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Working from Bonn for a 100% Renewable Energy World

By Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General

On 1 July 2001, a group of wind energy supporters from around the world met in Copenhagen to prepare the 1st World Wind Energy Conference which was to take place a year later in Berlin. At that meeting, participants from around the world decided to create an international association dedicated to the promotion of wind power and connecting the wind energy community around the world.

Accordingly, the founding members agreed on the WWEA Working Principles which still guide WWEA’s operations today. 

Stefan Gsänger

Dr. Preben Maegaard was elected as the Founding President, and Stefan Gsänger was appointed as the Secretary of the newborn association. In the following weeks and months, dozens of other organisations decided to join WWEA. Today, WWEA has more than 600 members in over 100 countries, including national associations, smaller and larger enterprises, as well as scientific organisations.

The annual World Wind Energy Conferences have become a pillar of WWEA’s work and they took place on all continents, every year in a different country, in 2012 also in Bonn – with the exception of the pandemic year 2020 and 2021 in which there will be a virtual WWEC2021.

WWEA’s achievements

Since the founding day, WWEA has promoted wind power as a pillar of a renewable energy world, and has been able to contribute many achievements to the success story of renewables, on the global level as well as in many countries. To name some of the main achievements: 

  • the kickoff of the Chinese wind power market from 500 MW in 2004 to around 300’000 MW today,
  • the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA,
  • the global debate about the necessity and the possibility of a 100% renewable energy supply which paved the way for the Paris agreement,
  • the focus on the importance of decentralised, citizen-based approaches such as community energy, for a just energy transformation. 

Bonn as the home of WWEA

Immediately after the association was founded, the founders started to discuss where the head office should be located. Several options were considered and finally WWEA accepted the invitation of the city of Bonn which offered an office in the immediate vicinity of the newly created UN Campus. In 2003, WWEA officially moved to Bonn, and in the following years, Bonn has become a true home for the WWEA Head Office. 

In Bonn, WWEA can work with important international organisations such as the UNFCCC secretariat, the IRENA Innovation and Technology Center, several non-governmental organisations such as the Global 100% Renewable Energy Platform, ICLEI, the International Geothermal Association or the International Windship Association. The Bonn International NGO network plays an important role in coordinating the work of international NGOs in Bonn also beyond the energy sector. WWEA and all members are grateful for this opportunity to work from Bonn and for all the support that the City of Bonn has provided in almost two decades. 

The future

There is still a lot to be done, for WWEA and for WWEA’s partners. The latest IPCC report published a few days ago leaves no doubt what needs to be done: “limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions”. This statement clearly underscores the urgency to stop burning fossil fuels and to switch globally to renewable energy. It defines the mission very well which WWEA will continue to pursue from Bonn, together with partner oganisations in Bonn and around the world. 

As for all internationally active organisations, the pandemic situation has created special challenges for WWEA. International travel has not been possible and there are no international meetings since early 2020, most of the activities had to be converted to virtual formats. 

WWEA naturally hopes that the City of Bonn, the State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Federal Government of Germany will extend and broaden their support for Bonn, even under these challenging circumstances, as the international hub for climate related policies and for the “Energiewende” – the global shift towards renewable energy. 

Bonn’s role as the global center for combating climate change is needed today more urgently than ever, and WWEA looks forward to continuing and intensifying its work on this task which is so crucial for the future of mankind.