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“Tall Eugene” and the United Nations

The United Nations Campus in Bonn is the core of the organization in Germany.

© picture-alliance/dpa - UN Campus in Bonn

“When the weather is particularly good, you can see as far as the Cologne Cathedral”, says Harald Ganns, pointing out the window across the Rhine and beyond the green hills of the Siebengebirge. Ganns should know. The retired ambassador is an official at the Press Office of the Bonn United Nations Organizations and for about six years now has led everyone who visits the office tower called “Langer Eugen” (Tall Eugene) up to the 29th floor. “They are all amazed and admire the beautiful view of nature”, says Ganns, “The view motivates the staff.” About 1,000 people work for the United Nations in Bonn. They come from about 140 countries. The former federal capital is the main site of the United Nations in Germany. Those who have their offices in “Tall Eugene” discuss, for example, how to counteract the effects of climate change or how to protect animals. “Our motto in Bonn is ‘sustainable development worldwide’”, says Ganns. From the Office for Combating Desertification to the Office of the Agreement on the Conservation of the European Bat Population to the Strategy Centre for Civil Protection, 17 of the 18 Bonn organisations of the UN are located in “Tall Eugene”. This includes the Bonn branch of the UN University. The 18th organisation, the Climate Secretariat, is located just opposite in the old Abgeordnetenhochhaus, which used to house the offices of MPs. Together, the two buildings and a green area constitute the so-called UN Campus.

The UN Campus has been here since 2006. When “Tall Eugene” was being built in 1966, probably no one thought it would one day be the centrepiece of the United Nations in Bonn. The then President of the Bundestag, Eugen Gerstenmeier, wanted to create new office space for the MPs and staff and campaigned for a new building. MPs then worked for thirty years in “Tall Eugene”, until the Bundestag moved in 1999. Later the building was given to the United Nations for permanent use. The skyscraper also took its name from Gerstenmeier. “Eugen Gerstenmeier was very short”, says Ganns. “He was called ‘short Eugene’ and the building ‘tall Eugene’”. Today “Tall Eugene” is the building’s official name. And only those who have been at the top can enjoy what is so special about the 177 metres tall “Eugene, says Ganns: “the view”.