The UN Foundation’s board of directors (disclosure) are meeting in Norway this week for a series of meetings focused on how governments, non-profits and the corporate sector can advance goals related to economic development, climate change and women’s and children’s health.

This is a power packed meeting for the global good set. It includes:

UN Foundation Founder, Ted Turner; Kofi Anna Annan; former Norway Prime Minister Gro Brundtland; UN Foundation President Sen Tim Wirth; Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah (Jordan); Igor Ivanov (Russia), Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Hisashi Owada (Japan), President of the International Court of Justice; Emma Rothschild (U.K.), Jeremy and Jane Knowles Professor of History at Harvard University; Nafis Sadik (Pakistan), Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General; Yuan Ming (China), Director, Institute of International Relations at Peking University; Andrew Young (U.S.A.), Chairman of Good Works International and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh), Founder of the Grameen Bank.

Part of the three day meeting includes the New Africa Connections conference, a high-level event taking place om Oslo to explore creative solutions and partnerships in the areas of healthcare, finance and new technologies to advance development in Africa. UNF Board members Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Ted Turner are featured speakers on a keynote panel focusing on public-private partnerships and innovation in health.  From the UN Foundation:

We’ve got to match 21st century innovation with smart partnerships if we are going to successfully address poverty, climate change and global health,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. “This week’s meetings in Norway confirm not only how far we’ve come but how much we can do to harness the power of innovation. The Secretary-General of the UN has made innovation a priority of his Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, and the next generation depends on what we do to drive it forward.”

During the conference, the UN Foundation will preview the 2.0 version of the mHealth Alliance’s Health Unbound (HUB) website. This interactive web portal, of which the Norwegian government is a sponsor, allows people to share information and best practices about ways that mobile technology is improving delivery of healthcare to millions of people in developing countries. The conference also includes a discussion of the UN Foundation’s ongoing work to support the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves as an innovative way to improve health, economic development and environmental impact around the world. The government of Norway is one of the founding partners of the Alliance, which has already made significant progress on developing standards, increasing awareness and helping build the basis of a thriving market for clean cooking technologies around the world. The UN Foundation’s announcements during the conference include several commitments toward the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Earlier today, Ban Ki Moon addressed the conference with the following message:

As demonstrated again with the organizing of this conference, Norway has been a strong leader in support of women’s and children’s health. The country’s creativity and commitment in using technology and finance to address some of the world’s most pressing health challenges, for some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, has set a high standard for other countries to follow. I welcome your steadfast dedication to this agenda.

In September 2010, the United Nations launched Every Woman Every Child, a multi-stakeholder effort to advance the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. The world has recognized that saving the lives of millions of women and children requires action by all sectors. While governments remain central actors, the private sector and civil society are indispensable for delivering services and results. Partnerships that capitalize on our respective strengths must be the cornerstone of our efforts.

Over the past year, we have witnessed significant momentum on three crucial fronts:
–    Increased training and deployment of midwives is allowing more women to give birth safely to healthy children, as I saw firsthand during a visit to Ethiopia and Nigeria.
–    An accountability framework was launched recently aimed at ensuring that money is spent wisely and that commitments translate into tangible improvements.
–    Sixteen new countries made commitments in support of the Global Strategy in May, and many more are expected in the coming months.

As we continue to build support for Every Woman, Every Child, innovation will be among the keys to success. I welcome this conference’s focus on improving health outcomes through new ideas, technologies and partnerships. The United Nations will continue to do its part, and I look forward to continuing this work together. Please accept my best wishes for a productive gathering.

Later in the week, the group will visit the Svalbard archipelago in the northernmost part of the country, where Board members will meet with international scientists to discuss the effects of climate change in the Arctic. The meeting culminates in a visit to Global Crop Diversity Trust’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault.  This is a mechanism that safeguards seed samples from around the globe in the event that a seed species becomes extinct in its natural environment. (Which could be caused by climate change.) 60 Minutes did a recent report on the so-called “Doomsday Vault

Check out the UN Foundation’s thorough press release for more on the activities of the UN Foundation board this week.

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