Ted Turner (left), media mogul and philanthropist with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (center) and Jeffrey Sachs (right), special advisor to the U.N. secretary-general on the Millennium Development Goals. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / U.N.

Why does the United Nations matter and why is the world body still irreplaceable?

Because modern civilization as we know it would not exist without the United Nations, U.S. media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner contends in a new book by veteran environmental journalist Todd Wilkinson.

“Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet” explores how the owner of the Time Warner empire evolved from being an ardent capitalist to becoming convinced that “the world’s wealthiest have a moral obligation to give back to society,” writes Wilkinson in the U.N. Foundation blog.

“As Ted says in the book, most of the challenges facing humanity and the natural world — population, social justice issues, climate change, the biodiversity crisis and even the nuclear threat — are at their core related to poverty, inequality and environmental degradation,” the author adds.

That “triple bottom line,” according to Wilkinson, is practiced “at scale” by the so-called “green businessman.”

“Embracing true sustainability, the only kind that is durable, he knows from personal experience that the economy versus ecology argument is really a false dichotomy,” the author comments about Turner.

Indeed, Turner asserts that the U.N. “brings stability and a superstructure of global cooperation by which real prosperity and civil dialogue can proceed.”

“Turner is convinced that [without the institution] World War III would have already been fought and we as a species would have lost,” writes Wilkinson.

In 1992, Turner donated $1 billion to create the United Nations Foundation, which aims to broaden support for U.N. work.

That gesture prompted the late U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke to call Turner, the U.N. Foundation board chairman, “an outspoken U.N. champion, a respected job-creating entrepreneur who had the resolve, courage and credibility to stand up for the U.N.”

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