Good News Agency – Year X, n° 171



Weekly – Year X, number 171 – 30th April 2010

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

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

 “…In conveying the appreciation of the Head of State for the passion and the professionalism with which you spread, above all among the young, the culture of "good news", I would like to take this opportunity of adding my personal greeting”. (From the letter of the Adviser for the Press and Information of the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to the Editor of Good News Agency, 12 October 2007.)



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 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,700 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity 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 is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.  




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



More countries sign on to illegal fishing treaty

Signature by Russian Federation brings total to 16

Rome, 29 April - Five more nations have signed the FAO-brokered treaty that once it enters into force will deny access to fishing ports to ships involved in illegal fishing. The new signatories include: Australia (27/04/2010), Gabon (26/04/2010), Peru (3/03/2010), New Zealand (15/12/2009) and the Russian Federation (29/04/2010). This brings the number of countries that have signed the "Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing" to sixteen.

 Signatures represent a signal of support for the Agreement and are an important first step in the process, followed by ratification at the national level and then official notification of ratification to FAO. Once notice of the 25th ratification is received by FAO, the Agreement will become active. It will be the first legally binding international treaty focused specifically on the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (...)

Eleven other FAO members -- Angola, Brazil, Chile, the European Community, Iceland, Indonesia, Norway, Samoa, Sierra Leone, the United States and Uruguay -- signed the Agreement in November 2009 after its text was approved by the FAO governing conference.

"Once it becomes active, this will be the most significant international treaty dealing with fisheries since the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement," said Changchui He, FAO's Deputy Director-General, following the signing of the Agreement by Andrey Krainiy, Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries of the Russian Federation, on April 29 during a ceremony at FAO. (...)

The text of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing is available online.


New treaty body on pollution registers established

Geneva, 23 April - The first meeting of the governing body of the 2003 Kiev Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), which entered into force on 8 October 2009, concluded in Geneva yesterday. The Parties to the Protocol committed to achieve full and effective implementation of the Protocol and called on Signatories and other interested States to accede to the instrument. The meeting culminated in the adoption of a declaration and set of decisions providing the foundation for the future work under the Protocol.

The PRTR Protocol was drawn up under the auspices of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, known as the Aarhus Convention. However, the Protocol is open to States that are not Parties to the Convention. It is also open to accession by States from outside the UNECE region. Thus, despite its important link to the Aarhus Convention, the Protocol has some of the characteristics of an independent treaty with a potentially global scope.

In an opening address to the meeting of the Parties, Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary, underlined the importance of the Protocol as a tool for promoting greater transparency: “The Protocol establishes a new international benchmark in securing public access to information on threats posed to our environment by toxic emissions,” he said. “It will enable ordinary citizens, simply using the Internet, to find out about the major sources of polluting emissions in their immediate neighbourhoods.” (...)


UNECE’s Industrial Accidents Convention celebrates its 10th anniversary

Geneva, 20 April - UNECE celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, which entered into force on 19 April 2000.

The Convention aims at preventing industrial accidents as well as preparing and responding to it should an accident occur. In its first 10 years, the Convention has contributed to enhance safety culture at industrial plants. It also facilitated the cooperation between different public authorities to work together in a coordinated way on industrial safety e.g. regular authorities’ coordination meetings held in the Republic of Moldova, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Over the years, many countries have improved their mechanisms to identify hazardous plants in accordance with the Convention. As a result of this work national experts are using the same criteria for the classification of chemicals and location criteria across the UNECE region. (...)

“The Convention is an example of how countries can work to solve transboundary safety issues. The improvement in industrial safety is an essential component for safer communities and a cleaner, healthier environment” said Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary. (...)


US-Nigeria create new ‘strategic partnership’: State Dept

6 April - The United States on Monday announced the launch of a US-Nigerian Binational Commission to bolster bilateral ties on energy, regional security, good governance and a range of other issues. The new “strategic partnership” makes Nigeria the first African nation to be afforded such a status under the Barack Obama administration. It also provides a forum for talks on creating greater transparency and improving the Nigeria’s accountability and fiscal responsibility, thereby helping the African country fulfill its potential as a regional leader, US officials said.

Along with South Africa, Nigeria is one of “two key, critical countries on the continent,” said Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African Affairs and a former US ambassador to several African nations, as he unveiled the accord, which goes into effect on Tuesday. (...) Carson said Monday that at the heart of the US-Nigeria accord is an emphasis on good “governance, transparency and integrity.” (…)




Human rights



Human rights meeting in the Asia-Pacific region

27 April - Delegates attending the Bangkok conference were given the opportunity to review and discuss the evolution and benefits of a number of regional human rights mechanisms including the most recent, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights which met for the first time in April 2010. “The 15th Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region, hosted by the Royal Thai Government was attended by representatives from the UN Human Rights office, several national human rights institutions and civil society organisations and delegates from more than 30 States. (...)

Through the initial Workshops, member states agreed on a ‘building block’ approach to the development of regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, focusing initially on national-level strategies. (...)


A new world record: Universal Declaration in 370 languages

23 April - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has set a new world record of being the most translated text. The UN Human Rights office has received a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records stating that the Declaration has been translated into in 370 languages and dialects from Abkhaz to Zulu. A decade ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) received a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records as the most translated document in the world. At that time, the UDHR was available in 298 languages and dialects. Since then, the UN Human Rights office has received a constant flow of translations. The latest additions are all found in Russia: Karelian, Nenets, Nganasan, Veps, Tuvan, Shor, Altay, Khakas, Yakutian and the Evenki language, which is also used in Mongolia and in the People’s Republic of China. They are spoken in different areas of the country but all share some historic elements. (...)

As High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, on 10 December 2008, the UDHR is “a single short document of 30 articles that has probably had more impact on mankind than any other document in modern history.” (...)


Protect migrant domestic worker rights

20 April - Caritas is launching a campaign to urge employers and governments to protect migrants who work in people’s homes as maids, nannies and carers from exploitation. These workers are often women. They risk long working hours, no social security protection, poor wages and violence. Abuses are difficult to detect as they occur in people’s homes. Employment in private households accounts for about one-third of all female employment in Asia, for example, according to the International Domestic Workers’ Network (IDWN).

The campaign has been launched ahead of the International Labour Organization’s annual conference in June, when a draft convention to protect domestic workers will be examined.

“An international convention would underline that domestic work is work, thus people performing this work have rights like other workers,” said Martina Liebsch, Director of Policy at Caritas Internationalis. “Maids, nannies and carers help us to educate our children, to take care of the elderly or to go to work. They need our respect and recognition.” (...)


UN human rights expert welcomes British law to stop predatory financial funds

20 April - A United Nations human rights expert on foreign debt today welcomed a landmark debt relief law in the United Kingdom which limits the ability of so-called “vulture funds” to sue the world’s poorest countries in British courts for repayment of debts, saying they could have ramifications for a recent court verdict involving Liberia.

“This law marks the first occasion on which a country has banned profiteering by vulture funds,” said Cephas Lumina, in his role as the UN Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. “I commend the UK for taking a critical step to halt the profiteering of vulture funds at the expense of both the citizens of distressed debtor countries and the taxpayers of countries that have supported international debt relief efforts,” Dr. Lumina added in a statement released by his office in Geneva. (...)


Mexico leads countries in UN ‘Blue Heart’ human trafficking campaign

15 April - Mexico became the first country today to launch a national version of the United Nations-led “Blue Heart” campaign against human trafficking, which is regarded as one of the most lucrative forms of illegal activity for criminal groups. (...)

As part of Mexico’s launch, more than a dozen emblematic buildings were lit up in blue across the capital, Mexico City, in a symbolic act to raise awareness about the Blue Heart campaign.

More than 2.4 million people – up to 80 per cent women and girls – are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking, either for sexual or labour exploitation, the UN has said. Other forms of human trafficking include domestic servitude, the removal of organs and the exploitation of children. (...)

In June, Spain is expected be the next country to join the Blue Heart global awareness campaign.  


ADRA empowers minority Vietnamese women through literacy

Silver Spring, Md., USA, April 13 - In northeastern Vietnam, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working to promote and improve the social status of ethnic minority women in the country’s mountainous Cao Bang province through a three-year educational project, the agency reports.

The Literacy Class Empowers Ethnic Minority Women (LICEEM) project, whose main goal is to reduce illiteracy rates among more than 1,500 people belonging to ethnic minorities in the region, is primarily targeting women aged 26 to 35 living in the districts of Bao Lam, Bao Lac and Ha Quang within the Cao Bang province. This initiative also aims to reduce gender disparities in basic education.

Additional components of this ongoing project include raising awareness of topics related to ethnic minority girls and women, organizing classes in literacy and numeracy for project beneficiaries, providing training for literacy facilitators, and establishing and facilitating Women’s Union Literacy Clubs as a way to provide participants with an additional venue for literacy learning. (...)



Economy and development



IFAD Executive Board approves debt relief for Haiti

Agreement sets up US$50 million debt relief programme for outstanding debt

Rome, 23 April - Things are looking up for the people of Haiti with the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approving a debt-relief package for the disaster-stricken nation in its meeting this week. “The agreement provides the basis for permanent debt forgiveness of Haiti’s debt burden to our organization,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD President. “Without this type of relief, Haiti would have been hard pressed to repay its outstanding loans to the organization, to the detriment of the critical reconstruction and development activities. With the generous contributions from our members - plus a significant investment on our part - we are breaking that cycle.” (...)

“A small portion of Haiti’s debt was already forgiven by organizations like IFAD under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative, but the bulk remained,” said Josefina Stubbs, Director of IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division. “By relieving the country of this burden, we are freeing up funds for redevelopment and reconstruction.” (...)


G20 Labour Ministers meet Obama – education and training on the G20 agenda

22 April - G20 labour and employment ministers met yesterday with President Obama and presented him with their recommendations to meet the challenges that the economic crisis is posing for workers and their families worldwide. This was the first time that ministers responsible for labour markets in the 20 largest economies in the world had met. The ministers reviewed the massive programs launched in the last year to respond to the crisis and discussed additional measures to ensure a sustained recovery that produces enough jobs for workers. The labour and employment ministers also discussed a 21st century job skills training strategy. Under the heading “Prepare our workforces for future challenges and opportunities” they stated that “education, lifelong learning, job training and skills development strategies should be prioritized and linked to growth strategies.” (…) Together with other Global Unions, EI will continue to work closely with the ILO and the OECD on the development of effective strategies for Vocational Education and Training in all countries – whether in the G20 or not.


Harvesting hope: building sustainable solutions to climate change in Nicaragua

April 22 - MADRE is celebrating Earth Day by celebrating the many women who are combating the harmful effects of resource exploitation, industrial agriculture, and environmental destruction.

In Nicaragua, MADRE and our local partner Wangki Tangni established Harvesting Hope, a project that trains women in small-scale organic farming and livestock-management. We provide seeds, ongoing training and farm animals. MADRE and Wangki Tangni recently provided organic watermelon, cabbage, squash, tomato and cucumber seeds for 125 small organic farms and coordinated four farmers’ markets. (...)

Through Harvesting Hope, MADRE and Wangki Tangni have trained thousands of women on the North-Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. (...)


Value chain approach to boost farmers’ incomes, food security in Philippines

New USDA-funded project to build skills, resources of 25,000 farmers

Davao City, Philippines, April 21 - A new $5.4 million project aims to increase the incomes and food security of 25,000 farmers in the Philippines by harnessing local value chains to increase opportunities and sustainability in growing high-value crops like cocoa, coconuts and rice. (...) Working in targeted Mindanao provinces, the three-year USDA-funded CoCoPal program will link its activities to the local farming systems approach called palayamanan, which derives its name from palay (rice) and kayamanan (wealth). Palayamanan combines rice with other high-value crops through the efficient use of farm resources to ensure that farmers can produce more while retaining soil fertility, according to ACDI/VOCA. (...)

ACDI/VOCA, working with key local partners including Landcare Philippines Foundation, Philippines Rice Research Institute, Cocoa Foundation of Philippines, and Philippine Association of Small Coconut Farmers, will improve post-harvest processing facilities and practices through the CoCoPal program, which derives its name from cocoa, coconut and palayamanan.(...)


UN agency and Australia team up to support decent work in Asia-Pacific nations

21 April - The United Nations labour agency and the Government of Australia have signed the first-ever partnership agreement to support jobs for people in Asia and the Pacific.  

The five-year partnership agreement will provide $13.9 million in the first two years. The funds will go to ILO initiatives, such as the Better Work Programme which was designed in 2006 to improve labour standards and competitiveness, and is being piloted in Jordan, Lesotho and Viet Nam. The funding will also support labour law reform, a Pacific growth and employment plan, youth employment in Timor-Leste, green jobs and labour migration governance. (...)


FAO steps up aid to Sahel pastoralists

Poor rains impact food production in Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali

Rome, 21 April - FAO is stepping up aid to herders and pastoralists in Niger and Chad amid a growing food crisis caused by last year’s poor rains that have resulted in a steep decline in agricultural production and dried out livestock pastures. An estimated 9.8 million people are now vulnerable to severe hunger in the two countries, with thousands more under threat in the north of Burkina Faso and northeast Mali. (...) In response to the deteriorating situation in Niger - which already went through a major food crisis in 2005 - FAO is rolling out eight new projects worth $12.7 million that will benefit an estimated 2.6 million people. The projects are funded by the EU, the UK’s DFID, Spain, Belgium and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The programmes include the immediate purchase and distribution of 7 850 tons of animal feed, 2 500 tons of cereals and vegetable crops seeds, and fertilisers for the main June planting season as well as the October dry one. (...)


Strong increase of remittances to Central America and the Caribbean

‘Money sent home’ is helping the poor rural people

Rome, 15 April - Migrant workers from a majority of countries in Central America and the Caribbean were able to send home more money to their families during the first months of 2010 than at the same time last year, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced today. “After a year of extreme hardship because of the ongoing economic challenges resulting from the financial crisis, migrant workers are beginning to send more money home,” said Kevin Cleaver, Associate Vice-President of IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. (...)


IFAD provides US$19.2 million for reducing rural poverty and enhancing food security in the north-east of Turkey

Rome, 12 April - A new US$26.4 million IFAD-supported project will help reduce poverty and enhance food security in three of Turkey’s most eastern provinces. The Ardhan-Kars-Artvin Development Project will endeavour to improve livestock and horticulture production and village service industries to the benefit of some 13,000 poor households in 160 villages of the Ardhan, Kars and Artvin provinces. IFAD will provide a loan of US$19.2 million on ordinary terms to finance the project under an agreement signed by Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD, and Salih Ercan, Economic Counsellor of the Turkish Embassy in Rome today. (...) According to the project’s design document, it will introduce best practices in cereal and forage production, improve livestock husbandry practices, rehabilitate and modernize village and rural infrastructure and provide access to technologies, know-how, processing facilities and market linkages. Improved irrigation, for example, will lead to a 20 percent increase in the yields of cherries, apricots and tomatoes. (...) With this project, IFAD will have financed eight projects in Turkey for a total of commitment of USD 142.7 million


WANGO online World Congress of NGOs - June 8 and 9

The World Congress of NGOs is WANGO’s (World Association of Non-Governmental Organization) flagship event. In the past, it has been held in such venues as Bangkok, Thailand; Washington, D.C.; Budapest, Hungary; Toronto, Canada; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Gathering for these unique events have been leaders of non-governmental organizations (charities, nonprofits, civil society organizations) from throughout the world, as well as prominent representatives from the governmental and corporate sectors.

The 2010 event will be an online conference, allowing a wider participation of NGO leaders, who in the past may have been restricted by associated costs (air travel, accommodations), visa issues, or inconvenient timing. As with the traditional World Congress, this event will feature keynote addresses, panel sessions (4), workshops of practical importance (10), and the WANGO General Assembly. Also part of the proceedings will be an interview with an international leader, an online Happy Hour, an online Exhibit Hall, and much more.

Call for Papers - While the speakers for various workshops, sessions, interviews, and keynote addresses are selected by the Technical Program Committee, the Congress is making available opportunities for up to six NGO leaders and representatives to present papers during the Congress.


63rd United Nations DPI/NGO Conference: Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDGs

Melbourne, 30 August-1 September - The 2010 Conference will focus on global health as it relates to the Millennium Development Goals

The Conference entitled “Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDGs” will be the third to be held outside UN Headquarters in New York. It is planned to take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) ( in Melbourne, Australia, from Monday, 30 August, to Wednesday, 1 September, 2010.

The conference is organized by a partnership of the Department of Public Information (DPI) in cooperation with the NGO/DPI Executive Committee and the Government of Australia. The Conference Planning Committees of New York and Australia have invited world-renowned experts and grassroots activists in the field of global health to participate in an exciting programme that would include opening and closing sessions, roundtables, workshops and exhibits as well as opportunities for networking and experiencing Australia’s capital Melbourne for event, sport, culture an food. The Government of Australia has selected the award-winning MCEC, the largest and most versatile convention and exhibition space in the Southern Hemisphere.






Europe: on 29th April, the 2nd Day of Inter-generational Solidarity

26 April - The European Day of Inter-generational Solidarity and Cooperation will come back on April 29th. Promoted by Age Platform Europe (, the initiative, now in its second year, as explained by the organisers, “aims to encourage European politicians to put inter-generational solidarity on the agenda of the European Union and support the proposal to make 2010 the European Year of Active Ageing and Inter-Generational Solidarity”. As well as the high-level conference due to take place in Logorno, Spain, on April 29th and 30th, many initiatives have been organised all over Europe. As to Italy, on April 29th, Rome will host (Sala “Luigi Di Liegro” at Palazzo Valentini) the presentation of the “Manifesto of inter-generational solidarity”. Highlights include: fair sharing of resources; respect of people’s dignity; recovery and promotion of elderly people; a national conference. The same venue will also host the European project “Inclusage” with its activities and first results, and the Caritas report on 2010, the European Year for the Fight against Poverty and Social Exclusion. In addition, the “reforming of the Inter-Generational Agreement” will be revived on the occasion of the Day.


Rotary - Matching Grant supports lifesaving heart surgery

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 23 April - A 1996 Group Study Exchange (GSE) spawned a project that today is providing lifesaving heart surgery to 100 low-income working women in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. Many of the women contracted rheumatic fever, which can cause abnormal heart function, as children. They are receiving heart valve replacements through a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project supported by the Rotary clubs of Coimbatore Metropolis and Pontllanfraith, Gwent, Wales. “The women are the daily providers for their families. Their failure to provide such support would leave their children as orphans,” says Mike Parry, governor-nominee of District 1150 (Wales), district Foundation committee chair, and a former GSE team leader to North Carolina, USA. (...)

The effort is one of five Foundation Matching Grant projects that have grown out of the relationship between the two clubs since the GSE. All have focused on meeting people’s health needs while protecting their livelihoods. (...)


Chinese magnate promises fortune to charity

April 23 - The real estate and hotel tycoon Yu Pengnian has pledged his entire fortune to charity, cementing his position as one of China’s leading philanthropists, Agence France-Presse reports.

Mr. Yu announced Thursday he was donating all of his wealth, some $470-million in cash and property, to his foundation in Hong Kong, bringing his total contribution to $1.2-billion. He said none of his wealth “will be inherited by anyone” or used for business or investment.

The newly released Hurun Philanthropy List, which tracks donations by China’s wealthy, ranked Mr. Yu No. 1 for the fifth straight year, China Daily writes. Overall giving by the country’s richest people is on the rise, with the 50 wealthiest Chinese residents donating $1.2-billion last year, an eightfold increase since the Hurun list debuted in 2004.


China - UNICEF rushing classroom tents, school supplies to affected children by Qinghai earthquake

Beijing, 21 April - The 7.1 magnitude earthquake which struck near the town of Jiegu in northwest China, took a heavy toll on schools. Local education authorities estimate 80% of primary schools and 50% of secondary schools in the county were severely damaged. UNICEF yesterday dispatched 150 school tents to the earthquake zone in a bid to support education authorities’ goal of re-establishing regular classes by the end of April. Yushu is one of the poorest counties in China. Fully 50% of students in Jiegu Township are boarding students, sent from surrounding areas to the county seat for their studies. Yushu County has a total of 22,719 students and 1,086 teachers. The early return of children to school following disaster is an important step in helping them overcome psychosocial stress. The UNICEF 72 square metre classroom tents will provide space for 7,500 students to resume their studies. UNICEF is also sending student supply kits, blackboards and generators, as well as warm clothing, boots, wool blankets and school supplies for children in both day and boarding schools. (...)


Save the Children and Scholastic establish ‘Education Recovery Fund’ to benefit Haiti over the long term

Westport, Conn., USA, April 19 - Save the Children has teamed up with Scholastic to establish a long-term education recovery fund that will benefit the children of Haiti.

The Scholastic Education Recovery Fund was seeded by a $50,000 contribution from Scholastic following the earthquake and will receive an additional $50,000 contribution from Scholastic in connection with this month’s publication of a new paperback edition of Hope Is An Open Heart by Lauren Thompson. The book pays tribute to children’s resilience and ability to consider the brighter aspects of life — to be hopeful — even in the most difficult situations. (...)

The Haitian Ministry of Education estimates that 90 percent of schools in the affected areas have been damaged or destroyed following the January earthquake, that over 400,000 children have been displaced, and that only 50 percent of students have returned to schools. In addition, many teachers and administrators in the Ministry of Education were killed or injured in the quake or were displaced from their homes. O’Gara added, “The education recovery fund will help us reach more Haitian children through our education programs, getting them back into school and a routine among friends, where they can begin to recover from this crisis, and setting them on a path of learning that will benefit them for years to come.”


UNESCO organizes theatre performances for displaced people in Haiti

15 April - A theatrical project supported by UNESCO with the Haitian street theatre troupe Zhovie aims to give displaced people in Port-au-Prince a moment of joy and solace, and to help relieve their fears after the 12 January earthquake that left many of them with nothing. Zhovie gave the first performance of the play “Zonbi Lage” on 11 April in a camp in the Haitian capital to an audience of several thousands. (...) “The purpose of this theatre production is to provide a therapeutic experience for the earthquake victims, particularly young people,” explains Jean Joseph, a Zhovie player who teaches philosophy in a senior high school in the capital. (...)

The aim of the play is at once therapeutic, cathartic and “psychosocial”, i.e. it takes into account the individual’s links to the collective. Psychosocial support helps relieve and heal psychological wounds caused by disasters or violence. (...) Asha-Rose Migiro, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, attended the performance and said, “The population needs food for the soul too.” The theatre troupe is now much in demand and UNESCO is planning to sponsor a series of performances in other camps for displaced persons.


Empress Shôken Fund: helping national societies respond today, plan for tomorrow

April 12 - In 2010, the Empress Shôken Fund will grant more than 111,000 Swiss francs to three projects carried out by Red Cross Societies on three continents. The initiatives include a road safety project, called “A safe way to school” in Georgia, a youth brass band project in Sierra Leone and the development of community-based health and first aid in Tuvalu.

The Empress Shôken Fund was established in 1912 by Her Majesty the Empress of Japan to support Red Cross and Red Crescent activities worldwide. (...)

The projects are selected by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). (...)


Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, CARE and other partners help provide more than 13,000 additional emergency shelter kits for Haiti

Atlanta, GA, USA, April 12 - With $3.8 million in funding from the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and other groups today began assembling more than 13,000 additional emergency shelter kits for Haitians left homeless following the devastating January 12 earthquake.

A donation of $250,000 from the Atlanta-based humanitarian organization CARE also is helping to make these kits possible.(...) In total, Habitat for Humanity and its partners will distribute more than 21,000 kits - enough to help more than 100,000 survivors of the Haiti earthquake. Approximately 8,500 kits were assembled in Atlanta and the Dominican Republic in February. (...)

The emergency shelter kits are part of the first phase of Habitat’s three-fold response to improve the housing conditions of 50,000 affected families. The next phases include providing thousands with transitional and reconstruction shelter solutions. (...)


Progress in Haiti three months after earthquake

9 April - Progress is underway in Haiti as Caritas relief efforts have reached more than 1.5 million survivors three months after a devastating earthquake. The 12 January quake killed 230,000 people, destroyed infrastructure, affected three million people, and pushed a poor and underdeveloped country further into misery. Caritas members from over 60 countries have been supporting relief efforts to provide food, shelter, livelihoods, clean water, a safe place for children to play and learn, healthcare, and trauma counselling. Caritas has spent over US $14 million (Euro 10 million) so far and plans to respond to the emergency in Haiti over the next five years to help Haitians build a self-sufficient country.

Caritas shelter programmes have provided 100,000 people with tents or tarpaulins in the capital Port-au-Prince, in Léogâne, Jacmel and other communities. Working with affected communities means providing meals for 1.5 million people, trucking in 30,000 gallons of clean water to four camps every day, building latrines and giving out hygiene kits, jerry cans, and water purification kits. Caritas is also working with the international community on finding safer places for people at present in makeshift camps to move to while ensuring their rights are respected. To prepare Haiti’s regions for an influx of 600,000 displaced people from the capital, Caritas has distributed emergency food aid in areas preparing for an influx of 600,000 people. (...)



Peace and security



UN trust fund backs projects in fight against piracy off Somali coast

23 April - A United Nations trust fund set up as part of the international fight against maritime piracy today announced plans to support a series of five projects that are aimed at assisting Somalia and its neighbours to tackle the scourge.

B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and chair of the Board of the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, unveiled $2.1 million of projects after a meeting of the fund at UN Headquarters in New York. The five projects being backed by the fund, which was set up in January by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, are focused largely on efforts to prosecute piracy suspects. Four projects will help strengthen institutions in the Seychelles and the autonomous Somali regions of Puntland and Somaliland in such areas as mentoring prosecutors and police, building and renovating prisons, reviewing domestic laws in piracy and increasing the capacity of local courts. A fifth project aims to help local media disseminate anti-piracy messages within Somalia. (...)  


Building trust in police is outstanding challenge in Timor-Leste

22 April - Timor-Leste’s police force has made considerable strides since its creation 10 years ago, the top United Nations police official in the nation has said, while adding that the key challenge remains bolstering the trust of the people in the fledgling institution.

UN Police Commissioner Luis Miguel Carrilho told the UN News Centre that Timor-Leste is now a “safe country” with extremely low crime rates. The restaurants in the capital and most populous city, Dili, are bustling, and “you can see people enjoying their daily routines,” he added.

The main task, the official said, is to “increase the trust of the community in the Timorese police [known as PNTL] and to make sure that we leave behind a sustainable and credible police force.” (...) Last month, parades were held in Dili to mark the first decade of existence of the PNTL, established on 27 March 2000 by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), which was set up to assist the country during its transition to independence in 1999.

Since then, the Police Commissioner said, “very, very positive” steps have been taken to enhance the standing of the PNTL.  


Iranian Kurdish Organizations prohibit the use of anti-personnel mines

Geneva, 21 April –The quest to rid the Middle East of anti-personnel mines has taken a step forward today with two armed non-State actors signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment. By signing this document, the “Kurdistan Democratic Party - Iran” and the “Free Life Party of Kurdistan/Liberation Forces of Eastern Kurdistan” have pledged to ban these weapons, as well as carry out, or co-operate in, necessary mine action. With two new signatories, all Iranian-Kurdish armed non-State actors have now committed to the ban of anti-personnel mines. (...)

Geneva Call is an impartial humanitarian organization that engages armed non-State actors in order to convince them to adhere to internationally recognized humanitarian standards in the conduct of war. (...) With the commitments by the KDP and the PJAK/HRK, 41 armed organizations around the world, among them six iranian, have prohibited anti-personnel mines. The Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva serves as the custodian of these Deeds.


Switzerland again donates for demining activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

16 April - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) received a donation from Switzerland, one of the most regular supporters of the ITF, in the amount of 300.000 CHF. (...) The 2010 donation is earmarked for demining activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina which will be carried out by the “Norwegian People’s Aid” (NPA), or more precisely to support two NPA`s demining teams (altogether 18 deminers), from January to December 2010.

In total, Switzerland has contributed to ITF more than 4.5 million US$ for demining activities in South East Europe and remains one of the most regular and recurring donors to the ITF since 1999. (...) Demining activities remain one of the most necessary conditions for socio-economic development of the mine contaminated countries, especially in Bosnia in Herzegovina, which is one of the most mine contaminated countries in the world. (...)


Sudan: Ban welcomes pledges for dialogue after polls close in historic elections

15 April - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed efforts by the ruling parties in Sudan to enter dialogue with opposition candidates and parties as polling ended in the country’s first national elections in 24 years. (...) Polls closed across Sudan today without any major violent incidents, although there were some reported cases of irregularities and opposition boycotts. The National Election Commission responded to early delays and logistical challenges by extending the voting period from three to five days.

The ruling parties have reportedly pledged to engage in dialogue with opposition candidates and parties, including those who boycotted the polls. (...)

The elections have been regarded as an important milestone in the implementation of the CPA, which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of warfare pitting the Sudanese Government against the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The SPLM formed the administration that runs southern Sudan after the signing of the CPA. (…)  


Two UN agencies team up to keep Afghan villagers away from heroin production

12 April - United Nations agencies have distributed 60 metric tons of food to 700 villagers in western Afghanistan in a programme designed to rehabilitate an irrigation canal that is the lifeline of Khosan district and stop locals from working in the heroin industry.

Though the district is considered poppy-free, drug trafficking remains a problem and those who cannot find work in Khosan, near the Iranian border, travel to Farah or Helmand, where they receive about 500 Afghanis a day for harvesting poppies, the raw material of opium and heroin. Some 90 per cent of the world’s heroin supply comes from Afghanistan.

At the request of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World UN Food Programme (WFP) has compensated the canal workers by distributing daily rations.

To ensure that the improvement lasts, UNODC has simultaneously planned an ambitious land-stabilization programme to counter the effect of the past years of drought and the ensuing deforestation as farmers cut the already meagre vegetation for cooking and animal fodder, aggravating the precarious condition of their environment. As a result, sand blew onto the fields and into the canal. (…)






Rotary responds to polio outbreak in Tajikistan

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 23 April - Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative -- the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- are responding to a recent outbreak of wild poliovirus in Tajikistan. Rotary is providing a total of US$500,000 in emergency grants to UNICEF and WHO for immediate polio immunization efforts throughout the country. Neighboring countries are also increasing their surveillance efforts.

Seven children in Tajikistan have been stricken with polio, the first cases of the disease reported there since 1997, and the first in the WHO European region since it was certified polio-free in 2002. “Polio importations such as the Tajikistan cases demonstrate our global vulnerability to infectious disease,” said Carol Pandak, manager of RI’s PolioPlus program. “It highlights the fact that polio ‘control’ is not an option, and only successful eradication will stop polio in resource-poor countries.” Outbreaks of imported cases are not uncommon during eradication efforts, underscoring the critical need to stop polio transmission in the remaining endemic countries: Afghanistan -- which borders Tajikistan -- Pakistan, India, and Nigeria. (...)

Global polio eradication is achievable, and stepped-up efforts to end the disease are paying off. As of 20 April, Nigeria has reported two polio cases in 2010, compared with 193 cases for the same period in 2009. India has reported no cases in the past five weeks. Multicountry synchronized immunization campaigns are continuing in West Africa, and the outbreak that affected the entire region in 2009 now appears to be confined to the westernmost part. (...)

Since 1985, Rotarians have contributed more than $900 million to polio eradication, volunteered their time and personal resources, and helped immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries.


155 million children to be vaccinated this week

As Tajikistan copes with polio

23 April - In a monumental effort to curb the ongoing outbreak of poliovirus in West Africa and further boost immunity levels of children in India and Pakistan, more than 155 million children in 18 countries will receive polio vaccines in the week starting Saturday, 24 April. Children in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East will also receive vaccines as part of Immunization Week activities being held simultaneously in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of immunization in these regions. The activities in Europe are particularly timely as Tajikistan reported this week the first polio cases since the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) was certified polio-free in 2002, a sober reminder of the need to maintain immunity against this highly infectious virus and other vaccine-preventable disease. (...)

Poliovirus travels long distances easily and polio-free regions continue to be at risk until poliovirus transmission is stopped every where. However, it is important to remember where polio has been stopped before it can be stopped more easily. The outbreak in Tajikistan is further evidence that a control strategy would be insufficient to protect children everywhere and that eradication is the only way the world can be sure its children are free from the threat of life time paralysis.


Beating malaria with protective nets and community campaigns

19 April – In a report issued on the eve of World Malaria Day (25 April), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has shown conclusive evidence that mosquito net distributions combined with “hang-up” education campaigns by community volunteers are significantly reducing the spread of malaria. (...)

The report details the findings of a study in Burkina-Faso, where the Burkinabe Red Cross and Ministry of Health piloted the first universal mosquito net distribution in the district of Diébougou last year. The Ministry of Health’s final report shows that while 99.7 per cent of households received a net and 98 per cent of those households received a hang-up visit from a Red Cross volunteer, use of nets increased by 70 per cent when distribution and hang-up information were combined. (...)

In 2010 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will carry out malaria prevention activities in the following countries: Haiti, Indonesia, India, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Zimbabwe.


Renovations at Jericho Hospital begin

Jericho City, West Bank, April 14 – The Palestinian Ministry of Health and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have announced a $2.5 million project to rehabilitate the Jericho Government Hospital. ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) will implement the project, in cooperation with the PA Ministry of Health. Renovations should be completed by February, 2011. (...)

Jericho Hospital serves more than 60,000 residents of Jericho and the Jordan Valley.  But the facilities have deteriorated over the years and are in dire need of renovation.  The project will focus on rehabilitating and upgrading the sewage collection system, ventilation and air-conditioning system, hot and cold water systems and other infrastructure.  ANERA will also build a new kidney dialysis department and medical staff quarters.  Not only will the new facility help improve the quality of care, it also will provide some create 4,000 days of work in an area where job opportunities are scarce.

Rehabilitation of the Jericho facility is one of four hospital renovation projects that ANERA is implementing in the West Bank under the USAID-funded Emergency Water and Sanitation and Other Infrastructure Program, known as EWAS II. The hospitals earmarked for rehabilitation – at a total cost of $7.5 million – include Rafidya Surgical Hospital, Beit Jala Government Hospital and Ramallah Government Hospital. (...)



Energy and safety



US Department of Energy announces closing of $529 million loan to Fisker Automotive   

Manufacturing at Shuttered Delaware GM Plant Expected to Create Over 2,000 Jobs

Washington, DC, 23 April - The Department of Energy announced today the closing of a $528.7 million loan with Fisker Automotive for the development and production of two lines of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The loan will support the Karma, a full-size, four-door sports sedan, and a line of family oriented models being developed under the company’s Project NINA program. (...) Fisker automobiles are driven by electric motors that get their power from a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, or, when that is depleted, by a generator driven by an efficient gas-powered engine. The Karma and Project NINA models will have an all-electric, tailpipe-emission-free range of 40 to 50 miles on a full charge, more than most Americans drive each day. The battery can be charged at home overnight. Using gas and electric power, Fisker plug-in hybrids are expected to have a cruising range of up to 300 miles.

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program supports the development of advanced technology vehicles with improved fuel efficiency that help reduce the nation’s dependence on oil. This is the fourth loan arrangement signed by DOE with an advanced technology vehicle manufacturer.


US Secretary Chu announces more than $200million for solar and water power technologies

New funding will create jobs, expand the availability of cost-effective renewable energy, and reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels

Washington, DC, 22 April - On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department will invest more than $200 million over five years to expand and accelerate the development, commercialization, and use of solar and water power technologies throughout the United States. This funding underscores the Administration’s commitment to foster a robust clean-energy sector in the United States - that will create American manufacturing jobs and a workforce with the required technical training to speed the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. Today’s announcement represents a down payment that will help the solar and water power industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come. (...)


Wind energy reduces electricity prices, says independent study

Wind power reduces electricity prices and CO2 emissions, a study published today by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reveals

21 April - The review ‘Wind Energy and Electricity Prices’, a comprehensive assessment of studies of the impact of wind energy on electricity prices, was carried out by the independent consultancy Pöyry AS on behalf of EWEA. It brings together, for the first time, the findings of case studies in Germany, Denmark and Belgium. The report finds that in the studies reviewed by Pöyry, electricity prices were reduced by between 3 and 23 €/MWh depending on the amount of wind power. It concludes that the studies “essentially draw similar conclusions” and that “an increased penetration of wind power reduces wholesale spot prices.”

“It has already been well-established that wind reduces CO2 emissions,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA’s Chief Executive. “But now we have stronger evidence than ever before that wind power also reduces electricity prices for consumers. The message is clear - if you want affordable CO2-free electricity, increase the amount of wind power in your electricity mix.” (...)[tt_news]=1832&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=50e9c38dd50cae65d176ebb0b4508e31


Wind: 50% of EU electricity in 2050

20 April - Wind energy will meet 50% of the EU’s electricity demand in 2050, top wind energy personalities told Europe’s largest wind energy conference and exhibition.

Topping the agenda at the opening day of the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC 2010) in Warsaw was Europe’s long-term energy supply. “2050 might seem like a long way off, but the decisions we take today will have a big impact on our energy supplies in 40 years’ time,” said Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

With the G8 and EU already committed to an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050, Zervos added: “We can’t allow the politicians to make grand statements and leave the serious decisions to the next generation. Given the long life of power plants our vision for 2050 has to be reflected in the construction of new power plants from at least 2020 onwards.” “A fully renewable power sector is the only solution to reaching 80-95% CO2 reductions by 2050,” he continued. “The remaining carbon emissions will be needed for other sectors, such as agriculture.” (...)[tt_news]=1830&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=76789a6f348cfff08d4798563eec464a



Environment and wildlife



New marine protected areas safeguard northern California’s iconic coastal areas

“Underwater parks” will boost the region’s environmental and economic health

Sacramento, CA, 28 April - On May 1, California’s underwater state park system will expand to include iconic north central coast areas like Point Reyes Headlands, the Farallon Islands, and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Last August the California Fish & Game Commission approved a sweeping marine protected area plan that sets aside northern California’s ocean hot spots to boost the health and productivity of the entire coastline.

The science-based marine protected area network, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point, is designed to restore sea life and protect habitat. It creates 21 marine protected areas, 3 marine management areas and 6 special closures. Eighty-six square miles (11 percent) of state waters along the north central coast have been designated as fully protected marine reserves, leaving almost 90 percent of the coast open to fishing.

This marks the latest step in a five-stage process to implement the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which requires the state to develop a network of marine protected areas down the entire 1,100 mile coastline. California is the first state in the country to propose such a comprehensive plan to protect its marine resources. The MLPA planning process is well underway in the far north and south coasts, with statewide implementation expected by 2011. (...)


Fifth Global Ocean Conference at UNESCO, from 3 to 7 May

Ensuring Survival, Preserving Life, and Improving Governance

26 April - The 5th Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands will take place at UNESCO Headquarters from 3 to 7 May. Entitled Ensuring Survival, Preserving Life, and Improving Governance, the conference is organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, UNESCO and the government of France. Focusing on the interaction between climate change and the oceans, marine biodiversity and governance, the conference is expected to attract close to 700 participants from 80 countries, including scientists, representatives of international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. A policy, science, and technical symposium will open the event on 3 and 4 May. It will be pursued by roundtable discussions and panel meetings on 5 May, and a policy conference on 6 and 7 May. (...)

The conference is held within the framework of the International Year of Biodiversity and of the 50th anniversary of UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. (...)


13 countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus adopt joint initiative for safe, secure, prosperous and environmentally friendly transport

Geneva, 27 April - The national coordinators for the Trans-European Motorway (TEM) and Trans- European Railway (TER) projects from 13 countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus unanimously adopted the “Innsbruck Initiative for safe, secure, prosperous and environmentally friendly transport” on 23 April 2010.

The Innsbruck Initiative was adopted on the occasion of the 53rd session of the TEM Steering Committee and the 28th session of the TER Steering Committee, which took place at a joint project meeting held from 19-23 April 2010 in Innsbruck, Austria. (...) The Initiative will make use of strategies and programmes recently developed by many European countries to improve environmental protection, safety and security in the transport sector.

Experience gained to date shows how efforts aimed at making transport more sustainable could enhance security, safety, reduce environmental impact and contribute to the economy. Investment in safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transport systems and infrastructure help to reduce congestion, accidents, crime and pollution, and thereby contribute to sustainable mobility and to combating climate change. (...)


WWF and Industry Leaders join forces to save European fisheries

Brussels, Belgium, 28 April - Global environment organisation WWF and the leading associations for European seafood processors and retailers today announced they will work together to push for solutions to the crisis of European seas and fisheries. The EU Fish Processors’ and Traders’ Association, AIPCE-CEP, and Eurocommerce, which represents retail, wholesale and international trade interests to the EU, and WWF will be jointly seeking reforms to the troubled European Common Fisheries Policy to lay the basis for sustainable fisheries and a sustainable fishing industry. (...) AIPCE President Guus Pastoor said “For the sake of an improved CFP, EU Fish processors and traders are convinced that it is necessary to join forces to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries for the future of all EU citizens. Therefore we feel committed to support an alliance of partners seeking for a reform which meets the needs of the sector.” (...)

The alliance is also seeking to have all regional stakeholders play effective roles in developing fisheries plans and a culture of compliance for fisheries. (...)


Ramping Up for Earth Day

Washington, DC, 21 April - US Vice President Biden kicked off Earth Day early this year with the announcement $452 million in Recovery Act funding to support a “Retrofit Ramp-Up” in a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building earlier today.  These funds will make energy efficiency affordable for hundreds of thousands of businesses and homeowners, and create tens of thousands of jobs in the process.

Investing in retrofits is a triple win. It’s a win for consumers who save money on their energy bill. It’s a win for the environment because we’re using less energy, which cuts down on harmful emissions from greenhouse gases. And, finally, it’s a win for the American economy, because it creates green jobs, jobs that can’t be outsourced. These awards are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy efficiency and take a new approach toward retrofitting homes and businesses for greater energy efficiency and are part of an overall. (...)

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, the Obama Administration is kicking off five day’s worth of activities, starting with the Vice President’s announcement today. (...) Posted by Katelyn Sabochik



Religion and spirituality



European Council of Religious Leaders annual meeting addresses justice, equality and sharing

Istanbul, 26 April - The European Council of Religious Leaders - Religions for Peace annual meeting opened in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday 26 April 2010. The meeting lasts until Wednesday and the main theme is “At the Crossroads: Justice, Equality and Sharing as a Basis for Cultures of Peace”.

Dr A Hadi Adanali, the adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister on intercultural affairs, gave the key note address in the opening session of the meeting. He presented the Turkish government’s initiatives linked to the Alliance of Civilisation process; “The first decade of the 21st century has seen a growing recognition of the role of religion in the meeting of cultures,” he said, and also emphasised the necessity in our time for religious leaders to understand and interact with youth culture. In his report to the council, ECRL Moderator Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, placed the work of the council within the context or present day challenges for religions in Europe: “Our agenda emerges from the confluence of social and cultural challenges in our continent. As people of faith we are not set apart from each other, nor separated from the ills of humanity. Ours is a dialogue of creeds translated into a dialogue of deeds. (...)


At People’s Conference, Christians commit to help Mother Earth

22 April - In an ecumenical declaration to be presented at the final session of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, Christian organizations and individuals stress the positive role that religions and spirituality can play for a more harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

The 19-22 April conference in Cochabamba is hosted by Bolivian president Evo Morales. Over 10,000 people are attending, according to media reports, many of them from indigenous peoples and environmental networks. The closing session will be held on International Mother Earth Day, 22 April. This yearly event was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009, adopting a Bolivia-led resolution. (...)

The declaration calls for a new spirituality of respectful co-existence, to be forged in a dialogue among the peoples of the earth. It is part of the contribution a coalition of Christian organizations brought to the conference. (...)


Asian Christian assembly heads for prophetic witness and reconciliation

15 April - In a keynote speech on the theme of the 13th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) “Called to Prophesy, Reconcile and Heal”, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) said: “There is no true prophecy that does not speak both the critical truth and contribute to the building up of a vision, a dream of the new life in common.” The CCA assembly, which is taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15- 20 April, also reached “an important milestone in the ecumenical movement,” Tveit said referring to the election of its first woman general secretary. The Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang was elected as the next general secretary of the CCA, a regional body of over 100 member churches from different denominations. In his 15 April speech, Tveit said that the “combination of callings” expressed in the theme points to the “significant contribution” of Asian churches to the “global reflection of what it means to be one”. (...)


Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day - May 16, 2010

World Shift Day will launch a 24 hour meditation and prayer marathon to encircle the globe starting with the Mt. Fuji event where over ten thousand people will gather in a ceremony for peace and the awakening of all humanity.

The kick off event for World Shift Day will be the Symphony of Peace Prayers event taking place at the Mt. Fuji Sanctuary in Japan, May 16th, 10:00am – 1:00 pm Japan time. Participate as an individual, group or organization to collectively generate a worldwide energy field of pure conscious thought to urge the world to shift.

Link simultaneously with Mt. Fuji to launch World Shift Day or organize a meditation and prayer event to amplify the energies throughout the day.

Co-sponsors of the Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day ate: The World Peace Prayer Society and The Club of Budapest



Culture and education



Internet: Madrid, the third EURODIG on April 29th and 30th

27 April - No-access system to protect copyrights, the role of Europe in the debate on trans-national regulation of the Internet, responsibility for contents published online, protection of online privacy, and measures against cyber-crime: these are the main points on the agenda of the third European Dialogue on Internet Governance (Eurodig) due to take place in Madrid on April 29th and 30th to coincide with the Spanish presidency of the EU. Promoted by the Spanish Forum on Internet Governance, the Council of Europe and the Swiss Federal Communication Office (Ufcom), the meeting will bring together delegates from governments, parliaments, civil society, media and organisers from all over Europe to exchange experiences about the use of social networks by children, new first-level domain names (Tld), issues under local jurisdiction, the appearance of cloud computing and the Internet on the horizon of 2020. The results will be used to prepare the European contributions for the Internet Governance Forum that will be held in Vilnius (Lithuania) from 14th to 17th September.



Preserving creativity from piracy the focus of UN celebrations for day of books

23 April – The United Nations agency tasked with preserving cultural diversity and global heritage is marking World Book and Copyright Day today by highlighting its new online database aimed at protecting creativity from intellectual piracy. The World Anti-Piracy Observatory (WAPO), launched in January by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is a free, web-based reference tool that provides information on national anti-piracy and copyright measures and policies, as well as updated news and best practices. And in her message marking the Day, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova also emphasized the need for better protection for intellectual rights. (…) The World Book and Copyright Day has been observed for the past 15 years to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property. It is celebrated on 23 April, a symbolic date for literature as it coincides with the deaths on that day in 1616 of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.  (…)


UNESCO World Anti-Piracy Observatory

22 April - The World Book and Copyright Day, on 23 April, is the occasion to highlight the importance of the fight against piracy to preserve creativity. The World Anti-Piracy Observatory (WAPO), launched in January 2010, is an innovative web-based reference tool that provides detailed information on national anti-piracy measures and policies. In addition, WAPO contains useful information on best practices, capacity-building, awareness-raising, and news pertaining to anti-piracy activities worldwide. (...) The World Anti-Piracy Observatory provides: a collection of national copyright laws and anti-piracy legislation; news and events pertaining to anti-piracy activities worldwide; information on best practices in the field of anti-piracy; awareness-raising initiatives and capacity-building tools for free and direct download and use.

100 country profiles that streamline anti-piracy related information on a national level are available for free download and use. These 100 profiles can be accessed by region under the “Anti-Piracy Worldwide” heading or by topic such as “Legislation”.  These links can be found on the left-hand information panel of the Observatory.


Intercultural dialogue is a must in ever more connected world, Ban says

2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures

21 April - With the implosion of financial markets on Wall Street and the explosion of a volcano in Iceland highlighting in just two ways how the world is ever more interconnected, enhancing dialogue and understanding among peoples and faiths is more vital than ever, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. “It is the case whether the subject is melting icecaps in one part of the world or rising unemployment in another,” he told a ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York marking 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures in accordance with a General Assembly resolution passed in 2007.

“Like never before, global challenges have local impacts. Local events can have global impacts. This compels us to strengthen cooperation - expand the space for dialogue - and replace barriers of distrust with bridges of understanding.” Mr. Ban stressed that this fundamental reality is also the raison d’être of the UN. “Quite simply, we are in this together,” he said. “Dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions is crucial to fulfilling the central objectives of the United Nations Charter, upholding human rights and advancing development.” (...)


Somali DAFI graduates return to school to teach other refugees in Kenya

Making a Difference

Kenya, 20 April (UNHCR) - Three Somali graduates of UNHCR’s unique higher education scholarship programme went back to school this month to pass on their knowledge to a younger generation of refugees in Kenya. Aden Yusef Mohamed, Ahmed Aden Hasan and Hish Mohamed Maow have spent the past two years studying at the Nakuru Teachers Training College thanks to grants provided under the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative, or DAFI as it is more commonly known. The progamme (...) is sponsored by the German government, which last month signed an agreement with UNHCR to continue their cooperation on DAFI. (...) Now these young men want to try and help other Somali refugees get the same opportunity as they did to study at tertiary level and establish a solid platform for a better future. (...) An estimated 12,000 refugees have benefitted from DAFI scholarships since the programme was launched in 1992.


Are you water wise? Earth Day 2010 celebrates a precious resource

‘Be wise with water’ is the message for this year’s fortieth anniversary of Earth Day celebrated on April 22 with a variety of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) events worldwide.

14 April - Launched in 1970 in the United States, the Earth Day movement has more than 17,000 partners and organizations throughout the world. This year should see more than a billion people participate in activities offered by the movement, making this day the only event celebrated simultaneously around the world. The United Nations celebrates International Mother Earth Day on the same date. (...)

Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point for advancing climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. The Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions of people who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a unique opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to unite and create a global green economy.


ANERA funds new engineering faculty in West Bank

Washington, DC, April 7 – ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) is pleased to announce its agreement with Al-Quds University to establish a new engineering facility for undergraduate degrees.

ANERA Advisory Council member Fawzi Kawash was instrumental in organizing this major educational project located on 4,000 square meters of land on Al-Quds University’s Abu Dis campus. The school will bear the name of its donor Najjad Zeenni, a successful businessman and engineer who grew up in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon after fleeing Palestine in 1948. (...)

Initially, the school will offer degrees in mechanical, electrical and civil engineering and later will add courses in communications and architecture. (...)

Ground will be broken in the fall of 2010 with a completion date scheduled for 2012. (...)


The Practical Visionary - A new world guide to spiritual growth and social change

By Corinne McLaughlin with Gordon Davidson

There is surprising evidence of a powerful new world growing right in our midst -- despite escalating worldwide crises — if you know where, and how, to look. The Practical Visionary reveals this new world and provides eight keys to spiritual growth and social change. 

The Practical Visionary helps you discover eight keys to a new world within you and an astounding new world all around you—with creative solutions to our toughest problems pioneered by practical visionaries:

This book gives you tools to connect with your inner light--the new world within you. It helps you invoke the magic of your soul, so you can find the part that you can play in the new world all around you, and attract the resources you need to thrive despite crises. For more info and video clips on the book:  


2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures

Already 350 activity proposals

The year 2010 is celebrated as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (see Resolutions). The goal of the International Year consists in making the rapprochement of cultures the hallmark of all policy-making at local, national, regional and international levels, involving the greatest number of relevant stakeholders.

Entrusted with the mandate to contribute to build “the defences of peace in the minds of men” thanks to international cooperation in the fields of its competence, namely through education, sciences, culture and communication, UNESCO is designated to play a leading role for the celebration of the Year within the United Nations system. In fact, over the years and indeed in the past decade, the Organization has gained special experience and has won recognition through its efforts to demonstrate the beneficial effects of cultural diversity highlighting the importance of borrowings, transfers and exchanges between cultures. (...)


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Next issue: 21 May 2010.

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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, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti.

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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 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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