Bonn, Germany, is the Host City for the 64th Annual United Nations Conference for Non-Governmental Organizations associated with the Department of Public Information, on the theme “Sustainable Societies; Responsive Citizens”. A city with a 2,000-year history, Bonn is situated on the Rhine and is Germany’s 19th largest city with a population of more than 318,000. It is the birthplace of Ludwig von Beethoven and today is regarded as an international metropolis and Germany’s UN City.
Welcome message from the Mayor of Bonn
Bonn’s Mayor Juergen Nimptsch is very happy to host the 64th UNDPI/NGO Conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers:
“This Conference is tailor-made for Bonn: men and women who are actively engaging in civil society processes, contributing with their own commitment, meet in the international City of Bonn. We are very excited to meet active citizens and to promote a platform for new initiatives and innovative networks.
May the delegates of the UN DPI/NGO Conference 2011 be inspired by the “Bonn Spirit”!"
Germany’s UN City
The UN staff in Bonn numbers some 850 men and women working in 18 UN organizations, programmes and offices mostly in the area of sustainable development. They include the UN Climate Secretariat, the headquarters of the UN Volunteers programme, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN University – Institute for Environment and Human Security and the International Human Dimension Programme on Global Environmental Change.
Bonn has been home to German chapters of UN organizations since 1951, however, Bonn only became a “UN Campus” in 1996 when the United Nations Volunteers opened up its offices there.
A Centre for NGOs
Some 170 UN affiliated non-governmental organizations, working predominantly in the fields of development, cooperation, environment, peace and conflict resolution, are based in Bonn. Six Federal ministries and numerous Federal authorities also have their seats in the city. Bonn is a sought-after conference venue and therefore it is not surprising that this very conducive environment is the choice in 2011 for holding the premier UN DPI/NGO event for global civil society.
History and Culture
With a history that goes back 2,000 years, Bonn holds a significant place in Germany’s history and culture.
It is not only Beethoven’s birthplace, but it has also played an important role in politics. Due to the division of Germany, Bonn replaced Berlin as the capital between 1949 and 1990.
Today you can still see the remnants of its rich history in the historic centre.
The historic centre is also the place to go to enjoy “trendy” bars, good restaurants and Bonn’s art and music scene. The city’s universities attract about 30,000 students making the city’s atmosphere vibrant and young.
The city is also famous for its annual carnival, which has roots in the 19th century.
Bonn’s Contribution to Sustainable Development and Volunteerism
In Bonn, the United Nations is working towards attaining sustainable development worldwide. Their commitment is shared by a dense network of Bonn-based actors: scientific and academic institutions, development services, businesses, the media, some 150 international and internationally active NGOs and, of course, the City of Bonn itself. Climate change, desertification, biodiversity, early warning and volunteer work are only a few of “Bonn’s topics“. Bonn stands for networking and dialogue, interdisciplinary cooperation and unexpected synergies, the City being an active partner in many processes.
To date several conferences of the parties to UN Conventions, major environmental conferences as well as a great number of events focusing on development cooperation have taken place in Bonn. It has also been the city where the UN has facilitated the way towards peace in Afghanistan. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted here in 2001. Renewables 2004 drew global attention to the need to advance renewable energies and the UN conference on Biodiversity in 2008 helped to achieve a new degree of inclusion of stakeholders into the global debate. Bonn also hosted the mid-term Conference of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development in 2009 and was honoured by the presence of some 80 laureates of the Right Livelihood Foundation in 2010.
The City of Bonn
For most of these events, Bonn provided much more than excellent facilities and logistic support. Together with local and international partners, the City offered supporting programmes and linked global debates to daily life by addressing civil society in general or children and students in particular. International Mayor’s Conferences in Bonn have had significant influence on the contribution and the recognition of the local level within global strategies. The “Bonn Spirit” stands for a spirit of open-mindedness, multilateralism, productivity, cooperation and understanding.
Civil society in Bonn is part of this platform and movement. Many of the 318,000 citizens from 170 nations volunteer or donate to one of Bonn’s NGOs or foundations. An example is “Stiftung Bonner Klimabotschafter”: citizens volunteer to act as climate ambassadors, raising funds for local educational programmes. Global Players like Telekom and Deutsche Post DHL have committed to sustainability policies and to the Global Compact – and so have several Bonn-based NGOs and the City itself. Businesses engage in programmes like Eco-Profit or Sustainable Bonn to optimize their sustainable performance.
Consequently, Bonn has become a renowned and appreciated platform for the international debate and a hub for international exchange – a place to learn and benefit from each other on the way to a sustainable future.