Maria Ahlström-Bondestam announced as Inaugural Chair of the UNICEF International Council
30 September 2021
GENEVA, 30 September 2021 – UNICEF welcomed Maria Ahlström-Bondestam today as the inaugural Chair of the UNICEF International Council, a collective of over 90 philanthropic partners committed to improving children’s lives through their combined influence, investment and expertise.
As the Founder and Chair of the Eva Ahlström Foundation, a long-time partner of the Finnish Committee for UNICEF, Maria Ahlström-Bondestam is a prominent advocate for children, demonstrating the role that private philanthropy can play in building a fairer world for children.
A strong exponent of human rights and equal opportunity, Maria, together with her female cousins, founded the Eva Ahlström Foundation in 2010, building upon a family legacy of social responsibility started by her great-grandmother in the late 19th century. The foundation supports underprivileged families, especially women and children, and has funded WASH projects in India and child protection in Zambia, as well as humanitarian work. In 2020 Maria and the Eva Ahlström Foundation initiated a collaboration called Ahlström Collective Impact – a unique collaboration between companies, foundations and stakeholders within the Ahlström Network – with the aim to make strategic investments with impact to support the realization of the SDGs together with UNICEF Finland.
"The world has changed significantly, and we are at a pivotal moment in history. As we look to reimagine a better world for children, we believe that private philanthropy can play a key role in helping shape a better future. The UNICEF International Council is driving forward this agenda and we are happy to welcome Maria Ahlström-Bondestam to her new role," said Kieran O’Brien, UNICEF’s Chief of Global Philanthrophy.
Under Maria’s leadership, the UNICEF International Council aims to grow its membership by positioning itself as the natural home for philanthropists working on the rights of children. It will strengthen its role as a convening platform on key global issues, explore bespoke philanthropic journeys and strategies, and find ways to amplify impact on the lives of children and beyond.
"My aim is to use the International Council platform to inspire and engage people to act on their good intentions – because a good heart alone will not change the world. For that we need action," said Maria Ahlström-Bondestam.
The UNICEF International Council hosts an annual symposium, as well as thematic working groups and other engagement opportunities that provide Council members with the chance to learn from one another, interact with the UNICEF leadership team and identify areas for collaboration and joint investment. Working hand in hand with UNICEF, Council members seek to identify the most pressing challenges facing children worldwide and demonstrate how strategic philanthropy can catalyze solutions and greater impact for children.
UNICEF’s Deputy Director of Partnerships, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka welcomes Maria Ahlström-Bondestam as the inaugural chair of the UNICEF International Council
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