Sustainable Finance: The German Sustainability Code as a blueprint for other countries?

Following the joined Brussels seminar ‘Sustainable Finance: better safe than sorry‘ EEAC Member Councils continued their exchange on Sustainable Finance, this time within the framework of the Athens Sustainability Outlook 2019. Several councils gathered with experts from different European countries representing different stakeholder groups, -government, business, academia and opinion leaders in Athens on 4 and 5 April 2019. On behalf of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) Yvonne Zwick gave a keynote (Speech text). In addition, also Nathalie Boucquey (Speech text) of the Federal Council for Sustainable Development Belgium (FRDO-CFDD) addressed the audience.

Thematically the discussions in Athens focused in particular on sustainable finance and the reporting of companies’ non-financial performance. “We talked about other countries’ interest in establishing an instrument similar to the Sustainability Code in Germany,” commented Yvonne Zwick, who also leads the German Code’s office. Some three years ago, following a two-year development process, Greece became the first country in Europe to introduce its own Sustainability Code based on the German example. At the Athens conference Turkey announced that it is about to establish a national Sustainability Code as well.  This Turkish Sustainability Code, the result of a cooperation between the German Sustainability Code by RNE and the Turkish Center for Sustainable Production Research and Design (SÜRATAM), will soon be implemented.

The partnership between the Code and SÜRATAM shows that the contents of the Code are cross-border relevant and applicable. A look at the widely varying standards of sustainability reporting and the growing interest in standardization underlines that an instrument such as the Code, which focuses on materiality, commitment and transparency, can offer a good and feasible option to internationally promote sustainable business practices. Commenting on the announcement by Turkey, Yvonne Zwick, noted: “The team in Turkey is laying the foundation to kick start the disclosure of sustainability efforts from companies of all sizes in Turkey. We are delighted to witness the announcement of the Turkish Sustainability Code and welcome them to the Code family.”