Good News Agency – Year X, n° 6



Weekly - Year X, number 6 – 1st May 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



Power markets will be further opened by EU liberalisation package

Brussels, 22 April - “The newly-adopted market liberalisation package will help open European power markets and allow a higher penetration of renewables, particularly wind power. One drawback comes in the form of possible opt-outs to full ownership unbundling,” said Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The European Parliament adopted the final version of the third internal market package earlier today, 19 months after the Commission’s initial proposal in September 2007.

According to the final text, National Regulatory Authorities will have to facilitate the integration of renewables into the power grid, and TSOs will have to grant electricity from renewable sources priority dispatch, confirming the requirement contained in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. This will help adjust the balance of the power markets, currently heavily tilted towards conventional fuels. (...)[tt_news]=1496&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1588&cHash=b3d068e164


‘Solvency II’: European Parliament approval of proposed Directive brings modern insurance regulation nearer 

Brussels, 22 April - The European Commission has welcomed the European Parliament’s approval of the proposed Directive on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance, also known as the Solvency II Directive. Solvency II is a ground-breaking revision of EU insurance and reinsurance law designed to improve consumer protection, modernise supervision, deepen market integration and increase the competitiveness of European insurers. Under the new system, insurers and reinsurers would be required to take account of all types of risk to which they are exposed and to manage those risks more effectively and with increased transparency. In addition, insurance groups would have a dedicated ‘group supervisor’ that would enable better monitoring of the group as a whole. Intensive negotiations between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission over the recent months have prepared the ground for swift adoption by the EU’s Council of Ministers, to which the text as approved by the Parliament will now return.(…)More info:


Southern Sudan enacts child-protection law

14 April - Southern Sudan has implemented legislation recognising the rights of children in line with the United Nation’s convention on the Rights of the Child. The United Nations Children’s Fund praised the government for its efforts to create a society in which children can grow and develop to their full potential. “This legislation is a major milestone in creating a protective environment in which children can enjoy their rights to health, education and other basic services, to access information, to express their views, and to be protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation and harm,” said Peter Crowley, Director of Operations for UNICEF’s Southern Sudan Area Programme. The South Sudanese Child Act defines a child as any person under the age of 18 and requires the government to recognise, respect and ensure the rights of children enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the new law, any community member who suspects that a child’s rights have been violated or are at risk must report the case to local authorities.


UN joins forces with world’s parliaments to combat human trafficking

7 April - The United Nations today launched a manual for parliamentarians across the world aimed at helping lawmakers end the global scourge of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. “Around the world, millions of people, usually women and children, are trapped in a modern form of slavery called human trafficking,” Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said at the launch of the handbook. (…) “Twenty-first century abolitionists are now needed to enact laws and take measures to set victims of trafficking free and stamp out a crime that shames us all,” stressed Mr. Costa, as he called on parliamentarians to put an end to human trafficking at the 120th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Addis Ababa. (…)

“Combating Trafficking in Persons: A Handbook for Parliamentarians” - created in collaboration with IPU - contains a compilation of international laws and good practices developed to combat human trafficking, and offers guidance on how national legislation can be brought in line with international standards. The handbook not only outlines measures to prevent the crime but also to prosecute offenders and to protect victims, and includes advice on how to report on human trafficking and how to enlist civil society in the cause.



Human rights



Number of Sudanese returnees from Uganda in 2009 tops 20,000 – UN

23 April - The number of Sudanese refugees returning home from Uganda this year with the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) topped the 20,000 mark today. This brings the total number of people helped home by UNHCR since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended Sudan’s long-running north-south civil war, to nearly 150,000, including 85,000 from Uganda. An additional 160,000 others have repatriated on their own from neighbouring countries. “We are very pleased to see the steady increase in the number of Sudanese returning to their country,” said Stefano Severe, UNHCR Representative in Sudan, adding that the agency looks forward to helping many more repatriate.

Last year saw the return of 42,000 Sudanese refugees from Uganda, compared to just 17,000 in 2007. Thousands more of the 50,000 Sudanese still in Uganda are expected to return before the end of the year.


Kuwait: Iraqi families visit their detained relatives for first time since 1991

Kuwait/Baghdad, 13 April (ICRC) - From 13 to 16 April, members of five Iraqi families will for the first time travel to Kuwait to visit their relatives detained there since the 1990-91 Gulf War. Their visit has been organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in coordination with the Kuwaiti authorities. The detainees are among those arrested and sentenced in connection with the 1990-91 Gulf War and still being held in the Kuwait Central Prison. “The Kuwaiti authorities have fully supported and facilitated the visits, which will bring some relief to the detainees and their families,” said John Strick van Linschoten, the ICRC’s coordinator for visits to detainees in Kuwait. “The ICRC organizes family visits to re-establish and maintain family links severed by armed conflict. We hope to be able to arrange further such visits in Kuwait on a regular basis”. (…)


New web portal calls on public to address serious humanitarian challenges

Geneva, 8 April (ICRC/IFRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are launching a joint online initiative on 8 April to raise awareness of the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges and to show what individuals are doing to make a meaningful difference.

The new web portal,, puts the spotlight on the human cost of wars, climate change, displacement, disease, food insecurity and forgotten crises. It also invites members of the public to post videos and photos, and write about what they are doing to help others. The online gateway features images from award-winning photographers such as James Nachtwey and Ron Haviv, personal accounts from conflict and disaster survivors, and a wealth of ideas for anyone looking for ways to be involved. (…)



Economy and development



Good news from Afghanistan: FAO dairy scheme boosts farm incomes

Rome, 27 April - There’s not so many feel-good stories coming out of Afghanistan these days, and even fewer about life getting better for women there. But FAO has one to tell. A dairy project started by FAO in Kabul and four Afghan provinces: Logar, Wardak, Mazar and Kunduz, has proved so successful that the 1,600 farming families taking part have seen their incomes increase fivefold, from $130 to $650 a year. And as it’s women who do most of the work involved, they keep 95 percent of the money. The project started in 2003 with German funding and its success is built on a number of integrated elements such as improved fodder, access to artificial insemination or breeding bulls, improved veterinary services and better organization. “That plus a lot of hard work,” says Tony Bennett, FAO’s Dairy Officer. “Starting from scratch we helped them increase their milk production to 10,000 litres a day.” The approach is now known as the Integrated Dairy Schemes (IDS). (...)


UNCTAD & NGLS: The global economic crisis and development - the way forward 

Geneva 23 April, World Book and Copyright Day

(UN-NGLS) - On 18 and 19 May UNCTAD, in collaboration with UN-NGLS and other partner organizations, will hold its first public symposium on The global economic crisis and development - the way forward in Geneva. The symposium will provide a platform for people and organizations whose perspectives have not been heard enough in the debate on the causes and effects of the current global economic turmoil. It also aims to deepen understanding of the crisis and to complement other current initiatives that try to address the crisis.

Key topics which will be debated at 3 plenary sessions of the symposium are:

• The global economic crisis - its causes and its multiple impacts;

• Assessing existing responses to the crisis at the international, regional and national levels – limitations and best practices;

• Proposals for the way forward - obstacles and opportunities.

In addition, there will be focussed group sessions/panels to address the issues raised and related to those of the above plenary sessions.

The symposium is open to civil society, international organizations, the media, Member States, UN agencies, Parliamentarians, the private sector and academia. For more information on how to contribute and participate, please visit:


IMF Approves $47 Billion Credit Line for Mexico

17 April - The IMF approved a credit line for Mexico of $47 billion in the first use of a new instrument designed to bolster strong performing economies against fallout from the current global economic crisis. (...) The Executive Board approved the arrangement under the IMF’s new Flexible Credit Line (FCL), which was created in the context of a major overhaul of the Fund’s lending framework on March 24, 2009. The FCL is particularly useful for crisis prevention purposes as it provides the flexibility to draw on the credit line at any time. Disbursements are not phased nor conditioned on compliance with policy targets as in traditional IMF-supported programs. This flexible access is justified by the very strong track records of countries that qualify for the FCL, which gives confidence that their economic policies will remain strong. The Board is also scheduled to discuss an application by Poland for a precautionary credit line of $20.5 billion. (…)


Belgium and FAO link to help African farmers: $6.6 million for DRC, Burundi, Niger and Ethiopia

Rome, 15 April - Belgium has agreed a $6.6 million programme for FAO to provide emergency assistance to poor farmers in Africa as part of an ongoing partnership that has totalled more than $80 million over the past twelve years. Around $ 2.6 million of the latest contribution from the Belgian Development Cooperation will go to directly support farming households whose livelihoods have suffered from the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cassava and sweet potatoes cuttings as well as hand tools, vegetable and other crop seeds will be distributed to 25,000 farmers. In addition, another 4,000 small farmers will receive backing to increase maize production in order to meet market demand. Producer associations will be given basic training in the use of machinery and how to repair warehouses and roads to enable harvested produce to be stored and transported away. This part of the project will be implemented jointly with a World Food Programme “Purchase for Progress (P4P)”, also funded by Belgium. WFP supports local farmers by buying their products which is then distributed as food assistance to hungry people. The Belgian donation to FAO will also assist returning ex-soldiers and farming households hit by floods and high food prices in neighbouring Burundi. They are to benefit from a $2 million programme that will help them return to farming. The rest of Belgium’s donation will go to support farmers in drought-stricken Niger and Ethiopia. (...)

Since 1997, Belgium has financed more than 105 emergency and rehabilitation projects in over 20 disaster affected countries.






We're walking for water! The BARKA Foundation has organized the first Peace, Water & Wisdom Walk, a 500-mile journey by foot from the UN HQ to Bangor, Maine!

1st May - The Walk will begin on May 11 at the Burkina Faso UN Mission in NYC and travel through 6 states on its way to the Unitarian Universalist Society in Bangor, ME on May 30 (check the website for full details and press release).  The objective of this endeavor is to raise funds for BARKA's efforts to make clean water available to the rural population of Burkina Faso.   

The Walk is being led by renowned "prayer walker" Danny Garcia, a 64-year old ex-marine and ordained minister, who has walked over 25,000 miles (more than the circumference of the earth) for various humanitarian causes over the past 12 years.

The BARKA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Housatonic, Massachusetts, USA, and Burkina Faso, Africa.


Cambodia: ADRA first to respond to needs of fire survivors

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 21 April - On April 16, a deadly fire broke out in an impoverished neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, killing one person, destroying nearly 100 homes, and displacing more than 1,120 people. To help survivors recover, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) launched an immediate emergency response, providing food and shelter for 250 families left homeless by the fire. In the aftermath of the disaster, ADRA met with community and district leaders to identify the most pressing needs, which included the distribution of food kits stocked with rice, sugar, salt, oil, fish, noodles, and soy sauce, and plastic tarpaulins. The distribution was implemented in partnership with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cambodia, and received funding from ADRA International, the ADRA Asia Regional office in Bangkok, Thailand, and ADRA Cambodia. (...)

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.


Empress Shôken Fund: helping National Societies respond today, plan for tomorrow

16 April - In 2009, the Empress Shôken Fund will grant more than 148,000 Swiss francs (US$130,000/€98,000) to four projects carried out by Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies on four continents. The awarded projects range from health and care in the Comoros Islands, community-based risk reduction in Panama, cultural orientation of migrants in Malta and strengthened financial systems in Kazakhstan. The Empress Shôken Fund was established in 1912 by Her Majesty the Empress of Japan to support Red Cross and Red Crescent activities worldwide. Since then, it has grown thanks to contributions from the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Imperial Family. The annual allocation of grants traditionally takes place on 11 April, the anniversary of the Empress’ death. 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). (...)


Natalie Cole to support Love. Hugs. Peace. Movement benefiting Save the Children

Camp Rock’s Meaghan Martin and David Archuleta Also Add Talents to Movement’s Song “Let’s Talk About Love”.

Westport, Conn., USA, 16 April - What do GRAMMY® award-winning singer Natalie Cole, Camp Rock star Meaghan Martin and David Archuleta of American Idol fame have in common? They all have joined the 2009 Love. Hugs. Peace.™ movement, a global giving campaign created by Build-A-Bear Workshop® that offers young people around the world fun and simple ways to give back and support Save the Children. These artists have added their vocal talents to the movement’s signature song, “Let’s Talk About Love,” each creating a special rendition that helps spread the message of sharing and love and benefits Save the Children. (…)

To date, with the help of its guests, Build-A-Bear Workshop has already raised more than $100,000 to support Save the Children. In addition, nearly 150,000 kids from around the world have joined the movement at and made a love, hugs or peace pledge to do something small to make the world a better place. (…)



Peace and security



In Brussels, Ban welcomes over $200 million in pledges for security in Somalia

23 April - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed over $200 million pledged to help the emergent Government in Somalia gain a security foothold in the faction-torn country by funding its nascent security forces and the peacekeeping efforts of the African Union (AU). “We have a unique opportunity to support leaders who have shown a commitment to building peace and rebuilding the Somali state,” Mr. Ban said as he opened the donors’ conference in Brussels under the joint auspices of the UN, the AU, European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States. “By opening the space for security, we open the door to a better life for Somalia’s people,” he added, warning that “the risks of not supporting the new government are too high and the costs of failure too enormous.” In total, pledges of $213 million were received by the days’ end, surpassing the $166 million requested by the AU, of which $135 million was targeted to the AU Assistance Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and $31 million for Somali security forces. (…)


Burundi: Ban welcomes political conversion of former militia

22 April - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the accreditation of a former armed opposition group in Burundi as a political party, lauding its renunciation of armed conflict. The certification of the Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) yesterday comes on the heels of the separation and formal disarmament of its armed wing, including the separation of children associated with the group. The FNL’s rejection of violence “paves the way for its participation in the democratic process in Burundi,” Mr. Ban said in a statement. (…) The Secretary-General noted the decisions made by the Burundian Government and the FNL on 8 April, under the leadership of a South African facilitator, to set up a mutually accountable roadmap for the finalization of the peace process. He urged both parties to “continue their enhanced cooperation” to complete the last phase of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. (…)


UN, Congolese forces call joint operation in northeast a success

20 April - The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said today that most of the objectives of its joint military operation with the Congolese Armed Forces against armed groups in the north-east of the vast country have been achieved. The operation, launched earlier this month and code-named “Rock of Steel,” is intended to neutralize the remaining forces of the Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri, known under its French acronym FPRI, and other illegal armed groups in the area. Bangladeshi contingents of the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, supported the Congolese in taking control of several towns, and are currently aiding with mop-up operations in hilly areas that the militias have left, according to a press release issued by the Mission. The press release said that Congolese military and administrative officials had agreed that “MONUC’s support was excellent and the unrolling of the operations on the ground was a success.” (…)


Productive quarter for mine-detection dogs in Ethiopia

More than half a million square metres were cleared from January until the end of March 2009.

by Tormod Nuland

15 April - There are currently 35 mine-detection dogs trained by Norwegian People’s Aid. The Ethiopian Mine Action Organization (EMAO) is deploying them in Togowchale, Somali Region, and Gemhalo in Tigray, close to the Eritrean border. In the first quarter of 2009, a total area of more than half a million. square metres were cleared by the dogs. 19 unexploded ordinances were found in the process. “We have a number of young dogs in the field, and they are steadily progressing in terms of working capacity. They started off around 300 square metres per day, and now they are doing 500”, says Nedim Fejzic, MDD-cordinator for NPA in Ethiopia. From 2005 until 2007, about 2 ½ million square metres were cleared by mine-detection dogs in Ethiopia. The number in 2008 was around 1,6 million. For 2009, Fejzic has high hopes in terms of output for.

“Our aim is to clear 2 million square metres this year”, Fejzic adds.;action=Article.publicShow;ID=7997


The Komalah - The Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran and The Komala Party of Kurdistan prohibit the use of anti-personnel mines

Geneva, 7 April - The quest to rid the Middle East of anti-personnel mines has taken another step forward with two armed non-State actors signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment in Geneva. By signing this document, the “Komalah-The Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran” and the “Komala Party of Kurdistan” have pledged to ban anti-personnel mines, as well as carry out, or co-operate in, necessary mine action. (...) The importance of victim assistance and conduct awareness raising programmes will be promoted through the two organization’s commitment to a total anti-personnel mine ban, thus helping to reduce casualties in Iran. Iran is not a State Party to the anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention. (...)

Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to engaging armed non-State actors to respect and to adhere to humanitarian norms, beginning with the ban on anti-personnel mines. (…) With the commitment by the two Iranian-Kurdish parties today, 38 armed organizations around the world have prohibited anti-personnel mine use with their signature. The Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva serves as the custodian of these Deeds.






World Malaria Day: community mobilization crucial to malaria eradication

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 24 April - On World Malaria Day, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is continuing its work to reduce the numbers of people infected and killed by malaria every year worldwide. In Mozambique, a country ravaged by this deadly disease, ADRA is working to change the attitudes and behaviors of more than a million people through the power of community mobilization. (...) To reach community-level organizations, the Inter-Religious Program Against Malaria (PIRCOM) and ADRA Mozambique launched Together Against Malaria (TAM) in 2007, a project aimed at empowering these organizations to motivate their local communities to actively fight against malaria. PIRCOM leaders have organized faith communities at provincial, district and local levels into smaller committees, training them to deliver five key malaria prevention and treatment messages, including consistent use of insecticide-treated nets, immediate care for sick, fever-ridden children, medicine and hospital visits for new mothers, the importance of eliminating stagnant water, and the value of cooperating with local house fumigation campaigns. (…)


MSF struggles to provide meaningful aid following limited expulsion in Darfur, Sudan

23 April - An expulsion order by Sudanese authorities in early March forced two out of five MSF sections to close nearly half of the organization’s medical programs in Darfur. MSF programs remaining in the region have been struggling to provide meaningful humanitarian assistance to those in need, as a result of insecurity and administrative constraints. After the expulsion, valuable assets were seized, and medicines and other supplies had to be abandoned. Sudanese authorities also held passports of senior staff from the expelled MSF teams, making it impossible for them to leave the country until mid-April, more than one month after their official expulsion. (...) Today, six other MSF projects continue to remain open in northern Sudan, although their future is under careful review and depends on a clear improvement in the working environment in the coming weeks. MSF remains fully committed to providing impartial medical assistance to the people of Sudan. Consequently, MSF is currently engaging in direct discussions with the Sudanese authorities in order to continue to deliver emergency medical aid in Darfur and elsewhere in northern Sudan.

MSF has been working in Sudan since 1979 and began working in Darfur in December 2003.



Energy and safety



European Commission welcomes adoption of climate and energy package

Brussels, 23 April - The European Commission welcomes the formal adoption today of the climate and energy package and legislation to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and transport fuels. The measures, agreed in December, put Europe firmly on the road towards becoming a low-carbon economy and will increase energy security. The package sets legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels and to increase the share of renewable energy to 20%, both by 2020. It will also help achieve the EU’s objective of improving energy efficiency by 20% within the same timeframe. The package makes Europe the first region in the world to implement such far-reaching, legally binding climate and energy targets. It represents an important contribution to reaching an ambitious international climate agreement at the United Nations climate conference in December. (...)


Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomes the agreement of the three Baltic States on the route of the electricity interconnection project between them and Sweden

Brussels, 27 April - Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, welcomed the agreement signed today between the Prime Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to start without delay, the implementation of a Baltic-Swedish electricity link. (…) This agreement represents the first concrete result from the work of the High Level Group on a Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan launched by President Barroso last October. “The project is included in the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) and after its adoption by the Council and the European Parliament, it could benefit from the financial assistance earmarked for these energy projects,” confirmed Andris Piebalgs. This message was conveyed today to the summit meeting of the Baltic countries in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius by the European Commission’s Director General for Energy and Transport, Mr Matthias Ruete who is also chairing the High Level Group on a Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan. The new interconnection if fully in line with the priorities of the Commission in the framework of the Strategic Energy Review is to connect “energy islands” with the internal market. (…)


Wind industry can bring economic growth and jobs to Czech Republic, with proper government decisions

16 April - The future growth of the Czech wind energy sector, and the consequent creation of many new jobs, will strongly depend on the government removing the administrative and grid access barriers that currently hinder wind energy projects. This is what delegates heard at a European workshop on the integration of wind energy in the Czech Republic organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Czech Wind Energy Association (ČSVE). (...) Currently, 500 people are directly employed in the wind industry in the Czech Republic. In total, there is 150 MW of installed wind power capacity in the country, out of the approximately 65,000 MW of total wind installations in the EU. The Czech Wind Energy Association foresees a growth in the market of up to 1,500 MW by 2020. “It’s a feasible target” said Michael Janeček, President of ČSVE. “Investors are showing a growing interest and are just waiting for a positive signal from the government to go out there and harness the promising wind resources of this country”. (...)[tt_news]=1471&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1588&cHash=9cef34afc1


Eco-design requirements for energy related products

MEPs adopted a legislative report on the Eco-design requirements for energy related products. MEPs say that not later than 2012 the Commission shall review the effectiveness of this Directive and of its implementing measures. The resolution was adopted with 394 votes in favour, 13 against and 3 abstentions. The compromise achieved between Council and the EP backs a Commission proposal to widen the scope of the 2005 Eco-design directive (which allows the Commission to set design requirements for energy-using products such as boilers, computers, televisions, industrial fans and light bulbs), to include all energy-related products, which are products that do not consume energy during use but have an indirect impact on energy consumption, such as water-using devices, windows or insulation material. For example, water-saving taps and shower heads reduce water consumption and therefore also the amount of energy used for hot water without altering the user’s perceived well-being. The current Ecodesign Directive (Directive 2005/32/EC) establishes requirements that energy-using products must meet if they are to benefit from free movement within the Community. It covers only energy-using products (excluding means of transport). For these, it can introduce mandatory minimum requirements corresponding to the performance of the product that has least life cycle cost. (…)



Environment and wildlife



International scientific agreement on validation of alternatives to animal testing

27 April - Global efforts to promote alternatives to testing International on animals receive a significant boost today through the signing of a cooperation agreement by international bodies, including the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), tasked with the validation of alternative test methods. (...)

The agreement establishes enhanced international cooperation and coordination on the scientific validation and evaluation of in-vitro toxicity testing methods. Strengthened collaboration among the signatories will ensure that alternative methods are reproducible, based on sound science and able to accurately identify health hazards. This, in turn, should facilitate test methods that are widely accepted by regulatory bodies in the EU, US, Japan, Canada and internationally by the OECD, for example. (...)


European Commission calls for a shakeup in EU biodiversity policy

28 April - European Commission conference on biodiversity in Athens has issued a forward-ooking message regarding the future biodiversity policy of the European Union. Key findings include the need to improve communication about the loss and its consequences, the importance of thinking about ecosystem protection rather than species protection, and the need to ensure that available funds are indeed channelled towards nature protection projects. Scientists acknowledge that biodiversity is in crisis around the world, and that too little is being done to protect it. Europe has a target date of 2010 for halting biodiversity loss in the EU, and while some progress has been made in halting the decline, the original target is unlikely to be met. The Commission called a conference in Athens to examine ways of improving its performance. (...)



United Nations proclaims 22 April “International Mother Earth Day”

22 April - Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann thanked Bolivia for having taken the lead in bringing the resolution to the Assembly and added that, by declaring the International Day, Member States recognized their responsibility, as called for in the Rio Declaration, adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the “Earth Summit”, to promote harmony with nature and the planet to achieve a just balance among economic, social and environmental needs of the present and future generations of humanity. By the text, the Assembly acknowledged that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home”, and expressed its conviction that, in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth”.

The resolution, spearheaded by the Bolivian Government and supported by over 50 Member States, noted that Earth Day is observed each year on 22 April in many countries. The Assembly invites all Member States, the entire United Nations system, regional and subregional bodies and non-governmental organizations “to observe and raise awareness of International Mother Earth day, as appropriate”. (...)


Draft standards for responsible pangasius aquaculture completed

by Jill Schwartz

Washington, DC, 22 April - Draft standards for responsible pangasius farming, created by the 250-plus participants of the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue (PAD), were posted for public comment today. Feedback received during the 60-day comment period will be used by the PAD’s technical working groups, as well as the Process Facilitation Group that manages the PAD, to revise the standards. The global standards will address the key environmental and social issues related to pangasius farming, one of the fastest growing types of aquaculture in the world. Pangasius production increased from 400,000 tons in 2005 to 1.1 million tons in 2008. (…)

The draft standards were developed through a transparent, consensus-based process that began when the PAD was created in September 2007. It is similar to the process used by the Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue, which is in the midst of revising tilapia standards to incorporate feedback received during the first of its two public comment periods. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) coordinates these and six other aquaculture Dialogues. (…)


Internews announces Earth Journalism Awards on opening day of G8 Environment Ministers’ Meeting

22 April - The global media assistance organisation Internews today announced the creation of the Earth Journalism Awards for climate change reporting at a round table on communication at the G8 Environment Ministers’ Meeting in Siracusa, Italy. Designed to increase and improve media coverage of climate change around the world, the competition will culminate with a ceremony at the pivotal United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen this December. (…) Also featured in remarks by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, in her Earth Day speech at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., the Earth Journalism Awards will honor journalists in all media formats and from different global regions who produce the best climate change stories this year. Winners will be selected by expert international juries and invited to attend and cover the Copenhagen Conference, where they will receive their awards in a high profile ceremony on the eve of the political negotiations.

The Earth Journalism Awards’ partners and sponsors to date include the Government of Denmark, which is the COP15 host country, the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, The World Bank, MTV International, the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Edgerton Family Foundation and Flip Video Spotlight. (…)


Rotaractors plant 1,000 trees in Swaziland

by Jennifer Lee Atkin

Rotary International News, 21 April - Four Rotaract clubs in Swaziland recently teamed up to plant 1,000 trees at a school in the Ezulwini Valley in an effort to combat deforestation. It is one of many projects that Rotaractors and Rotarians take part in throughout the year to help the environment. On 22 April, 500 million people in 175 countries will observe Earth Day, which focuses attention on environmental stewardship. (…)

The Rotaract clubs of Malkerns Valley, Manzini, Mbabane-Mbuluzi, and University College of Swaziland partnered with the Swaziland Environment Authority and Nedbank Swaziland to plant their trees over two Saturdays in February and March. The effort was part of the larger Billion Tree Campaign, launched by UNEP in 2006 to curb deforestation, one tree at a time. According to the organization, tree planting is one of the most cost-effective ways to address global climate change. Rotaract clubs throughout District 9250 (Botswana; Mozambique; South Africa; Swaziland) are participating in the Billion Tree Campaign through their district’s Plant for the Planet project, says Eurídice Vicente, 2008-09 district Rotaract representative and past president of the Rotaract Club of Maputo, Mozambique.(…)

In March, UNEP declared that the Billion Tree Campaign had already resulted in three billion new trees being planted. It announced a new target of seven billion by December, when the next UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. (…)


A Guide for Using the Earth Charter in Education was launched

6 April - A Guide for Using the Earth Charter in Education was launched during the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development held in Bonn (31 March – 2 April).

After years of dialogue, drafting and the inputs of a group of individuals involved in education, a Guide for using the Earth Charter in Education is finally ready for use and dissemination. Earth Charter International welcomes comments and suggestions for improving it and plans to release a second version in 2010.

This Guide is intended for all educators who are concerned to develop educational systems and programs that prepare young people and adults to live sustainably and become responsible local and global citizens in the 21st century.

It provides basic information on how to use the Earth Charter in educational settings. It will be especially helpful to educators who are working in the fields of environmental education, education for sustainable development, human rights education, human ecology education, peace education, humane education, social education and allied areas. (...)



Religion and spirituality



Global church groupings welcome Durban II outcome, with some regrets

24 April - Two global church organizations have congratulated the Durban Review Conference on the adoption of its outcome document, while regretting that the latter makes no mention of the plight of hundreds of millions of people affected by caste-based discrimination.

In a joint oral intervention at the conference today, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) welcomed the reaffirmation of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as the international community’s commitment to overcome all forms of racism “in all parts of the world, including those ‘under foreign occupation’”. (...)

The two global church groupings welcomed the proposal made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights of creating an “observatory on discrimination”, which may help throw further light on the situation of the millions of victims of untouchability practices. There are some 260 million Dalits worldwide, 200 million of them in India. Another welcomed development is the exclusion of the concept of “defamation of religions” from the conference outcome document. By not allowing the concept to “inappropriately intrude into [the document’s] human rights framework,” the document instead “properly addresses itself to the ‘stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief’,” the two organizations stated.


Dalits’ inner strength defeats caste-based discrimination

15 April - Caste-based discrimination in India may be 3,500 years old, but something new is unfolding. An emerging liberation movement has consciously chosen not to focus on Dalitsvictimhood, but on the latent strength of the Dalit people, drawn from their own history and culture. (...) Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) together with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and hosted by the Christian Conference of Asia, the conference gathered 95 leaders and representatives of churches and organizations worldwide. The conference’s aim was to stimulate solidarity and support within the global ecumenical family for the 260 million people affected by caste-based discrimination worldwide. (...)



Culture and education



Europe's top innovation prize winners announced

Brussels, 28 April - Health and the environment were the big winners when the European Commission and the European Patent Office presented the 2009 European Inventor of the Year awards. In the presence of Czech President Václav Klaus and over 400 guests in Prague Castle, European Patent Office (EPO) President Alison Brimelow and EU Commissioner Vladimír Špidla today honoured inventors in four different categories.

An international jury selected the winners in the following four categories:

1. Lifetime Achievement – Adolf Goetzberger (Germany) - Commercial use of solar energy and helping to make solar cells a viable alternative to fossil fuels (…)

2. Industry - Brian Druker (USA) and Jürg Zimmermann (Switzerland) - Effective drug to combat chronic myelogenous leukaemia, providing unprecedented rates of recovery(…)

3. Environment - Joseph Le Mer (France) - A heat exchanger of such a brilliantly simple design that it makes heating systems both inexpensive and energy-efficient (…)

4. Non-European Inventors – Zhou Yiqing (China) - Anti-malaria drug based on a herbal agent, which has been instrumental in saving hundreds of thousands of lives. (…)

This year's award ceremony was held in Prague alongside the European Patent Forum 2009 and the Patinnova 2009. The conference, organised by EPO, provides a platform for internationally renowned experts to discuss the potential role of the intellectual property system in combating climate change.


Speakers laud Rotarian’s involvement at opening of Holocaust museum

by Antoinette Tuscano

Rotary International News, 24 April - The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened 19 April, is more than just 65,000 square feet of bricks and mortar for many people, including Rotarian and Holocaust survivor Sam Harris. As museum board president, Harris helped guide the project through more than 10 years of planning and building. It may be one of the last institutions of its kind built with the active participation of Holocaust survivors.

Thousands turned out for the opening ceremony in Skokie, Illinois, USA, an event that highlighted the museum’s purpose and Harris’s role in the project. Harris, a member of the Rotary Club of Northbrook, was thanked for his work by nearly a dozen dignitaries and politicians. The remarks included video messages from U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Audience members included several U.S. politicians and ambassadors from Germany, Poland, and other countries around the world. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke at the event. (…)

Clinton, the keynote speaker, like others throughout the day, stressed that although the museum was built for remembrance and learning, we must do more than that if we are to truly say “never again.” “People have been dying for too long because of who they are,” Clinton said. “It’s not enough to refrain from doing evil; we must stand up against it.”

Many of those who came to the opening did so, in part, to take a stand for what the museum represents: saying yes to life and light and no to darkness and evil, a concept integrated into the building’s architecture. As expressed by the speakers at the event, the museum is more than a repository for artifacts; it is a monument to the hopes for a future without genocide -- a future not yet realized.


First ever Global Model UN conference organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information and its partners - Geneva from 5-7 August

For the first time ever, the United Nations Department of Public Information and its partners will be holding the Global Model UN (GMUN) conference for University students at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from 5-7 August. The conference will be a simulation of General Assembly plenary sessions and the Assembly’s Main Committees, on the theme “The Millennium Development Goals: Lifting the Bottom Billion out of Poverty.” We hope that GMUN will inspire the next generation of leaders to be come involved in national and global issues. Individual applications for delegates are now being accepted!  

Please visit:


6th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations: New York, August 5th - 7th, 2009

Make Your Mark: Youth Led Development and the MDGs

Registration is almost completely full and closed. Don't wait until June 5 (Closing Day for registration), decide to come as a delegate today. June 5, Deadline for Registration. (…)

UN DPI and Permanent Missions Endorse the YA. This year the Youth Assembly at the United Nations is being prepared in full partnership with the UN Department of Public Information. The UN Programme on Youth has a presence on this year's Planning Committee, too.

More than a dozen UN Permanent Missions Endorse and Support the YA. In 2009, the Youth Assembly will be among the largest international youth gatherings on the U.N.s calendar. (…)

The 6th annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations: Meet youth delegates, NGO leaders, U.N. specialists, well- known, respected global diplomats. Three days of intensive discussion and exchange about Youth Led Development and the Success of the Millennium Development Goals. Be there ... and be the change you want to see in your world.

Contact Us - email:  web:


A new online platform gives easy access to national policy initiatives in education and training

23 April - The European Commission has just launched a new online platform to give greater visibility and better access to its joint work with Member States on policy initiatives to reform education and training systems in Europe. Exchanges of information and other activities based on mutual learning between countries are key elements in the EU’s co-operation with its Member States under the ‘Education and Training 2010 work programme’. The Knowledge System for Lifelong Learning (KSLLL) contains easily accessible and up-to-date information on such activities with the aim of making lifelong learning a reality in Europe. (…) The KSLLL will be adapted to support the priority areas and working methods under the new Strategic framework for European co-operation in education and training, which will set out a work programme for the next decade up until 2020, in particular to develop the visibility and dissemination of results.


World Press Freedom Day 2009: Dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation

Paris, 22 April - The way the media influences thought and action and its capacity to foster dialogue, understanding and reconciliation will be the focus of discussions at a UNESCO conference marking World Press Freedom Day 2009, to be held in Doha (Qatar) on 2 and 3 May.

In his message for World Press Freedom Day 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura stressed that: “We must strengthen our efforts to build a media that is critical of inherited assumptions yet tolerant of alternative perspectives; a media that brings competing narratives into a shared story of interdependence; a media that responds to diversity through dialogue.” (…) The conference has been organized under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al- Missned, consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar Shiekh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani. (...)


UNESCO and its partners launch online library to celebrate world cultures

21 April - In a bid to celebrate the world’s myriad cultures, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and dozens of partner institutions today launched the World Digital Library, a Web site featuring cultural materials from libraries and archives worldwide, free of charge. The new Library, known as WDL, will function in seven languages - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish - and includes content in over 40 languages. (…) At today’s launch at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the agency’s Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura hailed the WDL, noting that it “offers and invaluable platform for the free flow of information, for international solidarity, for the celebration of cultural diversity and for the building of inclusive knowledge societies.” Developed by a team from the Library of Congress, the project seeks to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet; provide resources for educators, scholars and general audiences; and close the digital divide both within and between countries. (...)


UNESCO continues to support Ethiopian mini-media through training

Addis Ababa, 14 April - Students from 10 high school mini-media clubs in Addis Ababa visited Radio Fana FM 98.1 station as part of a weekend training programme held from 28 to 29 March. The two-day event, organized by UNESCO and the Peace, Family and Media Association (PFMA), is part of the programme that seeks to build the capacity of school mini-media in Ethiopia to support development communication among youth. For students, the field trip was a practical learning experience as well as an opportunity to gain insights into what could be a future profession. Nariss Mekuma, a student of Lideta Selam School, was ‘delighted by the opportunity to see and understand how radio stations disseminate messages to their audiences’. (...)

The half-day visit to Fana radio was facilitated by various departmental staff, who did their best to keep up with the stream of questions from the eager students. During their tour students were able to see and learn about the live studio, production rooms, archives as well as Radio Fana’s Internet radio broadcasts. (...)


USAID’s Value Chain Development Wiki launched

13 April - Designed to share knowledge and increase learning, the USAID Value Chain Development Wiki was unveiled at a launching event April 13 in Washington, D.C. USAID K&P II Cognizant Technical Officer Jeanne Downing gave opening remarks at the kickoff, which was attended by over 50 representatives of various donors, nonprofits, universities and private sector companies. Downing said the wiki will be a “body of knowledge and learning” and serve as an important resource tool for furthering value chain development. Created under ACDI/VOCA’s USAID-funded Knowledge and Practice (K&P) II AMAP BDS Task Order, the USAID Value Chain Development Wiki contains numerous research papers, tools and publications on the value chain approach. Its purpose is to codify these resources and enable practitioners and researchers to learn about emerging best practices and promote information sharing. (…) The wiki draws from research led by ACDI/VOCA through the AMAP BDS consortium and also contains input from more than 50 different practitioners, donors and academics. The wiki will evolve as feedback is received on additional methods, lessons learned and best practices. (…)


Grooming Global Citizens: UNA's 2009 Middle School Model UN

If Middle School Students Ruled the World, by Randa Alattar

On the rainy afternoon of April 3, eleven hundred middle school students from across the USA and around the world lined up in front of UN headquarters to participate in the 2009 UNA-USA Middle School Model United Nations Conference. The enthusiasm and excitement of the students was palpable as they entered the General Assembly Hall for opening ceremonies.

For the weekend of April 3-4, these students were no longer representatives of their school or home state – instead, they would be known as delegates representing countries across the globe and tasked with eradicating poverty, protecting children from unlawful labor practices and preventing warfare between nation states. The delegates addressed the issues by negotiating, creating alliances and critically thinking about the consequences of their decisions.

The 4th Annual UNA-USA Middle School MUN conference was the largest middle school MUN conference in the world, having grown exponentially since its inception in 2005. This year’s conference was attended by 63 schools from 12 states and four countries. (…) Through compromises and negotiations, delegates listened to the major stakeholders and provided resolutions aimed at achieving their goals. (…) To view photos from the event, visit

Randa Alattar is an intern with UNA-USA’s education department and a graduate student in New York University’s educational leadership, politics and advocacy program.


Linking space to education  

April - Space studies bring a new dimension to science education. They introduce new knowledge, values and perspectives on the planet Earth and develop better understanding of the universe and beyond. Space studies, based on the rational arguments of physics and mathematics, help the development of the critical thinking process, participatory problem solving and decision making skills of students, which are central to quality education, the priority goal of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). (…)

The Space and Education Program focuses on three disciplines: Space science -  Space and aeronautic engineering  - Space technology applications. (…) UNESCO implements the Space Education Programme in cooperation with space agencies, space-related organizations such as the International Astronautical Federation & International Space University, non-governmental institutions and associations (eg EURISY) and with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs. UNESCO is also a partner in regional mechanisms that promote space education and the use of space technology to improve daily life such as the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) and the Space Conference of the Americas.



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Next issue: 22 May 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, Arianna Cavallo, 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 600 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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