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25 years of United Nations in Bonn - a succes story

June 20, 1996 was a historic moment for Germany and Bonn. With the arrival of the United Nations Volunteers programme and the handover of Haus Carstanjen in the presence of the then Federal Environment Minister Angela Merkel to the acting UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the success story of the city on the Rhine as German UN City and center for Sustainable Development began.

A closer look at the chronicle - by the way, presented as a timeline on the UN Bonn website ( https://unric.org/de/unbonn-25/ (opens in a new tab)), shows the highlights of the past 25 years. You can see the settlement of organizations large and small, starting with the United Nations Climate Secretariat and the Convention to Combat Desertification and continuing to UN Habitat's Global Water Operators' Partnerships Alliance, which only settled in Bonn in 2020.

25 years of UN City - 25 UN organizations in Bonn

As the 25th organization in the 25th anniversary year of UN Bonn, an office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recently moved to the UN Campus on the Rhine, with a branch office in Berlin. The new UNDP office aims to strengthen development policy cooperation with the German government.

The development of the UN Campus itself has seen further milestones - the handover of Langer Eugen as the main building in summer 2006 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the handover of the renovated former parliamentary building in 2013, and soon the occupation of a new building. To mark the anniversary, the city has commissioned the production of a short film on the UN Campus, providing a glimpse behind the fence that surrounds the site for security reasons. You find the video at  https://international.bonn.de/un-bonn25

The opening of the World Conference Center Bonn in 2015 is another milestone in Bonn's UN history, as it provides the United Nations with a meeting facility for major conferences. The WorldCCBonn demonstrated its capabilities in 2017 - with the World Climate Conference, which drew more than 22,000 people to Bonn. 

Mayor Dörner: United Nations belong to Bonn

On the anniversary, Mayor Katja Dörner pays tribute to the work of the United Nations in Bonn: "In a way, 20 June 1996 was the birth of Bonn as a UN City and thus a very special day for our city. Since then, the United Nations has been a natural part of Bonn, underlining the internationality and cosmopolitanism that have characterized this city for decades. All of the 25 organizations now based here on the banks of the Rhine are concerned with sustainability, the future topic par excellence." 

However, Bonn is not only the German host city for the UN, as Mayor Dörner points out: "As a city, we also see ourselves as having a responsibility, especially when it comes to such significant issues as environmental and climate protection, the Sustainable Development Goals and peace and justice in our world. Therefore, it is an important concern for us to support the work of the United Nations in Bonn and to make it visible." 

Executive Director of the United Nations Volunteers Programme, Toily Kurbanov emphasizes: "The United Nations Volunteers Programme has a special relationship with Bonn: UNV was the first organisation to move its headquarters to the German UN city and has spent 25 years of its 50th anniversary here. From Langer Eugen, we work with our teams around the world to send volunteers to the United Nations. In 2020 alone, almost 10,000 UN volunteers supported the work of our partners in 150 countries. Our thanks go to the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the City of Bonn, who together make our colleagues from all over the world feel at home.”

Virtual congratulations

On June 20, Bonn celebrates the special anniversary - unfortunately not with a big party, as originally planned, but "only" virtually. Nevertheless, there are congratulations - in the form of video messages featured on the German and English anniversary websites at  www.bonn.de/uno-bonn25 (opens in a new tab) and  https://international.bonn.de/un-bonn25.

Congratulations have been extended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, amongst others. 

"25 Voices" from 25 years

History and stories from 25 years of the United Nations in Bonn are the subject of a media project by the City of Bonn entitled "25 Voices." In 25 interviews, people have shared their memories and impressions from 25 years of United Nations. The first selection of the "25 Voices" will be available on the city's homepage at  https://international.bonn.de/25voices  on the anniversary on June 20. The series will continue through October 24 - United Nations Day.

Virtual events in the anniversary year

The virtual series of events that the City of Bonn has launched to mark the anniversary has already begun. Following an event on volunteering in May, Wednesday, June 23, will focus on the important role of the United Nations and international non-governmental organizations in restoring ecosystems. Also planned are a dialogue event on the role of science in international debates in June, a collaboration as part of SDG Days in September, and a UN quiz in October. Information on the series of events is also available on the anniversary pages of the City of Bonn website.

Tram promotes UN anniversary

A “UN tram” will soon be attracting attention in the cityscape, operating on light rail line 66 between Siegburg and Bad Honnef. It was designed by the Bonn artist "Özi", who is known to many as the creator of the two climate license heroes BONNi and BO. Anyone who sees the tram is invited to take a photo and post it on social media by using the hashtag #UNBonn25. 

Already since mid-May, the city has been promoting the anniversary with banners and flags along the B9. Throughout June, info screens at Bonn's main train station and at the Moltkestraße tram stop in Bad Godesberg will also point to the anniversary. A mobile textile wall and an illuminated column in the foyer of the City Hall as well as other illuminated columns in the Service Center and in the district town halls will also attract attention in this regard.

Further information

Further information on the UN in Bonn is available on the city's homepage at  https://international.bonn.de/un-bonn, on the UN Bonn website at  www.unbonn.org (opens in a new tab), and in a current flyer from the Federal Foreign Office entitled "Bonn - Center for International Cooperation, Sustainable Development and Innovation," which can be downloaded at  www.auswaertiges-amt.de (opens in a new tab)

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