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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


Federal Government supports the German Sustainability Code

The Otto Group and Vaude present declarations of conformity

Berlin, 3 May 2012 – The German Federal Government supports the German Sustainability Code. This was confirmed by representatives of the Federal Chancellery in a conversation on 17 April 2012 in which heads of leading German enterprises, together with the Council for Sustainable Development and the German CSR business network econsense, presented the German Sustainability Code in the Federal Chancellery. It was assured that the federal government would welcome additional companies following the example of the firms that already apply the Code. Furthermore, the federal government will now recommend companies with federal government participation to consider applying the Code.

Shortly beforehand, the retail concern Otto Group and the outdoors outfitter Vaude had submitted further declarations of conformity with the German Sustainability Code (GSC). The GSC makes it possible to measure and compare the sustainability performance of companies with the help of standardised information. It is supposed to contribute to a stronger orientation of the capital markets towards sustainability.

According to Dr. Johannes Merck, Director of Corporate Responsibility of the Otto Group: ‘In the past, important players in the area of sustainability – namely, the consumers and business – have taken the initiative. Now it is the turn of politics. It should create a clear, binding framework and hence a level playing field for companies. We need the same conditions for all in order to create fair competition and make the sustainability performance of companies visible and comparable. As a result, sustainability will become at once more credible and more binding and can offer all stakeholders more orientation.’

Vaude CEO, Antje von Dewitz, stresses: ‘We are convinced that aspects such as sustainability and social responsibility are of elementary importance for a successful corporate strategy. The German Sustainability Code is an important milestone on the path to more firmly anchoring goals of sustainable development in business, and it supports us in our efforts to present our goals and performance in measurable, and hence also comparable, ways.’ According to its CEO, the family-owned company Vaude has set itself the goal of becoming Europe’s most environmentally friendly outdoors outfitter by 2015. Of fundamental importance for achieving this goal is that this performance be rewarded by the market.

In declarations of conformity with the German Sustainability Code, companies of any size and legal form, as well as organisations, can document how they meet the requirements of Code. The GSC comprises a total of 20 sustainability criteria with selected performance indicators – namely, so-called key indicators on ecology, social aspects and issues of corporate governance. They require that information be provided on a company’s sustainability strategies and goals, on rules, processes and incentive systems that it has installed in order to gradually improve the sustainability of the company. Especially important in this regard is information on the extent of the natural resources consumed and conformity with fundamental employee and human rights, as well as with ecological standards across the entire supply chain. With the declarations of conformity, companies disclose points of conformity and nonconformity with these criteria in accordance with the ‘comply or explain’ principle.

The Council for Sustainable Development adopted the Code last October and recommended that it be used as a voluntary instrument. In this way, it can also be applied by, and conformity with it can be required of, companies that are not subject to reporting requirements.

With its initiative, the Council for Sustainable Development aspires to bring about a fundamental reorientation of business towards sustainable development. According to Marlehn Thieme, Chairwoman of the Council for Sustainable Development: ‘The relevance of the Code for companies and investors is essential to its effectiveness. Only when business and investment decisions accord greater importance to environmental, social and governance factors can capital flow into companies that are developing responses to social and ecological challenges. Then the market rewards sustainable action by entrepreneurs.’

The Council publishes the declarations of conformity on its website

The German Sustainability Code is available as a brochure in German or English:

Media contact:

Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Office c/o GIZ
Katja Tamchina
Potsdamer Platz 10
D-10785 Berlin
Ph.: +49 (0)30 408190-233
Fax: +49 (0)30 408190-22233

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