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Climate change and development

The 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23) will take place in Bonn from 6 to 17 November 2017 and will be convened under the presidency of Fiji.

Germany is a pioneer in the field of international climate policy. The work done by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) plays a crucial part in these efforts, because climate change and development are inextricably linked.

BMZ Twitter Channel: @BMZ_Bund #COP23

Development achievements at risk

In many regions of the world, the impact of climate change can already be felt. More frequent and intense storms, heat waves, extreme rainfall and drought are just some of the many negative effects of climate change. Developing countries are hit particularly hard. However, it is precisely these countries that lack the resources and capabilities to undertake effective countermeasures and adapt to climate-related changes.

The effects of climate change pose a threat to all that has been achieved through sustainable development policy. They are already causing hunger, growing poverty, displacement and armed conflicts.

But decisive action can make it possible to mitigate climate change, protect developing countries from the direct consequences of climate change and, at the same time, encourage innovation, economic modernisation and ultimately sustainable development.

For example, increasing the use of renewable energy will not just protect the climate. It can also improve standards of living and create new sources of income, because renewable energy sources are also accessible to people living in remote areas.

Explained in brief: The challenge of climate change

Climate change

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the global mean temperature has increased by 0.85°C since the industrial revolution, mainly as a result of human activities. The impacts can already be clearly felt: extreme rainfall, drought, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

Climate change threatens to undo development achievements, especially in developing countries. That is why the BMZ is supporting the efforts of its partners to deal with the consequences of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more about our activities on our detailed web pages on climate change.

Climate change adaptation

Climate action can limit, but not reverse climate change. The climate has already been irreversibly changed as a result of excessive greenhouse gas emissions over many decades: heat waves in Europe, hurricanes in Asia and periods of drought in Africa are some of the impacts of climate change already in evidence today. Many impacts, on the other hand, will only be visible to the full extent over time.

To protect above all the poor and especially vulnerable from the risks of climate change, measures to adapt to these impacts are essential. They must be embedded in all areas of the economy and society – for example in agriculture, forest management, water use, the health care sector, construction and transport. The Paris Agreement reflects the importance of these measures: it defines climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction as equivalent goals.

The BMZ is supporting its partners in the planning and implementation of concrete adaptation measures. These include, for example, modified farming practices, adapted resource management and more effective coastal protection. In this way the BMZ is helping to ensure that poor and vulnerable sections of the population are better equipped to handle the impacts of climate change. Germany is also helping its partner countries with comprehensive climate risk management and with funding for insurance that covers the remaining risks, such as building damage or livestock losses, under the G7 InsuResilience initiative.

An overview of the BMZ's commitment to climate change adaptation can be found in our publication Adapting to Climate Change (PDF 5 MB).

You can find more information on our activities relating to climate change adaptation on our web pages dedicated to this topic.


Lowering emissions

The growth of the economy and the population has brought about a rapid increase in global greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution. These emissions are mainly produced by the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal and oil for energy production. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the global temperature has already increased by an average of 0.85°C as a result.

Prevention is better than cure: climate change can only be contained if emissions are reduced, for example, through climate action measures and the expansion of carbon sinks like forests. Global warming must be limited to significantly below 2°C, ideally to 1.5°C, to keep the effects to a manageable level – this is the political goal to which the international community committed in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

It is possible to achieve this goal, but the trend toward ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed as quickly as possible. The BMZ is therefore supporting its partners in creating access to climate-friendly energy, designing sustainable cities, expanding climate-friendly transport networks and preventing deforestation .

You can find more information on our activities to reduce greenhouse gases on our web pages dedicated to this topic.

Paris Agreement

Light installation on the Eiffel Tower spelling out "For the planet"

The international community acknowledged the need to act by adopting the Paris Agreement in December 2015. Implementation of the Paris Agreement will be one of the main themes of the 23rd UN Climate Conference in Bonn.

Global responsibility

Germany is delivering on its responsibility for global sustainable development. In December 2016, Germany assumed the G20 Presidency, which it will hold for one year. The G20 is a grouping of 19 major industrialised countries and emerging economies, with the European Union as its 20th member.

Germany has made use of the opportunity offered during its presidency of the G20 in order to place the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris climate agreement on the Group's agenda.

The G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, adopted at the recent summit in Hamburg, is intended to help implement the Paris climate agreement. Only the USA reserved the right to review its position regarding climate change. The Action Plan sends a clear message. There can be no going back. A strong alliance of industrialised and developing countries, the private sector, civil society and municipalities is working on realising a climate-friendly model of growth and economic activity for the future.

For further information about the G20 summit and its decisions regarding climate protection, please follow the link here.

See also: Supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

“We don't have a plan B because we don't have a planet B.”

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations 2007-2016, at the 2016 UN Climate Conference in Marrakesh

UN Climate Conference COP23

Under the presidency of Fiji, an important topic to be addressed at the 23rd UN Climate Conference will be – in addition to the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement – the interests of small island nations heavily affected by climate change. In particular, climate change adaptation and resilience to climate change will be important issues addressed at the conference. Fiji is also aiming to closely involve non-governmental actors.

Explained in brief: The UN Climate Conference

Logo of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23)

Global Climate Conference in Bonn

The 2017 Global Climate Conference will be held from 6 to17 November in Bonn and will be convened under the presidency of Fiji. It is the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – and is therefore abbreviated as COP23. As many as 20,000 representatives from the realms of politics and civil society are expected

Who organises the conference?

The presidency of the Climate Conference falls to Asia this year. Fiji has offered to carry out this task, making it the first small island developing nation to hold the COP presidency – which would normally include hosting the Climate Conference. However, the island nation cannot host a large conference of this kind itself due to its limited space

Why Bonn?

If no country offers to host the conference, it is held at the seat of the Climate Change Secretariat of the United Nations (UNFCCC), which is in Bonn. Germany is therefore "technically" the host.

What are the aims of the conference?

The Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. Now the focus is to identify the details of implementation. Policymakers and civil society will also present their climate initiatives and projects.

You can find more information (in German) at www.cop23.de

Paris Agreement

In December 2015, the international community came together at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21). They reached an historic agreement on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The states pledged to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

The contract is considered a historical turning point – for the first time, almost every country in the world, 195 signatories in total, has committed to making specific contributions to climate change mitigation.

Just a few months before the Paris Climate Conference, the international community adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Paris Agreement explicitly references these goals, thereby acknowledging the close link between sustainable development and climate protection.

The political framework has thus been created and most of the signatories have already submitted their climate goals. Now the phase of implementation has begun. It is time to intensify individual efforts in order to achieve these goals, and to set new, more ambitious goals.

You can read more about how the BMZ is contributing to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement on our web pages dedicated to this topic.

Logo of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23)

Nationally Determined Contributions

At the core of the 2015 Paris climate agreement are the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Both developed and developing countries have set their own climate targets and committed to undertake concrete measures in the interest of climate change mitigation and usually also climate change adaptation.

To help developing countries reach their climate and development goals quickly and effectively, there is what is known as the "NDC Partnership". It was initiated by Germany together with Morocco and the World Resources Institute and officially launched at the last climate conference in Morocco with more than 50 founding members.

You can find more information on our web pages dedicated to this topic.

Practical examples

Peru: Agroforestry loans for climate protection

The Peruvian agriculture bank Agrobanco has an ambitious vision: it wants to become a "Green Bank" and make sustainability the focus of all its activities. To that end, it has launched an internal action programme to develop suitable strategies and innovative new products for its customers. The BMZ is supporting that process under its Climate Finance Readiness programme.

Cambodia: rainwater tanks and emergency plans

Sok Soeung and his village are taking precautions to cope with floods and droughts. Recently, he joined the local health promotion group and is also a member of the village’s water committee. These initiatives, supported by the BMZ (through GIZ) and the Malteser International aid organisation, play a significant role in improving the living conditions of the people in the village.

Morocco: A fishing company tackles the challenges of climate change

In Morocco, climate change manifests itself in the form of heatwaves with periods of drought and intense rains with flooding. When fields, companies and streets flood, crops are lost, processing comes to a standstill and agricultural products cannot be transported to market and to consumers. For fishery companies like AVEIRO, climate change also presents other significant risks, not least of which are changes to the country’s fish stocks. With German support, the company is facing up to the challenges.

Bangladesh: Facilitating access to climate finance programmes

Bangladesh is one of the first countries in the world that have been forced to respond to climate change with concrete measures. To achieve this, the country needs access to international climate finance measures, as the country cannot cope with the consequences of salting the groundwater, extreme drought periods or stronger hurricanes by itself. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is helping the country to create the necessary framework conditions for this.

Rwanda: A coffee exporter adapts to new climate conditions

Rwanda is already impacted by climate change: on the one hand through heatwaves and droughts and on the other hand by torrential rains and floods. In addition, the seasons are shifting. The coffee producer COOPAC is now feeling the first effects of climate change. For that reason, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is supporting COOPAC in the area of climate risk analysis and the development of a an adaptation strategy.


Rwanda: Rwaza small hydropower plant provides clean energy

Germany is assisting Rwanda in implementing its energy strategy. With German support, the Rwaza small hydropower plant is being built on the Mukungwa River in northern Rwanda, not far from the city of Musanze. The plant is to be ready for operation at the end of 2018. It will then produce 20 gigawatt hours a year, or 2 per cent of total electricity output in Rwanda. This will cover the annual power needs of 20,000 Rwandan households.

Thailand: Sustainable rice cultivation

The Better Rice Initiative Asia promotes the adoption of the Sustainable Rice Standard on sustainable rice cultivation in Thailand. The Standard's main goals are to mitigate GHG emissions from rice cultivation, promote climate-resilient rice production systems and enhance the livelihoods of smallholders. The climate-smart rice farming practices include alternative irrigation and drying methods.

Malawi: Solar-powered lamps improve the lives of many families

In Malawi, only around 12 percent of the approximately 18 million inhabitants are connected to the electricity grid. The remainder of the population relies on firewood, charcoal and plant residues for its cooking and heating needs. For lighting, small kerosene or battery-powered lamps are used, which are dangerous and environmentally harmful energy sources. The energy partnership Energising Development promotes access to small solar devices.

Promoting renewable energy in Uganda

The economy in Uganda is growing — and along with it, the country’s demand for electricity. Up until recent years, the country regularly faced power shortages. In order to respond to the growing demand in a climate-friendly way, the Ugandan government is relying on renewable energies. The potential for renewables is big. The Ugandan government, together with the KfW Development Bank, have developed the GET-FIT Programme which creates incentives for the expansion of renewable energies through private investors.

Nepal: Electricity for rural areas

In Nepal, about one in five people living in rural areas has no access to electricity. The inhabitants of the community of Jalpa in the District of Khotang were, up until three years ago, reliant on kerosene and firewood for lighting. Through the energy partnership, Energising Development (EnDev), the living conditions for the people of Jalpa have improved. The village now has access to electricity from a small hydropower plant.

Sustainable forestry in Laos

For generations, forests have served as a source of food and income for the people of Khangkao, a mountain village in the North of Laos. Yet, more and more areas of forest in Khangkao are being slashed and burnt so that the steep slopes can be used to grow dry rice or maize. This is where the project "Climate Protection through Avoided Deforestation" (CliPAD) commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) comes in.

Transforming the transport sector

A global transformation of the transport sector is needed. The infrastructure that is put in place today will determine how we move about tomorrow, and how high (or low) the resultant emissions will be. With that in mind, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), together with a group of international partners, launched the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI).

Documents and links

BMZ issue pages and videos

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Renewable energies

The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement have put the world on a new path to achieve a truly sustainable development. Renewable energies play an important role: they help reduce poverty, promote innovation and create jobs. They increase energy security and mitigate climate change.

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Reducing air pollution with e-trikes

In Naga City in the Philippines, a company has specialised in the construction of e-trikes. Air pollution is to be reduced by these electric vehicles. 90 percent of the required materials are supplied from the immediate surroundings, only 10 to 15 percent have to be imported.

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Philippines: Flood management in Naga City

The city of Naga in the Philippines is located in the center of a typhoon area, regularly flooding. With the help of the initiative "Urban Development for Asia" (CDIA), measures for flood control were financed in Naga.

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Kenya: Green Innovation Centre

In Kenya, farmers are given the opportunity to increase their yields. Agricultural training centres, an agricultural school and a centre for agricultural development work closely together to support farmers in the affected areas.

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Drought resilience: Instant responses & long-term solutions

Droughts are devastating natural disasters. They have caused the death of millions, destroying livelihoods across all continents. They are often linked with local conflicts, triggering forced migration of the poorest. And with global climate change progressing rapidly, droughts are predicted to increase in frequency, duration and severity.

This film not only highlights these problems but also puts forward possible solutions aimed at establishing greater drought resilience in the affected regions. A proactive approach is needed. It must be coordinated through an effective policy framework and it must combine adequate preparedness, early warning systems and efficient disaster relief with long-term investment in the creation or restoration of resilient ecological, social and economic systems.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is channelling a significant amount of funding into combating desertification. Each year Germany invests 225 million euros in programmes contributing to that aim. Under the "ONE WORLD – No Hunger" initiative, for example, six countries are being helped to protect a total of 340,000 hectares of land through the programme "Soil protection and rehabilitation for food security". When land is used sustainably, it is more resilient to drought and the impact of climate change.

The film was produced under the auspices of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), with funding from German development cooperation.

Written & directed by Dr. Patrick Augenstein

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Protecting forests and using them sustainably

Climate change shows how important it is to use global resources responsibly. Forests are a good example: managing them sustainably enables us to preserve them and benefit from them at the same time.

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REDD – quite simply explained

Animated film on an innovative form of forest and climate protection. Governments and local communities are rewarded for avoided deforestation.

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Video: Insuring climate risks globally

An initiative by the G7 states is to provide 400 million people in developing countries who are at risk of climate change with insurance against climate risks.


3/4 July 2017:
COP23 – Preparation of the Representatives of the Pacific Region in Fiji

7/8 July 2017:
G20 Summit, Hamburg

12 to 25 September 2017:
UN General Assembly, New York

17/18 October 2017:
Pre-COP, Fiji

28 October 2017:
United Nations Day, topic "Climate", Bonn

2 to 4 November 2017:
Climate Conference of Youth (COY13), Bonn

12 November 2017:
Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), Bonn

6 to 17 November 2017:
UN World Climate Conference (COP23), Bonn
COP23 | Publications and Side-events | Circular economy, waste management and resource efficiency for climate change mitigation (PDF 3.2 MB)

19 to 20 December 2017:
Global Landscape Forum, Bonn