WRR: Doing good for economical and social gains

Recycling, education, renewable energy: businesses have an enormous potential to make a difference. This requires consistent and workable public policies. The Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) therefore advocates a change in policy. Innovating should be easier for businesses. Doing good in business must pay off economically and socially. The government can play a key role in this.

The Netherlands faces urgent tasks in the areas of climate, labour market, health and future earning power. Businesses are indispensable in addressing these tasks. Where one company is committed to recycling materials and waste streams, another invests in hands-on classes at a regional training center.

At the same time, the WRR notes in its report ‘Doing good. Towards larger social contributions by businesses’ (in Dutch: Goede zaken. Naar een grotere maatschappelijke bijdrage van ondernemingen) that companies too easily make a profit from things that harm people and the environment. For example, it is cheaper to make new plastic than to recycle old plastic. Also, hiring new temporary workers is cheaper than retraining permanent staff.

Look differently, act differently

The government does not sufficiently recognise the realities of companies. Government policy also tends to protect established companies. That hinders innovation from the business community. As a result, governments and businesses are missing crucial opportunities to make social solutions the core of their revenue model.

So it is time to look differently and act differently. By creating a breeding ground for innovation and new business models. By understanding each other’s motivations and addressing the shared urgency with necessary breakthroughs, as in the themes we are working on.

On November 20th, directors and councillors in the Amsterdam region will discuss this. The goal is to jointly create regional preconditions, in order to make even better use of the social power of companies in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Want to know more about this meeting?

Best advise

The three main recommendations in the report:

  1. Let doing good pay off: commit to ambitious combinations of pricing and standardisation and strengthen direction on regulation and supervision.
  2. Be cautious with subsidies and tax schemes: offer support only as a temporary push for social solutions.
  3. Unleash investments for transitions: make procurement policy task-oriented and increase the clout of investments through a public-private bank.

Image above courtesy of the WRR.

25 September 2023

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