Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 1: keine Armut. Menschen halten sich an den Händen.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 10: Weniger Ungleichheiten. Ein = Zeichen mit Pfeilen nach oben, unten, links und rechts.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 11: Nachhaltige Städte und Gemeinden. Mehrere Gebäude.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 12: Nachhaltiger Konsum und Produktion. Ein Unendlichkeitssymbol.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 13: Maßnahmen zum Klimaschutz. Ein Auge, dessen Pupille eine Weltkugel ist.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 14: Leben unter Wasser. Ein Fisch schwimmt unter Wellen.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 15: Leben an Land. Ein Baum und Vögel.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 16: Frieden, Gerechtigkeit und starke Institutionen. Eine Taube und ein Richterhammer.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 17: Partnerschaften zur Erreichung der Ziele. Sich überlappende Kreise.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 2: Kein Hunger. Aus einer Schüssel steigt Dampf auf.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 3: Gesundheit und Wohlergehen. Linie eines EKGs, die in einem Herz endet.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 4: Hochwertige Bildung. Ein aufgeschlagenes Buch und ein Stift.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 5: Geschlechtergleichheit. Eine Kombination aus den Symbolen für Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit, mit einem = Zeichen in der Mitte.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 6: Sauberes Wasser und Sanitäreinrichtungen. Ein mit Wasser gefülltes Glas.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 7: Bezahlbare und saubere Energie. Eine Sonne mit einem An-/Aus-Zeichen in der Mitte.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 8: Menschenwürdige Arbeit und Wirtschaftswachstum. Ein Balkendiagramm mit Pfeil nach oben.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 9: Industrie, Innovation und Infrastruktur. Mehrere verschachtelte Würfel. Artboard 1

For climate-friendly agriculture and resilient cities

Around the world the climate is becoming hotter, drier and more extreme. The Global South is feeling this the most. GIZ supports many countries in their efforts to live with changing conditions and adapt to climate change – whether in rural regions or cities.

Thanu Thanhakij used to be able to work in the field until 10 or 11 am. Now it’s already too hot by 8 am. Thanu, who lives in the north-eastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, is one of 3.7 million rice farmers in Thailand. ‘The drought here is terrible,’ he says. Thanu already belongs to one of the poorest categories of workers in the country, but now he and his many fellow rice growers are also having to contend with the impacts of climate change. Heat and water shortages are the biggest challenges they face.

However, rice farming itself also has a damaging effect on the climate: methane is generated in the flooded rice paddies, tractors emit carbon dioxide and spreading nitrogen fertilisers releases nitrous oxide. Worldwide, rice production is responsible for roughly 1.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions and 10 per cent of agricultural emissions. After all, rice is an essential food item all over the globe. Half of the world’s population eats it every day.

Photo: Ein Bauer auf einem Moped transportiert Säcke mit frisch geernteten Reispflanzen auf einem Anhänger.

Thailand produces about 30 million tonnes of rice per year, making it one of the world’s leading exporters of this staple foodstuff. Efforts to make rice growing in Thailand sustainable and climate resilient are therefore vital to global food security.

6.4 million

people around the world received support from GIZ in 2023 to help them deal with the consequences of climate change better.

Shared responsibility, common benefit

The Global South is already experiencing the consequences of the climate crisis more than anywhere else. It is bearing an unfair burden, because the main driver of climate change for decades was the Global North, which therefore shares responsibility for helping other countries deal with the consequences. The lessons learned from the adaptation measures also benefit Germany because extreme weather events are on the increase in Europe, too – and reducing greenhouse gases benefits the planet as a whole.

Climate-friendly rice cultivation

This is why GIZ provides training for rice farmers like Thanu Thanhakij to grow rice more sustainably. They learn how to use alternative irrigation methods, for example, using about 30 per cent less water. As a result, they not only use the valuable resource more economically, but can also reduce the amount of methane released during rice growing by half on average. The training courses also teach the farmers how to apply fertiliser and pesticides correctly. To date we have reached more than 100,000 farmers through projects with various commissioning parties. With notable success: the farmers are now using 30 per cent less nitrogen. Over one million tonnes of CO2 equivalent has already been avoided thanks to the new cultivation methods. Moreover, many of the farmers have been able to boost their incomes by around 20 per cent.

Photo: Reispflanzen


rice farmers in Thailand have increased their average net income by around 20 per cent by using sustainable cultivation methods.

Thai Rice NAMA: Rice Farmers Take on Climate Change

Commissioned by Mitigation Action Facility (formerly NAMA Facility), financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities (KEFM), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the European Union (EU) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
Location Thailand
Term 2018 to 2024

That is a huge success, but far from enough, because the amount of rice being grown in recent decades has risen steadily, causing considerable environmental degradation and a decline in biodiversity. Intensive monocultures, air pollution from burning crop residues, the loss of habitat for wildlife – the list of negative environmental impacts is long. No single project on its own can cope with all of this. In Thailand, therefore, GIZ adopts a holistic approach that addresses these challenges through different projects. They all pursue the same goal, namely to grow rice in Thailand more sustainably.

With that aim, GIZ works closely with government agencies, research institutes, farmers and the private sector in order to reconcile social, economic and environmental interests. The stakeholders jointly create the policy frameworks, capacities and financing mechanisms to facilitate sustainable rice cultivation while at the same time maintaining or restoring biodiversity and ecosystems.

Inclusive Sustainable Rice Landscapes (ISRL) in Thailand

Commissioned by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Cofinanced by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and CropLife International. This project is being implemented in the form of a development partnership with Olam Agri.
Location Thailand
Term 2023 to 2027
Portrait photo: Frank-Walter Steinmeier

»The ISRL project is an outstanding example of cooperation between Thailand and Germany in the fight against climate change. Talking to farmers, I have learned that sustainable rice growing requires less water and fewer pesticides, enables farmers to earn higher incomes and cuts emissions. Everyone benefits from this – and it is partly thanks to German support.«

Frank-Walter Steinmeier,
President of the Federal Republic of Germany
Portrait photo: Paul Nicholson

»The smallholder farmers have been able to improve their income while reducing the environmental footprint of rice farming. Impact results have shown a sizeable drop in water and fertiliser use, as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. While we have already empowered tens of thousands of farmers, however, there are millions who can benefit from our collective help.«

Paul Nicholson,
Vice President and Head of Rice Research and Sustainability at Olam Agri
© Olam Agri
Photo: Eine Frau erntet Reispflanzen.

Achieving more with partners

One of the project’s partners is Olam Agri, a food and agriculture business operating worldwide. It is one of the biggest suppliers of cocoa beans and cocoa products, as well as coffee, cotton – and rice. Olam signs purchase agreements with farmers in Thailand and pays them bonuses for sustainably grown rice, which motivates them to employ sustainable methods. Olam adds valuable expert knowledge of rice processing to the project and places the sustainably grown rice from Thailand on international markets. The company intends to use the findings from the project to promote sustainable rice cultivation in other countries, too.

Rice farmer Thanu in Ubon Ratchathani is already benefiting in very real ways from the transformation of the entire rice sector on which GIZ is working with Olam Agri and many other partners. He now knows how to use climate-friendly farming methods, has found a regular and reliable customer through Olam and is therefore in a more resilient position to address the impacts of climate change. ‘As farmers, we need to embrace new technologies from experts and other countries because if we carry on working in the old way, we will just keep getting the same results,’ he says. ‘Reducing our costs means that we have more money at our disposal to improve our financial situation and secure our families’ livelihoods.’

Green Climate Fund: more resources for climate action

Innovative farming methods, resilient rice farmers, close cooperation with the private sector and lower methane emissions: another project designed to make Thailand’s rice sector sustainable and adapt it to climate change was launched with these objectives in 2024. GIZ is implementing this project, which is cofinanced by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

GCF is the world’s largest climate fund: around 50 countries worldwide have paid in USD 19 billion to date, which has already financed 228 projects in 140 countries. Since 2016, GIZ has been authorised to apply for funding from GCF to be used to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. In January 2024, GCF accredited GIZ for a further five years.

Photo: Vier Personen in Arbeitskleidung stehen an einem Strand.

In addition to the project in Thailand, there are also other projects that GIZ is implementing with funds from GCF. You can find out more on this topic here:

Go to projects

Becoming a resilient city

Pursuing an objective in concert with partners: this is how GIZ works in other regions, too, in the field of climate adaptation. Because even if the conditions in cities differ from those found in Thai agriculture, the challenges remain the same. Small and medium-sized cities, in particular, often do not have the resources they need to take effective steps to tackle climate-related challenges.

Mérida in Mexico is one such city. It is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in the south-east of the country and has a tropical savanna climate with an annual mean temperature of 26.7 degrees Celsius. The city is already noticing the impacts of climate change: temperatures and the sea level are rising, and tropical storms, drought and heavy rains are becoming more common.

GIZ is supporting Mérida in adapting to the change in climate conditions. We create networks between the city council and experts through workshops to help them work together in drawing up strategies for climate-resilient urban development. At the same time, GIZ devises new projects with the local neighbourhood and puts them into practice. The local residents introduce their own ideas and perspectives from the outset, then they decide together what should happen and where.

Photo: Eine Gruppe Menschen blickt gemeinsam auf einen großen, auf dem Boden liegenden Stadtplan.
Working with the residents of Mérida, we generate ideas to make their city more resilient.

CitiesAdapt – Strengthening Climate Change Adaptation in Cities

Commissioned by International Climate Initiative (IKI), financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)
Location Mexico, South Africa
Term 2022 to 2025

A demonstration project that serves as a model

One such project is currently being implemented in Plan de Ayala Sur, a settlement on the southern outskirts of Mérida. Local residents and municipal representatives attended workshops to discuss climate risks, nature-based solutions and adaptable infrastructure. They then jointly chose a suitable location for the demonstration project: a square next to a health centre and a primary school.

At the moment, the dominant feature of the square is asphalt. The heat builds up, and the street drains are regularly clogged. Where there is heavy rainfall, the whole area is under water, and the puddles are a perfect breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes. To prevent their children from constantly falling ill, women from the neighbourhood clean the drain covers every two weeks so that the water can drain away.

Portrait photo: María Concepción Castillo López

»It is very important to know what we can do for our planet. We can all do our bit to protect the environment! Since the workshops, I see the rain in a different way: before, I only thought it had a cooling effect. Now I realise that if the water can’t seep away properly, it can cause problems such as dengue fever. That is also part of climate change.«

María Concepción Castillo López, a resident of Plan de Ayala Sur
© Jose Carlos Garcia Perez
Photo: Ein Auto parkt vor einem eingezäunten kleinen Gebäude.
© Auribel Villa, 2022

Site of the demonstration project: the area near a health centre and a primary school in Plan de Ayala Sur.

Photo: Eine Rutsche, ein Baum und ein kleines Gebäude hinter einem Zaun.
© Auribel Villa, 2022

Expanses of asphalt with little shade are not currently an inviting space in which to spend time.

Grafik: Vision eines offenen Platzes mit vielen Bäumen und Pflanzen. Ein Radfahrer fährt über das rote und graue Bodenpflaster.
© Felipe Reyes Lara, 2024

As of late 2024, the square is to be redesigned on the basis of ideas from students, turning it into a neighbourhood meeting point.

Grafik: Vision eines offenen Platzes mit vielen Bäumen. Zwei Menschen stehen im Schatten.
© Felipe Reyes Lara, 2024

The plans include shady trees and a communal garden.

Students at the universities in Yucatán submitted proposals on how the city could redesign the square, after GIZ announced a competition for them to enter in 2023. The final plan was drawn up as a joint effort, taking account of the students’ ideas, the residents’ wishes and the options available to the city council. The redesign of the square will start at the end of 2024, and then by the summer of 2025 the local residents will be able to use their new shaded areas and a communal garden. Rainwater will also seep away more easily after the revamp. With support from GIZ, Mérida will share its experiences with other cities so that they too can adapt better to the impacts of climate change.

Portrait photo: Santiago Castellanos

»What attracted me most of all was the possibility of working with experts from other fields. I wasn’t very familiar with environmental ideas before I got involved, but my lecturers encouraged me to spend time on this subject. My main motivation was the thought that the climate change adaptation strategies that we develop can be copied in other parts of the world.«

Santiago Castellanos, civil engineering student at the Universidad Anahuac del Mayab in Mérida and one of the participants in the ideas competition for the demonstration project in Plan de Ayala Sur
© private
Portrait photo: Julio Enrique Sauma Castillo

»Bringing in different resources and talents means that better results can be achieved. International cooperation not only enables successful measures to be scaled up to include various global regions, but in our case also ensures that the project will enjoy a certain degree of continuity beyond the city council’s period in office.«

Julio Enrique Sauma Castillo, Municipal Secretary of Mérida
© Ayuntamiento de Mérida Yucatán
Portrait photo: Edgardo Bolio Arceo

»The project is working on building collective environmental awareness, something that I consider fundamental. The residents learn in an easy way what climate change is, what impacts it has and the ways in which we can adapt to it. By using practical examples from everyday life, the project creates incentives for the population to participate in adaptation measures.«

Edgardo Bolio Arceo, Director of the Municipal Planning Institute of Mérida (IMPLAN)
© Ayuntamiento de Mérida Yucatán

Whether in Mexico or Thailand, in urban settings or in agriculture: people, cities and the environment can only adapt successfully and sustainably to challenging climate conditions if the private sector, the scientific and academic communities, governments and society cooperate closely across national borders and continents. International cooperation plays a crucial role in shaping a future worth living in the context of climate change.

You can learn more about our partnerships and the impact of our work here: