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Our due diligence obligations

GIZ is committed to protecting human rights and promoting environmental sustainability – among our own staff and along our supply chains.

Portrait photo: Marcel Nitschmann.

»By systematically practising sustainable procurement, we prevent risks in our supply chains right from the very outset. In many cases, we are able to specify in invitations to tender that certified goods are a requirement – goods that are not made using child labour, for example, or are produced in compliance with particular environmental and social standards.«

Marcel Nitschmann,
Head of Section in the Procurement and Contracting Division at GIZ
© GIZ / D. Ostermeier
In this video, Marcel Nitschmann explains why GIZ is a pioneer in sustainable procurement.
Supply Chain Act

The Supply Chain Act has been in force in Germany since 1 January 2023. It stipulates that companies must not only take responsibility for their own compliance with social and environmental standards, but that their duty of care obligations extend to their global suppliers too. This means that companies share the responsibility for protecting the human rights of workers in their supply chains.

This is how we have mainstreamed our due diligence

GIZ has produced a number of new documents and guidelines on human rights and sustainable procurement for its staff:

  • Sustainable Procurement Policy: defines our aim, includes the legal framework and a definition of sustainability criteria; it has been in force since 2021.
  • Code of Conduct for Contractual Relations: came into effect in 2022, establishing sustainability standards for procurement; it is used across the board in Germany for procurement of all goods.
  • Practitioners’ Guide: a new guide to sustainable procurement with practical implementation tips; introduced in 2022.
  • Policy on National Staff: contains information on standards relevant to human rights, such as ILO’s Core Labour Standards; scheduled for publication in 2023.

From office supplies such as pencils and printer ink to medical products, vehicles and even wind turbines: carrying out a huge number of different projects every year means that we require a high volume of material. In 2022, GIZ spent around EUR 2.1 billion – 53 per cent of its business volume – on procuring goods and services. Procurement that is as sustainable as possible, and which takes into account both environmental and social criteria, is important to us. The Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains has once again strengthened our focus on the rights of people in our supply chains. In addition to that, it is our aim and our duty to provide a safe working environment for all our staff.

The Act came into force on 1 January 2023, but we began to review compliance with environmental and social standards in our supply chains and internal processes many years before that. In 2022, we used the CSR Risk Check tool to conduct a risk analysis for our goods and services, examining factors such as environmental and human rights risks along the supply chain. Thanks to this analysis, we now know which goods and services are particularly high-risk – because of frequent disregard for compliance with the rights of trade unions or because the health of workers is endangered, for example. We use this information to develop guidelines that show those responsible what risks are involved in procurement and which sustainability criteria they need to take into account. We are serious about sustainable procurement, as is demonstrated by the fact that we incorporate social and environmental criteria into our purchasing process instead of just buying the cheapest product.

We attach great importance to ensuring that our staff are well informed about human rights due diligence, which is why we expanded our training materials in 2021 and 2022. These materials are now available to all staff. We have been offering external service providers an online course entitled ‘Guide for Practising Corporate Sustainability’ since 2019. It aims to provide information about sustainability management at GIZ and to communicate the key elements of sustainability standards. Last year, we added content for recipients of financing to the course.

Reporting violations

In 2022, we extended our existing whistleblower system to include violations of environment-related obligations and environmental law. The system was initially designed to enable staff members, suppliers and other people involved in GIZ’s work around the world to report human rights violations to us; now they can use it to tell us about infringements of environmental legislation or regulations too. Reports can be submitted anonymously and in different languages. Various easily accessible channels are available, including GIZ’s online whistleblower portal and dedicated email addresses. It is also possible to contact an external ombudsperson.

Below you will find information about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability standards on the vital topics of sustainable procurement and protecting and promoting human rights:

Material topic 3: Sustainable procurement

Material topic 4: Protection and promotion of human rights

  • Additional important information about the GRI, the German Sustainability Code and the Global Compact can be found here