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Sustainable development requires responsible use of the environment and natural resources. This is the only way to ensure that future generations have opportunities for development, and is why GIZ has drawn up its own Environmental Mission Statement. We will continue:

  • to systematically avoid or reduce the company’s environmental impact;
  • to make sparing use of scarce resources such as energy and water and increase the use of eco-efficient technologies and materials;
  • to implement our strategy of becoming a carbon-neutral company;
  • to plan and carry out all projects and programmes with minimum environmental impact;
  • to engage in participatory environmental communication with our staff and raise their awareness of environmental issues;
  • to develop our Environmental Mission Statement through open dialogue with fellow professionals within the company and elsewhere;
  • to inform our partner companies, service providers and suppliers about the mandatory nature of our Environmental Mission Statement.

GIZ also undertakes to steadily improve its environmental performance at locations covered by the European environmental management system EMAS.

Sustainability Programme 2021–2025

What used to be the Environmental Programme has been incorporated into our new Sustainability Programme. This essentially addresses the entire GIZ workforce in Germany and in the countries where we operate, and many elements concern environmental protection and climate change mitigation. The number one objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at GIZ locations worldwide. By 2025, GIZ aims to cut emissions to a level that will make an active contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement targets. From a strategic perspective, the Sustainability Programme sees climate change mitigation as the single most important issue, enabling us to build further on our pioneering role in the field of corporate sustainability management. The environmental elements of the Sustainability Programme thus focus primarily on climate management, resource efficiency and mobility.

The Sustainability Board plays a key role in steering the Sustainability Programme. GIZ’s top body for sustainability is involved in all decisions on matters relating to sustainability and in signing off on objectives and measures. The Sustainability Board is also key when it comes to monitoring progress towards achieving sustainability goals. GIZ produces annual Climate and Environmental Reports that follow up the achievement of the objectives set out in the Sustainability Programme. The findings are presented to the Sustainability Board, which then makes any adjustments to the objectives where necessary.

EMAS-compliant environmental management system in Germany

GIZ uses two different environmental management systems to take account of the specific conditions prevailing in Germany and in the countries where we operate. In Germany, we rely on the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), which is an extension of the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.

EMAS is the world’s most exacting certification system for corporate environmental management. The scheme’s members are required to make continuous, annually verified improvements in their environmental performance. The overriding priority is to steadily reduce GIZ’s environmental impacts and provide evidence of this reduction. We draw up an annual environmental audit that presents progress made towards achieving our environmental goals. This is presented to the responsible Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the form of a declaration, which is then subject to an external audit by EMAS.

The Chair of GIZ’s Management Board acts as the company’s EMAS environmental management representative. Our Environmental Management Officer is based in GIZ’s Sustainability Office. The Officer launches and monitors all necessary steps within the company that are relevant for the EMAS system and coordinates implementation of environment-related measures laid out in the Sustainability Programme in close consultation with other units.

Our registered offices in Bonn and Eschborn and our representation in Berlin first gained EMAS certification in 2013. Other buildings in Berlin, Bonn and Feldafing were included in the scheme over subsequent years.

Environmental management in partner countries: the CSH

To record our progress in the field of sustainability in the countries in which we operate, we use the Corporate Sustainability Handprint® (CSH). It provides GIZ staff with a uniform framework for corporate sustainability and therefore also for environmental management. We have collected climate and environmental data every year in all our country offices since 2018. The quality of data is not yet comparable with the data for Germany, but it is getting better all the time. This is also true of the availability of data. We are moving steadily closer to our goal of providing a sound, precise database for the Sustainability Programme 2021–2025 and for future offsetting.

When we record environmental data, we distinguish between an ‘environmental footprint’ and an ‘environmental handprint’. While an environmental footprint measures things such as water consumption and CO2 emissions, the handprint documents active contributions towards sustainability, such as using solar panels rather than generators and arranging carpools for commuters, but also issues like raising awareness of health issues, providing information about ethical conduct in potential conflict situations, and ensuring sustainable procurement. GIZ encourages its teams on the ground to optimise their sustainability balance.

Risk management

Under the EMAS scheme, environmentally relevant opportunities and risks are analysed at least once a year and are made an active focus. Wherever possible, objectives and measures are established in order to harness opportunities and minimise risks.

At project level, GIZ has introduced a systematic appraisal process that allows us to identify external risks and unintended adverse impacts at an early stage. We can thus plan our projects accordingly, ensuring that people and other protected resources can be shielded more effectively. The Safeguards+Gender management system that is used for projects from all commissioning parties ensures that the guiding principle of sustainability is applied in all GIZ commissions and every area of our operations. In this way, GIZ’s Sustainability Guidelines and our Gender Strategy are also translated into practice. Climate, which is one of the safeguards, investigates the impact of a project on climate change, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and considers the need to adapt to climate change. The assets protected by the environmental safeguard include people, biodiversity (animals, plants, microorganisms, etc.), ecosystems and their services, soils, water, air, cultural assets and other material goods, and interactions between these assets.

Ecological balance

Alongside information on our environmental management, the GIZ Integrated Company Report contains other texts on environmental issues related to our work. They include climate management at GIZ, the section on ecological balance and texts on the company’s resource and energy consumption and emissions. The latest climate and environment data for 2021 will be available in mid-2022, after which the Integrated Company Report 2021 will be updated swiftly to incorporate this data.

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 13 Climate action
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 15 Life on land

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 302, 303, 305; UNGC 7, 8, 9; The Code 11, 12, 13