Green Economy in Germany: Study on drivers, barriers and recommendations

adelphi and the Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability are publishing a new study on drivers and barriers to the transformation of the German economy to a “Green Economy”. It is an important contribution to the development of the Green Economy Research Agenda of the BMBF.


The Green Economy Agenda adopted in 2012 at the climate conference in Rio de Janeiro boosts sustainable economic concepts that aim to combine climate change, a reduction of environmental pollution, as well as wealth and social justice. The transformation process entails significant opportunities for the German economy, society and politics, but also implicates risks. Markets for sustainable products and services are growing internationally.

However, also the number and strength of competitors is going to increase. In addition to the growth sectors in the Green Economy there will also be transformation “losers” – those industries or production models that are not sustainable in the context of the Green Economy. For that reason, a proactive approach to the transformation process is essential. In Germany, especially the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) are active in terms of reconsidering their policy agenda in light of the opportunities and challenges of the Green Economy.

In this context, adelphi and the Borderstep Institute were commissioned by the BMBF to examine the drivers and barriers to the transformation of the German economy to a Green Economy and formulate recommendations for the research and policy agenda. In the study, titled "Treiber und Hemmnisse für die Transformation der deutschen Wirtschaft zu einer 'Green Economy'" (English: "Drivers and Barriers for the transformation of Germany's economy to a green economy"), adelphi and Borderstep analyse the international market potential of the Green Economy from the German economy’s perspective, introduce selected key innovations for the transformation to a Green Economy and use these examples to present an analysis of the drivers and barriers that influence the dissemination of the key innovations. A decisive factor for the transformation of the German economy to a Green Economy, namely the political conditions in Germany, was evaluated in the context of a strengths and weaknesses analysis. On this basis, the authors conclude by providing recommendations for politics as well as recommendations for the BMBF’s research agenda “Green Economy”.