The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) initiated the Sustainability Code, having previously held talks with politicians, investors, and analysts from the financial sector, enterprises and civil society organizations.

Following an extensive preparatory phase at expert level, the RNE presented its initial draft of the German Sustainability Code on November 29, 2010 and invited the general public and all companies to discuss it.

Close to eighty statements and contributions to the discussion were submitted to RNE by the time the dialogue phase ended on February 25, 2011. These contributions, a qualification workshop with companies on May 9, 2011 and the experience gained from a practical test conducted from June to August 2011, formed the basis for further developing the draft. The public discussion that ensued during the multi-stakeholder forum in Frankfurt/Main on September 26, 2011 primarily centred on questions relating to the Code’s scope of validity and its implementation. The outcomes were integrated into the decision-making RNE meeting held on October 13, 2011. The Code has been managed by the RNE since early 2012, which is also responsible for its public discussion and corporate implementation.

The German Council for Sustainable Development has since presented an updated version (on October 4, 2014) of the Sustainability Code that was originally finalized on October 13, 2011. After two years of its implementation, the criteria and indicators underwent an extensive overhaul. The RNE also broadens the transparent application of the Sustainability Code and thus the reporting of sustainability information by virtue of a database. Its implementation was promoted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of a Sustainable Business Institute (SBI) project.

German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, praised the Sustainability Code during a speech she delivered on June 25, 2012 at the annual conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development, as being a good guideline for a green economy: “The federal government supports this Code. We will canvass for it to be used in even more companies.”