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Katja Dörner Bonn

For socially just, sustainable development, we must leave no one behind. This is what I stand for as mayor of Bonn.


Katja Dörner (born 1976 in Siegen, Germany) took office as Mayor of Bonn on 1 November 2020. She pursued university studies in political science, linguistics, modern German literature and public law in Bonn, York and Edinburgh and graduated in 2000.

From 2009 to 2020, she was a member of the German Bundestag; as of 2014, she served as Deputy Chair of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group and as a member of the Committee for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Since March 2021, Mayor Dörner has co-chaired the ICLEI Global Executive Committee 2021-2024 portfolio on Climate Action and Low Emission Development. Since January 2023, Mayor Dörner is also a member of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), an advisory body to the German Federal Government on issues of sustainability policy.

Her priorities for Bonn are making Bonn climate neutral by 2035, advancing sustainable mobility – notably with more bike lanes and a car free inner city, fighting inequalities and promoting affordable housing.

How is the
Mayor promoting
Inclusive Growth ?
Getting Bonn Building: Providing Affordable Housing For All In A Growing City

Creating enough affordable housing is one of the greatest challenges facing the City of Bonn. Due to its attractive location and strong economy, the population of the City of Bonn has increased by 17.1% since 1991, from 286,869 inhabitants to 335,975.

For this reason, the city administration set up a project group “Subsidised Housing in Bonn,” which presented its findings in 2021. It set an ambitious goal: a maximum of 30 percent of disposable income should be spent on rent. Only then do people still have sufficient means to live life to the full and participate in society. As a growing, attractive city, we must make it possible for people with lower incomes to live here and participate in our community.

Bonn is one of the cities in Germany where people have the highest average burden of rent. This is offset by public housing subsidies, which provide an incentive for developers to offer high-quality housing at affordable rents. In Bonn, there are currently around 10,000 apartments that are subject to such rent controls and allocated to eligible households. However, the supply of affordable housing is being threatened due to the continuous loss of housing from the system of rent controls. If the current trend continues, there will only be just under 4,300 of such apartments by 2030. This is far too few to meet the rising demand.

Learning City Bonn

In 2020, Bonn became the third German city to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. The network brings together municipalities and education stakeholders from around the world to exchange ideas, focusing on implementing the Global Sustainable Development Goals. The launch event in Bonn took place in 2021 with representatives from politics, business, culture and civil society. Under the motto Building sustainability in Bonn on books, bytes, and people!, education and lifelong learning are to be used as the key to making even greater use of the potential and commitment of people and institutions that already exist in Bonn, and thus to developing solutions for a sustainable city. Learning City Bonn builds on Bonn’s Sustainability Strategy and is intended to promote exchange and networking, including across institutions and sectors, focusing on people who have had little contact with the topic of sustainability. The initial focus is on climate-friendly action, economic sustainability, and cultural and social participation. To this end, pilot projects will be undertaken in some neighborhoods. In addition, an annual Sustainability Learning Festival and a Sustainability Citizen Certificate are to be developed and established.

Participation Portal Bonn Joins In

The participation portal Bonn Joins In (German: Bonn macht mit) bundles all information on participation offerings of the city. In addition, citizens can participate directly in current urban policy issues. The pages of the web portal thus contain all the information on opportunities to influence municipal decisions and tasks. In addition to specific online participation processes, such as the citizens‘ dialog on the budget or current urban land use planning projects, service-oriented offerings are also made easily accessible. Another core element is the project list, which citizens can use to learn about the city‘s plans and projects at an early stage. Hence, people in Bonn can actively participate in urban projects, even without belonging to a party or a local political body. The dialog platform also provides various modules, such as discussion forums or surveys, so that citizens can exchange and discuss their suggestions and opinions. Bonn Joins In makes it possible to react directly to current topics or put topics on the agenda, promoting a public dialog between Bonn’s citizens and the city administration.

The Bonn Building Land Model and Getting More From Municipal Land

Katja Dörner, the Mayor of Bonn, therefore has set in place measures to counteract the loss of housing. One approach to this is the Bonn Building Land Model. This sets binding quotas for the construction of publicly subsidised housing. The objective of the Bonn Building Land Model is to create more affordable housing throughout the city and to ensure that developers contribute to the follow-up costs of the social infrastructure.

The Bonn Building Land Model creates a framework for urban development contracts, establishing clear and transparent expectations for all stakeholders involved in the planning process. At the heart of this is a requirement for planning beneficiaries to undertake to allocate 40% of the gross floor area of new residential developments to affordable housing and to make a contribution to childcare places in daycare centers. The Bonn Building Land Model applies for planning permissions for more than 24 residential units or 2,200 m² of gross floor area of housing.

Another approach to creating more affordable housing is the new Leasehold Model. Under this model, city-owned land is generally leased out at a reduced rate. The lowered rate provides a major incentive for the construction of affordable housing, and the city also receives the right to access the land in the longer term.

A further component to support affordable housing is the introduction of the Special Market Price. This provides incentives to developers to compensate for revenues foregone by providing publicly subsidized housing on municipal land. At the same time, plots of land are only allocated subject to a 30-year fixed rent and occupancy period.

The creation of affordable housing remains a challenge for the entire city. The city’s goal is to increase the stock of publicly subsidized housing from the current 6% to 15% in the long term. This will require the joint efforts of the federal government, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Bonn. In the future, this will involve building up rather than out to reduce land use. As Mayor of Bonn, Katja Dörner is committed to socially just, climate-neutral urban development – a cause she is promoting in numerous bodies, such as the German Association of Cities and the Council for Sustainable Development. Bonn also looks to ensure a good social mix in the neighborhoods to prevent segregation and distribute available living space more equitably among people’s needs.