Overline: Nachhaltigkeitsplattform BB
Headline: Water Poverty: Brandenburg Must Do More to Protect Water Resources

Brandenburg boasts more standing and running water resources than any other state – and yet it is running out of water. Securing access to ample water resources is crucial to fostering sustainable agricultural and industrial development and enhancing the quality of life in the region. The sustainability advisory board to Brandenburg State has developed a set of recommendations for the state government on the protection of Brandenburg's water resources. The recommendations are based on a policy brief by Professor Manfred Stock of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who analyzed the state of the region's water resources and their management in cooperation with the Brandenburg Sustainability Platform and Advisory Board.

Lake Templin
Water scarcity is becoming an urgent issue on Brandenburg's waterways and lakes. At Lake Templin near Potsdam, many of the jetties have been left high and dry. Low water levels prevent ships from passing through locks on the Havel River in some weeks. RIFS/ Solène Droy

At a working meeting on 20 February, the chair of the advisory board, Professor Ortwin Renn of the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) in Potsdam, presented the policy brief along with the board’s recommendations to representatives of the state government.

Professor Renn emphasized that as Brandenburg moved to adapt to climate change it would be necessary to establish incentives for economical and efficient water use: "Water is not a free good that can be utilized at will – in fact, it is a vital and scarce resource that we must use sparingly. This includes the moderate but effective pricing of water for agricultural, industrial and commercial use."

Members of the advisory board and Professor Stock were joined at the meeting by Brandenburg’s representative to the federal government, State Secretary Friederike Haase, as well as ministers Axel Vogel (Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection) and Jörg Steinbach (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy).

State Secretary Friederike Haase said: "The sustainable use of water resources is central to safeguarding the future of our state. On behalf of the state government, I would like to thank the advisory board for its detailed and constructive input on this issue, which will inform future decision-making by the state government. Some of the proposed measures are already being implemented by the state government in its various strategies and projects.

These include a climate adaptation concept for water management policy, a low-water concept, and improved interstate cooperation, especially with Berlin. The next iteration of the state’s sustainable development strategy, which is currently under public consultation, will also address the issue of water management."

Six key messages:

  • Water resources are crucial for regional development
  • Climate change impacts necessitate an integrated approach to the management of land and water resources
  • More field research is needed to develop water accounts and resource conservation solutions  
  • A more consistent approach to wastewater treatment is needed
  • Wastewater and water withdrawal levies should be adjusted
  • Broad participation in river basin management is needed to protect water resources

The authors hope that the proposals and recommendations outlined in the report will be taken up and implemented in state policy. Efforts to protect Brandenburg's water resources will face significant challenges even if global warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, if this target is exceeded – or indeed the 2 degrees target – more far-reaching measures would be needed to rein water consumption and improve efficiency.


Brandenburg State’s Sustainability Advisory Board was established in February 2021 to advise and support the state in its efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The board also works on various topics relating to challenges in sustainability policy. To date its activities have focussed on four priority topics:

  • the energy transition and decarbonization of the economy in Brandenburg
  • the protection of Brandenburg's water resources
  • resilient land use
  • the social dimension of sustainability: social cohesion and democracy as a way of life

The board cooperates closely on these issues with Brandenburg’s Sustainability Platform, which brings together representatives of civil society and local authorities.

Further information on the Sustainability Advisory Board is available here: Scientific Support for Brandenburg's Sustainability Advisory Board | Research Institute for Sustainability