Cooperation with the Global South

“Preventive development policy is sustainable security policy.”

With the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the question of war and peace has returned to Europe. In Germany, the debate on the first National Security Strategy is underway. In our interview, Federal Minister Svenja Schulze explains the importance of development policy and cooperation with the Global South.

Robert Bosch Stiftung
Steffen Kugler
October 14, 2022

Challenged by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the German government is currently drafting a new National Security Strategy. What contribution should development policy make to Germany’s security?

Svenja Schulze: Peace and security cannot be established by military means only. And preventing violence and conflicts must be a priority. That is why our National Security Strategy is based on a triad of defense, foreign, and development policies. We have to address the structural causes of conflicts and violence, such as inequality, hunger, poverty, or poor governance.

The war has had unexpected effects on developing and emerging economies. The lack of wheat from Ukraine, for example, or expensive fertilizer are resulting in a hunger crisis in some African countries. What are you hoping to do to counter this dependence?

The war has fatal consequences to global food security, especially in the countries of the Global South. The Russian regime has weaponized hunger. Together with its international partners, Germany stands by those affected with international solidarity and support measures. To this end, we have launched the Global Alliance for Food Security within the framework of the G7 and in partnership with the World Bank in order to pool international efforts, provide additional funding, and cushion the impact of the war on global food supplies. Our development policy promotes long-term, sustainable partnerships on an equal footing to offer our partner countries an alternative to dependence on states such as Russia or China. 

What contribution can a strong development policy make to sustainable peace and security in the Global South and also in Germany and Europe?

Germany and Europe are facing a multitude of global challenges, these include the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating impact of climate change. We need to work with our international partners to adopt a holistic approach to tackling these problems. More than two-thirds of conflict worldwide is taking place in countries in the Global South. While they might seem far away, in a world as interconnected as ours, crises and conflicts make their way to Europe and Germany in no time at all. That is why a strong and effective development policy that addresses the root causes of violent conflicts also makes Germany safer. Not only does prevention save lives, it is also far more efficient and successful than intervention in existing conflicts. Preventive development policy is sustainable security policy.

In its peacebuilding activities, the Robert Bosch Stiftung focuses on local actors with their knowledge of the respective conflict and region. Do you support this approach?

Development policy supports peace work at the local level, away from the capitals. Studies show: peacebuilding is particularly effective locally. It has a preventive effect when social tensions threaten to develop into major crises. The violent conflicts between livestock owners and farmers in the Sahel are one such example. In Germany, we have a unique tool in development policy for supporting local actors to prevent violence and promote peace in crisis regions: the Civil Peace Service (ZFD). Its experts support local partner organizations in crisis regions around the world in laying the foundations for sustainable peace. We currently fund more than 370 international Civil Peace Service professionals in 43 countries.

How can local peace and development actors be more closely involved and supported going forward – and is this also being taken into account in the drafting of the National Security Strategy?

As development minister, I advocate for a broad concept of security that encompasses all dimensions of human security. When it comes to drafting the National Security Strategy, I draw on this perspective on development policy as well as the experience I gained working with local actors in the Global South. Particularly in fragile states, the BMZ works closely with local civil society and focuses on the needs of local partners. In addition, we conduct planning and decision-making processes in a participatory manner. A conflict-sensitive approach is crucial for us, and this is why involving local actors is indispensable.


Svenja Schulze became German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development in December 2021. Born in Düsseldorf, she began her political career as Chairperson of the SPD youth organisation in North Rhine-Westphalia. She then served as a Member of Parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia and became Minister for Innovation, Science and Research of the Federal State. In 2018, she became German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

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