Heinrich Böll Foundation

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HBF Logo.png
Abbreviation HBF
Formation 1997
Type Public Policy Think Tank
Headquarters Schumannstraße 8, 10119 Berlin, Germany
Ralf Fücks and Barbara Unmüßig
Website www.boell.de

The Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF; German: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung e.V., HBS) is a German, legally independent political foundation. Affiliated with the German Green Party,[1] it was originally founded in 1987 and rebuilt in 1997. The foundation was named after German writer Heinrich Böll (1917–1985).

Mission Statement and Structure[edit]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is an agency for green visions and projects, a think tank for policy reforms, and an international network.[2] It is part of the global Green political movement that has developed since the 1980s. The foundation’s main tenets are ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, and self-determination and justice. Particular emphasis is placed on gender democracy, meaning social emancipation and equal rights for women and men.[3] Furthermore, the foundation is committed to equal rights for cultural and ethnic minorities, and advocates for the societal and political participation of immigrants. It also promotes non-violence and proactive peace policies.[4]

Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has 30 offices across the globe, spanning cities such as Beijing, Brussels, Kabul, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv. Since 2002, Ralf Fücks[1] and Barbara Unmüßig have led the executive board. Birgit Laubach[5] is the current CEO.[6]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation also includes a scholarship program, which supports university and PhD students through stipends and an alumni network.

With the approval of the Böll family and the National Convention of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (German Green Party), the foundation carries the name of the writer Heinrich Böll. According to the HBF mission statement, Böll personified the values of the foundation: courage to stand up for one's beliefs; encouragement to meddle in public affairs; and unconditional activism in support of dignity and human rights.[7] Böll encouraged others to involve themselves in political processes, and was famously quoted as saying: “Meddling is the only way to stay relevant.”[8]


Regional foundations close to the Green Party were set up in the early 1980s. In 1983, there was an initial unsuccessful effort to found a national foundation. Later in the 1980s, three national foundations were established: The feminist Frauenanstiftung, the Buntstift federation of regional foundations, and the Cologne-based Heinrich Böll Foundation. The work of these organizations was later coordinated by the umbrella organization Regenbogen.[9] In 1988, the Green Party recognized Regenbogen as the foundation allied to the party. From then on, the foundation qualified for government funding.[10]

In 1996, a Green Party convention pushed the merger of the separate foundations. The statutes of the new foundation stressed the tenets of gender democracy, and of issues related to migration and diversity. The motion was passed with a large majority. The new foundation took on the name of one of its predecessors – Heinrich Böll Foundation. On July 1, 1997, the newly founded Heinrich Böll Foundation began its operations in its new headquarters in the center of Berlin.

Thematic Priorities[edit]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation works on a range of issues, and the following themes permeate many of its projects and publications:

Climate Change: The foundation focuses on the concept of Greenhouse Development Rights (GDRs), arguing that the best way to break the impasse between the climate and the development crisis is to expand the climate protection agenda to include the protection of development dignity.[11]

Resource Policy: A responsible use of resources is formulated in the memo of the foundation. By analyzing existing initiatives, standards, and mechanisms and proposing new ones, the Heinrich Böll Foundation advises governments, political actors and interest groups in Germany and in the international sphere.[12]

European Policy: The Heinrich Böll Foundation supports the democratic reform of European institutions, and is committed to further expansion of the European Union and integration of new member states.

The Economy and Financial Crisis: The foundation supports investment in ecological structural changes, education, science and development for a sustainable society. It underlies this claim by advocating for the Green New Deal.[13]

Global Gender Politics: Gender politics and gender democracy have been priorities for the foundation from the very beginning. The organizational development of the Heinrich Böll Foundation has become a role model for many other institutions.

Stipend Programs: The foundation is one of 12 accredited institutions financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It hands out scholarships for outstanding students in Germany and encourages the integration of non-German students into the program.[14]


Headquarters and offices in Germany[edit]

The new foundation headquarters in the center of Berlin totals approximately 7,000 square meters of building area and features modern office space for 185 employees. The conference center holds up to 300 people in varying configurations, making it possible to hold large multi-day conferences at the location as well.

The foundation describes its headquarters as being in the “ecological vanguard” of modern office and conference center design. Its energy consumption is at 55.7 kWh/m², which is less than half of the legal maximum. In partnership with Grammer Solar,[15] a photovoltaic system has been installed on the roof. This has an annual energy yield of some 53,000 kWh and feeds into the district heating system. In addition, the building uses an adiabatic recooler to cool its offices. Outlet slits run at sill level along the glazing in every office. The sill casing houses high-performance heat-exchangers, through which water at a temperature of 20 °C circulates in the summer. A small ventilator inside ensures that cooled air is distributed throughout the room. Even when the temperature outside is over 30 °C, the room temperature does not rise above 25°. This system uses approximately ten times less energy than a conventional air conditioning system. The building uses the heat created by the computer network servers to heat its rooms. This heating system has led the foundation to receive the Green CIO Award,[16] an award given in recognition of innovative projects that significantly improve the energy efficiency of IT systems. Lastly, the atrium and internal courtyard create natural convection currents that serve to ventilate the building all year long.[17]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation holds independent regional offices in each of the 16 German states, called Bundesländer. With their work, the regional offices design and implement community and regional work in the spheres of ecology, democracy, migration, and gender democracy. Their work is not limited to regional or national issues, but also includes international projects and cooperation efforts. Although all of the 16 offices are independent associations, they must adhere to the constitution of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (e.g. adhering to the common public interest and fulfilling female employee quotas).[18]

Foreign offices[edit]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation currently holds 29 foreign offices worldwide outside of Germany: in Abuja,[19] Addis Ababa,[20] Bangkok,[21] Beijing,[22] Beirut,[23] Belgrade,[24] Brussels,[25] Cairo (under construction), Cape Town,[26] Istanbul,[27] Kabul,[28] Kiev,[29] Lahore,[30] Mexico City,[31] Moscow,[32] Nairobi,[33] New Delhi,[34] Prague,[35] Phnom Penh,[36] Ramallah,[37] Rio de Janeiro,[38] San Salvador,[31] Santiago,[39] Sarajevo,[40] Tbilisi,[41] Tel Aviv,[42] Warsaw,[43] Washington,[44] and Zagreb.[45]

The Foundation has been among those providing funding to Radio Voice of the People in Zimbabwe.[46]

Scholarship program and the Green Academy[edit]

In addition to its political and cultural work, the Heinrich Böll Foundation also offers scholarships for university students and PhD students. Around 1000 scholarship-holders from different colleges and universities are promoted every year. Scholars are expected to show excellent academic achievements, community involvement, political interest, and support for the ideals of the foundation.

The scholarship program’s network includes 250 liaison lecturers, who provide individual student support. Sixty-three percent of all scholarship-holders are women, and thirty percent come from abroad or have immigrant backgrounds.[47]

The Green Academy,[48] launched in January 1999 as a project of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, is an independent forum for contemporary political issues. It consists of approximately 60 volunteer members who confer with the HBF Board and CEO to decide upon content. The Academy hosts workshops and roundtable discussions. The topics may be proposed by members, board, or political spectators. Many of the Academy’s members are scholars, experts from associations and NGOs, and policy makers from both federal and state governments. In addition to its annual meeting, the Green Academy meets once a summer for a discussion session.[49]

Gunda Werner Institute[edit]

The Gunda Werner Institute[50] for feminism and gender democracy emerged in 2007 from the former Feminist Institute and the Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The Institute works on the topics of: women’s rights as human rights, the politicization of gender issues, the reflection of feminism and gender democratic approaches, and discourse between science, politics, and civil society.[51]


GreenCampus[52] is the political training academy within the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Founded in 2006, the academy's core areas of expertise are political management, diversity, and gender trainings for people working voluntarily or professionally in NGOs, political parties, organizations, and the private sector. GreenCampus draws on the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s many years of experience, combines different competences, and offers a wide-range portfolio.

HBF in North America[edit]

Klaus Linsenmeier, Executive Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America

In 1998, the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America[44] opened its office in Washington D.C. It focuses on the five program areas of: Ecology, International Politics, Democracy, Economic Governance & G20, and Gender. Through organizing events and inviting international visitors, the office promotes the exchange of ideas and concepts between North America and the rest of the world.

  • Ecology: Ecology, clean energy and sustainable development are central areas for securing the future of humanity. The Green movement has come a long way and today forms an integral part of the political mainstream. As societies embark upon the green transformation, a greater emphasis must be given to social justice, democracy and citizen involvement. HBF North America encourages a sustainable and green economy fueled by clean energies and sustainable infrastructure.[53]
  • International Politics: Though the U.S. and Europe cooperate closely in the realm of foreign and security policy, their relationship is not without friction. HBF North America's International Politics Program aims at deepening the transatlantic dialogue on common threats and security challenges, while exposing where we concur and where we differ. The program fosters innovative policies and collaborative approaches to conflict prevention, crisis management and peace building with a particular focus on the Middle East and Afghanistan.[54]
  • Democracy: Democracy does not function on autopilot. HBF believes that political parties and a critical media are essential elements in a constant effort to defend and sustain our civil liberties and democratic rights. Fostering political participation and empowering civil society engagement are central tenets of green politics at home and abroad. HBF North America's Democracy Program supports progressive and democratic voices worldwide in their aspiration for more democratic participation.[55]
  • Economic Governance & G20: The Economic Governance program focuses on democratizing governance structures to ensure that international financial institutions and bodies, such as the G20, are representative and accountable. The Program works to democratize policy-making in the areas of finance, economics, and trade to ensure that the financial system serves “real economies” in environmentally-sustainable ways that respect the rights of poor and vulnerable groups and women. HBF supports the engagement of citizen’s groups in developing countries, including through the encouragement of public education and capacity-building.[56]
  • Gender: Gender democracy, a concept that addresses the structural and societal causes of the inequality between sexes, is an overarching and cross-cutting theme for all activities of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. All programmatic work integrates considerations of gender equality. HBF continuously promotes this broader understanding of gender equality by striving to inject gender awareness and perspectives in international political processes and institutions.[57]


See also[edit]


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  3. ^ Salau, Gbenga (4 January 2013). "Artistes campaign for stoppage of violence against women". The Guardian Nigeria. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
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  5. ^ [2][dead link]
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  8. ^ "Nigeria In The Eyes of The World". boellnigeria.org. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  9. ^ Mohr, Alexander (2010). The German Political Foundations As Actors in Democracy Assistance. Dissertation.com. pp. 33–34. ISBN 1599423316. 
  10. ^ http://www.boell.de/en/navigation/history-3748.html}
  11. ^ "The Greenhouse Development Rights framework - Climate Change - Heinrich Böll Foundation". Boell.eu. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  12. ^ http://www.boell.eu/downloads/To-have-and-have-not_zweite_Auflage_Endf.pdf
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  47. ^ [7][dead link]
  48. ^ [8][dead link]
  49. ^ [9][dead link]
  50. ^ "Home page of the Gunda Werner Institute - Gunda Werner Institute". Gwi-boell.de. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  51. ^ "The Gunda Werner Institute - Institute - Gunda Werner Institute". Gwi-boell.de. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
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  56. ^ http://us.boell.org/economic-governance-g20
  57. ^ http://us.boell.org/gender
  58. ^ Böll Foundation, Meat Atlas, download Meat Atlas as pdf

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°31′26″N 13°22′59″E / 52.5238°N 13.3830°E / 52.5238; 13.3830