Measures of the Digital Policy Agenda for the Environment

Measures already underway

Industry 4.0 and circular economy

Vocational training in industry

The VDI Centre for Resource Efficiency (VDI ZRE) offers training courses on behalf of the BMU on how digital technologies can help reduce material and energy consumption in production processes

German Resource Efficiency Programme: ProgRess III

Update of German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess) with special emphasis on the interactions between digitalisation and resource efficiency

Innovation strategy

Code4Green Hackathon

Continuation of the BMU's Code4Green Hackathon series launched in 2018 for the years 2020 (for Germany's EU Council Presidency) and 2021 to develop data-driven solutions and business models for environmental protection

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Support Programme for environment, climate, nature and resources

With its AI lighthouse projects for environment, climate, nature and resources the BMU is promoting the development and testing of artificial intelligence-based solutions to tackle environmental problems. The projects set an example for green, environmentally sound and climate-friendly digitalisation.


Climate action through intelligent traffic management (NKI)

Promotion of municipal procurement and use of data sources (big data) relevant to transport as a measure for intelligent traffic management to enable municipalities to upgrade and favour environmentally friendly transport network.

Studies on potential for climate action arising from digitalisation in traffic management (NKI)

Promotion of municipal studies on potential with focus on intelligent traffic management that demonstrate options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of big data in traffic management.

Support for associations

Support for project Autonom unterwegs in der Stadt – Chancen und Risiken der Digitalisierung für die Verkehrswende (Autonomous travel in the city – opportunities and risks of digitalisation for the transport sector transformation) of the Verkehrsclub Deutschland e. V. association. The project uses a participatory approach to identify development paths, like private cars in combination with mobility services, that can contribute to sustainable urban transport.

Research on digitalisation in transport sector

Research projects on the potential and risks of digitalisation in the transport sector for the environment and climate, including networked and self-driving vehicles; development of regulatory concepts and framework conditions for sustainable mobility; sharing research findings with municipalities, the automotive industry and mobility providers

Sustainable consumption

Destruction of usable products

Introduction of a duty to exercise proper care for retailers as part of the amendment to the Circular Economy Act, which stipulates that returns and excess inventory must be kept in a usable state.

AI for sustainable consumer choices

Support for research and development of AI-based innovations and methods for sustainable development in the context of the AI lighthouse projects for environment, climate, nature and resources

Lighthouse project on sustainable consumption

The lighthouse project Pathways and Components of a Digital Agenda for Sustainable Consumption systematically analyses cross-cutting digitalisation issues in the implementation of the National Programme on Sustainable Consumption and develops solutions for sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles for the new digital age

Blue Angel delivery and shipping services

Definition of award criteria for the Blue Angel ecolabel for delivery and shipping services

Nature conservation, agriculture and water management

National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring

Establishment of a National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring to expand and ensure biodiversity monitoring at national level.

Environmentally friendly digitalisation

Studies on climate action potential in IT and building engineering in data centres (NKI)

Promotion of municipal studies to analyse potential of existing IT and building engineering in data centres as well as short-, medium- and long-term potential for energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings.

Blue Angel as orientation for green IT

The Blue Angel ecolabel has been established for the following four product groups: energy-efficient data centre operation, climate-compatible co-location data centres, resource- and energy-efficient software products, and server and data storage products.

Environmental impact assessment of 5G technology

Research into trends in energy and raw material consumption of new mobile networks including selected end-devices with a particular focus on 5G mobile communication infrastructure under the UTAMO project.

Further development of government Green IT Initiative

Consolidation of energy consumed in the federal administration by IT operation to a maximum of 350 gigawatt hours in 2022; implementation of sustainable IT procurement and application of Blue Angel criteria for government data centres being established.

Promotion of climate action in data centres (NKI)

Support for municipalities with investments and optimisation services that significantly increase energy and resource efficiency in data centres.

Safeguard health and nature conservation in the expansion of 5G mobile communication infrastructure

Transfer of existing high level of protection against electromagnetic fields to the 5G sector under the Mobile Communications Strategy of the German government; for expanding the grid; maintaining protection standards set out in nature conservation legislation.

Climate-friendly procurement in the German government

Consideration of environmental impacts in manufacturing, use, recycling and disposal stages before strategic decisions are taken on the use of IT in the German government.

Electromagnetic Fields Competence Centre

Pooling of BfS expertise and intensification of research and communication on static, low-frequency electric and magnetic, and high-frequency electromagnetic fields.

Environmental policy 4.0

Education and participation in civil society

Support for associations involved in educational activities related to digitalisation and sustainability and handling environmental data or citizen science projects.

Implementation of the act to improve online access to administrative services (Onlinezugangsgesetz)

The BMU, in cooperation with the federal states, is implementing digitalisation measures and measures to provide digital access to services and approval procedures in environmental administration.

UNIS-D environmental data cloud

Development of multidisciplinary and multilevel access to environmental data by means of a German environmental and nature conservation information system (UNIS-D).

Compliance assurance

Development of handouts to facilitate the collection and use of data to enforce environmental law; identification of possibilities to monitor the enforcement of environmental law.

Measures to be initiated

Industry 4.0 and circular economy

Open Source Data Platform

To identify advances, undesirable developments and need for action in resource policies, usable central data and information on resource conservation is to be made available to the general public via the Open Data Platform of the German government.

Standardisation and standards

Acceleration of standards on and standardisation of the integration of resource and environmental aspects in industry 4.0, automation and IT.

Integration of resource efficiency and environmental aspects into industry 4.0

Research, financial research support and practical testing on resource and environmental aspects of industry 4.0 to further develop the link between resource efficiency and digitalisation in the industry 4.0 field and address risks.

Introduction of Digital Product Passport

Support of the EU Commission initiative to develop a Digital Product Passport, as part of Germany's EU Council Presidency.

Corporate environmental management

Promotion of digitalisation potential through the European environmental management system EMAS.

Industry 4.0 Platform

BMU dialogue with Industry 4.0 Platform on sustainability and production issues from the perspective of industry.

Innovation strategy

Dialogue series of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)

To incorporate issues of digitalisation for environmental policy into the public discourse, the German Federal Environmental Foundation is to organise regional discussions together with the BMU.

Digital Innovation Hub for Climate

Support for the development of digital solutions for climate action under the Climate Action Programme 2030 by creating a "hub of hubs" network in addition to a centre for contact, consultation and networking for start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses and established businesses.

Transformation roadmap for digitalisation and sustainability

Establishment of a research network to explore and analyse future research needs in order to develop strategic solutions related to digitalisation and sustainability.

Support agenda for digital innovation for the environment

Analysis of the BMU's existing support programmes to determine the adaptation potential and requirements driven by digitalisation, taking into account good examples from other European countries and from abroad with clear distinction from existing programmes of the German government.


Competition on the future of sustainable mobility for environmental protection and climate action in the transport sector

Support municipalities in development of forward-looking traffic planning that considers digitalisation aspects, including new forms of participation – with a focus on the following areas: commuter traffic, commercial traffic and rural area.

Municipal network for sustainable digital transformation of the transport sector

Exchange of best practices and experiences in the context of the envisaged competition on the future of sustainable mobility for environmental protection and climate action in the transport sector with regard to the sustainability of digital concepts in the transport sector; reducing environmental pressures and managing rebound effects.

Regulatory instruments

Formulation of recommendations for action for regulatory, economic and fiscal instruments to strengthen the environmental potential of digitalisation for the transport sector.

International cooperation

Set an example for environmentally sound mobility in developing countries and emerging economies: project support through International Climate Initiative (IKI) call for project ideas on digitalisation in transport in urban areas of Asia and Latin America to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable consumption

Energy consumption and media streaming

Review of binding provisions to limit high data rates when streaming media (in particular videos); discussion with platform operators with regard to possible approaches to voluntary commitment or regulation during Germany's EU Council Presidency.

Obligation to review for electronic marketplaces

Introduction of an obligation for operators of electronic marketplaces as well as fulfilment service providers to review and verify that the manufacturers of electrical and electronic products and packaging being sold are properly registered through amendments to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act and the Packaging Act.

Nature conservation, agriculture and water management

EU Common Agricultural Policy

Proposals for digitally supported environmental protection and nature conservation measures (for example eco-schemes, agri-environment measures and investment measures under Pillar 2).

Environmentally friendly digitalisation

Initiative to extend EU Ecodesign Directive

  • Extend application to cover new product groups (for example smartphones)
  • Update criteria for products already covered (for example PCs)
  • Establish minimum standards for resource efficiency
  • Lay down requirements for manufacturers to ensure long operation life spans of their hardware software systems
  • Make existing legislation more dynamic in light of accelerated technology and product cycles

Sustainable artificial intelligence

Update of AI Support Programme of the BMU and development of criteria to evaluate the environmental impacts of AI (particularly energy and resource consumption).

Push for guarantee statement obligation and right to repair (obsolescence)

Extension of European manufacturer obligation on statements about the guaranteed life span of digital electronic products. Creation of binding rules on provision of updates, repair instructions, replacement parts and tools, and cross-manufacturer solutions for exchanging batteries, screens and other short-lived hardware components as a basis for a European right to repair under the EU Ecodesign Directive or a directive on the repair of electrical and electronic equipment.

Green coding syllabus

Development of a syllabus for computer science students on methods to develop energy- and resource-efficient software including a support network.

Sustainability criteria for blockchain

Establishment of sustainability standards for distributed ledger technologies as a task under the Blockchain Strategy of the German government; consideration of ongoing project Nachhaltigkeit für Distributed-Ledger-Technologien & Smart Contracts (sustainability for distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts) which is part of BMU support for associations.

Environmental policy 4.0

Modernisation of the administrative agreement on data exchange

Modernisation of the administrative agreement on data exchange between the German government and the federal states to enable comprehensive and mandatory data exchange between the federal levels.

Climate policy support for the digitalisation implementation strategy

Provision of tools and knowledge for the ex-ante and ex-post assessment of the greenhouse gas impact of the German government's digital policy projects.

Development of Federal Environment Ministry data strategy

Development of a data strategy for the Federal Environment Ministry as a component of the German government's data strategy, including a concept that addresses how the federal working structures are organised.

Measures to be developed next

Industry 4.0 and circular economy

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Initiative supporting consideration of environmental impacts along supply and value chains

Living laboratory for networked model municipalities in circular economy

Establishment of test area to explore digital solutions for optimised waste logistics and management, waste prevention and interaction with consumers

Environmental aspects of critical raw materials

Initiative supporting consideration of environmental aspects in EU list of critical raw materials (adaptation of classification methodology and approach)

Innovation strategy

Platform for Social and Environmental Innovation

Networked social initiatives and innovators to enhance digitally based innovation for a sustainable society


Legislation on carriage of passengers

Support for creation of legal foundation for ride-sharing and carpooling as a practical addition to public transport and introduction of management methods for municipalities (for example specifications on areas served, drive types or feeder function of local rail transport and options for implementing digital offers)

Living laboratory for environmentally sound digitalisation in the transport sector

Test out municipal organisation of environmentally sound transport using digital instruments for example dynamic real-time management or digital mobility network – impact of digital mobility at neighbourhood level in the context of the competition on the future of sustainable mobility for environmental protection and climate action in the transport sector

Sustainable consumption

Trend analysis for sustainable consumption and digitalisation

Continuous collection and update of data on sustainable consumption through systematic market monitoring (analysis of consumer trends and lifestyles taking gender aspects into consideration)

Making the ecological footprint visible

Support for research and development on the potential, opportunities and limits of communication and visualisation of information related to the supply chain and environmental impacts of production (virtual reality/augmented reality)

Regulation for sustainable online retail

Development of regulatory approaches, for example, a requirement to provide environmentally relevant product information and sustainability labels; incorporation of sustainability criteria in search and selection algorithms; filtering options and appropriate presentation of sustainable products in search results and recommendations

Living laboratory for sustainable consumption in the platform economy

Establishment of an experimental lab to conduct practical tests of the effectiveness and technical feasibility of practical regulatory and incentive systems for sustainable consumption; innovation partnership with online retailers and relevant stakeholders

Label for sustainable online retailers

Development of criteria to identify sustainable online shops, for example, with regard to the presentation of environmentally relevant information and services and the energy- and resource-efficient operation of platforms

Nature conservation, agriculture and water management

Living laboratory for sustainable digital agriculture

Testing of platform-based approaches for nature conservation and environmental protection as well as new ecosystem services as a contribution to sustainable land management with an integrated landscape assessment (to supplement the activities of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture)

European Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring

Initiative to establish EU-wide biodiversity monitoring during Germany's EU Council Presidency in cooperation with the European Environment Agency (EEA)

Imaging technologies in agricultural monitoring

Easier use and deployment of new imaging technologies (including Sentinel satellites of the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme of the EU) for agricultural monitoring, particularly with regard to environmental and climate requirements set out in the Common Agricultural Policy

GeoBox: Further development and scaling

Concept to further develop the GeoBox infrastructure with a view to the potential arising from the use and automated exchange of data from environmental and nature conservation administration and machine learning

Information system for low water levels

Support for the federal states in the establishment of a web-based information system for low water levels as a contribution to improving data infrastructure; establishment of digital services for water management

Environmentally friendly digitalisation

Register for data centres

Creation of a register for data centres (through extended classification of branches of the economy (WZ 2008) to include a sectoral category for data centres)

Research on energy and resource consumption indicators

Creation of a data base and establishment of systematic monitoring of the energy and resource consumption of digital electronic devices and infrastructures as a prerequisite for data based policy.

Use of recycled materials

Development of EU-wide minimum quotas for the use of recycled materials (plastics and metals) in the manufacturing of components for digital infrastructures and electronic devices

Environmental policy 4.0

Monitoring of illegal online trade

Task force to assist the environmental authorities and customs officials in monitoring new environmental offences in online trade in protected species or harmful substances

Digital fitness check of environmental legislation

Review of relevant environmental provisions to determine applicability to digital enforcement options/digital technologies

Addition of the application lab for artificial intelligence and big data to the Satellite Remote Sensing Competence Centre

Expansion of the Satellite Remote Sensing Competence Centre in UBA to support enforcement, analysis of satellite and sensor data and the development of automated analysis processes; creation of capacities for artificial intelligence and big data to support environmental administrations at federal, state and local level in the analysis of large quantities of data.