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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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Business and political representatives call for uniform EU reporting obligation standard

Berlin (Germany), 23 April 2015 - In order to make Europe’s economy more successful and more competitive, the EU will, in future, be relying on large capital-market-oriented businesses disclosing non-financial key performance indicators. The issue of how best to transpose the new EU Directive into national law was the focal point of a parliamentary evening hosted by the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development and the Federal government’s German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE).

Under the banner “Sustainability – Reporting Obligation with Added Value?” (“Nachhaltigkeit – Berichtspflicht mit Mehrwert?”), members of the Bundestag and representatives of the Federal government discussed with business and civil society experts in Berlin. The evening revolved around what kind of bill would be needed in order to successfully combine the goals of the 2014/95/EU Directive: creating a green economy and increasing competitiveness. The participants also discussed the role that the Sustainability Code could play in this context. The Code is a standard developed by the RNE that enables companies to structure the reporting of their sustainability performance.

In his opening remarks, the Chair of the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development (PBnE), Andreas Jung, called for an ambitious and swift implementation of the EU Directive. “As far as the implementation goes, we need to do justice to our leading role and lend impetus to the Sustainability Code.” Jung went on to highlight that this required the early inclusion of parliament and that PBnE would take an active role in achieving this. He also stated that it was of particular importance for parliamentarians to know how stakeholders and undertakings that already stand for credible sustainability management and reporting think about this issue.

Marlehn Thieme, Chair of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), emphasized the contribution that the Sustainability Code had made in achieving fair competition, adding that it had made best corporate practice the benchmark for the green economy. She also highlighted that the Commission had repeatedly recommended the Code as a suitable instrument for the new reporting obligation, and concluded that it was now up to the legislators to entrench the Sustainability Code in German law as a binding standard.

Following on from this, Gerd Billen, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) noted that his ministry was working full steam on the draft bill and that it would be inviting relevant stakeholders in the first six months of 2015 to gain an insight into their specific expectations and to discuss the BMJV’s ideas in great depth. Billen announced that an initial ministerial draft would be ready this autumn, and emphasized that, whilst the Code would most certainly serve as a useful frame of reference, it was not be the only noteworthy standard.

Business representatives called for a uniform standard with clearly specified criteria and the means to establish comparability. They also added that it was especially important for medium-sized enterprises not to be overburdened in their need to satisfy the reporting obligation and that, since companies viewed the Sustainability Code as a pragmatic approach, it could therefore be embodied in law. Representing all four parliamentary parties, the PBnE members in attendance called for a uniform approach, a high degree of binding force and unbureaucratic implementation, adding that tried-and-tested, existing frameworks should be drawn on instead of reinventing the wheel.

Those attending the evening agreed that the new reporting obligation was a great opportunity for creating a greener economy. It also became clear that the Code meets the high expectations and requirements of a standardized framework and can create a common understanding of what greater sustainability entails.

The Sustainability Code promotes corporate and social responsibility. Using 20 criteria, it measures the sustainability performance of national and international organizations and companies regardless of their size and legal structure. As of 2017, capital-market-oriented companies with more than 500 employees will be required to report on their sustainability activities. The EU Commission has praised the Code as a suitable standard for fulfilling the reporting obligation. Its area of focus and uncomplicated handling also make the Code an ideal tool for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Sustainable Development (PBnE) has been a permanent entity of the German Bundestag since 2004. It has been commissioned by parliament not only to accompany the German government’s National Sustainability Strategy throughout but also to add its own momentum to the sustainability debate. A core task of PBnE is to examine and evaluate the German government’s bills and acts. The PBnE lends parliamentary debates its own momentum through hearings and positions papers.

The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) was first called into being by the German government in April 2001. The Council consists of 15 public figures. Its tasks comprise developing contributions to implement the National Sustainability Strategy, specifying concrete areas for action and projects, as well as making sustainability an important public issue. Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, is continuing the National Sustainability Strategy and appointed RNE for a further three years on 1 July 2013.

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