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Sustainable Development Goals

"The new development goals (SDGs) - and their opportunities"

The new comprehensive 17 development goals, with which a more humane development is to be achieved by the year 2030, have ambitious contents:

1. End poverty in all forms, everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and better nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3. Ensure healthy lives for all people of all ages and promote their well-being

4. Ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and self-determination for all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and contemporary energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build a resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and support innovations

10. Reduce inequality within and between states

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take immediate action to combat climate change and its effects

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources in the interests of sustainable development

15. Protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems and promote their sustainable use, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, stop and reverse soil degradation, stop biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

But not only the bar for the content is high. The concreteness is to be achieved with 169 sub-goals as well as a review and indicator system so that measurable results can come out.

Much too bloated, too many words and papers are said by some. The others say it is a great challenge with many opportunities for design.

Klaus Milke, CEO of Germanwatch and the Future Capability Foundation, praised the new development goals as a negotiating success of the international community in his guest article in Zeitonline on 25.09.2015. The non-governmental organizations were involved and could be quite satisfied with the result.

He sees a lot of work to be done in terms of implementation in the countries. The German sustainability strategy must be significantly improved with regard to sustainable resource consumption. Educational work remains important in order to achieve the necessary acceptance for changes in consumption in addition to information.

Our Development Minister, Dr. Gerd Müller. He also sees the new development goals as a good opportunity to advance human development from a global perspective. There is still something ahead of us when it comes to implementation: “Germany is also a developing country,” he says in the Zeitonline interview on 23.09.2015. Because the national sustainability strategy has to be ambitiously improved in some points. In this context, he refers to the need to create sustainable transport concepts in metropolitan areas, more electronic mobility, better conditions for cyclists. With regard to our entire economy, he speaks of a rethinking towards less consumption and a new concept of growth.

He himself wants to start practically with his ministry: fair trade and recycled furniture in the ministry are examples of this.

Globally, with regard to production and trade, he wants to ensure that the value chains are designed more equitably. He lists the income that could remain with producers in developing countries if the products were sold at a slightly higher price here: “If the bar of chocolate were only one cent more expensive, West Africa would have around 120 million euros more in income per year. The minister is aggressively promoting fair trade.

The multinational corporations should act differently than before, especially in the field of raw material extraction. He would have to keep more income from production in the developing countries. "Anyone who pumps out oil in Nigeria also has to pay taxes there!"

Clear words from a development minister. How good that the assessment by an NGO representative and the government are so close.

The 2030 Agenda for the Implementation of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

This agenda for sustainable development was decided in September 2015 at the General Assembly of the United Nations after an ambitious and quite energy-sapping voting process. The rulers of the signatory countries pledge to achieve the seventeen goals of sustainable development by 2030. From poverty reduction to education, gender equality, energy, economic growth, urban development, reducing inequality within and between states, peace to all areas of environmental protection - all important issues of life and survival from a global perspective are included. The latter becomes, as it were, the guiding principle for all policy areas.

Not only are the goals on paper, but also sub-goals and indicators were named, from which the implementation can be seen.

The 2030 Agenda can be rated as an important innovative step. Because it is not only a comprehensive global transformation that is formulated as urgently necessary. At the same time, human welfare and the limitation of planetary resources are taken into account. The social, ecological and economic dimensions of sustainability are not thought of against each other, but rather an integrated approach.

The agreement invites comprehensive global participation - governments, civil society and the private sector are called upon to contribute to the implementation of the goals.

In order to accompany the implementation process and to check the achievement of the objectives, a high-ranking political body was set up at UN level in which all states are represented. It is more about voluntary participation that relies on exchange and learning processes. Since 2017, 43 states have reported on their national programs.

Individual goals may well come into conflict with one another, such as combating climate change and, on the other hand, access to energy for all countries. This conflict can be defused by promoting the expansion of the energy supply in poor countries with renewable instead of fossil fuels.

Achieving (or maintaining) human welfare while at the same time preserving planetary boundaries - therein lies the central challenge.

Paris Climate Agreement

The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change

It is a binding international agreement that was passed by 196 states. The aim is to limit climate change itself and to mitigate its negative consequences. Global warming is to be kept well below two degrees Celsius (in relation to pre-industrial times) with the help of the agreement and the processes that it stimulates.

The Paris Protocol is to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expired in 2020, in 2021.

The Paris climate treaty came into effect at the end of November (almost a year after the decision) when 55 countries (responsible for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gases) signed the treaty. These include China and the USA as the countries with the highest carbon dioxide emissions.

With the signing of the treaty, the states set up national programs in which they undertake to reduce CO2 emissions. You decide for yourself how high the reduction should be.

The conceptual idea behind the treaty relies on voluntariness and thus respects the sovereignty of states. The states report on their ongoing implementation of the reduction. If necessary, stricter goals are formulated every five years. The parallel scientific research and reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (www.de-ipcc.de) are included.

In order to achieve the target of lowering, considerable national efforts will have to be made, particularly with regard to the areas of production and consumption that damage the climate. In Germany, these are primarily the areas of factory farming, car traffic and energy generation from hard coal and lignite.

In the area of ​​implementation, there is a meaningful overlap between the 2030 Agenda (implementation of the SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate protection: the German sustainability strategy largely works through the seventeen SDGs and at the same time makes an important contribution to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The developing countries receive special support through transition periods for the reduction targets as well as with support programs to reduce the negative impact of climate change and with the promotion of sustainable technologies by the EU and the industrialized countries.

Materials for the design of church services

The Church Compensation Fund offers suggestions for church services on the topics of climate justice, climate change and CO2-Compensations.

The climate collection offers the opportunity to get to know a part of climate protection better and to use it on site. Communities and organizations that are involved in environmental policy can offer the climate. The collection serves as an enrichment for their activities.

After avoiding and reducing emissions, offsetting offers the third option for climate protection. The projects financed by the compensatory amounts are carried out by church organizations and their partners in developing countries and Eastern Europe and supported by Evangelical Work for Diakonia and Development and Misereor. The projects are implemented according to the Gold Standard. This ensures that not only a contribution to emission savings but also to sustainable development is made.

German sustainability strategy

Sustainability dialogue: Shaping change together

For the last conference in the series of dialogues, around 180 participants came to the Ministry for Environment and Energy in Hamburg on February 11th. They discussed the further development of the national sustainability strategy and contributed their perspectives and ideas.

"The new UN sustainability goals make us all developing countries," emphasized Hamburg's Senator for the Environment, Jens Kerstan, in his welcoming address. Good cooperation between the federal, state and local governments is required for the implementation of the goals. The 2030 Agenda offers a good regulatory and orientation framework for this.

Sustainable urban development in Hamburg
Using the example of the conference venue in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, he made it clear how sustainable urban development can be designed. This largest river island in Germany was originally a place of harbor silt and garbage dumps.

The targeted transplantation of the authority complex for the environment and urban development was the starting signal for further developments. A district park was created opposite the authority and the international garden show and international building exhibition on sustainable building in Wilhelmsburg have now had a lasting impact on the appearance of the district.

Course correction required
The Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, also emphasized the important role of state institutions as role models in matters of sustainability. She stressed that a change of course is urgently needed and the lifestyle must change so that "future generations can enjoy the same prosperity as we do".

She named three levels for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: the implementation of the UN goals at national level within Germany, measures to change the behavior of individuals, the reduction of greenhouse gases and support for the partner countries in implementing the goals through competence building and technology transfer.

The focus of work of the Ministry of the Environment is on climate protection and the preservation of biodiversity. The ministry also promotes sustainable urban development as well as sustainable production methods, lifestyles and mobility.

In the following panel discussion, representatives of the northern federal states described their approach to the implementation of the UN agenda.

Sustainability as a top priority
The State Secretary for the Environment, Silke Schneider, described coastal and marine protection as a priority for Schleswig-Holstein. In February 2016, Schleswig-Holstein is expected to adopt its new sustainability strategy in the cabinet, which is based on the UN goals. "What is new is that sustainability is a top priority," she said. The State Chancellery will be responsible for the future.

The Bremen State Councilor and Plenipotentiary for Development Cooperation, Ulrike Hiller, described that the city-state had good experiences with working groups within the ministry and in civil society that developed measures for sustainability. So you quickly leave the abstract conceptual level and can act concretely.

Country strategies in progress
For Lower Saxony, Christian Jacobs from the local environment ministry reported that the development of a new state strategy had begun with the adoption of the UN goals and that this would now be incorporated into the development of the new indicators.

"Hamburg has not yet had a sustainability strategy," explained Senator Kerstan. However, the plan is to continue the projects that have been developed for the Olympia sustainability concept.

Disclose conflicting goals
In the ensuing discussion in the plenary session, the focus was on dealing with conflicting goals. It was agreed that these should be disclosed and that a targeted discussion should be aimed for. State Secretary Schneider said that Schleswig-Holstein had good experiences with directly talking to those affected on site, for example for the planning of wind turbines.

Using the example of the use of green space for refugee accommodation in Hamburg, Senator Kerstan added that the principle of compensation should be given greater weight. If another interest were preferred to sustainability, a balance should be created elsewhere.

"Where's my money?" - Sustainable business is important
With an interjection, Professor Alexander Bassen, as a member of the Council for Sustainable Development, then explained the committee's position. He also agreed that conflicting goals should be named and tolerated. He emphasized that sustainable management was of particular importance.

Here, goals and indicators would have to be coordinated more carefully. For example, the absolute goal of CO2 reduction in the strategy does not match the relative measurement in the companies. The sustainable behavior of the individual is unfortunately not reflected in the investment either. The question "where is my money actually?" would have to play a bigger role.

In addition to the demands for sustainability to be anchored as a principle in the Basic Law and for research and education to be more sustainable, he was once again concerned with sustainability on the ground: a stronger link between the federal government and the state is a central demand of the council. It also serves to make all the existing good approaches and projects transparent and to bundle them, which have so far been neglected.

On the second podium, politics met with representatives from business, science and society. Moderator Andrea Thilo opened it with the question of what sustainability is the key issue for those present.

Strengthen emissions trading worldwide
"Climate protection is the main topic," replied Schwarzelühr-Sutter spontaneously. The emissions trading system must be strengthened worldwide. The question also needs to be clarified as to how a structural change towards decarbonisation, i.e. the abandonment of fossil fuels, should be designed.

Member of the Bundestag Dr. Andreas Lenz from the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development said the important question was "How can we reach people's hearts?"

The person responsible for corporate responsibility at the Otto Group, Dr. Johannes Merck, asked "How can we as a company expand the scope?" Because the problem is that our economic system does not reward sustainability in the market, but punishes it. He described a functioning emissions trading system as an essential political framework.

Making global trade fairer
"Leave no one behind" is the key phrase, said Klaus Milke, board member of Germanwatch.Everyone has to change and cooperation at all levels is important because the majority do not live with our standard and exclusion must be avoided. Germany is often not a pioneer, for example when it comes to arms exports or when it comes to TTIP. It must be recognized that the strongest alliance for the 2030 Agenda was an alliance of the poorest countries.

Anchoring education for sustainable development
Professor Ute Stoltenberg called for education for sustainable development to be understood differently. It is not enough to include individual topics such as energy or climate protection in the curriculum. Rather, it is about developing new perspectives and educating young people to be creative, innovative and alternative-thinking people. Education for sustainable development has existed for 20 years, the concepts are available and must be taken into account in all educational questions and not dealt with separately.

Rethink agricultural policy
Professor Michael Succow, who had just returned from a trip to Africa, was of the opinion: "Without spirituality and genuine religiosity we cannot do it." Germany has a high priority in thinking about sustainability worldwide, which is also evident from the establishment of nature reserves in southern Africa. For Germany itself, he sees agriculture with its large farms and high subsidies as a critical issue.

"System question" in the center
The discussion with the plenum that followed focused on the "system question", i.e. the question of how the economic system can be redesigned in such a way that it promotes sustainable action, sustainable public procurement and the topic of sustainability in TTIP.

In the afternoon, the participants discussed the main points of the sustainability strategy in workshops. You can read the results in a few days at www.nationale-nachhaltigkeitsstrategien.de. There you can listen to the individual discussions again on the recording.

The Hamburg conference marks the end of the series of dialogues
The Federal Government will continue to receive comments on the subject at sustainability [email protected] You will be forwarded to the relevant department. As soon as the draft of the new sustainability strategy is available, all participants will be sent a corresponding link and can comment on it.

Friday February 12, 2016

"Sustainability Indicators" series
Indicator 10 | Image: Destatis

Indicator 10: Economic performance

The national sustainability strategy provides in the category of quality of life with the indicator number 10 information about the gross domestic product per inhabitant. The Federal Statistical Office explains what this indicator says and how important it is for the economy and growth of an economy.

Helmut Mayer, Head of Division at the Federal Statistical Office, answers our questions about the indicator:

What does the gross domestic product (GDP) say for an economy? Is it a measure of the wealth achieved?
The gross domestic product (GDP) is an expression of the total domestic economic output of a reporting period. GDP measures the domestic income generated in the production of goods and services. Only marketable and state goods and services are considered. GDP is determined according to globally harmonized rules and is viewed as an important indicator of the economy and growth of an economy.

GDP and other standard parameters of the European System of National Accounts (ESA) represent an important part of economic prosperity, namely the income that is predominantly generated on the market and how it is used. However, GDP is not intended to be a comprehensive measure of economic prosperity. This requires further calculations, such as for free household work, which is not taken into account when calculating GDP. The distribution of income (and wealth) is also not reflected in GDP.

For example, an increase in GDP can be distributed very differently across the various households. GDP is also a pure flow variable, usually related to a period of one year. The change in stock sizes is not recorded - with the exception of productive capital by recording investments and depreciation. Central economic variables such as stocks and qualities of human capital (e.g. education, health), social capital (e.g. security, integration) and natural capital (e.g. resources, ecosystems) are ignored and statements as to whether GDP and its growth have served to maintain capital are ignored so impossible. This means that GDP cannot make any statements about the sustainability of the economic growth it represents.

When measuring welfare, however, in addition to recording economic prosperity, damage to the natural environment caused by economic activities would also have to be taken into account. Such damage can have a direct impact on people's health (for example, if the air is exposed to high levels of particulate matter or water is polluted). There are also negative economic effects, for example when people lose their livelihoods due to climate change. The international organizations recommend addressing these aspects in additional calculations - in so-called satellite systems, such as the environmental and economic accounts (UGR).

In this context, it should not be forgotten that many ecological and social aspects of welfare cannot be captured by monetary indicators alone. In order to still make ecological and social developments visible, additional indicators can be provided that cover other aspects of welfare. Therefore, under the overarching theme of "Quality of Life", the Federal Government's sustainability strategy includes five other indicators in addition to the GDP indicator in the areas of "Mobility", "Land Management", "Air Pollution", "Health and Nutrition" and "Crime".

What does the demand for decoupling economic growth and environmental pollution mean?
The aim is to achieve economic growth with a lower use of natural resources and lower emissions of pollutants (air emissions, waste water). A distinction is made between "absolute" and "relative" decoupling. In the case of a relative decoupling, the consumption of resources increases less strongly in percentage terms than the GDP - gross domestic product. With absolute decoupling, the use of resources decreases - with economic growth - even in absolute terms.

How do changes in economic structure affect GDP?
There is no clear mechanism of action between economic structure and GDP. GDP is influenced by cyclical factors such as the demand for goods and changes in wages and prices, and structural factors such as the competitiveness of industries and services. Certain factors, such as the ability to innovate and the improved international competitiveness of industries, strengthen economic growth.

In contrast, saturation of markets and increasing competition from foreign competitors can lead to stagnation and a decline in industries. Therefore, changes in the economic structure can be observed constantly in open economies. In strongly export-oriented economies, such as the German one, value is created to a large extent by export-oriented industries and service sectors that are closely interwoven with them. Their growth then compensates for the job losses and thus the decline in income in stagnating or shrinking economic sectors.

Is there a connection between GDP and poverty or risk of poverty?
In European social reporting, monetary poverty is based on a relative definition of poverty. According to this, a person is at risk of poverty if their net equivalent income is less than 60 percent of the national median income. With this definition of at-risk-of-poverty, its level does not depend on the absolute level of GDP, but solely on the distribution of income by household. According to this, the risk of poverty can occur both in economies with a very high average income (GDP per capita) and in economies with a very low GDP per capita - to the same extent. The median income denotes the income level at which the same number of people have higher or lower incomes.

In 2014, people living alone were considered to be at risk of monetary poverty if they had less than 987 euros a month at their disposal (at-risk-of-poverty limit). In households with two adults and two children under the age of 14, the at-risk-of-poverty threshold was 2072 euros per month. According to this, 16.7 percent of the population in Germany was at risk of poverty in 2014. As already explained in the answer to question 1, GDP does not reflect the distribution of income (and wealth), but measures the income that is predominantly generated on the market and how it is used. Changes in GDP therefore do not allow any direct statements to be made about the effects on income distribution or the extent to which a society is at risk of poverty.

What are GDP fluctuations due to?
Cyclical fluctuations in GDP, i. H. Fluctuations in the utilization of production capacities over a period of around three to six years are due to changes in demand and the associated fluctuations in production. A distinction must be made between changes in domestic demand and changes in demand from abroad.

In terms of domestic demand, fluctuations can occur in all final demand categories - private consumption, government consumption and investment. Private consumption is mainly influenced by the development of wages and salaries and - to a limited extent - also by households' propensity to save or consume. In addition, the change in prices also determines the "real" demand of households. For the production-based development of the price-adjusted GDP, the "real" demand, i. H. the size adjusted for the price development is decisive.

The state can also influence the economy through its demand. In times of an economic downturn (recession), for example, it can help dampen the downturn by stabilizing its spending. Investments - construction and equipment investments - are influenced by a variety of factors. The expected return on the invested capital is of great importance. This is largely determined by expectations about future business development and the utilization of production capacities. If the expected return on property, plant and equipment is higher than on cash investments, capital is preferably invested in real capital. The European Central Bank has a considerable influence on the return (interest) on financial investments in the euro zone through its interest rate policy.

For Germany, the demand from abroad plays a very important role in the utilization of domestic production capacities. Like domestic demand, this can also be subject to fluctuations and affect the economic activity of export-oriented industries in Germany through the demand for German export goods. The fluctuations in economic activity in turn influence the level of employment and also the development of wages and salaries in these industries.

Is increasing GDP necessarily associated with growth?
That depends crucially on what you mean by "growth"! If growth is defined as the growth in GDP of one period compared to a previous period, the relationship is, by definition, imperative. In common parlance, however, the term growth is often associated with the natural environment - especially the growth of plants. In nature, growth can only be achieved if there is a sufficient and steady supply of energy and nutrients. The limiting factor is already indicated.

Applied to the economy, this means that economic growth depends to a large extent on the resources used in the economy (production factors labor, capital, knowledge and technical progress, but also natural resources and social factors). Natural resources, for example, are limited - especially mineral resources and the ability of the natural environment to regenerate. In this respect, the question arises as to whether economic growth preserves the natural foundations of life and the economy and is therefore sustainable. Rising GDP can indicate economic growth in the short term. However, to the extent that this is opposed by the depletion of natural resources and damage to the natural environment, we cannot speak of sustainable growth.

Source: https://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Newsletter/Nachhaltigkeit/9-KW7/1-Texbausschaften/Bundesregierung-und-N/1-reihe-nachhaltigkeitsindikatoren.html?nn=1321916

Brief introduction to fair trade and the seal (problem)

Historical outline of fair trade in Germany
  • Since the 1970s in Germany, church origin, against free market economy
  • 1970: In response to criticism of the official development policy, the church youth associations aej (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Evangelischen Jugend in Deutschland e.V.) and BDKJ (Federation of German Catholic Youth) organize hunger marches in 70 cities in the Federal Republic and mobilize 30,000 participants.
  • 1971: The result is the “Action Third World Trade” movement. The goods are the subject of political learning: “learning by doing”.
  • World shops are formed (working group of the 3rd world shops), GEPA is founded in 1975 (Society for the Promotion of Partnership with the Third World) and El Puente in 1972
What's behind it? Target group (s), implementation practices, controls
  • Aims:
    Participation and poverty reduction of disadvantaged producers, equal rights for women
  • How?:
    Guaranteed minimum prices (regardless of fluctuations in the world market)
    Fairtrade premium (additional money that is used for community projects)
    Long-term trading relationships
    partly ecological criteria (fair does not necessarily mean organic and organic does not automatically mean fair). 2014: 80% of fair trade food was certified organic
  • Control by FLO-CERT (Fairtrade Labeling Organization)
Representation of 4-6 different seals to give an insight into differences / similarities
  • GEPA: direct, long-term relationships with producers, ¾ of the products also certified organic, as far as possible without a Fairtrade seal (draws attention to additional services, integrates producers who cannot afford certification)
  • FAIRTRADE or TransFair (since 1992): The Fairtrade seal is awarded in Germany by TransFair. As an independent National Fairtrade Organization (NFO), TransFair does not trade in goods itself, but grants importers, processors and traders who meet fair trade standards the right to use the Fairtrade seal. Around 3,000 products, 80% of which are organic
  • UTZ: The world's largest certification program for cocoa, focus on sustainable cultivation, less demanding criteria
  • NATURAL LAND: since 1982, organic farming and nature conservation, ecological and fair, 600 products, transparent
  • RAINFOREST ALIANCE: The primary goal is to preserve biodiversity in the tropics. Social aspects, but no minimum prices or premiums
  • HAND IN HAND: since 1988, around 100 products, combined organic and fair
Criticism: volume equalization, mixed products, fair trade share, discounters
  • Mixed products:
    Products: Products that are made up of different ingredients such as chocolate (e.g. whole milk powder), muesli, sweets
    Background: Larger Fairtrade product range and greater sales opportunities for producers
    Regulation: Minimum share of 20% at Fairtrade, varies depending on the seal (e.g. El Puente 50%), everything that is available as a Fairtrade ingredient must also have been traded according to Fairtrade standards
  • Quantity equalization:
    Products: Cocoa, tea, sugar and juice can be processed with conventional raw materials
    Background: Lack of in-house processing facilities, without volume compensation, cocoa farmers, for example, would have to be excluded from fair trade
    Example: chocolate making, orange juice
  • Cooperation with discounters
    High sales opportunities for producer groups
    No “lower threshold” Fairtrade standards for discounters
    Every supermarket may purchase and offer for sale already approved fair trade goods from a Fairtrade licensed company without the consent of TransFair
    Criticism: Some discounters even do not even allow their employees in the German branches to comply with the ILO core labor standards, such as membership in a trade union. Discount stores keep prices low

Sustainable shopping

Sustainable shopping

Shopping - one of our most regular activities.
We mainly consume food, household goods
and clothing, which in the course of globalization
be transported further and further, their production
is as far removed from the consumer as ever today
before. Have you ever thought about that?
If not, now is the time
to do that.

Sustainable procurement

For parishes, ecclesiastical institutions and administrations there is the offer of the regional church of Hanover to support the conversion to sustainable procurement.

Information, advice and support are available from the House of Church Services.

Seal app, practical tips

  • Regional and seasonal cuisine (no clear seal) information about countries of origin
  • Buy unpacked (shop in Hanover), become active as a consumer
  • Siegel-App (NABU) approx. 55 logos
  • Material loan from KED (e.g. fair sports balls, world puzzles, ecological footprint)
  • Inspection at an importer (El Puente e.g. Nordstemmen)
  • To buy online: including El Puente, (GEPA), Süd-Nord-Kontor, world shops, discount stores (Lidl, Edeka etc.)
Agenda 21

The UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio (Brazil) in 1992 provided important impetus for the issue of sustainability with the adoption of Agenda 21. There are currently many municipalities that deal with the topic in a diverse and committed manner. The following article provides a review and describes the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in this area:

Discover the connection between the lifestyle in Europe and living conditions in developing countries
The idea of ​​making the communal space both ecologically and socially compatible here and globally was not so natural in the church context in the 1990s. It was particularly difficult at first to make clear the connections between the lifestyle in Europe and the living conditions in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The fact that the plantation workers cannot live with the starvation wages they receive for picking the coffee that later ends up on our breakfast table can be clearly demonstrated in this individual case.
 
"But what does the woman in Kenya get out of it if, instead of taking a bath, I only wash with a washcloth?", To quote a seminar participant. "And if I design my everyday life to be more resource-friendly, will the woman in Kenya benefit from it?"
The main task of the lecture was to provide evidence of the global relationships, to provide evidence for the thesis that the earth will not be able to cope with the transfer of our lifestyle in Europe and that a change can only be a redistribution from north to south.
 
Today my children get excited in the discussion with their grandfather that it has to be a matter of course to implement a global change of direction with solar energy. The phrase “and think of the polar bears when you shower!” Has become a matter of course.
The textbooks at a normal grammar school in 2011 deal with globalization with its for and again including world trade and fair trade in geography and in the advanced English course in year 11.
The knowledge of the connections between consumption here and the living conditions in the south has expanded enormously, especially among young people. That's why they don't do everything the way I would like it to, but that's a different story and doesn't diminish the good result of educational work in 20 years of reworking in Rio.
 
The Rio Process brings the ecology and third world movements together and into joint projects
One challenge in 1992 was the necessary cooperation between ecologically committed initiatives and those active in the Third World. In terms of the objectives, this was not easy. Every product of our daily needs (coffee, tea, cocoa, cotton, cut flowers ...) grown in the southern hemisphere closes significant transport routes and thus CO2Emissions. That pollutes the climate and cannot be in the interest of ecologically committed people. Foregoing this area would be logical and instead focus on regional production and marketing.
In other words, it is of no use to the people in the south if we no longer drink coffee. In addition, what has been produced in an ecologically “clean” manner does not have to include good working conditions.
 
Fairly traded products were by no means a matter of course in health food stores back then. This was not only due to the fact that this buying milieu had less of an eye on people in developing countries. It also had to do with the fact that the producers in the south could not easily afford an elaborate sealing process.
Only in the course of the discussion and in the work with the impulses of the Rio conference did it become clear that the problem of excessive resource consumption and CO2 emissions was and is (also) a distribution problem. The term distributive justice came up in the course of these discussions.
 
Distributive justice has an environmental and development aspect. In the south a (differentiated) moderate “more” is needed in the north, of course, a drastic “less”. This is also an ethical or, in the implementation, a moral question, namely of dealing with creation as well as the more justly distributed life opportunities.
 
The aspect of distributive justice is also gaining importance in Germany
People with low incomes have other problems than thinking about a climate-friendly lifestyle. Awareness-raising will reach its limits here.
It is clear that one cannot ask a smallholder in a region of Africa, in order to protect the global climate, not to cut down any more firewood in the future if he has no other energy sources available. Likewise, a low-wage earner will hardly try to achieve climate-neutral shopping behavior with us. Everyday life is trouble enough.
 
In the cooperation with colleagues in the field of diaconal institutions and counseling centers, it has been shown to me several times: Commitment to the marginalized in our society does not include sensitivity to global distributive justice - even if viewed from the outside and considered long-term, a joint commitment to them would make sense to marginalized groups.
Here there will still have to be creative cooperation between development policy engagement and social work in Germany, which make up the famous win-win situations.
 
The work in the context of the Rio Process allows church parishes to become politically active
In addition to discovering the connection between lifestyle and climate change, between consumption habits in the north and production conditions in the south, there was another important experience in the work of the Rio resolutions. The participation of NGOs in the worldwide conferences and the associated lobbying work by the NGOs before, during and after the conferences also became the field of development education work for us.
In numerous discussions the aim was to encourage the representatives of NGOs from Africa, Latin America and Asia to influence the politics of their government through targeted mobilization of the public. At the same time, groups in our government representatives campaigned for the concerns of our partners in the south. As a result, lobbying against the government was no longer just the field for pharmaceutical companies and representatives of the nuclear industry.
 
In connection with erlassjahr.de, parishes and entire regional churches were encouraged to send postcards to their own government in order to emphasize the demand for debt relief for developing countries and the introduction of insolvency proceedings for states. Parishes invited the members of the Bundestag from their constituencies to discussion events.
 
Educational work not only demonstrates political commitment but also invites you to participate directly.

Rio + 20: Development policy reflections of an economist in the church service

Key concepts and political decisions
The term Green Economy contains a mix of guiding ideas, demands and process descriptions towards an ecological transformation of the world economy (Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, Green Economy Report, UNEP, 2011). That’s just good. Nobody can seriously be against it.
This is similar to the agreement to increase annual development aid to 0.7 percent of GDP by 2015 so that the MDGs can be achieved. Both the ecological transformation of the world economy and the implementation of the MDGs are absolutely sensible and necessary. As is well known, success is still a long way off.
 
Politically innovative decisions seem to follow a different logic. You need an event like Fukushima - and the decision to exit is there. In my experience, this suggests a certain sobriety in dealing with key terms. The importance of the discourse can only be assessed in retrospect.
 
The 1992 Rio Conference opened up new opportunities for civil society to act
In 1991, in the Association of Development Political Groups in Lower Saxony, we discussed the far-reaching ecological consideration of an environmental plan in the Netherlands. For the individual area, it was calculated how many resources the individual was allowed to use. For example long-haul flights: once from Hanover to Rio and back, that lasted for 30 years. I was personally very impressed by this operational focus. Because it was about “saving the world” as part of a global concept. Incidentally: despite sensible and attractive professional offers, it was not difficult for me to stick to them.
 
Also in 1992 I was clearly influenced by the spirit of optimism with which the NGO representatives came back from Rio and reported to us. There were two aspects that particularly appealed to me. Initially, that was the participation and professional acceptance of the NGOs, which, when they returned to Germany, culminated in the Environment and Development Forum, which was connected to Mr. Töpfer.
This meant that in addition to demonstrating a different position, groups active in civil society had the opportunity to discuss things directly with government representatives and - which is much more important in my experience - with officials from the government apparatus and the ministries.
 
Today I read in a publicly available paper by the Federal Environment Ministry that Germany must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 on the basis of 1990. Mind you, this is not a promotional paper from an Agenda 21 group. We couldn't have imagined that in 1992.
 
In addition to the participation of socially active groups, I found the structure of the Rio resolutions attractive. A positive redistribution of life opportunities should be achieved so that future generations can also live well and people in the southern hemisphere would get a better standard of living.
 
These redistribution processes should not simply be enforced by force, as it were, through a world dictatorship. Rather, the governments participating in the Earth Summit signed this idea as a result of the conference. This also included formulating reduction targets in one's own country. In Germany, CO2 emissions should be reduced by 25 percent by 2005 based on the 1990 data.
 
The form of participation for civil society, which is not limited to protesting but is committed to the operational implementation of far-reaching ideas in their own country, has already given my work clear impulses.
In 1997, the state government in Lower Saxony set up a round table to implement the decisions of the federal government. As a representative of the Protestant Church, I sat with representatives of the transport company association, VW, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment and the BUND in the transport working group. As a church, we had the consideration of a parking lot management in order to “set an example” that the journey by car to church services or church events should be well considered and should not be taken for granted. Such a voluntary commitment was not allowed in the final paper because it was not acceptable for VW as a devaluation of the car.
 
If you move in a regionally manageable context, you can only make decisions and declarations with and not against those involved. My personal conclusion was to find out beforehand where the actors' pain thresholds are if a consensus is to be reached. Sometimes that simply meant heading for a project with other actors and possibly other goals.
Agenda 21, as a kind of local level of far-reaching and yet operationally defined results, offers many opportunities to put the guiding principles of sustainable development into practice within a manageable framework. The prerequisite is that actors from different institutions and contexts come together and set operationally formulated goals. These can be checked more easily than the simple sentence to want to make the world a fairer place.

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