What is the Sustainability Check?
The Sustainability Check (Nohaltegkeetscheck) is a tool for supporting and self-assessing draft laws in relation to their impact on sustainable development in Luxembourg. It allows for better ownership of the general sustainable development policy and in particular Luxembourg’s National Plan for Sustainable Development (PNDD) by ministries and administrations.
Its introduction into the legislative procedure was carried out in the implementation of the 2018-2023 government program and constitutes an implementation of the PNDD adopted by the Government in December 2019.
Considering long-term challenges facing society, such as climate change and an ageing population, the Government of Luxembourg decided to integrate the Sustainability Check in the legislative procedure and add it to the existing annexes of draft laws with the aim of rethinking the way in which legislation is carried out and clarifying trade-offs in increasingly complex contexts.
By introducing it at an early stage in the drafting of legislation, it not only helps to advance the cross-cutting theme of sustainable development, but also ensures greater policy coherence and better quality of legislation.
How does the Sustainability Check work?
The Sustainability Check takes the form of a predefined, downloadable sheet that has been elaborated within the Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development (ICSD). This fact sheet covers the ten priority areas for action of the PNDD while focusing on the following questions:
- Does the draft law under heading have an impact on the PNDD’s fields of action (1-10)?
- If the answer is no, briefly explain why.
- If the answer is yes under 1., what will be the possible positive and/or negative effects of this impact?
- What categories of people will be affected by this impact?
- What measures are envisaged to mitigate the negative effects and how can the positive aspects of this impact be enhanced?
These reflexive questions invite the authors of a bill to reason in terms of the sustainability of the measures envisaged and to provide the necessary clarifications.
In order to facilitate this exercise, the Sustainability Check is accompanied by guidance points as well as documentation on the ten fields of action, thus allowing the author of the bill to familiarize themselves with the policy issues addressed.
In addition, and with a view to further enriching the analysis provided by the monitoring of sustainability, it is proposed to use, on an optional basis, an assessment of the impact of measures based on indicators selected in the PNDD. These indicators were defined by the ICSD and adopted by the Government Council in December 2019. The indicators are monitored by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (STATEC).
The responsibility for implementing the Sustainability Check lies within the competent ministry, since the skills and knowledge required regarding the potential effects of the bill are concentrated there.
In March 2022, the Government Council approved the phased introduction of sustainability monitoring. The Check was presented to the Parliament and the State Council (second Chamber), and since the end of June 2023, the Sustainability Check is mandatory for the transmission of a draft law to the Government Council. It will be transmitted with all relevant documents to the Parliament and the State Council. At this stage it is a public document.
In order to follow up on another decision of the Government Council, a training was developed in close cooperation with the competent administration (Institut national d’administration public) and in consultation with the ICSD. This training focuses on the international and national sustainable development framework and more specifically on the Sustainability Check and how to complete it. The face-to-face training (3-4 hours) focuses on practical exercises on how to complete the Sustainability Check form. The part of the training concentrating on the international and national sustainable development framework will be part of the general training that all civil servants need to accomplish.
Furthermore, a website (www.nohalteg.lu) was created where all relevant documents and information can be consulted.
What results have already been seen?
In its decision, the Government also determines that an evaluation should be conducted of the application and the implementation of the Sustainability Check. This will be done by the end of 2024.
First results can be noted in that, since its official introduction, all draft laws have indeed been accompanied by a filled Check form. However, at least as importantly, the training sessions have been evaluated positively with participants emphasizing that they had acquired a better knowledge of what sustainable development is, what it means in the context of their field(s) of work, and the impact that policies implemented by their ministry or administration may have on other policies.
 The Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development was created by the law of June 25th, 2004, on the coordination of national policy for sustainable development. All ministries are represented in this commission.