Born and raised in Mannheim, Germany. He studied chemistry in Karlsruhe and Heidelberg before changing to the culture and city development fields. He holds his university degree in chemistry and political science.
He is the Festival Director and Artistic Director of the biggest german Jazz Festival, “Enjoy Jazz – International Festival for Jazz and More”, which he also founded in 1999 in Heidelberg. Enjoy Jazz (www.enjoyjazz.de) is held every autumn for seven weeks in the cities Mannheim, Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen. 2020 marks the 22nd Edition of the festival.
As the Representative of the Executive Mayor of Mannheim and his Special Advisor Global and UN Affairs he is responsible for the setup and strategic development of the new worldwide network/platform “Global Parliament of Mayors” (GPM) which was launched in September 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands and co-founded by the city of Mannheim. The GPM is a member of the “UN” Global Taskforce (GTF).
Rainer Kern is part of the team who represents the city of Mannheim at United Nations events such as HABITAT III, World Urban Forum and High Level Political Forum (HLPF) at UN Head Quarter in New York.
In 2007, Rainer Kern was the managing and artistic director of the year-long celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Mannheim.
As the representative of the executive mayor of Mannheim he was responsible for the UNESCO City of Music application of the city and is now – after the designation in December 2014 – director of this project. As the commissioner of the city of Mannheim, he was also involved in the development of the cultural development plan “Kulturvision 2025” for the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region.
In 2014/15 he developed the Culture Management degree programme for SRH University, Heidelberg, which started autumn 2015.
As the Mayor’s Special Advisor for Global Affairs, Rainer Kern represents the city of Mannheim at the United Nations and UN agencies such as UN-Habitat or UNESCO, among others in matters of SDGs, New Urban Agenda, City Development through Culture and Creativity and related matters.
He is a Member of the OECD Expert Group on SDG Investments in Cities.