The Federal City of Bonn is home to numerous large and small UN organizations, programs and offices. The success story began as early as 1951 when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees opened a liaison office at the seat of the German Federal Government.
Today around 20 UN institutions with more than 1000 members of staff are based in Bonn including the institution with the most staff members, the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which, for example, monitors compliance with the Kyoto Protocol and supports the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Hub for climate protection, sustainability and development
The process to extend the German UN City of Bonn was launched by the decision on 20 June 1991 to move Government headquarters from Bonn to Berlin as this included the goal of assuming new functions and attracting institutions of national and international importance to Bonn.
BILDJune 2016 saw the 20th anniversary of the move of the UN Volunteers Programme (UNV) as well as, a short time later, the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) into Haus Carstanjen in an idyllic location on the banks of the Rhine. On 20 June 1996 the United Nations flag was hoisted for the first time in a ceremony attended by then Federal Environment Minister Angela Merkel and former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. It is now home not just to some UNFCCC offices but also to the Knowledge Centre of the United Nations Staff System College and to the SDG Action Campaign.
The date 20 June 1996 marks the breakthrough for the development of the UN City of Bonn which is today viewed as a hub of international politics in the fields of climate change, development and sustainability. In 2016, the 20th anniversary of Bonn as the main United Nations City in Germany (in addition to Bonn there are six other UN locations in Germany) is being celebrated with a series of events. The visit by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 8 March 2016 marked the start of the celebrations. They took part in a panel discussion entitled “20 years of Bonn as a UN city – shaping a sustainable future through voluntary work” in the World Conference Center Bonn. This was former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s fifth visit to Bonn.
On historical ground
As the number of UN staff in Bonn has increased from just a few dozen in the mid-1990s to more than 1000 today, the German Government decided in 2003 to place a large part of the former German Bundestag area at the disposal of the UN – a further milestone in the development of Bonn as a UN city.
The Langer Eugen (a building formerly used by Members of the German Bundestag and named after the former Bundestag President Eugen Gerstenmaier) and Altes Abgeordnetenhochhaus office buildings, together with Haus Carstanjen, were to form the UN Campus. Thus since 11 July 2006, premises have been made available to the United Nations gradually which are not only equipped to international standards but also established at a location which played an important part in shaping Germany’s new postwar democracy.
Following extensive refurbishment and construction measures, the Altes Abgeordnetenhochhaus, formerly a wing of the German Bundestag, was handed over to the UN on 15 July 2013. The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) moved in with part of its staff in autumn 2013.
Continuous extension of the Campus
Furthermore, due to the considerable growth in staff numbers, plans for another new office building on the UN Campus were launched. The foundation stone was laid in October 2016 and the building is expected to be completed in 2020. A 17-storey slender high-rise right beside the Langer Eugen and the Altes Wasserwerk built to the highest ecological specifications will provide 330 offices.
Bonn is well prepared for the growth in the UN presence and can provide the relevant conference facilities. In June 2015, the extended World Conference Center Bonn (WorldCCBonn) next to the UN Campus was opened in a ceremony attended by then Foreign Minister Steinmeier and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The new Center can be easily used in conjunction with the UN Campus and is available for conferences with up to 7,000 participants.