Sector project Sustainable Rural Areas

Project description

Title: Sector project Sustainable Rural Areas 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Global
Overall term: 2018 to 2021



The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) promotes sustainable rural development. This provides people with economic and social prospects and helps them utilise and preserve natural resources in the long term.

Germany seeks to reflect its commitment to rural development – including as part of the One World – No Hunger Initiative – in international agreements, agendas and initiatives as well as in projects in partner countries. In order to shape this approach, BMZ needs tailored concepts and experience in the field of rural development. Alternative development is one aspect of rural development. Farmers who cultivate drug plants are supported in their efforts to earn income legally.


Political decision-makers and relevant expert organisations are benefiting from a better exchange of knowledge and experience, and modern rural development strategies. Public awareness of and support for rural development has improved.



The project advises BMZ on mainstreaming modern approaches to spatial rural development in international policy processes. In this process, it collaborates with key national and international partners, promotes international expert discussion and helps adapt and disseminate strategies and instruments.

‘Rural Development’: The project supports BMZ in developing and refining strategies and effective approaches for rural development. Spatial approaches, landscape-based approaches, linking rural and urban areas, and rural governance (good governance) are in focus. These approaches are mainstreamed in German international cooperation. They help shape inclusive and sustainable rural structural change within the German Development Cooperation portfolio.

‘Alternative Development’: The project prepares papers and disseminates experience of rural development in drug cultivation regions – alternative development – for BMZ. It also integrates them in national, European and international policy forums on shaping international drug policy. With its broad network of partners, including the European Union, the project promotes dialogue on alternative development approaches. Decision-makers from international organisations and the relevant partner countries are involved, and this dialogue forms a basis for implementation. 

‘Expert Communication’: The project advises BMZ on preparing rural development topics for expert communication, including within the framework of the One World – No Hunger Initiative. In addition, it supports the quality assurance of expert papers from BMZ Division 12 projects. This Division is responsible for food, rural development, natural resources and the One World – No Hunger Initiative. 

The sector project works in multiple regions and uses lessons learned in international cooperation to achieve mainstreaming. It includes gender aspects both in its conceptual work and in its practical advisory services. In this way, the project supports female farmers in making their problems visible, expressing their perspectives and contributing them to political decision-making processes.


The sector project has successfully supported BMZ in positioning itself in the field of rural and alternative development. BMZ positions on spatial approaches, for example, are included in a White Paper on Territorial Approaches prepared jointly with other international development partners. UN-Habitat’s Guiding Principles for Rural-Urban Linkages also include BMZ positions. The Global Landscapes Forum regularly uses German papers on landscape approaches that see a range of stakeholders sustainably agreeing on the utilisation of entire landscapes including woodlands, fields and water resources.

Alternative development was embedded as one of the principles of a development-oriented drugs policy in the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2017-2020) and the EU Drugs Strategy (2013-2020). Council Resolutions on alternative development were adopted with the participation of the German Government, supporting the EU’s approach to alternative development. At the level of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, a major resolution on alternative development was also included in the negotiations conducted on behalf of BMZ.

A large number of BMZ publications on rural development have been designed and published, including brochures, 360-degree films and publications for children on the One World – No Hunger Initiative featuring cashew processing and sustainable cocoa farming. The project also provides technical expertise to support the BMZ website on Rural Development and Food Security. The project has also designed a travelling exhibition: ‘From coca to cocaine – the forgotten link in the chain’



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