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Sustainable. The obvious choice

The goal of enabling future generations to live secure and dignified lives is achievable. It requires us to be aware of our social responsibility, consider the impact of our decisions on individuals and the environment, and remain economically viable at all times. At GIZ, we want to make the right sustainable and gender equitable choices – not just in our projects but across everything we do. We have set ourselves some ambitious goals for the years ahead in our Sustainability Programme 2021–2025.

Review of our Sustainability Programme 2016–2020

The new Sustainability Programme replaces the 2016–2020 programme, in which we set ourselves 16 objectives with 19 measures. Taking stock, we can see that 17 of the measures were implemented, allowing us to meet almost all the objectives.

We had already achieved many of the objectives set out in the Sustainability Programme 2016–2020 well before it came to an end. By 2018, for instance, we had already increased the percentage of managerial posts held by women to 48.6 per cent. We had also achieved our CO2 emissions targets. Other measures were realised by 2020, including the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The objectives that were not achieved in full have been incorporated into the new Sustainability Programme. Firstly, we will continue to procure materials, equipment and services in line with the most rigorous sustainability criteria. Secondly, we intend to promote diversity inside GIZ even more purposefully. The various dimensions of diversity are to be firmly mainstreamed as part of our corporate culture. We are building capacities so that our staff appreciate diversity within the company, harness it, and protect others from discrimination.

Our Sustainability Programme 2021–2025

The Sustainability Programme 2021–2025 will guide our actions in the years ahead and serve as a key management instrument in GIZ’s corporate sustainability. The programme shifts the spotlight to the following thematic priorities:

  • Climate management and mobility
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Human rights
  • Resource efficiency and biodiversity

Mitigating climate change is particularly important. We have set ourselves the goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2025, so that we contribute actively to the Paris Agreement targets. 

We intend to adopt a science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the company as a whole, in line with the requirements of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The aim is to make an appropriate contribution to keeping global warming significantly below 2 °C. SBTi can help companies calculate how much they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We see a great deal of scope for cutting emissions in the countries in which we work – both with respect to mobility, especially air travel and local transport options, and in our buildings. We have already undertaken to decrease our mobility-related emissions by one quarter by 2025. 

The Science Based Targets Initiative

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) helps companies set climate goals, achieve these objectives and monitor progress. It is a partnership between the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) 

In other areas too, we aim to make substantial progress. In the field of procurement, for example, we will devise mandatory minimum sustainability standards or guidelines for 90 per cent of all materials, equipment and services and for construction services with a high potential for sustainability.

In the field of human rights, there is a special focus on our grievance mechanism and other ways of reporting suspected violations. We intend to make these options more visible and accessible for both our staff and our partners. Country offices will receive additional support in the form of guidelines and country-specific advisory services on the use of reporting channels.

In terms of the use of resources, we aim to reduce our energy consumption significantly by 2025 – by 10 per cent per employee in Germany, and by 20 per cent in other countries. We also intend to use significantly less paper and coolants. When IT equipment is procured and used, greater attention will be paid to sustainability.

Focus on partner countries

The new Sustainability Programme focuses on the partner countries in which we work around the globe. Four of every five GIZ staff members work outside Germany. Since the general conditions in these countries can be difficult, ensuring sustainable operations is particularly challenging. At the same time, however, this is where there is the greatest scope for improvement in terms of sustainable action.

The Sustainability Programme in context

Other international agreements and mechanisms provide the framework for our Sustainability Programme 2021–2025. They include the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the core elements of the German Government’s National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights are also relevant, as are the expectations of our staff, commissioning parties and partners worldwide.

The Sustainability Programme is the next level down from our Corporate Strategy 2020–2022. We are endeavouring to embed corporate sustainability in our Corporate Strategy and make it an integral part of our business processes by 2025.

Diagram: International frameworks (e.g. 2030 Agenda, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Paris Agreement on climate change), national frameworks (e.g. German Sustainable Development Strategy, National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights), and GIZ stakeholders (expectations of our staff, partners and commissioning parties worldwide) lead to the Sustainability Programme 2021–2025, which covers the following areas:  climate management and mobility, sustainable procurement, human rights, resource efficiency and biodiversity, and other topics.

The background to the Sustainability Programme

GIZ staff were closely involved in drawing up the Sustainability Programme. This included taking part in a survey and playing an active role in workshops. External stakeholders also contributed through their participation in the Stakeholder Day. The process was deliberately designed to be participatory in order to gather a wide spectrum of ideas and pointers from inside and outside Germany, ensure maximum acceptance among staff, and mobilise energy for implementation.

Timeline: March Interviews with 15 key people at GIZ; March to May Materiality analysis; May/June Staff survey; June Involvement of external stakeholders at stakeholder day; June/July Topic-specific workshops involving Head Office and field structure; October Workshop meeting with the Sustainability Board; December Sustainability Board adopts the Sustainability Programme

Information on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be found on this page:

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 102-15, 102-16, 102-31; UNGC 1-9; The Code 1, 3, 7