A compass for the future New version of the Sustainable Development Strategy

A future in which the natural environment and the climate are protected – in which fewer people are in need and in which society pulls together – Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy pursues these and other goals. Its focus goes beyond the national borders, and speed is called for because the international community has set itself a deadline.

From combating hunger and poverty to ensuring supplies of clean and affordable energy, to climate action and establishing future-proof cities fit to live in: the 193 UN member states agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that, taken together, are to put important areas of human coexistence on the right track by 2030. 

Since 2016, Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy too has been aligned with these 17 SDGs. On 10 March 2021, the Cabinet decided to update the strategy.

By taking on board the 17 SDGs, Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy became a bit more international. The German government looks not only at Germany, but at the world as a whole with respect to realising these goals by 2030. Germany can use development cooperation funding and activities to exert an international influence on efforts to realise the SDGs.

Greater speed in implementation called for

Last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that at the current speed it would be impossible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “The nations of the world must redouble their efforts,” she declared. Otherwise, the goals, including ending poverty and hunger, which are still widespread in many countries, cannot be attained by 2030, she said.

In Germany, for instance, the government would like to push ahead with the energy transition and thus help halt climate change. Gender equality (SDG 5) is also part of sustainable development. This involves equal pay for women and men, for instance, and ensuring an appropriate percentage of women at executive level in companies.

Challenging transformation needed

“To achieve the objectives of Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy and the 2030 Agenda, we need a genuinely challenging transformation, embracing vital fields such as energy, climate action, the cyclical economy, housing, traffic, food and nutrition and agriculture,” stresses Chancellor Angela Merkel in a foreword to the new strategy.

Sustainability means protecting the climate and human health

In the field of energy and climate action, the updated strategy provides for the swifter implementation of SDG 13 (climate action). In 2019 the German government adopted a Climate Action Act to this end, which sets out emissions that are reduced every year up to 2030.

In the field of SDG 3 (good health and well-being) the German government is working to improve global health – including fighting zoonoses. Zoonoses are infectious diseases that are found in both animals and in humans. They can pass from animals to humans and from humans to animals. COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease.

Pandemic causes setbacks

The Sustainable Development Strategy has been updated against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of substance and in terms of timing. The pandemic has made it clear how strong the impacts of threats to SDG 3 (good health and well-being) can be on all other Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result of the pandemic, there have been setbacks in combating global poverty. By contrast, awareness of the importance of vital natural resources has risen and led to new debates about the right path to a sustainable future.

Read the updated Sustainable Development Strategy – in full or in the short form.

Greater resilience to crises

Another lesson we have learned from the pandemic is that we must be equipped to fight crises like this in the long term. This calls for greater resilience, and that is only possible if we take seriously the principles of sustainable development.

SDGs are the compass for the future

It is important now to set the right course for further development. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are and will remain our compass for a better world – at global and at national level.

Germany will work actively to achieve the SDGs. The German government will continue to work committedly on the Sustainable Development Strategy and on the implementation of this strategy, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders.

In the coalition agreement dated March 2018, the CDU, CSU and SPD committed to ambitiously implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals as well as promoting sustainable development as the yardstick for measuring the actions of the government. The 2030 Agenda lays out the direction for German politics. 
The strategy adopted today builds on the decision taken in January 2017 to revise the strategy and on the subsequent update in November 2018. Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy has since been aligned with the SDGs set out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since 2002, the strategy has been updated at regular intervals.