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

Sustainability: setting priorities together

GIZ is continuously refining its corporate Sustainability Programme and it is important for us to involve our partners around the globe in this process.

‘Thank you very much, goodbye!’ says Vishakha Jha as she takes her leave from Rajan Chedambath, the head of a municipal research institute. The Sustainability Manager for GIZ India had just been discussing the positive and negative sustainability aspects of GIZ’s work in India. It is one of a total of 13 such discussions that Vishakha held in 2023.

Photo: Ein Mann und eine Frau sitzen auf einer Bank und unterhalten sich.
We engage in ongoing dialogue with our partners – including on sustainability.
© GIZ / Tillmann Franzen
Photo: Windräder vor blauem Himmel
Many partners consider GIZ’s influence on climate change to be positive, especially in the field of renewable energy.
© GIZ / Thomas Imo / photothek.net

Vishakha passes on the results of her discussions to Christine Weinreich, who works at GIZ in Bonn, Germany, as an expert in sustainability reporting. The purpose of the partner survey for Christine and her colleagues is to find out which sustainability issues are particularly important for GIZ – with regard to both its own operational sustainability and its project work.

Using a predefined list of topics, the discussion partners choose the areas where GIZ, in their opinion, produces the greatest positive and negative impacts. The questions cover opportunities and risks with regard to the climate, but also matters such as waste, equality or political rights. The partner survey is part of the materiality analysis that GIZ conducted in 2023.

Portrait photo: Christine Weinreich
© GIZ / Lotta Schütt

»Actively addressing the material topics«

Christine Weinreich coordinated GIZ’s materiality analysis and partner survey in 2023. In this interview, she tells us why both of these are so important.

What are the findings of the 2023 materiality analysis?

A materiality analysis identifies issues that are particularly relevant to a company like GIZ. The new analysis shows that our material topics as previously defined, such as curbing climate change, the sustainable use of resources and working conditions for our staff and for people in our supply chains, continue to be of the utmost relevance to our work. However, as we are following the new EU-wide Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) standard in this latest analysis, the selection of topics has changed to a certain extent. Some entirely new areas were added to the analysis in 2023, too, for example the protection of ecosystems such as forests.

»It’s not enough just to ask GIZ staff members which aspects of sustainability we have the greatest influence over. Our international partners are very important stakeholders for us.«

Christine Weinreich,
Stabsstelle Unternehmensentwicklung
Policyberaterin Qualität und Nachhaltigkeit

So, the material topics set the direction for reporting. What happens beyond that with the findings of the analysis?

What is important is that, as a company, we actively address the material topics in order to limit any negative impacts on our environment as much as possible while at the same time minimising financial risks for GIZ. Our motto is don’t just talk about it, do it! We use the material topics to further refine our Sustainability Programme and identify core measures. We did this after the last materiality analysis in 2020, as well. And since then, we have already implemented half of all the measures, for instance a pilot project for an emissions budget in 2023.

Why are the partners’ assessments and perspectives so important for the analysis?

It’s not enough just to ask GIZ staff members which aspects of sustainability we have the greatest influence over. Our international partners are very important stakeholders for us. Not only can they share their own views as GIZ’s partners, but they also provide a perspective that is even closer to the people for whom GIZ works worldwide. The partner survey is the first time that we have systematically incorporated them into a dialogue on the subject of sustainability. This meant that we were able to find out what they expect of our work. We are using the information to continue the strategic development of our sustainability management system.

GRI and CSRD – what the reporting standards mean

Up to now, GIZ has compiled its reports on corporate sustainability in line with the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative – or GRI for short. As of the reporting year 2025, a new EU-wide standard will become mandatory: the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The main difference between the two standards has to do with the underlying materiality analysis (see interview). The first time that GIZ will report in accordance with CSRD will be for the reporting year 2025. However, we are already taking the necessary first steps, by introducing the extended materiality analysis and partner survey, for example.

Diverse perspectives on sustainability in India

When Vishakha Jha learned about the partner survey, she was immediately enthusiastic: ‘It’s a great opportunity for us to find out about our partners’ opinions. We have been working with Rajan Chedambath’s institute for more than 10 years now, looking at areas such as adaptation to climate change. It was fascinating to hear what aspects of sustainability he associated our work with,’ Vishakha tells us.

The most difficult thing, she says, was to choose a small number of the very many potential project partners to talk to. GIZ implements over 100 projects in India with a wide range of partner organisations, and they all have a different view of our work. This is why Vishakha, sitting at her desk in New Delhi, devised a matrix, divided up according to various criteria. ‘I wanted to be sure that we interview not only ministries, consultancy firms and non-governmental organisations, but also a few staff members from our country offices. Drawing on all these different perspectives has given us a good overall picture.’

Portrait photo: Rajan Chedambath.

»It is commendable to see that GIZ is actively seeking perspectives and feedback from partners. This strengthens our long-standing cooperation with GIZ across various projects and strengthens our relationship.«

Rajan Chedambath, Head of the c-hed Kochi Community Research Institute in India
© c-hed Kochi
Photo: Gruppenbild von etwa dreißig Menschen rund um zwei gelbe Mülltonnen
Composters that convert biowaste into fertiliser for staff members’ gardens are part of GIZ’s sustainability initiative in India.
© GIZ/Vishakha Jha

Influential findings

It came as little surprise to Vishakha Jha that the issues rated as being most positive among the partners she interviewed were those on which they cooperate with GIZ themselves. ‘Many are not at all familiar with the full extent of our work. That is why it was important to broaden the perspective in the dialogue together.’ The findings from India in large part match those of the company-wide materiality analysis. Many partners emphasised that GIZ's work has a positive impact on climate change, especially in the field of energy. At the same time, the potential for reducing emissions through the use of green energy is particularly big in India. For this reason, it remains a material topic for GIZ.

The findings were fed into GIZ’s materiality analysis together with the results from Mexico, Thailand, Togo, Uganda and Uzbekistan, where partner surveys were also carried out. They will determine the future topics on which GIZ will report. In addition, they will form the basis for the sustainability strategy and the measures included in the Sustainability Programme.

Portrait photo: Vishakha Jha

»Our impact on climate and environmental issues was very often rated as positive, with some employees from the country offices noting that we should focus even more consistently on sustainable events and procurement in our own actions.«

Vishakha Jha,
Sustainability Manager at GIZ India
© Vishakha Jha

Making progress with material topics

We defined core measures for all material topics in our Sustainability Programme on the basis of our last materiality analysis in 2020. They are shared between four areas: climate management and mobility, resource efficiency and biodiversity, sustainable procurement, and human rights. Implementation of the programme is making steady progress. We have already implemented nearly half of all the defined measures, and a further 35 per cent are at the preparation stage. You can read about highlights from 2023 in the slider.

Photo: Zwei Frauen und drei Männer stehen neben einem GIZ-Banner. Ein Mann hält eine Urkunde.
© BMUV / Christoph Wehrer
GIZ statement receives Environmental Management Award for outstanding clarity

In our materiality analyses in 2020 and 2023, we identified climate change, environmental protection and energy as the most important topics. These have long been high priorities for GIZ: we have been EMAS-certified for 10 years. In the Environmental Statement that we need to provide for certification, we demonstrate every year how we are minimising our ecological footprint, what objectives we are setting for ourselves and what progress we are making. In 2023, we received the prestigious Environmental Management Award from the German and Austrian environment ministries as recognition of this.

Photo: Ein Ladekabel steckt in einem Elektroauto.
© GIZ / Florian Kopp
A budget for emissions

In 2023, we implemented another measure to address the material topic of climate change mitigation in the form of a pilot project: the greenhouse gas budget. Five organisational units, among them the country offices in Colombia, Rwanda and Lebanon, were given a greenhouse gas budget for emissions from flights and vehicles in much the same way as they are given a financial budget. The goal was to establish transparency about greenhouse gas emissions and thereby create incentives to reduce them. We will evaluate the results in 2024 and use them as a basis for introducing the next steps.

Photo: Besprechung in einem Büro.
© GIZ / Tillmann Franzen
Protecting human rights through risk analyses

Another very important topic that we identified in our materiality analysis is the protection of human rights. We have long been committed to improving the human rights situation worldwide, and not only since the German Supply Chain Act entered into force. For us, this also means analysing the risk of human rights violations at our own locations every year. Our analysis for 2023 revealed that 69 GIZ locations are situated in high-risk countries. However, questionnaires and interviews with the respective location managers showed that specific risks have already been reduced thanks to existing prevention measures and that regulations on protecting the human rights of GIZ staff are effective.

Photo: Ein Mann lehnt an einem Elektro-SUV und schaut freundlich in die Kamera.
© GIZ

Sustainability management in Uganda: imitators welcome

We have set ourselves ambitious environmental and climate targets. If we are to achieve these, all GIZ locations around the world have to pull in the same direction. Here you can read about how committed action and an electric car are causing a sensation in Uganda.

Learn more
Below you will find information about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability standards:

GRI 2: General Disclosures 2021

GRI 3: Material Topics

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

Find out more about our environmental topics here: