On 15 June 2020, the Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) held its first virtual annual conference. Much was different from what had been planned – a half-day format instead of a full-day meeting; a video message from the Chancellor instead of a live performance; the presentation of the draft of the revised sustainability strategy was cancelled because the Federal Government had to concentrate on containing the Corona pandemic and its social and economic consequences in recent months. The consultation on the sustainability strategy has been postponed until autumn. The RNE used the conference to discuss the issues it had dealt with in the first half of the year with external guests. On the one hand, the focus was on issues that the Council believes must be given greater weight in sustainability policy, such as public services of general interest, sustainable food systems and the decarbonisation of production and consumption. On the other hand, new topics were discussed, such as the German government’s hydrogen strategy, the urgent recommendation to align the economic stimulus package in Germany and the EU with climate and sustainability policy goals and to use the German EU Council Presidency to reform and strengthen the European-African partnership. In the final round, Imme Scholz, RNE Vice-Chairperson and DIE’s Deputy Director, summarised insights from the Annual Conference and the statements of the 3400 participants: Many see the Corona pandemic as an opportunity to sharpen their awareness of the essentials, e.g. the recognition that it is not only systemically relevant what creates income or secures economic growth, but also what makes people grow and enables them to cope with everyday life and holds society together. The reference to the common good has thus gained new importance in the public and political debate.
In summer and autumn, RNE will organise a series of online conferences in which interested parties can also enter into direct exchange. The online conference “The contribution of responsible banking and sustainability-oriented finance for resilient economic structures” will kick off on 8 July. More details will be available soon on the RNE website.