Introducing our Mayor: Interview with Katja Dörner
On September 27, the citizens of Bonn elected Katja Dörner as Mayor of Bonn. She took office on 1 November 2020, chairing her first City Council meeting on 5 November. We spoke to her about her motivation to run for mayor, about Bonn’s assets and her agenda for the coming years.
You have been a Member of Parliament for eleven years – why did you choose to run for office here in Bonn?
Firstly, Bonn has been my home for the past two decades. Home is more than a place. It is about people, family, community, about neighborhood – and about being involved.
Secondly, I have wholeheartedly driven policy-making at the national level, in particular by chairing the Committee for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
Nevertheless, the urgent issues at stake do call for a strong commitment at the local level. Most importantly, we need to curb the number of COVID-19 infections. At the same time, we are dealing with climate change and its consequences – climate change does not take a break during the pandemic. Moreover, we are integrating a large number of refugees. And we need to make our cities smart and future-proof while leaving no one behind. Most of these necessary shifts in our societies must happen and be advanced at the local level. I felt that my own city might be the best place for me to steer this change. The confidence that Bonn’s people have placed in me encourages me on this path.
Tell us about your first days in office…
My first working day started with a team meeting, a meeting with our Staff Council and a tour of the City Hall. Among the next items on my agenda was one of the regular meetings of our city’s crisis management team to make sure that we succeed in containing the incidence of Corona infections here in our city.
What do you like most about Bonn?
I praise Bonn for its spirit, its open-mindedness and internationality. Here in Bonn, we have the unique situation of not only hosting part of the federal government, but also UN Bonn with over twenty organizations. We have become the hub for sustainability within the UN. Moreover, we host an incredible number of international organizations and research institutes, as well as the headquarters of several global businesses. I am highly looking forward to collaborating with all these interesting partners on site and to helping advance Bonn as an international location.
Also, I love that Bonn is a green city – and that our biodiversity management goes far beyond traditional nature and landscape conservation. Moreover, Bonn is a young city with many children and a very lively civil society that is willing to get involved. Both is a gift. One that I will cherish and develop further.
What is your agenda for the coming years?
Overcoming the pandemic is the priority these days. But it must also be linked to a rethinking in politics, in our economy and our society towards sustainability to ensure a green recovery. In a nutshell: I will place a strong focus on climate protection and a turnaround in our traffic, in particular by strengthening cycling and other eco-friendly means of transportation. Fostering inclusion and consolidating citizens’ participation will also rank on top of my agenda.
Agenda 2030 to achieve a sustainable, socially just and inclusive society will therefore be a priority for my term of office. This includes implementing Bonn’s comprehensive Sustainability Strategy with a particular focus on smart climate ideas, opportunities for small and medium enterprises and the fast and lasting traffic turnaround I have just mentioned.
In line with the principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’, I will place a strong focus on inclusive action in Bonn. Affordable housing as well as fighting kids’ poverty will be part of this.
Moreover, I will be pleased to continue and advance the work and advocacy in city networks and our international project partnerships, and with relevant stakeholders on site. For example, I have applied to serve as a member of the Global Executive Committee of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability with a portfolio for “Climate Action and Low Emission Development” for the term of 2021-2024. Also, I will chair the foundation ‘Bonner Klimabotschafter’ and support the awareness-raising campaigns it is running with our primary school children, allowing them to become licensed ‘Climate Ambassadors’.
By the way, the first decision of our new City Council was to take in refugees from Moria. I hope that we will demonstrate kindness and a welcoming attitude towards the people in need who come to us – now and in the future. That is what I am determined to ensure.
Dear Bonn residents,
Dear Guests of our city,
As Mayor of Bonn, I follow the motto: Think globally and act locally.
Both as Germany's federal and United Nations City, Bonn has a special significance when it comes to the major challenges of our time.
I am convinced that we can only successfully combat the climate crisis at the local level. Will we manage to turn the traffic around, will we make the city even more livable and attractive, and will the City of Bonn remain a courageous and solidarity-based city? The future will be decided here on the ground.
Together with the people of Bonn, I would like to take the right decisions for the future development of our city. In this process, each and every one of us is important. Bonn is colorful and diverse. Therefore I call upon you to get involved and participate in shaping our future!
Also, I am happy about the guests who visit Bonn. You are most welcome! I wish you a pleasant stay in Ludwig van Beethoven's birthplace, in our international city on the Rhine - here in the City of Bonn, which is just as steeped in history as it is forward-looking, a city that is both livable and lovable. See for yourself what variety is offered to you here!
Videostatement of Mayor Katja Dörner on the current Covid 19 situation on June 22
Video message of Mayor Katja Dörner about 25 years of UN in Bonn
Videostatement of Mayor Katja Dörner on the current Covid 19 situation on May 21
Video message from April 30
Corona-Statement of Mayor Katja Dörner on April 1
World Water Day on March 22
Video message from Mayor Katja Dörner on March 10
International Women´s Day 2021: For an equal distribution of care, pay and leadership
Video message from Mayor Katja Dörner on January 7
Katja Dörner - Mayor of Bonn
Katja Dörner took office as Mayor of Bonn on 1 November 2020.
Her priorities for Bonn are making the city climate neutral by 2035, advancing sustainable mobility – notably with more bike lanes and a car free inner city, fighting inequalities and promoting affordable housing.
Since March 2021, Mayor Dörner has co-chaired the ICLEI Global Executive Committee 2021-2024 portfolio on Climate Action and Low Emission Development.
Mrs. Dörner was born in Siegen, Germany, in 1976. She is married and has one son.
For eleven years, from 2009 to 2020, Mrs. Dörner was a member of the German Bundestag; as of 2014, she served as Deputy Chairwoman of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group and as a member of the Committee for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
From June 2010 to July 2014, she also was a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Solidarity and Modernity (ISM), and she has served on the Board of the German Children's Fund since December 2013.
Before that, Mrs. Dörner was Personal Assistant to the Chairwoman of the parliamentary group of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen North Rhine-Westphalia, and she also served as scientific advisor in the parliamentary group for the areas of schools and vocational training, children, youth and family.
Katja Dörner obtained her high school diploma at the private Catholic secondary school Marienstatt in May 1995 and completed her university studies in political science, linguistics, modern German literature and public law at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn, as well as in York and Edinburgh with her graduation as Magistra Artium in December 2000.
Tasks, Rights and Duties
- The Mayor is the chairperson of the Council and the Main Committee and is a member of the Council by law.
- She has voting rights in the Council and the Main Committee,
- Invites to the meetings of the Council and the Main Committee, sets the agendas and chairs the meetings,
- May appeal against a decision of the Council or the district councils if she is convinced that the decision endangers the wellbeing of the community (the final decision is then up to the City Council),
- Checks the decisions of the Council, the district representatives and the committees for their legality with the obligation to object,
- Has the right to take an urgent decision together with a member of the Council if the Council and the relevant committee cannot meet in time to take an urgently needed decision,
- Is the legal representative of the municipality in legal and administrative acts,
- Manages and distributes the business and tasks of the administration and takes decisions within the scope of the day-to-day administration. This includes all matters that arise regularly and can be handled with a certain degree of regularity. Of course, this cannot be done alone, but in cooperation with senior officials and all employees of the city administration.
- Is obliged by the municipal regulations to prepare the decisions of the political bodies and to implement the decisions taken.