Sustainability in the public sector

Your expert for questions

Dr. Wolfgang Zink

Dr. Wolfgang Zink
Partner Public Sector Consulting at PwC Germany
Tel: +49 151 1896 4363

Sustainable Development and Agenda 2030 – a joint cause

Sustainability has a long tradition. When the word was first used within the forestry industry in the 18th century, it mainly referred to the need to tackle shortages of wood that were caused by deforestation and the destruction of large areas of countryside.

Today, people are increasingly aware of the consequences that are threatened by global climate change and other dangers resulting from unsustainable lifestyles and forms of employment. 

With the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, the global community agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. These goals set a benchmark in social, economic and environmental dimensions. The German Sustainability Strategy links to the SDGs and adds guidelines for generation equality, living standards, social cohesion and international responsibility.

The entire public sector faces the task of promoting sustainable development – whether at the national level, the federal level or the municipal level. The task affects state-owned enterprises such as transport services operators or public utilities companies, as well as higher education institutes, churches and non-profit organisations.

  • How can the transition to sustainable development succeed?

  • What strategies and implementation plans are required?

  • Which specific operating models, legal and economic structures are necessary?

As long-standing and reliable partners for the public sector, PwC and Strategy& help you  address these complex challenges.

“The public sector must act in a way that is consistent with a sustainable future. Anything else would directly contradict its entire purpose.”

Dr. Wolfgang Zink,Partner Public Sector Consulting at PwC Germany

The path to sustainable operations for the public sector

The public sector operates in an environment where challenges, roles and tasks are becoming increasingly multifaceted. For the public sector, the relevant definition of sustainability covers areas that extend beyond widely recognised environmental topics like the energy transformation or mobility, while also extending beyond social considerations such as the compatibility of family commitments and career aspirations. Similarly, a holistic and sustainable setup is about far more than the service portfolio of a company or organisation. It reaches out across all business areas, process structures and development projects.

As part of ongoing modernisation efforts, the public sector is increasingly being made responsible for supporting sustainable development. There is now a strong focus on sustainability strategies and concepts, as well as sustainable working methods. This has implications ranging from a sustainability strategy for public authorities through to environmentally responsible urban development, sustainable procurement and the digitisation of cities, towns or educational institutions. As a result, the public sector has an opportunity to be a pioneer for sustainability in the future.

Your situation

How to make the sustainable transformation a success 

Public sector organisations can address the wide range of sustainability-related topics from two perspectives. First, they can focus on the footprint of their own ecosystem. Second, they can act as a pioneer by taking specific action and setting targets. However, this requires public sector companies to change. There are a wide range of potential starting points for a sustainable transformation.

In the beginning, there will be many questions:

  • How can we anchor sustainability strategies and targets in our area?

  • What future opportunities will be opened up by sustainability – if we establish a new mindset within public sector companies and at the national, federal and municipal level? 

  • Which measures can we take to translate our targets into specific actions?

  • How can we embed this topic into public administration, and how can we encourage staff to embrace sustainability?

  • How can we gain acceptance for measures that require some people to give up certain advantages?

Our services

From strategy to implementation

The sustainability consultants at PwC and Strategy& combine deep knowledge of the public sector with cross-industry expertise related to the environment and sustainability. We offer services ranging from helping to develop an individual sustainability strategy through to far-reaching support for the implementation phase. There are many possible ways of introducing and implementing sustainability targets. We support you in finding the right approach for your organisation – and bringing it to life.

Our range of consultancy services includes:

  • Sustainability strategy: We work closely with you to develop an integrated sustainability strategy that is tailored to fit the unique challenges in the public sector.

  • Corporate governance: We support you in integrating sustainability into your organisation, processes and culture, and help you to optimise your existing structures.

  • Digitisation: We provide support for digitising the value chain, implementing digitisation strategies for a digital city, or with smart city projects.

  • Sustainable administration: Our experts accompany you throughout the internal implementation process by helping to develop an official sustainability management approach or suitable strategy for topics such as making sure demographic changes are reflected in your human resources processes.

  • Sustainable procurement: We work with you to evaluate your procurement processes and establish a sustainable sourcing strategy – with a focus on local sourcing wherever possible.

  • Sustainable development: We support you in developing and implementing concepts related to site development, mobility and climate protection.
  • Regulatory and legal support: In order to achieve regulatory sustainability targets and gain access to funding, you need to understand funding guidelines and sustainability-related factors in detail. We support you in analysing your specific situation.


In addition, the experts from PwC and Strategy& offer a broad range of specific measures that support public sector organisations in achieving targets for sustainable development – from climate protection concepts and “net zero” initiatives through to e-Mobility, optimising social security systems and public safety.

Our promise

Holistic and global solutions 

The sustainability consultants at PwC and Strategy& combine deep understanding of the public sector with expert knowledge of sustainability. In this way, we are able to offer our clients holistic solutions around the world. As a member of the global PwC network, we have access to a large and international network of experts worldwide. 

Our promise: We will accompany you from strategy through to implementation, and will work closely with your team to overcome challenges and open up opportunities related to sustainability.

Contact us

Dr. Wolfgang Zink

Dr. Wolfgang Zink

Partner, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 1511 8964363

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