June 20, 1991, marked the beginning of a big challenge for the City of Bonn: at this memorable date, the German Parliament decided with a narrow majority to transfer its seat and the core functions of the Federal Government to Berlin. This vote was implemented by the Berlin/Bonn Act in 1994. The Act laid down a fair division of labor between the two cities, according five political fields to Bonn. A compensation agreement amounting to 1.43 billion euro was granted to the city and surrounding region facing the structural change. In the meantime, based on these solid foundations, the vision of the early nineties has become an acknowledged reality: Bonn’s new profile!
The Federal City
Six out of the 14 Federal Ministries have their first seat on the Rhine. They represent the political fields as determined by the Berlin/Bonn Act: education and science, culture, research and technology, telecommunication, environment and health, food, agriculture and forestry, development policy, defense. More than 20 federal authorities, amongst them the Federal Cartel Office and the Federal Court of Audit have moved from Berlin and Frankfurt to Bonn in order to partially compensate for the loss of ministerial jobs. Thus Bonn – with the title of federal City adopted from a Swiss tradition - has become a second political focus within the strong federal system of the German Republic.
The international city - Germany’s United Nations City
The idea to transform Bonn into a center for international cooperation already formed part of the parliamentary vote in 1991. Since then, a great number of organizations working in the international field have been attracted to the city. Together with about 150 non-governmental organizations they form a strong network. The most important success in the field of international activities, however, has been the settlement of currently twenty United Nations organizations, amongst them the UN Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC). International activities focus on sustainable development, development cooperation and disaster risk reduction and management. The common denominator of the Bonn-based UN entities is ‘UN Bonn – Shaping a Sustainable Future’. In 2021, Bonn is celebrating its 25th anniversary as Germany’s United Nations City.
Since the summer of 2006, the nucleus of the international Bonn is the United Nations Campus next to the World Conference Center Bonn, which has been enlarged and tailored to the needs of UN Bonn. The UN organizations have moved into the former office building of members of parliament.
By hosting a number of large conferences over the past years, Bonn has repeatedly proven its capacities as a convention city. Two World Climate Summits, the International Conference on Freshwater and the United Nations Talks on Afghanistan, an International Conference for Renewable Energies and the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in May 2008 are only some examples. In November 2017 the World Climate Conference (COP23) took place in Bonn. It was the largest international conference in Germany to date. Around 22,000 people from more than 190 countries - 11,111 delegates, 1,300 journalists and 9,500 observers - took part.
The large number of internationally active organizations in Bonn is involved in numerous forums and networks on issues of sustainability and sustainability certification, disaster management, development cooperation and peacekeeping. In 2021, the sustainability hub will be complemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which will open its premises in Bonn in mid-2021. ECMWF is a world leader in global numerical weather prediction and climatology. Earth observation programs are a central component of the climate researchers' work.
Deutsche Welle moved to Bonn in 2003, broadcasting Germany's international image worldwide here from Bonn.