Germany is one of the world’s most sustainable industrialised nations. This is the conclusion reached by an international comparative study of the 34 OECD member states. Against the backdrop of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the countries were systematically analysed for the first time on the basis of 34 indicators ranging from environmental protection and growth to the quality of the welfare systems. Germany was in sixth place, doing well in particular with regard to growth, employment, and social security.
That said, in some areas Germany is far from following a sustainable lifestyle, sustainable business, and a sustainable approach to natural resources. Consequently, in 2017 the Federal Government comprehensively advanced its sustainability strategy and aligned it with the UN’s 17 SDGs. The new strategy envisages three levels: measures with an impact in Germany, measures taken by Germany with a global impact, and the direct support of other countries by means of bilateral cooperation.
A growing number of companies in Germany are already making a commitment to society as part of conducting sustainable business. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) primarily hinges on each company’s core business, which by dint of globalisation impacts on economic, social and environmental conditions. Most DAX-listed companies as well as many SMEs, institutes, and non-governmental organisations in Germany are members of the United Nations’ Global Compact Initiative, founded in 1999. The latter, together with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the International Labour Organisation’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, form the bedrock of principles on which companies base their CSR efforts. Worldwide, over 9,500 companies from more than 160 countries are members of the voluntary Global Compact Initiative.
The fact that social and ecological responsibility go hand in hand also becomes evident in the “Alliance for Sustainable Textiles”, which seeks to achieve improvements on both counts for those employed in the textile and clothing industry. 150 German textile manufacturers have joined the initiative launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2014. Its members cover around 50% of the German textile market; the goal is to raise that figure to 75%. Considerable improvements have been made on all sides since the fatal accidents in the textile factories in Bangladesh and Pakistan. As of 2018 the Alliance is setting specific standards for all members designed to ensure that the ambitious goals are met. Through the Alliance, Germany documents its pioneering role with regard to international efforts for fair standards in global delivery chains.