When delegates from all over the world meet in Bonn for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23, 6-17 November), they will be working long hours - and they will also be able to share in a host of cultural events, along with the citizens of Bonn and other visitors.
All over the city of Bonn, some 150 cultural events will take place over the course of the conference. They range from exhibitions, to workshops, to lectures and plays for children. This is in addition to the hundreds of events at the actual conference venue, including side events and exhibits.
“The idea is for the spirit of Bonn to be expressed through all these events,” says UN Climate Change’s Alexander Saier, “and that this spirit spreads to delegates and the COP venue as well.”
All of the events were selected by a jury consisting of representatives of UN Climate Change, the incoming Fijian Presidency of COP 23, the German Environment Ministry, and the City of Bonn. They all address the issues of climate change, climate action, or promotion and awareness raising of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and bear a logo identifying them as “official climate partner.”
Opening Song urges solidarity with island states
Delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference can brace themselves for some stirring and inspiring music. At the COP23 opening event on 6 November, musician Bernadette La Hengst’s will perform the song “I’m an Island” alongside 150 children from the Children and Youth Choir of the Theatre Bonn and the Beethoven Orchestra.
The message of the colourful and upbeat tune is a call for more solidarity and collective action for our planet, and has been chosen as the campaign song for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
“Thinking about climate action in a positive way”
It is part of the Theater Bonn’s special Festival called “Save the World,” which has been using the format of theater plays to address global challenges jointly with actors from the cultural scene, the science community, and politics. “Often times, climate action is associated with negative messages, like ‘stop travelling by plane’ or ‘stop eating meat,’” says Theater Bonn’s artistic director, Nicola Bramkamp, adding that Theater Bonn aimed for a different approach.
“We wanted to get across a positive message to encourage people to think about climate change and take action against it.”
In another event labelled as official climate partner, Save the World is putting up an interactive theater play called “The Amazing Adventures of Expedition Earth #2”, in which young protagonists are tasked with discovering another planet Earth.
Climate change as a 360-degree-experience
The Rheinaue Park, site of the Bonn Zone in which climate action events, side events, exhibits and media activities will take place and where delegation will have their pavilions, will also host a range of public happenings such as exhibitions and art projects. Likely the most visible of them is a 20 metre high walk-in globe, the Climate Planet. On its 360-degree-screen, spectators can experience the impacts of climate change first-hand, in locations all over the world.
For its part, the Kunstmuseum Bonn, renowned for its contemporary art exhibition and located close to the COP23’s Bula Zone, pays homage to the world climate conference’s issues in various ways. One will be to put up an interactive installation titled “The Ministry of Plastic,” by British-Kenyan artist Sam Hopkins. The installation conjures up a future in which the world has run out of oil, with plastic becoming a sought-after resource.
An there is already an awesome exhibition on display just a stone's throw from the UN campus about weather and climate at the Bundeskunsthalle (the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) which is designed to highlight the linkages between climate, science and art.
“Music is a language globally understood”
Naturally, the Beethoven Orchestra, named for the city of Bonn’s famous son, composer Ludwig van Beethoven, will also contribute to the city’s COP23 culture events. In particular, delegates will be treated to a special concert of Beethoven’s symphony No. 6, also called Pastoral Symphony, celebrating nature and the countryside. Michael Horn, the orchestra’s director, is convinced that this nature-loving musical message will infuse climate change negotiations with just the right spirit.
“Music thankfully is a language globally understood,” he said.
A full list of official COP climate partner cultural events is available through the city of Bonn.