Sustainable economic development

Project description

Title: Sector project on sustainable economic development 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union (EU)
Country: Germany, Belgium, supraregional
Overall term: 2019 to 2023


Worldwide, 736 million people live in absolute poverty and more than 190 million people are unemployed – the figures remain alarming. With the 2030 Agenda, the international community aims to combine economic, social and environmental goals on a sustainable basis. Promoting prosperity, ending poverty, reducing inequality and protecting the environment – these are global goals that cannot be achieved without private sector involvement and a dynamic economy. An agile private sector creates jobs, encourages innovation, increases tax revenues and generates economic growth and income. Without this, the entire economy stagnates – which is what is happening in many developing countries and emerging economies. Supporting these countries in the area of sustainable economic development is very important both to German and international development cooperation.


German and international development cooperation along with African, Caribbean and Pacific states use economic policy and private sector development strategies and approaches to implement the 2030 Agenda in a targeted way.


The supraregional project advises the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on mainstreaming approaches to sustainable economic development in national and international policies and in the development policy portfolio. The focus here is on economic policy and private sector development.

Improving the business and investment climate and promoting efficient industrial policy are also priority areas of the project, as are strengthening local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), green and inclusive business and stable economic development in countries that are characterised by displacement and internal state conflicts. Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 are also receiving growing attention.

The project develops economic policy and private sector development instruments and pilots examples of them in German and international development cooperation. It also strengthens networks such as the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) and the Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) on issues of sustainable economic development. The project also documents and shares lessons learned and expertise regarding successful approaches for various target groups.

On behalf of the European Commission (EU), the project advises African, Caribbean and Pacific countries on business and investment climate reforms and on public-private sector dialogue. This advice is aligned to the specific requirements of the countries. 


The project supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, it promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive full employment and decent work for all, and helps to fight poverty and to sustainably industrialise the economy. For example, it is developing and implementing an instrument with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) that will improve industrial policy in the partner countries. Governments in 24 countries have already been advised on their industrial policy using the EQuIP (Enhancing the Quality of Industrial Policies) instrument. These include Myanmar, the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Ukraine and states in the Western Balkans. A guide to the corporate environment developed by the project, known as an Ecosystem Mapping Guide, helps partner countries to analyse the corporate environment and identify precisely tailored measures to promote SMEs and start-ups. Such analyses of the corporate environment have been conducted in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and in the Balkans, among other places. With their help, the projects in the field are given a firm foundation on which to close gaps and engage in targeted dialogue with political partners.

Additional information