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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


German Council for Sustainable Development calls for European framework on ESG reporting

Berlin, 16.04.2013 - The German Council for Sustainable Development highly welcomes the proposal of the EU Commission on non-financial disclosure. The European Commission has proposed an amendment to existing accounting legislation in order to improve the transparency of companies with more than 500 employees on social and environmental matters. They will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.

“Ità´s time to enhance companies’ transparency on sustainability issues. It is important to make visible the contribution of the business sector towards stable economies, social equity and a healthy planet”, stated Marlehn Thieme, Chair of the Council. “Companies need clear guidance and market reward for their transparency efforts.” Therefore, it would be necessary to have a European framework on corporate reporting which gives investors access to reliable and comparable key data on companies’ environment, social and governance (ESG) performance. Here, the German Sustainability Code (GSC) is of significant help: from the very beginning, this tool has been designed in a way that it is suitable for international purposes. The German Federal Government now has the chance to set a high standard by suggesting the Sustainability Code as the starting point for developing a European framework on ESG reporting.”

The German Council for Sustainable Development unanimously approved the German Sustainability Code (GSC) in October 2011 and recommends it as a voluntary standard. The German Federal Government is in support of this endeavour and requests Federal institutions to check whether the Code is applicable and whether they comply. The EU proposal will allow companies to disclose relevant information in the way that they consider most useful. They may use international or national guidelines according to their own characteristics or business environment. Commissioner Michel Barnier mentioned as examples the UN Global Compact, ISO 26000 and the German Sustainability Code.

Primarily, the GSC is intended to be used on the capital markets and works towards a fundamental reorientation of the economy towards sustainable development. The development of the standard itself sets an example in process and content. The GSC emerged from a dialogue process among stakeholders, companies, capital market actors and civil society, but without involvement of the state. The German Council for Sustainable Development supports, facilitates and monitors the implementation of the Code.

Financial analysts and investors are of particular importance regarding the application of non-financial information. They are accorded the role of initiators with a leverage effect – for example by including sustainability information in their analysis of opportunities and risks. The GSC serves as a basis of valuation in portfolio management, for corporate bonds, when granting loans and with regard to investor information. The GSC therefore represents an extension of the reporting procedures applied in accordance with binding national and international accounting standards. It also supplements the widely accepted German Corporate Governance Code. The GSC thus supports the global trend of enhancing reporting procedures in order to make integrated reporting the basis for integrated investment analysis.

The German Sustainability Code is targeted at companies and combines twenty criteria supported by a selection of quantifiable key performance indicators on environmental, social and governance issues in a transparent and comparable form, the so-called ‘declaration of conformity’. Public and financial market participants can use it to assess how enterprises anchor sustainability issues in their core business. The GSC outlines the minimum requirements for sustainability management transparency. Opportunities and risks are disclosed and can be managed proactively. The existing market for sustainable investment, with its specific requirements and depth of methodical evaluation, is complemented by a standardized instrument which is also appropriate for both mainstream investors and analysts who so far have hardly based their activities on sustainability information. By taking into account the information given by conforming with the GSC, capital flows can be channelled into future-proof business models and companies.

So far, 43 companies have signed the German Sustainability Code, including medium-sized, stock listed and publicly owned companies:

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