Climate Governance Initiative Germany

The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), together with ESMT Berlin and Board Academy e.V., has joined the World Economic Forum’s Climate Governance Initiative and coordinates its Chapter Germany. The network aims to mobilize non-executive directors and supervisory board members (“Aufsichtsräte”) to align business models with ambitious climate policy and a set of joint Climate Governance Principles.

Important role of supervisory boards in promoting climate action and sustainability

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Climate Governance Initiative highlights the important role of supervisory boards in the long-term stewardship and overall direction of companies.

With its Climate Governance Principles for supervisory boards, it seeks to enable board members to gain climate and environmental awareness and skills, embed climate and environment considerations into board decision-making, and understand and act upon the risks and opportunities that the global crises pose to the long-term resilience and business success of their companies. In order to jointly advance this cause, the Climate Governance Initiative is organized in global local subgroups („local chapter“).

 The RNE aims to promote sustainability in businesses and the overall economic model – the transition to climate neutrality and the protection of biodiversity and the environment plays a crucial role in this endeavor. For this reason, the RNE, together with its domestic partner organizations, ESMT Berlin and the Board Academy e.V., has joined the Climate Governance Initiative in February 2021. The partners have established a Chapter Germany and will engage with supervisory board members and other stakeholders to intensify debates and accelerate climate and environment action.

Urgency to embed environmentally and climate-friendly management in business models

The urgent need to address the global crises – climate change, declining biodiversity and high levels of pollution – require governments and businesses to accelerate the transition to a new and fairer economic model (just transition).

The global crises are shaping a new reality and entailing multiple risks but also opportunities for companies. Companies that stand out as pioneers in establishing a circular economy or climate neutrality gain a competitive advantage. Investors, regulators and other stakeholders are now demanding that companies assume global responsibility by taking an integrated and strategic approach to climate, biodiversity and environmental policies. Investors, regulators, and other stakeholders are now challenging companies to take global responsibility by adopting an integrated, strategic approach to addressing the climate, biodiversity and general environmental crises. Many if not most boardrooms are grappling with how to frame the risks and opportunities and embed a viable and fairer transition strategy into their business models.

To fulfil their fiduciary duties in the long-term service of their organizations, supervisory boards need to be fully aware of the implications of the global environmental crises, have the skills, tools, processes and information to act, and commit to steward their companies through the challenges entailed to embed it within their companies’ strategic planning. Chapter Germany will contribute to this important initiative and look to cooperate with many like-minded organizations and businesses moving forward.

Our offerings

Networking opportunities in a worldwide network of supervisory boards

The global network of the Climate Governance Initiative consists of more than 20 local subgroups (local chapter), which are supported in their work by the Global Secretariat. The Global Secretariat promotes the international exchange of experience and shares valuable products and resources with all members. Visit the Climate Governance Initiative’s website for more information on the global initiative, local chapter, news, and events. Become a member of Chapter Germany and benefit from the knowledge of the global network.

Peer-to-peer learning

How do other supervisory boards steer their companies in the transformation towards more sustainability? Which leadership styles have proven successful? Members of the Chapter Germany discusses these and other questions in digital events, discussion rounds and round tables together with supervisory boards of German-based companies. You can find a selection of past and future events in the section below. Become part of this exclusive network and register here as a member.

Educate your Board-Session

The recent amendments to the German Corporate Governance Code emphasize that supervisory board members should possess skills and expertise regarding sustainability issues relevant to the company. The FUTURE Institute for Sustainable Transformation at ESMT Berlin, the #1 business school in Germany and one of the partners of CGI Germany, offers executive education for supervisory board members on sustainability. The innovative learning program grounded on research focuses on sustainability capacity development of supervisory board members. It can be delivered customized for each supervisory board. It enables supervisory board members to understand global sustainability challenges, sustainability frameworks and regulation as well as take an active role in overseeing ESG issues. For more information, please contact Joanna Radeke, Executive Director of the FUTURE Institute for Sustainable Transformation at ESMT Berlin at Please do not hesitate to reach out.

External Advisory Council

Chapter Germany is advised in its work by a high-ranking advisory body consisting of supervisory boards of companies domiciled in Germany.


Panel discussion on corporate strategies out of the crisis on December, 1st 2022 as part of the 15th German Sustainability Award in Düsseldorf

“Strategy is sustainability and sustainability is strategy,” commented the discussant Dr. Sopna Sury, Member of the Supervisory Board at Heidelberg Materials and Managing Director of Hydrogen RWE Generation SE, during the panel discussion “Climate Governance Initiative. Sustainability strategies for the realignment of companies”, hosted by the Climate Governance Initiative Germany as part of the 15th German Sustainability Award. After opening remarks by RNE-Chairman Dr. Werner Schnappauf, in addition the invited guests Prof. Dr. Alexander Bassen (RNE Member), Prof. Dr. Kerstin Lopatta (Supervisory Board Freenet & EQS Group, University Hamburg), and Dr. Dorothea Wenzel (Supervisory Board Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA, H. Lundbeck A/S, Dentsply Sirona) discussed corporate strategies in response to current crises and the importance of sustainability reporting in the transformation. The discussion was moderated by the CGI Germany partner Katharina von Frankenberg.

Photo: © DNP 2022, Christian Koester


Panel discussion on sustainability leadership at CGI´s Global Summit 2022 on October 12th, 2022

The Climate Governance Initiative Germany hosted a panel discussion on “Climate and People: Putting Passion into Board Practice” as part of the initiative’s global summit. The guests Robin Stalker (Supervisory Board Schaeffler, Commerzbank, Hugo Boss, former CFO of adidas), Prof. Dr. Katja Windt (Supervisory Board Deutsche Post and Fraport) and Michael Vassiliadis (Supervisory Board BASF, Henkel, Steag, Chairman IGBCE) discussed the importance and power of sustainability leadership. The event was moderated by CGI Germany partner Katharina von Frankenberg. The event was held in English.

Watch the recording of the event here:

(Bitte beachten Sie: Durch Klicken des Vorschaubildes im Video-Player wird ein externes Video der Plattform YouTube eingebunden und abgespielt. Erst dann wird Ihre IP-Adresse und eine evtl. aktive Benutzer*innen-Kennung an YouTube/Google übertragen.)


Sustainable Business Roundtable “The Board’s Role in Sustainability” on May 18th, 2022

The Sustainable Business Roundtable (SBRT) members and invited guests met on May 18th, 2022 at ESMT Berlin to discuss the role of boards in sustainability. The event was organized by ESMT, one of the founding partners of the Climate Governance Initiative Germany (CGI Germany), with the CGI Germany. The participants discussed topics, such as recent study results on sustainability leadership, board structure for sustainability oversight and reporting and disclosure of sustainability among others. You can find further impressions here. The SBRT is a peer-to-peer learning network founded by ESMT in 2011.

Photo: ESMT Berlin


Webinar of the Climate Governance Initaitive in collaboration with the World Economic Forum on November 23rd 2021


Virtual Summit, 23 March 2021: Climate Governance Initiative Germany: The Dual Board System and Sustainable Corporate Governance

The Climate Governance Initiative Germany has hosted its inaugural session at the Climate Governance Initiative’s global summit on „The Dual Board System and Sustainable Corporate Governance”. The panel with Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, Joe Kaeser and Reiner Hoffmann among the guests discussed how supervisory boards can boost sustainable development and climate neutrality. This is the recording of our event:

(Bitte beachten Sie: Durch Klicken des Vorschaubildes im Video-Player wird ein externes Video der Plattform YouTube eingebunden und abgespielt. Erst dann wird Ihre IP-Adresse und eine evtl. aktive Benutzer*innen-Kennung an YouTube/Google übertragen.)


Would you like to be informed about news from the Climate Governance Initiative Germany? Then please register for our mailing list by using the CGI contact form.


Cathleen Seeger
German Council for Sustainable Development
Office c/o GIZ GmbH
Potsdamer Platz 10, 10785 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0) 30 338424-401

Joanna Radeke
Executive Director of the ESMT Institute for Sustainable Transformation
ESMT Berlin
Schlossplatz 1, 10178 Berlin
Phone +49 175 356 6320

Katharina von Frankenberg
Board Academy e.V.
c/o Egon Zehnder International
Beisheim Center, Berliner Freiheit 2, 10785 Berlin
Phone: +49 40 32 32 40 33