Skip to main content
Foreign Policy

Fostering sustainable Development

The sustainable development of all nations lays the foundations for a peaceful future. It’s a goal to which the Federal Government is firmly committed.
Nachhaltige Entwicklung
Getty Images/E+

As a cornerstone of a global structural and peace policy German development policy is geared to helping improve living conditions in partner countries. It aims to overcome hunger and poverty worldwide and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

Reform concept “BMZ 2030”

With the “BMZ 2030” programme, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has reformed state development cooperation with the aim of making it more effective and more efficient. The overriding goal remains overcoming hunger and poverty in the world.

State cooperation is dependent on good governance, upholding human rights and fighting corruption, amongst other things. In terms of specific topics, “BMZ 2030” has established new focus areas in climate protection, health and family policy, sustainable supply chains, use of digitisation and strengthening of private investments.

The concept provides for new categories of partnership to ensure more scope for strategic and flexible responses within the collaboration. Some countries no longer need any direct support, while others show little will for reform. Hence the number of partner countries Germany works with directly has been cut from 85 to 60. Cooperation with civil society players, however, is being pursued in all countries.

In 2019 Germany just failed to achieve the goal set by the United Nations of investing 0.7 percent of gross domestic product in development cooperation, achieving 0.6 percent instead. On an international scale, with 23.81 billion dollars, Germany was again the second-largest donor country for public development cooperation in 2019 after the USA. The various country projects are managed by implementing organisations, as a rule Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the KfW Group, and also others.

The 2030 Agenda as a compass

As the second-largest donor for official development cooperation and as an active advocate of global partnerships, Germany plays an important role in global development. A benchmark for global development over the coming years is the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, which was agreed upon by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The core of the 2030 Agenda is the 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and implementation of the Agenda is a way to lay the foundations for global economic progress in harmony with social justice and in line with the Earth’s ecological limitations. Pursuit of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000-15 succeeded in halving poverty worldwide and, amongst other things, improving access to drinking water and education. From 2015 to 2017, the number of the poorest people worldwide fell from 10.1 percent of the global population to 9.2 percent – and that was in spite of the adjustment of the benchmark used to define absolute poverty from 1.25 to 1.90 US dollars a day.

Corona pandemic exacerbates poverty

These initial successes are now severely threatened, however, by the Corona pandemic, as well as by the onward march of climate change and violent conflicts. The World Bank warns that this combination could force many people who have escaped poverty back into precarious situations. Experts estimate that in 2020 between 88 and 115 million people will fall into extreme poverty. Under these conditions, the already hard-to-reach objective of reducing the number of people in extreme poverty to less than three percent of the global population seems all but impossible to achieve by 2030 unless there is rapid and substantial political action.

Nevertheless, the 2030 Agenda remains an important compass for a global shift towards greater sustainability – in the economic, ecological and social dimensions and taking into account existing linkages. It is intended as a “future contract” for the world that applies to all states and addresses a broad spectrum of policy areas well beyond development cooperation: Alongside fighting hunger and poverty, it aims to protect the planet for future generations; to make economic systems and lifestyles more just and sustainable as well as more effective, and to fight against discrimination, not least through the reinforcement of effective inclusive and democratic institutions, responsible government and the rule of law. Ultimately the agreement for ensuring sustainability in the future needs a “multi-player” approach: The plan envisages that in addition to governments, above all social groups and the worlds of business and scholarship play important roles in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.