17 Oct 2019, 13:41
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany slow on sustainability goals, youth urge “fundamental change”

Clean Energy Wire

The implementation of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is happening "too slowly", German environment ministry state secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter said in a public hearing of parliament's advisory council for sustainable development. Schwarzelühr-Sutter said the UN's sustainability summit in September might have been "overshadowed" by the climate summit and that putting the SDGs into action would still require "a lot of work." Maria Flachsbarth, state secretary in the development cooperation ministry, pointed out that Germany had raised its expenditure on climate action sevenfold between 2005 and 2018 and initiated a range of projects, from forest protection to greener cities. The two German youth delegates for sustainable development at the UN General Assembly, Felix Kaminski and Rebecca Freitag, criticised the government for the country's lacklustre sustainability performance. Kaminski said sustainability and climate action are key issues for his generation, but instead of assuming a leading role, Germany was "not at all on track" in many regards. Freitag said "fundamental and structural change" would be needed in transport, agriculture, energy generation and the general economic system, and sustainability could not be achieved with "cosmetic corrections." Sustainability instead had to become "the government's DNA."

The UN General Assembly in 2013 introduced the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which coordinates work on the topic among all UN member states. The forum brings together heads of state and government every four years and ministers on an annual basis at an SDG summit, with the most recent meeting taking place in June 2019. The SDGs comprise 17 fields of action to reach a more sustainable path by 2030 and, besides climate action, include fighting poverty, ensuring access to clean water, achieving gender equality and supporting species conservation.

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