Results of the Online Consultation on Sustainable Development and the Coronavirus Crisis

The results of the online consultation on sustainable development and the coronavirus crisis have now been published. The consultation explored the challenge of finding a sustainable way out of the coronavirus crisis through the lens of two interlinking guiding questions: “How can sustainability contribute to overcoming the pandemic? And how can overcoming the pandemic contribute to strengthening sustainability?” The report covers individual responses as well as wider-ranging perspectives on this field. The results of the consultation inform a new impulse paper with recommendations for the German Government on the coronavirus crisis and sustainable development. The Science Platform Sustainability 2030 received 75 responses to the consultation’s four overarching questions:

  • Can and must the concept of sustainability be reformulated?
  • Where and how can systemic thinking and action be embedded and continually refined in political structures and processes?
  • What concrete solutions – sectoral and cross sectoral – are now required?
  • How can the scientific community contribute to overcoming this crisis and initiate a dialogue on sustainability issues in the process?

Sustainability will play a key role if we are to emerge from the coronavirus crisis as a more resilient society, the paper argues. The crisis has revealed in stark terms the fragility of our social systems and their complex interdependencies. Sustainability – understood as the systemic integration of social, ecological, and economic developments – promises to make a significant contribution towards improving the resilience of our society in the face of such crises.

Science will play a crucial role in achieving this goal by helping us to gain a better understanding of crisis prevention and resilience and enabling societies to explore and trial integrative solutions that could put us on a pathway to a more sustainable future. Achieving this requires that we translate the findings of science into policy recommendations that can be incorporated into political decision-making processes. In order to stimulate scientific debate around these issues and lay the groundwork for relevant recommendations, the Science Platform Sustainability 2030 conducted an online consultation: “A Sustainable Way Out of the Corona Crisis – How can sustainability contribute to overcoming the pandemic – and how can overcoming the pandemic contribute to strengthening sustainability?” Researchers from all disciplines were invited to submit their responses and ideas on this question between 22 May and 10 June 2020.

The insights gathered through this consultation inform an impulse paper (Nachhaltig aus der Corona-Krise!) prepared by the Science Platform Sustainability 2030 and presented to the German government on 13 August 2020 as part of the work on the next update of the German Sustainable Development Strategy. The results of this consultation will also contribute to other work performed by the Science Platform.

A report summarizing the findings of the online consultation has also been published and includes those contributions that have been approved for publication. This report, which includes covers a broad range of aspects in considerable detail, is intended as a supplement to the impulse paper and will also be presented to the Federal Government.


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