Sustainability in raw material extraction

As far back as 2002 the German Government present- ed the first national strategy for sustainability and has developed this further every four years since 2004.1 When updating its sustainability strategy in 2021 the Federal Government underlines the guiding principle of following sustainable development and meeting the needs of both the present and future generations – in Germany and in all parts of the world – and making it possible for them to live life to its full and with dignity. The aim is to achieve a progressive, inno- vative and open Germany in which it is worth living, in a country that is characterised by high quality of life, effective environmental protection, inclusive and integrative policymaking and fulfilment of its international responsibilities.2, 3 This objective has again been confirmed for the natural resources sector in the strategy for natural resources passed by the Federal Government in January 2020.4 This is seen in the context that Germany is one of the world’s leading locations for technology and, as an exporting nation, depends on a reliable supply of natural resources. With this is the responsibility to advocate for a sus- tainable and socially and ecologically responsible use of natural resources.5
The 2030 Agenda, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and on which the German sustaina- bility strategy is based, sets out 17 objectives for sustainable development in the areas of the environ- ment, social affairs and the economy. Germany uses it as a “compass (…) for all policy areas”6 and thus also for the extraction of natural resources.
“Sustainable development” means balancing out as far as possible environmental, social and economic challenges throughout all the different value chains in the extractive sectors. A few important contributions are discussed in this chapter; to complement this,various sustainability reports from public, civil society and private sector stakeholders can be consulted.

1 Federal Government (2021): German sustainability strategy. Update 2021: URL: 3b15cd92d0261e7a0bcdc8f43b7839/deutsche-nachhaltigkeitsstrategie-2021-langfassung-download-bpa-data.pdf, S. 15 (Accessed on 25 November 2021).

2 Ibid. p. 14 f. 

3 Ibid. p. 225

4 Federal Government (2020): Natural resources strategy of the Federal Government Securing non-energy mineral natural resources for Germany as part of a sustainable supply of natural resources. URL: erung.pdf? blob=publicationFile&v=4 (Accessed on 25 November 2021).

5 Ibid. p. 2

6 Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Natural Resources and Development Sector Programme (2021): Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals. URL: (Accessed on 25 November 2021).