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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 Sustainability Code: study examines successes and needs for improvement

Berlin, 26.03.2013 - The German Sustainability Code provides a significant number of enterprises with guidance and recognition; however, financial service providers make only inadequate and hesitant use of it with regard to business valuations on the capital market. That was what a research group from Hamburg University, headed by Professor Alexander Bassen on behalf of the Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), ascertained. The researchers analysed the implementation and effectiveness of the German Sustainability Code (GSC). Three of the GSC's main target groups were questioned: enterprises, capital market players and NGOs.

The German Council for Sustainable Development unanimously approved the German Sustainability Code in October 2011 and recommended that it be used as a voluntary instrument. The GSC is intended to be used on the capital markets and strives towards a fundamental reorientation of the economy towards sustainable development.

The German Sustainability Code is aimed at companies and combines their figures relating to sustainability performance 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 the issue of sustainability in their core business.

So far, 41 companies have signed the German Sustainability Code, including medium-sized companies, listed companies and those with federal government participation:

Results of the survey of 70 companies, 163 capital market participants, largely from mainstream capital markets, and 35 representatives of civil society (social and non-profit organisations):

  • The majority of the companies surveyed (56%) have noticed an increase in transparency thanks to the German Sustainability Code (capital market players 25%, civil society 20%) and have observed that the issue of sustainability is generally being furthered (companies 72%, capital market players 24%, civil society 20%).
  • For capital market players, the added value of the GSC lies primarily in the credibility it signals. The GSC provides guidance to analysts who do not yet have established evaluation systems for environmental, social and governance issues.
  • Companies and capital market players regard the declaration of conformity as a sign that a company wishes to be a driver for sustainability. From the companies' viewpoint, the field of politics constitutes the principal target of this message. Capital market players and civil society consider the declaration of conformity to be an act of 'political correctness' (17% and 11%).
  • Companies and capital market players criticize the fact that acceptance of it on the market is unclear and that its implementation by the stakeholders is not required. Civil society criticizes the lack of legal enshrinement regarding the implementation of the GSC and the resulting low level of credibility of the declaration of conformity. All three groups believe that data availability and reliability of the reporting companies are not always given.
  • The majority of respondents agreed that the German Sustainability Code should progress from being an instrument of transparency towards being more of a performance standard that ensures compliance with Code criteria.
  • What has to be seen in a critical light is the basic dissemination of the use of the GSC among capital market participants. Only 5% of respondents have implemented the GSC at corporate level or at the level of asset management.

Link to the study: (PDF, 231 KB)

"This review regarding the dissemination and effectiveness of the German Sustainability Code is important to gain insight into the improvements that need to be made," says Marlehn Thieme, Chair of the Council for Sustainable Development.

"The Council for Sustainable Development will continue to work on increasing the information value of the declaration of conformity and on creating real added value for companies and investors. The instrument will only become marketable, however, if the actors themselves request such information and start to work with it."

This also means that companies and the public sector should themselves make investments according to sustainability aspects in order to develop a sustainable economy.

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