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Federal Minister Dr Ursula von der Leyen and fellow cabinet member Dr Gerd Müller discuss development and security policy coordination.
Hunger, poverty, weak state structures, and the effects of climate change pose serious threats to people in developing countries in particular, where they are also potential catalysts for conflict. The “Development, Security, Peace” conference, held in Berlin on June 6, explored ways of integrating development and security policy to improve crisis prevention and promote peace.
Federal Development Minister Dr. Gerd Müller and Federal Defence Minister Dr Ursula von der Leyen led the event attended by around 120 representatives from politics, the scientific community, civil society, and development and peace work. On June 7, a workshop at the GIZ offices in Berlin invited experts to explore the topic in depth.
Federal Minister Dr Gerd Müller highlighted the rise in global inequality over the past decades, pointing out that around ten percent of the global population owned around 90 percent of global wealth, while just 20 percent – primarily people in industrialised countries – consumed 80 percent of the world's resources.
Minister Müller identified the poverty created by this imbalance as one of the underlying causes of crises. He went on to identify the increasingly pressing effects of climate change as another factor driving conflict and crises. Current estimates predict around 200 million climate refugees forced to leave their homelands if we are unsuccessful in limiting global warming to two degrees.
Müller stated that strategies for preventing war numbered among development policy's most important contributions, adding, “this makes development policy the best peace policy.” He called for strengthening stability partnerships with Africa through the African Union and the creation of a Mediterranean stability union to redress the causes of conflict, and displacement and flight.
Federal Minister Dr Ursula von der Leyen touched on the relationship between the Development and Defence ministries, noting that years of cooperation between the German Federal Armed Forces and the GIZ in Afghanistan had helped establish solid mutual trust. “Afghanistan has taught us that the only way to succeed is to move forward together,” von der Leyen said. She offered the current closely coordinated response in Northern Iraq and Mali as a powerful demonstration of the wide basis of trust and each organisation's willingness to learn from the other.
Minister von der Leyen pointed out that the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) had been closely involved in drafting the “White Book on Security Policy and the Future of the German Armed Forces,” which will be published soon. In turn she promised that in her role as Federal Defence Minister, she would similarly integrate the “Report on the Future of Development Policy” currently being drafted by the Development Ministry.
Minister von der Leyen suggested increasing human resource exchange and intensifying shared training and capacity building programmes to further deepen cooperation between the two ministries.
Tunisian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ouided Bouchamaoui, Muhannad Hadi, Regional Emergency Aid Coordinator for the World Food Programme (WFP) for Syria and neighbouring states, Michell Ndiaye, Head of the African Peace and Security Programme, and Prof Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) rounded out the conference with a panel discussion on how our responsibility for promoting development, security and peace in the world can effectively be met.
On the following day, 40 experts from the scientific community, civil society and international organisations met with representatives from the BMZ, the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) and the Federal Foreign Office (AA) in GIZ's Berlin offices to generate impulses for a “coordinated development for human security” concept. The group's suggestions and findings will be integrated into the BMZ's “New Paths for Crisis Prevention and Conflict Resolution” focus paper and into the German Federal Government's Report on the Future of Development Policy set to be presented to the German Bundestag in 2017.
The conference and workshop were jointly organised by the Peace and Security Sector Programme and the GIZ's Development Policy Forum.
Federal Minister von der Leyen and Federal Minister Müller in conversation with conference participants.
Photo: GIZ/Florian Gaertner, photothek.net