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German Sustainability Strategy 2021*

How Do The Germans Do It?

Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation addresses current political and social issues and aims to contribute to the public debate. Climate change and environmental issues are currently at the top of the European agenda. These issues impinge on everyone inside and outside Europe, but also worldwide.

In the first issue of the “Sustainability Monitor” (March 2021), Sabine Wölkner, Head of the Agenda 2030 Department, and Gisela Elsner, from the Analysis and Consulting Department of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, described the content and current developments, but also policy approaches to the sustainability debate in Germany, which we are pleased (in the abridged form) to make available for discussion.

It was on 10th March that the German government published an update of the German Sustainable Development Strategy. All efforts to implement sustainability are to be aligned with six transformation areas when the new Sustainable Development Strategy comes into force.

The transformation areas and the Sustainable Development Goals (The UN’s SDGs), which are referred to in each case, are as follows:

1. Human well-being and capabilities, social justice
2. Energy transition and climate protection
3. Circular economy
4. Sustainable construction and mobility transition
5. Sustainable agricultural and food systems
6. Pollution-free environment

Stakeholders from civil society, science and politics who are involved in the update welcomed the comprehensive revision of the Sustainable Development Strategy and identified the need for improvement in these areas in particular.

The pandemic is acting as an accelerant in many areas of activity and is increasing the pressure for change. In this context, the diverse commitment of civil society actors, i.e. citizens, trade unions, churches and civil society associations, is to be even more involved in the development and implementation of the DNS: their commitment is to be strengthened and made visible, and they are to be networked mutually and with other actors.

The German Sustainable Development Strategy sets out Germany’s measures to achieve the SDGs. In addition to measures with an impact in Germany, there are measures introduced by Germany with global impacts. There is also additional support for other countries in the form of bilateral cooperation.

Ultimately, a lot has happened at the EU level with the introduction of the European Green Deal. A new political framework was created with the presentation of the Green Deal guidelines in December 2019, which “breaks down” the UN Agenda 2030 SDGs to the EU and establishes an environmentally and resource-efficient growth strategy with targets and action plans for Europe.

The content of the six transformation areas identified in the German Sustainable Development Strategy roughly coincides with the key topics of the European Green Deal: climate protection, energy transition and the circular economy, a sustainable transformation of the construction and mobility sectors, a pollution-free environment and sustainable agricultural and food systems, all of which are areas in which progress is considered particularly important, both in Germany and at the level of the European Union.

*Abridged Edition of the “How the Germans do it: German Sustainability Strategy 2020- 2021” by idem authors

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