Creating added value through networking: the Bonn network for development

In Bonn, municipal development cooperation has long been a tradition: as early as 1999, Bonn city council agreed a concept for international cooperation that forms the basis of the city’s development policy cooperation with cities in the southern hemisphere. Today Bonn maintains six so-called “project partnerships” with cities in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia. These municipal partnerships aim at socially and ecologically fair and sustainable development. Projects are implemented in the fields of climate protection, public services, education and development policy public relations work, for example.

Cities and municipalities can also make an important contribution to attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through fair trade, environmentally-friendly and fair procurement, using renewable energies, integrating people with a migration background, and municipal partnership projects with countries in the southern hemisphere, for example.

Within this, it is extremely important to involve the inhabitants in this process, raise awareness for the global challenges of the 21st century, share concerns and encourage involvement.

Promoting citizen involvement: the bonn network for development

In Bonn, social commitment to “One World” is already widespread. Yet many people are still not particularly familiar with the Millennium Development Goals. Hence the city of Bonn established a network in 2011 to offer the many actors involved in development policy “at the grass roots” (e.g. schools, associations, initiatives and church groups) a platform to network and exchange among themselves. The “Bonn Network for Development: Responsibility – Fairness – Future” (“Bonner Netzwerk für Entwicklung: Verantwortung – Gerechtigkeit – Zukunft”) aims to raise awareness for the Millennium Development Goals among the general public in Bonn and to win support for its projects and initiatives. More than 50 smaller associations and initiatives, most of which are run by volunteers, already belong to this network. Given that the members’ resources are extremely limited, the city of Bonn has commissioned an external facilitator with the task of coordination within the network.

The Bonn Network for Development is not only visible to the general public with an umbrella logo that can be used by all partners, but also through its events and projects. The cooperation within the network enables the partners to organise events together, which individual partners would never have been able to organise alone. One example is a series of events held in cooperation with Bonn’s adult education centre (Volkshochschule – VHS), which examines the Millennium Development Goals from different angles, addressing global issues such as famine, water, waste, etc. The members of the Bonn Network for Development get involved as speakers or with their own events. Discussion rounds, exhibitions, film evenings and activity days should also help make the Millennium Development Goals public and transparent, mobilise involvement and above all support the local inhabitants with responsible action to promote implementation of the MDGs in the future.

Raising awareness: the bonn millennium day

Public events are required to reach as many inhabitants as possible. Hence the Bonn Network for Development held the first Bonn Millennium Day (Bonner Millenniumstag) on 14 July 2012. A ‘global village’ was set up for the day on Münsterplatz at the heart of Bonn as a place of encounter and exchange. The network partners presented their projects and contributions to attainment of the eight Millennium Development Goals and a futureoriented, fair world in eight tents. During moderated discussion rounds, speakers from the field of development policy and civil society considered the question of the contribution inhabitants can make to attainment of the goals. Several hundred visitors took advantage of this opportunity to learn about Bonn’s varied development policy involvement, participate in a quiz, find out more about the MDGs through play, explore the sculpture park created by children and young people, and enjoy fair and sustainable food and drinks.

Creating added value through networking

Networking creates added value – and that not just locally. The Bonn Network for Development is part of a European project being implemented in cooperation with Climate Alliance, and municipalities and NGOs from several European countries in which the city of Bonn is the lead partner. The “Networking in Europe – Local Goverments meet the MDGs” project provides a useful platform for experts to exchange. Oxford (UK), for example, has not only been a partner city of the municipality of Bonn for a long time now, but has also been a “Fair Trade City” since 2003. Oxford and the “Fair Trade Town” of Bonn cooperate closely on the subject of fair trade, with a mutual expert exchange and joint events within the scope of the “Fair Weeks”, for example. There is also an exchange on climate protection with Bonn’s partner city of Potsdam, which – like Oxford – is also a partner in the MDG project.

New momentum is gained from the cooperation with the member states from Eastern Europe. The experiences of the city of Nagykanizsa (Hungary) and the Hungarian environmental association, Reflex, are particularly valuable for all partners. Finally, the city of Villach in Austria has a great deal of experience in environmental and climate protection, and is able to pass this on as a network partner.

Involving multipliers

Within the scope of the cooperation, these and many other experiences and competences have been compiled in a database of good examples, which is not only available to the network partners but also to all other Climate Alliance member cities. The project also contributes to networking on the European and international levels – for instance, through the contact with multipliers within the scope of Climate Alliance’s annual meeting or at international conferences and workshops such as the Bonn Conference on International Development Policy (Bonner Konferenz für Entwicklungspolitik) organised by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. One further success is the cooperation with the Millennium Consumption Goal Initiative (MCGI) of Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Professor Munasinghe, who met with international city representatives in September 2011 at the invitation of the city of Bonn and Climate Alliance. Overall, a network of contact and exchange could be developed in just three years, which extends far beyond the participating project partners and will also continue to exist long after the project is concluded.

City of Bonn