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management at GIZ

Think global, act local

Sustainability is an important strategic success factor for GIZ, both with our partners in our countries of assignment and within GIZ itself. As an enterprise with global operations, GIZ has a special responsibility for the environmental, social and economic impacts of its actions. That is why we introduced a Sustainability Programme in 2013, which we are constantly refining and in which we set out ambitious targets. Around the world, our staff are engaging with enthusiasm and innovative spirit not only to translate our Sustainability Programme into practice, but also to take it to the next ambitious level.

Sustainability 2.0

In 2021 we entered the next cycle of our Sustainability Programme. Because of its strategic importance, the programme is one of GIZ’s key management instruments. We have set ourselves far-reaching goals in the fields of environmental protection and social standards for the new cycle. By 2025, our aim is to cut our climate-damaging emissions by a substantial degree, use natural resources economically and help protect biodiversity. We want to put our mobility and procurement on a sustainable footing, and become even more diverse as a company. We intend to ensure gender equality and encourage our staff to report any potential irregularities. The actual progress achieved during the first year of the programme is currently being identified by means of systematic monitoring and will feature in the 2022 company report.

In 2021 we publicised the new Sustainability Programme with numerous online events inside the company. The focus was on our countries of assignment. This is where most of our staff work, and this is where we see both the greatest potential and the most urgent need for action if we are to achieve our sustainability goals. One of our aims by 2025, for instance, is to reduce by 60 per cent the volume of coolants with a high global warming potential (GWP) used in air conditioning systems and similar equipment at our locations outside Germany.

Making knowledge accessible

The Sustainability Programme is implemented at a decentralised level. At individual GIZ locations, solutions are being developed with a view to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring economical use of natural resources, and putting in place good working conditions for all. In Ghana, for example, GIZ worked with the service provider Miss Taxi to set up a car-sharing scheme for 14 projects. This is reducing exhaust emissions and saving money. All cars are driven by women, who are especially dependent on a secure income. In this way, the project is also contributing to gender equality.

Innovative approaches like these are exemplary. And that is why it is important to make the knowledge and experience gained in individual countries with the implementation of the Sustainability Programme accessible throughout the company. To this end, GIZ has developed its own standardised monitoring and data system, the Corporate Sustainability Handprint® (CSH). At GIZ locations in the field structure, CSH officers are appointed. They record and analyse local data, such as the offices’ resource consumption, before going on to devise objectives and measures with their colleagues and managers. The CSH officers have the opportunity to meet at regular intervals in online forums to discuss specific issues. This allows them to learn from one another and broadens our knowledge base.

Key responsibility

The foundation for the decentralised implementation of our Sustainability Programme is a well-functioning governance structure to steer the process. This structure consists of the Sustainability Office, the Sustainability Board and the Director Corporate Sustainability. Together, they continue to hone GIZ’s sustainability management. The staff of the Sustainability Office also advise and support the organisational units and the field structure on sustainability and ensure that knowledge is shared within GIZ.

The overarching responsibility for sustainability is vested in the Chair of the Management Board, who also chairs the Sustainability Board comprising the directors and directors general of various units and departments. This underscores the paramount importance that GIZ attaches to sustainability management.

Portrait photo: David Nguyen-Thanh.

Interview with David Nguyen-Thanh

GIZ Director Corporate Sustainability

What does the Director Corporate Sustainability do?

In my capacity as Director Corporate Sustainability, I am the main contact person for all questions relating to corporate sustainability from within the company and also externally. Discussions with colleagues are particularly important, for instance as part of sustainability talks with sustainability initiatives inside the company. These talks are a key inspiration for me to continue developing GIZ’s sustainability management.

What does the Sustainability Programme mean for GIZ?

Sustainability is our core business. From our work in our countries of assignment, we know that sustainable development depends on structures that take a preventive and long-term approach to fostering sustainability. What is true for our partners is also true for us. GIZ only has a future if it fully embraces environmental, social and economic sustainability. From that we can deduce the strategic importance of sustainability management for GIZ. On top of that, we aim to be a role model. We have to apply the same values to ourselves that we apply to our partners worldwide.

What are the greatest challenges involved in implementing the programme?

We have already achieved a great deal in Germany in recent years. That is why the Sustainability Programme is currently focusing on our efforts in partner countries, where the context is often more challenging. This will be the main driver of the company’s sustainable development in the years to come. A key challenge is to establish good practices throughout the company. New ideas for practical solutions and improvements are springing up everywhere. The requirements vary from one partner country to another, which is why strategies need to be adapted to each specific context. Initial experience in the new programme cycle indicates that there is still scope for digital solutions.

Rights: © GIZ / Clemens Hess

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, 2-14; The Code 1