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Sustainability requires that decisions be made - not in the distant future, but now.

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 is a key success factor to establish environment, social, and governance (ESG) issues 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

To create quality of life and reduce the consumption of resources it involves requires that we take further steps in incorporating sustainability in everyday action as employees, consumers, and citizens.

Kathrin Menges, Member of the Council

Kathrin Menges

The Energiewende has reduced the costs of green energy severely. It thus is competitive internationally and contributes to achieve global sustainability goals without additional CO2 emissions.

Alexander Müller, Member of the Council

Alexander Müller

Die Idee der Nachhaltigkeit ist zentral für eine zukunftsfähige, innovative Wirtschaft und unabdingbar für eine Gesellschaft, die Lebensqualität langfristig sichern will. Deshalb gilt es, die drei Säulen der Nachhaltigkeit – Ökonomie, Ökologie und Soziales – zusammen zu denken.

Katherina Reiche, Member of the Council

Katherina Reiche

Sustainable consumption behaviour will continue to be embraced merely by a dedicated minority for as long as the wrong incentives are provided and structures fail to support it.

Prof. Dr. Lucia A. Reisch, Member of the Council

Prof. Dr. Lucia A. Reisch

Nachhaltige Entwicklung erfordert größtmögliche Gemeinsamkeiten ebenso wie die Akzeptanz von Unterschieden.

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 der Forstwirtschaft haben wir vor Jahrhunderten gelernt, wie wichtig der nachhaltige Umgang mit natürlichen Ressourcen ist. Erfahrungswissen, Aufgeschlossenheit für Neues und Demut vor der Natur können auch anderen Branchen helfen.

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

Die Nachhaltigen Entwicklungsziele (SDGs) der Vereinten Nationen verpflichten alle Länder zu neuem Denken und Handeln. Grenzen und Möglichkeiten der Globalisierung bemessen sich an ihnen.

Achim Steiner, Member of the Council

Achim Steiner

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

Die Nachhaltigkeitsentwicklungsziele der UN stellen die Vision einer grundlegenden sozial-ökologischen Transformation dar. Sie sind keine entwicklungspolitische oder umweltpolitische Fachaufgabe, sondern binden alle Kabinettsmitglieder.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Member of the Council

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
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Content

In a nutshell: the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)

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Fact Sheet - In a nutshell: the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)

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The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) is an advisory body mandated by the German Federal Government. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has appointed 15 public figures for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 November 2016. The Council was first convened in April 2001 by then Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
 

Tasks

The German Government has entrusted the RNE with the following tasks:

  • developing contributions to the national sustainable development strategy
  • suggesting concrete areas for action and projects
  • promoting public discussion on sustainability.

The RNE advises the German Government and may also initiate projects and dialogues of its own.
 

Chair

The RNE has been chaired by Marlehn Thieme since 29 February 2012. Marlehn Thieme is a member of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), head of the ZDF Television Council and chair of the Supervisory Board of KD Bank, a church and social welfare bank. Olaf Tschimpke, president of NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), is the RNE deputy chair. The RNE was previously chaired by Dr. Volker Hauff, Prof. Klaus Töpfer and Hans-Peter Repnik. The council members elect the chair from among their ranks at the beginning of each term at the inaugural meeting.
 

Co-option of further experts

The members of the RNE co-opt further experts at their own discretion to work on particular projects as council members. The following experts have been co-opted to date: Jochen Zeitz in his former capacity as CEO of Puma; futurologist and education researcher Prof. Gerhard de Haan and social psychologist Prof. Harald Welzer from the futurzwei foundation and the transformation programme of the University of Flensburg.
 

Mission statement

Sustainable development entails putting environmental aspects on an equal footing with social and economic aspects. One of the RNE's missions is to promote this approach. Future-oriented business practices means that we must leave behind a globally intact environmental, social and economic system for future generations. One cannot be achieved without the others.

The RNE sees sustainable development as one of the key areas of action. It encourages citizens to lead a sustainable lifestyle and promotes broad public debate on sustainability. It urges businesses and institutions to make their economic activities sustainable, to face the challenges posed by sustainability and to harness the opportunities it offers. The RNE seeks to broaden the discussion on sustainability within society and to make the outcomes of this discussion more effective and more binding. It believes that culture and art, knowledge and values should play an appropriate and hence much greater role in the sustainability debate.
 

Current topics and projects

Key topics addressed by the RNE include: the energy transition, climate change mitigation, economic activity, recycling and raw materials, education, local politics and sustainable towns and cities, consumption, soil and land use. Important work relates to revising the German Sustainability Strategy and the link between global and national goals on sustainable development.

In the context of Agenda 2030 and its global sustainability goals, the RNE has recommended a new sustainability architecture and greater links between global and national responsibility. It has detailed this in a statement made to the German Government dated May 2015 entitled 'Germany’s Sustainability Architecture and the SDGs' and a statement of June 2016 entitled 'For bolder, not just moderate changes!
The government’s draft on sustainable development falls short of the requirements', among others.

The RNE adopts a process-based approach. The way in which dialogues and networks, the basis for scientific decision-making, critical interventions and suggestions are advanced is playing an increasingly important role. The network idea also covers international cooperation with similar institutions, insofar as capacity allows.

In cooperation with representatives from companies, civil society and the capital market, the RNE developed the German Sustainability Code, a framework of reference for future-oriented business practices. Since October 2011, the RNE has been recommending that it be used voluntarily by companies and organisations. The code was revised in 2015. In collaboration with the Bertelsmann Foundation, the RNE has drawn up guidelines for small and medium-sized enterprises. Industry-specific agreements on the code have been reached with the housing industry and with the Sparkassen- und Giroverband (German Savings Banks Association). In one of its statements, the RNE recommends the German Sustainability Code as an important principle and minimum standard for the binding introduction of reporting obligations. The German Sustainability Code website lists current declarations of compliance and provides further information.

The Sustainable Shopping Basket is updated every year and provides reliable guidance for interested citizens on the sometimes confusing array of product labels along with general tips and information about sustainable consumption. The most recent policy recommendations by the RNE address the revision of the German Sustainability Strategy, the global sustainability goals, eco-farming and the energy transition; they call for binding rules on energy efficiency, stabilisation of the financial markets, farming geared towards the principle of sustainability, active soil conservation and a new beginning in the recycling sector.

As a platform, the RNE supports the mayors of German municipalities who are making sustainability a top priority in the dialogue on sustainable urban development. This work has resulted in brochures, studies and a dialogue with Germany's 100 youngest local politicians. At the request of the German Government, the RNE organised a critical analysis of Germany's sustainability policy by international experts (peer review). The peer review was conducted in 2013 for the second time. The results of the review form the topic of extensive consultations by parliament and government.

Every year, as part of the sustainability project, the RNE recognises particularly promising ideas and initiatives from the heart of society. It is one of the partners responsible for awarding the German Sustainability Award to companies and local authorities.
 

Political dialogue

The RNE plays a key role in revising the German Sustainability Strategy through critical dialogue with the German Government and with stakeholders from politics, business and society. It submits policy recommendations and statements to the chair of the State Secretaries' Committee for Sustainable Development, Federal Minister and Head of the German Chancellery Peter Altmaier. In addition, the RNE cooperates closely with political leaders in the federal ministries, parliament and the sustainability initiatives of the private sector and civil society.
 

Public politics

The RNE has established the political sustainability summit. It invites the Federal Chancellor, senior politicians, business representatives and sustainability experts from civil society to its annual conference. The RNE is a member of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Councils (EEAC) and is also active in other networks.
 

Publications

The RNE publishes its statements, recommendations and studies. RNE publications can be ordered and downloaded online free of charge at www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de. The fortnightly RNE newsletter can also be subscribed to here. In addition, the RNE publishes press releases and provides information on its website.
 

Statements and publications since 2013 (selection)

  • For bolder, not just moderate changes! The government’s draft on sustainable development falls short of the requirements. Statement on the government’s draft of 31 May 2016 on the German Sustainability Strategy, June 2016
  • Länder in Entwicklung. Globale Nachhaltigkeitsziele ('Countries under development. Global sustainability goals'), 2015
  • Germany’s Sustainability Architecture and the SDGs, May 2015.
    Statement provided by the German Council for Sustainable Development to Federal Minister Peter Altmaier in accordance with Sect 1 (2)b RNE Rules of Procedure
  • The Sustainability Code – Benchmarking sustainable economy, revised edition 2015
  • Mehr Nachhaltigkeitspolitik! ('More sustainability policy!'), October 2014. Statement on the status of the indicators of the national sustainability strategy 2014
  • The Sustainable Shopping Basket (revised version: November 2016)
  • Für ein politisches Signal zur Stärkung der Rolle des ökologischen Landbaus in Europa ('For a political signal to strengthen the role of eco-farming in Europe). Statement by the German Council for Sustainable Development, 1 February 2013
     

Chair

Marlehn Thieme, Chair of the RNE, Chair of the ZDF Television Council, member of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)

Olaf Tschimpke, Deputy Chair of the RNE, President of Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, NABU)
 

Council members

Prof. Alexander Bassen (professor of business administration at the University of Hamburg)

Ulla Burchardt (former member of the German Bundestag)

Kathrin Menges (Executive Vice President Human Resources, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA)

Alexander Müller (former Assistant Director-General FAO, former State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Managing Director TMG, Think-Tank for Sustainability and Study Lead TEEBAgriFood)

Katherina Reiche (former Parliamentary State Secretary, former member of the German Bundestag, Managing Director of the German Association of Local Utilities – VKU)

Prof. Lucia A. Reisch (Copenhagen Business School, Chair of the Advisory Council on Consumer Affairs)

Dr. Werner Schnappauf (former Bavarian State Minister of the Environment, Health and Consumer Protection, former Managing Director of the Federation of German Industries – BDI)

Dr. Imme Scholz (Deputy Director of the German Development Institute – DIE)

Prof. Ulrich Schraml (Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg)

Prof. Wolfgang Schuster (former Mayor of Stuttgart, Chair of Deutsche Telekom Stiftung)

Achim Steiner (former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP, Director of the Oxford Martin School)

Prof. Hubert Weiger (Chair of Friends of the Earth Germany – BUND)

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (former Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, former member of the German Bundestag)
 

The Office headed by Secretary General Prof. Günther Bachmann also supports the Council.
 

Contact

German Council for Sustainable Development
Office c/o GIZ
Potsdamer Platz 10, D-10785 Berlin
+49(0)30 338424-121
+49(0)30 338424-125
info@nachhaltigkeitsrat.de
www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de
 

Last updated: November 2016

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