VERTICAL INTEGRATION

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Last updated on:
Tuesday, 18 August 2020

As the GSDS is the strategy of the national government only, the GSDS is not binding for the federal states. Nevertheless, the cooperation between the national level and the federal states for GSDS implementation has been significantly increased. The federal states are involved in the definition process of concrete measures based on the GSDS. They participated in the consultation process to the Progress Reports or updated Strategies 2008, 2012, 2016, 2018 and 2021.

The Länder play a crucial role in the implementation of the German sustainability targets and the 2030 Agenda. In Germany’s federal structure, the powers to enact and enforce legislation on important areas of sustainable development lie with them. Land sustainable development strategies.

Eleven Länder (out of sixteen) have already drawn up or are currently working on their own sustainable development strategies. The short Länder profiles on the German Government’s website (www.nationale-nachhaltigkeitsstrategie.de) provide an overview of the Länder sustainability activities.

Federation-Länder Exchange on Sustainable Development: Meeting twice a year, the Federation-Länder Exchange on Sustainable Development was established as a format for regular exchange on current sustainability-related developments at both federal and Land level. Meetings are prepared and led by the Federal Chancellery together with the Land holding the chair of the Conference of Minister-Presidents.

The configuration of the sustainability processes, tools and content differs greatly among the Länder. The German Government would therefore welcome it if all Länder were to develop sustainable development strategies and align them more closely to the GSDS. At the same time, the Länder should be able to set their own priorities in the interests of federalism. The joint implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which spans all policy areas, and of the German Sustainable Development Strategy requires tools for the necessary policy coherence. In their resolution of 15 November 2018, the Head of the Federal Chancellery and the Heads of the State and Senate Chancelleries of the Länder stressed the need for ambitious joint activities to implement the Global Sustainable Development Goals, the targets of the German Sustainable Development Strategy and the strategies of the Länder.

Based on a report on the status of Federation-Länder cooperation, the Head of the Federal Chancellery and the Heads of the State and Senate Chancelleries of the Länder called for a set of joint indicators. The indicators of the German Sustainable Development Strategy set out in the report, for which data are also available in the Länder, are to serve as the basis for a provisional set of joint indicators of the Federal Government and Länder. These indicators are to be included as far as possible wherever this makes sense in the sustainable development strategies of the Länder in the light of their individual approaches and methods.

In addition, the Head of the Federal Chancellery and the Heads of the State and Senate Chancelleries asked the Federal-Länder Exchange on Sustainable Development and the Federal and Länder statistical offices to continue working on a set of joint indicators. This work is taking place in a working group of the statistical offices led by the Land Statistical Office of Baden-Württemberg and the Statistical Office for Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein (Statistikamt Nord), which regularly reports to the Federal-Länder Exchange on Sustainable Development.

On 6 June 2019, the chancellor Mrs. Merkel and the prime ministers of the federal states have adopted a joint declaration (Bund-Länder Declaration) to further intensify cooperation. Sustainable Development is being described as a joint responsibility and both levels want to orient their policies towards the principles of sustainable development which have been introduced in the GSDS update in 2018 and 2021. Furthermore, they envisage a collaborative project (“joint effort for Sustainable Development”) with the aim to raise the profile of already existing activities for sustainable development, strengthen them and to encourage further actions.

EU linkages

The Federal Government has repeatedly campaigned for a systematic sustainability policy approach at EU level. Therefore, the Federal Government welcomes the Council Conclusion “A Comprehensive concept to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - Better Reconstruction after the COVID-19 Crisis”, which the Council adopted on its 3805th session of June 22, 2021. In order to implement the 2030 Agenda at EU level, this Council Conclusion is an important guideline. It reaffirms that the EU and its Member States remain firmly committed to the UN Decade of Action to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, and acknowledges that further progress towards an integrated, strategic, ambitious and comprehensive EU approach to the implementation of the SDGs is needed.

Against this background, the Council Conclusion refers to the plan called “Delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – a comprehensive approach” which was presented by the Commission in November 2020. This document explains how the European Commission is taking forward its commitment to sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs through its internal and external action policies (e.g. the European Green Deal), while also monitoring progress at Member State and European Union levels.

The necessity to have such a Council Conclusion has also been formerly requested by the Council of the European Union, outlining timelines, objectives and concrete measures to reflect the 2030 Agenda in all relevant EU internal and external policies, considering the global impacts of the EU’s domestic actions.

The Federal Countries (Bundesländer) called for a comprehensive implementation framework, too. The Federal Council (legislative body that represents the Bundesländer) has adopted a resolution on EU policy for sustainable development already in 2017.

As EU action plays an important role in many of the relevant policy areas (agricultural and environmental policy, development cooperation and foreign trade), the European comprehensive concept is crucial to ensure that Europe makes an effective contribution to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The latter is also laid down as an objective in the Treaty on European Union (Art. 3 par. 3 second sentence). The Federal Government is of the view that activities at the EU level and activities in the Member States should be complementary and mutually reinforcing.

With the European Green Deal, the Commission has put forward a new European model for the future in which, by 2050, Europe is to become a climate-neutral, resource-conserving continent with a fair and prosperous society as well as a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.

The Federal Government took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1st July to 31 December 2020. In its Presidency Programme, Germany determined the 2030 Agenda to be one of the guiding principles of its presidency. The aforementioned presentation of the Commission’s plan in November 2020 meant that the implementation of the 2030 agenda was advanced during the German presidency. Moreover, the presidency was structured along sustainable lines and was used to advance dossiers that make a difference to sustainable development. In connection with the European Green Deal, these included the Climate Law, the Biodiversity and Forests Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, and in the food sector the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, as well as initiatives concerning the digital transformation and sustainability.