Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 149–166 | Cite as

How environmentally focused is the German sustainability strategy? A critical discussion of the indicators used to measure sustainable development in Germany



There are hardly any critical discussions of sustainable development indicator sets designed for use at the national level. This article aims at rectifying this omission in critical academic research by contributing to the discourse on environmental sustainability with an assessment of the indicator set used for the measurement of sustainable development in Germany. It will evaluate to what extent the sustainable development concept is reflected in the structure of the strategy and analyse in how far fundamental environmental issues are covered by the indicator set. The discussion will show that the environmental dimension of the sustainability concept is not sufficiently integrated in the German National Sustainable Development Strategy. Although the strategy’s indicator set contains a range of environmental indicators, gaps in the German indicator set become apparent when contrasted with important issues of sustainability. It will be concluded that the environmental dimension of the sustainable development concept is not the recurrent theme in either the strategy or the indicator set.


Measurement of sustainable development Sustainability indicators National sustainable development strategy Germany 



Clean development mechanism


Carbon dioxide


Federal statistical office


Gross domestic product


Greenhouse gas(es)


Gross national income


Gross national product


Least developed country


Land-use change


Non-methane volatile organic compounds


Nitrogen oxides


National sustainable development strategy


Official development assistance


Particulate matter


Sustainable development indicator(s)


Sulphur dioxide


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeoSciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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