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Municipal contribution to the German Voluntary National Review to the UN

Where do German municipalities stand in implementing the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This question is explored in the municipal contribution to the official Voluntary National Review of the German Federal Government to the United Nations, which was prepared by the German Institute of Urban Affairs on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Foto Marc Wolinda
Marc Wolinda
Project Manager


The report shows that numerous municipalities in Germany are already on the path to sustainable development, but the majority have not yet initiated comprehensive sustainability processes. Kirsten Witte, head of the program Livable Communities, is optimistic: "There are many lighthouses, but it does not yet shine everywhere. Of course, we hope that many more municipalities will embark on the sustainability path in the coming years."

In order to support municipalities in implementing impact-oriented sustainability management, the project "Agenda 2030 – Localizing the SDGs" has been continuously developing the SDG Indicators for municipalities since 2017/18 together with the municipal umbrella associations as well as other partners. The indicators are made available online including all available data in the SDG Portal.

After the German Federal Government classified the SDG Indicators and the SDG Portal as a reference framework for municipal sustainability management in its current sustainability strategy, the instruments have now also found their way into this year's Voluntary National Review (VNR) of the German Federal Government to the United Nations.

The data analysis of the municipal contribution to the VNR shows both positive and negative trends. For example, child and youth poverty rates have decreased significantly across all municipality sizes. Economic indicators have also shown positive trends across the board. However, the trend in nitrogen surplus from agriculture looks less good, and the trend in rents, especially in large cities, also holds potential for social tensions. Here it is important for the municipalities to make their contribution to reversing the trend in the coming years.