As far back as 2002 the German Government presented 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, innovative 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. 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.
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 sustainable and socially and ecologically responsible use of natural resources. Therefore, the Federal Government has set itself the goal of reducing the consumption of primary natural resources and closing material cycles. To achieve these goals, the circular economy is to be significantly strengthened as a pillar of the natural resources strategy and a national circular economy strategy is to be developed by the beginning of 2024. Both strategies should be closely interlinked for this purpose.
The 2030 Agenda, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and on which the German sustainability strategy is based, sets out 17 objectives for sustainable development in the areas of the environment, social affairs and the economy. Germany uses it as a “compass (…) for all policy areas” (2) 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. In this chapter, some important contributions are discussed in this regard. Besides reference is made to various sustainability reports by public, civil society and private sector stakeholders.
(1) Federal Government (2021): German sustainability strategy. Update 2021: URL: https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/998194/1875176/3d- 3b15cd92d0261e7a0bcdc8f43b7839/deutsche-nachhaltigkeitsstrategie-2021-langfassung-download-bpa-data.pdf, S. 15 [Accessed on 25 November 2021].
(2) Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Natural Resources and Development Sector Programme (2021): Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals. URL: https://rue.bmz.de/de/international/SDG/index.html [Accessed on 25 November 2021].