About us

Almost twenty years ago, some of Australia’s leading citizens decided to confront the challenges and opportunities presented by an emerging world, bringing to bear their collective talents and those of other influential global figures through the creation of the Global Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation focused on serving the longer-term public good and backed by private sector and philanthropic sponsors and a diverse membership base.

Launched in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998, the Foundation has since become a trusted global network and platform with a somewhat unique convening power, enabling people from many walks of life to meet and work together in addressing some of the greatest global challenges of our era – how do we mobilise for a fair and prosperous global economy; how do we ensure that our planet will be sustainable for current future generations; how do we ensure global food security for all? In so doing, the Foundation chooses not to be ‘the story’, preferring to support the work of those in positions of authority and influence. Usually, such initiatives derive from governments, however the Foundation distinguishes itself by working from its non-profit base, enjoying 100% private sector and community support, while partnering with governments of the day, across the world and on a non-partisan basis.

The Foundation works closely with many significant corporate and community leaders and also with the most significant global economic institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, along with faith-based institutions including, but not limited to, the Vatican and the Anglican Church.

In encouraging alignment and change, the Foundation strongly retains a people-based perspective, believing that change comes from within, from who we are as people and as citizens, not just from what we do in our professional roles.

A strong ethical flavour percolates through all of our work and has become the central pillar of our Global Governance program.

August 3, 2016

Sir Peter Cosgrove Speech – Wednesday, 30 March 2016

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, and to elders from other communities who may be with us today.

Our History

The Global Foundation was launched in Australia in May 1998 by the then Prime Minister of Australia, Hon. John Howard

The Global Foundation has convened and partnered in international dialogue conversation in many global locations in its 18 years of operations including in Bali, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Jakarta, London, Melbourne, Noumea, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Sydney and Washington.

These discussions have addressed major, complex global issues, including the global economy, global food security, sustainability and climate policy, China’s emergence, Asia’s integration while at the same time encouraging a culture of deeper Australian engagement with Asia and in world affairs. The Foundation’s work is characterised by three main objectives; a high level of ambition, practical outcomes and maintaining a low profile for itself.

Formed by prominent Australian citizens with extensive global experience, The Global Foundation was launched in Australia in May 1998 by the then Prime Minister of Australia, Hon. John Howard and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Mr Michael Camdessus.

The Governor General of Australia is our Patron in Chief and the Foundation also enjoys the patronage of many other prominent public figures.

Some highlights of our work include

  • The Foundation has convened an ongoing series of global dialogues to improve Ethical and Effective Global Governance, in partnership with eminent persons, governments, global institutions, business, academia and civil society.
  • In December 2014, the Foundation convened roundtable discussions in Rome, focusing on the theme: ‘Towards a shared narrative for the global common good, supported by more ethical and effective global governance’ featuring senior Cardinals from the Vatican and global institutional leaders, including Madame Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
  • The Foundation convened a multi-sectoral, strategic dialogue process in Asia Pacific, from 2000 onwards, through its Asia Pacific roundtable series, involving governments and think tanks from USA, China, Japan, Indonesia, the EU, Pacific Island states, South East Asia, Australia and 20 other nations as well as several global economic institutions, including the World Bank and IMF, academia and non-government bodies. These meetings took place in Washington, Beijing, Sydney and Singapore.
  • The Foundation convened a three-way dialogue project in 2008, meeting in Beijing and then in Washington, to enable China, the USA and Australia to discuss co-operation; the Foundation continued to advise China on its climate change policy development for a further 5 years.
  • The Foundation has played a global advocacy role, since 2013, in facilitating the formation and development of the AIIB. The Foundation has continued to advise the new AIIB as it has become operational.
  • In 2014, the Foundation launched the concept of an Asian Food Partnership, led by business, to practically increase Asian and global food security.
  • Since 1997, the Foundation has played a pivotal, unofficial role in elevating official relations between Australia and the European Union, France, India, Brazil and China, in that order, to the level of ‘strategic partnership’, while also supporting increased international co-operation involving Australia.

Office bearers of the Global Foundation

Patron in Chief

HE General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d)
Governor-General of Australia

State Patrons

HE the Hon Linda Dessau AM (TBC)
Governor of Victoria

HE General the Hon David Hurley
AC DSC (Ret’d)
Governor of New South Wales

HE the Hon Paul de Jersey AC
Governor of Queensland

HE the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO
Governor of Western Australia


Mr M.A Tim Besley AC
The Hon Quentin Bryce AD CVO
The Right Reverend Dr Peter Hollingworth AC OBE
Rev Professor Emeritus James Haire AC
Major General The Hon Michael Jeffery AC AO(Mil) CVO MC (Ret’d)
Professor Emeritus
Sir Gustav Nossal AC CBE
Mr George Polites AC CMG MBE
Ms Jeanne Pratt AC
Mr Fergus Ryan AO
Lt General John Sanderson AC

Board of DIrectors

Mr Jock Murray
Chairman of the Board
Ms Louise Watson
Mr Steve Howard

Advisory Council

The Most Reverend
Dr. Philip Freier,
Advisory Council Chairman
Ms Maria Atkinson AM
Hon Mark Birrell
Mr Russell Board
Father Frank Brennan SJ AO
Hon John Brumby
Ms Sally Capp
Ms Adie Dawes-Birch
Professor Jane den Hollander
Professor John Dewar
Professor S. Bruce Dowton
Mr Danny Gilbert AM
Professor Stewart Gill
Mr Rob Hadler
Mr Graeme Liebelt
Mr David Miles AM
Professor Ian O’Connor
Ms Shannon Powell
Ms Louise Watson
Professor Paul Wellings

Key Partners


Madame Christine Lagarde

Managing Director, International Monetary Fund - Recipient of The Global Foundation Global Achievement Award

“The Global Foundation clearly helps to stir the debate, to propose ideas, to catalyse proposals, and to help in the process of all our debates across global institutions… I know that I can call on [you], my Australian colleagues, when we need new ideas, when we need energy, and when we need a bit of that sun, which helps you see the light, perhaps a little better than most…”

Mr Patrick Yu

President and CEO, COFCO

“I want to express my special gratitude to the Global Foundation. It is a great honor for COFCO to work with you. It boosts the Sino-Australian communication and collaboration in the agri-business and food sector. We hope we can continuously enhance our communication to drive a better result of research and development of our cooperation. We look forwarding to seeing our further collaboration in COFCO’s operation in Australia. ”

His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State, The Vatican

“I am delighted to be able to attend this round-table meeting organised by the Global Foundation. In keeping with the title of this gathering: ”Rejecting the globalisation of indifference – towards a more inclusive and sustainable global economy,” your purpose is to seek a more inclusive and sustainable global economy, which might stand in contrast to the “Globalisation of indifference.“ This is one of the initiatives which expresses The Global Foundation‘s commitment to being a privilged place of dialogue between major economic and political players, as well as a catalyst for ideas for the construction of an economic system at the service of integral economic development. I thank you sincerely for the kind invitation and I bring you the good wishes of the Holy Father, Pope Francis and share with you his hope that this round-table might open up areas of reflection and offer meaningful paths of action on the topic in hand.”  

Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC AO (Mil) CVO MC (Ret’d), Patron

former Chairman of the Board of The Global Foundation former Governor of Western Australia; former Governor-General of Australia

“The really good thing about The Global Foundation is that it attracts very high quality people from all walks of life, selects topics that are of global and national importance, and attracts the very best to discuss these issues without political bias.  Because people are encouraged to speak very freely, innovative thinking and good ideas flow.  I have been associated with Global for a number of years and look forward to its continuing development as a world class ‘ideas’ forum.”

Mr Pascal Lamy, Honorary Member

Chair, Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations former Director-General, World Trade Organisation - Recipient, The Global Foundation Achievement Award

“I have been acquainted with The Global Foundation for some time and am happy to see that they are still driving the idea that global problems, including global governance, can be talked about and solved. Organisations like The Global Foundation have a mission that is clearer today than a decade ago. They are the translators of global problems into something citizens understand. This knowledge brings about awareness which inspires mobilisation and ultimately, political action. Greater awareness and greater mobility require civil society, which is better equipped at bridging the gap between knowledge and action.”

Mr Fergus Ryan AO, Patron

former Chairman of the Advisory Council of The Global Foundation, Non-executive Director, Australian Foundation Investment Company. former Director, Commonwealth Bank, Clayton Utz, National Australia Day Council. Council of the National Library and Centre for Social Impact, and former Strategic Investment Coordinator and Major Projects Facilitator for the Federal Government

“Any university or profession can get together a group of people to talk about matters external, but it’s very hard to get such a diverse group together; all in one place and all challenging each others assumptions. The Global Foundation does this so well,.. and has enormous ability to stretch into other countries in a very diverse way, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts – big time. Sir Zelman Cowen, Alfred Brookes and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch were all great, early contributors to The Global Foundation and where well ahead of their time. The Global Foundation has become increasingly important, given the way the world has changed over the past 17 years and the speed with which it continues to change".