German Government Follows Up on Peers‘ Recommendations
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The recent update by the German Government of its national sustainable development strategy reflects the embeddedness of an international peer review in the national cycle of designing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing of the strategy.

The update identifies, among other elements, three major national challenges: strengthening social cohesion (LNOB), climate change policies, and innovation and digitization.

On 7 November 2018, the German Government adopted an update of the national sustainable development strategy. The strategy is Germany’s main framework for implementing the 2030 Agenda. A major revision of the strategy had taken place at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, integrating the SDGs and the Agenda principles and presenting how Germany would implement the agenda in Germany, together with partners world-wide and by actions having positive international effects.

Following this major revision, the government had mandated an international group of experts chaired by Helen Clark with the task to review the strategy. True to the whole-of-society approach of the 2030 Agenda, the international peer review was conducted based on a multi-stakeholder approach in composition and outreach. The group was composed of experts with backgrounds in business, academia, civil society and politics/administration. A written questionnaire was sent out to stakeholders, and face-to-face meetings with stakeholders across a large variety of stakeholders were organized.

The peers’ final recommendations were presented to stakeholders at the German Council for sustainable development (RNE) Annual conference, a gathering of roughly 1500 sustainable development actors. Subsequently, the peers’ recommendations were the main reference point at the annual sustainability forum, a day-long meeting of civil society organisations, business, academia, and trade unions with government representatives, organized by the Chancellery.

The international peer report kicked-off deliberations on an update to the strategy, which was then adopted on 7 November. The update first contextualizes the strategy. The three major national challenges listed are:

  • Strengthening social cohesion (LNOB),
  • Climate Change policies,
  • innovation and digitization.

Then it reports on implementation of the 2016 strategy so far. This section opens with information about the peer review, the process, the composition of the group, the peers’ recommendations and some follow-up actions already undertaken by the government. For example, a specific budget line for communicating the 2030 Agenda has been introduced. The government’s press office has received already additional funding for this year and launched an awareness raising campaign on the SDGs during the first week of December 2018.

The update goes on to present ongoing work on indicators and targets and introduces two new indicators (one on supporting good governance for food security, and one on sustainable public procurement). Moreover, new principles for sustainable policymaking in Germany are adopted. They aim at mainstreaming sustainability into all policymaking. RNE had contributed to the elaboration of these new principles.

The update, finally, confirms continued support for maintaining and increasing the momentum for sustainable development and gives an outlook on next steps (the September 2019 SDG Summit, national dialogue for the revision of the SD-strategy to be completed in 2020, and presentation of the next Voluntary National Review (VNR) report in 2021).

This recent update of the national sustainable development strategy reflects thus the embeddedness of the international peer review in the national cycle of designing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing of the strategy.

The updated document is currently being translated into English (for German language readers, the document can be accessed here: https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/nachhaltigkeitspolitik/eine-strategie-begleitet-uns)

The English version of the German sustainable development strategy 2016: https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/997532/188836/7d1716e5d5576bec62c9d16ca908e80e/2017-06-20-nachhaltigkeit-neuauflage-engl-data.pdf?download=1

The international peer review 2018: https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/en/projects/peer-review/

The German Council for sustainable development (RNE): https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/en/

SDG Knowledge Hub summary of the peer review report: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/peer-review-of-germanys-sustainable-development-strategy-results-in-11-recommendations/

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