Heinrich Böll Foundation

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 founded in 1997 when three predecessors merged. The foundation was named after German writer Heinrich Böll (1917–1985).[2]

Mission statement and structure

Headquarters of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is part of the global Green political movement that has developed since the 1980s. It describes itself as an agency for green visions and projects, a think tank for policy reforms, and an international network.[3] In its mission statement the foundation defines its aims as follows:

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is part of the Green political movement that has developed worldwide as a response to the traditional politics of socialism, liberalism, and conservatism. Our main tenets are ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, self-determination and justice. We place particular emphasis on gender democracy, meaning social emancipation and equal rights for women and men. We are also committed to equal rights for cultural and ethnic minorities and to the societal and political participation of immigrants. Finally, we promote non-violence and proactive peace policies.[4]

With the approval of the Böll family and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (the German Green Party), the foundation carries the name of the writer Heinrich Böll. According to its mission statement, Böll personified what the foundation stands for: The courage to stand up for one's beliefs; inspiring people to meddle in public affairs; and unconditional support of human dignity and human rights.[4] Böll encouraged others to be politically active and get involved in political matters, famously stating: “Meddling is the only way to stay relevant.”[5][6]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation also has a scholarship programme for university and PhD students,[7] as well as a research archive with a focus on new social movements, Green politics, and a special section for political activist Petra Kelly.[8]

The foundation, with headquarters in Berlin, operates 30 offices on four continents and has branches in each of Germany's 16 states. Since 2002, Ralf Fücks and Barbara Unmüßig have led the executive board; Livia Cotta is the current CEO.[9]


Heinrich Böll Foundation headquarters, entrance

In what was then West Germany, state-level foundations affiliated to the Green Party were set up in the early 1980s. In 1983, an effort to create a national foundation came to nothing, yet later in the 1980s three different nationwide foundations were established, reflecting the different political strands within this rainbow coalition. They were the feminist Frauenanstiftung, the Buntstift federation of regional foundations, and the Cologne-based Heinrich Böll Foundation. Later, an umbrella organisation, Regenbogen, was created whose task it was to co-ordinate the activities of the three separate foundations.[10] In 1988, the Green Party recognised Regenbogen as the foundation allied to the party thus making it eligible for government funding.[2][11]

In March 1996, a Green Party convention demanded that the separate foundations become one and the motion was passed with a large majority.[12] The statutes drafted for this new unified foundation defined gender democracy and issues related to migration and diversity as key fields of activity. After some further debate, the new foundation took the name of one of its predecessors – Heinrich Böll Foundation. On 1 July 1997, the newly founded Heinrich Böll Foundation began its operations at headquarters located in Berlin's Hackesche Höfe.[13] In 2008 the foundation moved to its current headquarters in Berlin's government district. The new, energy-efficient building was designed by Zurich-based e2a eckert eckert architekten and its design inspired by two Mies van der Rohe projects, Farnsworth House and the Seagram Building.[14][15]

Fields of activity

The Heinrich Böll Foundation works on a range of issues, some long-term, some short-term. The following areas figure large in many of its projects and publications:


Headquarters and offices in Germany

The foundation's present headquarters (since 2008) in the centre of Berlin provide approximately 7,000 square metres of floor space with modern offices for ca. 185 employees. The conference centre seats up to 300 people in varying configurations, making it possible to hold large multi-day conferences.

The foundation claims that its headquarters are in the “ecological vanguard” of modern office and conference centre design. At 55.7 kWh/m² the building's energy consumption is less than half the legal maximum. In partnership with Grammer Solar,[28] 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 climatise 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. In recognition of this innovative project that significantly improves the energy efficiency of IT systems the foundation was presented with the Green CIO Award.[29] Lastly, the atrium and internal courtyard create natural convection currents that serve to ventilate the building all year long.[30]

The Heinrich Böll Foundation has regional offices in each of Germany's 16 states. These regional offices, which are organised as independent, associated units, implement community and regional programmes to do with ecology, democracy, migration, and gender democracy. Such activities, however, are not limited to regional or national issues and some co-operation projects are international in scope. Although legally independent, all 16 offices are part of the foundation's overall structure and are bound by the statutes of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (e.g. they have to serve the public interest and have to meet the quota for female employees).[31]

International offices

International offices of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
City Country, Region Continent active
Cape Town South Africa, Southern Africa Africa 1997-
Nairobi Kenya, East Africa/Horn of Africa Africa 1997-
Abuja Nigeria Africa 1995-
Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Horn of Africa Africa 2006–2012
Tunis Tunisia, North Africa Africa 2012-
Rabat Morocco, Northern Africa Africa 2014-
Tel Aviv Israel, Middle East Asia 1998-
Ramallah Palestine, Middle East Asia 1999-
Beirut Lebanon, Middle East Asia 2004-
Kabul Afghanistan Asia 2006-
Islamabad Pakistan Asia 1993-
New Delhi India Asia 2001-
Beijing China Asia 2006-
Phnom Penh Cambodia Asia 1994-
Bangkok Thailand, Southeast Asia Asia 1999-
Yangon Myanmar, Southeast Asia Asia 2015-
Rio de Janeiro Brazil South America 2000-
Santiago de Chile Chile, Cono Sur South America 2008-
Mexico City Mexico Central America 2004-
San Salvador El Salvador Central America 1995-
Washington, D.C. United States North America 1998-
Istanbul Turkey Europe/Asia 1994-
Brussels Belgium, European Union Europe 1998-
Prague Czech Republic Europe 1995-
Warsaw Poland Europe 2001-
Zagreb Croatia Europe 1999-
Kiev Ukraine Europe 2008-
Belgrade Serbia, Southeast Europe Europe 2001-
Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina Europe 1999-
Tbilisi Georgia, South Caucasus Europe 2003-
Moscow Russia Europe 1995-
Thessaloniki Greece Europe 2012-
Seminar at the Heinrich Böll Foundation's Southeast Asia office in Bangkok, Thailand, November 2012

The Heinrich Böll Foundation currently operates 30 international offices. Projects overseen by individual offices are frequently not limited to the country where an office is located as many have regional responsibilities. Overall the foundation conducts and supports over 100 projects in 60+ countries.[32]

Even before 1997, when the current Heinrich Böll Foundation was created, some of its predecessors operated international offices, which were then absorbed into the new foundation. One of the first to open was the Pakistan office (in 1993),[33] followed in 1994 by Turkey and Cambodia, and by Russia, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, and the Central America office in El Salvador (all in 1995).

Over the course of the years, the only office that has been closed is the one in Ethiopia. According to the foundation it discontinued its activities there in 2012, as the conditions dictated by the Ethiopian government "in April 2012 confirmed that independent political work would not be possible (...) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation would remain extremely restricted in its activities. (...) Under these circumstances, the Ethiopian office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation cannot, in the foreseeable future, fulfil its mission of promoting democratisation, gender justice and sustainable development. (...) The closure of the Foundation’s office in Ethiopia should therefore also be taken as a sign of protest against the ongoing restriction of human rights and democratic development in the country."[34]

In early 2013, the head of the foundation's Afghanistan office was recalled for security reasons. Office activities continue however with the support of local staff.

International offices are, as a rule, headed by a German citizen posted to the country in question. They are supported by local staff and, in some cases, by additional German experts. Well-known office heads include Milan Horácek (Prague) and Kerstin Müller (Tel Aviv).

The hbf North America office

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

In 1998, the Heinrich Böll Foundation opened its office in Washington D.C. The office focuses on five programme areas - ecology, international politics, democracy, economic governance & G20, and gender issues. Through organising events and inviting international visitors, the office promotes the exchange of ideas and concepts between North America and the rest of the world.[35]

These five areas encompass the following activities:

Scholarship programme

In addition to its political and cultural work, the Heinrich Böll Foundation also offers scholarships for university and PhD students. Scholarships are available for all academic disciplines, with around 1000 scholarships per year. The candidates selected are expected to achieve a high degree of academic excellence, serve their communities, be interested in politics and social issues, and support the ideals the foundation stands for.[41]

In its Annual Report the foundation states:

In 2013, the Foundation’s Scholarship Program selected 310 new fellows from a pool of 1,999 applicants. Last year, a total of 852 undergraduate and graduate students as well as 235 doctoral candidates received financial support (57% women, 43% men). 1,002 of these scholarships were financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research; of this group, 312 fellows (31%) had an immigrant background and 394 (39%) came from families with no academic background. In addition, funding from the Federal Foreign Office paid for scholarships for 85 international fellows; of this group, 22 fellows (26%) were from other European countries and 63 (74%) from non-European countries.[4]

In addition to the scholarship programme for students at German universities, the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation also offers three sur-place-scholarship programmes for non-German undergraduate and postgraduate students in Russia, the Southern Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), and in Central America and the Caribbean. Funding for these programmes comes from the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Foreign Office.[42]

Gunda Werner Institute

The Gunda Werner Institute[43] for feminism and gender democracy was created in 2007 when the foundation's Feminist Institute and Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy merged. The Institute focuses on women’s rights as human rights, the politicisation of gender issues, the reflection of feminism and gender democratic approaches, and the discourse between science, politics, and civil society.[44]

Through conferences and publications the institute's programmes address issues such as the nexus between human security and women's security;[45] the evolving role of UN Resolution 1325 on "women, peace and security";[46] gender-political aspects of transitional justice in post-conflict societies;[47] debates surrounding gender and science;[48] and issues to do with sexual and reproductive rights.[49]

Research archives

The Heinrich Böll Foundation operates two archives in Berlin, the Archiv Grünes Gedächtnis (Green Memory Archive) and the Petra Kelly Archive; in addition, it supports the Cologne-based Heinrich Böll Archive.


GreenCampus[54] is the Heinrich Böll Foundation's academy for political training and continuing education. Founded in 2006, the academy offers training in political management and on diversity and gender issues for volunteers and political activists as well as professional organisers and politicians.


The Heinrich Böll Foundation sponsors a number of awards, among them

The Petra Kelly Prize is awarded since 1998 to people and civil society organisations for their exceptional commitment to human rights, non-violent conflict resolution, and the environment. The prize is endowed with €10.000.[55] Awardees include the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), Ingrid Betancourt, Wangari Maathai, and Zhang Sizhi.[56]

Since 1995 the Hannah Arendt Award goes to individuals who uncover and analyse important, yet largely overlooked aspects of current political developments and who engage in public debate. The award is endowed with €7.500 and funded by the government of the state of Bremen and the Heinrich Böll Foundation Bremen.[57] Awardees include Ágnes Heller, François Furet, Massimo Cacciari, Michael Ignatieff, Julia Kristeva, Tony Judt, and Timothy D. Snyder.[58]

Since 1986 the Peace Film Prize is part of the Berlin Film Festival - and the only peace award that is part of one of the major film festivals. The price is endowed with €5000 and the awardee is also presented with a bronze created by Otmar Alt.[59] Awardees include Marcel Ophüls for Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie, Michael Winterbottom for In This World, and Bille August for Goodbye Bafana.[60]

The Anne Klein Women's Award was created in 2012 im memory of feminist lawyer and politician Anne Klein (1950 - 2011) and is funded thanks to a generous gift provided by Anne Klein in her will. The award goes to women whose outstanding commitment has helped make gender democracy a reality and who have fought against gender-based discrimination and anti-gay resentments.[61]

Selected publications


Series / magazines

See also


  1. "Who we are and what we do. An introduction to our Foundation". homepage of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  2. 1 2 "The History of the Green Foundations". homepage of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. http://us.boell.org/categories/who-we-are
  4. 1 2 3 "The Heinrich Böll Foundation - Mission Statement". homepage of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  5. Böll, Heinrich (18 February 1973). "A Plea for Meddling". The New York Times (subscription required). Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  6. Böll's original German statement was: "Einmischung ist die einzige Möglichkeit, realistisch zu bleiben." An English translation truer to Böll's meaning would be: 'To get involved is the only way to stay realistic' "Heinrich Böll: Leben und Werk - Kapitel 8: Einmischung erwünscht". homepage of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. 21 January 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  7. 1 2 "Get Paid to Study in Germany: Heinrich Böll Foundation International Student Scholarships". Young Germany: Your career, education and lifestyle guide. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  8. "Right Livelihood Award - Laureates - 1982 - Petra Kelly". The Right Livelihood Award. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  9. "The Heinrich Böll Foundation - Who We Are - Organisation - Board and CEO". homepage of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  10. Mohr, Alexander (2010). The German Political Foundations As Actors in Democracy Assistance. Dissertation.com. pp. 33–34. ISBN 1599423316.
  11. For a contemporary German source (in German) see Völlig durchgeknallt - Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung oder reiner Frauenverein? Feministinnen, Fundis und Realos streiten um Namen und Zielrichtung der geplanten Grünen-Stiftung, Der Spiegel, no. 28/1987, 6 July 1987
  12. See second entry for 1996 (in German) "Bündnis 90/Die Grünen - Über uns". 11 March 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  13. "Böll-Stiftung baut Dach in den Hackeschen Höfen um. Pfeiler mußten weg". Berliner Zeitung. 26 June 1997. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  14. "Stiftung bezieht Neubau an der Schumannstraße in Mitte. Werkstatt-Charakter bei Böll". Berliner Zeitung. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  15. "Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung: Neubau der Zentrale: e2a eckert eckert architekten". Bauwelt. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  16. "The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework - The right to development in a climate coinstrained world". boell.de. 3 January 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  17. "Coal power plants imperil human lives". inquirer.net. 27 July 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  18. "Resource Politics for a Fair Future". boell.de. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  19. "Meat Atlas 2014 - Global facts and figures about meat". boell.de. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  20. McGuinness, Damien (9 January 2014). ""Meat Atlas" charts a changing world of meat eaters". BBC. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  21. Gunther, Marc (28 January 2014). "Why McDonald's should focus on less beef and higher wages". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  22. "Annual Report 2013, chapter on European policy, p.18-20" (PDF). boell.de. August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  23. "Ukraine Update: Elections, Conflict and the Future of the EU's Eastern Partnership". The Brookings Institution. October 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  24. "Annual Report 2013, chapter on gender policy, p.14-15" (PDF). boell.de. August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  25. Bociurkiw, Marusya (20 June 2014). "Meet the new Ukraine: Feminist and LGBT activists building civil society". rabble.ca. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  26. "Heinrich Böll Foundation leading German funder of worldwide LGBTI human rights work". boell.de. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  27. "Scholarships for Undergraduates, Graduates, and PhD Students". boell.de. January 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  28. "Grammer Solar". Grammer Solar. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  29. "GreenCIO Award – Die Gewinner". experton. 14 July 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  30. "The Heinrich Böll Foundation's Energy Concept - At the Forefront of New Building Technology". boell.de. 31 July 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  31. "State-level foundations". boell.de. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  32. "Foreign Offices: Contact and Information". boell.de. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  33. "Annual Report 2013 (p.28) - Our Pakistan office marks its 20th year" (PDF). boell.de. August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  34. "Closure of the Heinrich Böll Foundation office in Ethiopia". boell.de. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  35. "Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America - Topics". us.boell.org. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  36. http://us.boell.org/ecology
  37. http://us.boell.org/international-politics
  38. http://us.boell.org/democracy
  39. http://us.boell.org/economic-governance-g20
  40. http://us.boell.org/gender
  41. "Scholarships - Mission Statement: Promotion of Young Talent". boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  42. "Sur Place Programme". boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  43. "Gunda Werner Institute - Feminism and Gender Democracy". Gwi-boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  44. "The Gunda Werner Institute - Feminism and Gender Democracy". Gwi-boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  45. "Human Security = Women's Security?". Gunda Werner Institute. 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  46. "Peace and Security for All". Gunda Werner Institute. March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  47. "Transitional Justice - Gender-political perspectives for societies in transition". Gunda Werner Institute. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  48. "Gender, Scientificness and Ideology". Gunda Werner Institute. September 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  49. "Sexual and Reproductive Rights". Gunda Werner Institute. July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  50. "Research Archive". boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  51. "Petra Kelly Archives". boell.de. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  52. "Heinrich Böll Archive". boell.de. 25 July 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  53. "Stadt Köln: Heinrich-Böll-Archiv". Stadt Köln (city of Cologne). Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  54. "greencampus.de". greencampus.de. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  55. "International Petra Kelly Prize". boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  56. "The Winners of the Petra Kelly Prize". boell.de. 25 July 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  57. "Der Hannah Arendt-Preis für politisches Denken". boell-bremen.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  58. "Hannah Arendt-Preis - Preisträger seit 1995". boell-bremen.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  59. "Der Friedensfilmpreis". friedensfilm.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  60. "FriedensFilmPreis - Preisträger". friedensfilm.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  61. "Making Gender Democracy a Reality: The Anne Klein Women's Award". boell.de. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  62. "Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields". Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  63. Richards, Julie-Ann; Boom, Kelly (8 June 2015). "Big Oil, Coal and Gas Producers Paying for their Climate Damage". Big Oil, Coal and Gas Producers Paying for their Climate Damage. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  64. Praetorius, Ina (7 April 2015). "The Care-Centered Economy. Rediscovering what has been taken for granted". The Care-Centered Economy. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  65. Böll Foundation, Meat Atlas, download Meat Atlas as pdf
  66. "Perspectives Africa". Perspectives Africa. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  67. "Perspectives Asia". Perspectives Asia. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  68. "Perspectives Middle East". Perspectives Middle East. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  69. "Perspectives Southeastern Europe". Perspectives Southeastern Europe. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  70. "Perspectives Turkey". Perspectives Turkey. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
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