Maintaining liveability in the Netherlands

Our living environment in the world of tomorrow and beyond

The Netherlands is a small country with big differences both between regions and within municipalities. This is why targeted solutions are the only way to increase welfare and prosperity. What are the specific threats to liveability in the Netherlands? And how can they be addressed?

Rabobank conducted a series of interviews with scientists, employees, customers and representatives from civil society organisations. We discussed key economic and social trends in which Rabobank could potentially play a role. We shared our findings in a series of long articles on the website This week’s theme: liveability in the Netherlands.

The differences between regions

An aerial view of the Netherlands clearly shows the differences across the country. There are densely populated urban areas, particularly in the south-western part of the country. The strong growth in trade and services ensures that both the economy and population continue to grow in this area of the Netherlands. The north-eastern part and the southern regions of the Netherlands are much less densely populated. Most of these areas are facing an ageing population, decreasing populations and lower welfare and prosperity.

Urban conurbation: The advantages and disadvantages

Continuing population growth and business activity in the Netherlands’ urban conurbation has both advantages and disadvantages. The area enjoys a high level of welfare and prosperity. Businesses benefit from the closeness of specialised suppliers and a large supply of labour. The large concentration of consumers provides a wealth of opportunities for service sectors such as retail, culture, education, sport and healthcare.

The disadvantage of this high concentration of people is that it leads to considerable social and economic disparities, higher crime rates and a high environmental impact. These disadvantages are manifested primarily at the local level in town centres and neighbourhoods. This means it will be necessary to take measures to increase social participation and enhance liveability in these areas as well.

Challenges facing growing and contracting regions

The age-old question relating to densely populated urban and growth regions is: How can we provide space for growth without endangering liveability? In contrast, liveability in the sparsely populated areas is under pressure due to the longer distances to services. Investment in enhancing liveability for specific population groups, including youths, seniors and people with a disability, is consequently needed in these regions.

Rabobank is convinced that the business community has opportunities for addressing these challenges locally. Businesses can make a difference by, for example, focusing in densely populated urban areas on an ‘emptier’ landscape: nature and recreation, bio-based production systems and international activities for which the production location is not relevant. The socio-economic challenges in both cities and contracting areas can be addressed in part through citizen initiatives. Examples include social enterprises that provide employment to vulnerable citizens with a labour market disadvantage.

Rabobank’s mission

Rabobank is committed to helping bring about greater liveability across the Netherlands. All the local Rabobanks support numerous promising initiatives that are specifically aimed at building stronger neighbourhoods and municipalities and consequently also a stronger country as a whole. The online platform ‘Invested in the Neighbourhood’ is being piloted this June. Local initiators can promote their projects on the platform and request access to knowledge, time and funding from the local community and Rabobank. This is one way we fulfil our mission to increase wealth and prosperity in the Netherlands.

Find out more about liveability in the world of tomorrow and beyond

This is the last in a four-part series of long-read articles on ‘the world of tomorrow and beyond’. The previous long-read articles discussed:

  • The megatrends that will shape our world
  • People’s changing financial life course
  • The Netherlands’ earning capacity

Read these articles on