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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


“Sustainable City” dialogue - Mayors for sustainable development in municipalities

Since early 2010, on the invitation of the German Council for Sustainable Development, the Lord Mayors of twenty German cities have been meeting regularly for a dialogue on strategic issues concerning the “Sustainable City”. The Lord Mayors are making a special effort toward sustainable development in their cities and pursuing their goal in a unique way. They exchange information about their strategies as political decision makers, pursuing the question of how municipal sustainability policy can enhance its profile and influence at the federal level as well. The results of their work so far have been documented in the second, revised edition of “Strategic cornerstones for sustainable development in municipalities” (PDF, 2310 KB), first published in October 2010, as well as in the June 2011 publication “Städte für eine zukunftsfähige Entwicklung” (Cities for sustainable development) (PDF, 2755 KB), which was drafted in conjunction with the German Institute for Urban Studies (DIFU). Their publication, “Making the Energiewende a success story thanks to strong local authorities” (PDF, 3097 KB), was released in June 2013. The Council for Sustainable Development enables and facilitates the process.

Drafted by the following Lord Mayors as part of the "Sustainable City" dialogue:

Andreas Bausewein, Erfurt
Andreas Brand, Friedrichshafen
Uli Burchardt, Constance
Peter Feldmann, Frankfurt am Main
Peter Gaffert, Wernigerode
Thomas Geisel, Düsseldorf
Dr. Kurt Gribl, Augsburg
Wolfgang Griesert, Osnabrück
Burkhard Jung, Leipzig
Thomas Kufen, Essen
Markus Lewe, Münster
Jörg Lutz, Lörrach
Dr. Peter Lüttmann, Rheine
Ulrich Mädge, Lüneburg
Dr. Ulrich Maly, Nuremberg
Angelika Matt-Heidecker, Kirchheim unter Teck
Dr. Frank Mentrup, Karlsruhe
Boris Palmer, Tübingen
Jochen Partsch, Darmstadt
Dr. Daniel Rapp, Ravensburg
Dieter Reiter, Munich
Henriette Reker, Köln
Dr. Dieter Salomon, Freiburg
Stefan Schostok, Hannover
Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, former Lord Mayor of the city of Stuttgart and member of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)
Ullrich Sierau, Dortmund
Werner Spec, Ludwigsburg
Ashok Sridharan, Bonn
Bernd Tischler, Bottrop
Dr. Manfred Wilde, Delitzsch
Dr. Eckart Würzner, Heidelberg

Energiewende at the municipal level

“Making the Energiewende a success story thanks to strong local authorities” (PDF, 3097 KB) was published in June 2013. In this publication, the Lord Mayors respond to the German Federal Government and Bundesrat (Federal Council, the assembly of German federal states) resolutions of June 2011 and document how their municipalities meet the challenge of the “Energiewende” (energy turnaround) and where they see urgent need for the legislator to take action. Since there is not one but a diversity of proper paths open to municipal energy policy, the participants of the dialogue stress the value of mutual learning and the necessity of the Federal Government to step up its support for the transformation of local energy systems.

The Lord Mayors see the need for urgent action in the following areas:

  • The municipalities wish to meet the challenges of the Energiewende by coming to terms with a vital and strong communal provision of renewable energy, which has proven successful in reliably supplying light, heating and electricity to the people.
  • Local self-administration is the best means of supporting innovative and practical as well as regional and decentralised solutions for the Energiewende. However, the Federal Government and the Federal States (Länder) must consistently ensure that all political decisions in matters concerning the economic and political framework conditions serve to strengthen the municipalities.
  • We understand the Energiewende as a community effortââ?¬â?in our municipalities and in Germany. We therefore advocate enhanced vertical networking efforts between the EU, the Federal Government, the States, and the local and regional levels.
  • Renewable energy policies must not only be concerned with electricity production and consumption but must also address the full-scale integration of energy saving and efficient energy useââ?¬â?as well as the still-pending Energiewende in mobility and heating supply. We have numerous examples of such a broad approach in our municipalities. The Federal Government and the States are called on to adopt such a strategy as well and to make it a general guideline in their policies.
  • From a future energy market design, we expect a balanced relationship between capacities of production and grid expansion and modification, system stability, security of supply, increased cost efficiency and compliance with the goals of climate protection.
  • Well-defined and reliable objectives are the prerequisite for investment in the Energiewende. This concerns the development of renewable energy as well as investments in grids and storage capacity. The Federal Government should ensure that especially the highly flexible natural gas and steam power plantsââ?¬â?which compensate the fluctuating supply of renewable energyââ?¬â?are economically viable.
  • The large-scale participation of the citizenry and business is an essential prerequisite for the success of the Energiewende, to which the municipalities can make a significant contribution. The Federal Government must increase the involvement of municipalities in demand planning and transmission grid development. New ways of involvement should enable people everywhere to systematically participate in financing grid development.

Cities for a sustainable Germany

On the initiative of the Lord Mayors, the German Institute for Urban Studies prepared the document “Städte für ein nachhaltiges Deutschlandââ?¬â?gemeinsam mit Bund und Ländern für eine zukunftsfähige Entwicklung” (Cities for sustainable Germanyââ?¬â?jointly with the Federal Government and the Länder for sustainable development) (PDF, 2755 KB), which was published in June 2011. Drawing on the “Strategic Cornerstones”, the publication presents successful projects of the participating cities. These examples are intended to encourage emulation and continued commitment. However, in the publication the Lord Mayors also make very clear that a more rigorous sustainability policy requires better framework conditions. They appeal to the Federal Government and the States demanding a more intensive dialogue based on partnership on a level playing field.

Strategic Cornerstones

The first results of their work were the “Strategic cornerstones for sustainable development in municipalities” (PDF, 3149 KB). The municipal leaders, supported by the Council for Sustainable Development, agreed on the commitments and recommendations published in October 2010 as the basis for presenting their demands to policy makers at all levels.

Our four cornerstones

  1. Sustainability must be conceived by people: concrete, spirited, hands-on, with a perspective and together with the people.

    For this reason, we set store by dialogue, participation and the assumption of responsibility and give sustainability a face through concrete local projects and local sustainable economic management. Although our cities are different, the experiences we have accumulated in terms of commitment and involvement have been positive. In the context of climate protection, for example, long-term visions and concepts have emerged from a wealth of ideas and creative proposals.
  2. Sustainability entails not consuming more resources – including financial ones – than are available.

    For this reason, we champion a balanced budget and the reduction of debt for the benefit of generations to come. To establish cost transparency, we review the lifetime costs of all major investment projects. We seek to apply sustainability audits in the future to safeguard the budgetary handling of financial and natural resources.

    In parallel, we call for the municipalities to be given structural relief. New tasks should only be assigned to municipalities once a funding solution has been mutually agreed with the municipalities.
  3. Sustainable development requires the integrated interaction of all departments.

    For this reason, we have to ensure that sustainability becomes a matter for all senior decision-makers and integrate this cross-cutting task into policies and administration. We align enterprises run by the municipality and our public procurement system to the notion of sustainability wherever this is possible. We call upon the EU, the Federal Government and the Laender to improve the framework conditions for sustainable procurement and sustainable economic management.
  4. The Federal Government, the Laender and the municipalities must toe the same rope if they truly wish to make real on sustainability strategies.

    For this reason, we want greater coordination between the municipalities, the Laender, the Federal Government and the European Union. We are willing to gear our sustainability strategies and their indicators to the sustainable development strategies of the Federal Government and the Laender. In turn, however, we expect the Federal Government and the Laender to include the municipalities more closely in the furthering of their strategies and the Federal Government and Laender to align their policies to the model of sustainability more closely than before.

These brochures can also be obtained free of charge by using our online form.

Press photos of the “Sustainable City” dialogue on 13 May 2011

Press photos of the “Sustainable City” dialogue on 13 May 2011

Treffen von Vertretern der Initiative „Dialog nachhaltige Stadt“ und des Rates für Nachhaltige Entwicklung mit dem Bundesminister für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung, Peter Ramsauer am 13.05.2011 in Berlin.
Photos: Hans-Peter König, © BMVBS

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