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Photo: Two women and a man sitting at a conference table in front of open notebooks and folders.
Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, Tanja Gönner, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven (from left to right)
Management Board of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
(© GIZ / Photothek)

Foreword by the management board

‘We have a vision, while remaining firmly rooted in our value system.’

Tanja Gönner, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel,Management Board of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Dear readers,

Values provide guidance – especially in difficult times. We, too, have a clear set of values, which include respect for human rights, equal opportunities and integrity, but also a commitment to the rule of law and a market-friendly economic order geared to social and environmental imperatives. Values shape our company, the way we present ourselves, and the way we work with our commissioning parties and partners. These values guide us in our efforts to achieve our overarching goal – to drive development forward and improve the lives of as many people as possible, while not overtaxing the natural limits of our planet. Or to put it simply, to achieve sustainability. This means that we have a vision, while remaining firmly rooted in our value system.

In our partner countries, we are repeatedly told that our motto ‘Values and Vision’ hits the mark. Most recently, this was confirmed in the study entitled ‘Außenblick – International perspectives on Germany in times of the COVID-19 pandemic’, conducted jointly by GIZ, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Goethe-Institut with the support of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad. The study found that the world would like to see Germany assuming a more active role and doing more to shape events. Germany should stay true to its own convictions, act in concert with other states, and strive for cooperative solutions. The call for Germany to shoulder more responsibility has been consistent for the past 10 years or so. And in times of crisis, like today, it becomes louder than ever. We take this concern very seriously, even if accepting responsibility always brings challenges of its own.

Working under difficult conditions

Our experience last year in Afghanistan provided painful proof of this. Although achievements were made in the country and by no means were all efforts in vain, the developments have given us much food for thought. Afghanistan is, of course, a special case. But working in a difficult environment is no exception to the rule. It is increasingly becoming part of our daily routine at GIZ. We can see this both in terms of the dreadful war in Ukraine and in countries like Ethiopia, Iraq and Syria. Two-thirds of our partner countries are suffering crises, violence and conflicts. The situation is further aggravated by climate change, the impacts of which are becoming increasingly obvious even in Germany. And all this is overlaid by the COVID-19 pandemic, which continued to keep us very busy in 2021, and which has increased inequalities practically all over the world.

As a federal enterprise for international cooperation, we need to and want to address this critical situation. And we do so by focusing on what we believe we do best – namely our ability to implement effective projects in many regions of the Earth and on our proximity to the people we work with. It is also important to look outside of the company since we can best deliver our services in conjunction with other actors at bilateral, multilateral and international levels. We can ramp up our impacts by operating within strong partnerships. And that is important, because the coming decade will need to see action, cooperation and implementation if we are to achieve the goals the international community has set itself.

Sustainability – the imperative that is not going away

For us, vision also means pressing ahead with sustainability at all levels, not only in our projects but also in the way we use data and digital tools, and within our own company. The Glasgow Climate Change Conference in November 2021 brought us one step closer to concrete implementation, which we at GIZ are driving forward across sectoral boundaries with the help of our entire range of instruments. Lasting achievements will only be possible if we work holistically, which is why we believe the much-discussed nexus approach to be so important. In concrete terms, the post-pandemic green recovery will play a vital role, as will the greater socio-environmental and economic justice which must accompany it.

But sustainability is also a major issue for GIZ itself. The fact that the company has been climate neutral inside and outside Germany since 2021 is an important milestone, while our renewed commitment to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact reflects our conviction that values are vitally important.

Together we have achieved a great deal

We achieved a great deal over the past year, in spite of the sometimes difficult operating environment. For this we must thank, first and foremost, our staff who now number almost 25,000. Both in Germany as well as around the world, they have toiled ceaselessly to bring about development. Along with my colleagues on the Management Board, I would like to take this opportunity to express my warmest thanks to them all for their tireless hard work. 2021 saw GIZ’s business volume rise once again, to a total of around EUR 3.65 billion. We see this as a reflection of the trust that is placed in us. So our special thanks also go to our commissioning parties, our local partners and our Shareholder.

Fiscal 2021 marked 10 years since the merger that created GIZ. But if we count the predecessor organisations, the company’s history goes back another 50 years. The last decade has been exciting, with one challenge after another, as we endeavoured to maximise the effectiveness of our actions. That is one reason to look back with mindful satisfaction on what we have achieved – but above all we see this as an incentive to ensure that we are well equipped for the next 10 years of international cooperation.

Signature: Tanja Gönner. 
Chair of the Management Board


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

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 2-11, 2-12, 2-22; The Code 5