Last updated on:
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. Political leadership for the GSDS falls under the ”guidance competence” of the Chancellery, and its administrative implementation takes place through a link between the Chancellery and the respective ministries responsible for the specific issue at hand. A permanent inter-ministerial working-group for sustainable development (chaired also by the Chancellery) prepares for the meetings of the State Secretaries´ Committee.

The Committee meets about four times a year. Beginning in December 2008, the State Secretaries' Committee on Sustainable Development worked on the basis of a working program comprising important topics for sustainable development. Subjects of the meetings since spring 2012 included i.a. education for SD, CSR, the 2013 Peer Review on the national SDS, the Post-2015 Agenda, sustainable urban development, sustainable consumption and sustainable finance policy. To the Committees’ meetings, the Chair regularly invites respective experts, e.g. from science, NGOs and/or businesses.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development of the German Parliament regularly provides the State Secretaries´ Committee with its opinions and recommendations on the selected topic.

Since January 2009, departmental reports on the implementation of sustainable development are being presented to the States Secretaries´ Committee and published in the internet (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 management rules 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 new 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.