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Fields of activity

Sustainable urban development for climate protection and resource efficiency

Traffic at night in New Delhi, India

In the field of environmental and climate protection at municipal level, Germany supports its partners in building capacity nationally for developing political strategies and instruments and in establishing financing opportunities. At urban level, German development cooperation encourages efforts to base urban planning on the appropriate use of land as well as on public transport. Thanks to effective management, land consumption, soil sealing and transport-related emissions are reduced.

Systems designed to recirculate and supply resources in a manner geared towards conserving them, and which connect the city with its surrounding areas, not only take account of but also make use of synergies and dependencies between various sectors. To this end, Germany supports the setting up of integrated urban environmental management systems that enable cities to plan local development in an environmentally sound and socially responsible way and to maintain ecological integrity.

Local authorities in partner countries receive help in, among other things, modernising their water and wastewater systems, building new water and sewage treatment plants, and training experts. Advisors support the authorities and waste disposal companies in organising waste disposal in an environmentally sound manner. Public relations work raises awareness among the population of environmentally conscious behaviour.

Consideration of climate risks and the risks of disaster

The widening of a river bed to create more catchment areas for flood water

German development cooperation supports partner governments, regions and the different stakeholders in cities in shaping urban development in such a way that it is able to adequately address the growing challenges of climate change and increasing risks of disaster. In order to achieve this, national, regional and local planning needs to be consolidated and harmonised at national level. Climate risks and the risks of disaster need to be systematically reflected in budget and development planning.

At local level, integrated disaster risk management consists of three phases, namely prevention, preparedness and disaster-resilient recovery. Cities are given support on how to organise their planning and administrative processes accordingly. Risk analyses examine local conditions and reveal areas of vulnerability. The results of these analyses lay the foundation for effective disaster prevention and mitigation and are integrated into urban planning processes. Particular attention here is given to critical infrastructure, value-added chains and supply chains as well as to areas of urban poverty.

In terms of preparedness, German development cooperation helps its partners to create protective infrastructure, put local early warning systems in place and draw up evacuation plans.


Climate protection

Cities are responsible for producing the majority of global greenhouse gases. These are caused by burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, by poor wastewater and waste management, and by industry and transportation. International climate protection efforts will, therefore, not come to anything unless they are also, and above all, implemented in conurbations.

For many years now Germany has been one of the largest donors when it comes to climate protection in developing countries and emerging economies. In recent years, the German government has systematically expanded its commitment in this area. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) also wants to motivate the private sector to play a greater role, since the latter’s involvement is vital to achieving climate protection targets.

Increasingly, climate change is jeopardising the potential inherent in cities and municipalities. Those living in informal settlements in particular are not sufficiently protected against extreme weather events. Climate-induced disasters are thus contributing to the widening of the gap between rich and poor population groups and thus to social conflicts.

German development policy therefore supports its partner countries and their cities in developing their own capabilities for adapting to climate change and in implementing financial and technological support measures efficiently. The foundation for this is provided by good governance, which incorporates all key actors, including the private sector and civil society. At the same time, the political course needs to be set at national and international level for implementation at local level. Expanding climate alliances between cities and municipalities at global level can play a key role here.

One such example is cooperation between the Service Agency Communities in One World and the international association of local governments, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, which backs the involvement of German local authorities in development cooperation.


Regional initiative for sustainable urban development in Asia

Traffic in Khulna, Bangladesh

The Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) was set up in 2007 and focuses on the particular challenges faced by rapidly growing medium-sized cities in Asia. This multi-donor initiative was founded by the BMZ and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The governments of Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, along with Shanghai City Council, also make contributions to the CDIA.

The regional project aims to promote environmentally sound and pro-poor urban development in medium-sized cities (of between 250,000 and 5 million inhabitants) in Asia and to improve the population’s living conditions.

Until now, cities have often not been in a position to develop the necessary infrastructure projects in sufficient quality and to obtain the financial resources they need to implement them. The main focus of the CDIA is therefore on developing infrastructure projects while at the same time improving planning and management capacity (capacity development). The aim is to enable city councils to use existing urban development strategies to develop specific infrastructure projects that are not only eligible for funding but are also socially responsible and environmentally sound. The CDIA also helps cities to find suitable financial donors and to market their projects accordingly.


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