Motorbike Taxis in Delhi

India An important partner in international cooperation

India, with a population of roughly 1.38 billion inhabitants, is the world’s second-most populous country after China. This means that the country has a key role to play in finding solutions to global development issues: the global Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and the goals of the Paris Agreement can only be achieved by working in partnership with India.

In order to expand their cooperation on these global issues, on 2 May 2022 the heads of government of Germany and India concluded a Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) had a major role in shaping this partnership, which will guide its entire future development cooperation with India.

India is the world’s biggest parliamentary democracy and is a country of extreme contrasts: On the one hand you have a booming digital economy, a successful space programme, a growing renewable energy sector and forward-looking models for climate-smart smallholder agro-ecology. Whilst on the other hand you have the world’s highest number of people living in absolute poverty, antiquated industrial plants, the third-highest emissions of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and an industrialised agricultural sector that gobbles up resources.


Straight to
Passers-by in a slum in New Delhi, India, where the population lives mainly from garbage collection

According to the 2021 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (External link) (MPI), the percentage of the population in India living below the poverty line fell from 55 per cent in 2006 to 28 per cent in 2016. The MPI is published jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). It measures poverty based on various indicators relating to education, health and living standards. According to the MPI, there was a strong improvement in the living conditions of more than 270 million Indians during the aforementioned period.

However, although the number of people who count as middle or upper class is growing, there are still more than 175 million people who must get by on the equivalent of less than 1.90 US dollars a day. The COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences have caused a renewed increase in unemployment and poverty within marginalised groups.

Reducing poverty and social inequality along with protecting the climate and natural resources are the biggest challenges for the country’s politicians, and for its economy and for Indian society.

German development cooperation with India

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz pictured on 2 May 2022 after signing the joint declaration between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of India for a Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz pictured on 2 May 2022 after signing the joint declaration between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of India for a Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development.

India is one of the BMZ’s “global partners”. A substantial portfolio of joint development cooperation activities solidly rooted in mutual trust and respect, and embedded in a challenging dialogue between equal partners, is being successfully carried out.

With the Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development that was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz on 2 May 2022, Indo-German cooperation has been placed within a broader framework and has been consistently aligned with the sustainability agenda of the United Nations.

Realising climate and sustainability goals is at the heart of this cooperation. The Partnership is intended to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in line with the envisaged goals and also be a vehicle for expanding cooperation with multilateral players, the scientific community, the private sector and civil society. Germany is planning to invest at least ten billion euros for this in the period up to 2030.

The Development Ministry (BMZ) has been the lead German ministry in driving this umbrella initiative forward and is supporting India with more than one billion euros a year. Over 90 per cent of the BMZ projects in India involve helping to save greenhouse gas emissions or supporting adaptation to climate change.

In this connection, the German government is currently engaged, together with the US, in negotiations for a G7-India Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). The aim is for this Partnership to support India in accelerating the expansion of renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and achieving a just coal phase-out.

For its cooperation with global development partners like India the focus of the BMZ is on programmes with a structural impact. These programmes and projects build on India’s own efforts and reform programmes; they are carried out, wherever possible, in cooperation with the EU or other EU member states, the G7 or multilateral partners. They provide model solutions and the participating partners are able afterwards to carry on with the projects on their own and extend them.

At the government negotiations in November 2021, Germany made a commitment to India for funding worth some 1.3 billion euros. Most of this amount, namely 1.2 billion euros, is intended for Financial Cooperation. Most of this funding will be provided as loans from KfW Development Bank at preferential rates, to be paid back with interest by India.

The following priority areas have been agreed by the two governments for their programme of collaboration:

  • Renewable energy, energy efficiency
  • Sustainable urban development and climate-friendly mobility
  • Environmental and resource protection (with a focus on agro-ecology)

COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on India’s economy and its public health system. The BMZ has been supporting India’s efforts to overcome the crisis with numerous significant measures. Additional funding has been provided in particular for social protection and food supplies (that alone has reached at least 320 million people in need of support), for procuring medical equipment to improve the oxygen supply situation and increase testing capacities, and for training medical personnel, especially in the poor and structurally weak northern regions of India. In addition, measures for developing medicinal cooling chains (refrigerators and freezers) have been implemented with a view to supporting the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

A solar engineer checks a solar-powered street lamp.

Priority area Renewable energy and energy efficiency Fostering India’s energy transition Internal link

India has announced the ambitious goal of significantly expanding the use of renewable energy sources and reaching an output of 500 gigawatts by 2030. Furthermore, India intends that, from 2030 onwards, half of its electricity will be generated using renewable energy sources. Germany is supporting India in making its power supply more technically and economically efficient, and more socially and environmentally sustainable.

Commuters in Mumbai's subway, India

Priority area Sustainable urban development Increasing quality of life in cities, promoting climate-friendly mobility Internal link

Approximately one third of India’s population lives in urban areas, with one third of these urban inhabitants living in very poor conditions in slums. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of people living in India’s cities will have increased by about 400 million. That is why Germany is supporting programmes for sustainable urban development and climate-friendly urban mobility that the Indian government is carrying out nationwide.

Mangrove forest in India

Priority area Environmental protection and resource conservation Protecting eco-systems and adapting to climate change Internal link

Protecting the quality of India’s soil, water and air, and conserving the biodiversity of the Indian sub-continent are matters of national and global importance. German activities for protecting the environment and natural resources in India focus on agro-ecology and water management, forest conservation and adaptation to climate change.

Current situation

Political situation
Construction workers at a building site in the Indian capital New Delhi
Social situation
Passers-by in a slum in New Delhi, India, where the population lives mainly from garbage collection
Economic situation
Environmental situation
With scarce and erratic rainfall, and frequent droughts in the region, a pastoralist community of Rajasthan, Raikas follow the practice of moving their flocks and herds in search of water and forage.

As at: 02/08/2022