The German Council for Sustainable Development identifies "persisting need for greater action" when it comes to the delivery of the second Voluntary National Review (VNR) of the German Government to the United Nations

Berlin, 15 July 2021 – Today, the German Government presents its second Voluntary National Review (VNR) on Germany’s sustainable development policy at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations. The report takes stock of Germany’s sustainable development policy, based on its own national indicators for sustainable development. It identifies priorities for action to ensure that Germany achieves the goals it has set itself and thus makes an ambitious contribution to achieving the Global Goals.

The Chairman of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), Dr Werner Schnappauf, welcomes the fact that the Federal Government focuses on six major transformation challenges in its VNR report. “We consider it necessary to re-arrange Germany’s entire sustainable development policy-making along these six transformation areas to set clear political priorities. It requires joint and inter-ministerial coordination efforts by all ministries. This is where I see large potential for the incoming federal government in the years to come.”

Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz, Deputy Chair of the Council, adds: “The pandemic is massively exacerbating global inequality. The HLPF has persuasively demonstrated that solidarity and cohesion of the global community will be the yardsticks of achieving the SDGs in the coming years. In order for the countries of the global South to be able to tackle their transformation challenges alongside the pandemic, we must strengthen international cooperation immediately and at an immense scale.”

Council member Prof. Dr. Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, former President of Brot für die Welt (“Bread for the World”), comments: “In the report, the German government self-critically acknowledges implementation deficits. We observe a neglect of the negative effects that Germany has on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Global South countries. The perspective of the German Sustainability Strategy must therefore be expanded immediately to include the international spillover effects of German consumption, German production and German trade policy.”

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, also a Council member and former Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, identifies room for adjustments at the United Nations themselves. “We consider the current HLPF to be too weak and hence developed a proposal for a strong UN Council for Sustainable Development. The Corona pandemic has set the global community back severely in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Overcoming the pandemic and making substantial progress in sustainable development can only succeed with structural reforms at UN and national levels and a strong mobilisation of new financial resources for transformation in the Global South.”

At the initiative of the RNE and in the run-up to the HLPF, the German Federal Government announced that it would launch a systematic follow-up process with all stakeholders after the VNR presentation in New York today. This process should evaluate the national and international reactions to the German Voluntary National Review as well as good practices from other countries. In the Council’s view such a systematic dialogue can close the publicly acknowledged gaps in action in the forthcoming legislative period.

Further information:

German VNR report

RNE recommendation “A sustainable recovery from the coronavirus crisis”

RNE Policy paper “Reform options for effective UN sustainable development governance”