At the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio Germany along with 150 other countries committed to preparing national sustainable development strategies to address environmental concerns. This study is an evaluation of the environmental planning process on Germany’s federal governmental level, which is accomplished via a quantitative framework developed by Ellis et al (2010). The study identifies the individual components of Germany’s environmental sustainability planning system (ESPS) and assesses to which extent the system adheres to internationally recognized best practices. The extent to which the German ESPS meets the following criteria is evaluated: incorporation of comprehensive goals and measurable targets, an indication of how these goals and targets will be met, whether the system is integrated sectorally and spatially, responsibilities for implementation are clearly defined, progress is monitored and reported frequently, adaptive management is exercised, the ESPS is developed through a collaborative process that involves all relevant stakeholders and whether the system is enshrined in legislation. The study finds that Germany’s ESPS has a number of deficiencies. Specifically, the ESPS does not have environmental targets for the medium- and long-term; implementation strategies often do not quantifiably show how goals, targets and timelines will be met; a comprehensive, mandatory process for adaptive management is missing; there is inadequate transparency in stakeholder collaboration; and there is no legislative basis for most of the ESPS components. By addressing these deficiencies Germany can improve environmental planning and better ensure long-term sustainability. In addition to the above, the study also reviews Germany’s environmental performance by comparing it to the performance in other OECD countries (see Gunton and Calbick 2010).
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