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Sustainable initiatives

Our staff also get involved outside office hours in addressing issues that are close to their hearts. With their initiatives, they make GIZ a little bit more sustainable and a little bit more caring in many places. We support their commitment with our sustainability fund.

Bicycles are now something of a rarity on the streets of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. Anyone who can afford to rides a moped. It is no wonder that the people working in GIZ’s environmental and climate cluster in Viet Nam attract a great deal of attention as they ride their bamboo bike to appointments. ‘We are constantly asked about the bike,’ says project manager Daniel Herrmann, ‘including by GIZ colleagues and project partners.’ The unusual two-wheeler is one of four bicycles belonging to the Coco Bike-Sharing Initiative, which Herrmann’s team shares with colleagues from the neighbouring Energy Support Programme (ESP).

The bike-sharing scheme was started by Trang Truong, one of the staff members on Herrmann’s team, in conjunction with colleagues from ESP. She knows all about this field since she works on a public bike-sharing scheme in the university town of Huế as part of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s develoPPP programme. The idea of bike-sharing was partially financed from the GIZ Sustainability Office’s sustainability fund, which launches a company-wide call for ideas every year; the most creative and sustainable activities receive funding.

Photo: A woman wearing a helmet sits on a bicycle, with palm trees on the side of the road in the background.
The shared use of four bicycles in Hanoi was supported by GIZ’s sustainability fund. © GIZ / Nguyen Thanh Xuan
Total number of
initiatives supported:

13 projects across

10 countries

Inspiration and a sense of community

The variety of projects that received funding in 2022 – 13 in all – reflects the inventiveness of the workforce. They range from a borrow-a-lunch-box scheme in Ghana, designed to prevent plastic waste, to an urban community garden in the Uzbekistan country office in Tashkent, to a recycling scheme in Albania. With their initiatives, our staff not only make small contributions to a more sustainable world, but above all help to mainstream the issue within GIZ and in local communities.

Photo: A group of people standing in front of a building. All are holding a report in their hands. A roll-up banner stands between them.
© GIZ / Laura Donath
MenstruAction on a global scale:

Ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day, the initiative hosted an awareness-raising campaign and raised money in Bonn.

Photo: A woman wearing a work apron and a man standing in front of three different coloured bins. The man is emptying the green bin.
© GIZ / Ornela Shapo
Sorting waste in Albania:

Staff at GIZ’s new offices in Tirana have introduced a waste sorting system and are dealing with recycling plastic components.

Photo: Several people are standing around two raised beds. On one are plants that have not yet been planted. The other is still unplanted.
© GIZ / Aziza Ataeva
Urban community garden in Uzbekistan:

Here food waste goes into raised beds where it turns into nutrient-rich compost.

Photo: A woman standing in front of a wall with a sign that reads: ‘GIZ Green Building’. She is holding two glass containers with lids and a fabric bag printed with the words: ‘Say no to single-use plastics’.
© GIZ / Christelle Dorner
Lunch box scheme in Ghana:

120 glass dishes and 32 fabric bags help to avoid generating plastic waste.

Photo: A large group of people sitting around a long table with different items of food. All are smiling.
© GIZ / Axel Hausin
Sustainability corner in Bonn:

A sustainability picnic is held regularly in this space, which is set aside for staff initiatives.

The bike-sharing project in Viet Nam demonstrates this impressively. The booking system that the team set up themselves calculates how much CO₂ is avoided by using the bikes – for example, on the approximately 10-minute trip from the project offices to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development or the country office. But, first and foremost, the project has an impact by inspiring and creating a sense of community: ‘Colleagues from other locations have become curious,’ says the initiator Trang Truong. ‘They want to set up a bike-sharing scheme too and ask us what the best way to do it is.’ There are already groups who use the bikes for cycling tours around a nearby lake.

Portrait photo: Riccarda Retsch.
© Stephanie Siegel

The Environment Heroes in Berlin

Three questions for Riccarda Retsch, advisor on structural change in Ukrainian coal regions and coordinator of the Environment Heroes in Berlin

What’s the story behind the name Environment Heroes in Berlin?

We are an initiative that was set up by GIZ staff members. We have been working since 2013 to make GIZ’s Berlin location more sustainable and to raise awareness of the issue among our colleagues. To achieve this goal, we publish a monthly newsletter with tips about how to make everyday (office) life more environmentally friendly and we also organise a series of events on the nuts and bolts of sustainability. We invite in-house and external speakers to talk about subjects such as ‘How sustainable are our purchasing decisions in reality?’ We also take part each year in the German Sustainability Action Days organised by the German Council for Sustainable Development.

How does GIZ support the Environment Heroes?

The Sustainability Office regularly subsidises our activities at the Sustainability Action Days – for example, the bike check-up for staff, which we organise together with the German National Cyclists’ Association (ADFC). It has also supported our communications activities and contributed many times to our event formats, putting up discussion partners or offering input on topics such as GIZ’s climate management and mobility.

What was your personal highlight to date?

So far, the personal highlight for me was and remains the increasing relevance of our initiative, which can be seen particularly in the growing interest at management level in our activities. One example of this is the series of events on climate action in 2020 – from ambition to action, which we ran jointly with Karin Kortmann, Director of GIZ’s Berlin Representation. In addition to that, we have been collaborating for many years with Markus Kurdziel, who is Head of the Property Management Berlin Section. We have staged many campaigns and events with him, on topics such as saving energy or sorting waste. There are now even managers who regularly attend our monthly planning meetings and get actively involved in our activities.

Below you will find information about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability standards on the vital topic of corporate social responsibility:

Material topic 16: Social engagement