When speaking about Bonn, I usually begin with the United Nations. Bonn is very proud to be the UN hub for sustainability, working to shape a sustainable future from here. Our UN Campus is the heart of the international Bonn. Direct neighbors are the World Conference Center Bonn and the international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
And all of you will probably know that Bonn will again be in the focus of international attention this autumn with the Climate COP 23, when we expect roughly 20,000 conference guests in town.
Bonn is a place that sends out strong signals for sustainability. And – in the middle of a dense cluster of ministries, development agencies, NGOs, academia, business and media – the UN is our strongest sender and catalyst.
Biodiversity, nature conservation, agriculture and sustainable forestry are pillars of this thematic cluster. Bonn is home to IPBES, the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, to the Global Crops Diversity Trust, the Forest Stewardship Council and the association ‘Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald’.
With the initiative and support by our Ministry of Agriculture, we will soon be able to welcome the European Forestry Institute with its resilience branch as a new member of our sustainability family here in Bonn!
The City of Bonn is well aware of the need for resilient forests and sustainable forestry, locally and globally speaking. This afternoon, you have just visited our municipal forest up on Waldau. And surely, our forester Mr. Korintenberg and Mr. Dahmen from the State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia will have mentioned that this forest has a double certification: Naturland, as a national label, and FSC on the global scale.
I would like to thank BMEL and the Czech Government for taking the initiative to convene this Kick-Off Meeting in Bonn. Given the thematic environment and the great dedication of our key players in the city, you couldn’t have found a better place for a good start! May the new network prosper and deliver interesting results on resilient forests in Europe!
Before I close, please allow me to have a short word on our city. Bonn, of course, also stands for famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven. The genius was born here 247 years ago. These were the times when beautiful buildings like this one were built in Bonn. Our rococo Town Hall dates from 1737.
The function room where we have gathered tonight is a special one in this building. It is the former carriage passage to the city that was converted into this special room for receptions and events.
The entire building has been restored in a huge effort a couple of years ago. It forms part of the architectural heritage of the electors of Cologne, namely Clemens August, who also erected two palaces in Bonn. One of these palaces hosts our Botanical Gardens today.
Max Franz, successor of Clemens August and the last elector residing in Bonn, was a patron of the fine arts and supported Beethoven’s talent. Beethoven’s famous Ode to Joy (with the famous words by Schiller) reaches out to the world to this day. And it was chosen as the anthem of a powerful key player for peace and understanding: the European Union.
There are many facets to our city’s rich history of 2,000 years. And I hope that, in spite of your agenda, you will have some time to discover our city on the banks of the Rhine or visit our beautiful surroundings in the Rhine Valley. Enjoy your stay in Bonn!