UN Fund for International Partnerships
Public-Private Partnerships at the United Nations, UNF/UNFIP:A story of generosity, thoughtfulness and accomplishment
21 March 2006
The past 15 years has been a period of dramatic change - in the world, in the challenges facing the international community and, not least, at the United Nations. The end of the Cold War ushered in many of these significant changes and altered the priorities and perspectives of the world.
Most profoundly, this period witnessed an era of globalization. The world community is more interdependent than ever before. It is linked by trade, telecommunication, travel and especially by what UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called "problems without passports," including persistent challenges related to poverty alleviation as well as new ones like global climate change.
But an interconnected world has not necessarily meant a more unified world. Powerful forces of decentralization have emerged - in terms of diverse priorities and interests among nations, but including as well the entrance of new actors in international affairs. Global engagement, once the exclusive province of governments and diplomats, is now, more than ever, a stage shared with non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
Under the leadership of the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, the UN has been reforming its own operations in order to harness UN capabilities to respond to new global challenges and to help galvanize new resources and arrangements for international cooperation that transcend boundaries of geography and sector.
In the past 10 years, the UN's budget has doubled as has the number of peacekeeping missions. The UN's role in humanitarian response to manmade and natural disasters has grown more critical than ever, linking the growing network of NGO service providers with the capabilities and resources of governments. The UN's role in global health has expanded with the successful eradication of smallpox, and the near eradication of polio, and new initiatives related to AIDS, malaria and measles. In the environmental sphere, only the UN provides the platform for international discussion and negotiation regarding Trans boundary threats to the Earth's natural systems. And the UN is playing an increasing and constructive role in helping nations emerge from conflict to build a peaceful and prosperous future, supporting over 100 elections in the past decade.
Concerned about the major economic, environmental and social challenges facing the world's people, and perceiving a lack of support for the vital contribution the UN was making in responding to the new era unfolding, visionary businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner made a dramatic announcement in late 1997, launching one of the most profound initiatives of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's tenure - a $1 billion personal pledge in support of the UN and various of its key causes.
The Turner pledge of $1 billion in support of UN causes represented the largest non-governmental gift in UN history. But Mr. Turner's initiative had value far beyond the dollars involved, perhaps the greatest value of the Turner gift was its symbolic impact - for the UN, for philanthropy and for new approaches to problem solving for a changing world. It was a gesture of support and thanks to the hardworking staff of the United Nations - many of whom toil without fanfare in some of the poorest, most violent and difficult environments. Moreover, it came at a time of financial strain at the United Nations. Finally, the Turner initiative came in the midst of a rapid build-up of wealth and the emergence of new philanthropists on the global stage, which his pledge helped to foster.
Following Mr. Turner's announcement in the fall of 1997, a series of steps took place to operationalize his vision. The United Nations Foundation (UNF) was formed, which included recruiting a diverse, international Board of Directors and establishing initial priorities and plans. At the same time, the Secretary-General mobilized a team to work with the Foundation and establish the internal mechanisms within the UN for coordination and the arrangements that would be required for programming the planned gift. This important initial series of negotiations produced what came to be known as a "concept paper" on Mr. Turner's gift that the Secretary-General made available to the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions in a letter dated 30 January 1998. In that letter, the Secretary-General outlined his reasons for planning to establish a trust fund - the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) - to coordinate, channel and monitor contributions from the United Nations Foundation. UNFIP would report directly to the Secretary-General.
On 1 March 1998, the Secretary-General officially established UNFIP as the central interface with the United Nations Foundation. UNFIP's first and most pressing task was to work out the cooperation between the UN and the Foundation. The resulting relationship agreement between the United Nations and UNF was signed at UN headquarters in June 1998.
The relationship agreement delineates the responsibilities of the United Nations, in particular UNFIP, and of the Foundation in this historic joint effort. Together with the related Memorandum of Procedures, the agreement describes, among other things, the role of UNFIP and its relationship with the Foundation; the steps involved in identifying projects and activities to be funded; the handling of contributions to the Foundation; and the reporting requirements involved in the monitoring and implementation of projects and activities. The relationship agreement also deals with such issues as fundraising, the use of the name and official emblem of the United Nations, the status of the parties to the agreement, the resolution of disputes, the privileges and immunities of the United Nations in relation to the agreement, and the terms of the agreement.
The Advisory Board is chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General, and is comprised of 10 other members from both within and outside the UN, who serve in their personal capacity. The current members of the Advisory Board are:
The partnership has proven that the greater United Nations family - the Secretariat, the specialized agencies, programmes and funds - can be flexible and responsive to the standards of the business community, including monitoring and reporting to meet the private sector's needs. UNFIP developed a cooperative mode respectful of the concerns of this unprecedented new United Nations partner willing to put US$ 1 billion on the table. The Foundation came to appreciate the policy frameworks in which United Nations activities take place.
With organizational matters behind, the UNF and UNFIP teams launched into developing programmatic activities to give shape to Mr. Turner's initiative and the Secretary-General's vision. Early on, it was agreed that UNF had three distinct priorities: supporting programmatic efforts related to key UN causes; building public support for and helping to communicate the role and tremendous value of the UN; and harnessing these activities to build new partnerships on behalf of the UN. Working together, UNF and UNFIP quickly applied themselves to these efforts.
The first and most far-reaching priority was to establish an approach toward programming that was clear, understandable and engaging of UN funds, programmes and agencies with the expertise and the mandates in the key areas selected by the Foundation for focus. Accordingly, UNF and UNFIP worked together to establish four programme framework groups in each of these areas to provide guidance for the preparation of project proposals. The fundamental task of these groups was to identify programmatic opportunities and to propose the most effective use of its support.
The programme areas and priorities the Foundation identified were:
UNF, with the active support of UNFIP, eventually added Peace, Security, and Human Rights as a fourth area of interest to guide the Foundation's programmatic support of the UN.
Over the past eight years, UNF has made approximately 450 grants supporting UN activities. In the 18 funding rounds that have been provided since its inception, UNFIP has worked with its UN implementing partners to make full use of the grants from UNF totaling in excess of $760 million dollars to UN causes and activities within the four programme frameworks, as well as to UN institutional strengthening activities. These funds include approximately $413 million in core funds contributed by UNF and $347 million partner funds, but don't include the approximately $321 million in additional parallel funds that have also been leveraged as a result of UNF/UNFIP efforts.
To date, UNF and UNFIP have facilitated grants for 365 projects implemented by 39 UN agencies, departments, funds and programmes for the benefit of 123 countries. Throughout the grant making process, UNF and UNFIP have made it a priority to encourage inter-agency and multi-agency cooperation at the country level. Cooperation often starts at the beginning of the grant proposal process, allowing comparative and complementary strengths of several UN agencies to be taken into account in both the planning and execution phases of a project.
This approach has made it possible for government ministries and civil society organizations in programme countries to collaborate in new ways and improved the outcome of many UNF/UNFIP supported projects, including: the Adolescent Girls Initiative (UNFPA/UNICEF); the Global Polio Eradication Partnership (UNICEF and WHO); the Measles Initiative (UNICEF and WHO); and, the Southern African Youth Initiative (UNAIDS/UNFPA/UNICEF/UNDP).
UNF/UNFIP and other partners have achieved important programmatic successes in each priority area over the past eight years. Below is a selection of highlights.
Providing new momentum to major global health partnerships
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative developed UNF/UNFIP capacity to provide support and coordination services to donors and executing agencies. This experience successfully brought UNF and UNFIP together with several important UN partners, including Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Working together with the UN agencies in leading the polio eradication campaign, this programme helped significantly to reduce the number of polio-endemic countries from 30 to five since 1998.
The polio campaigns provided experience and improvements in infrastructure for governments' ministries, public health workers, volunteers, and key UN agencies that could be used for other immunization efforts. The result was the Measles Initiative - a partnership among the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the U.S Centers for Disease Control, WHO, and the UN Foundation - which draws on the experiences of both polio campaigns and the community-based efforts to help governments deliver an integrated package of preventive interventions.
The Measles Initiative started in 18 sub-Saharan African countries and has now expanded to all countries in Africa. The programme has consistently exceeded expectations: it has consistently been delivered under budget since its inception, freeing up resources to expand the programme to more countries, with proven results: a 46% decline in measles mortality in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2003. Through 2005, a total of 45 countries have conducted measles campaigns and the programme exceeded the goal of vaccinating 200 million children.
The Initiative's success in Africa has led to the expansion of activities to Asia. The first campaign in Asia, a countrywide vaccination campaign in Bangladesh, took place in February and March of 2006, with the goal of vaccinating 33.5 million children between the ages of nine months and ten years.
The Measles Initiative partners continue to encourage countries and UN partners to package interventions with immunizations. As a result, current measles campaigns provide immunizations (sometimes polio with measles), vitamin A, and deworming medication. The programme has also added distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets as a malarial preventive whenever possible.
The Measles Initiative confirmed UNF/UNFIP's ability to mobilize and maintain multi-stakeholder partnerships around large-scale immunization programmes by ensuring coordination of resources and implementation. The focus on the integration of services, surveillance, and local public health systems helped institutionalize this approach, which was recently adopted as a global standard in the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS) at the 2005 World Health Assembly.
Innovations in financing health and humanitarian causes
Protecting world treasures and promoting sustainable livelihoods
As the largest nongovernmental supporters of World Heritage, UNF/UNFIP helped strengthen approximately 50 actual and potential World Heritage sites in over 30 countries, as well as UNESCO's capacity to manage the entire programme.
UNF/UNFIP grants have enabled UNESCO to increase its core budgetary support to the World Heritage Centre by 300% and added five professionals to the Natural World Heritage team. UNFIP-supported programmes have trained protected area managers in more than 15 World Heritage sites, influenced local governments' understanding and use of protected areas, strengthened several hundred community-based organizations helped launch new eco-enterprises, and provide income opportunities for thousands of people based on sustainable resource use. In addition, UN partners have integrated conservation with sustainable livelihoods and community development programmes through COMPACT, the UN Development Programme's small grants programme.
Partnerships with the private sector and civil society are also making a difference. A new partnership with The Nature Conservancy is providing support for a sustainable tourism initiative. Three years in the making, this initiative also includes a new corporate partner for the World Heritage preservation agenda. Expedia, the U.S.-based travel services company, has signed a five-year agreement with UNESCO and UNF, designating World Heritage sites as premier destinations for Expedia clients. In addition to new funds and a model for a sustainable future for World Heritage, the partnership with Expedia has provided massive exposure to the general public. Expedia gave World Heritage a permanent spot on its home page, and to date, more than 125 million pages about World Heritage have been viewed. The partnership has built momentum within the travel and tourism community; recently, the Marriott Corporation joined these efforts to promote and preserve World Heritage.
Hastening a new energy future
The rapid changes in the Earth's climate have elevated the issue of global climate change to the forefront of international attention. At its core, the climate issue is all about energy - the technology and fuels used to support economic progress. As such, the solution to climate change and poverty is linking - finding clean, low-cost energy technologies for economic and environmental progress. UNF and UNFIP have proud accomplishments in hastening a new energy future.
UNF/UNFIP's work with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) helped design and deploy the African Rural Energy Enterprise Development (AREED) project. This project combined small amounts of start-up capital with extensive business training to help entrepreneurs create viable energy service enterprises. Early results proved promising, and UNFIP and UNF partners developed similar projects in Brazil and China - among the largest developing country greenhouse gas emitters. More than 40 enterprises have been funded by the three projects, with the initial African enterprises moving to market sustainability. As a result of these initial successes, UNEP and UNF/UNFIP established the Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative to encourage the financial community to expand financing efficient models of clean energy development.
UNF/UNFIP's support also made possible the creation of a highly successful Institutional Investors Summit on Climate Change. Summits in 2003 and 2005 convened members of the financial community at the UN to examine the investment risks and opportunities presented by global warming. At the 2005 Summit, institutional investors representing $3 trillion in assets issued a 10-point plan on disclosure of climate risks, and pledged to invest $1 billion in clean energy technologies.
Helping to make adolescent girls a global priority
One in five people in the world are adolescents. Adolescents are part of the largest youth generation in the history of the world, more than 1 billion strong, and 85% of them live in developing countries. Investing in adolescent development is not an option. With support from UNF, United Nations agencies were able to pilot programme approaches that work for young people and build capacity of ministries of youth throughout the world. Clearly, the way this new generation has access to opportunities and exercises its responsibilities will be crucial to the future of the world. Among adolescents, UNF/UNFIP have focused on the health, education, lives and livelihoods of adolescent girls.
UNF/UNFIP's work with adolescent girls has been nothing short of groundbreaking, not only by underscoring the needs and aspirations of this critical demographic cluster, but also in promoting sustained attention and interagency cooperation on adolescent girls at the UN. UN-supported projects have looked comprehensively at the challenges and range of needs facing adolescent girls - from opportunities in education to needs for education, economic opportunity and self-esteem. In addition to on-the-ground impact, UNF/UNFIP's funding has helped strengthen policy guidance and encourage cooperation across UN agencies.
With UNF/UNFIP support, UNICEF expanded its programming to reach adolescents (10-14 year olds) and young people (15-19 year olds), strengthened global advisory services, and required that every country office have a plan to address adolescents. Because the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is the only official global institution that focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights, nearly 50% of UNF/UNFIP's funding in this area has been to UNFPA, supporting both fieldwork and capacity building at the agency.
UNF/UNFIP also helped with institutional strengthening at UNFPA, especially through a 2001 transition grant to support the incoming Executive Director of UNFPA, Thoraya Obaid. This seed capital for her first term helped UNFPA formulate new policies, standardize personnel procedures, and develop a corporate identity and strategic direction. Every UNFPA country office in sub-Saharan Africa now has a youth programme that, in many cases, is linked to HIV prevention.
Beyond adolescent girls, UNF/UNFIP's support helped advance work on behalf of the quality and quantity of reproductive health services. UNF/UNFIP-supported research helped document the shortages of condoms and contraceptives, and helped host an international conference in Istanbul. These initiatives led to the creation of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition and the RH Interchange, an online information platform to coordinate donor contributions of supplies.
UNF/UNFIP's funding and partnership-building have led to a number of significant accomplishments in Peace, Security, and Human Rights.
In 2005, the Afghan government asked the UN to help develop a new constitution-a critical step for the country. UNF/UNFIP's funding supported the expert UNDP team charged with drafting the new document, an example of the impact and importance of UNF/UNFIP's flexibility. UNF/UNFIP's support for the Office of the Secretary-General's Office of Children in Armed Conflict had a similar impact, laying the foundation for the creation of a permanent office on this subject at the UN.
In addition, UNF/UNFIP's support for UN and Global Security, an outreach and engagement project around the Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, provided diverse opinions and intellectual discussion for the panel's consideration during the development of the Secretary-General's key report, "In Larger Freedom."
Another example of innovation and success is the Adopt-A-Minefield programme. Begun in 1998 by the United Nations Association of the United States of America and UNF/UNFIP, Adopt-A-Minefield is the world's largest nongovernmental source of funding to clear landmines and aid survivors. It connects the passion of people around the world with the action of the UN. To date, it has raised over $13 million and helped clear more than 250 fields of landmines, planting hope in place of fear.
As new opportunities and needs have arisen pertaining to the UN and public-private partnerships, and the partnership between the UN, UNF, and UNFIP has matured, UNFIP has taken on new roles and responsibilities.
In its initial incarnation, UNFIP was conceived primarily as an interlocutor and grant-making facilitator for Mr. Turner's extraordinary gift. In this phase, UNFIP worked hard to acclimate the new Foundation to the workings of the United Nations and to the priorities of the Secretary-General, as well as to identify opportunities for funding activities in the areas of programmatic priority selected by the Foundation. As the interface between the UN system and the Foundation, UNFIP was responsible for developing concrete mechanisms to administer Mr. Turner's contribution. Among other things, UNFIP developed the guidelines and modalities for cooperation between UN entities and the Foundation (e.g. the aforementioned programme frameworks, memoranda of understanding and basic implementation agreements, programme guidelines, etc.). Thus, the original function of UNFIP was to ensure that the new resources brought in by UNF were directed to quality projects, mostly at the field level, in line with UNF's own priorities.
UNFIP's activities evolved from an almost exclusive focus on the Foundation to include acting as a facilitator of new United Nations partnerships and alliances with the private sector, foundations and civil society organizations. UNFIP increasingly serves as a clearing house for partnership information and strategic link to potential funding opportunities for the Organization - both from within and outside the UN system. It also continues to work with the intergovernmental machinery, including the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, providing substantive support and policy advice on public-private partnerships, outreach and advocacy activities.
Building on the success of the partnership between UNF and the United Nations system, UNFIP collaborates with the United Nations family in developing innovative programmes and projects in support of, inter alia, the Millennium Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals and the 2005 Summit Outcome. In light of its ability to provide fast track programme management processes and expeditious administrative support and oversight, UNFIP was tasked with the establishment and executive management of a new fund for democracy-building efforts worldwide -- the United Nations Democracy Fund.
UNFIP also continues to be actively engaged in helping promote field-level projects using sport as a programme tool to achieve development and peace involving UN funds, programmes and agencies with partners from the world of sports. Having assumed responsibility in early 2004 from the Executive Office of the Secretary-General for providing support to Adolf Ogi, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, UNFIP advises on potential UN partnerships and encourages foundations, the private sector, civil society and Governments, as well as sport organizations and associations, to become involved in the promotion of sport for development and peace.
Promoting information and communication technology as a tool for development has been yet another area of focus for UNFIP, which facilitated the establishment of networks supportive of the efforts of the Caribbean and African Diasporas in this sector. UNFIP was a founding member of the UN ICT Task Force where it still serves.
In furtherance of UN goals and objectives, UNFIP has established ties with a variety of institutions, foundations, foundation consortiums, and corporations over the years. These include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Citigroup Private Bank and the Citigroup Foundation, the Coca-Cola Company, the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Council on Foundations, the Education Development Centre, Ericsson, the European Foundations Centre, the Global Philanthropy Forum, the King Baudouin Foundation, Microsoft, the Princess Diana Memorial Fund, the Network of European Foundations for Innovative Cooperation, UNA-USA, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Van Leer Group Foundation, Vodafone, and many others.
UNFIP also provides a partnership platform for United Nations colleagues with select professional associations, academic and research institutions, and non-governmental organizations. These include the Corporate Council on Africa, the African-American Institute, the Southern African Development Bank and Development Fund, Hope Worldwide, the Centre for International Private Enterprise, the Drucker Foundation the East Timor Fund, Earth Day, the Groundwater Foundation, Kids to Kids International, Books for Africa, the World Diversity for Peace Group, the International Business Leaders Forum, the Aspen Institute Initiative for Social Innovation Through Business, the Discovery Advisory Group, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Living Water International, and the Synergos Institute. Such efforts are designed both for information sharing purposes and to facilitate collaborations aimed at concrete results on the ground.
Working closely with the Department of Public Information, the United Nations Foundation and its partner organization, the Better World Fund, UNFIP continues its advocacy and public affairs efforts, focusing on raising awareness of the work of the United Nations family and on identifying new partners in furtherance of the goals of the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 Summit Outcome.
In this regard, UNFIP continues to support the Millennium Campaign by connecting outside partners with the Millennium Campaign Office and routinely suggesting ways that organizations can use one or more of the goals as a framework for activities. UNFIP also works with key umbrella organizations to encourage them to focus on the Millennium Development Goals and other UN international objectives in their work. These include support of new initiatives such as the United Nations Democracy Fund and peace building.
In addition, UNFIP produces concise and user-friendly outreach materials and maintains an active website. It also keeps a comprehensive database of companies, civil society organizations, including academia, foundations and think tanks, as well as other entities interested in engaging with the United Nations. Furthermore, the senior management of UNFIP promotes partnering with the Organization via speaking engagements in official forums, participation in and/or moderation of international roundtables and panel discussions, and through articles and other contributions to philanthropic publications in support of the goals and objectives of the greater United Nations family.
Throughout its brief history, UNFIP has attempted to take stock of its strengths and weaknesses, constantly striving to become more relevant and effective in advancing the work of the United Nations. Three powerful lessons stand out:
Focus on problems, not projects
In fact, it was the insight of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, who noted that UNF/UNFIP's value was more in addressing key cross-cutting challenges, rather than specific project funding that provided the greatest value to the UN system. Her articulation of "problems, not projects," has thus come to define the realignment of efforts.
The power of partnerships
Among the major partnerships developed to date are: a water and sanitation partnership that arose out of the tsunami with the Coca-Cola Company; a sustainable travel partnership around World Heritage with Expedia; the creation of the first and only donor-advised fund specifically supporting UN causes with Domini Social Investments; a partnership with the Vodafone Group Foundation applying their technological expertise to humanitarian and emergency responses; and a partnership with the Nike Foundation supporting adolescent girls.
The power of ideas
Under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General, and with the help of its Advisory Board and Executive Director, UNFIP's impact continues to grow. Today, UNFIP is a much richer contributor to the workings and interests of the United Nations and is poised to continue supporting the UN's work and growing as a component of the UN system.
Looking to the future, as UNF moves further into the global arena of alliance and coalition building in support of UN priorities, UNFIP stands ready to build on the two critical roles it plays: 1) as a source of expertise and insight for the UN system in developing partnerships; and 2) as a bridge-builder between the interests and priorities of the UN and those of a broad range of civil society and business community actors.
A source of partnership expertise and support for the UN system
Building bridges with global actors
Over time, UNFIP has emerged as an "external relations" arm of the United Nations. Today, UNFIP serves as a gateway for companies, organizations and individuals outside the UN looking to work with it-advocating the importance of the UN's work, and helping them understand how the UN works and how to navigate the system. Through 2005, UNFIP had fielded 327 inquiries from a wide variety of entities interested in partnerships with the UN.
UNFIP today is a creative, flexible, and valuable bridge builder for the United Nations, the Foundation, and countless organizations and individuals who care about the UN and its work. The need for and promise of new partnerships and approaches has never been greater. As the UN continues to take on the challenges of a changing world, UNFIP stands ready to help bring to bear the creativity, resources, and goodwill of the private sector on the work of the UN.