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).

Wanted: German experience with forest kindergartens

kindergarten group sitting on a meadow in a forest

Kindergartens where children spend most of their time in nature shall soon become an officially accepted form of kindergarten in the Czech Republic. To help defining the requirements the UBA brought together German and Czech forest kindergartens and their advocates in the framework of a project of the Advisory Assistance Programme. read more


Peatland and forest climate protection to reduce GHG emissions

drainage channel through a peatland

In 2013 the disturbed soil of peatlands and forests caused emissions with climate impact of about 45 million tonnes CO2 in Germany alone. The drainage of peatland exposes plant material to the air which was previously preserved in airtight conditions and then releases carbon and nitrous oxide. An UBA study develops incentives how to reduce peatland emissions worldwide. read more


Retreat of settlements to adapt to climate change

Municipalities must adapt to climate change

Settlement contraction is a possible measure to adapt to climate change and address the issue of flooding which will become more frequent in future. In shrinking rural areas it could help eliminate the consequences of demographic change. But is law already developed to the point that such measures could be enforced? read more


Applying for a permit to travel to the Antarctic

Although the Antarctic does not "belong" to anyone as such, anybody travelling to the territory covered by the Antarctic Treaty must comply with certain rules during their stay. Any German national planning an activity in the Antarctic or organising a journey which originates in Germany must be granted approval from the German Federal Environment Agency. read more



An appealing light blue iceberg floats in the nearly black water. The sky is gray and drab.

Roald Amundsen said, “We must not cease to remember with gratitude and admiration the first seafarers who navigated their ships through storms and fog to augment our knowledge of the land of ice in the south”. Since discovery of the Antarctic our knowledge of it has grown steadily, and so has our responsibility for this fragile ecosystem. read more


The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment