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Changing minds: Capacity development and policy dialogue

Population dynamics is not just a question of statistics and analyses. German development cooperation supports partner countries in addressing the perception, the know-how and the commitment of the people working with demographic and sectoral data, and those engaged in planning and policy-making.

For realistic planning, decision-makers and technical experts need the skills and tools, as well as the motivation, to take population dynamics into account in an effective way. In developing countries the demographic and statistical expertise needed for planning processes is often in short supply. Furthermore, to ensure realistic planning on all levels, it is necessary to have a critical mass of decision-makers, administrators and technicians with a shared understanding of why and how to integrate the dimension of population dynamics into any plans. Capacity development in German development cooperation is directed at three levels: individual, organisation and society. Capacity development measures in the domain of population dynamics thus reinforce the personal and professional capacities of individuals, bring people together in networks, and foster learning processes in organisations and within society.

Awareness and understanding of population dynamics also need to be promoted at the policy level, both national and international. Policy dialogue can help to anchor global megatrends such as population growth, ageing, urbanisation and migration in national policy agendas and at international level.

How can German development cooperation support partner countries’ capacity development and policy dialogue?

Capacity development is one of German development cooperation’s foremost priorities. Instruments deployed include study visits, support to South-South cooperation, networks and knowledge partnerships, and decentralised dialogue platforms.

Study visits to Germany or other countries enable experts and leaders from partner countries to exchange information with international colleagues, and thus further develop the individual capacities they need in the domain of population dynamics. Participants receive a wealth of ideas on how to develop their own approaches to population dynamics and how to integrate them into their country’s policy processes.

Example from the Maghreb region: Study visit on population data in municipal development planning

On a study visit to Germany, a delegation from Moroccan and Algerian municipalities exchanged information with experts from the German Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), the University of Koblenz-Landau and German municipalities on using population data for municipal development planning. The visitors learned, among other things, about technical solutions for processing and publishing data, and participatory municipal planning mechanisms. In a closing workshop, participants discussed further training needs and cooperation options, and noted that some approaches used by the German municipalities can be applied directly in the Maghreb context, such as the introduction of a department for statistical data on municipal level.

South-South cooperation – structured exchanges between partner countries – enables countries to share their experience of designing policies to address population trends, for instance at regional and international conferences. South-South cooperation is particularly effective when the countries have similar sociocultural and institutional settings and face comparable demographic challenges and opportunities.

Networks and knowledge partnerships bring together a significant number of stakeholders who focus on a specific theme, e.g. to address common challenges, to share knowledge, to identify interfaces or to collaborate on research topics. Such networks are especially useful for a cross-cutting issue such as population dynamics because they bring together stakeholders from different sectors and link them with experts from the fields of demography and statistics.

Decentralised dialogue platforms are an effective tool to create public awareness on demographic development and strengthen local capacities for the improved collection, analysis and use of data. This gives local stakeholders a tool for demanding accountability from central agencies.

German development cooperation and its partners make a point of highlighting the cross-sectoral impact of population dynamics in the international and national policy dialogue. This includes giving sufficient priority to the topic at the national level and more effectively integrating it into the strategies, as well as the sector and budget plans, of partner countries.

For more information on capacity development and international and national policy dialogue, please refer to Chapters 3.2.6 and 3.2.7 of the handbook.

Example from practice: International policy dialogue and promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships

German development cooperation benefits from the annual meetings of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) as an international forum where it can underline the importance of population dynamics and other key themes and principles of the Cairo Programme of Action. Likewise, the International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development that has been held in Berlin every year since 2002 promotes supra-regional exchanges and cooperation between relevant actors from politics, civil society, research and the private sector on topics such as youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender equality.Supported by Germany, the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on SRHR has made key contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the field of SRHR. The Commission’s final report, published in May 2018, presents the first comprehensive definition of SRHR to be embedded in the 2030 Agenda and aligned with human rights, as well as evidence-based recommendations for its effective implementation in policies and programmes.


  • GIZ (2018): Demography for Development Planning (D4DP) Factsheet. BMZ, GIZ, the German Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) and the University of Koblenz-Landau have since October 2016 been reinforcing the capacities of African partner countries in analysis, interpretation and use of population data for policy planning.
© Bayer/Meinhold
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