Structures of sustainability policy
The German government has put in place an institutional framework so as to implement and further develop the strategy, ensure that its policies are sustainable and to involve as many stakeholders as possible.
Because of its cross-cutting nature and special importance, the National Sustainable Development Strategy is a matter which comes under the competence of the Federal Chancellery. In Germany, sustainable development is a key priority dealt with at the highest political level. All ministries are involved in shaping and implementing the strategy.
State Secretarie’ Committee for Sustainable Development
The State Secretaries’ Committee for Sustainable Development which is chaired by the Head of the Federal Chancellery is in charge of the further development and monitoring of the national strategy. The Committee updates the details of the National Sustainable Development Strategy and regularly monitors the development of the sustainability indicators. All ministries are represented in this Committee. Because of its cross-cutting nature and special importance, the National Sustainable Development Strategy is a matter which comes under the competence of the Federal Chancellery. In Germany, sustainable development is a key priority dealt with at the highest political level. All ministries are involved in shaping and implementing the strategy.
The Committee is also the contact for the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Sustainable Development, for the federal states (Länder) and for the associations of local authorities as well as the German Council for Sustainable Development. The Committee works with these bodies on topical aspects of sustainability.
When it comes to changing or updating the National Sustainability Strategy, this is something the Federal Cabinet decides. The preparatory work is carried out by the State Secretary Committee for Sustainable Development led by the Head of the Federal Chancellery.
German Council for Sustainable Development
To provide external expertise the German government also put in place the German Council for Sustainable Development in 2001. The Sustainable Development Council advises the Federal Government on all matters relating to sustainable development. Fifteen individuals from businesses, trade unions, churches, the media, and consumer and environmental associations meet regularly to discuss topical aspects of sustainability. They are appointed for three years by the German Chancellor. They represent the three dimensions of sustainability according to their professional and personal backgrounds. The Council works independently and it tables proposals on how the Strategy should move forward. It was this body, for instance, which first brought up the problem of the volume of land used for human settlement and the need to conserve open spaces. In addition, the Council is an important stakeholder in the public dialogue.
Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development
The Parliamentary Advisory Council, comprising 22 full members and 22 substitute members, is intended to lend a parliamentary dimension to the National Sustainability Strategy, play a role in developing goals, measures and instruments and defining them in concrete terms, present recommendations on medium- and long-term planning, enter into dialogue with other parliaments, particularly in the European Union, and underpin the discussion within society on the subject of sustainable development. The Parliamentary Advisory Council has also been assigned to evaluate the sustainability impact assessment (Link) of the Federal Government.
The Council is to present a report on its work at least once every two years.
The motion stressed the necessity, against the background of the challenges posed by globalisation, for the German Bundestag to make clear its commitment to sustainable development. The motion underlined the fact that the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development should serve as the advocate of long-term responsibility in the political process, that it should structure policy for future generations and support the work of the bodies created by the German government.
Cooperation at all levels
The strategies for sustainable development of the various levels – from local, regional, national to European and international level - should mesh for a global sustainability agenda. Therefore the Federal Government seeks to strengthen the cooperation with the 16 Länder and municipalities as well as the European Union and United Nations.