‘We need a global re-affirmation of commitment to the SDGs’
An interview with the Chair of the GIZ Management Board on the mid-term review of the 2030 Agenda. Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel speaks about the responsibility of the Global North, the interlinkages between environmental, economic and social factors, and points out that solidarity is an intrinsic part of GIZ staff’s make-up.
What exactly does the transformation agenda mean for GIZ?
The 2030 Agenda provides the framework for action for German development cooperation and thus acts as a compass for our work. We have fully integrated the 2030 Agenda in the planning, implementation and monitoring of all new projects.
The implementation principles are our guide rails. Let’s take the principle of integrated approaches by way of example. Achieving climate neutrality is a huge challenge for many regions around the world, including the South African province of Mpumalanga. About 80 per cent of all South African coal is mined there.
To give the people who live in the area prospects of a better future, GIZ is working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action to support a just transition. The goal is to create jobs and green value. The work of miners, truck drivers and traders has been closely intertwined with the coal mining industry to date.
GIZ is organising retraining and working with partner organisations to find investors willing to develop viable sectors of the economy, including agriculture, ecotourism and renewable energies.
Interconnected crises place additional demands on development cooperation. What does this mean for GIZ?
GIZ is called on to act in its capacity as an implementing organisation. Our new Corporate Strategy aims to hone excellence, digitalisation and partnership at GIZ. Thus, even in times of multiple crises we can respond effectively, flexibly, and swiftly.
One important point here is to make more use of instruments and approaches that have already proved successful – regionally or in other country contexts – thus establishing standard practices, and saving time and resources.
We also want to develop partnerships on the ground with bodies from civil society to central government level, and help them improve their service delivery. Our approach is always to establish cooperation arrangements, with the digital sector and foundations too, in order to pool our expertise and our resources. This allows us to be more effective and more efficient, and better achieve our goal of sustainable development.
How can digitalisation help underpin this integrated approach?
Digitalisation is also a driver of development and thus an opportunity.
In Malawi, GIZ and UNICEF together set up a drone academy for aspiring pilots. This creates jobs and high-speed supply chains. Drones can be used to fly urgently needed medicines to remote areas, reaching more than 750,000 people. The drones collect data en route that can be used in the agricultural sector too, for example, to plan sowing. This makes supply chains robust and creates jobs, not just for drone pilots, but also for data analysts.
GIZ is coordinating the drone network and advising the Malawian Government on further expanding transport. In this way, drone technology is spurring the country’s technical and agricultural development, strengthening health care and making the country more resilient.