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Photo: GIZ: Tanja Gönner, speaker of the board and Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, member of the board
Tanja Gönner and Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, Management Board of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (© Thomas Imo /

Foreword bythe Management Board

«The ability to implement demanding commissions rapidly and effectively is at the heart of our strategic thinking.»

Dear readers,

Looking back on the reporting year 2019 from the perspective of GIZ, there is one constant – and that is constant change. The world is in motion, with dynamics and conflicts that are both fragmented and interlinked taking shape at the same time. While multilateral institutions lose their regulatory functions and their power to bind members together, and global governance becomes more diverse, complex and nationally oriented, thereby also suffering a loss of cohesion, there are nevertheless signs of a new global movement that unites more than it divides. Catalysed by young people’s involvement in the Fridays for Future demonstrations, millions of people around the globe joined forces to push climate change higher up the international political agenda. They fought for the same goals, organised themselves across borders and adopted a resolute position towards multilateral institutions, governments, politicians, business and society.

In the current year – 2020 – another inexorable issue that affects the whole world has been added to the mix: coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. This new virus has gripped the world to an unprecedented degree, and is still doing so. It is the cause of innumerable deaths and immense suffering, bringing in its wake social, economic and political challenges that the world has never seen before. This is particularly true of the many parts of the world in crisis or at war, where demands are growing every day. The coronavirus crisis is truly global, and the response to it can only succeed through strong international cooperation.

Playing our part in shaping change

In these current times, international cooperation is not only called upon more than ever to find answers to the big questions of sustainability and how to establish new forces for cohesion, it is also needed to help curb the pandemic and its consequences, and ultimately make a contribution to sustainability by doing so. Here GIZ is bringing the very qualities to bear that feature in the title of this year’s Company Report: reliability and curiosity. We had already chosen this title before the virus took hold. We decided to stick with it, even if it is difficult at first to wrest anything positive from the dynamics surrounding coronavirus. Overall, though, the fact remains that change is fundamentally a positive thing. We can’t stop it, nor do we want to; we want to help shape it. We want to make it easier to assess negative consequences and thus make them easier to operationalise. We are able to do this particularly well when we couple our decades of expertise with a keen and questioning awareness of our environment. When we act on the basis of our experience, but at the same time are open to innovation. When we advocate the greatest possible degree of security in crisis regions and in times of crisis, but also stimulate new developments in stable contexts. And when we continue to be a reliable partner for our commissioning parties and for people around the world – and respond flexibly to changing political requirements.

Broadening and pooling our expertise effectively

The ability to implement demanding commissions rapidly and successfully is at the heart of our strategic thinking, which we are re-emphasising this year. Our capacity to implement effective projects requires our full attention. We want to continue enhancing our effectiveness, developing our business and broadening our own skills and expertise. We want to play our part in alliances and always ensure that we are operating efficiently. We want to act even more swiftly, through our staff, our strategies and our processes and organisational structures.

None of this is an end in itself. In times when democracy is coming under ever-increasing pressure worldwide, when human rights are being disregarded in many countries, when industrialised nations, emerging economies and developing countries are drifting ever further apart economically, fragility is increasing and digitalisation is making the world turn faster and faster – in times like these, we are in demand, with the strategies and expertise needed to implement effective projects. As a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work, sustainability is a central pillar of our corporate policy, alongside the capacity to carry out successful projects. This is why we reaffirmed our commitment to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact in 2019.   

Know-how and fresh ideas

Everything that we want to implement sustainably can only be done through a range of different cooperation arrangements and with an experienced, global team of experts. These are our 23,500 staff members, development workers, integrated experts and returning experts carrying out assignments for GIZ in Germany and more than 120 countries around the world. Every day, they play their part with their know-how and fresh ideas – helping us to implement demanding commissions even under the most difficult of circumstances.  

We would like to thank not only all our staff members, especially the 15,120 national staff in our countries of assignment, but also our commissioning parties, our partners in the countries where we work, and our Shareholder for the trust placed in us. In 2019, GIZ’s business volume rose again, to a total of EUR 3.1 billion. These funds are an important investment in the future: a future in which we strive every day to come a little closer to realising our vision of a life worth living for everyone. And this is driven by our reliability and curiosity.  

We hope you enjoy reading and exploring this report.

Tanja Gönner
Chair of the Management Board
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel
Managing Director