Nurture Nature Foundation was founded by Theodore Kheel on the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, popularly known as the Earth Summit. Like the Rauschenberg painting, Last Turn Your Turn, which commemorates that event, the nonprofit’s charter explicitly quotes the Summit’s motto, namely “to help make the Earth a secure and hospitable home for present and future generations.”
In keeping with this history, NNF's focus is on addressing the conflict between environmental protection and economic development. The charity’s founder called the clash between these goals “possibly the most serious challenge the world faces today”. He recognized that both goals were critical, but that they were often in conflict with each other. The reasons, he explained, were understandable yet difficult to resolve.
“No one would deliberately destroy the environment,” Kheel wrote, “but business organizations properly exist to make money. In the face of competition, they often resist environmental goals they see as threatening their ability to remain competitive and profitable.”
In words that still resonate, he concluded:
We see development that is sustainable as the most workable solution to the conflict between environment and development. It promotes protection of the environment, while simultaneously encouraging economic development.
All of NNF’s programs reflect this thinking. Many of those programs focus on cities, including New York City, where Kheel lived most of his life. Cities are the very essence of development but are also paradoxically critical to protecting the environment. That is because they are resource efficient, consuming less energy and less land mass than other living arrangements. Ensuring the success and sustainability of our cities is a large part of the solution NNF aspires to.