The UN Foundation was founded in 1998 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner to support the UN and serve as a strategic partner and resource for the UN in solving global problems. Ted’s goals in establishing the Foundation were to demonstrate the value of investing in the UN, encourage new partners to work with the UN, and promote strong U.S. leadership at the UN.
In our first 25 years, the Foundation mobilized over $2 billion, numerous initiatives, and countless partners to support the UN and UN causes. This support helped the UN pioneer work in areas we all now take for granted, from supporting elections to the rights of adolescent girls to our shared interest in a clean energy future for all.
Today, the Foundation focuses on mobilizing ideas, people, and resources to help the UN tackle some of the greatest collective action challenges of our time, including scaled collaboration to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the promise of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Ted Turner attends the United Nations Association dinner in New York and announces he is donating $1 billion to UN causes.
The UN Foundation is established as a nonprofit organization and is officially incorporated in the state of New York. The UN Foundation Board agrees on thematic UN issues to guide grant-making – children’s health, women and girls, climate change, biodiversity, U.S. – UN relations, and strengthening the UN.
UN and UN Foundation sign relationship agreement at UN Headquarters in New York.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan establishes the UN Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) as an autonomous trust fund to interface with the UN Foundation.
UN Foundation funds UNICEF’s Polio Eradication Project.
UN Foundation supports Tobacco-Free Children and Youth Initiative launched in coordination with WHO Tobacco-Free Project under the directorship of Dr. Gro Brundtland.
UN Foundation partners with Rockefeller Foundation to support Dr. Gro Brundtland’s transition to Director-General at WHO.
UN Foundation launches the Global Reporting Initiative with UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to advance corporate sustainability reporting. The Foundation also funds early World Heritage initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Wildlife Conservation Society (to protect primates and parks affected by conflict) and the Galápagos Islands with Charles Darwin Foundation (to tackle invasive species).
UN Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rotary International jointly fund major boost to Polio Eradication Initiative; UN Secretary-General facilitates ceasefire in DRC to ensure vaccinations for nine million children.
UN General Assembly agrees on formula to reduce U.S. assessment; Ted Turner contributes $31 million of his personal funds to the UN to finalize the agreement, facilitating implementation of Helms-Biden formula to eliminate U.S. arrears.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN jointly receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Annan would later serve on the UN Foundation’s Board of Directors for 10 years, until his death in 2018.
UN Foundation, UNAIDS, UNFPA, WHO, and key philanthropies support Istanbul Conference examining reproductive health services and supplies in HIV/AIDS prevention and subsequently form the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition.
The Measles Initiative — later known as the Measles & Rubella Initiative, and now the Measles & Rubella Partnership — is launched with the American Red Cross, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the UN Foundation, UNICEF, and WHO as founding partners.
UN Foundation supports UN Curricula Development, making grants to New York University, Harvard University, and Stanford University to highlight in academic settings the UN’s role in advancing peace, prosperity and human rights.
UN Foundation joins with Ad Council to launch “Apathy is Lethal” public service announcement to improve awareness about the global AIDS epidemic; on December 1 (World AIDS Day) 100 cable channels run the ad simultaneously.
UN Foundation and UN Development Programme (UNDP) announce the Equator Initiative to promote village management of protected areas and biodiversity.
World Bank agrees on a first-of-its-kind debt buy-down framework within the UN Foundation and other donors to expand funding for the Polio Eradication Initiative in endemic countries.
Senator Timothy E. Wirth co-authors “The Future of Energy Policy” in Foreign Affairs with Energy Future Coalition members John Podesta and Boyden Gray.
UN Foundation establishes Energy Future Coalition to promote bipartisan U.S. policy solutions that promote both clean energy and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
UN Foundation creates The People Speak program to highlight the importance of multilateral cooperation on peace and security and organizes 2,200 debates across the U.S.
UN Foundation launches Friends of World Heritage at World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa.
UN Foundation partners with Ceres to launch the Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the UN, the first in a biennial series.
UN Foundation launches UN Wire.
UN Foundation and Nike Foundation launch the first Fund for Adolescent Girls, with $5 million from Nike Foundation.
UN Foundation establishes partnership with Vodafone Foundation that contributes a total of $30 million to advance use of mobile phones in health surveillance and humanitarian response.
UN Foundation establishes its first multi-partner alliance with Expedia, Inc. and UNESCO. During its five years, the World Heritage Alliance grew to more than three dozen members and spurred the development of internationally recognized standards on sustainable tourism, now used by the UN World Tourism Organization.
UN Foundation, Nike Foundation, UNICEF, and UNFPA establish Coalition for Adolescent Girls.
UN Foundation and Club of Madrid create Global Leaders for Climate Action to promote stronger climate policy; UN Foundation also partners with Ecologic to plan the 2007 UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
UN Foundation publishes “Realizing the Potential of Energy Efficiency,” an expert group assessment urging the G8 countries to commit to doubling their annual rate of energy efficiency improvement.
The UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign reaches $25 million in funds raised from more than 100,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations to purchase and distribute nearly 2.5 million long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to areas of greatest need in Africa.
UN Foundation, Italian Ministry of Environment, and FAO launch sustainable bioenergy in West African countries, illustrating how countries can incorporate bioenergy, food security, and poverty reduction into their development strategies.
UN Foundation launches the Universal Access Project to empower girls and women by improving their access to reproductive health and family planning services globally.
As a spinoff of the Technology Partnership, the UN Foundation, Vodafone Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation establish the mHealth Alliance to promote quality health and wellbeing to the furthest reaches of wireless communications and develop interoperable and scaled mobile health systems.
The UN Association of the USA becomes part of the UN Foundation.
UN Foundation launches the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (now the Clean Cooking Alliance), an initiative to support large-scale adoption of clean and safe household cooking solutions as a way to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and reduce climate change emissions.
The Imagine No Malaria campaign is launched by United Methodist Church in partnership with the UN Foundation.
UN Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation finalize an Anchor Partnership, building on a decade of collaboration.
UN Foundation partners with Human Rights Watch to help build advocacy for increased accountability and transparency for the UN Human Rights Council’s election process.
UN Foundation launches the Shot@Life Campaign to educate, connect, and empower grassroots champions who recognize global vaccines as one of the most effective ways to save the lives of millions of vulnerable children.
London Summit on Family Planning brings countries, donors, and the broader family planning community together to launch Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), an ambitious partnership centered around enabling 120 million women and girls to use modern contraceptives by 2020 and hosted by the UN Foundation.
The UN Foundation joins 25 leading development organizations to launch The Girl Declaration, an international call to action — for girls and by girls —that puts their rights, needs, and voices at the heart of the global agenda.
UN Foundation begins partnership with think tank network Southern Voice to bring more data from Africa, Asia, and Latin America to discussions on the next set of development goals.
UN Foundation launches partnership with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to support release of its Fifth Assessment Report.
IPCC launches Fifth Assessment Report with broad public acceptance, a critical precursor to the Paris COP in 2015. The UN Foundation highlights report findings through a series of panels, opinion editorials and blog, and television appearances for lead author Chris Field.
In collaboration with USAID, Sida, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UN Foundation establishes the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) to advance digital inclusivity in emerging markets so everyone can benefit from life-enhancing digital services.
After more than three years of negotiation, all UN member states adopt the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN Foundation launches a global awareness campaign about the SDGs — including a mobile app and a video series — that reaches millions of people worldwide, uniting its grassroots communities behind the Global Goals, which raise ambition for girls’ and women’s equality, global health and well-being, and climate action, among other universal aims.
The UN Foundation houses the Business Council for the United Nations, which fosters connections between the private sector and the UN in support of the SDGs.
UN Foundation launches Global Bureau initiative to help increase the capacity of journalists and media to report on global issues and the SDGs.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is adopted at the UNFCCC COP in Paris, marking the first time all countries of the world sign a climate change pact.
The UN Foundation subsequently launches “Earth To Paris” – a social media campaign that reaches more than 100 million people worldwide to raise awareness and support for the historic pledge.
UN Foundation launches fundraising and coalition-building partnership with UN Free & Equal campaign, a global education campaign of the UN Human Rights Office supporting the fair treatment and equal rights of LGBTI individuals across the planet.
UN Foundation establishes the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), a global network bringing together governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations dedicated to using the data revolution to achieve the SDGs.
UN Foundation helps launch Global Goals Week, which coincides with the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York and seeks to engage diverse partnerships to move the SDGs forward.
UN Foundation supports the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, training journalists on humanitarian issues, relaying reports from the Summit to policymakers and NGOs in Washington, D.C. and beyond, profiling UN humanitarian workers, and hosting events highlighting energy access, clean cooking, and gender data in humanitarian contexts.
UN Foundation establishes 3D Program for Girls and Women, which facilitates convergent action across stakeholders and sectors to increase economic opportunities for girls and women and address their health, education and safety needs.
UN Foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary.
California Governor Jerry Brown hosts the first-ever global non-state international climate conference, the Global Climate Action Summit, in San Francisco. The UN Foundation acts as fiduciary and primary logistical and strategic partner for the organization of the event.
UN General Assembly approves reforms of the UN development system in accordance with UN Secretary-General’s proposals; Member States also reach agreement on management reforms and reform of the UN’s peace and security architecture.
The historic milestone comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and global upheaval, prompting renewed calls for a stronger, more inclusive multilateral system.
For the first time, Data2X looks at the state of gender data in the environment sector. The analysis is part of a broader report, “Mapping Gender Data Gaps: An SDG Era Update” and reflects renewed focus and commitment to gender data. Data2X also examines gender data gaps in health, education, economic opportunities, political participation, and human security – building on an initial analysis conducted in 2014.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data’s satellite data initiative identifies suitable conditions for climate-endangered giraffes in Kenya’s Lake Baringo. In this case, the local community was able to rescue eight giraffes from an island which the satellite data confirmed was disappearing at an alarming rate.
Reacting to a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) comes together with the UN Foundation, the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, and other partners to launch the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Fund raises $243 million in its first year—at one point becoming the second biggest single contributor to WHO’s global response. WHO is able to use the Fund’s resources to establish and finance a global supply chain for protective equipment, tests, and supplies.
The UN Foundation and the UN partner on 75th anniversary activities, rallying the world together for dialogues, events, and a global survey that asks people from all countries and all walks of life what it will take to build a better world. The UN Foundation also partners with Upworthy and ARTECHOUSE to bring the UN’s 75th anniversary commemorations to people of all ages around the world.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data reaches 100 data partnerships brokered across 35 countries to help leverage data to achieve the SDGs. Among partners are 14 African countries where GPSDD assisted with capacity building efforts and public private partnerships to support data-led decision-making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of a year-long global listening exercise initiated by world leaders and supported by the UN Foundation, Secretary-General Guterres presents “Our Common Agenda,” his vision for reimagining multilateralism in the 21st century. The report proposes a path forward centered around a renewal of our social contract, greater solidarity with young people, and a new global deal.
The UN Foundation and Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution form a partnership to expand and connect U.S. leadership on the SDGs in communities across the country. Drawing on the experience and expertise of SDG pioneers across the United States, the project aims to help all Americans make sustainable development a reality in their own communities.
The UN Foundation launches “Say It With Science,” a public awareness campaign to combat misinformation and enhance scientific understanding of climate change. The campaign complements the release of the Sixth Assessment Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); galvanizes action, advocacy, and commitment to climate action; and connects the world’s top climate scientists with members of the public and press.
In partnership with the Spotlight Initiative, the UN Foundation establishes the WithHer Fund to provide financial support to frontline women’s rights organizations that address gender-based violence. The Fund is guided by feminist grantmaking principles of flexibility, trust, and transparency.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data publishes new analysis that presents a compelling case for governments to invest in data. Prepared by Dalberg, the case shows that every $1 in data investment delivers, on average, $32 in economic benefits — supporting the idea that channeling funding to data helps overseas aid investments achieve more for less.
The same year, GPSDD launches a Data Values Manifesto, urging governments, companies, civil society, and donors to make positive changes in how data is funded, designed, managed, and used.
The UN Foundation honors the legacy of the late biologist Dr. Thomas Lovejoy (1941-2021), known as the “Godfather of Biodiversity” for his work in the field, by launching a press fellowship in his memory. The fellowship brings global journalists to the research camp he founded in the Amazon rainforest, putting biodiversity and climate research in headlines across the planet. From 2010 until his passing, Dr. Lovejoy served as a Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation.