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Secretary-General hails UN Foundation's contributions over past 5 years

Secretary-General hails UN Foundation's contributions over past 5 years

Kofi Annan
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed the UN Foundation created by businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner, saying the organization's contributions have enabled the world body to do things "we could never imagine."

"The Foundation has helped us strengthen the UN institutionally - at Headquarters and in the field," the Secretary-General said in remarks at a luncheon honouring Mr. Turner and the board of directors, and commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Foundation's creation.

"It has promoted the key goals set by the Millennium Summit," he added. "And it has supported the UN's life-saving work in many areas - from child health and the environment to peace, security and human rights."

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Turner told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York that working on behalf of the United Nations has been the greatest honour he had ever had. "Don't laugh, but I've loved the United Nations since I was a boy, and I know it may be hard to love something like this, but how could you not look up to an organization devoted to making the world a better place," he said.

Joining Mr. Turner was Foundation President Tim Wirth, who said that five years and $575 million later, the organization has proven to be an unparalleled success in partnering diverse global organizations with UN agencies, funds and programmes to help tackle pressing universal issues such as fighting deadly preventable diseases, promoting women's health and protecting the environment.

Mr. Wirth said the Foundation and its sister agency, the Better World Fund - born of an unprecedented $1 billion pledge by Mr. Turner to support the UN - has awarded more than 350 grants and created some 80 outside partnerships since its inception in 1997. Although originally scheduled to "sunset" in 2007, the Foundation would be extended by an additional five years.

The Foundation has also developed a significant fund-raising capability, now generating from outside agencies nearly $1 for each dollar of Mr. Turner's original gift used, Mr. Wirth said. Overall, the Foundation has become a very important interface worldwide for organizations searching for partnership within the UN system on the important issues of the day.