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Since 2006, Germany's United Nations City runs a unique project, "Sustainable Bonn", whose aim is more sustainable performance of the conference-tourism sector. Within five years, 49 hotels and businesses have qualified as "Partners of Sustainable Bonn"- accounting for more than half of the city's hotel beds. Conferences on sustainable development to be managed sustainably. The hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses should all demonstrate sustainable practices in order to show solidarity with the conference themes.
Bonn: Germany’s United Nations City
Bonn is Germany’s United Nations City, where UN agencies have concentrated their efforts toward sustainable development worldwide. There are 17 UN agencies in Bonn and more than 850 UN employees. The biggest UN agency is the Climate Secretariat, followed by the Desertification Secretariat and the UN Volunteers Programme. Other units deal with water, threatened species and natural disasters. The UNWTO runs a consultancy unit for tourism and biodiversity in the city.
The UN is the heart of a dense cluster of organizations dedicated to sustainability, including federal ministries; science, research and business organizations; the media and some 150 NGOs, such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International. It is clear that Bonn is committed to sustainability
Hosting major environmental conferences
Bonn has become a platform for international debates and cooperative efforts, with a huge part of the Bonn conference-tourism business being sustainability-driven. The needs of these conferences and their delegates cannot be met by non-sustainable services if they want to demonstrate their sustainability integrity. Hence, the project Sustainable Bonn began to address the conference-tourism sector in 2006. It supports sustainable practices in Bonn's hotel, restaurant and catering businesses.
While reluctant at first, the ten pilot hotels for Sustainable Bonn soon found that their sustainability strategies brought sustainable and financial benefit – as well as the opportunity to invest savings in social responsibility and fair purchasing practices. From 2006 to 2010, 49 hotels, caterers and event locations successfully participated in Sustainable Bonn – in such diverse sustainability areas as energy efficiency and renewable energies, water and waste management, mobility and fair and sustainable purchasing.
Five years of Sustainable Bonn
After five years of Sustainable Bonn, the success is visible in implementation, follow-up-strategies and dissemination. The conference-tourism sector is highly motivated and committed: partners continue upon completion of the programme, applying for re-audits and disseminating the ideas of Sustainable Bonn to staff, clients and through the channels of hotel chains. Ameron has even convinced the city of Celle to initiate a Sustainable Celle Tourism project in 2009. Moreover, the idea has spread to the cultural sector as well as to educational field.
Sustainable performance is sought after, and not only for UN conferences and meetings on environmental or development topics: it sometimes even constitutes a condition for the choice of a venue.
Sustainable Bonn has greatly helped to achieve sustainable performance and to make it part of the image the city projects to the world. Tilmann Flaig, Managing Director of Tourismus & Congress GmbH, sees an enormous increase in meetings and conferences in the field of sustainability. Future concepts should be geared toward this main focus, says Flaig.
Sustainable Bonn has been an asset from the beginning, the charm of it being easy access and an individual approach. There is more to this project than merely “greening” conferences – we are talking about an increased conscience for development issues. According to Bonn’s Mayor, Jürgen Nimptsch, it is this conscience that makes up Sustainable Bonn.
Hotel Energy Solutions in Bonn
In 2011, 25 hotels in Bonn will test the new Hotel Energy Solutions (HES) tool, contributing with their experience gained from Sustainable Bonn. Mayor Nimptsch, who met UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in Bonn in March 2010, considers the testing a milestone and expects that HES will unveil further potential for energy efficiency and renewable energies in Bonn. Also in his capacity as Vice Chair of the WMCCC, he welcomes the UNWTO’s initiative to support small and medium-sized hotels and destinations in their endeavours towards sustainable energy management.
For more information on HES in Bonn:
Mrs. Susanne Nolden
International Affairs and Representation
Bonn City Council