like online identity, digital inclusion, privacy, and democracy, aiming to make government services more accessible for everyone.

Even with these steps forward, there’s still work to do. The Netherlands is now working on a broad plan called the Agenda for a Digital Society. This plan will deal with many digital challenges that affect society as a whole.

This shift in focus shows the Netherlands’ commitment to shaping a digital future that isn’t just about technology but also cares about people’s needs and values. It’s a step towards making sure technology serves everyone (in a fair and beneficial way

A great(er) focus on cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a big deal in the Netherlands. They want people to feel safe when using online services, and that should indeed be a huge focus for every government out there.

That’s why they’ve made some important plans and laws to protect everyone’s information online.

First, in August 2022, they published a new policy for the use of cloud solutions. These rules help keep information safe and make sure the government doesn’t rely too much on just one company for technology.

The government is also changing some laws to match our digital world better.

Then, they created The Netherlands Cybersecurity Strategy 2022-2028in October 2022. Apart from describing the government’s vision of the security of the digital society, this strategy is accompanied by an action plan with clear steps to ensure the country is safer online.

Also, changes are being made to the Netherlands’ laws to better accommodate the digital age. For instance, a proposal on the Administrative Law was approved in May 2023 to grant citizens the right to (safely) interact with the government digitally. This change acknowledges the importance of online accessibility and convenience for citizens when engaging with governmental services.

Another law, the Digital Government Law, entered into force in the summer of 2023. Its main objective (of the draft law) was to ensure safe access of Dutch citizens and businesses to governmental agencies.

These changes show that the Netherlands is serious about making the Internet a safer place for everyone. They want people to feel secure when using online services and are taking important steps to make that happen.



About the Author

Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.

He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.

After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.

He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.

As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.

More from Mohammad J Sear