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Development cooperation in a digital world

Icon: An arrow pointing from a person with a large computer monitor to a person with a smartphone

From fair access to education to reducing poverty and combating climate change, digital solutions are more important than ever as we seek to accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and shape a better future for people worldwide. They are at the heart of change in today’s world and affect almost every aspect of development in business, politics and civil society. The impacts and the fast pace of change of digital transformation call for joint action and strong partnerships to make sustainable development effective. To do so, GIZ has adopted clear principles and is advancing its own transformation in the field of digitalisation.

We reached a number of milestones in 2021 and strengthened a total of five areas of digitalisation. By adopting the guiding framework Data at GIZ, we have created a compass for a data-based organisation. At the same time, we began setting up the Data Service Centre, which is designed to facilitate data-driven work throughout the entire project cycle. GIZ’s first global Digital Literacy Festival took place in October 2021. Interactive events were held at which staff were able to network and discuss digital literacy topics. Around 3,000 staff took part in some 80 sessions in five languages.

Five basic principles of digital transformation

Human rights, equal opportunities and participation are at the core of GIZ’s digitalisation approach. The principles are based on international frameworks and focus on the individual. As we integrate digital technologies into our service delivery, we are guided by the Principles for Digital Development. We are committed to a people-centred and inclusive form of digitalisation, comply with the ‘do no harm’ principle and work to achieve equal opportunities in the digital world in order to overcome the digital divide (‘leave no one behind’).

GIZ promotes digital sovereignty across the globe. We work with our partners as equals, and focus on strengthening local structures and developing thriving local digital ecosystems by using data for the common good. We follow the FAIR principles to ensure that data is as useful as possible. At the same time, we promote the right to informational self-determination and act in accordance with the EU directives on data protection.

GIZ is on a learning curve in this process with its staff and partners; the company is flexible and security conscious and is keen to experiment. We rely on strategic partnerships, promote integrative approaches and creative ideas, and facilitate international exchange for digital development.

Advancing our own transformation

In recent years, GIZ has established the basis for the company’s digital transformation. All of GIZ’s organisational units around the world are included in this process. The aim of this transformation is to make international cooperation even more efficient, effective and sustainable by adopting a data-based approach in our work, establishing partnerships and using new technologies and digital innovations in all areas of operation and all departments. This allows us to make processes more efficient and to deliver services to our clients, partners and target groups more effectively and with better results.

The topic of digitalisation has been systematically mainstreamed within the company, as reflected in the current Corporate Strategy 2020–2022, which makes a clear reference to digitalisation. The focus is on digitalised end-to-end business processes and on data-driven and technology-based services. The focus projects of the Corporate Strategy are being designed in cooperation with company-wide change projects from the digital portfolio. In addition, the Digital Literacy Action Plan forms part of the strategy as a separate annual objective. Based on the Guiding Framework for Digital Change at GIZ from 2015, the focus of digitalisation in 2021 was on continuing to develop both digital transformation in the company and the associated results monitoring.

Areas of digitalisation in 2021 at a glance

  • GIZ worldwide: More than 85 digitalisation partners throughout the world ensure that digital projects and digital learning and needs are permanently integrated into the company. They advise the country offices and projects, form communities and act as a bridge between the field structure and Head Office.
  • Digital literacy: In 2021, staff were once again able to take time to acquire digital skills and make the most of new, self-directed study options to learn how to use digital tools effectively in projects and how to adopt digital management practices.
  • Digitalised end-to-end business processes: To implement projects effectively, it is vital to optimise, standardise and digitalise business processes throughout the world. Switching over the core technology we use plays a key role here.
  • Information security: In an increasingly networked world, comprehensive security mechanisms are essential; in addition, every individual at GIZ must be security-conscious. Numerous measures are being implemented to protect information and data.
  • Data-driven and technology-based services: GIZ’s services are digital by default; pioneering digital projects achieve greater impact and more direct results. By adopting the guiding framework Data at GIZ, which was published in 2021, we are continuing to transform ourselves into a data-based organisation.

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

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
The Code 6, 10