Länder and Municipalities

Development cooperation and the Länder

Public library in Quito, Ecuador.

Since 1962, the minister-presidents of Germany's 16 federal states, or Länder, have adopted six resolutions of relevance to de­vel­op­ment issues. The cur­rent de­vel­op­ment policy guide­lines applicable to the Länder were established in October 2008 by means of a res­o­lu­tion adopted by the Conference of Minister-Presidents, the body re­spon­si­ble for coordinating the policies of the Länder. Entitled "Zukunfts­fähig­keit sichern – Ent­wicklungs­politik in gemein­samer Ver­ant­wor­tung von Bund, Ländern und Kommunen" (= Safeguarding the Future – De­vel­op­ment Policy as a Shared Re­spon­si­bi­lity of the Federation, the Länder and the Local Authorities), the document identifies eight core competences and fields of action for de­vel­op­ment policy engagement by the Länder:

  • Climate and energy

  • Food security and rural regions

  • Migration and development

  • Scientific and technological cooperation

  • Sustainable economic development

  • Good governance and decentralisation

  • Culture and development

  • Development information and education.

On this basis, many of the Länder – such as Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg – have already adopted their own de­vel­op­ment policy guidelines defining their specific profiles in this area.

A fundamental principle of development cooperation by the Länder, in line with the resolution adopted by the Conference of Minister-Presidents in 2008, is that in accordance with the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, which call for aid effectiveness and donor harmonisation, the Länder should contribute to development cooperation on the basis of complementarity. They do not wish to compete with other donors but are keen to sharpen their own profile.

In this sense, the close cooperation between the Federation and the Länder helps to safe­guard com­ple­men­tarity be­tween the de­vel­op­ment activities under­taken by the Federal Gov­ern­ment and the Länder, with over­laps being avoided and specific competences being utilised to the optimum extent.

The Federation and the Länder co­or­dinate their de­vel­op­ment acti­v­i­ties inter alia through the Federation-Länder Committee for De­vel­op­ment Co­op­e­ra­tion, which con­venes once a year. In addition, one Land invites the other Länder and the BMZ to attend an outlook conf­er­ence, also held once a year. Some of the Länder also parti­cipate in thematic or country-specific meetings organised by the BMZ.

With a view to achieving an effective division of labour, the Länder give high priority to de­vel­op­ment in­for­ma­tion and education ac­tiv­i­ties in Ger­many it­self. Due to their par­ti­cular re­spon­si­bi­lities within Ger­many's system of gov­ern­ment, they have specific competences and opportunities which they can utilise in this context.

Many of these activities have significant multiplier effects, such as the integration of development topics into the German school cur­ric­ula. A priority, in this con­text, is the im­ple­ment­ation of the UN De­cade of Education for Sustainable Development.

The Länder make a significant contribution to the implementation of development policy objectives in Germany. For example, they boost fair trade by ensuring, with as much binding force as possible, that in the public procurement pro­cess, public sector clients only pur­chase goods which meet specific social and environmental standards.

Partnerships between the Länder and regions in developing coun­tries have proved to be a good framework in which to mobilise the local authorities and civil society for development cooperation (ex­am­ples are the partnerships between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda, between Lower Saxony and Tanzania, and between North Rhine-Westphalia and Ghana).

The Länder also make important contributions in the vocational training sector and in scientific and technological cooperation. They often also have experts with sought-after skills, for example in the environmental technology sector or in supply and disposal services, and may be able to grant them leave of absence to engage in development activities.

The contribution of the Länder to German official development assistance (ODA)

In 2009, all 16 Länder were supporting projects in developing coun­tries or development activities in Germany. The financial con­tri­bu­tions made by the Länder for development cooperation in 2009 amounted to around 41.3 million euros. This does not include the contributions made by the Länder to the funding of university places for young people from developing countries. Together with these contributions, which amounted to around 662 million euros, the Länder accounted for an 8.1 per cent share of Germany's total official development assistance (ODA) payments. Among the Länder, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg accounted for the largest share, each contributing more than 100 million euros.

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