Let me extend a warm welcome to you here in Bonn, Germany’s United Nations City and birthplace of famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Thank you for choosing Bonn as the location of this year’s general meeting of your association.
For those of you who are not so familiar with these surroundings, please allow me to shortly introduce our international location on the banks of the Rhine.
Bonn is the place from where the UN is shaping a sustainable future for our planet. Our UN family continues to grow, our most recent family members being the UN SDG Global Action Campaign and a new UN entity for disaster prevention, which will open its doors here shortly. And apart from our United Nations organizations, the city hosts an incredible number of other international organizations, scientific institutions, federal ministries and authorities, think tanks and NGOs that provide excellent networking opportunities in Bonn.
Such a great number of actors and stakeholders brings a large number of conferences and meetings to the city as well. In fact, we will see the largest UN conference in Bonn coming up in a couple days from now. The UN Climate Summit COP 23 will bring roughly 20,000 delegates to Bonn. Along with the conference, there will be all kinds of side events, supporting programs and cultural offers in the city.
As far as science is concerned: Bonn lies embedded in the ABC Region, a triangle of cities formed by Aachen, Bonn and Cologne, featuring the greatest density of research and technology institutions in Europe today.
Our economy today is characterized by the service sector. Global players, such as Deutsche Post DHL and Deutsche Telekom have their headquarters here. The IT sector and the conference industry play an important role as well.
Finally, cultural affairs make up another very important pillar in our city’s profile: cultural events and programs place a great emphasis on music in Bonn. Ludwig van Beethoven was born here, whose compositions have helped to spread a powerful vision. His famous 9th Symphony inspires us to reach out for a better world. I think this spirit may encourage all of us in these challenging times!
Our annual Beethoven Festival promotes the works of the composer and attracts visitors from around the globe. So does Beethoven House at Bonngasse, where we have met for a very special evening tonight.
By the way, we will celebrate our world-famous composer with an entire festival year for his 250th birthday in 2020.
And we have a number of other cultural attractions, especially along our so-called Museum Mile in the city, that draw millions of visitors a year as well.
Bonn today is a young, growing and vibrant city that cherishes its long history and traditions, a small, cosmopolitan place in the Rhineland where international flair meets the cheerful Rhenish way of life.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are well aware that all pillars of our city’s profile call for a sound infrastructure in the city and in the entire region. Large conferences and international cultural events, a densely populated area, the large river with limited options for crossings and potential flooding, increased individual traffic – all of these are factors that call for smart solutions. And they are factors that many cities and regions in the world are faced with. Exchanging knowledge and best practice in this field of action will be beneficial to all partners.
In this sense, I wish you a very pleasant stay in Bonn! I hope that you will find some time to discover more about our beautiful, international city on the Rhine and about its colorful history. If not – be sure to come back soon! My best wishes to you all!