Since the turn of the millennium, the discussion about a sustainable and environmentally friendly cultural policy has become more intense in Germany. In the process, the ecological deficit of cultural policy is bemoaned and a new nature-based understanding of culture is demanded. Sustainability, conservation of resources and slowing down are demanded as guiding goals of cultural policy action. Exemplary for this is the project of the Institute for Cultural Policy of the Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft on the topic of “The significance of culture for the guiding principle of sustainable development” (2001/2002), in the context of which the “Tutzing Manifesto for strengthening the culturally aesthetic dimension of sustainability”15 was created in 2002. The conference was supported by renowned actors from the fields of culture, the environment and science and received a great deal of public attention. Based on the recognised deficit that culture has not played a role in international concepts and declarations on sustainable development to date, and referring to the “World Summit on Sustainable Development” in Johannesburg in 2002, it called for Agenda 21 processes to be structurally opened up to the topic of culture and aesthetics.
The German Council for Sustainable Development was founded in 2001. It advises the Federal Government on sustainability policy. Its members are 15 people from civil society, business, science and politics who are appointed by the Federal Government every 3 years. It also carries out its own projects and provides impetus for social dialogue.
However, the early opinion-forming processes – mainly initiated by civil society actors – have been followed by little concrete cultural policy action. Only since climate change with its catastrophic consequences has dominated the media headlines has it become increasingly clear that the old question of the limits to growth and the resulting constraints and necessary decisions are increasingly challenging all policy areas, including cultural policy. Increasingly, we are hearing calls for federal, state and local cultural policy to be oriented towards the criteria of a sustainable and climate-friendly cultural policy. There are calls for cultural and environmental policy to be more closely interlinked and for the sustainability debate to be expanded to include the cultural issue. Specifically, programmes are called for that allow cultural institutions to adapt to the climatic conditions to be expected in the coming decades and to provide incentives that encourage institutions to generate ideas for a change of course and to communicate them proactively.
A further task is seen in the sustainable equipment and management of the cultural infrastructure.
In 2016, the draft of a German sustainability strategy was published, and in January 2017 the strategy was adopted by the Federal Government. It also refers to the special role of art and culture. In March 2021, the Federal Cabinet decided on its further development.
For about 5 years now, there has also been a more intensive preoccupation with the topic of sustainability in cultural policy. In 2017, the Council for Sustainability launched the “Sustainability Fund”, a programme to promote transformative projects on sustainability culture. The Federal Chancellery provided funding of 7.5 million euros for the fund for 4 years. The fund ended in December 2021, during which time several idea competitions were launched on various projects in everyday culture (e.g. food, mobility, building). A total of 89 projects were supported with the money from this fund. The German Cultural Council, the umbrella organisation of German cultural associations, has also put the topic high on its agenda. Supported by the German Council for Sustainable Development and in cooperation with the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland, it launched a campaign in September 2018 to build a bridge between the sustainability discourse of the natural and environmental sector and cultural policy debates. In 2020, the “Action Network Sustainability in Culture and Media” (https://aktionsnetzwerk- nachhaltigkeit.de) was launched as part of the Summer Academy of the Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft (Society for Cultural Policy). It is the central cross-sectoral contact point for the topic of “operational ecology” in culture and media. The Action Network currently consists of about 30 partners, including municipalities, cultural institutions, cultural associations, research institutions, energy agencies, etc. The Action Network organises climate protection organisations. The action network organises climate workshops, offers further education programmes such as “transformation manager for sustainable culture” and carries out pilot projects. In the spring of 2021, for example, a pilot project entitled “CO2 calculator for Culture” and a few months later “Climate balance for Culture in NRW”, in which 16 cultural institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia are accompanied in the use of the CO2 calculator and in the preparation of climate balances.
The Kulturstiftung des Bundes (KSB) is one of the other actors promoting sustainability in the cultural sector. The KSB itself already participated in the EMAS certification for ecological management in 2012, which obliges institutions to undergo regular environmental audits and to improve their environmental behaviour. In autumn 2020, KSB initiated a pilot project “Climate Balances”, which supported 19 cultural institutions nationwide to draw up a model climate balance of their institutions and to determine their carbon footprint . The KSB has also submitted an open application for a “Zero Fund” with which it wants to support cultural institutions in testing climate-neutral forms of production.
In 2020, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media presented a sustainability report for the first time.
For about two years now, there has also been an intensified discussion about the extent to which the topic of “sustainability” becomes part of the guidelines for funding cultural actors. Numerous research projects on the topic of “culture and sustainability” have also been launched . In addition, several guidelines for cultural events, institutions and organisations have been published in the last two years.
The Coalition Agreement 2021 also provides for the establishment of a “Green Culture” focal point for ecological transformation.
 Tutzinger Manifest (2002), in: Kurt, Hildegard / Wagner, Bernd (Hrsg.), Kultur – Kunst – Nachhaltigkeit. Die Bedeutung von Kultur für das Leitbild Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Bonn / Essen: Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e.V. / Klartext Verlag (Dokumentation 57), p. 265-267.