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Sarina Roffé
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JNF Approved as United Nations Non Governmental Organization

Yehiel LeketJuly 16, 2004 Jerusalem and New York, NY Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemeth LeIsrael), a 103-year-old international environmental organization with more than 50 offices around the globe, was approved this week by the United Nations Department of Public Information as an NGO, or Non-Governmental Organization.

“Achieving UN status means that Jewish National Fund has more universal recognition and prestige in the international arena,” said Yehiel Leket (pictured), World Chairman of KKL-JNF in Jerusalem. “Our acceptance by other countries into the United Nations legitimizes our award-winning efforts in water, environment and sustainable development.”

“The process was very long and complicated so we are very excited about the outcome,” said Joseph Hess of Garden Grove, CA, Vice President of Government Affairs for Jewish National Fund of America, who spearheaded the initiative. “The NGO registration gives JNF an entree into the United Nations and an equal voice among internationally recognized environmental organizations on issues such as sustainable development, forestry, land management and water scarcity.”

JNF can now sponsor and present workshops at U.N. Conferences around the world, as well as apply to serve on environmental committees. Although registered through its Jerusalem headquarters, JNF America will provide local representation due to its proximity to United Nations headquarters. However, all countries in which JNF is active will now have access to the United Nations.

Due to its expertise as Israel’s oldest environmental organization and a world-respected authority in afforestation, sustainable development, desertification and water, JNF was an invited member of the Israeli delegation at the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. At the World Summit, JNF earned world class recognition for its work, despite presenting in a hostile environment.

Following JNF’s workshops, which were widely attended by world leaders, JNF scientists were sought as experts by numerous countries. JNF has consulted on afforestation and sustainable development in Burkino Faso, East Timor, Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, several African countries, and most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq.

UN status is an indication of the respect JNF has earned in the international community as a result of its work.  “In September 2003, JNF was sponsored by an existing NGO The World Council of United Peoples at the annual NGO Conference,” said Ronald S. Lauder, President of JNF America. “The conference was held during the UN’s International Year of Freshwater and JNF presented its work with water reclamation and how water helped depressed areas and improved society.”

JNF scientists discussed some of the solutions to problems of fresh water scarcity including building reservoirs and dams to gather and recycle runoff, rain and wastewater for agriculture and the development of arid and semi-arid regions, as well as to attract development in depressed areas.

In addition, JNF will be able to present at the Annual DPI/NGO Conference; attend weekly briefings; obtain ground passes to all "open" meetings of UN bodies; gain access to photo, film and audio libraries; be observers at committee meetings; and be listed in the official United Nations NGO Directory.


Jewish National Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 1901 to serve as caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners—Jewish people everywhere.  During the first half of the 20th century, JNF set out to achieve its goal by purchasing the land that would become the State of Israel.  Following the successful establishment of the state in 1948, the organization has evolved to meet Israel's most pressing needs, including the current security crisis, ongoing water shortage and other environmental challenges.  Over the past century, the organization has planted over 240 million trees, built over 150 reservoirs and dams, developed over 250,000 acres of land, created more than 450 parks and educated students around the world about Israel and the environment.  For more information on JNF or to plant trees in Israel, call 1-800-542-TREE (8733) or visit  To contact your local office, please call 888-JNF-0099 or visit