- Germany is the second-largest donor country, spending US$25 billion on net official development assistance (ODA) in 2017 (current prices). This corresponds to 0.67% of gross national income (GNI), down from 0.7% in 2016. However, when excluding refugee-related expenditures (US$6 billion in 2017, almost one quarter of net ODA), net ODA only marginally decreased from 0.51% in 2016 to 0.50% in 2017.
- Looking forward, costs of hosting refugees in Germany are expected to decrease, bringing the ODA/GNI share to 0.58% in 2018. Excluding these costs, ODA is projected to be 0.51% of GNI in 2018. The German government has committed to maintain ODA/GNI at 0.51% in 2019.
- The Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (BMZ) budget (on average 39% of total ODA between 2014 and 2016) has grown by 59% since 2014. It stands at €10.2 billion (US$11. billion) in 2019. Beyond 2020, BMZ’s budget is expected to decrease again to 2017 levels (€8.5 billion or US$9.6 billion).
- Germany frames its development policy under an overarching narrative of “fighting the root causes of displacement”, with a focus on the Middle-East and North Africa.
- During its group of 20 (G20) presidency in 2017, Germany demonstrated strong leadership on global health (including health on the G20 agenda for the first time.
- Germany has a strong focus on Africa. At the end of 2016, BMZ presented a ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ and during Germany’s G20 presidency in 2017, the Federal Ministry of Finance launched the ‘Compacts with Africa’ initiative, aimed at stimulating private investments in Africa and supporting African countries that implement good governance reforms.
- The ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ and the ‘Compacts with Africa’ initiatives lead to increased ODA to African countries that show openness to implementing good governance reforms. The focus on Africa is confirmed in the current government’s coalition agreement for the 2017 to 2021 legislative term.
- Displacement and migration are likely to remain key focus areas of Germany’s development cooperation, with a geographic focus on the Middle East (in particular Syria and its neighboring countries), North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture and nutrition security (in the context of poverty eradication), as well as climate change, are likely to remain further key priorities.
- In 2019, the German Federal Foreign Office will launch the federal government’s updated guidelines on Africa policy, and the Federal Ministry of Health will publish Germany’s new cross-ministerial global health strategy. Both strategies will have an influence on Germany’s development policy
the big six
- How much ODA does Germany provide?
Germany is the 2nd -largest DAC donor and is further scaling up its development programs
Germany is the second-largest donor country, after the United States (US) (see ranking below). In 2017, it spent US$25 billion on net ODA (in current prices), according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Net ODA decreased by 2.3% compared to 2016 (US$25.6 billion), when Germany reached the United Nations (UN) target of 0.7% ODA to GNI for the first time. This peak was largely due to high costs of hosting refugees in Germany (US$6.8 billion in 2016, up from US$3.2 billion in 2015), but spending for development programs abroad had also risen significantly: When excluding refugee-related expenses, net ODA rose by 20% between 2015 and 2016.
Germany is one of the few European countries that does not offset costs for hosting refugees with cutbacks in funding for global development.
Lower levels of net ODA in 2017 are explained primarily by a decrease in the costs of hosting refugees (-11%, down to US$6.0 billion in 2017). As costs of hosting refugees in Germany are expected to further decrease, the ODA/GNI ratio is expected to fall to 0.58% in 2018, according to the government’s medium-term financial planning from April 2018. When excluding the costs of hosting refugees in Germany, ODA is projected to stand at 0.51% of GNI in 2018. The German government committed to hold this share in 2019. Germany is one of the few European countries that does not offset these costs with cutbacks in funding for global development (e.g. Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway). Instead, refugee costs are considered separate and additional to budgeted funding for development, with funds coming from different ministries. In response to criticisms from civil society and parliament that including refugee-related costs gives a false impression of the volume of German ODA, the Federal Ministry of Finance communicated ODA/GNI projections for 2019 excluding these costs.
The budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (on average 39% of total ODA, 2014-2016) increased significantly over the past four years. It grew by 59% since 2014 and is €10.2 billion (US$11.5 billion) for 2019. Germany has framed these increases as a response to challenges arising from humanitarian crises, forced displacement, and climate change. The budget for 2020 is expected to remain at the 2019 level. BMZ’s budget is projected to decrease between 2021 and 2023, dropping down to 2017 levels (€8.5 billion or US$9.6 billion), according to the medium-term financial planning from April 2018. However, medium-term plans in the past have shown similar conservative planning patterns, while actual annual budgets were eventually higher. An updated medium-term financial plan for 2020 to2023 is expected in mid-March 2019.
- What are Germany’s priorities for global development?
Development cooperation focuses on displacement and migration, climate change, agriculture, and food security
The government’s coalition treaty (covering 2018 to 2021) lists the following development prioritites: 1) fair trade, 2) Marshall Plan with Africa, 3) gender equality and education, 4) social and health systems, 5) poverty eradication, 6) climate change mitigation and adaptation, and 7) fighting the root causes of flight and migration. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) highlighted three priority areas for the current legislative term (2017 to 2021), including displacement and migration, climate change, and agriculture/food security (see box for more details). In October 2018, BMZ published a strategy paper, ‘Development Policy 2030’, which outlines the various instruments it seeks to apply to meet the challenges of five major global trends: population growth, climate change, globalization, scarcity of resources, and digitalization. These instruments include the increase of national and European funds for development assistance, the promotion of sustainable private investments, and the strengthening of multilateralism.
Germany’s key development priorities:
- Flight and Migration: Through the special initiative “Tackling root causes of displacement, stabilizing host regions, supporting refugees", BMZ plans to spend €505 million (US$569 million) on this issue in 2019
- Climate change/renewable energy: Pledge of €1.5 billion (US$1.7 billion) to the Green Climate Fund (2018 to 2022)
- Agriculture and food security: Investments of over €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) per year, e.g. through BMZ’s special initiative ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’
Through its G7 and G20 presidencies, in 2015 and 2017 respectively, Germany has further strengthened its focus on global health, climate and sustainability, women’s empowerment, financial inclusion, and its relationship with the African continent. During the G20 presidency, health ministers held their first high-level G20 meeting, with a focus on anti-microbial resistance (AMR) and pandemic preparedness. Discussions around AMR resulted in the planning and launch of a G20 AMR research and development (R&D) Collaboration Hub, based in Berlin. Further, in February 2019, the Global Health Hub Germany was launched with the aim to serve as an independent and interdisciplinary exchange and networking platform the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) is currently developing a new government-wide global health strategy.
Most of BMZ’s budget increases since 2015 have been channeled through ‘special initiatives’, which are programs initiated and spearheaded by the development minister. In the 2017 to 2021 legislative period three special initiatives are prioritized: ‘tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees’, ‘stability and development in the MENA region’, and ‘ONE WORLD – No Hunger’. In addition to that, another special initiative was launched in 2018 on ‘vocational training and jobs.’
The German government is further engaged in a new approach to development in Africa – mainly through BMZ’s ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ and the Finance Ministry’s G20 initiative ‘Compacts with Africa’, which are both focused on fostering private investment and good governance in Africa. The Foreign Ministry is currently spearheading the update and further development of the federal government’s ’Policy Guidelines for Africa.’ Focus areas are expected to be peace and stability, employment, and fighting the root causes of migration.
- How does Germany spend its ODA?
Germany channels the majority of its ODA bilaterally
The German government has a strong preference for bilateral funding. In 2017, bilateral funding stood at 81% of total ODA (OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average: 60%). This includes earmarked funding to multilateral organizations, which is reported as bilateral ODA. This preference for bilateral funding is driven by Germany’s two large government-owned implementing agencies, the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ) and the KfW Development Bank (KfW). As a result, Germany channels only small shares of its bilateral ODA through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (7%, DAC average: 17%) or through multilateral organizations (16%, DAC average: 22%).
Most bilateral funding is directed to hosting refugees in Germany and humanitarian assistance
Germany’s overarching strategic priorities are reflected in the top sectors of bilateral ODA: Most funding is directed to hosting refugees in Germany (27% in 2017, 11% decrease from 2016 level), ‘humanitarian aid’ (12%, +26%), education (9%, +0.5%), and energy (7%, -14%). In response to the influx of refugees to Germany, spending on ‘humanitarian aid’ and migration has increased significantly since 2015. Education is the third-largest sector to receive bilateral ODA, however, more than half of this funding (US$1.2 billion, 58%) represents costs for students from partner countries studying in Germany.
Health (3%) and agriculture and rural development (4%) receive relatively small shares of bilateral ODA. However, funding for both sectors has increased significantly since 2015 (increases of 32% and 18%, respectively). Additionally, they are supported through Germany’s contributions to multilateral organizations (see ’Sector: Global Health’ and ‘Sector: Agriculture’ for Germany).
Germany channels the largest share of its bilateral ODA as grants (79% in 2017, DAC average: 91%). This share is significantly higher than in 2015 (66%) due to the high costs of hosting refugees in Germany (US$3.2 billion in 2015 and US$6.1 billion in 2017), which are reported as grants. The share of loans and equity investments were 21% in 2017 (down from a peak of 35% in 2014).
The German government has a strong preference for bilateral funding. In 2017, bilateral funding stood at 81% of total ODA.
Who are Germany's ODA recipients?
Bilateral ODA is expected to shift towards fragile and conflict-affected areas
A large share of Germany’s bilateral ODA is not allocated by region (38% average between 2015 and 2017) or income group (47% across the same period). This is partly due to the high share of costs of hosting refugees in Germany. For this reason, the following analyses exclude such funding to avoid misrepresentation of trends in key recipients of Germany’s ODA.
Germany allocates the largest share of its bilateral ODA to Asia (30% average between 2015 and 2017) and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (24%). The share of funding to MENA has increased from 17% in 2015 to 27% in 2017. Funding to sub-Saharan Africa accounts for around one fifth (20% in 2017), a low share compared to most other donor countries (DAC average: 33%).
The portion of bilateral ODA going to low-income countries (LICs) is also relatively low (22%in 2017, DAC average: 43%. It is also below Germany’s ambition to spend between 0.15% and 0.20% of GNI as ODA on LICs, which was affirmed by the 2017 to 2021 coalition treaty. Further, Germany channels 780% of its bilateral ODA to middle-income countries (MICs). India, China, and Syria are the largest individual country recipients. Most funding to India (80%) and more than half of the funding to China (57%) is provided in the form of loans or equity investments. When only looking at grants, the largest individual country recipients are Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. All funding to these countries comes in the form of grants. In addition, the majority of grants to China and India are made up of costs for students from those countries enrolled in German universities (see ‘Sector: Education’ for Germany). The Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) has not made any new bilateral commitments to China since 2010, and bilateral funding is planned to be phased out.
As the German government places an increasing focus on fighting the root causes of migration in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, larger portions of ODA will likely go to these regions in the coming years. In addition, the development minister presented a ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ in 2017 laying out initiatives to improve economic and social development in Africa. Agriculture investments and food security programs are prioritized throughout the plan. The plan suggests that countries willing to implement reforms would benefit from increased ODA and German support for private investment. To date, Germany has ‘reform partnerships’ based on this principle with three countries: Tunisia, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. Additional partnerships with Ethiopia, Morocco, and Senegal are currently under discussion. These reform partnerships serve as Germany’s bilateral contribution to ‘Compacts with Africa’, a G20 initiative which was developed by the German Ministry of Finance and launched during Germany’s G20 presidency in 2017. ‘Compacts with Africa’ brings together African countries, bilateral partners from G20, and international organizations to work on country-specific reform agendas to increase investment opportunities to private investors.
For a deeper understanding of funding at the recipient level, please consult data from the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). IATI is a reporting standard and platform on which organizations and governments voluntarily publish data on their development cooperation, including more recent activity than is available through OECD data.
Data can be searched by recipient country, the ‘publisher’ (including funders that do not report to the OECD), and other filters. Click here for more information on IATI’s data. Click here to go directly to IATI’s ‘d-portal’, a user-friendly interface for data searches.
Less than 20% of Germany’s ODA is channeled multilaterally; however, earmarked funding to multilaterals has increased
Until 2013, the German Parliament had capped multilateral spending at one-third of total German ODA. Even though this cap no longer exists, core funding to multilaterals remains low at only 19% of total ODA. This is significantly lower than the DAC average of 40%. However, earmarked funding to multilaterals (funding that is implemented by a multilateral development organization in the sector, country, or region stipulated by the donor, reported as bilateral funding) has increased significantly, from US$1.1 billion in 2015 to US$3.6 billion in 2017, largely driven by increased funding to humanitarian assistance and crisis response. In 2017, the largest recipients of Germany’s core funding to multilaterals were the institutions of the European Union (57%), the World Bank (12%), UN agencies (8%), and regional development banks (8%).
- Who are the main actors in Germany's development cooperation?
The Development Ministry steers strategy, two large development agencies execute
Germany is governed by a renewed ‘Grand Coalition’ made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). Under the leadership and overall guidance of the Chancellor, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) sets development priorities. BMZ has been led by Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) since 2013.
Under the leadership and overall guidance of the Chancellor, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) sets development priorities.
BMZ has 1,100 staff members and is organized across six directorates-general. The regional divisions are responsible for allocation of Germany’s bilateral development assistance in accordance with BMZ’s strategy and priorities. Sectoral divisions formulate Germany’s sector strategies, interface with multilateral development institutions, and advise on bilateral programs.
Programming of bilateral funding to partner countries is guided by regional strategies (‘Regionalkonzepte’), which are developed by BMZ’s regional divisions to set the government’s broad strategic objectives for the region. Country strategies (‘Länderkonzepte’), developed for all priority countries, reflect the regional strategies and are developed by country desk officers in cooperation with embassies, the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), and KfW Development Bank (KfW). Bilateral cooperation with countries that are not classified as priority countries is based on the regional strategies. Funding amounts and focus sectors for partner countries can be found in partnership agreements and non-public appendices of the budget.
The Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF), led by Minister Olaf Scholz, develops caps for the federal budget and individual ministerial budgets, which makes it an important stakeholder when it comes to overall ODA levels, BMZ’s budget, and long-term ODA contributions. Other ministries have significant influence on the strategic direction and funding allocation in some development sectors. For example, the Federal Foreign Office (AA) leads on humanitarian assistance and crisis prevention and is currently updating and further developing the federal government’s ‘Policy Guidelines for Africa.’ The Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), with the input from other ministries, is currently developing a new, government-wide strategy for global health and is responsible for the majority of funding of the World Health Organization (WHO).
GERMANY'S DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION SYSTEM
Germany’s two major state-owned development agencies, GIZ and KfW, play key roles in Germany’s policy development, priority setting, and implementation. Both operate under the political supervision of BMZ:
- GIZ plans and executes Germany’s technical cooperation with partner countries. GIZ’s turnover in 2017 was €2.5 billion (US$2.8 billion), of which 85% was generated through work commissioned by BMZ (other major commissioning ministries include the AA and the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU). GIZ also provides consulting services to BMZ’s sectoral divisions through its ‘sector initiatives’ (‘Sektorvorhaben’). GIZ has around 19,500 permanent staff members across 120 countries, nearly 80% of which are based abroad.
- KfW Development Bank leads on Germany’s bilateral financial cooperation with partner countries. In 2017, KfW’s total grants and loans stood at €9.7 billion (US$10.7 billion). This was an increase of almost €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) compared to 2016. 40% of this funding increase went to projects in Africa and the Middle East. This amount includes funds raised on capital markets using KfW’s own resources (US$5.2 billion). In 2017, KfW’s staff count was over 6,100 people. In 2017, KfW’s private-sector branch, the German Investment and Development Corporation (DEG), which has 13 offices in partner countries, invested €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion) in private-sector development in low- and middle-income countries.
Parliament: The role of the German Parliament (Bundestag) is to scrutinize development policymaking, resource allocation, and implementation, mainly through its Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development (AWZ). The AWZ may also suggest changes to funding allocations in the government’s draft budget. However, it is the Budget Committee which makes final budget decisions and is thus a key stakeholder when it comes to modifying funding allocations.
Civil Society: Civil society interacts in several ways with government and Parliament including via petitions and conferences. About 120 development and humanitarian assistance-related civil society organizations (CSOs) coordinate their activities through the Association of German Development CSOs (VENRO). Another important association is the German Forum on Environment and Development, which coordinates advocacy work for sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. CSOs are frequently invited to parliamentary hearings and government consultations. Many CSOs implement their own in-country programs and are funded by the German government (mainly by BMZ and the Foreign Office). In 2017, US$1.5 billion, or 7% of overall bilateral ODA, was channeled through CSOs.
- How is the German ODA budget structured?
BMZ manages largest share of Germany’s ODA
Germany’s ODA is sourced from the budgets of different ministries. The largest share of ODA comes from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (33% in 2016, latest year for which total ODA data is available from the ministry), with its share expected to increase again as refugee costs decrease (in 2014, BMZ’s share of total ODA was 51%). Another 13% is raised by Germany’s development bank KfW on capital markets. The Federal Foreign Office (AA), which manages most of the funding for humanitarian assistance and for UN peace missions, accounts for 10% of ODA overall.
In 2019, BMZ’s budget stands at €10.2 billion (US$11.5 billion, see table). This is an 8% increase from 2018 (€9.4 billion; US$ 10.6 billion). In February 2019, the Ministry of Finance (BMF) announced the budget will remain at this level in 2020 and then subsequently drop until 2023. The budget benchmarks for 2020-2023 will be released in an updated medium-term financial plan in mid-March.
The largest share of ODA comes from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with its share expected to increase again as refugee costs decrease
Compared to other donors, BMZ’s budget provides relatively detailed information on funding channels but gives little detail on recipients and sectors. The budget allows the government to make multi-year commitments to some items based on ‘commitment appropriations’, which implies that certain amounts may be earmarked in future budgets so that they can be committed or spent now. These commitment appropriations are thus particularly important for organizations seeking multi-year funding commitments. Breakdowns of bilateral cooperation by region and sector are provided to Parliament through ‘confidential remarks’, which are not available to the public. Germany’s multilateral spending mostly comprises assessed contributions to the European Development Fund (EDF) and multilateral development banks. They account for around 65% of BMZ’s multilateral budget. These budget lines are fixed based on legally binding, commitment appropriations. Some multilateral organizations, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, have an individual budget line with binding commitment appropriations from BMZ. For other multilateral organizations, there are no individual budget lines and contributions can be amended annually.
Overview: 2019 BMZ Budget
Bilateral Spending 4,765 5,371 Financial cooperation 2,23
Technical cooperation 1,60 1,804 Crisis response 800 902 Other contributions 131 148 Multilateral Spending 2,043 2,303 European Development Fund 1,008 1,136 Multilateral organizations related to climate change and biodiversity 371 418 The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria 260 293 UN organizations 337 380 World Food Programme 28 32 The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program 20 23 International Fund for Agricultural Development 19 21 Development Banks 938 1,057 World Bank Group 700 789 African Development Bank 182 205 Asian Development Bank 47 53 Cooperation w/ CSOs, private sector & others 1,218 1,373 Other commitments (incl. special initiatives) 1,151 1,297 International efforts to fight climate change 90 101 ONE WORLD – No Hunger 335 378 Tackling roots causes of displacement 505 569 Stability and Development in the MENA region 100 113 Vocational training and jobs 120 135 Administrative and personnel expenses 157 177 Total spending 10,246 11,550
- What are important milestones in Germany’s annual budget process?
Major ODA increases or changes are confirmed early in the year; Parliament debates the budget between September and November
- Cabinet agrees on caps for federal and ministerial budgets: In February/March each year, the Federal Ministry of Finance develops caps for the federal budget and individual ministerial budgets. At this point, decisions on increases in ODA and the overall funding allocation are taken. A key stakeholder during this period is the Finance Minister, while the Development Ministry provides input. Major funding decisions are budgeted at this time of the year.
- Negotiations within ministries: Ministries develop their budgets in April and submit them to the Ministry of Finance. Allocations to individual international organizations, for example, are determined during this period. In parallel, between April and September, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) plans its bilateral spending (see ‘Key Question 3: How does Germany spend its ODA’) and multilateral funding envelopes.
- Draft budget and medium-term financial planning: In June, the Cabinet negotiates the budget and publishes the government’s budget draft before the summer break. Key players in this period are the Chancellery, the Finance Ministry, and the Development Ministry.
Between April and September, BMZ plans its bilateral spending and multilateral funding envelopes.
- Parliamentary debates and proposed amendments: First reading in Parliament takes place in September. Subsequently, parliament usually debates the budget until November.
- Amendments reviewed and recommendations to committees: The Development Committee (AWZ) makes recommendations on budget amendments in September/October. In October, BMZ’s budget is debated by the Development Committee and Budget Committee.
- Amendments, decisions on each ministerial budget: The Budget Committee takes final decisions in November, which makes members of the Budget Committee (especially those of the government coalition parties) central stakeholders during this phase.
- The final budget draft is voted on in plenary and signed by the President.
- BMF; Federal Budget 2019 - Section 23; 2019 (in German)
- BMZ; Entwicklungspolitik 2030 - Stategypaper; 2018 (in German)
- CDU/CSU, SPD; German Coalition Treaty between CDU/CSU and SPD for 19th Legislative Term; 2018
- BMF; G20 Compact with Africa; 2018
- BMZ; Africa and Europe - A New Partnership for development, peace and a better future - Cornerstones of a Marshall Plan with Africa; 2017
- OECD DAC; Germany peer review; 2015