Sector Programme Governance

Project description

Title: Sector Programme Governance
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2017 to 2020



'Governance' is the way in which decisions are taken and policies are formulated and implemented within a state. This affects political processes at local, national and international level.

Governance is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the international community in September 2015. The agenda stresses the paramount importance of governance and ascribes a key role to the topic. Indeed, governance is a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in its own right: Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. Furthermore, governance is a core element of many other targets and indicators of the 2030 Agenda.

A prime objective of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is to refine German approaches to supporting governance, to make them more visible and mainstream them within development cooperation. For German development cooperation, governance means efficient and accountable institutions and procedures at all levels that regulate the activities of governmental and non-governmental actors. Transparent administrative systems and inclusive policy and negotiation processes are also of major importance. Exercising state power in a responsible manner is a key element of governance, as is fostering constructive relations between the state and its citizens. This includes rule of law and political participation.

Acknowledging the growing importance of the local level – especially with regard to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda – BMZ is strongly committed to promoting decentralisation and local governance reforms. These reforms involve far-reaching and highly political processes at all levels of government, which rely on all international reform partners to network and coordinate their support.


German development cooperation is better placed to promote governance in accordance with the 2030 Agenda.



The programme team advises BMZ and the implementing German development cooperation organisations on current overarching governance issues. These include decentralisation, local governance, rule of law, administrative reform, democratic culture and processes, sectoral and e-governance. The team assists BMZ in preparing, formulating and implementing new concepts and strategies. Through participation in sectoral and political networks and work with international organisations, the sector programme feeds governance approaches into the German and international debate. Implementing the 2030 Agenda at local level is another main tasks of the programme. Furthermore, the project team prepares specialist contributions in many forms and supports knowledge management.

A central component of the programme is the Secretariat of the Development Partners Network on Decentralisation and Local Governance (DeLoG). Founded in 2008, DeLoG is an informal network of 29 bilateral and multilateral development partners. The DeLoG Secretariat strengthens the members’ capacity to network, cooperate and engage in joint learning processes. It thus facilitates improved and coordinated implementation of decentralisation and local governance approaches within German development cooperation and among the network members. The Secretariat’s work has been co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (DEZA) since 2012.



The programme builds on the work of the two preceding projects, Sector Dialogue and Donor Harmonisation on Decentralisation and Local Governance, and Promotion of Good Governance. Conceptual inputs by these projects enabled BMZ to develop Germany’s position on promoting the rule of law and decentralisation and to represent it on the international stage.

Guidelines for working with civil society actors in contexts of reduced freedom of action worldwide, known as shrinking spaces, were developed and have increased the visibility of Germany’s active support for democracy. Together with Deutsche Welle, the programme has supported local initiatives in eight countries in improving the freedom of the press and access to information.

The DeLoG Secretariat has worked to intensify exchange, networking and joint learning by various international and multilateral donors. This has helped to further strengthen international awareness of the significance of the multi-level approach and the local level for the rollout of governance reforms.