“It’s all about the bigger picture”
Germany and its development policy 2023 – an interview with Federal Minister Svenja Schulze on the year’s major topics.
Minister Schulze, what are the key themes and tasks facing German development policy?
It’s all about the bigger picture, the future of our planet. In 2015, we set ourselves global sustainability goals as a world community for the year 2030. 2023 marks the halfway stage, and things are not looking good. The pandemic, conflicts and, not least, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have thrown us back several years in the areas of poverty, hunger, health and education. So we need to get back on track here – out of crisis mode and into a prevention mode that focuses on sustainable solutions and which also strengthens our partner countries in times of crisis.
One key task is the ongoing support for Ukraine. In 2023 the country will be needing more than just weapons in order to maintain its resilience. It will need electricity, heating, living accommodation for the internally displaced people, healthcare provisions and much more. These are things we are aiming to support.
What I find very encouraging for 2023, is the new Brazilian government under President Lula: Brazil now has the chance to move away from an economy dependent on the destruction of forests. The country has the best basic conditions for sustainable agriculture and a green hydrogen economy. We will be conferring with the new Brazilian government and discussing a partnership that addresses the socio-environmental restructuring of the economy as a whole.
Which course settings will be necessary in 2023?
As we get back on track with the global sustainability goals, we will need good leverage to help us work on numerous goals at the same time. The strengthening of women is probably the strongest development policy leverage tool. Strong women boost progress in entire societies. That’s why we at the development ministry are consciously targeting this area in our project portfolio.
A second leverage approach is the creation of social security networks. At the moment about half of humanity, four billion people, has no access to social security support in areas such as unemployment, maternity, disability or accidents at work. This has to change. Social security helps those affected, but it is also a very good investment for development. It makes societies more resilient to crises and counteracts poverty, hunger and inequality. Social security is also the method of choice when dealing with climate change, and we are aiming to expand the global shield even more against climate risks in 2023. The objective is to ensure that support is available before the damage from climate change kicks in, and to enable rapid responses as soon as possible.
A third area of leverage is the reform of the World Bank. In order to drive the necessary socio-environmental transformation, we also need the major international actors in development policy, such as the World Bank. We are pushing for their reform in order to do justice to the global challenges of the future. For instance World Bank loans for climate or environmental protection need to be made more attractive for developing countries. Developing countries often lack the necessary funds to achieve ambitious climate goals, even though they are well aware of the necessity.
What needs to be done internationally in these fields, and which role can Germany play in this context?
Combatting hunger, poverty and inequality is just as much a multilateral task as is successful climate protection. This is the best way to achieve a significant impact. Our role in this context is to forge progressive alliances and co-ordinate our activities effectively with other important actors. In 2022 during our G7 presidency we managed to get several things moving, together with our international partners. These include the Global Alliance for Food Security, and the Global Shield against Climate Risks. And we will be continuing these efforts. A new task is our aim to play a leading role, together with our international partners, in order to create social security for more people. In the case of climate protection we are also working together with the G7 to promote a new energy transition partnership with India. This is important because India will soon be the world’s most populous country, and as such will be playing a decisive role in efforts to achieve the global sustainability goals.
Svenja Schulze is the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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