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German aid focus on Asia

June 17, 2015

Germany has unveiled revised development aid goals for Asia. Partner nations will be offered help to safeguard biodiversity, improve work, expand regenerative energy and minimize the numbers of people living as refugees.

Gerd Müller
Image: AFP/Getty Images/R. Hartmann

Development aid minister Gerd Müller declared German know-how and innovative investment models as the key elements in a revised German strategy for Asia on Wednesday entitled "Using Asia's Dynamism."

Müller, whose official title Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development is supposed to stress aid as a two-way partnership, said Asia's rapid economic gains over recent decades was still tinged by widespread poverty.

Asia had 1.3 billion residents who survived on less than 2 dollars a day and Germany wanted to ensure that more profited from growth opportunities, he said.

As a special initiative, Germany wanted to tackle the causes driving Asian refugees as far afield as Europe by improving prospects and had a shared interest in helping to ensure "stability and freedom in Asia," he said.

Need to raise living standards

A special focus would be efforts to improve working and living conditions, for example, in Asia's textile sector, which Müller described as still "catastrophic."

The aim was to anchor human rights, social and sustainable ecological standards in the textile and clothing industries' production chain, he said.

Given that Asia generated almost 60 percent of the world's climate-damaging emission gases, German would assist Asia with environment-friendly energy generation.

One such project was a "green energy corridor" in India, with German loan financing of up to one billion euros, so that wind and solar plants could be connected the electricity grid.

To mitigate climate change and other environmental disasters, reforestation projects were planned, for example, in the Mekong region and Mongolia, and coastal and groundwater protection in Vietnam and Bangladesh, he said.

He also cited China, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines as nations seen as partners crucial in tackling global problems such as climate change.

Preparatory work for the UN's climate treaty summit due in Paris in December made it clear that Asia would play a key role, according to the position paper published simultaneously by Müller's ministry.

Standardized management practices based on international biodiversity rules would be introduced in 15 southeast Asian nations by 2018, it said.

Referring to terrorism and extremism, the paper said Germany wanted to promote civil society principles, especially to offer young people in Asia a future.

"Human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, are universally valid," it said, adding that Germany also backed a "fit for school" scheme aimed at improving educational chances for 5 million Asian children.

Germany is currently represented by 2,000 employees of contracted aid development organizations in 20 nations in Asia and the neighboring Pacific.

The ministry paper said almost 2-billion euros in annual aid put into projects implemented by German organizations and international bodies such as the Asian Development Bank meant multiple returns.

For every euro in funding that Germany provided, two euros was raised on average via the commercial finance market, it said.

"Our goal is, with German know-how and innovative investment models, to identify ways to solve social and environmental challenges that partner nations can replicate."

ipj/rc (dpa)