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UN Foundation Honors Extraordinary Global Leaders At 'We The Peoples' 2023 Awards Ceremony



NOVEMBER 16, 2023

The United Nations Foundation announced today the recipients of its annual We the Peoples Global Leadership Awards. Named for the inspiring opening words of the UN Charter, the We the Peoples awards recognize pathbreaking leaders and unsung heroes whose achievements have made measurable impacts in charting a course toward a better world for all.

The 2023 honorees are: UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed; President and Vice President of Esri, Jack and Laura Dangermond; Founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, Sara Menker; Photographer and Purposeful Artist in Residence from Sierra Leone, Hickmatu Leigh; Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, Dr. Fisk Johnson; and Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and their teams.

“We gather this year to recognize global leadership and resolve at a moment of profound challenge and strife in our world,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation. “At a time when it is more important than ever to reaffirm our shared humanity, we are honored this year to recognize extraordinary individuals who embody the spirit of the UN Charter, and who are determined to fight for progress, even against the odds.”

This year’s honorees were recognized for innovative and pioneering work that is transforming our ability to deliver for people and planet — from developing and harnessing technology for global good, to working tirelessly to ensure no one is left behind.

Champion for Global Change Award

  • H.E. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
    In recognition of her indispensable role in the creation and adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and her trailblazing work to elevate the voices of girls and women and ensure no one is left behind. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed was presented with the marquee Champion for Global Change award by Elizabeth Cousens, UN Foundation President and CEO.

Goal 17 Innovation in Partnership Award

  • Jack and Laura Dangermond, President and Vice President of Esri
    In recognition of their groundbreaking work to develop mapping technology, which helps the world locate issues and solutions — from addressing racial inequity to endangered species’ behaviors. The Dangermonds were presented with the Goal 17 Innovation in Partnership award by Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.


SDG Vanguard Awards

  • Sara Menker, Founder and CEO, Gro Intelligence
    In recognition of her innovative work harnessing the power of data and technology to transform how the world handles supply shocks, food crises, and climate change. And in recognition of her commitment to help the world deliver on the promise of SDG 2: Zero Hunger. Menker was presented with an SDG Vanguard award by Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Global Compact.
  • Hickmatu Leigh, Photographer and Purposeful Artist in Residence
    In recognition of her inspiring use of art to reframe how young feminists are seen in Sierra Leone and beyond, and in recognition of her work championing girls’ education.
    Leigh was presented with an SDG Vanguard award by Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General's former Envoy on Youth (2017-2023).


Leadership for a Better World Award

  • Dr. Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO, SC Johnson
    In recognition of his legacy of leadership for a more sustainable world with expanded opportunity for all. Dr. Johnson was presented with the Leadership for a Better World
    award, with a special focus on his work to eliminate vector-borne disease, by Laura Turner Seydel, Director of the Turner Foundation and Chair of the Captain Planet
    Foundation, as well as a member of the UN Foundation Board of Directors.


And finally, each year the UN Foundation honors the compassion, courage, and determination of UN frontline workers with the UN Heroes Award.

  • In recognition of diplomatic ingenuity and negotiations to release grain and other agricultural products to world markets, helping to alleviate hunger and acute food insecurity for millions, Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for OCHA and Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and their teams were awarded for the Memorandum of Understanding and negotiations on the Black Sea Initiative. The UN Heroes award was presented by Elizabeth Cousens, UN Foundation President and CEO.

The 2023 We the Peoples Awards Ceremony was held at Gotham Hall in New York City.

Photos will be available on the UN Foundation’s Flickr following the event.

About The UN Foundation
For 25 years, the UN Foundation has built novel innovations and partnerships to support the United Nations and help solve global problems at scale. As an independent charitable organization, the Foundation was created to work closely with the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges and drive global progress. Learn more at