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A matter of principles

Why do we need development policy?


A community health worker in the village of Djomga in Dori, northeastern Burkina Faso, talks about maternal and child health and proper hygiene.

Today, our lives are much more interconnected with those of people living on other continents than ever before. We have many advantages because of that. How­ever, it also means that we have greater re­spon­si­bil­i­ty than previous gen­er­a­tions, because the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ty is facing chal­lenges for which it needs to find glo­bal solutions. Radical changes need to be made – at global level and as soon as possible.

Germany is taking on its re­spon­si­bil­i­ty

The German gov­ern­ment is actively engaged, in close co­op­er­a­tion with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ty, in com­bat­ing pov­er­ty, securing food, establishing peace, free­dom, democracy and human rights, shaping glo­bal­i­sa­tion in a social­ly eq­ui­ta­ble man­ner, and pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and natural resources.

De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is one of the most im­por­tant in­stru­ments for achiev­ing these goals. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment regards it as an im­per­a­tive of hu­man­i­ty and of rea­son. De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion gua­ran­tees a future for people in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries – and thus for everyone else, too.

De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion – because prosperity comes with obligations

Justice and solidarity are fun­da­men­tal values of human life: No one should turn a blind eye to in­humane con­di­tions in other coun­tries. We are not only re­spon­si­ble for what we do, but also for what we do not do. Our cul­ture is based on the ideal that the strong must help the weak. Ac­cord­ing to the Ger­man con­sti­tu­tion, the Basic Law: "Property en­tails ob­li­ga­tions. Its use shall also serve the public good."

In a globalised world the public good includes those people who live on other continents. The majority of the global popu­la­tion lives in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Never­the­less, the world's wealth is con­centrated in the developed world, which thus carries joint re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for eliminating pov­er­ty in the world.

However, modern German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is more than just char­i­ta­ble aid for the poor. It helps people to help them­selves and plays a part in en­abl­ing people to get out of pov­er­ty by their own efforts.

The social, economic and environmental problems the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries are fac­ing cannot be solved by state in­sti­tu­tions alone. All the social forces in a coun­try – citizens, the private sector, state and civil society or­ga­ni­sa­tions – need to take on re­spon­si­bil­i­ty and cooperate in a constructive manner.

De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion – because everyone benefits

Today's problems do not stop at national borders. Terrorism, war and civil war have an impact across borders. Those who want security have to do some­thing to establish peace in the world. De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion helps to pre­vent crises and over­come conflicts.

Environmental degradation and climate change are other global challenges. The high rate of con­sump­tion of fos­sil fuels and the associated carbon dio­xide pol­lu­tion of the atmosphere are im­pact­ing the climate the world over. De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, which promotes en­vi­ron­ment­al pro­tec­tion, en­vi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly pro­duc­tion methods and the use of re­new­able resources, con­tri­butes to glob­al en­vi­ron­ment­al protection.

On account of how closely integrated the world economic system is no national economy remains unaffected by crises in other coun­tries and regions. Exports provide an im­por­tant economic basis in developed coun­tries, and exports need a stable global economy. Financial and economic crises in Africa, Asia or South America can lead to job losses in Germany and other developed coun­tries.

De­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, which is geared to stabilising national economies in partner coun­tries, also gives a boost to donor coun­tries' economies. It thus helps both recipients and donors and creates multifarious cultural relations and economic partnerships.

Germany was itself once a recipient of in­ter­na­tional aid programmes. The coun­try was devastated during the Second World War and subsequently received billions of dollars in support from the United States under the Marshall Plan. It taught the German popu­la­tion how im­por­tant and suc­cess­ful aid can be. The prosperity and values that are charac­teristic of today's Germany are also a con­se­quence of this forward-looking post-war policy. And, not least, it is this ex­pe­­ri­ence that induced the German gov­ern­ment to take on an active role in regard to de­vel­op­ment policy and, in 1961, to become first coun­try in Europe to es­tab­­lish a de­vel­op­ment ministry.

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