Tuesday, 18 August 2020
Since 2000, the State Secretaries' Committee on Sustainable Development exists as a high-ranking steering, coordinating and monitoring body for sustainable development. It decides about the strategy and its further development (subject to later formal approval of the cabinet), and keeps a close eye on its implementation. The Committee is composed of state secretaries (representatives of the minister, top level of civil servants) from all ministries. It is chaired by the Head of the Federal Chancellery, who is the main leader in the national SD process.
In Germany, the responsibility for national SD policies does not lie with one of the ministries but with the Chancellery itself. This is considered a key success factor for SD in Germany. The Chancellery does not only have a coordination role, but is also steering the process and providing important inputs to the relevant ministries. It shows the special importance that the federal government attaches to SD policies and is based on the fact that sustainable development is a cross-cutting subject. A permanent inter-ministerial working-group for sustainable development (chaired also by the Chancellery) prepares for the meetings of the State Secretaries´ Committee.
The State Secretaries’ Committee on Sustainable Development meets about four times a year. The Committee works on the basis of a working program comprising the most relevant topics for sustainable development.
Depending on the topic, external experts may also be invited to attend. The chairs of the Sustainable Development Council and the Parliamentary Advisory Council are also present.
The working group on Sustainable Development, which is led by the Federal Chancellery, is also responsible for supporting the implementation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy, and for its continuing evolution.
Additionally, in each legislative period each ministry reports on progress on putting the Strategy into effect. (available only in German).
A major reform in order to strengthen the implementation of the strategy in daily policy was the introduction of SD as a criterion for the impact assessment for new laws or regulations. In May 2009, SD was included permanently in the standing orders of the federal government (”Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien”, GGO). A guideline published by the Department for Internal Affairs in June 2009 advises to use the indicators and the then-management rules (now: principles) of the strategy for this SD impact assessment. In March 2018, an online tool was introduced to support a more systematic assessment of possible effects on sustainable development. The Parliamentary Advisory Council on SD of the German Parliament evaluates and comments the procedural quality of the impact assessment as it is documented in the drafts of new laws or regulations delivered to the German Parliament.
As part of the 2018 GSDS, it was decided to further strengthen policy coherence: Coordinators for Sustainable Development have been appointed in each ministry, in most cases at Director-General level. They are central contact persons for all issues relating to Sustainable Development and will be involved in the preparation of the Sustainable Development Impact assessments.