Die Bundesregierung hat für das Jahr 2018 einen international geleiteten Review Prozess der deutschen Nachhaltigkeitspolitik beauftragt. Speziell die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 durch die Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie soll von einer internationalen Expertengruppe bewertet werden.
Bereits zum dritten Mal lässt die deutsche Bundesregierung ihre Bemühungen im Bereich Nachhaltigkeitspolitik durch ein internationales Expertengremium bewerten – hier lassen sich die Gutachten aus den Jahren 2009 und 2013 herunterladen.
Die Bewertung für 2018 wird von insgesamt 11 internationale Experten aus den Bereichen Zivilgesellschaft, Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft und Politik erarbeitet. Geleitet wird der Prozess von der ehemaligen Leiterin des Entwicklungsprogramms der Vereinten Nationen, Helen Clark.
Zeitplan für die Erarbeitung des Expertenberichts:
- 27. & 28. September 2017: erste Sitzung in Frankfurt
- Bis 1. Dezember 2017: Umfrage zur Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie und zu den politischen Perspektiven für Nachhaltigkeitspolitik
- Ende Februar/Anfang März 2018: Peer-Woche in Berlin – Besuch der intern. Expertengruppe in Berlin und Gespräche mit verschiedene Akteuren
- Mai 2018: Übergabe des Gutachtens an Kanzlerin Merkel im Rahmen der Jahreskonferenz des Rats für Nachhaltige Entwicklung
Weitere Informationen zum geplanten Prozess finden Sie hier.
Als ein erster Schritt wurde unter Koordinierung des Rats für Nachhaltige Entwicklung eine Befragung von Akteuren der Nachhaltigkeitspolitik durchgeführt. Bis zum 1. Dezember 2017 hatten Akteure aus Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft, Zivilgesellschaft und Politik die Gelegenheit einen Fragebogen zur Auswertung der deutschen Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie auszufüllen. Die Ergebnisse der Stakeholderbefragung sind hier auf der Webseite des Rats für Nachhaltige Entwicklung einzusehen.
Hier eine Zusammenstellung unserer Antworten:
- The state of play of the German Sustainable Development Strategy 2016
- In your view, what are the general challenges and benefits for Germany concerning sustainable development? In that regard, have you identified significant gaps in the German Sustainable Development strategy 2016?
We welcome the central role and high political priority the German government has given the implementation of the Agenda 2030. The government has quickly moved forward with providing an ambitious process to implement the SDG on the national level. We also would like to highlight the broad inclusion of important stakeholders and all departments and ministries in developing the German Sustainable Development strategy, which identifies important steps towards a sustainable transformation in Germany.
However, as continuous and growing challenges such as inequality, climate change, poverty, migration, missing gender equality prevent the transformation of our societies towards sustainable development, the German Sustainable Development strategy 2016 only provides us with a general direction.
The biggest challenge in archiving sustainable development in Germany, has been neglected so far: The German Government still defends their one-sided economic paradigm based on unlimited growth (the call for a growth-based economy is even part of our constitution), and fossil-fuel based energy provision (electricity generated from coal still makes up 40% of German electricity mix). As our economic model and way of life are the root-cause for a multitude of social, economic and ecological issues in Germany itself as well as in countries and communities around the globe, a strategy aiming for real sustainability must tackle the issues arising from this.
Biodiversity loss is at an alarming rate. The enormous German export surplus implies substantial trade deficits in other countries since the world’s trade balance can only be zero. Population in cities is suffering from poisonous air pollution due to NOx emissions from Diesel automobiles produced by German companies under crooked circumstances. Our economic model and hunger for resources are destroying the livelihood of people around the globe and drive armed conflicts and forced migration. Many more examples can be found and have been highlighted by NGOs.
Unfortunately, this long overdue discussion about the transformation of our economic system is missing from the German Sustainable Development strategy 2016. The German government is blocking political debates and transformative policies in crucial policy fields such as agriculture, transportation, resource consumption, energy, trade and the financial market design. On the contrary, economic growth remains an indicator in the German Sustainable Development strategy and is one of the few rated as successfully implemented. The German Sustainable Development strategy is thus missing the political will and concrete measures for a necessary transformation towards archiving the 2030 agenda.
- Have you identified strategic incoherencies within the German Sustainable Development policies? Would you have proposals to increase coherence and meaningful output?
It is difficult to understand why the German government chose not to include the international SDG targets in the Sustainable Development strategy, but decided to develop their own indicator system. This procedure does not properly reflect the universal character of the SDG, and makes the German Sustainable Development strategy impossible to compare to other SDG implementation strategies or the UN process. Even if all targets included in the German Sustainable Strategy 2016 were to be implemented by 2030, this would not be sufficient to reach the Agenda 2030. NGOs have therefore called for a real SDG implementation strategy which does justice to the task of implementing the Agenda 2030 in Germany.
One concrete proposal to increase coherence would be to ask all ministries to reorganize their own reports on policy coherency according to the seventeen SDGs. Those reports could help identifying areas of conflict between different goals. The federal government should report annually on the coherency of the sustainable development strategy. These summary reports should be published and discussed publicly including voices from civil society.
Another proposal that has been unanswered so far is a comprehensive and early on „sustainability-check“ far exceeding the currently implemented impact assessment of all new policy proposals (laws, strategies, actions plans etc.). This check would have to include the effects both on the national as well as the international level.
- Do you think the measurement and reporting mechanisms are adequate to implement the 2030 Agenda by Germany?
Germany has published several sustainable development strategies in the past, thus most indicators in the German Sustainable Development strategy were developed before the adoption of the Agenda 2030. In the 2016 strategy the preexisting indicators were reorganized, now monitoring specific SDGs. While consistency of existing measurements is important, this has unsurprisingly led to the fact, that there are many indicators missing in the German Sustainable Development strategy 2016. The German government did not include the internationally agreed SDG indicators into the strategy of 2016, even though Germany itself is a member of the IAEG. In a separate report on the international indicators, Germany only reports on about half of them, as there is a lack of capacity and political will to monitor all indicators. It is unclear how both processes are linked and impact the political agenda of the government.
Furthermore, the international dimension and impact of German policy decisions in other countries is widely missing from the assessment. Only 10 out of 63 indicators are focused on international processes – issues such as hunger, (mal-)nutrition and health completely lack an international indicator so far.
From our point of view, the German Sustainable Development Strategy 2016 is primarily building on ongoing processes in Germany. While on the one hand this contributed to the quick development of the new strategy, it does not reflect the innovative and transformative idea behind the Agenda 2030. The measurement and reporting mechanism overwhelmingly focuses on specific and isolated issues; many critical areas are not even mention in the strategy (e.g. impact of our consumption and life style, privatisation of public goods, weapon exports into crisis regions, neglect of social and environmental standards by German companies, transparency of financial markets). Additionally, there is a strong bias towards economical assessment, neglecting social and ecological challenges Germany is facing.
- Which off-track goals and targets (meaning those targets marked with “thunderstorm” or “overcast”) in the German Sustainable Development Strategy do you think are the most important? According to you, why are they off track?
We would like to highlight the universal character of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. They need to be the guiding principle in all political decisions and strategies. We see the risk of cherry picking specific targets by the government – meaning that more ‘difficult’ SDGs will be neglected or not addressed at all. The current selection of indicators in the German Sustainable Development Strategy 2016 is unbalanced between the different goals and does not include many pressing issue facing Germany.
An alarmingly high amount of targets is marked with “thunderstorm” or “overcast” symbols in the 2016 strategy, reflecting the systematic failure to implement sustainable policies in certain fields. Moreover, they have been marked with these symbols for many years, thus showing that the sustainability strategies in the past had little influence on the policies areas it was supposed to monitor, and there was no consequence for not complying with the strategy.
One prominent example is the farming sector in Germany. The negative consequences of our current intensive farming (and livestock) systems are reflected in several indicators ranging from issues as malnutrition and hunger, health and quality of oceans. Excessive input of nitrogen is the main cause for air quality problems, water contamination and eutrophication of coastal areas. Germany must tackle these problems with new policies in order to become sustainable; however, there are no political majorities for the necessary steps, despite strong indications that majorities in the electorate would support such policies.
The same is true in other policy areas in urgent need of a sustainable transformation, e.g. German energy production and the transportation system to name just two. Even though there are several indicators and dimensions of measurement still missing from the strategy it is important to highlight there is not one goal (with the exception of SDG1) that does not at least include one indicator that is marked off-track (with “thunderstorm” or “overcast”). As for the farming example, a worrisome development with the new German sustainable development strategy is a regression in the indicator timelines: While the indicator on organic farming percentage used to be 20% by 2020, since 2016 it is marked as 20% “in the coming years”.
Overall the strategy is missing a mechanism how to react to negative developments and/or no progress in certain sectors. The overwhelming number of off-track targets and goals is calling for the inclusion of a strong feedback-mechanism that will initiate concrete actions (e.g. allocate more finances or call for immediate action by the chancellery).
- The governance approach and structure
- Are you satisfied with the institutions and the enabling environment both the government and the non-state actors have created so far?
The German government appointed several important governmental and non-state actors and institutions to support the implementation of the Agenda 2030. This process is led by the German chancellery underlining the high relevance of the implementation process. The three main bodies supporting the implementation are the committee of ministers of state from all ministries, the parliamentary advisory council on sustainable development, and the council for sustainable development. We would like to positively highlight the establishment of these institutions. Most recently the chancellery also appointed coordinators for sustainable development in all ministries in Germany to make sure the principles of the Agenda 2030 are promoted in all levels and areas of the executive trying to ensure coherence of the implementation process. Whether this will be successful remains to be seen.
On the legislative side the restructuring towards sustainable development can be seen as rather weak. Even though a sustainability check of all new legislation is an essential part of the impact assessment process, the checking procedure is quite generic and has not lead to fundamental change of new legislation. The parliamentary advisory council on sustainable development is supposed to play a watchdog role in the process, but the influence and power of this body is limited. This is partly due to the fact that all decision of the advisory council needs to be made by consensus. We want to support a content-based assessment of all new legislation and their contributions towards achieving the SDGs. The competences and powers of the parliamentary advisory council need to be strengthened to enable its role as sustainability checkpoint.
- New opportunities and challenges
- Is the “fear of the future and transformation” a notion in society strong enough that you feel your organization and the Government will have to deal with it more carefully?
Studies show that the idea of sustainability is anchored in the head of German society. Environmental protection and social standards are not viewed as isolated issues but as part of the bigger solution for pressing challenges. At the same time, society is growing more and more skeptical on whether we can solve the global problems we are facing today. There is a growing anger and frustration in society against politicians and political institutions. The recent outcome of the federal elections and subsequent problems to build a functioning government are just small indicators of these worrying tendencies.
A growing divide is noticeable within our society. Unsustainable development, growing inequalities, the degradation of the environment and the erosion of social systems can be identified as main causes of this development. The main principles of the 2030 Agenda and its call to leave no one behind can provide guiding principles on finding solutions to these pressing issues. Therefore, we strongly support the efforts to further integrate the principles and goals of the 2030 Agenda in all policy processes and decisions.
- Do you have any other general message that you want to share with the Peers?
Any strategy for sustainable development must start with an honest analysis of the status quo. So far no German government has acknowledged that the status quo in Germany is fundamentally unsustainable in key areas such as agriculture, transport, energy, and growing inequality. As long as governments try to portray the status quo too rosy, it is no surprise that the resulting policy implications are insufficient. We believe that in many areas the population is more prepared to make Germany more sustainable than the politicians. Germans want less industrial agriculture, do not want German agricultural exports to destroy the livelihoods of African farmers, do not want the air in cities polluted by car exhausts, want better public transport and want less automobiles clogging the roads in inner cities, want more social justice and higher wages in the growing low-wage sector (about a third of the workforce) – to name just a few examples. The government’s approach – trying to “educate the public towards more sustainability” – is the wrong approach. Politicians are among the people with the highest need for education for sustainability.