Tanja Gönner

Director General Federation of German Industries (BDI)


Lawyer Tanja Gönner, born in Sigmaringen, Germany in 1969, was a member of the German Bundestag representing the CDU from 2002 to 2004. From 2004 to 2005 she was Minister of Social Affairs, from 2005 to 2010 Environment Minister and from 2010 to 2011 Minister for the Environment and Transport of the state of Baden-Württemberg.

From 2012 to 2022, Gönner was spokesperson of the GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation) management board. She has been Director General of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) since November 2022.

Tanja Gönner was appointed to the German Council for Sustainable Development in January 2023.

Three questions for Tanja Gönner

Let’s get to it: What does sustainability mean to you? What do you associate with the term?

Tanja Gönner: The way I see it, sustainability means constantly questioning and weighing up the different environmental, social and economic aspects of our actions – both personally and in a political context. Sustainable thinking is a never-ending, demanding process of negotiation on the principle that we only have one world to play with. As such, the limits for any trade-offs have long since been set: our natural resources. We also have to look beyond our own horizons to solve many of the core sustainability challenges together with other partners internationally. Sustainability opens many, often creative, doors, but is also a constant reminder of our duty to make an active effort to engage in its development.

What is your personal priority in your work as part of the Council for Sustainable Development?

I want to be involved in sharing our different viewpoints, as well as how to deal with these in a constructive way. Above all, I want to contribute the experience I have gained from a professional commitment to sustainability that has lasted twenty years – from launching the very first sustainable development strategy at Bundesland level to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals, the global sustainability conversation and real-world corporate experiences of implementing sustainability. In short, I bring the industry perspective for industry and am determined to lead the way as a forerunner in this field.

In the context of sustainability, what do you believe will pose the greatest challenge in the coming years?

We cannot abandon the pursuit of the global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 in the face of geopolitical tensions. Such a move would place a real dent in the credibility of industrialised nations. I also believe we will encounter another challenge in striking the right balance between our responsibilities to the environment, society and the economy on our journey to climate neutrality.

Curriculum vitae

Tanja Gönner detailed CV available to download (PDF, 76 KB)


“Sustainable thinking is a never-ending, demanding process of negotiation on the principle that we only have one world to play with.”

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Tanja Gönner, Photo: © BDI


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