Good News Agency – Year X, n° 1



Weekly - Year X, number 1 – 16th January 2009

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of 4,000 media in 49 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included in the web site




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Sudanese Government and UNICEF sign agreement to protect children

23 December - Sudan’s military and child welfare authorities have partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to protect children’s rights and prevent the recruitment of child soldiers in the war-torn African nation. The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Sudan’s National Council for Child Welfare (NCWW) and UNICEF signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday to create a Child Rights Unit in the SAF to enforce the 2007 Sudan People’s Armed Forces Act, which sets 18 as the minimum age for armed forces recruitment. The Unit will also help SAF educate personnel about the Act and other child protection laws ratified by Sudan. NCCW and UNICEF will give the Unit technical support. UNICEF will also offer more specialized training and funds for the Unit to carry out its work. UNICEF hailed the move as a “remarkable step forward and a significant commitment” by Sudan’s Government to enforce child protection. (...)



Human rights



Committee on Rights of Child holds fiftieth session in Geneva from 12 to 13 January 2009

Child Rights in Malawi, Chad, Netherlands, Republic of Moldova, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Maldives and Tunisia to be Reviewed

8 January - The Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 12 to 30 January to review the promotion and protection of children's rights under the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Malawi, Chad, the Netherlands, the Republic of Moldova, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Committee will also consider the situation in the Netherlands and in Maldives with regard to the promotion and protection of children's rights under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and will review efforts made by the Republic of Moldova, Maldives and Tunisia with regard to their implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. (...)


Eritrea/Ethiopia: 1,766 people repatriated in 2008

Addis Ababa/Asmara, 8 January (ICRC) - In 2008, 1,714 persons were repatriated from Eritrea to Ethiopia, including 56 minors, in a number of repatriation operations under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In the same operations, 52 civilians, including 22 minors, were repatriated from Ethiopia to Eritrea.

Acting in its capacity as a neutral and independent intermediary, the ICRC carried out these repatriations based on the consent of each individual and with the cooperation of the authorities. ICRC delegates based in Eritrea - in cooperation with the Eritrean Red Cross - accompanied the civilians going to Ethiopia on the first part of their journey from Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, to the border. At the crossing point (...) the group was met by ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, before being placed in the care of the Ethiopian authorities. Likewise, ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia accompanied the civilians going to Eritrea to the border, where they were met by ICRC delegates based in Eritrea, before being placed in the care of the Eritrean authorities. (...)



Economy and development



UN joins forces with Mediterranean nations to promote sustainable agriculture

8 January - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced its new partnership with a Mediterranean intergovernmental organization to promote crops and improve fisheries, among other sustainable activities.

The collaboration between the FAO and the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) seeks to expedite the modernization of irrigation in the region and prevent forest fires.

The Mediterranean could become a free trade area next year, triggering fears that this could lead to pest dissemination. The FAO-CIHEAM partnership aims to control pest entrance and spread in the region by introducing harmonized protocols of pest monitoring.

Founded in 1962, CIHEAM comprises 13 Mediterranean member countries: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey.


Children, entrepreneurs in developing countries receive hand up from Intel, Save the Children and

“Small Things Challenge” to raise awareness and funds for rewrite the future program..

Westport, Conn, USA, 7 Jan.  - Intel Corporation, Save the Children and, along with several celebrities, have joined forces to raise awareness and funds so children in developing countries can attend primary school and their parents can earn higher incomes. (...)

Individuals can find ways to contribute and more information, including a video featuring musicians and celebrities who support the cause, at Save the Children’s “Small Things Challenge” and at Intel’s campaign site at: (…)

The three organizations are also calling on people worldwide to signal their support at for the need to increase access to education and to foster economic development in emerging countries. Intel will donate 5 cents for every person who clicks on the “we’ll donate 5 cents for you” button on the Web site. The company will provide up to $300,000 this year to the “Small Things Challenge”, in addition to the $100 million that Intel is investing in other education programs this year. Intel believes that children everywhere deserve to have the skills necessary to become the next generation of innovators. (…)


Lathering up success in South Sudan for just US$1,000

by Alexandra Fielden

Yei, Sudan, 7 January (UNHCR) - At a time when governments around the world are using hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out troubled financial institutions, some former refugee women in South Sudan have proved what a huge difference just US$1,000 and a little initiative can make.

Imelda Yobu is among the 300,000 refugees who have voluntarily repatriated to South Sudan since 2005 after decades spent in exile, and who are successfully rebuilding their lives and their country with the help of the UN refugee agency. (...) Last year, UNHCR identified the group’s soap-making skills while conducting returnee monitoring in the Lutaya area of Yei. (...) The agency gave the women a grant of US$1,000 - the capital needed to purchase the caustic soda required for making soap. The other ingredients - water, palm oil and colouring - are readily available in Yei. (...) They now produce 200 large bars of soap per day. Members of the group share the soap and travel back to their villages to sell them to members of the local and international community for two Sudanese pounds each (about 90 US cents). The income enables Imelda and her friends to pay for their children’s education.

“The project has changed the life of many people in the Lutaya area,” says Kiden Joyce Abraham, a UNHCR community services assistant. “It has improved hygiene and sanitation at the domestic level. It also reduced the spread of cholera and diarrhoea in the community.” (...)


Southern Sudan: generating economic development through microfinance in southern Sudan

6 January  - ACDI/VOCA has won a $10.4 million subaward from the USAID-funded Generating Economic Development through Microfinance in Southern Sudan (GEMSS) FIELD Leaders With Associates (LWA) Program. AED is the prime implementer of the FIELD LWA, which will work to increase access to financial services in Southern Sudan for poor entrepreneurs and households.

Southern Sudan is in the process of rebuilding after a protracted civil war. Under the agreement with the Republic of Sudan, Southern Sudan is largely autonomous now and has the chance to vote for full independence in 2011. Currently in Southern Sudan, there are three microfinance institutions, a microfinance association and a newly established currency. Nonetheless, the financial sector is still hampered by low technical and managerial capacity, insufficient resources and inadequate physical or legal infrastructure.

Strengthening the sector to meet underserved client demand will allow the microfinance sector to play an important role in rebuilding the region, helping microenterprises to grow and meet Southern Sudanese expectations for concrete benefits to peace.


ADRA expands recovery phase in post-cyclone Myanmar

Silver Spring, Maryland, 31 December - Seven months after Cyclone Nargis devastated the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Myanmar, killing at least 140,000 people and affecting an estimated 2.4 million others, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is expanding relief efforts in vulnerable areas to meet the long-term needs of residents in the region. In collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), ADRA Myanmar is increasing food distribution activities by nearly doubling the number of targeted communities receiving food aid, from 106 villages to 197. ADRA expects that this increase in aid will benefit an additional 48,000 people. (...) Since Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in early May, ADRA has provided aid to 74,000 survivors in Myaungmya and Labutta located in the Irrawaddy Division, implementing more than $4.7 million in humanitarian assistance, and providing another $4.6 million in emergency food and non-food items for survivors. (...)


IFAD Member States rally to fund US$3 billion global poverty effort

Rome, 19 December - Despite the financial crisis capturing headlines around the world, the international community confirmed today its backing to a US$3 billion, three-year programme of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Coupled with co-financing from IFAD’s many partners, this will mean as much as $7.5 billion for agriculture, poverty reduction and food security in the most vulnerable rural populations worldwide. 

As part of this funding package, IFAD’s Member States meeting here for consultations on the Eighth Replenishment of the Fund’s resources, agreed on a target of $1.2 billion in new contributions, to help poor rural people, already hurting from recent food and fuel price volatility. Coming on the heels of the renewed commitments made in Doha, Qatar during the recent Financing for Development Conference, this new funding from Member States represents an unprecedented 67 percent increase over IFAD’s last replenishment and is the largest ever replenishment in the organisation’s history. It was led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s five-fold increase announced in April, followed by others from industrialized countries, OPEC and other developing countries. (...)


US$258.38 million in IFAD loans and grants to support rural poverty programmes and projects world wide

IFAD’s Executive Board concludes three-day meeting in Rome.

Rome, 19 December - Poverty eradication efforts in 16 developing countries received a boost this week when the IFAD Executive Board approved more than US$197.55 million in loans and US$60.83 in grants. “The agreement of the Executive Board to this package will enable IFAD to continue to work closely with national governments and partners to help poor rural people in these 16 developing countries build better lives,” said IFAD President Lennart Båge. “The rural poor, who are the most vulnerable to global problems like climate change and financial crisis, are at the centre of IFAD’s work and we are single-minded in our commitment to do more and serve them better. The Board’s support will allow us to do that”.

The following initiatives will receive IFAD funding: Western and Central Africa: $14 million in loans and $31.33 million in grants (...); Eastern and Southern Africa: $67.9 million in loans (...); Asia and the Pacific: $68.8 million in loans and $27.3 million in grants (...); Latin America and the Caribbean: $34 million in loans and $0.45 in grants (...); Near East and North Africa region and Central and Eastern Europe and Newly Independent States region: $12.85 million in new loans and 1.75 in grants (...)






$6.5 Million for UNRWA from Saudi Arabia

11 January - The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Campaign for the Relief of the People of Gaza is sending UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) $6 million USD to provide food for the people of Gaza. It is also sending $500,000 to buy fuel which UNRWA provides to municipalities and utilities in Gaza to pump water and incinerate refuse, both essential operations in prevent outbreaks of disease. The funds for food will enable UNRWA to provide food packages to 550,000 people for sixty days.

Welcoming the donations, Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said: “This is an enormous help to UNRWA and the people of Gaza, coming at a time of dire need. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, both government and people, have been generous in the past to Gaza, the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Palestinian People having donated  last summer $5 million for Gaza, as well as $1 million for refugees in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has also financed major housing projects in Gaza, unfortunately unfinished because of the blockade.  (...)


HKI to benefit from sales of the new Braille Dreidel®: the Braidel®

New York, 9 January - Contemporary Jewish art company, Art as Responsa, has created a Braille version of the traditional Hanukah toy, the dreidel and is donating 18% of the price of each Braidel® sold through 2010 to Helen Keller International (HKI).

The Braidel® can be purchased directly from Art as Responsa through their website which can be accessed here, Each toy is made from aluminium and replaces the traditional Hebrew text with an inspiring Braille message which reads, “A great miracle has happened here.” HKI will use the money raised by the sale of The Braidel® to continue its mission to save the sight and lives of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable across the globe. Speaking about the partnership, Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of HKI says, “The Braidel® is a wonderful concept, especially this year which marks the 200th birthday of Louis Braille. (...)


Terrorised north Congo families receive Caritas aid

8 January - Caritas will distribute aid to 10,000 families in northern Democratic Republic of Congo following Christmastime massacres by Ugandan rebels. Rebels have been terrorising people in northern Congo for some months now. But a wave of attacks over the festive period saw over 400 people killed in a series of massacres by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels on Christmas day and beyond. Many others fled their homes as a result of the attacks.

Caritas Congo spokesperson Guy-Marin Kamandji, who is currently in northern Congo says, “What I have heard from survivors is appalling. In spite of the presence of armed forces in some villages, many people are still terrified of more violence. People fled with nothing and Caritas is ensuring the needs are met of those who have been uprooted by the Christmas violence and by the attacks before then.”

An initial distribution of non-food items to 5000 families will take place on 9th January in Doruma, Faradje, Dungu and Isiro. People will receive clothes, eating utensils, water containers and a tarpaulin for shelter. A further 5000 families will be helped in subsequent distributions. (…) Up to 150,000 people are thought have left their homes. (...)


Darfur: Ban welcomes US pledge to airlift supplies to UN-African Union force

7 January - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has thanked United States President George W. Bush for his country’s recent commitment to airlift supplies urgently needed by the joint United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan. “The expedited arrival to Darfur of this material, which includes trucks and other essential equipment, will strengthen the ability of the United Nations to protect civilians and carry out other aspects of its mandate,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

The hybrid force, known as UNAMID, was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians in Darfur. (...) The US initiative “sets a constructive precedent for broad international support to expeditiously deploy UNAMID,” the statement noted, adding that the Secretary-General calls on other Member States to consider similar efforts to speed up the deployment of the mission.

At full strength, UNAMID, which marked its first anniversary last week, is slated to become the world body’s largest peacekeeping operation with some 26,000 military and police personnel. (…)


Interact club sends school supplies to Mexico

by Donna Polydoros

Rotary International News,  6 January - U.S. Interactors are honoring a classmate who died in a car accident in 2006 by fulfilling her vision of distributing school supplies to children in Mexico. The Interact Club of Etna Union High School in Northern California has distributed over 400 backpacks filled with crayons, scissors, paper, and other supplies to grade school students in places like Ensenada and Tixkokob.

The project was first envisioned by club member Antonia Cornell-Banke, who came up with the idea after several trips to Mexico with the school’s Spanish club. (…) After Antonia’s death, her fellow Interactors carried out her vision, naming the project “Toni’s Backpacks” in her honor. Members of the Spanish club have helped out, distributing the school supplies during their annual trip to Mexico. (…)

The Interact club raises funds to support the project by organizing charity basketball games between the school’s varsity boys’ team and a local law enforcement team. They also solicit support for the project throughout the community; US$20 sends a backpack loaded with supplies to a student in Mexico.

Toni’s Backpacks is now in its third year. The project has inspired other regional Interact and Rotaract clubs to start their own backpack programs.



Peace and security



LAO PDR: MAG support enhances Mine Risk Education

9 January - The National Regulatory Authority’s (NRA) Mine Risk Education (MRE) unit is operating with renewed confidence following almost two years of support from MAG. MRE helps people to safely live, work and travel through areas contaminated with landmines and/or unexploded ordnance (UXO). More than safety message delivery, the MAG approach to MRE ensures that the target audience has the knowledge and skills required to adopt feasible strategies and take appropriate action which will keep themselves and others safe. MRE can be delivered in a variety of ways such as through radio and TV broadcasts, participatory face to face discussions, billboards, posters and drama. The full-time support provided by MAG to the NRA since March 2007 (funded by the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission) has now been phased out to allow the unit staff to operate on their own. (…)

Today up to 25 per cent of all villages in Lao PDR are affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO), which includes big bombs, mortar, cluster munitions and submunitions, and landmines. (…) MAG is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board, which is the body for self-regulation of fundraising in the UK. More than 90% of MAG’s income is spent directly on clearance programmes.


UN-African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur marks one-year anniversary

31 December - The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission, tasked with protecting civilians in war-ravaged Darfur and quelling the violence in the Sudanese region, commemorated its first anniversary in operation today as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that troop levels have exceeded 60 per cent of the full authorized strength. (...)

“The Secretary-General applauds the efforts of UNAMID and troop-contributing countries in reaching this target in the face of serious difficulties, including the volatile security situation in Darfur,” Mr. Ban said in a statement. (...) The mission’s website today noted that “while an all-inclusive peace agreement has yet to be achieved, UNAMID’s dedicated work has facilitated humanitarian relief, local conflict resolution, and security so as to establish and strengthen conditions that can enable the people of Sudan to resolve this tragic conflict.”(...)


Going green and building Peace in the Middle East

(In the present terrible circumstances, Good News Agency has no item of good news to report from this area but this one. The planning of intercultural events led by the youth was certainly a fine perspective before the conflict that started at year-end, and we trust it will be the youth that will make this dialogue again possible when the present dreadful conflict is brought to an end. — Publisher’s note) 

18 December - Survivor Corps expanded its global reach in 2008 with a new program in Israel and the West Bank, which brings together Jewish, Arab and Christian teenagers to collaborate on environmental projects. The history of the conflict in the Middle East often keeps young people apart and fearful of others. By collaborating on environmental, cultural and social projects, teens are overcoming prejudice and setting a positive example for the community. (…)

Survivor Corps is also working in the north of Israel, in Haifa, a mixed Jewish and Arab city on the coastline. Our Youth Environmental Project for Jewish, Muslim and Christian teenagers and young adults will bring these individuals together at a spring in a public garden that has been the site of past inter-ethnic violence. The young people will tend the neglected garden, and then use the site as a venue for intercultural events. The name of the spring, Ein Siah, is fitting for the project as Siah means dialogue in Hebrew and guests in Arabic, implying both communication and hospitality. (...)

Survivor Corps is a global network of people helping each other to overcome the effects of war and conflict and give back to their communities.  In 2008, Survivor Corps grew from Landmine Survivors Network. The organization has expanded its mission to help all survivors of war. Landmine Survivors Network was co-founded in 1997 by two landmine survivors, Jerry White and Ken Rutherford. From the late Princess Diana of Wales to Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan the organization received support, praise and partnerships at the highest levels.

Survivor Corps focuses on the unique contribution and leadership of conflict survivors because we believe no one is better equipped and motivated to break cycles of violence than those who have survived war. Our programs currently help survivors in: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Croatia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Jordan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Uganda, Rwanda, United States and Vietnam. Our signature peer support program connects survivors with survivor role models to offer encouragement and motivation. This is crucial to helping new survivors find hope, get jobs, and get on with their lives. (…)






Launch of UNICEF The State of the World's Children 2009

On 15 January 2009 at 10.30 am (Johannesburg time), UNICEF will launch The State of the World’s Children 2009 with a thematic focus on maternal and newborn health. The report will be available at:

The State of the World's Children 2009 examines critical issues in maternal and newborn health, underscoring the need to establish a comprehensive continuum of care for mothers, newborns and children. The report outlines the latest paradigms in health programming and policies for mothers and newborns, and explores policies, programmes and partnerships aimed at improving maternal and neonatal health. Africa and Asia are a key focus for this report, which complements the previous year's issue on child survival.


Mobile phones, adapted to monitor child health, net UNICEF top development prize

9 January - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will share first prize in the United States Development Agency’s innovation competition, known as the “Development 2.0 Challenge,” for adapting basic cell phones to monitor the health of children in danger of malnutrition. The “RapidSMS” text-messaging system, to be finalized by graduate students from Columbia University, which shared in the prize, was first developed in Ethiopia to monitor food supplies and will now be used to map and track child malnutrition trends in Malawi more accurately and in real time, enabling quick responses to unfolding food and nutritional crises, according to UNICEF.

“This is a perfect example of UNICEF’s vision of bringing together experts from around the world and from diverse fields such as academia, private sector and civil society,” Sharad Sapra, Director of UNICEF’s Division of Communication, said. The initial phases of the Malawi project are expected to run from January to May of 2009. (...)


New hope for the disabled in Southern Sudan

Khartoum/Juba, 4 January (ICRC) - An estimated 35,000 disabled people in Southern Sudan, including many war victims, can look forward to vastly improved access to care and support as the region’s first-ever physical rehabilitation reference centre starts work in Juba. The facility will be officially inaugurated on 5 January in the presence of representatives of the Government of Southern Sudan. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) built and equipped a complete new centre with total roofed area of 1200 m2 at a cost of 1.8 million US dollars. The construction, which lasted over two years involving complex contract management, is the result of constructive collaboration between the ICRC and the local authorities. The facility will be able to treat and accommodate with all necessary facilities 60 inpatients at any given time and will serve up to 100 patients per month when fully operational. (…) The ICRC’s physical rehabilitation programmes aim to enable the disabled to regain mobility, thereby helping them to become economically independent and to be fully integrated into society. (…) Elsewhere in Sudan, the ICRC is also providing physical rehabilitation services in Khartoum, Nyala, Kadugli, Kasala and Damazin. (...)



Energy and safety



Energy saving home shortlisted for award

14 January - Energy saving measures have helped a Victorian home in Camden make the shortlist of a sustainability prize. High levels of insulation and draught proofing as well as solar panels and heat recovery ventilation contribute to the EcoHome's energy efficiency and its place on the shortlist of Sustain Magazine's Refurbishment Award in the Property and Built Environment category.

The EcoHome, which was retrofitted by Camden Council with the University College London, was originally built in 1850. Following its refurbishment, the council claims its carbon emissions have dropped by 80 per cent. And the measures being tried out in the home could help other borough residents cut their energy bills.

Councillor Keith Moffitt, leader of the council, said: "(...) It is an important start for us to see how similar properties in Camden, many of which fall within conservation areas, could benefit from eco refurbishment and measure the reduction of carbon emissions in the area."

Last year, the home won an Inside Housing magazine award.


WRI becomes pioneer in Global Carbon-Offset Market

Washington, DC, 8 January - The World Resources Institute is now one of the first U.S.-based organizations to purchase Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from the global compliance market established by the Kyoto Protocol. Since CERs are used by countries to meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, under which the scarcity of CERs is tightly controlled, they are generally much more expensive than offsets purchased in voluntary markets. “A robust compliance market is necessary to fight global warming,” said Manish Bapna, WRI’s managing director. “Our offset purchases are part of a ‘walk the talk’ ethic that we have at WRI. They also afford a number of learning opportunities for the organization.” (...)

The offsets purchased by WRI are tied to the emissions reductions that have been achieved by specific projects. One is a landfill gas project in Nanjing, China, and the other is a wind power project in Tamil Nadu, India. WRI’s offsets were procured through EcoSecurities Group PLC, an independent project developer that specializes in sourcing, developing, and trading emission reduction credits. (…)

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people’s lives. Our mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. Because people are inspired by ideas, empowered by knowledge, and moved to change by greater understanding, WRI provides - and helps other institutions provide - objective information and practical proposals for policy and institutional change that will foster environmentally sound, socially equitable development. (…)


Experts, industry figures meet on renewable energy. Big new prize

Abu Dhabi, 19-21 January - Some 15,000 experts and industry leaders in the field of renewable energy meet for the World Future Energy Summit in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which sits on one tenth of the world’s oil. The event is billed as the largest meeting of influential figures within the renewable energy field. The new Zayed Future Energy Prize will be awarded at the event to encourage innovation. The size of the award suggests that the industry is hedging its bets, and it indicates a new awareness of fortunes to be made in fossil fuel alternatives.

The award honors “promising new directions in renewable and sustainable energy, efficient use of traditional sources of energy, conservation, sustainable energy policy and communication and public awareness,” according to the conference organizers. The selection process for the prize is modeled on the Nobel Prize. The finalists will be selected by global experts in clean energy. The winner will receive US $1.5 million and the two finalists will be awarded US $350,000 each. It’s open to individuals, companies, organizations and NGOs. (…)

Conference topics include: energy policy, investment and funding, green buildings, clean transport, solar and wind energy, biofuels, waves, nuclear power, geotherman energy, waste into energy, fuel cells, carbon management and environmental strategy.



Environment and wildlife



DPRK: Reforestation aims to reduce disaster risks

by Francis Markus, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in Pyongyang

9 January - The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Red Cross is helping to replant trees in this once forest-rich country in a bid to curb floods and landslides worsened by decades of deforestation. With food production remaining a crucial issue, however, the pressure from farmers to plant crops among the seedlings could threaten the success of the process. The project is supported by the Norwegian Red Cross through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) as part of community-based disaster preparedness work in dozens of ri or grassroots communities.

“In Norway we practically live in the woods, so when we see a country that has historically been protected by a blanket of trees, but which has lost that protection, it makes us feel sorry,” says Norwegian Finn Jarle Rode, the IFRC’s programme coordinator in Pyongyang. (…)


Certified Chinese forest reaches million hectares

Beijing, China, 7 January - Forests owned by members of the Chinese chapter of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) went beyond 1,000,000 hectares for the very first time late last year. Set up and managed by WWF, GFTN aims to eliminate illegal logging and improve the management of valuable and threatened forests. By facilitating trade links between companies committed to achieving and supporting responsible forestry, the GFTN creates market conditions that help conserve the world’s forests while providing economic and social benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them. This latest news marks a significant step for GFTN-China in its widescale promotion of FSC certification.

The FSC is an independent, not for profit, non-governmental organization that provides standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in responsible forestry. WWF is one of the main supporters of FSC globally and has been working on FSC certification for about eight years in China. (…)


Green resolutions for 2009     

Set your strategy for a greener 2009, and see what changed in the energy saving world during 2008.

2008 brought more energy saving light bulbs, fewer plastic bags, a new energy saving package for home insulation and more. Help keep up the green trend in 2009 - try out our 5 green new year's resolutions. (...)



Religion and spirituality



Celebrating Epiphany

One of the first ecumenical, interreligious dialogues.


Epiphany marks the traditional celebration of the visitation of the Magi. “The Three Wise Men” that Christians sing about weren’t Christians or Jews. They were from other places with other religions and faiths but they came to see the Child, the one that was foretold.
In many ways Epiphany is one of the first ecumenical, interreligious dialogues. Differences were suspended, politics put aside, and true conversation was possible. Wonder and awe was shared by all.


Guidelines for Interreligious Dialogue

Br. John Martin Sahajananda, OSBCam

from Bulletin 82, January 2009

Brother John Martin draws a distinction between the eternal aspect of Truth and its historical manifestations in the world’s religions. He then proposes a series of questions that can help one recognize the contributions and limitations of each of these historical manifestation and become more open to the eternal Truth. (...) A final religion or a final scripture does not exist. All religions and scriptures are only ladders. The purpose of all scriptures and all religions is to help human beings to find their union with God. From this union comes inner peace and happiness. (...) In order to understand the place of religions we need to understand the nature of Truth. Truth has two aspects: the eternal aspect and the historical aspect. (...) The historical aspect of Truth or God is manifested in time and space and it is present in the sacred scriptures. (...) Hence there is a constant need for humanity to move from the historical truth into the eternal truth. (...)


In Tehran, a Christian-Muslim symposium affirms dialogue, criticizes media

17 December - Equal participation and shared responsibility in society are at the basis of a peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims, stated participants at an inter-religious symposium in Tehran, Iran last week. They highlighted the value of learning from each other’s faith and criticized “irresponsible media”.

The 13-14 December symposium on “Religion and peaceful coexistence” was jointly convened by the Tehran-based Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization and the World Council of Churches (WCC). (...) A joint communiqué summarizing eight points (...) states: “Peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims should be based on their equal participation and shared responsibility towards society and each other. This includes recognizing and respecting one another’s religious and civil rights, and taking a common stand whenever the rights of religious communities are violated and whenever irresponsible media try to present a distorted image of any particular religion, offending its symbols and followers.” (...) For the first time, the symposium saw the participation of representatives from Iranian churches. (...)



Culture and education



Launch of UNESCO International Year of Astronomy

Paris, 9 January - The International Year of Astronomy will be launched at UNESCO on 15 and 16 January. This United Nations year is a worldwide celebration of astronomy, with activities in almost 140 countries. One such activity, 100 hours of astronomy for example, will bring together as many amateur astronomers as possible from around the planet from 2 - 5 April. (…) It is an opportunity for people all over the world to rediscover their place in the universe by observing the sky at night and during the day. It is also intended to provide a platform for informing the public about recent discoveries in astronomy, while demonstrating the central role that astronomy can play in science education. (…)


Boosting Creativity and Innovation in Europe: Official launch of the European Year 2009 in Prague

8 January - The Czech Presidency of the EU and European Commission launched on Wednesday the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 with the slogan “Imagine. Create. Innovate”. The Year was inaugurated in a ceremony in Prague by the Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The aim of the Year is to promote creative and innovative approaches in different sectors of human activity and help equip the European Union for the challenges ahead in a globalised world. A conference to mark the launch of the Year was held in Prague on Wednesday, attended by a host of personalities including high representatives of EU member states, of the European Commission, members of the Czech government and several Ambassadors of the Year. The Conference ran in parallel to the meeting between the Commission and the Czech Government and was followed by the evening ceremony in the National Theatre in Prague. (…)


Three Eco-schools win the project “Environment and Innovation”

9 January – The prize-giving to the three eco-schools which are the winners of the project “Environment and Innovation” took place today in the presence of the Councillor for the Environment of the Rome Municipality, Fabio De Lillo, on the Capitol Hill. The project has been carried out by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in collaboration with Toyota since  2005 at a European level, in the context of the Eco-schools Programme.

Toyota, in renewing its commitment to supporting the international project promoted by the FEE, underlines the attention it gives to education and the safeguarding of the environment, two of the fundamental pillars which, together with road safety, represent the basic principles of Toyota’s philosophy.

The Eco-schools Programme combines two of these principles from the perspective of training future generations by spurring them to propose solutions which are effective in promoting more responsible behaviour with regard to the environment in which we live. The programme “Environment and Innovation” is dedicated in its second edition for the biennium 2007-2009 to Denmark, Norway, Finland, Turkey and Portugal besides Italy. In its first edition for 2005-2007, it involved 100 schools, about 250,000 students and more than 1,500 teachers in Europe, earning great success with the theme “Sustainable Mobility” in Germany, Italy, Spain and England. (...)


German Rotarians team up with publisher on book project

by Sandra Prufer

Rotary International News, 7 January - Rotary clubs in Germany have teamed up with science book publisher Wissen Media to release a 192-page book highlighting Rotary projects that are saving lives and improving the living conditions of people in the world. Blue Planet: Together for a Better World was unveiled at the RI presidential membership conference in Vienna in December. The book project was initiated by the Rotary Club of Dorfen.

The book includes 77 groundbreaking Rotary club projects and discusses the vital contribution of volunteers in helping to address global challenges, such as natural disasters, epidemics, climate change, conflicts, and war. “Initially, we just wanted to publish a photo book in a small edition to present our club projects and raise funds for PolioPlus,” says Matthias Lange, who coordinated the project with his wife, Ute, also a Rotarian. The couple, who own a TV production company, consulted with the publisher of Wissen Media who suggested adding editorial content. “After a brainstorm we realized that this could grow into a bigger, more ambitious project, and we invited all German clubs to join,” says Lange.

In the following months, dozens of clubs submitted project descriptions. The German-language Rotary regional magazine and Rotary International staff provided additional content and photos to illustrate international projects. District 1840 (part of Austria; Germany) also received an RI Public Relations Grant for the book project. A portion of the proceeds from sale of the book, available in Germany and through the German language Web site  will benefit PolioPlus.


Take part in this year’s Global Action Week to help tackle youth and adult illiteracy!

1 January - The Global Campaign for Education has chosen “Youth and Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning” as the theme for the 7th Education for All (EFA) Global Action Week taking place from 20-26 April 2009. (...) Without adequate literacy skills, it is very difficult for people to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Providing adults with access to literacy programmes and children with access to school are fundamental steps in tackling poverty.

EI encourages you to organise activities in support of literacy and quality Education for All during Global Action Week. The suggested slogan for national activities during Global Action Week 2009 is ‘Open Books, Open Doors’. To find out more about how to participate in this year’s activities, please visit:


Adult education in Arab countries to be discussed at Tunis conference

Paris/Tunis, 31 December - Adult education is at the heart of a regional conference in Tunis from 5 to 7 January, organized by UNESCO and the Government of Tunisia. The conference is intended to provide an overview of the situation in Arab states and to draw up new lines for action. It is one of a series of preparatory meetings ahead of the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education being held in Brazil in May 2009. (…)

The conference, entitled “Investing in Adult Learning: Building Knowledge and Learning Societies in the Arab Region,” will look at a range of experiments being carried out in the region on adult learning and education and will identify the key issues, trends and challenges in the field. The conference will also emphasise the importance and relevance of adult learning in today’s world and encourage investment in this sector, including in literacy programmes. At the end of the conference, a report will be adopted, based on a series of national reports, together with a plan of action for the region. (…)


5th Tri Continental Film Festival 2009, Human Rights in Frames Breakthrough, Building Human Rights Culture - New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, Kolkata

New Delhi, 31 December - Breakthrough is proud to present the 5th Tri Continental Film Festival, India 2009. Every year we have endeavoured towards expanding the visual platform for human rights issues from the global South. This year we have 28 films from more than 20 countries. The festival will take place from 15-18 January 2009 at the India Habitat Centre as well as the Alliance Francaise de Delhi, New Delhi. The festival will then travel to Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and Kolkata. (…)


2009 International Year of Reconciliation - 20 December

On 20 November 2006, the General Assembly decided to proclaim 2009 as the International Year of Reconciliation (resolution 61/17).  It expressed its steadfast determination to pursue reconciliation processes in those societies affected or divided by conflicts, describing such processes as necessary for the establishment of firm and lasting peace.

The Assembly invited concerned Governments and international and non-governmental organizations to support reconciliation processes among such societies.  It also invited them to implement adequate cultural, educational and social programmes to promote the concept of reconciliation, including the holding of conferences and seminars, and the dissemination of information on the subject.


UNESCO General and Regional Histories

The General and Regional Histories count among UNESCO’s major achievements. They are the result of some forty years of international cooperation between 1,600 of the most renowned scholars from various regions of the world. Aimed at providing readers from different regions with deeper knowledge of cultural and scientific heritage while promoting excellence in research, the Histories consist of a total of 51 volumes (…)


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Next issue: 6th February 2009.


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Elisa Peduto, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos.

Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 4,000 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 49 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace”. The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.


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