Sustainable Environmental Governance and the Role of Think Tanks in Germany and Europe


In order to bring the role of think tanks from the German and European environmental governance system closer to Chinese environmental stakeholders, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership organized a study tour from 29th July until 10th August 2018 to Germany and Sweden, where think tanks play an important role in environmental governance. The Chinese delegation, consisting of decision makers from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), visited multiple sustainable environmental governance organizational units in Germany and Sweden.

At first meeting in Berlin the delegation engaged in a discussion with Alexandra Lindenthal from the German Environmental Agency (UBA), who introduced the organization structure and operation management of UBA. In Potsdam, the participants communicated with Dr. Ortwin Renn, Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and engaged on the topics of Science Platform Sustainability 2030 and International Cooperation on Ocean Pollution Control.

In Frankfurt (Oder) Prof. Reimund Schwarze from the Europa-Universität Viadrina presented the International Environmental Economy and during a visit of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the delegation learned Strategies for Climate Protection and Sustainability. The delegation also studied the organizational structure of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) while visiting GIZ Representative Office in Berlin. Furthermore, communication strategies for political consulting on sustainability were introduced.

In Stockholm/Sweden, the delegation visited the Sustainable Sweden Association (SSA), a non-governmental and nonprofit organization serving for economical, ecological and social sustainable development all over the world. The China Representative of SSA, Stig Valter Karlsson, introduced NGOs and Sustainable Governance. Besides, the participants met with Han Guoyi, the Director of the China Programme of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) who introduced SEI and environmental governance. During the discussion, the sustainability challenges of China and the role of international exchange and learning was raised.

The last stop of the study tour was the province North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where the delegation learnt about German environmental governance and transformation of postindustrial Ruhr Area as well as River and Water management. Jürgen Evert, former Director of Urban Development Office of Lünen City gave an account on Lünen’s efforts to “Turning the sky and Rivers blue again” and achieving the sustainable economic structural transformation and environmental protection in the postindustrial Ruhr area. Furthermore, the delegation participated in a workshop on organization development and program management with Cefe International, a development consulting organization.

The Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, Natural Conservation Consumer Protection of NRW (MULNV NRW) introduced the NRW Strategy for Sustainable Development as well as policies and regulations on river management and pollution control. Furthermore, during the visit of Research Institute for Water and Waste Management at the RWTH Aachen University, the international research cooperation on water management was introduced. At the NRW Environment Agency, the delegation learned about water quality information systems and monitoring of rivers and at the Emschergenossenschaft und Lippeverband (EGLV), and the case study of basin management and pollution control at the Emscher River was introduced.

During a tour of the Duisburger Hafen, sustainable harbor development were introduced and Dr. Peter Jahns and Henning Sittel from the NRW Resource Efficiency Agency (NRW EFA+) presented the resource efficiency concepts in production. The last stop was the Chempark Bayer Leverkusen, where the sustainable management of industrial parks was discussed.