|Year of approval of the
SD strategy and updates
National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) was adopted by the German
Government in 2002. Through a total of three extensive Progress Reports (2004,
2008, 2012, 2016), the NSDS has been continuously reviewed, updated and further
NSDS is the essential framework for the national implementation of the UN 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development. Accompanied by a very broad participatory
consultation process, the NSDS has been carefully reviewed in 2016 in all its
essential elements. The new NSDS has been adopted by the German Government in
NSDS has been maintained over three changes of government, documenting the
broad, constant political consensus in Germany regarding the importance of
The current government´s coalition agreement of
November 2013 stresses
once more that sustainable development is the fundamental objective and
benchmark of the government and provides a number of measures to strengthen the
efforts on national, European and international level.
next update of the Strategy is scheduled for 2018. It will be evaluated if
targets and indicators need to be adjusted, and new measures to implement the
Agenda 2030 will be developed. The next comprehensive update and report will
take place in 2020.
|Type of SD strategy
NSDS as well as the targets and indicators are structured along the 17 SDGs.
|Lead ministry/institution in
the SD strategy process
|Link to the SD strategy
Report 2012 (in German and English)
NSDS has been adopted by the Cabinet in January 2017.
in six UN languages:
|Further information about
the SD strategy process
Perspectives for Germany (2002) (in German), Perspectives for Germany (2002)
Progress Report 2004 (in German), Progress
Report 2004 (in English)
Interim Report: Landmark Sustainability
2005 (in German)
Progress Report 2008 (in German and
Documentation of the consultation process
for the Progress Report 2008 (in German)
Progress Report 2012 (in German and English)
Brochure 10 years sustainability made in
Germany - the national sustainable development strategy” 2012
Brochure Milestones of the Sustainability
Policy 2014 (in German)
Indicator Report 2006
Indicator Report 2010
Indicator Report 2012 (in English)
Indicator Report 2014 (in English and
Documentation of the consultation process
for the Progress Report 2015/2016 (in German)
"German Sustainable Development
Strategy Summary" (January 2017)
Verantwortung wahrnehmen und Zukunft Gestalten”/”Sharing responsibility –
shaping the future together”(April 2017)
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National Implementation of 2030 Agenda for SD
The NSDS is an essential framework for the national implementation of the UN 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development and was published in January 2017.
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Mechanisms of Vertical Integration
National — sub-national linkages
The current NSDS was adopted 2002 by the German Government after an intensive public consultation with stakeholders, including the federal states and local level and was presented to the 2002 UN-Summit in Johannesburg.
As the NSDS is the strategy of the national government only, the NSDS is not binding for the federal states. Nevertheless, the cooperation between the national level and the federal states for NSDS implementation has been significantly increased. The federal states are involved in the definition process of concrete measures based on the NSDS. They participated in the consultation process to the Progress Reports 2008, 2012 and 2016.
In 2008, 2012 and again in 2016, the federal countries have contributed own statements to the national government´s Progress Reports, which were adopted by the Prime Ministers of the federal states.
In their progress report-statements, the federal states advocate a stronger cooperation between them and the federal government on the NSDS and the national implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Since 2008, the cooperation especially in the fields of sustainable public procurement, reduction of land use and sustainability-indicators has been addressed in the regular meetings between the Head of the Federal Chancellery and the Heads of the Prime Ministers´ offices of the federal states:
The federal states welcome the lively exchange on public procurement between the federal government, the federal states themselves and the local authorities. The “Alliance for Sustainable Procurement” provides a platform for the federal government to bundle know-how for public procurement at the federal level. The federal states take this as an opportunity to make experiences accessible and useful, whilst maintaining their autonomy. They intend to continue this exchange of knowledge, methods and instruments.
In the field of reduction of land use/consumption of new land, the national, federal states and local levels work together to find sustainable solutions that meet the demand for land and, at the same time, protect the natural environment and the land required for farming.
The federal states stress the significance of common sustainability indicators at the national and federal states levels. The orientation to universal, national indicators based on the indicators of the NSDS has proven valid and seems to offer the greatest possible compliance and comparability at the federal states level based on the existing data. This includes a mapping of federal states-specific targets with their own indicators.
The participation of the federal states is also institutionalised in various working groups involving public administrators of the national government and the federal states as part of the Conference of Environmental Ministers (a forum in which the Environmental Ministers of the federal states and representatives of the Federal Ministry for the Environment meet), which mostly serve as a forum for exchange of experiences. SD is currently addressed in the working group “climate, energy, mobility sustainability (BLAG KliNa)”, that has been operating since January 2008.
In terms of their responsibility on education policy, the federal states have consistently expanded their activities in the field of education for sustainable development with specific measures and programmes.
In 2010, the State Secretary Committee for Sustainable Development (political body) adopted an action program for a sustainable federal government which was reviewed and further developed in March 2015. The action program must be implemented by every federal ministry and their related offices and administration. The program e.g. addresses sustainable buildings, reinforces sustainable public procurement, sustainable mobility as well as sustainable conferences, and aims at improving the possibilities to combine work and family life. Yearly monitoring reports will be published as of 2016. In 2019 the action-program will be reviewed again.
More information can be found on the website of the German Federal Government:
The renewed EU Strategy for Sustainable Development (EU SDS) adopted in June 2006 foresees that Member States bi-annually report about how they address the priorities of the EU SDS. Germany had published its first national report on implementing the EU SDS in June 2007.
In order to strengthen vertical integration, the Progress Reports 2008 and 2012 took the EU SDS for the outline of a part of the report. The symbols illustrating the status of German sustainability-indicators are in line with the symbols used by Eurostat for the EU-indicators.
The current government´s coalition agreement declares the will to strengthen the EU SDS. Repeatedly, the Chancellor has stressed Germany´s high commitment to fully implement the 2030 Agenda on the European level and that a renewed EU SDS would be the best option in this regard.
The State Secretaries’ Committee for Sustainable Development, the German Council and the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development have joined this call in a number of occasions.
Council’s Decision on EU Sustainability Policy has commended the EU Commission’s
commitment in its Communication to comprehensive implementation at the European
level in, in internal and external policies, of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable
development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the
General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015, as well as the
commitment to make sustainable development a key guiding principle in all
Commission policy. This commendation extends also to the Commission’s
envisaging of regular reporting on EU progress on implementation of Agenda 2030
from 2017 onwards.
However, the Federal Council does not share the Commission’s view that
the existing governance system within the Commission and the EU as a whole
already ensures implementation of the guiding principle of sustainable
development and of Agenda 2030. There are at present no adequate procedural
provisions in the decision-making system of the Commission or the EU to ensure
As EU action plays an important role in many of the relevant policy areas
(for example agricultural and environmental policy), a European sustainability
framework is crucial to ensure that Europe makes an effective contribution to
implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. That is the only way to
ensure that activities at the EU level and activities in the Member States are
complementary and mutually reinforcing.
The Federal Council, therefore, considers that ambitious strategic goals
to implement the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 should be stipulated
promptly at the EU level and that an indicator system should be adopted. As
also advocated in several Opinions from the EU’s Committee of the Regions, this
process could, for example, take the form of a new EU sustainability strategy or
a Europe 2030 strategy, building on the Europe 2020 Strategy. A new strategic
approach of this type must also be equipped with an effective implementation
mechanism, which was lacking in the EU’s previous sustainability strategy from
2001. It is crucial to ensure that a unit in the Commission, endowed with
sufficient capacities and influence, is in future entrusted with implementation
of sustainable development as a guiding principle and of Agenda 2030 in its
full thematic breadth; the Commission’s Secretariat-General is of particular
importance in this context.
Furthermore, the Federal Council considers that the Commission should
initiate an inter-institutional consultation process promptly, with the
participation of the Member States, as well as the EU’s regions and federal states,
in order to devise the requisite overall strategic framework for implementation
of the Sustainable Development Goals at EU level in a timely manner. The EU’s
Economic and Social Committee has already undertaken important initial
consultation measures to this end.
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Mechanisms of Horizontal Integration
2000, the State Secretaries' Committee on Sustainable Development exists as a
high-ranking steering, coordinating and monitoring body for sustainable
development. It decides about the strategy and its further development (subject
to later formal approval of the cabinet), and keeps a close eye on its
implementation. The Committee is composed of state secretaries (representatives
of the minister, top level of civil servants) from all ministries. It is
chaired by the Head of the Federal Chancellery, who is the main leader in the
national SD process.
Germany, the responsibility for national SD policies does not lie with one of
the ministries but with the Chancellery itself. This is considered a key
success factor for SD in Germany. The Chancellery does not only have a
coordination role, but is also steering the process and providing important
inputs to the relevant ministries. It shows the special importance that the
federal government attaches to SD policies and is based on the fact that
sustainable development is a cross-cutting subject. Political leadership for
the NSDS falls under the ”guidance competence” of the Chancellery, and its
administrative implementation takes place through a link between the
Chancellery and the respective ministries responsible for the specific issue at
hand. A permanent inter-ministerial working-group for sustainable development
(chaired also by the Chancellery) prepares for the meetings of the State
Committee meets about four times a year. Beginning in December 2008, the State
Secretaries' Committee on Sustainable Development worked on the basis of a
working programme comprising important topics for sustainable development.
Subjects of the meetings since spring 2012 included education for SD, CSR, the
2013 Peer Review on the national SDS, the Post-2015 Agenda, sustainable urban
development, sustainable consumption and sustainable finance policy. To the
Committees’ meetings, the Chair regularly invites respective experts, e.g. from
science, NGOs and/or businesses.
Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development of the German
Parliament regularly provides the State Secretaries´ Committee with its
opinions and recommendations on the selected topic.
January 2009, departmental reports on the implementation of sustainable
development are being presented to the States Secretaries´ Committee and
published in the internet (available only in German).
major reform in order to strengthen the implementation of the strategy in daily
policy was the introduction of SD as a criterion for the impact assessment for
new laws or regulations. In May 2009, SD was included permanently in the
standing orders of the federal government (”Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der
Bundesministerien”, GGO). A guideline published by the Department for Internal
Affairs in June 2009 advises to use the indicators and management rules of the
strategy for this SD impact assessment. The Parliamentary Advisory Council on
SD of the German Parliament evaluates and comments the procedural quality of
the impact assessment as it is documented in the drafts of new laws or
regulations delivered to the German Parliament.
part of the new NSDS, it was decided to further strengthen policy coherence: Coordinators
for Sustainable Development have been appointed in each ministry, in most cases
at Director-General level. They are central contact persons for all issues
relating to Sustainable Development and will be involved in the preparation of
the Sustainable Development Impact assessments.
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Evaluation and Review
2004, the German Government reported for the first time on the progress of the
NSDS and the statistical status and development of the 21 targets and 38
indicators, which were designed to make SD quantifiable.
October 2008, February 2012, and January 2017 further Progress Reports were
adopted by the Cabinet. All of them confirmed that SD remains a guiding
principle for the concrete political activities of the federal government. The
reports explain the governmental organisation in SD politics in detail and strengthen the
management of SD in German policy making. The sustainability management concept
of the strategy comprises the following elements:
* Management rules. The management rules summarise the guiding principles of SD.
* Indicators and goals. 63 indicators with
- in most cases - quantified targets in 38 areas.
* Monitoring. Every four years a Progress
Report presents in detail the status of SD in Germany. The Progress Reports are
complemented by an indicator report, independently prepared by the Federal
Statistical Office every two years.
improve SD management, the State Secretaries’ Committee has gradually been
strengthened over the past years. The management rules for SD have been partly
revised due to changing global conditions and the lessons learned since the
NSDS was first adopted in 2002.
further developing the NSDS, the 2008 report covered four key-topics
(climate/energy, resources, demographic change/social opportunities,
international food-crises) whereas the 2012 report focused on sustainable
economic activity, climate and energy and sustainable water policy. In addition
to the key-topics, the reports assessed the progress of the NSDS in a broad
range of subjects. The 2012 Progress Report was drafted in view of the
UN-Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro and aimed presenting
the status quo of SD in Germany. First milestones for the Progress Report 2012
as well as a first draft report were published in September 2010 respectively
June 2011 and discussed in a broad, internet-based public consultation: The
range of topics of the new NSDS is broader than before – as it is structured
along the 17 SDGs. For each SDGs, particular challenges for Germany are
2009 and again in 2013, the German Federal Government mandated Björn Stigson,
the (former) President of the World Business Council for SD, and a group of
peers to conduct a Peer Review of Germany's SD policies. The first Peer Review
Report, organised by the Council for Sustainable Development on behalf of the
government, was handed over to Chancellor Angela Merkel on November 23, 2009,
the second Peer Review Report on September 25, 2013.
2009 and 2013 peers from Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and
USA as well as from India, Canada (2009) respectively South Africa and South
Korea brought their experiences to bear on the opportunities and challenges for
Germany's SD policies in an international context.
reports acknowledged Germany´s potential key position to spearhead the
transition to a more sustainable development and came up with a set of clear
recommendations addressing politics, the parliament, the business community and
civil society. The German Council for Sustainable Development facilitated both
present, a new Peer Review is under preparation – due to be finished in spring
2018. The group of experts will be chaired by Helen Clark, former Administrator
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Indicators and Monitoring
two years, the Federal Statistical Office independently assesses the
development and the status quo of the national SD targets and indicators (see
Indicator Reports 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014; and 2016, every four years the
Indicator Reports form part of the Progress Reports).
Report 2016] https://www.destatis.de/EN/Publications/Specialized/EnvironmentalEconomicAccounting/Sustainability/Indicators2016.pdf;jsessionid=CEDD171CA6ACDC1F55C2A7A214F1D294.cae4?__blob=publicationFile
2008, they include - in addition to the detailed descriptions and trends of the
indicators - a brief statistical evaluation regarding their distance to the
envisaged target. This evaluation is graphically illustrated by weather
symbols, e.g. ”sunny” or ”cloudy”, in line with the Eurostat indicator-symbols.
The Indicator Reports can be downloaded in German and English. In 2016, out of 63
indicators 27 were assessed as predominantly positive (e.g. education or renewable
energy). The indicators for sustainable mobility and biodiversity were among
the issues with remained a difficult challenge.
full list(s) of indicators as identified by a study commissioned by Eurostat
can be downloaded here:
The full list(s) of indicators as identified by a study commissioned by Eurostat can be downloaded here:
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2002, several stakeholder groups, e.g. social partners, NGOs, local
communities, the science community etc., were involved in the development of
the NSDS. The methods used for this purpose ranged from traditional
consultation processes to the possibility of delivering opinions on drafts or
internet chat sessions with ministers and state secretaries.
German Government had initiated a broad public consultation process, which
accompanied the work on the 2008 and 2012 NSDS Progress Report. Citizens were
invited to contribute to the Progress Reports by making comments and
suggestions based at first on a preparatory consultation paper, and then on a
draft version of the NSDS Progress Reports; both were published on the
internet. In addition, the Federal Chancellery invited selected stakeholders
from alliances and associations to discuss the draft report in hearings or
conferences. A documentation of the consultation process of 2008 and 2012 is
available as download (in German).The review
of the NSDS started in October 2015 shortly after the 2030 Agenda was adopted.
A series of 5 stakeholder conferences (Berlin, Dresden, Stuttgart, Bonn and
Hamburg) opened the discussion on a new NSDS 2016. Periodical newsletters
informed about the activities and sustainability discussions taking place. A
draft of the new/reviewed NSDS 2016 has been published by the end of May 2016
and opened for a second consultation phase via internet. In addition, dialogue
meetings with the federal states as well associations and organisations took
place during summer 2016.
new NSDS aims at strengthening stakeholder involvement. Plans for this include
a regular dialogue format (“Sustainability Forum”) and the greater involvement
of social stakeholders in the preparation of meetings of the State Secretaries’
Committee. The first Sustainability Forum took place in July 2017. The
government presented progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda. Social
organisations reported on their activities and discussed implementation measures
of the government. In science, various initiatives have been launched to support
the implementation of the SDGs. The Federal Government has embraced these
initiatives and offers a platform on which scientific support for the implementation
of the SDGs will be pooled (“Wissenschaftsplattform Nachhaltigkeit 2030”).
2004, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development of the
German Parliament has been supporting the SD process in Germany. The Council
submits proposals for updating the NSDS and provides recommendations on
individual subjects relating to SD. The Council had contributed an own guest
chapter to the Progress Reports of 2008 and 2012 and in the new NSDS 2016. The
Council was reconstituted in 2014 and comprises 17 Members of the Parliament
from all parliamentary parties who can incorporate the results of the work of
the Council into the work of the parliamentary parties and special committees.
For further details see http://www.bundestag.de/nachhaltigkeit
German Council for Sustainable Development was established by the German
Government in April 2001. Its members are appointed by the Chancellor.
Currently it is composed of 15 members from various social groups, the business
sector as well as from the science and research community. Its mission is to
advise the German government on all matters relating to SD and to contribute to
the further development of the NSDS. In addition, the Council is an important
stakeholder in the public dialogue on SD. A statement of the Council was
published as a guest chapter in the Progress Reports 2008 and 2012 and was again
part of the new NSDS 2016.
Council organizes Annual Conferences for Sustainable Development with more than
1000 participants and key notes by the Chancellor. The Conference offers
national and international guests the opportunity to hear and discuss about the
latest SD news and issues.
2012, the Council has started its call for a German Sustainability Action Day
respectively Action Week. All actors - regardless whether from the private,
public, religious, business or academic sector - are invited to present their
activities on SD and share their experience. In close cooperation with France
and Austria, the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) was initiated and
first started in 2015 with more than 4000 activities in 29 European countries.
For further details see http://www.aktionstage-nachhaltigkeit.de/
strengthened collaboration between the Council for SD, the Parliamentary
Advisory Council on SD and the State Secretaries´ Committee for SD is ongoing.
Each of the three institutions invites representatives of the other two to its
detailed documentation of all advisory and participatory councils (for SD
and/or the environment) in this country, please go to the EEAC website at
http://www.eeac.eu/councils/germany and click on one of the listed
a detailed documentation of all advisory and participatory councils (for SD and/or the environment) in this country,
please go to the EEAC website at http://www.eeac.eu/councils/germany and click on one of the listed institutions.
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13 of 16 of the German federal states have their own SD strategies in place. The
federal government aims at strengthening the cooperation between the national
level and the federal states level. Short descriptions of the federal states´
SD activities are available in German.
local level, SD is addressed with LA 21 processes that emerged in the mid
1990s. Currently, more than 2600 local authorities (20 % of all German local
authorities) have initiated an LA 21 process. The federal government has
strengthened cooperation with the local level in the context of the Progress
Reports 2008 and 2012. Accepting an invitation by the federal government, the
German municipal umbrella organisation (consisting of the German association of
cities, the German county association and the German association of towns and
municipalities) presented their priorities and views on the NSDS in a guest
chapter in the Progress Reports. There it stressed that SD is increasingly
becoming a central guiding principle of municipal politics. In February 2009
and again in April 2013, delegates from the German municipal umbrella
organisation discussed questions of land use for housing and infrastructure
with the federal government in a meeting of the State Secretaries´ Committee for
Sustainable Development. In January 2012 and again in March 2015, the State
Secretaries’ Committee discussed with mayors (members of the “Sustainable City”
dialogue - Mayors for Sustainable Development in Municipalities Initiative of
the Council for Sustainable Development) challenges of sustainable cities and
fields of further cooperation.
Government of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany adopted its first SD Strategy
in June 2016. It was the first German region that committed itself to implement
the global SDGs that were adopted at the UN Summit in New York in September
2016. The centerpiece of the SD Strategy is a goal and indicator system for 19
main fields of action with which the regional government determines ambitious
goals to be reached by 2030. The monitoring system comprises about 70
indicators. Every two years, an indicator report will be prepared, and every
four years, the SD Strategy will be updated. Please find more information on
the SD Strategy in German here, and the French version can be downloaded here.
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This Country Profile has been last updated on: Monday, 30 October 2017
For the sources used in the country profiles, please click here.