Ecological Sustainability is a central component of the EU cohesion policy, a horizontal task of all structural funds and is anchored on an EU and national basis in treaties, strategies and programmes. In the Treaty of Lisbon environmental protection and the improvement of the quality of the environment are referred to as tasks of the Member States of the European Union in Article 3, in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union Article 191 defines, in addition, the principle of protection and prevention for environmental policy. At present, there are more than 200 legal provisions on environmental issues within the EU.
The current environmental policy in Germany is driven by the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and the National Strategy for Sustainable Development. These strategies reflect a broad range of topics relating to sustainable development, and ecological aspects are on an equal footing with economic and social aspects.
Many ecological topics of the sustainable development strategy are supported by specific political strategies, for instance in the fields of energy and climate policy, research and development and through measures for more sustainability in administrative action. For the field of education, the World Programme of Action relating to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is, for instance, a driver.
With the ESF, the thematic objectives 4 to 6 (shift towards a low-carbon economy, promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management, preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency) are to be supported through selected investment priorities.
The German Federal Operational Programme considers these requirements for the ESF of the Federal Government. Education and professional training are mentioned as central areas in which contributions towards ecological sustainability are expected. Here, too, it is stressed that sustainability objectives are not only anchored in business plans and environmentally oriented companies and start-ups are promoted, but also that entrepreneurial acting must take environmental needs into account to a stronger extent. In general, ESF project promoters are called upon to engage in ecologically sustainable activities.