Hamburg has long been contributing to sustainable development in a global context. Projects and measures of development cooperation abroad as well as development education and public relations work in Hamburg form the components of Hamburg's development policy.
The factual focus in the promotion of projects abroad is, on the one hand, measures to eliminate the causes of poverty, to promote equality for women, to improve health care as well as environmental and resource protection and, on the other hand, to improve municipal infrastructure in large cities.
Of particular importance are measures to improve living conditions in León, Nicaragua, Hamburg's twin city since 1989, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (officially a twin city since 2010 and developing a municipal climate partnership since 2011). With the Hamburg Foundation Asia Bridge, established in 2005, the Senate has created an independent funding instrument for sustainable development projects in South and Southeast Asia. The city also directly supports projects by non-governmental groups and initiatives. This stimulates civic engagement and raises awareness of development policy in Hamburg.
Vocational training measures are an important supplement to project funding. Within the framework of a scholarship program, mainly specialists from Nicaragua, Tanzania and India are invited to Hamburg for qualification stays.
Hamburg welcomes the development policy commitment of its citizens and cooperates in projects with the numerous non-governmental organizations, initiatives and networks. In order to promote the cause of fair trade, the Senate has been participating in the action alliance "Hamburg mal fair" since 2006, together with the local sponsors of development policy information and education work. Since 2008, Hamburg's public procurement agencies have also required declarations of compliance with the ILO's core labor standards in the production process of the goods supplied when inviting tenders, and since 2017 there has been a state law requirement for the preferential purchase of fair trade products. Hamburg has held the distinction of being a "Fairtrade City" since 2011.
To date, Hamburg has two positions - one for fair trade and one for global learning - in the expert promoter program.
In directing its development policy activities, the Senate consults the Hamburg Council for Sustainable Development Policy, which it appointed.
Hamburg's development policy also encompasses other areas in which the city has special resources or expertise. Examples include North-South research at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), cultural dialogue with countries in the global South, promotion of South-North trade, and tropical medical research and training.