Every day, the UN Foundation works to support the United Nations in building a healthier, more peaceful, and more just world. As we head into the New Year, the communications team at the UN Foundation is taking a moment to reflect on some of the biggest stories this year about your work to support the UN, our partners, and the movement for important global causes in 2013.

The gains we made across a range of issues show a common theme: When we work together, we can achieve big things. While this list is far from comprehensive, here are 13 important highlights from this past year.

1.      Strengthening support for the UN: A Better World Campaign poll released in October found that voter favorability of the UN rose 10 points from October of 2012 and that 88 percent of U.S. voters say it is important that the U.S. maintain an active role in the UN.

2.      Saving children’s lives: A recent report from the UN Children’s Fund found that deaths of children under age 5 have declined by nearly 50 percent since 1990. This month, the World Health Organization announced that malaria mortality rates of children in Africa were reduced by an estimated 54 percent since 2000.

The Foundation works with partners and the UN to help advocate for, fund, and/or deploy life-saving tools that have contributed to this success, including:

  •  Anti-malaria bed nets through the Nothing But Nets campaign;
  • Vaccines for preventable diseases through the Shot@Life campaign;
  • Measles and rubella vaccines through the Measles & Rubella Initiative; and
  •  Polio vaccines through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Additionally, the Foundation supports the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Childmovement, which works to improve maternal and child health.

3.      Spreading the word on climate science: In September, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report on the physical science of climate change.  The key takeaway: Scientists are more certain than ever that climate change is real and is caused by human activities. We’ve partnered with experts, nongovernmental organizations, digital leaders, and others to help build a surge of public dialogue about climate science. Visit Climasphere.org to learn more.

4.      Expanding access to voluntary family planning: Family Planning 2020, which aims to expand access to voluntary family planning services and information to an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020, reported this year that funding for family planning is on the rise, innovation and partnerships are helping reach more women and girls, and countries around the world are taking action. In fact, in November five additional governments announced major new national family planning pledges.

5.      Building MDG momentum: April 5, 2013 marked 1,000 days until the target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s shared agenda to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and other challenges. More than 80 organizations came together that day to build momentum for additional progress.

6.    Inspiring a new generation of UN supporters: This spring, more than 8,000 middle school and high school students from across the United States and the world participated in the United Nations Association of the USA’s Global Classrooms® Model UN program. Through the program, students explore current world issues, learn about diverse cultures and perspectives, and are ex­posed to the work of the United Nations.

7.      Empowering girls: Girls empowerment gained attention this year with girls themselves leading the way. The Girl Up campaign, supported by girls across the U.S., advocated for girls around the world, which included helping make ending child marriage in developing countries an official foreign policy priority of the U.S. government. Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was attacked by extremists for advocating for girls education, moved the world with her message of equality and education. The stories of nine girls dedicated to education inspired in the film Girl Rising. And girls shared their hopes and dreams to help create the Girl Declaration, a call to actionthat outlines steps the global community should take – for girls and with girls – as it works to create the next development agenda.

8.      Honoring global leaders: In November, the UN Foundation and UNA-USA honored change agents helping the UN build a better future at the annual Global Leaders Awards Dinner. This year, we recognized: Malala Yousafzai; Senator Timothy E. Wirth, Vice Chair of the UN Foundation’s Board of Directors; Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN; front-line polio workers; GE Africa; and The Documentary Group and 10×10 for the film Girl Rising.

9.      Advancing clean cookstoves: The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which is working to end the 4 million annual deaths from household air pollution from cooking smoke, had exciting news this fall when former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who launched the Alliance in 2010, announced that she will chair the Alliance’s Leadership Council.

10.  Promoting women’s economic empowerment: In September, the UN Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation released a new evidence-based report, A Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment, which identifies proven, promising, and high-potential interventions to promote women’s economic advancement around the world.

11.  Helping the social good community connect globally: This year, the Social Good Summit partners, including the UN Foundation, launched +SocialGood. Both an online hub and a toolkit for planning events year-round, +SocialGood invites community members around the globe to connect with each other and discuss how technology and social media can advance the issues they care about. Additionally, both the Social Good Summit and #GivingTuesday, two major moments for engaging citizens in build a better world, included global participation this year.

12.  Harnessing the power of mobile: The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, which delivers vital health information to new and expectant mothers through mobile phones, reached more than 500,000 mothers in almost 70 countries in 2013 and has grown to a community of nearly 300 organizations.

13.  Unleashing entrepreneurship: The Foundation and its Global Entrepreneurs Council, which includes innovative entrepreneurs under 45, announced a commitment last fall to help the UN mobilize 1 million new participants – especially youth – in the UN’s MY World 2015 initiative, the only all-inclusive avenue by which individuals can voice their priorities to global leaders as they define the new global development agenda.

Each of these stories reveals how much success is possible – and how much more work there is to do.  At the heart of each of these highlights is a group of people like you who know that we live in an era when it is more important than ever to come together to support the UN and add our voice to advance global issues and social good worldwide. Here’s to a great 2014. Thanks for letting us help tell your story in building a better world.