This is how it goes with the certification of ministries

In October, the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) obtained the certificate for the CO₂ Performance Ladder on level 3. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) already preceded them and is now on level five. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) is also looking forward to level 3 certification in early 2022 and is already preparing level 4.

All ministries will implement the CO2 Performance Ladder. The (chief) directors of operations of all ministries recently decided this. The government wants to use this to reduce its CO2 emissions as much as possible and thus realize more sustainable business operations. The CO2 Performance Ladder is the sustainability instrument in the Netherlands that helps companies and governments to reduce CO2 and costs. Within business operations, in projects and in the chain. The Ladder is used as a CO2 management system and as a tendering tool. With the Ladder you thus gain insight into the CO2 emissions of your organisation and – at higher leveld on the Ladder – those of your suppliers and customers. The Ladder also helps you to save CO2 costs. You also work on lower energy costs, material savings and innovation gain.

In March, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management was the first ministry to achieve level 5 of the CO2 Performance Ladder, the highest attainable level of this instrument. For example, via the CO2 Performance Ladder, I&W sets goals, formulates measures and makes visible what it does to actually implement these measures. This is audited internally (by the State Audit Service) and externally (by a certified auditor) every year.


In October 2021, the ministries of EZK and LNV received their certificate for step 3. This concerns the emissions of your own actions and business operations. The CO₂ Performance Ladder helps the ministries to provide an annual insight into their CO₂ emissions and to monitor whether the ministries of EZK and LNV are on the right track towards climate neutrality in 2030. The base year for the CO₂ footprint for both ministries is 2019. The footprint of 2020 and the first half of 2021 are affected by corona as a result of less travel.

Nevertheless, EZK and LNV have succeeded in taking measures in the field of travel and energy that have led to a structural reduction of the footprint. One of the measures is, for example, the greening of the electricity for a number of buildings belonging to RVO (the Netherlands Enterprise Agency) and NVWA (the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority). By purchasing Dutch Guarantees of Origin, the footprint of 2020 has even been retroactively adjusted (13% lower) because the CO₂ emissions from electricity have been halved. The greatest effect can now be seen at LNV, because major progress is being made there with the vehicle fleet. With the electrification of the NVWA's fleet alone, the CO₂ of EZK/LNV has decreased by almost 30% in 2023. More information about the position of EZK and LNV and what steps are being taken to achieve climate-neutral business operations can be found in the sustainability report 2020.

Once certified, it is customary for organisations to progress to higher steps on the ladder (4 and 5), taking into account the purchasing chain and the effect of policy on CO₂ emissions. RVO wants to lead the way within EZK and is currently already preparing to be certified on level 4. After that, the ministries of EZK and LNV as a whole will follow.


Ministry of BZK is currently waiting for the internal audit, which will take place on 24 November. 'We got to work immediately after the decision to introduce the CO2 Performance Ladder for all ministries,' says Martijn Otte, sustainability coordinator at the ministry. 'That led to a CO2 management plan, approved by the Sustainable Business Operations steering group.' If points for improvement emerge from the internal audit, they are immediately resolved. In principle, an external audit could then take place early in 2022 and the certification must also be completed quickly.

The BZK sustainability team immediately started preparing for the certification for level 4. 'That is an independent process, and focuses on the chains in which you work. The steering committee indicated that there is still a lot of profit potential there. We are now investigating the chains where we spend a lot of money or have influence and/or interests. We will submit a global list of promising areas to the steering committee, after which we will get to work with about 2-3 of those chains. For this we make a quantitative and substantive analysis and we propose appropriate measures.' For example, the government largely uses green energy, but it is not always clear what the real origin of that electricity is when it comes to non-Dutch suppliers. That is why all green electricity must soon be from Dutch soil and produced responsibly. The sustainability team is working on this with the team from the government-wide Energy purchasing category.

Martijn also explains how BZK, together with RVO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BuZa) and IenW, are looking at how they can deal with intercontinental travel. How do you make smart sustainable choices? 'For example, we are looking at the calculation method that calculates the emissions from our travel behaviour. For example, at first no distinction was made between business class and economy class, but that will change next year. The emissions of business class are much higher, partly because it takes up much more space than a place in economy. For the new calculation method, we also look more closely at the type of aircraft, engines, occupation, and how often take-off and landing takes place. This provides a greater perspective for action for the business traveler at the central government. For example, you will soon be able to consciously opt for a more sustainable society.'

Read more: All Dutch ministries will implement the CO2 Performance Ladder

This article originally appeared here.