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Sustainability | Strategies | International matters

Inasmuch as most problems related to the environment and sustainable development are multi-facetted and cross-border in nature, solutions and strategies need to be found not only here in Germany but internationally as well. The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro addressed the issue of sustainable development at the international level, largely influencing the debate in the intervening years. The numerous treaties and institutions, as well as German and European strategies, that have come into being since then, today form a key basis for sustainable development strategizing.

We simply cannot pillage the earth’s resources in perpetuity. There are natural limits to what the ecosphere can tolerate, and we need to observe these limits. Hence at the UBA we use the metaphor of a river waterway containing buoys, whereby ships represent socioeconomic development and buoys the limits that ships are not allowed to venture beyond. In other words, the ships can move freely within the limits set by the buoys, but cannot venture outside the confines of the waterway. Against this backdrop, our national sustainable development strategy, which defines sustainable development objectives and indicators, is a pivotal component of German sustainable development policy.

The UBA elaborates strategies aimed at exercising long term influence over social trends in a predictive manner that factors in all relevant processes and resources. Our aim in doing this is no less than to successfully catalyze the process of change and enable change to be incorporated at all social and political levels, whether the issue in question is governance, citizen participation or futures studies. We develop and use economic, legal, investigative, planning, informational and institutional instruments in the interest of fostering socioeconomic change that will bring us closer to a world where sustainable development and ecological justice reign.

Because problems in the sustainable development and environmental spheres are usually multi-facetted and attributable to cross-border factors, we need to find solutions with an international reach. International cooperation in the field of environmental protection has taken on ever growing importance over the past two decades. In this arena, we mainly work with EU and UN institutions, the OECD, and Central and Eastern European governments. The UBA also acts as the liaison with the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

Moving forward with the 7th Environment Action Programme

EU flags

The 2013 adopted 7th EU Environment Action Programme defines objectives for addressing persistent environmental problems of our time. The Programme should receive heightened attention atop the EU Agenda and its implementation should be goal-oriented and ambitious. This is the key message of a paper penned under UBA’s lead by 22 European environmental authorities as members of the EPA Network. read more


Geo-Engineering: Proposals for international governance

atmosphere of the Earth

A number of schemes have been developed in recent years to combat global warming through intervention into the climate system. What these geo-engineering measures have in common is the risks they harbour for man and the environment which can have an impact worldwide and should therefore be subject to global governance. A study done on behalf of the UBA presents appropriate proposals. read more


Associations’ right to take legal action good for the environment

Bronze statue of Justitia, holding a pair of balances in her hand

Since 2006 environmental and nature conservation associations have had the right to take legal action if certain administrative decisions such as the approval of industrial installations violate environmental provisions. An analysis of practice to date reveals that this right is an effective instrument to ensure that justice is done to the environment. read more


Support for rural communities in Romania

Old stream socket in Romania of concrete and old car tyres

In an advisory assistance project, community development concepts for the water sector were developed for five rural communities in Romania with technical support from the Federal Environment Agency and presented to the communities. The development concepts describe the measures necessary for sustainable water resources management in each of the communities. read more


Sewage sludge management in Bulgaria

A wastewater treatment plant in Sofia

As part of the Advisory Assistance Programme funded by the German Environment Ministry, Germany advised Bulgaria in detail on an environmentally sound utilisation of sewage sludge. read more


Forest conservation in Bulgaria

Men stand in the Woods and mark a tree with red color

In an Advisory Assistance Programme project with Bulgaria which ended in August 2013, relevant government and non-government actors in Bulgaria were informed about what approaches to sustainable forest management are applied in Natura 2000 areas in Germany and about how these can be transferred to the conditions in Bulgaria. read more


The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment