Keine ArmutWeniger UngleichheitenNachhaltige Städte und GemeindenNachhaltiger Konsum und nachhaltige ProduktionMaßnahmen zum KlimaschutzLeben unter WasserLeben an LandFrieden, Gerechtigkeit und starke InstitutionenPartnerschaften zur Erreichung der ZieleKein HungerGesundheit und WohlergehenHochwertige BildungGeschlechtergleichheitSauberes Wasser und SanitäreinrichtungenBezahlbare und saubere EnergieMenschenwürdige Arbeit und WirtschaftswachstumIndustrie, Innovation und Infrastruktur Artboard 1

Systematic sustainability

Social concerns are as much a part of GIZ's sustainability ambitions as environmental protection and climate change mitigation. We use a coherent management system with interlocking structures to live up to these ambitions.

Our actions are guided by the principle of sustainability. We firmly believe that it is vital to combine social responsibility, ecological balance and economic capability for future generations to be able to live in safety, security and dignity. This is underpinned by GIZ’s Sustainability Guidelines which have acted as a compass since 2016, giving direction to our actions. They dictate the standards for our daily work and set out the values we seek to follow both internally and when implementing commissioned projects. They also help us to comply with obligations arising from international agreements and with environmental and social standards in our cooperation countries.

Our corporate structure also reflects our ambitions, with our governance structure consisting of the Sustainability Office, the Sustainability Board and the Director Corporate Sustainability. Together, they continue to hone GIZ’s sustainability governance.

Photo: A man looks at the charger to which an electric car is connected.
GIZ in Tajikistan has been using an electric car for two years. © GIZ / Soirsho Gulomshoev
Climate and environmental management based on established standards

GIZ has produced its own
environmental mission statement which makes our responsibility transparent. In addition to the rules it has drawn up for itself, the company also adheres to established standards:

  • The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme EMAS: in Germany, GIZ uses the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), which is an extension of the ISO 14001 environmental management standard. It reports annually on its environmental performance in an externally audited environmental statement.
  • The Corporate Sustainability Handprint® (CSH) is GIZ’s own sustainability management tool, which it uses at its locations outside Germany. It provides staff with a uniform framework for corporate sustainability and therefore also for environmental management.
  • Science based: in 2021, GIZ became the first development cooperation company to join the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)and set an ambitious reduction target. In 2021, GIZ prepared its Climate and Environmental Report in line with SBTi specifications for the first time.

The Sustainability Programme

The most important topics of sustainability management at GIZ in strategic terms system are, and will continue to be, mitigating climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Making our mobility sustainable is a key lever for GIZ, since travel accounts for almost 80 per cent of the emissions we produce. Wherever possible, business travel is to be replaced by online meetings or reduced by grouping appointments. These approaches were already applied successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking 2019 as a benchmark, we intend to cut our greenhouse gas emissions resulting from air travel inside and outside Germany by a quarter by 2025.

Our Sustainability Programme 2021–2025 is the operational roadmap for our sustainability management, which we draw up in five-year cycles. In this programme, we have set ourselves further ambitious goals for the coming years. Besides our aim of conserving natural resources and contributing to biodiversity protection, we want to put our procurement on a more sustainable footing, and become even more diverse as a company. And we also want to sensitise our staff to the issue of human rights and encourage them to call out potential abuses.

Our Sustainability Programme includes a focus on our countries of assignment, where it is also our explicit goal to act even more sustainably. We have plans to install photovoltaic systems at many GIZ sites, similar to those in Togo and Peru. This will cut CO2 emissions, reduce energy costs, and can make generators superfluous when power outages occur.

Photo: Photovoltaic system on the flat roof of a building.
The photovoltaic system at this GIZ office in Togo should save 900 tonnes of CO2 over the next 30 years.
© Studio Avisk World / Roger Gbekou

GIZ has joined the Science Based Targets initiative

In 2021, we took an important step forward with our climate change mitigation efforts by joining the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) (see box). Our worldwide operations have been climate neutral since 2020. However, for the time being, that is true in mathematical terms only, since we currently offset any unavoidable emissions that are harmful to the environment. But we are not satisfied with that. By 2025, we want to reduce our direct and indirect climate-damaging emissions by 30 per cent compared with 2019 levels, and also to achieve reductions in the upstream value chain.

We conduct an annual monitoring exercise on the Sustainability Programme to enable us to make well-founded decisions about which topics GIZ should pay particular attention to in the short, medium and long term on the way to that goal. We use the results to measure progress and, if necessary, adapt any measures at an early stage, thereby ensuring that the goals can also be achieved within the planned time frame. This stringent monitoring also ensures transparency toward our stakeholders.

Sustainable mobility: what we have implemented

Staff mobility accounts for a significant proportion of CO2 emissions at GIZ. Sustainable measures therefore make a particularly important contribution to climate action in this area. In 2022, GIZ rolled out a number of climate-friendly mobility measures at various locations. Bicycles, in particular, attracted a great deal of attention. Car parking spaces in the underground garage of our Bogota office were converted into bike parking spaces. In Viet Nam, GIZ staff can now borrow bicycles. And GIZ’s German sites took part in European Bicycle Day in June, using the opportunity to provide staff with information on sustainable mobility. Furthermore, GIZ’s office in Congo has acquired its first electric company car and GIZ Albania has implemented an integrated mobility scheme based on carpooling, company bikes and electric scooters.

Photo: Several bicycles standing side by side in front of a building with a sign: "German Development Cooperation Office".
© GIZ / Ariela Hajdarmataj
Examples of our sustainable mobility

Company bikes are part of Albania’s mobility scheme.

Photo: A group of people, some wearing bicycle helmets, standing in front of a building with the GIZ logo. Everyone is smiling, some are waving. Four people are holding on to bicycles.
© GIZ / Hoai Thu
Examples of our sustainable mobility

GIZ Vietnam’s cycling initiative not only saves CO2 but also boosts the community spirit.

Photo: A man wearing a face mask standing in front of a building with the sign: ‘cooperación alemana, Deutsche Zusammenarbeit’ and the GIZ logo. A bicycle stands in front of him, which he is holding with both hands.
© GIZ / Luz Soraya Rojas Valiente
Examples of our sustainable mobility

In Colombia too, bikes are increasingly valued as a sustainable means of transport.

Photo: A blue car with stickers on the bonnet and doors with the German-Congolese cooperation and GIZ logos. The vehicle’s occupants are doing a thumbs-up out of the open car windows.
© GIZ / Jennifer Kamwanya
Examples of our sustainable mobility

GIZ Congo has bought its first electric car.

Photo: Two women in front of a building. One woman is sitting on a bicycle, the second is standing next to a bicycle.
© GIZ / Lara Milerski
Examples of our sustainable mobility

Sustainable mobility is also being promoted at various locations in Germany.

Results of the monitoring of our Sustainability Programme

The monitoring results after the first year of the new cycle paint a fundamentally positive picture across all areas. After just one year, it is clear that 61 per cent of the targets are expected to be achieved within the time frame set. A further 14 per cent of targets are expected to be at least partially achieved. For 23 per cent of targets, it is not yet possible to estimate whether or not they will be achieved. Only 2 per cent will probably not be achieved.

In this reporting period, we worked on and implemented the majority of the core measures, particularly in the areas of human rights and sustainable procurement. New members of staff will now receive even better training – information on human rights is available in four languages, the induction event on sustainable procurement has been expanded and there are initial guidelines on procurement of particularly high-risk materials and equipment and services.

In some cases, our targets were too ambitious. For example, we will not be able to reduce the proportion of coolants with a high global warming potential (GWP) used at our locations abroad by 60 per cent by 2025 because the necessary air conditioning systems are not yet available in many countries. On the other hand, we have even greater potential than we thought in some areas. Renewable energy use in Germany, for instance, has far more potential than was envisaged when the programme was drawn up. We will take a closer look at these objectives in the 2023 review of the Sustainability Programme.


of the core measures within the current Sustainability Programme were achieved after the first year or are in the process of being implemented.

Maintaining a dialogue

We engage regularly with our stakeholders to ensure that our Sustainability Programme stays up to date. We organise an extensive dialogue at regular intervals. This engagement is extremely important for our work because we want to meet people’s expectations, and we take criticism seriously.

The last dialogue sought first and foremost to identify the sustainability issues where our partners and commissioning parties believe we have the greatest potential. The conclusion: they have particularly high confidence in our abilities in the fields of environmental protection, climate action, human rights and sustainable procurement, which is why we have made these aspects the mainstays of our Sustainability Programme.

The materiality matrix

Based on the overall outcome of the Stakeholder Dialogue, we identified 16 topics that guide the strategic direction of our company. These 16 core topics are mapped in a materiality matrix. On this basis, a ranking list of topics for our corporate sustainability can be drawn up, headed by climate change mitigation and conservation of natural resources, sustainable procurement and protecting human rights (see the top right-hand square of the graphic). GIZ has set itself clear objectives for these topics in particular and links them to specific measures as part of its Sustainability Programme.

Diagramm mit einer x- und einer y-Achse: Die x-Achse ist mit „Wirkungspotenzial der GIZ“ beschriftet und besitzt die drei Bereiche mittel, hoch sowie sehr hoch. Die y-Achse ist mit „Erwartungen der Stakeholder“ beschriftet und besitzt ebenfalls drei Bereiche. In diesem Diagramm sind die Zahlen 1 bis 16 positioniert.

Es ergeben sich drei Quadrate mit Zahlen: Bereich A (Wirkungspotenzial der GIZ = sehr hoch, Erwartungen der Stakeholder = sehr hoch): Zahlen 1 bis 7. Bereich B (Wirkungspotenzial der GIZ = hoch, Erwartungen der Stakeholder = hoch): Zahlen 9 bis 15. Bereich C (Wirkungspotenzial der GIZ = mittel, Erwartungen der Stakeholder = mittel): die Zahl 16. Einige der Kreise liegen auch im Grenzbereich zu anderen Quadraten.

The materiality matrix correlates the expectations of stakeholders with GIZ’s potential to make a difference:

  • 1. Climate change mitigation
  • 2. Conservation of natural resources
  • 3. Sustainable procurement
  • 4. Protecting and promoting human rights
  • 5. Sustainable mobility
  • 6. Biodiversity
  • 7. Diversity and gender
  • 8. Compliance and anti-corruption
  • 9. Digitalisation
  • 10. Work-life balance and staff health
  • 11. Sustainable events
  • 12. Cooperation and partnership management
  • 13. Human resources development
  • 14. Responsible use of funds
  • 15. Learning organisation
  • 16. Corporate social responsibility
Below you will find information about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability standards:

GRI 2: General Disclosures 2021

GRI 3: Material Topics

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

  • More information on inspiring projects can be found on our environmental highlights page.