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Germany publishes strategy paper “Triangular Cooperation in German Development Cooperation”

Posted: Apr 08, 2022

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) updated its strategy paper “Triangular cooperation in German development cooperation” at the beginning of 2022. An English version is now available. Following the previous one in 2013, the latest version describes Germany’s role in triangular cooperation more concretely and provides a review to German endeavors in exploration to this cooperation modality in the past few years.

International cooperation is undergoing a critical transformation. The need for joint efforts to tackle global challenges utilizing cross-border solutions also increased noticeably. The 2030 Agenda therefore calls for more international partnerships as specified in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, Partnership for the Goals. Triangular cooperation offers an opportunity to implement SDG 17 in practical ways.

The strategy paper clarifies the latest developments in triangular cooperation from the following aspects:


Triangular cooperation means a development project that is jointly planned, financed and implemented by three partners:

  1. a beneficiary developing country, which has requested support to tackle a specific development challenge;
  2. a pivotal partner, which has relevant domestic experience of addressing the issue and shares its financial resources and knowledge; and
  3. a facilitating partner, which may help connect the other partners, and supports the partnership financially and/or with technical expertise.

Role setting

The roles in triangular cooperation are not set in stone. Each of the partners involved may be the beneficiary, knowledge bearer or facilitator. The partners develop their roles dynamically in the course of their cooperation. In doing so, they generate added value compared to bilateral cooperation: all sides learn, share their experience and knowledge, and take on responsibility. Ideally, this will create a win-win-win situation. From Germany’s point of view, besides a facilitating partner, Germany views its role in triangular cooperation as that of a learning partner, too.

Possible partners

Possible partners for triangular cooperation (apart from the responsible agencies of the countries involved) include line ministries and specialized organizations, local and regional authorities, organizations from the private sector, civil society, and academia, multilateral and regional organizations, and private charitable organizations such as foundations. This means that there is a considerable number of possible actors, and the number of countries involved need not necessarily be limited to three.


Triangular cooperation has a political-strategic dimension and a programmatic-thematic dimensions. These two dimensions are reflected in two main objectives pursued by Germany through its triangular cooperation:

  1. building global strategic partnerships for sustainable development, and
  2. improving the effectiveness of development measures in recipient countries.

Practical examples

Germany is one of the largest bilateral donors in the field of triangular cooperation. It has now been involved in more than 150 triangular projects among which the project “Sustainable Chinese textile investment in Ethiopia” prepared by the Sino-German Center for Sustainable Development, was introduced in the strategy paper as one of the successful story illustrating how triangular cooperation adds value for beneficiary countries to have coordinated access to the knowledge of partners who otherwise operate without mutual coordination.

Forward looking

The UN Conference on South-South Cooperation has lent enhanced status to triangular cooperation which was recognized as a modality that complements South-South cooperation, thus making it an integral part of the set of instruments for international cooperation. Germany will build on the successful experience it has gained and continue to engage in international exchange to foster the continued use of triangular cooperation.

For more information, please download the strategy paper here.

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