Indicator: Commitment to environmental protection

A graph shows the percentage of the population actively involved in environmental protection and nature conservation or who could imagine becoming involved. In 2006 the combined figure was 51 percent, in 2018 it was at 57 percent.Click to enlarge
Percentage of the population actively involved in environmental protection and nature conservation..
Source: BMU / UBA Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • In 2018 around one in two Germans could imagine participating actively in environmental protection and nature conservation. In 2016 this was only about a third.
  • 12 % are already actively involved with an environmental organisation or similar.
  • The proportion of people who could imagine becoming involved with environmental issues in the future varied greatly since 2006. The indicator does not show a clear trend.

Environmental importance

Our behaviour has an impact on nature and the environment – whether through our work, our leisure activities or the journeys that we make. An ongoing environmental awareness study (in German only) published every two years by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the German Environment Agency indicates that environmental protection is of great importance to German society (UBA, BMU 2019). This study regularly inquires views on environmental policy and environmental protection.

Environmental protection is driven not only by policy, but to a large extent by the work of volunteers. The indicator illustrates the potential for voluntary work in the environmental sector and the number of people already actively involved in environmental associations or similar. Temporary, local environmental projects and activities are particularly relevant for future involvement.


Assessing the development

The indicator does not show a clear trend. Between 2008 and 2014, the share of people who could imagine a voluntary commitment to environmental protection rose from 36 % to 48 %. After falling again in 2016, in 2018 more than half of all people said they could imagine it. 12 % also said they were already active. The number of people who could imagine becoming actively involved in the future was 37 % in 2016.

A high level of environmental awareness is not only essential for a sustainable way of living. It is also an important driver for robust environmental policy which can adequately protect natural resources. Thus, voluntary involvement and participation should be further supported by environmental policy. In addition, it is necessary to demonstrate different ways how to strengthen voluntary work for an ecologically as well as socially sustainable transition in other areas of civil society engagement.



The environmental awareness study has been conducted every two years since 1996. The purpose of this representative survey is to chart the environmental attitudes and behaviour of the German population. In 2014 the survey was conducted online for the first time and young people in the 14 to 17 age bracket were included. More information on the survey methodology can be found in the publication ‘Umweltbewusstsein in Deutschland 2018’ (UBA, BMU 2019, in German only).

More detailed information: 'Umweltbewusstsein und Umweltverhalten' (in German only).