Strategic and systematic sustainability management
Sustainability management has been systematically mainstreamed in our company. Over the past two years, we have significantly expanded climate management measures as well.
Sustainability guides everything we do. At GIZ, the Chair of the Management Board is responsible for corporate sustainability. The Sustainability Board, Director Corporate Sustainability and the Sustainability Office work together closely to systematically anchor and develop this issue within our company. To this end, the Sustainability Office coordinates actions with other organisational units at GIZ.
Sustainability management: where we stand
GIZ commissioned a corporate strategy evaluation of our sustainability management practices to determine where improvements are needed. The external evaluators highlighted GIZ’s positive systematic approach and the structures and instruments that are in place to manage sustainability. Standards, voluntary commitments and detailed reporting guide our actions and create transparency. In particular, our structure – made up of the Sustainability Board, Director Corporate Sustainability and the Sustainability Office – is a good foundation for effective management. The evaluators recommended drawing up guidelines for resolving conflicting objectives. Conflicting objectives occur, for instance, when travel decisions have to take into account sustainability on the one hand, and social considerations, such as health and work-life balance, on the other. The sustainability management team is now preparing guidance on how to resolve conflicting objectives.
Climate management in the spotlight
GIZ works on the principle of first avoiding greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) wherever we can, before reducing them and finally offsetting emissions where neither is possible. We are systematically mapping our GHG emissions as we move towards becoming a climate-neutral company. The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is our tool of choice in Germany, while we use a tool developed in-house, the Corporate Sustainability Handprint ® (CSH), to identify emissions in other countries.
In recent years, GIZ has reduced its overall GHG emissions per staff member in Germany. Our new buildings were constructed to the most rigorous energy-efficiency standards. GIZ locations in Germany use almost exclusively green electricity. The consumption of conventional electricity stems from the use of common spaces, such as reception areas and lifts. Since GIZ rents some buildings, it has only limited influence on the choice of electricity product. GIZ was certified as a bike-friendly employer thanks to our work to upgrade the bicycle infrastructure at German locations. It also encourages staff to choose sustainable options for their commute to work by taking part in the Jobticket scheme in Bonn and Eschborn, under which employers can buy discounted season tickets for their employees.
On the road to climate neutrality
Travel is part of everyday life for GIZ staff. Digital technologies like online conferences can replace some, but not all, of this travel. After all, personal interaction is critical for GIZ to work effectively in many cases. The maxim of first avoiding (verifying the need for travel), then reducing (making business trips climate-friendly) and finally offsetting GHG emissions applies here too.
GIZ has been climate-neutral in Germany since 2013. All of our GHG emissions in Germany are offset, not only those produced by commuter travel and flights by Germany-based staff, but also those from other sources, such as natural gas heating and emissions from coolants. Starting in 2020, GIZ aims to offset all of its GHG emissions outside Germany, too.
In 2018, GIZ emitted 28,142 tonnes of
greenhouse gases in Germany from:
Natural gas heating,
fuel for company vehicles,
coolants and generators
GHG emissions outside Germany stand at
approximately 100,000 tonnes, including:
from air travel
GIZ’s contribution to
greenhouse gas emmission savings:
Skype or other
Climate impacts of our projects
The projects that GIZ carries out often have a positive impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation by directly or indirectly reducing or avoiding GHG emissions. In 2019, projects implemented by GIZ avoided around 32 million tonnes of GHG emissions (CO2e) directly or indirectly, including 29.5 million tonnes from projects commissioned by BMZ. These figures were gathered in a company-wide survey based on an ex post method of estimation.
In Morocco, for instance, conventional energy sources have been replaced by installing solar panels on mosque roofs. And in a number of partner countries, we provide advice on mainstreaming long-term national programmes to promote electricity generated from renewable sources. These initiatives can yield significant indirect reductions in GHG emissions if fossil energy sources are removed from the grid.
But GIZ’s work can also have negative impacts on the climate if it generates GHG emissions that harm the climate directly or indirectly. GIZ examines potential negative climate impacts prior to commissioning using the Safeguards and Gender Management System (SuG). If a risk is identified, the project team has to perform an in-depth climate assessment and develop appropriate measures to avoid or reduce significant emissions.