Emerging economies: important partners for international cooperation on sustainable development

Aerial view of São Paulo, Brazil

In the last decade, a number of emerging economies have risen from among the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to become im­por­tant global players. They include, for instance, the economically and politically rising G-20 members Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa. The protection of global public goods such as peace, security and an intact en­vi­ron­ment, and the attain­ment of global sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment will only be possible if these coun­tries are part of the effort. They are there­fore im­por­tant partners for Germany and its de­vel­op­ment policy institutions.

There is no exact, internationally valid definition of "emerging economy" (or of other terms used in reference to this group of coun­tries, such as "newly in­dus­tri­alising country"). While most emerging economies are still in the "de­vel­op­ing coun­try" category by inter­national standards, they are typically characterised by a process of comprehensive trans­formation. For instance, over the past few years economic growth and the rise in per capita income have exceeded the inter­national average in many of these coun­tries. However, in many emerging economies, social de­vel­op­ment still lags behind economic growth.

The coun­tries in question have increasingly been demanding, with good reason, that they be given a greater say at the global level and a more active role in inter­national organisations. They are increasingly engaging in de­vel­op­ment coop­er­a­tion with poorer coun­tries within the frame­work of South-South co­op­er­a­tion.

Global De­vel­op­ment Partners

Pharmaceutical production plant at a company in Bangalore, India. Copyright: Thomas Imo, phototekEmerging economies have a great deal of influence in their respective regions. Their de­vel­op­ment achievements make them a model for other coun­tries and have a far-reaching impact on the region in question. Thus Germany's de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with such coun­tries not only benefits the coun­try itself but also has positive impacts on the entire region.

Emerging middle-income coun­tries are increasingly able to rely on their own resources for de­vel­op­ment, which is why the BMZ has gradually reduced its devel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with them, intensifying its co­op­er­a­tion with low-income coun­tries instead. In those emerging economies where the BMZ still has pro­grammes, the form of co­op­er­a­tion used in these programmes has been adapted to reflect the partners' resources and capacity.

In its de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with larger emerging economies, the BMZ focuses on a core group of coun­tries which it calls Global De­vel­op­ment Partners. At present, that group comprises Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa.

The BMZ's co­op­er­a­tion with its Global De­vel­op­ment Partners addresses two levels: firstly, bilateral co­op­er­a­tion programmes and projects within the partner coun­try in question, and, secondly, multi-coun­try co­op­er­a­tion with the partner coun­try, for instance in the form of triangular co­op­er­a­tion. Such multi-coun­try co­op­er­a­tion arrangements can also include other emerging economies.

BMZ glossary

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