20 June 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.
Bonn International / 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 almost 20 United Nations organizations, amongst them the UN Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC). International activities concentrate on development cooperation, ecological topics and crisis prevention. Their common denominator is ‘UN Bonn – Shaping a Sustainable Future’.
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. And the City of Bonn is expecting up to 20,000 participants during the upcoming World Climate Summit in November 2017.
Since the relocation of the Deutsche Welle broadcasting corporation to Bonn in 2003, the location’s international image is transported to all corners of the world.
Bonn, a region for Science and Research
Embedded in the scientific triangle formed by the cities of Aachen, Bonn and Cologne, called the ABC region and renowned as the most compact region of scientific research and technology in Europe, Bonn has acquired an international reputation as a scientific location. The nucleus is the university founded in 1818 with roughly 35,000 students today. In addition, new institutes, research centers and universities of applied sciences have been created during these last years. Scientific highlights in the region include the Max Planck Institute’s “Center of Advanced European Studies and Research” (caesar), which conducts research on neurosciences, cell biology and biophysics with a focus on neurons and neural networks; and LIFE&BRAIN, a center of excellence in the field of translational biomedicine. With the DZNE research institute, Bonn hosts one of the six German institutes for health research on the most important and widespread diseases. Last not least, Bonn hosts a series of leading German organizations fostering and promoting science.
The services sector ranks first in Bonn’s business world. Several global players have decided to establish their headquarters in Bonn, amongst them the Deutsche Post DHL Group and Deutsche Telekom, along with numerous subsidiaries. In terms of stock exchange value of the companies based in the city, Bonn ranks second Germany-wide. The IT sector alone employs approximately 10,000 people in Bonn in several larger and a greater number of medium-sized enterprises, making Bonn the number 4 of Germany’s IT locations.
Being birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, music ranks very high in Bonn. The annual Beethoven Festival has become an important event to promote the composer’s works. Preparations for Beethoven’s 250th anniversary in 2020 are well under way. The row of new museums along the Museum Mile attract a great number of visitors: the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn’s Art Museum, the House of Contemporary History of the Federal Republic of Germany, Museum Alexander Koenig and Deutsches Museum Bonn welcome more than one million visitors every year. Moreover, the city offers a lively and strong cultural scene boosting a great variety of cultural events.
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