European foundations have dramatically increased their cooperation with the United Nations in the past three years, forming a strong partnership in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In her keynote address at the 15th Annual General Assembly (AGA) and Conference of the European Foundation Centre (EFC), UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette welcomed the "virtual explosion" in partnerships between the United Nations and other actors, including foundations, which she recognized as having unique characteristics that lend themselves to particularly powerful collaborative action. She highlighted ways in which foundations can and do contribute:
* Provide ideas and expertise to share in solving global problems. Foundations can advance knowledge and understanding of the issues, influence debate, and contribute to decisions about the kind of research worth investing in;
* Take up roles of leadership and advocacy. Foundations are credible and respected actors in their respective countries and communities, and can use their voices to build wider support for the MDGs; and
* Work with partners on the ground on specific projects. The United Nations also led several sessions on reaching the MDGs by 2015, creating a global movement for sport and development, and forming partnerships for world heritage conservation. The EFC Conference, entitled "Foundations for Europe: The Athens Agora--Bridging Civilisations and Cultures", took place from 30 May to 1 June 2004 in Athens, Greece. Ms. Frechette was delighted that the EFC International Committee has adopted a statement in support of the MDGs. The major vehicle for this work is the EFC Europe in the World (EitW) initiative, whose first full year was launched at the 2004 AGA and Conference. Its vision is to promote and create a stronger European voice in international relations and cooperation, contribute to the generation of new ideas and innovative solutions to address the root causes of poverty and despair, and give people living in these conditions hope and opportunities for a better future.
The project advocates and mobilizes more leadership, resources, collaboration and knowledge-generating efforts for global development among foundations and in partnership with Governments, multilateral and supranational institutions, businesses and international development organizations. Some ninety funders have already joined since the June 2003 launch of the pilot phase and are forming...