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Bees, upcycling and clothes-swapping – staff initiatives at GIZ

A large number of GIZ employees have set up sustainability initiatives in their own free time. Many of these ideas are presented every year during the German Sustainability Action Days in response to calls from the German Council for Sustainable Development. In 2019, the various groups celebrated a festival of sustainability in Bonn at which they again showcased their initiatives in a round of talks with GIZ managers and through information stands and games designed to encourage other colleagues to get involved.

The Eschborn Environmental Initiative was set up ten years ago, making it one of the longest-established initiatives in the company. It celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2019, with former Managing Director Dr Christoph Beier as its patron.

Sustainability initiatives have also been launched by staff in Berlin and at the new AIZ Campus in Bonn-Röttgen. At other sites, initiatives tend to be organised around specific themes, for example an urban gardening project alongside the Meander Building in Bonn and numerous individual campaigns to promote activities such as upcycling, bike security coding and in-house food-sharing. Bee-keeping initiatives have now been set up at all three sites – Bonn, Eschborn and Röttgen. Training is provided for employees who are keen to get involved. At present, there are around three colonies at each site. All the initiatives keep in touch with each other through an in-house communication platform.

Photo: GIZ: staff at a bee-keeping initiative
Caring for the environment: a bee-keeping initiative set up by GIZ staff (© GIZ)

In 2019, to support the efforts of its staff, GIZ issued guidelines on staff participation in sustainability management. Managers and their team members can now agree on sustainability activities as individual goals. The guidelines include a commitment by GIZ to set up a Sustainability Fund in 2020. Groups will then be able to request funding for their initiatives. 

Since 2018, regular meetings have been held with the Director Corporate Sustainability, allowing the initiatives to put forward their ideas and proposals. This ensures that representatives of the various groups are kept up to date about Management Board discussions on sustainability issues. Thanks to this more intensive dialogue, staff initiatives are now involved in company-wide strategic processes, including work to expand GIZ’s Sustainability Programme.

Our sustainability management instruments

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 10 Reduced inequalities
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 13 Climate action