Environment Council presents new special report on the legimitimacy of environmental policy

27.06.2019 - In its new special report, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) discusses the legitimacy of environmental policy and proposes institutional developments for policy and administration. The 300-page paper is entitled "Democratic governance within ecological boundaries - on the legimitation of environmental policy". Against the background of long-term and systemic environmental problems, the members explain how a the state is not only legitimised to act but also obliged, to preserve people's livelihoods. The report was presented to Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze in Berlin.
Environment Council presents new special report on the legimitimacy of environmental policy
The German Advisory Council on the Environment presents its new special report to Federal Minister for the Environment Svenja Schulze. Photo: BMU

"The Earth's ecological resilience is often exceeded: climate change, loss of biological diversity and environmental pollution not only endanger the natural foundations of life in our societies, they also undermine peace and the possibility of sustainable development," explains Council member Wolfgang Lucht of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Our democratic society should face these challenges resolutely. The debates of the last few months show that the necessary change of course is also one that is demanded by our society". Furthermore,  Germany's international responsibility in environmental protection had to be taken into account.

The Environment Advisory Council is therefore proposing a whole package of reform suggestions: These include a binding form of the German sustainability strategy, a transparent legislative process that considers the consequences for ecological sustainability, and additional possibilities for the Federal Environment Ministry to initiate laws outside its area of responsibility, for example for agriculture or transport. Among other things, the Environment Advisory Council is also proposing a new "Council for Intergenerational Justice", which could help to give the interests of young and future generations a voice within election periods.

Weblink to the special report (in German):

Weblink to the executive summary (in German):

The SRU has been advising the German Federal Government on environmental policy issues for nearly 45 years. The composition of the Council – seven university professors drawn from a variety of disciplines – ensures a comprehensive and scientifically independent appraisal that takes account not only of scientific and technical, but also of economic, legal, and health considerations.

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