Recommendations for better vertical integration of the resource efficiency policy in Germany

Better structural integration of the Länder and municipalities

In the past, ProgRess has focused on the optimisation of resource efficiency in small and medium-sized enterprises on two levels. First, through the involvement of association representatives during the development of ProgRess and second, concerning the implementation of measures (e.g. information and incentives for the enterprises). The attention should also, overall, be expanded to other target groups which are relevant for resource efficiency, in particular, the federal states and the municipalities. The involvement of federal states and municipal organisations should be optimised because they are not yet fully integrated in the information and participation formats of ProgRess. A better dialogue between Federal State, Lander and municipalities has also to be put on the agenda.

Therefore, an adaptation or optimisation of the structure of the National Platform Resource Efficiency (NaRess) as part of the ProgRess vertical structure is recommended. A modified structure of the NaRess organisation for a better exchange of information and participation between Federal Ministries, Länder, and municipalities are reasonable. Following levels are recommended:

a Optimisation of the cooperation between Federal Ministries, also with a view on legislation framework, for example by the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee (including the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture).

b Optimised integration and exchange with a view on Länder and municipalities (including associations like the Association of German Cities, German Association of Towns and Municipalities, German County Council or German Association of Local Utilities).

c Use and development of new working groups and cross-sector roundtables with municipal representatives — also with representatives from the administration of bigger cities for examples. For this purpose, existing groups can be used or extended.

All three levels mentioned above have to be connected for an exchange. However, not only the structure but also the format and the content of the NaRess meetings have to be amended.

The governance levels and groups of interests have to be better integrated into the follow-up process to ProgRess III (so far, the focus is on enterprises).

Advancement of the content of ProgRess III

Resource efficiency is a cross-sectional task, and better integration of the different sectors/policy fields should be designed to enable synergies.

Moreover, a stronger focus on activities like urban planning, building and construction, and mobility — all inducing highly resource-intensive material streams and land use — is required. It thus also touches on horizontal integration issues, because integrated approaches are needed.

Increase the awareness level of ProgRess

The awareness level in the municipalities to resource management issues has to be improved clearly. Therefore, the strategic approaches which are already formulated in ProgRess II have to be filled with life. Those approaches are:

  • 1 consolidation of the concept ‘sustainable municipalities’ — focus: resource efficiency;
  • 2 establishment of specific information — and consultation offers for municipalities; and
  • 3 support of municipal activities which foster the regional economic development regarding resource efficiency.

Against this background, the development of an information platform — similar to the VDI ZRE — for municipalities as a target group is an effective way for the optimisation of the awareness on the local level. The information has to address the local level in general which includes the local policy, the administration, the local business development as well as the civil society. For the implementation of integrated approaches, all these stakeholders play an important role.

Incentives for relevant local stakeholders

The programme is largely based on voluntary activities and instruments. This, however, also touches on the outreach to the target groups: regulator}' and economic instruments are naturally perceived much more strongly by all sections of the society.

Incentives are also of integral importance for the cross-sectional topic of resource efficiency to be promoted on the municipal level. A subsidy programme and/or competition and/or the financing of staff (e.g. resource efficiency manager) should be taken into account. This is important also for the awareness rising among actors on the local level but not at least for consumers who are all directly affected by local decision-making in the context of waste, mobility and floor-space management if they are done under resource-efficient aspects.

General conclusions and outlook

A shift in resource use patterns is inevitable when we want to take the climate crisis seriously. Although this chapter has focused primarily on institutional

The German Resource Efficiency Programme 169 vertical integration in a particular programme in a single country, it is clear that resource conservation is an essential part of any other resource-dependent environmental policy field such as climate protection and land use. With a view on resource scarcity, however, it is also an issue of economy and peace. Resource relevant activities must be brought closer in a more systematic way at national, European and global levels. The segmentation of federal environmental policy in Germany has so far continued at the state level. Better horizontal cooperation between the states should be an objective too!

With a view to European policy development, it has become apparent in recent years that resource efficiency is increasingly understood as an essential element of a broader circular economy. This means highly complex challenges and research demand, not only in the context of global value chains for resources and waste but also and especially in the regional-municipal area, which is characterised by path-dependent infrastructures and small-scale regulation of waste management at a day-to-day basis. A huge number of extremely different actors and stakeholders has to be brought to the table to discuss common objectives and target conflicts in the first place. This points to a necessary in-depth analysis target and conflict-of-goals.

With a specific view on policy integration and especially vertical policy integration, the question should be investigated in more detail as to how such a complex implementation process can be made more participatory and inclusive without the most powerfill industries becoming the main decisionmakers in the long run. As the Federal Ministry states: ‘Comprehensive public participation is vital for gaining broad acceptance of the programme’ (BMU 2019) and has introduced a citizens’ dialogue for ProgRess HI for the second time (comprising a total of 250 randomly selected members of the public who will bring in their suggestions for improving the programme). This extraordinarily successful process could, for example, also be a viable way for local decision-makers in the municipalities to become better involved.

A concluding remark shall acknowledge that new programme 2020—2023 has taken up some of the aspects suggested in this chapter. For example, the promotion of local public transport and an alignment of the municipal economic development towards resource efficiency and closing regional material cycles have been newly included as two priorities.


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