Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

Former Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development


From 1998 bis 2009, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul was German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and Governor of the World Bank. She was also a member of the German Bundestag from 1987 to 2013. Throughout her career, she has championed women’s and girls’ health as well as the needs of people affected by HIV/AIDS and also fought for these issues in her governmental roles. Before she became a minister, Wieczorek-Zeul was a member of the European Parliament (1979–1987), where as a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs she focused on issues of external trade and European development policy. She was also Deputy Chair of the SPD political party from 1993 to 2005 and is currently Vice President of Friends of the Global Fund Europe.

A member of the German Council for Sustainable Development since November 2016, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul was reappointed for a further term by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz in January 2023.

Three questions for Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

Let’s get to it: What does sustainability mean to you? What do you associate with the term?

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul: For me, sustainability means doing everything I can personally and politically to enable everyone – including around the globe and generations to come – to live a happy and fruitful life.

What is your personal priority in your work as part of the Council for Sustainable Development?

For me, this role is about ensuring that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda are realised in the German government’s policies in practice. In turn, this also means helping to make sure there is enough financial scope in the budgets to achieve these goals. Across all these international issues, global health is a central focus of mine.

In the context of sustainability, what do you believe will pose the greatest challenge in the coming years?

Various transformations need to take place, and the greatest challenge will be shaping these transitions in a way that reduces inequality and ensures that the much-needed decarbonisation of the economy can also be replicated in other global regions. At the same time, we need to be and become resilient in the face of poverty, pandemics and climate change.

Curriculum vitae

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul detailed CV available to download (PDF, 69 KB)


“Various transformations need to take place, and the greatest challenge will be shaping these transitions in a way that reduces inequality.”

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© Photo: Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

© Photo: Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

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