Skip to main content


GIZ uses a variety of approaches in our sustainability management. An overview of these instruments is provided here.

Diagram: Sustainability at GIZ. The left column shows reporting in the Integrated Company Report. The word ‘informs’ stands next to it. The next column says ‘Sustainability in projects’ with the points ‘Safeguards and Gender’ and ‘Carbon footprint’. The column on the right shows ‘Exchange and dialogue’ with the points ‘Stakeholder dialogue’ and ‘Memberships’. It says ‘inspires and informs’ next to it, and there is an arrow to the column ‘Sustainability in projects’ and to a block in between with ‘Measures to enhance corporate sustainability’ with the points ‘Sustainability programme’ and ‘Voluntary commitments by the GIZ field structure’. The basis of this is ‘Recording sustainability performance’ with the points ‘Germany: EMAS. Eco-Management and Audit Scheme’ and ‘Field Structure: CSH. Corporate Sustainability Handprint’. Beneath this is a block across all the columns with the points ‘Corporate values’, ‘Sustainability guidelines’ and ‘Voluntary commitments’.

GIZ Sustainability Programme 2021–2025

With its clearly defined goals, measures and indicators, GIZ’s Sustainability Programme provides orientation while also serving as a key management tool for corporate sustainability at GIZ. International regulations and mechanisms provide the framework for our Sustainability Programme 2021–2025. They include the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy. The programme is also aligned with 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, while the expectations of our staff, our commissioning parties and partners worldwide shape the programme.


The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) builds on the ISO 14001 standard and is the most exacting certification system that exists in the field of corporate environmental management. GIZ freely undertakes to comply with this extremely stringent certification standard. We have used EMAS since 2013 to enhance environmental management at all our sites in Germany.

Corporate Sustainability Handprint®(CSH)

Environmental and climate management in the countries in which we operate is organised on a decentralised basis and is the responsibility of country directors. It is subject not to EMAS but to the Corporate Sustainability Handprint®(CSH) specially developed by GIZ.

Although the large number of locations and widely varying conditions mean that it can be challenging for GIZ to produce statistics measuring the environmental performance of its country offices around the world, the Corporate Sustainability Handprint® allows us to do this systematically.

Sustainability reporting

We report regularly on the progress we have made towards implementing and strategically mainstreaming sustainability measures across the company. Our sustainability reports are drawn up in line with recognised international standards. The report you are reading meets the requirements set out by the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN Global Compact. We also produce a biannual report based on the German Sustainability Code.

Stakeholder dialogue

To identify issues to address under our sustainability management system and in our reports, we ask our in-house and external stakeholders directly what they feel is important. This provides us with feedback, criticism and ideas on our activities and progress in the field of sustainability. The focus of the dialogue is on the impact of our inputs.

Safeguards+Gender management system

International cooperation projects are intended to achieve positive impacts that are defined in advance. Additionally, however, they can have unintended adverse side effects or results. To prevent, or at least mitigate, this, projects of all commissioning parties undergo an audit during the planning phase in line with GIZ’s Safeguards+Gender management system. The term safeguards is used in the international context to describe protection mechanisms. At GIZ, we have identified five safeguards to ensure that we analyse potential impacts in the fields of the environment and climate (reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change), conflict and context sensitivity, human rights and gender equality. This allows us to pinpoint risks at an early stage, identify appropriate management approaches, and integrate these into the project strategy.

GIZ’s Sustainability Guidelines

We have set out our sustainability standards and the principles that underpin our sustainability management in the GIZ Sustainability Guidelines. We follow these guidelines inside the company and in the implementation of commissioned projects. The guidelines also state how environmental and social standards are maintained within our projects to comply with national legislation in our partner countries and with the obligations arising from international agreements.

Memberships and voluntary commitments

GIZ belongs to various networks and initiatives that provide a framework for our corporate sustainability measures and a platform for sharing ideas and information. Here are some examples:

B.A.U.M. e.V.

We joined the German Environmental Management Association (B.A.U.M.) in 2011 and are fully signed up to its sustainable management code. B.A.U.M.’s goal is to raise awareness among companies, local authorities and other organisations of the need for precautionary systems of environmental protection and of the vision of sustainable business management. B.A.U.M. also helps its members to implement measures that are environmentally effective, economically viable and socially fair.

B.A.U.M. (German only)


Biodiversity in Good Company

GIZ has been part of the Biodiversity in Good Company initiative since it was set up in 2008. The initiative brings together companies from numerous sectors to drive action on the protection and sustainable use of global biodiversity resources in line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Its goal is to halt the dramatic loss of ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.

Biodiversity in Good Company


Charta der Vielfalt (German Diversity Charter)

In October 2019, GIZ signed the German Diversity Charter. It is a corporate initiative to promote diversity in companies and institutions. The aim is to drive forward recognition and respect for diversity within the world of work in Germany and to actively draw on diversity. By signing the Charter, GIZ has expressed its conviction that people with different talents, abilities and life experience can enrich and advance our common work. GIZ continues to uphold the voluntary commitment to foster diversity and respect in the working world.

Charta der Vielfalt


Science Based Targets initiative

Almost 2,500 companies around the world have signed up to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) are behind the initiative. Companies signing up are required to systematically record and disclose their climate data. SBTi experts verify whether or not the reduction targets proposed by the companies are compatible with the target of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius set out in the Paris Agreement. Participating organisations also undertake to report transparently and publicly once a year on the progress they have made towards achieving their targets on the basis of standard criteria. GIZ is the first development cooperation company to join the global Science Based Targets initiative, thereby committing itself to pursuing ambitious mitigation targets.

Science Based Targets initiative


Development and Climate Alliance Foundation

Since late 2018, the Development and Climate Alliance Foundation has aimed to link development cooperation and international climate action through the voluntary offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions. It also mobilises additional funding for important development and climate action projects in developing countries and emerging economies. Supporters aim to achieve climate neutrality by avoiding or reducing greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting any remaining emissions with high-quality projects. GIZ supports the Development and Climate Alliance Foundation. It successfully established the initiative’s secretariat, which it transferred to the dedicated Development and Climate Alliance Foundation in mid-2021.

Development and Climate Alliance Foundation


Sustainability Leadership Forum (SLF)

The Sustainability Leadership Forum was set up by the German Environmental Management Association (B.A.U.M.) and the Centre for Sustainability Management (CSM) at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany. In 2020, NORDAKADEMIE Hochschule der Wirtschaft took over the role of cooperation partner from Leuphana University.

The Forum is designed to facilitate discussion and collaboration between companies that have already established excellent sustainability management systems and wish to broaden their corporate sustainability strategy. As a member of the Forum, GIZ appreciates the chance to share experience, be part of a knowledge transfer, and work together to resolve problems.

Sustainability Leadership Forum (German only)


UN Global Compact

GIZ signed up to the UN Global Compact in 2004 and in doing so undertook to follow its 10 principles relating to labour and welfare, human rights, the environment and the fight against corruption. We report annually on the action we have taken in each of these areas. GIZ has been running the German Global Compact Network’s secretariat on behalf of BMZ since 2001.

UN Global Compact


Women’s Empowerment Principles

The focus of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) is on strengthening women in companies. The seven principles offer companies guidelines for promoting gender equality in the workplace and within society. They are based on the realisation that businesses have responsibility and an important role to play in achieving gender equality. GIZ has supported the principles since 2015, making it one of the first eight German companies to champion gender equality in this way. Today, over 1,000 companies around the world have committed to the WEPs.

Women’s Empowerment Principles

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 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 17 Partnerships for the goals

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 2-13, 2-28; UNGC 1-10; The Code 6, 7