Home > Praxis > Principles for Digital Development

Principles for Digital Development

The Principles for Digital Development (including Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation and Address Privacy and Security) are guidelines for attaining lasting effects through digital technologies in development programs. These guidelines are further developed on an ongoing basis based on the practical experience of a large number of international implementing organisations and provide orientation for carrying out projects.


By loading the video, you agree to YouTube's privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

The BMZ aims to structure digital development cooperation successfully, efficiently and effectively. To orient themselves towards the guidelines for planning and realising effective digital approaches, among other things, the state implementing organisations KfW and GIZ have signed their acknowledgement of the Principles for Digital Development of the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL). Acknowledging the digital principles is an important step towards establishing the BMZ as an innovative partner for digital solutions in the development cooperation. Based on broad knowledge of international development partners, the principles also help minimise considerable risks during the use of digital technologies.

Nine principles were developed by a large group of development organisations and accepted as guidelines for actions:

Design with the user 

User-centred design starts with getting to know the people for whom you are implementing projects. By structuring with users and not for users, you can develop digital tools that give greater consideration to the user’s regional and cultural context.


Learn more

Understand the existing ecosystem 

Well-designed initiatives and digital tools consider the particular structures and needs that arise locally. Analysing ecosystems contributes to applied technology being implemented in a relevant and sustainable manner. Ecosystems are the key to an individual’s ability to use a technology and incorporate it into their everyday life.

Learn more

Design for scale 

“Designing for scale” means thinking beyond the test phase and making decisions that enable widespread acceptance in the long term. Right at the beginning of a project, you should determine whether a project can be used in a local ecosystem. Scalability can make it easier to extend projects to new users, markets, regions or countries.


Learn more

Build for sustainability 

Building sustainable projects is essential in digital spaces as well in order to maximise their long-term impact. A project designed for sustainability must be oriented towards cultural practices, regulatory frameworks and, above all, the users.


Learn more

Be data driven

In projects, data should be used to actively support decisions. Data produced can improve the quality of projects by yielding additional information and provide the right people with a high-quality service at the right time.


Learn more

Use open standards, open data, open source, and open innovation 

An open approach in digital development can help improve collaboration at the DC and avoid duplication of work. Digital projects can maximise their resources – and thus ultimately their impact as well – by using open standards, open data, open source technologies and open innovation.


Learn more

Reuse and improve 

Instead of starting back at square one, projects should try to improve existing products, resources and approaches, if possible. In this case, “reuse” means using available resources for new projects. “Improve” means improving and expanding existing resources.


Learn more

Address privacy and security 

Data privacy and data security require a careful inspection of recorded and stored data. In every case, measures should be taken to protect personal information against unauthorised access and manipulation by third parties.


Learn more

Be collaborative

Being collaborative means working together across organisations and sectors. This principle unites all the other digital principles in practice. An open and integrative collaboration is essential in order to master the digital transformation in the DC.



Learn more