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Future peace and prosperity will no longer be within our reach, if we in Germany do not commit more resolutely to greater sustainability and channel all our energy into making it happen – be it in politics, business, science or civil society.

Marlehn Thieme, Chairwoman of the Council

Marlehn Thieme

The principle of sustainability is the only option for responsible global action; it protects our eco-systems and thus ensures the survival of generations to come.

Olaf Tschimpke, Deputy Chairman of the Council

Olaf Tschimpke

Measuring sustainability and identifying interrelationships are major success factors for anchoring this topic in companies and on capital markets.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Bassen, Member of the Council

Prof. Dr. Alexander Bassen

Avoiding past mistakes means pointing progress in the right direction: the principle of sustainable development is a good compass for technical and social innovations at local, national and global level.

Ulla Burchardt, Member of the Council

Ulla Burchardt

The global sustainability and climate protection goals are the long-term milestones. Now we have to engage in an honest discussion about what the state, private sector and citizens can and must do to achieve them.

Kathrin Menges, Member of the Council

Kathrin Menges

The energy revolution has greatly reduced the costs of green electricity, so it is competitive at international level and helps to achieve the global sustainability goals without additional CO2 emissions.

Alexander Müller, Member of the Council

Alexander Müller

The idea of sustainability is at the core of a viable, innovative economy and is vital for a society that aims to safeguard quality of life in the long term. That is why the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental and social – must be considered together.

Katherina Reiche, Member of the Council

Katherina Reiche

Make the sustainable choice the easy choice.

Prof. Dr. Lucia A. Reisch, Member of the Council

Prof. Dr. Lucia A. Reisch

Sustainable development requires to find as much common ground as possible but also to accept differences.

Dr. Werner Schnappauf, Member of the Council

Dr. Werner Schnappauf

Today, sustainable development requires an agenda which explicitly links global and national goals and policies and thus gives global cooperation a strong push forward.

Dr. Imme Scholz, Member of the Council

Dr. Imme Scholz

In forest science, we learned how important the sustainable management of natural resources is centuries ago. Empirical knowledge, openness to new things and humility in the face of nature can help other sectors, too.

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schraml, Member of the Council

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schraml

Cities, even more so than today, will become hubs of technological and social development in the future. All the more important are efforts to encourage the sustainable development of our cities.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, Member of the Council

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schuster

We need to make bold political decisions that reward growth less and sustainability more and that encourage the common good instead of profit-seeking.

Prof. Dr. Hubert Weiger, Member of the Council

Prof. Dr. Hubert Weiger

The UN Sustainable Development Goals present the vision of a fundamental socio-ecological transformation. They are not a specialist task for development or environmental policy, but are binding for all cabinet members.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Member of the Council

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
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Content

The 2014 Sustainability Code – revised and now ready for Europe

The Sustainability Code, which the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) jointly developed in tandem with German businesses, investors and civil society actors, is now available in its revised form in English, French and German. What has stayed the same? What has changed?

This has stayed the same: comprising 20 criteria, the Sustainability Code is a source of orientation for businesses. It assists companies with their strategic management and future orientation. Customers and investors have greater transparency and means of comparison as a result: reports drafted in compliance with the Sustainability Code provide information on a company’s sustainable business strategy as well as the rules and processes it implements in order to achieve social and ecological goals. In its initiative, the German Council for Sustainable Development outlines the topics of overriding importance to the green economy. The Code can be applied by all companies regardless of their size or legal form.

The transparency initiative launched by the German Council for Sustainable Development follows on from existing, voluntary reporting standards. Last year’s introduction of the G4 sustainability reporting guidelines by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI ) triggered a review of the Sustainability Code.

The number of EFFAS indicators has changed. These have shrunk from 19 to 16, while the GRI indicators have risen by one to 28 in total. The indicators complement the information contained in the Code criteria by incorporating quantitative information that is especially crucial for comparing information furnished by companies. The latest sets of indicators are currently being integrated into the database, after which it will be possible to choose between GRI G3.1 and GRI G4 standards or EFFAS KPIs for ESG. Until 31.12.2015, declarations of conformity can be issued on the basis of the GRI G3.1 set of indicators. This period marks the GRI transition phase.

The content of the Code criteria themselves has been brought into line with the definition of the forthcoming EU Directive on the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information. As a result, information provided on ecological goals and processes, for example, no longer relates exclusively to products but also services. The relevance of sustainability issues for a company’s operative business has been articulated even more. Redundant items have been removed and the requirements placed on declarations of conformity concretized, in terms of both the terminology and the reporting formats.

By updating the Sustainability Code, the German Council for Sustainable Development is reinforcing its goal of advancing sustainability and making the sustainability performance of companies transparent and comparable – in Germany and in the Single European Market. The paths that nation states need to follow in order to realize this will no doubt vary. This will also most likely be reflected in the implementation of the EU Directive by 2016. Some countries have, for years, introduced legislation to advance sustainability reporting. In turn, others are pressing ahead with market implementation, such as the Greek Sustainability Code partner, QualityNet Foundation. This foundation is planning to offer a sustainability index on the Athens stock exchange and to help Greek businesses become more competitive by virtue of the “Sustainable Greece 2020” strategy. To underline how the Sustainability Code directly ties in with various approaches, the Code also specifies the possibility of making declarations of conformity more reliable by having them reviewed by third parties.

Just how important it has since become for companies to provide information on their sustainable management strategy can also be seen here: the Foreword for the revised edition of the Sustainability Code has been contributed by Chancellor Angela Merkel no less. In the month to come, both the Sustainability Code and a manual for using the code in medium-sized companies will be made available as brochures which can then be ordered free of charge from the German Council for Sustainable Development.

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