United Nations Foundation

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The United Nations Foundation started up in 1998 with a $1 billion grant from Ted Turner in order to support the United Nations in executing its programs worldwide. The creation of the Foundation was intended to encourage other donors to also support the UN in its activities.[1] The main issue areas that the Foundation addresses are child health, climate change & energy, sustainable development, technology, women and population, and supporting the United Nations.[2] Some of the biggest global campaigns that the UN Foundation has been involved in include Nothing But Nets, the Measles Initiative, Better World Campaign, Climate Change, amongst others. They are also active in youth engagement and efforts to rebuild Haiti.

History and background[edit]

The United Nations Foundation's original purpose was to help unite nations and individuals behind the goals of the United Nations, and to make sure that the United States honors its commitments to the United Nations. Since its beginning, the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Campaign have provided grants in order to support the UN goals worldwide. The United Nations Foundation serves as the largest source of private funding to the United Nations.[3] In conjunction with the UN, they established the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships in order to serve as the UN counterpart to the Foundation.[4]

The United Nations Foundation has collected more than $125 million from other places, including from other foundations, corporations, NGOs, and individuals. The Foundation also works with its UN partners in order to provide policy recommendations and project proposals. The missions of the Foundation and its partner, the Better World Campaign have also helped raise awareness of issues amongst global policy makers and the public.[5] The UN Foundation's current budgetary breakdown is $82.6 million going to program services, $6.9 million to fundraising, and $5.6 million going to management and overhead.[6]

Turner's choice of the UN for his donation[edit]

Ted Turner, who in 1996 was worth $3.2 billion due to his Time Warner enterprise, decided to make a $1 billion contribution to the UN because he had previously donated to similar causes, and felt strongly about the issues the UN were participating in. Before donating to the UN, Turner was a proponent for the protection of the environment, especially in combating global warming. Turner believed that his $100 million per year donation over the course of 10 years would make a difference in the direction of the United Nations, and that he could use this donation to encourage other wealthy members of society to make financial contributions to the work of the UN.[7]


Muhammad Yunus, one of the honorable members of the board of directors

The UN Foundation is led by President and chief executive officer Kathy Calvin. She previously served as the President of AOL Time Warner prior to becoming the CEO of the UN Foundation.[8] Timothy E. Wirth, a former United States Congressman, U.S. Senator, and the first Undersecretary for Global Affairs in U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration, previously served as the Foundation's President from 1998 to 2013.[9] Ted Turner serves as the chairman of the board. Other notable board members include Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland,and Muhammad Yunus amongst others.[10]

Background of Foundation's involvement with the UN[edit]

When the UN Foundation started, it desired to assist the UN with a wide variety of issues, and bring attention to particular modern problems. The Foundation wished to help then Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the problem of reforming the UN. They also desired to bolster UN programs that were viewed as successful, including children's health, population control, environment issues, and land-mines. One of their priorities was also to work with the private sector to raise more money for the UN. They also had the intention of raising awareness of the UN and its programs amongst the American population. They have had a close relationship with the UN and its leadership from the beginning in order to set goals and provide funding for particular programs.[11]

Specific campaigns[edit]

Children's health[edit]

One of the global issues that the UN Foundation focuses on is children's health. They work closely with private sector partners and UN agencies in order to address a variety of children's health issues. One of their biggest campaigns is working to reduce the number of deaths from measles. The Measles Initiative, as it called, is a partnership between the UN Foundation, the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization in order to provide measles vaccinations to children across the African continent. During the first year of this campaign, vaccines were distributed across 8 African countries, which vaccinated over 21 million children. This campaign not only focuses on vaccinating children, but also putting into place health infrastructure, and promoting better access to health-care across the continent.[12] The UN Foundation also runs the Nothing But Nets Campaign, which is targeted at reducing malaria across the African continent. This campaign originally started when Sports Illustrated writer Patrick Reilley published an article asking his readers to donate money to a campaign to buy mosquito nets for those in Africa suffering from malaria. With support from the UN Foundation, Reilley's project got off the ground, and has to-date provided over 3.5 million nets across Africa.[13]

Youth campaigns[edit]

The United Nations Foundation recently announced a new Global Entrepreneurs Council which is made up of 10 emerging entrepreneurs under the age of 40 who will work with the UN to address global issues in a 21st-century mindset. They include the former marketing director of Facebook, Randi Zuckerberg, the Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, and the publisher of Variety Magazine, Brian Gott, amongst others.[14]

Climate and energy[edit]

One of the largest global issues that the UN Foundation is involved in is climate change and energy. The UN Foundation focuses on sustainable energy, as well as climate change and the conservation of biodiversity. The Foundation's Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Program works with partners in the NGO sector, the UN, governments, and private corporations to come up with solutions and provide funding to programs related to this issue. One of their campaigns in relation to climate change and energy is to provide communities around the world with renewable energy technologies in order to promote sustainability globally.[15]


The Foundation worked with the music group Linkin Park in order to raise money and install solar-powered lights within displacement camps in Haiti. Linkin Park's Music for Relief charity is working closely with the Foundation on funding this project. By providing lights in these camps, they are in turn reducing the amount of violence and rape directed at women and children, which often occurs at night when there is minimal visibility within these camps.[16]

UN advocacy in the U.S.[edit]

The UN Foundation has an extremely close relationship with the UN, as it provides it with large amounts of money to fund programs. The UN Foundation, through its sponsorship and funding of the Better World Campaign, works to better the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. The Better World Campaign advocates at Congress in order to ensure that the US fulfills its financial obligations to the United Nations, and that it repays its debt. The Better World Campaign allows the Foundation to have a direct channel to the US legislative and administrative powers.[17]


  1. ^ Adam Cohen and Aixa M. Pascual (29 September 1997). "Ted Turner: Putting His Money...". Time. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Dyan Machan (1 June 1998), Tim Wirth's Shopping List, Forbes Magazine v.161 
  3. ^ Ted Turner and Timothy Wirth (2001). A Key Partner for Innovative Alliances – The United Nations Foundation. UN Chronicle no.4. 
  4. ^ UNFIP: Partnerships Beyond Borders, UN Chronicle v.41, 2005 
  5. ^ Ted Turner and Timothy Wirth (2001). A Key Partner for Innovative Alliances – The United Nations Foundation. UN Chronicle no.4. 
  6. ^ "United Nations Foundation: Financial Information". United Nations Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Howard Fineman and Carol Bogert (29 September 1997), Why Ted gave it away, Newsweek v.130 
  8. ^ "Kathy Calvin". M Health Summit. 2010. Retrieved 24 April 20117. 
  9. ^ Dyan Machan (1 June 1998), Tim Wirth's Shopping List, Forbes Magazine v.161 
  10. ^ "United Nations Foundation: Our Board". United Nations Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Spending Ted's money, Newsweek v.130, 1 December 1997 
  12. ^ Phyllis A. Cuttino (June–August 2002), Where a child dies each minute, UN Chronicle v.39.2 
  13. ^ Patrick Reilley (25 April 2011). "Nothing But Nets: A Global Movement to Fight Malaria". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  14. ^ Julian Flemming (24 April 2011). "UN Foundation Announces Inaugural Class of Global Entrepreneurs Council". Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "UNEP DTIE Energy Branch: Activities". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  16. ^ James Montgomery (19 April 2011). "Linkin Park Detail Ongoing Recovery Efforts in Haiti". MTV. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  17. ^ Phyllis Cuttino (December 2001 – February 2002), The Better World Campaign, UN Chronicle v.38.4 

External links[edit]