When the World meets in Bonn – A Retrospective of COP23

The numbers are impressive: roughly 22,000 people from 190 nations, including 1,300 journalists, came to Bonn to attend the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 23) from 6 to 17 November 2017. The UN World Climate Conference was the biggest international conference ever in Germany and turned out to be a logistical success. The COP 23 Presidency, the conference host UNFCCC, the Federal Government of Germany and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the City of Bonn, as host city, all received great feedback from participants during and after the conference. Many delegates stated that the city had been the perfect venue for this high-level conference and appreciated that the huge event had gone off so smoothly.

"On the one hand, people all over the world looked to Bonn for a good two weeks. On the other hand, Bonn has presented itself as a cosmopolitan, friendly host," said Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, with pride at a wrap-up meeting. Taking stock after the conference, he was confident that Bonn will be recommended as a venue for further international conferences in the coming years.

COP 23 took place in Bonn from 6 to 17 November 2017. The conference was hosted by the Bonn-based UN Climate Chance Secretariat (UNFCCC) and presided by Fiji. Its preparation and organization had been a collaborative effort - support was rendered by the German Federal Government, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Bonn. COP 23 implemented an entirely new concept of “One Conference – Two Zones”. While negotiations took place in the so-called “Bula Zone” – that is inside the World Conference Center Bonn and temporary annex buildings - huge temporary structures at Rheinaue Park hosted the so-called “Bonn Zone”, dedicated to action and dialogue.

For Bonn, this important UN conference was a unique opportunity to present itself to the world as an international and cosmopolitan location, hub for sustainable development, top conference venue with state-of-the-art facilities and, finally, as birthplace of famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
The City Administration did gladly provide support to the United Nations and the Federal Government for the smooth organization and running of this very large conference.  The areas of activity comprised the accommodation of the delegates in Bonn and the region as well as providing delegate services, information and transportation. The City also provided support for a large number of additional related meetings, activities, events and cultural offers that took up the key topics of the conference and reached out to the public by involving citizens, enterprises, NGOs, scientific institutions, churches and schools in Bonn. A “Bonn Climate Tour” was organized in cooperation with local initiatives as a series of six events all over the city, addressing citizens and communities alike.

Together with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Mayor of Bonn jointly convened a Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders at COP23. Three hundred local and regional leaders, over 1,000 participants in total, attended the summit, held for the first time on official COP grounds and supported by the German Government, the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the Fijian Presidency. The Bonn-Fiji Commitment expressed strong support to the Paris Agreement, ongoing action, commitment and initiative. 20 new initiatives were announced on that day, proving the ability and strength of cities and regions as valuable partners in the upcoming stages of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

For the City of Bonn, COP 23, the Mayors Summit and all related meetings and events went off well without any larger incidents. For roughly eleven months in the run-up to the conference, the City Administration had been in close exchange with the UN Climate Secretariat, as the host of the World Climate Conference, as well as with the Federal Ministry of the Environment to prepare what has been the largest international conference in Germany to date.

“The strong partnership of all organizing parties involved ensured that the event was well-organized and ran smoothly” Mayor Sridharan expressed his gratitude and appreciation after COP 23 to all those who had contributed to this success and great performance. Apart from particularly thanking the United Nations in Bonn, all federal ministries involved as well as the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, Mayor Sridharan highlighted the excellent work of the police and municipal services, of security staff and local fire brigades and of his own staff involved. Last but not least, he also thanked the great number of volunteers and Bonn’s citizens, adding that they had contributed to the successful organization of the conference by warmly welcoming the world in Bonn and by putting up with minor disturbances in their daily routine – and by doing so in their particular Rhenish cheerful attitude.