Charitable foundations can play a crucial role in fostering progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - a key set of antipoverty targets adopted at a United Nations summit meeting in 2000, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette has said.
In a speech to the European Foundation Centre's annual assembly in Athens on Sunday, Ms. Fréchette stressed that the MDGs - which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of major diseases and providing universal primary education all by 2015 - are ambitious but not utopian.
The UN and foundations share the same objective: "the work for human dignity, freedom and solidarity, for tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility."
While hailing the MDGs as "a powerful catalyst for change," she cautioned that overall progress has been "uneven at best." In order to achieve greater results, democratic governance, sound development strategies and a true partnership of developed and developing countries are critical.
The Deputy Secretary-General also underscored the role being played by those outside of government, including charitable foundations. She called attention to the work of the UN Office for International Partnerships, which was first established to channel $1 billion donated to the UN by CNN founder Ted Turner, and has since served to inspire other foundations and philanthropists "to work with the UN in areas ranging from education to maternal health to biodiversity."
"The United Nations is truly transforming the way it works with the outside world," she told those present. "We stand ready to welcome you, and work with you."