As a provider of international cooperation services for sustainable development and international education work, we are dedicated to building a future worth living. We believe that only by combining social responsibility, ecological balance, political participation and economic capability will current and future generations be able to lead secure and dignified lives. Using these four dimensions, this online course GIZ Guide for Practicing corporate Sustainability presents the approaches we pursue to safeguard corporate sustainability. We would like to invite you to have a think about these approaches and develop them further by incorporating your ideas.
Within GIZ, sustainability is firmly anchored in the top management levels
Our governance structure: Sustainability is strategically anchored
Why does GIZ have a sustainability management system?
Sustainability is GIZ’s guiding principle and forms the basis for its contributions to shaping a society that is fit for the future. We firmly believe that only by combining social responsibility , ecological balance and economic capability will current and future generations be able to lead secure and dignified lives. The 2030 Agenda and the German Federal Republic’s national sustainability strategy form the framework for GIZ’s sustainability management system. BMZ, our main commissioning party and shareholder, has set itself the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2020. This includes GIZ too.
GIZ engages in dialogue with its stakeholders . It is a member of the German Global Compact Network , B.A.U.M e.V. and the Biodiversity in Good Company initiative.
We are fully transparent about our corporate sustainability activities and routinely publish reports that fulfil international standards such as the German Sustainability Code , the Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (G4).
Political participation GIZ/ Dirk Ostermeier
GIZ’S understanding of sustainability is based not only on the three dimensions of sustainability, but also on a fourth pillar: political participation. This combines a number of factors, namely stakeholder participation and balancing the interests of different stakeholders, personal responsibility on the part of relevant actors and good corporate governance by GIZ.
To highlight the wide-ranging initiatives on corporate sustainability under way throughout the company and acknowledge their value, in 2018 GIZ launched a competition in which the best entries receive sustainability awards.
Four prizes of EUR 3,500 were awarded, one for each sustainability dimension, along with a special award of EUR 2,000 in the category of ‘sustainable procurement’. All staff members were able to vote electronically for their preferred entry. A ranked shortlist was compiled and the winner chosen by a jury of five, made up of members of the Sustainability Board.
A team from Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in a Volunteer Day for children, winning in the Political Participation category. In November 2017, the team organised a Day of Social Engagement together with three institutions. Staff members spent a great day with the children, making greeting cards and gift boxes, learning songs about friendship and reading books. They also helped young adults to further develop skills such has how to prepare a professional CV.
The awards in the other categories also went to the field structure:
- The Social Responsibility prize went to a Brazilian team for its carpool app.
- A team from GIZ’s office in La Paz in Bolivia won an award for its contribution to the Ecological Balance category for installing a solar charging station for e-bikes.
A special Sustainable Procurement prize went to a campaign run by the team in Rwanda for raising awareness in this field.
Winner of the Sustainability Contest – Sustainability Champions
Our stakeholder management
As a sustainable company, we take the participation of our interest groups and opportunities for exchange very seriously. Our objectives, working methods and performance are influenced by many stakeholders. We address the interests of our external stakeholders by engaging in various forms of dialogue.
GIZ Stakeholders’ Day on Sustainability / 2018 (German only)
Sustainability Action Days
The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) organises the German Sustainability Action Days annually as part of the European Sustainable Development Week (30 May to 5 June).
RNE established the Action Days in 2012 on the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.
Innovation Fund 2017 – Ideas competition
The GIZ Innovation Fund is a company-wide, ideas competition that was created to specifically promote innovations at GIZ. It aims to promote innovative ideas that have the potential to increase the effectiveness of our programmes through the use of digital technologies. At the same time, the hope is that these measures will result in a culture of innovation within the company that enables employees at all levels to present innovative ideas at an early stage. Things that work are developed further – and if a suggestion is going nowhere, it’s alright to take a step back and try something new. In this way, the Innovation Fund is also intended to help create a culture of experimentation, providing new scope for creativity and bringing innovative impulses and flexible ways of working to GIZ.
What does corporate sustainability mean for us?
GIZ understands ‘Corporate sustainability’ as the process of managing the company in a way that strikes a balance between social responsibility , ecological balance and economic capability . We believe that sustainable development will only be achieved by linking up these three dimensions together with a fourth pillar of political participation and ensuring that they are in equilibrium. At a practical level, this means for example, procuring materials and equipment in a way that takes account of environmental and social factors. Although the price, quality and durability of a product are still key criteria in this context, we also take into consideration whether use of a particular product would damage the environment or its manufacture would violate employee rights.
Our four fields of action on sustainability
Where would you like to start?
You must work your way through all four dimensions to complete this course.
Economic progress should be accompanied by greater social participation – we are committed to achieving this together with various partners in many countries. For us, effective social systems are an essential element of social progress. Within our company, we embody the values we communicate to the outside world by accepting responsibility for the job satisfaction, health and capacity development of our employees.
GIZ’s commitment to human rights has been anchored in the GIZ Orientation on Human Rights since 2012. Promoting respect for and the fulfilment of human rights is embedded in our understanding of sustainability and an integral part of our corporate values. We are increasingly working in countries that – due to violent conflict, fragile state structures or difficult human rights situations – provide particularly challenging environments for our work. We carefully monitor the impact of our work, take our responsibility for human rights seriously and take action to counteract any negative effects.
Does your work pose any CSR risks? What can you do to alleviate these risks?
The CSR Risk Check is a free online test that will help you establish what corporate social responsibility risks your work entails and what you can do to mitigate them. The tool is aimed at entrepreneurs that purchase internationally produced products, export products or produce abroad.
Where can you obtain help for implementing the requirements laid down in the German National Action Plan?
With the German National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights, the German Government set up a help desk to assist companies and associations in implementing the requirements laid down in NAP, particularly with regard to key elements of human rights due diligence. It is available to all companies and associations.
Where can you find out more about setting up and improving your company’s human rights due diligence processes?
The Human Rights Due Diligence Info Portal supports companies in setting up and improving their human rights due diligence processes in accordance with the requirements laid down in NAP and in other relevant international regulations.
Safe and healthy working environment – GIZ Egypt
GIZ Egypt provides a safe and healthy working environment that promotes personal development without discrimination. Almost 50% of managerial positions – such as that of project manager – are held by women. GIZ Egypt is also a trailblazer when it comes to developing an anti-sexism policy. Female employees can attend awareness sessions and WenDo self‑defence classes that empower them to deal with sexual discrimination. Success has also been chalked up in the area of inclusion: The Egyptian Government rewarded GIZ for meeting the employment quota of 5% for people with disabilities.
Staff safety and security is paramount
Our work in our partner countries has always involved a number of risks such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, violent crime, unsafe travel routes and poor medical care. Violence, conflict and fragility are on the increase worldwide. More than half of the partner countries of German development cooperation are affected.
The safety and security of our staff is of the utmost importance to us – above business development or interests.
The work carried out by GIZ, as a development organisation, focuses purely on civil activities. However, that in itself is no guarantee of safe and secure living and working conditions in our partner countries. We therefore have a tried-and-tested professional security risk and crisis management system. This enables us to protect our staff and ensure safety in fragile contexts and high-risk countries as well as in developing countries and emerging economies. We go to great lengths to ensure that our projects are implemented as safely as possible.
When preparing for a business trip or a work assignment in a fragile region, you can book a safety and security training or first aid course for overseas:
Winner of the 2018 Sustainability Contest – Social responsibility
Caronear is a mobile application conceived to improve GIZ Brazils staff mobility and enhance resource consumption. By means of corporate ride sharing and improvement of the parking situation, the app promotes the reduction of GHG emissions and air pollution, parking costs reduction, staff socializing, safety, healthier work environment and improving traffic in GIZ surroundings. Through a flexible and friendly interface, with no costs for users, the app advances sustainability within the company and has promising potential for implementation among partners and offices of GIZ.
Meeting the challenge of promoting health and striking a good work-life balance
As an employer, GIZ has a keen interest in the well-being of its staff. It has therefore implemented a corporate health management system that takes a holistic approach to health, offering a variety of services to help employees around the world stay healthy.
Spotlight on digital health
During the 2019 Health Day, organised by GIZ’s corporate health management team, we took a look at what it means to protect our health in the digital age. New media and digital technology are changing the very essence of how we live and work. In 2019, for example, a GIZ employer/staff council agreement was introduced that stipulates that all staff members under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (in Germany and abroad) may work remotely (i.e. outside the office) up to two days per week. Mobile working opens up new freedom, but also blurs the lines between work and private life. Digital health – protecting one’s health in the digital age – is therefore one of the current challenges that needs to be addressed. GIZ’s corporate health management team offers a wide range of measures to fulfil this responsibility.
Who can you contact if you have witnessed or been the victim of sexual harassment?
Project partners, customers and the general public can contact the Integrity Advisor if they would like to report an infringement of GIZ’s Code of Conduct.
Prohibition of sexual harassmentExtract from GIZ's Code of Conduct
We do not tolerate any form of sexual harassment in the company.
The Code of Conduct is based on our common corporate values as set out in the company Corporate Guidelines. We, the GIZ staff members, practise these principles ourselves and expect our contractors to do so too.
How do we promote the employability of our staff?
In addition to career planning and capacity development, another important topic for us is staff training. Our very own Academy for International Cooperation (AIZ) therefore offers a wide range of trainings and capacity development measures.
AIZ offers GIZ staff, as well as external clients in Germany and abroad, a wide range of learning and training services for practitioners. The broad range of courses offered focuses on the current trends of international cooperation and covers many areas, from language tuition and safety training prior to assignments in partner countries to training in technical fields such as food and nutrition security to conflict transformation methods and project management, digital skills for project work and development of management expertise. Courses are offered face‑to-face and online.
The following list will help generate ideas for measures on the ‘Social responsibility’ dimension of corporate sustainability. It is by no means exhaustive and we explicitly welcome more ideas and measures that boost your sustainability in your particular situation. Share your ideas with us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Which dimension would you like to work on now?
You must work through all four dimensions to complete this course.
GIZ’s environmental mission statement
Sustainable development must be based on responsible management of the environment and its resources in order to safeguard development opportunities for future generations. GIZ has drafted its own environmental mission statement, which sets out the following responsibilities:
- to prevent or reduce the company’s environmental impacts by means of systematic environmental management;
- to use scarce resources such as energy and water sparingly and increase the deployment of eco-efficient technologies and materials;
- to implement our strategy of becoming a carbon-neutral company;
- to plan and carry out all projects and programmes with minimum environmental impact;
- to engage in participatory environmental communication with our staff and raise awareness of environmental issues;
- to continue to develop our environmental mission statement through open dialogue with fellow professionals within and beyond the company;
- to inform our partner companies, business partners and suppliers about the binding nature of our environmental mission statement.
Furthermore, GIZ has committed itself to continuously improving environmental performance at its Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) locations.
GIZ’s Environmental Programme
GIZ is implementing a five-year Environmental Programme. Like our shareholder BMZ, we want to achieve climate neutrality by 2020. In doing so, we are following the trend at private sector companies that have led the way by also working towards climate neutrality and setting exemplary emission reduction targets. Other key objectives include: Reducing the consumption of resources and CO2 emissions, expanding sustainable procurement, implementing sustainable event management, supporting green mobility to promote healthier lifestyles, promoting sustainable construction and expansion of EMAS in Germany, supporting biodiversity at office locations, avoiding investment in enterprises and financial products that impact on climate and strengthening staff participation in environmental management.
Key objectives and measures of the Environmental Programme 2016-2020
Sustainable construction and property management
Sustainable construction is a major environmental aspect for GIZ in Germany. We are committed to sustainable construction in both redevelopment projects and new builds. In recent years, all new buildings have been planned, completed and certified in accordance with the Gold Standard of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB).
What this means in practice
How can we achieve sustainable event management?
Practical guidance on achieving sustainable event management
For GIZ in particular, sustainable event management is both a mission and an obligation: Our commitment to sustainability must be realised at both corporate and performance levels of the company. Events in particular offer enormous potential for making the concept of sustainability tangible in all its four dimensions and underlining corporate values through specific actions. Sustainable event management encompasses a multitude of possible measures in seven fields of activity – such as conservation of resources in the fields of catering, mobility and building management – and many sustainable event management measures can be transferred directly to everyday office life, resulting in greater sustainability in the company as a whole.
Our guide to sustainable event management offers practical guidance in this regard.
The phases involved in organising events
The relevant stakeholders are identified in step 1. In step 2, possible potential for savings is examined. In the third step, the extent to which sustainability aspects can be implemented is analysed. This analysis should address the principles of gender mainstreaming as well as the opportunities for participation and full access for persons with disabilities too. Gradually achieving goals or the increasing number of measures from event to event can have a more motivational effect than taking on too much from the outset. It is not a question of addressing the fields of activity as comprehensively and completely as possible, but rather of focusing on implementing those aspects that can be controlled and are essential in a given context.
Another important component is internal and external communication and information, not only with regard to stakeholders, but also with regard to the company‘s own documentation. This aspect must be taken into account as early as the design phase, enabling information to be passed on at an early stage. Communication on sustainability aspects is also important if the approach is to be accepted. It is essential to inform not only guests about the specific measures. Stakeholders involved in an event, such as event personnel, etc., must also be kept in the loop. This applies to events of all sizes. Information and criteria for selecting the venue, measures to reduce CO2 emissions, etc. ensure that an event is run transparently and that the awareness of those involved is raised. At the same time, it should also be openly stated where compromises have been made in order to prevent misunderstandings and avoid being accused of ‘green washing’.
How can sustainability be integrated as a cross-cutting theme on the day of the event? When staging an event, it is not only important to provide information about sustainability aspects in advance. It also makes sense to have a local contact person who can provide expert support for specific questions on the topic of sustainability. If the questions involve complex issues, they should be included in the follow-up to the event.
After the event, an evaluation should be carried out to help reflect on essential and controllable aspects and to ensure comparability with other or recurring events. The names of providers and local stakeholders who have made a valuable contribution to sustainability should be forwarded to the Sustainability Office in order to include them in the overviews so that they can be used for future events. The satisfaction of the participants in terms of various sustainability aspects can also be used as an indicator when designing future events.
2018 expert conference on biodiversity, forest, climate and the environment
The expert conference on biodiversity, forest, climate and the environment, which ran from 18 to 22 June 2018, set new standards for sustainability. The organisational team decided to incorporate the ecological, economic and social dimensions of sustainability and structured the concept, travel to and from the conference, catering and procurement, decoration and leisure activities in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner.
Winner of the 2018 Sustainability Contest – Ecological balance
The bicicletario solar promotes ecological transport by charging the motor of electric bicycles with a photovoltaic system. Electric bicycles allow medium-sized trips and steep places of La Paz city. It is widely used by the messenger and other colleagues, replacing 80% of motorcycles and cars/taxi trips. This means an annual reduction of 955 Kg of CO2 and 580 EUR of savings in fuel, taxi, car maintenance and electricity costs (3.144 km total distance traveled).
Still looking for ideas?
The following list will help generate ideas for measures on the ‘Ecological balance’ dimension of corporate sustainability. It is by no means exhaustive and we explicitly welcome more ideas and measures that boost your sustainability in your particular situation. Share your ideas with us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Which dimension would you like to work on now?
You must work through all four dimensions to complete this course.
We want to safeguard our services – and thus jobs worldwide – in the long term. To achieve this, we need to deliver value for money. Effective action is our top priority. We therefore use our resources cost-effectively and ensure high quality. In this process, we carefully weigh up our risks and opportunities and adhere to our internal rules and procedures.
Compliance safeguards corporate sustainability
Compliance – observance of the regulatory and legal framework – underpins GIZ’s work and its credibility.
In its Sustainability Programme adopted for 2016-2020, GIZ therefore set itself the task of setting up a Compliance Management System. In addition to sustainable procurement, the programme aims to build the sustainability dimension of GIZ’s economic capability.
As well as meeting all legal requirements, GIZ has identified a number of commitments it intends to fulfil, one of which is corporate sustainability. For example, GIZ also fulfils the obligations laid down in BMZ’s anti-corruption strategy and in Germany’s Public Corporate Governance Code. Within the framework of the code, GIZ undertakes to observe the nationally and internationally recognised core standards for sound and responsible corporate governance, as listed there.
Our Compliance Management System
- GIZ is constantly expanding its compliance management system, thereby promoting a corporate culture that is based on observing the rules and regulations, integrity and anti-corruption. GIZ’s Code of Conduct lays down mandatory principles in this respect and is an integral part of each staff member’s employment contract.
- GIZ also expects its business partners to observe its values and rules, even during the tendering phase. For this reason, they must sign a declaration of integrity. Here, business partners undertake to familiarise themselves with and to observe GIZ’s values and integrity system. When entering into a contract with GIZ, the Code of Conduct becomes an integral component of this contract.
- If GIZ learns of conduct by its staff or one of its contractors that constitutes a criminal offence in Germany or in other countries, it will initiate internal investigations and in the event of reasonable suspicion, call in the public prosecutor’s office.
- Our business partners are also required to cooperate in clarifying any corruption-related matters.
- Should you have reasonable grounds to suspect any infringement of the Code of Conduct, you can contact the GIZ Integrity Advisors. They are committed to secrecy and can also be contacted in an advisory capacity where there are any uncertainties.
- The Compliance and Integrity Unit is also the first port of call for complaints in relation to human rights issues.
- Information can also be provided anonymously on the whistleblowing portal.
- GIZ has also appointed an External Ombudsperson outside the company who is obliged to observe secrecy under attorney-client privilege and can be contacted in confidence. The Ombudsperson can be informed in confidence of economic crimes such as corruption, breaches of trust or fraud. This also applies to all other corporate offences and violations.
How does GIZ implement its compliance policy in partner countries? What does compliance mean in our daily activities there?
The following statements from the Director of GIZ’s Compliance and Integrity Unit and from the Head of Administration and Finance in our Jordan office give us a better insight here:
Winner of the 2018 Sustainability Context – economic capability
Achieving sustainable economic capability – an example from Thailand
The initiative being implemented by GIZ Thailand encompasses a number of different sustainability efforts that are closely interlinked: plastic waste, recycling and procurement.
Office staff began by raising awareness through initiatives such as beach cleaning, to then develop solutions such as composting or offering reusable cups, fabric bags and lunch boxes at work to replace disposable crockery. They also began to incorporate sustainability into their daily tasks and drafted guidelines on sustainable procurement that are tailored to their needs.
Sustainable procurement in a daily context
Product group: Printing services and procurement of printing equipment
Even if digital processes are being used increasingly, GIZ still outsources printing services for brochures, fact sheets and posters for example, or buys these products from external suppliers. Our printing products must meet PSO standards in order to ensure that they are high quality and meet international standards. They must also use PEFC or FSC paper at the very least. All business partners in this area must also use carbon-neutral printing processes and climate-neutral shipping within Germany. The exacting requirements of the EMAS environmental management system also apply to our offset printers and our envelopes, which have Blue Angel certification. The Blue Angel for printing processes (RAL-UZ 195) covers more than just energy and resource consumption. It also examines the environmental and health impacts of the entire printing process, including dyes and emissions from harmful solvents.
We also stipulate stringent sustainability criteria when issuing general tenders for the printing equipment we use in-house. Most workstation printers have been replaced by printers on each floor, a development that has drastically reduced our paper consumption in recent years. The printers are easy to repair (and therefore have a long life span), are low-emission and energy-efficient.
Still looking for ideas?
The following list will help generate ideas for measures on the ‘Economic capability’ dimension of corporate sustainability. It is by no means exhaustive and we explicitly welcome more ideas and measures that boost your sustainability in your particular situation. Share your ideas with us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Which dimension would you like to work on now?
You must work through all four dimensions to complete this course.
Leaving a positive handprint worldwide
GIZ operates in more than 100 countries around the globe, which means that keeping a keen eye on corporate responsibility can sometimes be challenging. The Corporate Sustainability Handprint® (CSH) was piloted in 2013 and has been consistently applied in countries with a GIZ office since 2016. CSH not only provides important indicators, it also facilitates structured assessment.
Well done. You have now successfully completed this training course. We at GIZ would like to thank you for your interest and commitment, and we hope that the ideas gathered here will provide an incentive for further dialogue and for exploring new avenues together. You are a key partner for us and also an important multiplier, supporting us meet our responsibility to practise corporate sustainability.
Please submit any queries, comments or ideas you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This section contains all the important information you will need to complete the training course and initiate further measures:
- Your certificate
- Your personal Guide for Practicing corporate Sustainability, which contains all of your notes from this online course and outlines further options for action
- A toolbox that provides you with useful ideas and knowledge-to-go.
Let us do this together.
Your certificate and personal Guide for Practicing corporate Sustainability
For a Consultant (appraiser) or recipient of financing:
The online training course Guide for Practicing Corporate Sustainability is a co-production of the following organisational units at GIZ
- Academy for International Cooperation (AIZ)
- Procurement and Contracting
- Climate Change, Environment, Infrastructure
- Property Management
- Quality and Sustainability
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