R.E. (Ted) Turner announced today that Timothy E. Wirth, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs and former U.S. Senator from the State of Colorado, will serve as President of the United Nations Foundation, the publicly-supported organization being established to execute Mr. Turner’s historic $1 billion pledge in support of UN economic, environmental, social and humanitarian causes.
Noting Wirth’s accomplishments in advancing U.S. telecommunications, energy and environmental policy, Turner praised Wirth’s career-long commitment to working in partnership with the private sector. “Tim Wirth shares my vision for the future – in which the public and private sectors work side by side to improve global quality of life and rebuild the spirit of and support for the United Nations,” Turner said. “This is uncharted territory and requires someone with enthusiasm for a good challenge. That pretty much describes Tim Wirth. The selection of someone with Tim’s record of accomplishment should signal to the world how serious we are about creating an organization capable of advancing the causes served by the United Nations – and raising the money to get the job done,” Turner said.
Wirth will assume his responsibilities in January, 1998. Under his leadership, the organization will focus on UN efforts in the economic, social, environmental and humanitarian fields. It will concentrate on three activities:
- Delivering resources to programs and people served by UN agencies. The foundation will work shoulder-to-shoulder with key service providers in the UN system (e.g. UNDP, UNFPA, UNEP, WFP). It will support specific projects that can be monitored and evaluated to ensure quantifiable results; Building new partnerships to support the United Nations. The foundation will work to forge new partnerships among UN agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs)and the public in service of UN causes;
- Raising additional funds to support UN programs and purposes. Complementing the Turner pledge was the Turner promise – to encourage other leaders from the world of business and philanthropy to follow his lead in supporting UN causes.
“I am deeply grateful to Ted for this opportunity and I look forward to working with him,” Wirth said. “This is a unique opportunity to address the critical global challenges that will define the 21st century.”
Wirth, who will leave his post at the State Department in December 1997, said: “I have long said that my job at the State Department is the best in Washington, and it is. I have been privileged to help strengthen the State Department’s capability to take on the long-term, cross-cutting global challenges facing the United States and the international community – from rapid population growth and global food security to international environmental protection and the recognition of universal human rights.
“I am extremely grateful to President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and Secretaries Albright and Christopher for their support and encouragement. I also am indebted to the dedicated and talented public servants who have been my close colleagues in this tremendously engaging work. Vice President Gore and I have worked on global environmental and population issues for many years and I will always be thankful to him for that partnership and his support. Most recently, it has been a great honor to work closely with America’s first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, an extraordinarily talented leader for whom my respect and admiration grows daily,” Wirth said.
“Tim Wirth has done a tremendous job creating the State Department’s Global Affairs office and making it an effective component of our foreign affairs capability,” Secretary Albright said. “We will miss the great energy, creativity and tenacity that has always characterized Tim’s work on these difficult challenges. He has been an important member of our team and his departure will leave a big hole to fill.””
It is some consolation that Tim will be working closely with Ted Turner to support and help explain the importance of the United Nations and the causes that it serves. Throughout their careers, Ted and Tim have demonstrated a willingness to break a little crockery in order to accomplish their goals. And that will undoubtedly be necessary and appropriate in making sure that Ted Turner’s unprecedented gift accomplishes the full measure of its promise,” Secretary Albright said.
On September 18, 1997, Turner announced his gift, which would create this foundation. Turner intends to make 10 annual gifts of stock valued at $100 million each or cash totaling the same amount. The sum of all gifts will not exceed the original commitment of 18 million shares or $1 billion in stock and/or cash.