Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 188



Weekly – Year XI, number 188 – 17th June 2011

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 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 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



Ban Ki-moon commends Colombia for law on reparation for victims of rights abuse

11 June – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended Colombia for enacting a law that seeks to compensate victims of human rights violations, injustice and deprivation in the South American country, saying the legislation is a fundamental step towards resolving the conflicts that Colombians have endured for decades. The Victims' Rights and Land Restitution Law focuses on the rights of victims, rather than on how to deal with perpetrators and seeks to overcome obstacles that could have resulted in discrimination, Mr. Ban said when he attended the signing of the legislation into law by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón in the country's capital, Bogota, yesterday. The law reinforces the right to remedy for lands seized illegally and recognizes the different needs of different victims, especially women, children and displaced people. It lays the foundation for justice for some 3.5 million displaced people and estimated 500,000 victims of human rights abuse.


Ban welcomes decision to reinstate Honduras into Organization of American States

2 June – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the reinstatement of Honduras into the Organization of American States (OAS), which had expelled the Central American nation two years ago after a military coup d’état ousted former president Manuel Zelaya. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by former Guatemalan vice president Eduardo Stein, was set up by Honduran President Porfirio Lobo after his election in November 2009 to investigate events leading up to the coup that took place in June of that year.



Human rights



World Refugee Day - June 20

A day to reflect on the scope of the refugee problem (there are some 19 million refugees under the care of the UN High Commission for Refugees); the immense personal, family and community suffering experienced by refugees; and the opportunities which the refugee crisis presents all peoples to act on their sense of interdependence and compassion. 


World Day Against Child Labour - June 12

10 June  - The ILO’s most recent global estimate is that 115 million children are involved in hazardous work. This is work that by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals. Children working in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to such risks and the problem is global, affecting industrialised as well as developing countries. Hazardous work is among the worst forms of child labour which the international community has targeted for elimination by 2016.

The need for urgent action in order to reach this target was both the theme of The Hague Global Child Labour Conference in 2010 which adopted a Roadmap for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, and has been endorsed in the ILO’s Global Action Plan. The 2011 World Day Against Child Labour provides a global spotlight on hazardous child labour, and call for urgent action to tackle the problem.


UN resumes repatriation of Liberian refugees from Côte d’Ivoire

27 May – The United Nations refugee agency said today it has resumed the repatriation of Liberian refugees who had been stranded in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, during the recent post-election violence there. Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva that two chartered flights flew 264 Liberian refugees from the southern Ivorian city to Roberts International Airport near Monrovia, the Liberian capital, on Tuesday and Thursday. Ms. Fleming said most of this week’s returnees were heading home for the first time in nearly 20 years. Several were born in exile and are more fluent in French than English, Liberia’s official language. 


Missing Children Europe marks 10 years of activity

May 25 is International Missing Children's Day and on Wednesday evening Belgium's Queen Paola was in Parliament for a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of Missing Children Europe, a European Federation for missing and sexually exploited children, representing NGOs from 17 European countries. The event was opened by EP Vice-President Roberta Angelilli, who said, "the greatest challenge is to spread the information and the photos of a missing child as early and broadly as possible" because the chance of finding a child are highest in the first 24 hours and then decrease rapidly.

This was followed Thursday by a conference aimed at raising awareness about the European hotline for missing children - 116000 - which is operational in 15 EU countries and should be introduced in the others this year.



Economy and development



UN Agency launches new initiative to boost crops and protect environment

New York, Jun 13 - Building on the lessons learned from the Green Revolution of the 1960s, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched a new initiative to grow more food to feed the world’s growing population in an environmentally sustainable way.

The agency notes that there is no option but to further intensify crop production in order to feed a world population projected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050. To eradicate hunger and meet demand by 2050, food production needs to increase by 70 per cent in the world and 100 per cent in developing countries, it adds.

“The key to meeting the challenge lies in sustainable crop production intensification, or Save and Grow,” FAO stated, referring to the new approach that is outlined in a book by the same name and published by FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division. The Save and Grow model “applies external inputs at the right time and in the right amount – no more and no less than plants need,” says the agency.

The new approach draws partly on conservation agriculture techniques which do away with or minimize ploughing and tilling, thus preserving soil structure and health.  The new approach, the agency also points out, will require significant support to farmers so they can learn the new practices and technologies, while governments will also need to strengthen national plant-breeding programmes and overall domestic and foreign investments to the agriculture sector need to be increased. 


Urban horticulture in DRC reaps $400 mln for small growers

City malnutrition drops as more affordable fruit and vegetables available

Rome,10 June - An FAO urban horticulture programme in the five main cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken a bite out of chronic malnutrition levels in urban areas and created a surplus with a market value of over $400 million. The programme, started as a response to mass urban migration following a five-year conflict in the eastern DRC, now assists local urban growers to produce 330 000 tons of vegetables annually.

This compares to 148 000 in 2005/2006, an increase of 122 percent over a short period of five years. Less than 10 percent of the vegetables produced by the project are consumed by beneficiaries. The remainder, constituting more than 250 000 tons of produce, is sold in urban markets and supermarkets, for up to $4 a kilo for the major vegetables produced: tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions. .

As well as food, the programme has also helped provide employment and income for 16 000 small-scale market gardeners, all linked in to the programme and to 60 000 people more that form the links in the horticulture chain from field to table.

The FAO project in the DRC is a flagship model of how to help cities grow their own nutrients and micro-nutrients to keep pace with growing demand. 


Mattel announces sustainable procurement policy

El Segundo, Calif., USA, June 10 - Today Mattel announced the company is developing a sustainable procurement policy for all of Mattel's product lines which will address the important issue of deforestation. The policy will include requirements for packaging suppliers to commit to sustainable forestry management practices. In addition to addressing current concerns about packaging sourcing, Mattel's policy will also cover other wood-based products in its toy lines, such as paper, books and accessories.

Mattel's sustainability strategy is focused on helping the company minimize its footprint throughout the value chain and across the organization, and emphasizes the importance of personal commitment in business as well as everyday actions.

First, by "designing it" with the end in mind, Mattel is focused on exploring opportunities for sustainability in the design of products and packaging; "making it" with eco-efficiencies that allow the company to identify opportunities to reduce environmental impacts through the manufacturing and distribution of its products; and by "living it" with personal commitment through employee-inspired grassroots initiatives.


Paraguayan farmers receive crucial post-harvest technologies

USAID program strengthens rural livelihood, promotes community stability

June 2 – Farming in Paraguay typically means subsistence farming: More than 1.5 million people, making up 73 percent of the country’s farmers, are stuck at the subsistence level tending their small family farms. ACDI/VOCA’s Chief of Party Sergio Rivas explains that these smallholders typically lack both a market orientation and a strategy for long-term sustainability. To promote stability and drive growth, ACDI/VOCA’s USAID-funded Inciativa Zona Norte (IZN) program closely coordinates its activities with local government units to improve community conditions and strengthen local economies.

For example, the governor of Paraguay’s Canindeyú region identified to IZN the key community of Naranjaty as needing assistance because of an emerging vulnerable context. ZN and the local community development council identified the lack of post-harvest processing technologies and grain storage facilities as the main constraint to increasing farmer incomes. So on May 2, 2011, ACDI/VOCA delivered 16 metal silos for grain storage and an industrial thresher and mill for processing grain and preparing animal feed. Producers immediately started a training program on the use of their new equipment.)


New Haiti radio show keeps rural listeners in southeast up-to-date

Weekly ICT initiative provides local news on food security, natural disaster preparedness

June 1 – Knowledge is power and in Haiti’s Southeast Department, a new weekly radio show enables rural Haitians to make better-informed choices. ACDI/VOCA and Haiti’s Southeast Department’s Ministry of the Environment created the radio show to provide practical news on issues related to food security, agriculture, the environment and natural disaster preparations.

ACDI/VOCA uses information communication technologies (ICTs) like radio in its development programs to improve results for beneficiaries. The radio show efficiently informs large numbers of Southeast Department listeners about the latest local development activities and provokes their interest in participating. In addition, it reinforces lessons from area trainings.

The Ministry of the Environment and ACDI/VOCA host the program, which is broadcast from Jacmel’s Radio Hosanna: 102.3 FM Stereo. ACDI/VOCA staff share updates about development initiatives from around the department either in person at the station or by telephone from their respective communes.






Caritas aid for 100,000 people in South Sudan as new nation is born

10 June – Caritas members in South Sudan aim to provide 100,000 people with water, food, shelter, health and education.

South Sudan becomes an independent state 9 July 2011 after decades of conflict, poor governance and natural disasters. People in the emerging nation face an acute shortage of basic needs as the country lacks infrastructure and faces high levels of poverty and underdevelopment.

Caritas members will work together in partnership with the local Catholic Church under a joint programme of $7.6 million (€5.7 million) running up till July 2012. The work will focus on repair and rehabilitation of water, sanitation, health and education facilities and the provision of shelter, food and other aid assistance.

Caritas will work with those returning to their homes, the internally displaced and other vulnerable people. All the work will have strong community ownership with projects being handed over to the local population to maintain and run in the future.


USA: Deloitte donates pro bono services to hundreds of nonprofits nationwide; celebrates fulfillment of three-year, $50 million pro bono commitment

Organization's 12th annual IMPACT Day highlights long-term commitment to pro bono service

New York, June 10 - Today, against the backdrop of its 12th annual national day of volunteer service known as IMPACT Day, Deloitte is celebrating the fulfilment of its three-year, $50 million pledge to Billion+ Change, a federal initiative to encourage American businesses to champion pro bono work by complementing their philanthropy with the contribution of in-kind services. Nearly three-quarters of the organization’s personnel, which numbers more than 50,000 in total, are setting aside their work to volunteer at more than 800 events nationwide.

As part of IMPACT Day and to commemorate its pro bono accomplishment, Deloitte is hosting pro bono forums in several major markets across the country, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Hundreds of civic leaders, nonprofit executives and corporate philanthropists will be on hand at Deloitte’s offices to discuss how the business community can help address social issues through the contribution of skills based and professional talent.

Since 2008, Deloitte has expanded its approach to community involvement by offering its business knowledge to help nonprofits address strategic, operational and financial issues that may limit their ability to achieve their social missions.


Japan: ADRA continues to respond to appeals for aid

June 10, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to provide humanitarian assistance to victims affected by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11.

Currently ADRA Japan has provided more than 750 meals over the period of a week to staff members and registered volunteers of Yamamoto city's Department of Social Services (DSS), and will continue to coordinate with the DSS for future appeals of aid.  The agency also continues their food and emergency non-food distribution to various retirement centers in the Miyagi prefecture. In addition, ADRA Japan is procuring household materials and furniture for delivery and installation to more than 140 shelter homes in Yamamoto city.

In light of the aftermath from the damaged nuclear reactors, many high school students are now left with no other option but to travel further distances to schools in neighboring towns, as their schools have been temporarily shutdown. In coordination with the Education Committee of Fukushima, ADRA will be providing 400 bicycles for high school students to help ease the longer commute.


USAID looks to private partnerships

June 7 – Last week, USAID announced a new corporate volunteerism program, the Center of Excellence for International Corporate Volunteerism. The center's goal is to increase the number of volunteers that corporations send overseas, turning them into "citizen-diplomats."

USAID will partner with IBM and CDC Development Solutions to establish the virtual center, which should be self-sustaining at the end of the two-year pilot period. The center will liaise between corporate members and local governments who are willing to work with corporate volunteers.

In an article in The Nonprofit Quarterly, InterAction's president & CEO, Sam Worthington, said,  "The new face of America overseas, often privately funded, can be very positive."

Another hope is that formalizing the process in one place, instead of each corporation undergoing the same trial-and-error in planning their programs, will help to replicate successes more easily.


Côte d'Ivoire: over 36,000 people receive aid in forgotten area

Geneva/Abidjan, 31 May – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire today began to distribute food, seed and other emergency aid in 35 villages east of Bangolo, in the western part of the country. Nearly 20,000 people displaced by fighting, other violence and looting over the past few months and some 17,000 members of host families will receive the aid.

Roads in the Bangolo area, in the former "confidence zone" dividing the northern and southern parts of the country, are often almost impassable. "This area is somewhat forgotten, as access is difficult and local people are rather wary of international organizations," said Mr Castella. "But the need for humanitarian aid is considerable."

Over 220 tonnes of rice, 45 tonnes of beans, 22,000 litres of oil, 2,300 kilograms of salt and 3,000 kits containing such essential items as tarpaulins, sleeping mats, soap, kitchen utensils and buckets will be distributed over the next fortnight. In addition to this emergency aid, the Red Cross is also providing around 100 tonnes of rice seed, 50 tonnes of maize seed and 6,000 hoes to help enhance food security.



Peace and security



Security Council extends mandate of UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus

New York, June 13 -  The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus for another six months and urged the leadership of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to accelerate the pace of talks aimed at reunification. Expressing full support for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the Council voted to extend its mandate until 15 December this year. The UN has maintained the peacekeeping force on the island since 1964. The force’s current strength is nearly 1,000 uniformed personnel and 150 international and national civilian staff.

In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council urged the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leaders to “intensify the momentum of negotiations, engage in the process in a constructive and open manner, and work on reaching convergences on the remaining core issues in preparation for their meeting with the Secretary-General in July 2011.”


Libya: destroying unexploded devices in Ajdabiya

Benghazi/Geneva, 8 June – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in a joint operation with the Mines Advisory Group, today started destroying hundreds of unexploded devices in the eastern Libyan city of Ajdabiya. ICRC specialists began clearance activities in the city in early May, removing unexploded ordnance from houses, schools and other structures to safe areas and marking objects that could not be moved.

"This is the first time we have destroyed such devices in Libya, and the first time anywhere that we have done so while military operations are still under way," said Ivo Palm, an ICRC explosive ordnance disposal expert participating in the operation.

In addition to the clearance activities, the ICRC is conducting a campaign together with volunteers of the Libyan Red Crescent to raise awareness among displaced people – especially children – that unexploded munitions put their lives at risk.


On Peacekeepers’ Day, UN honours those serving and fallen heroes

27 May – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations family today paid tribute to the more than 120,000 military, police and civilian personnel serving in peacekeeping missions across the world and honoured those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. Almost 60,000 UN personnel are today actively engaged with national counterparts to help rebuild, renovate and strengthen the foundations on which criminal justice systems are built, according to Dmitry Titov, the Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions. 






Time to ramp up the fight against polio

By Dan Nixon 

Rotary International News, 14 June - The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has made significant progress since the launch of its new strategic plan and the bivalent oral polio vaccine last year. In India and Nigeria, the sources of all recent wild poliovirus importations into previously polio-free countries, the disease declined by 95 percent between 2009 and 2010.  The World Health Organization calls the progress encouraging, “but the job is not yet finished, and we must see this through to the end,” said its director-general, Margaret Chan, at the World Health Assembly in May. 

In addition to the gains made by India and Nigeria, 15 countries in Africa have stopped outbreaks of the disease that started in 2009, reported the GPEI Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) in April. The GPEI’s leading partner agencies -- the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF -- and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation welcomed the report. They particularly noted the IMB’s assessment that polio eradication is “entirely feasible” and “desperately needed,” and that countries that are off track in meeting GPEI milestones can be brought back on track with support from national governments, donors, and the spearheading partners.  

Among those countries is Pakistan, which launched the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication 2011 with the goal of halting transmission of the disease by the end of the year. Rotarians there are working “to cover every nook and corner of the country,” said Aziz Memon, chair of the Pakistan PolioPlus Committee. “We are committed to a polio-free Pakistan.” 

The report also referred to an estimated US$665 million funding gap through 2012 as the “single greatest threat to the GPEI’s success.” To help address the gap, the Gates Foundation has awarded two grants totaling $355 million to Rotary in support of its work. Rotary has responded with Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge, which will be completed on 30 June 2012; to date, Rotarians have raised $173.2 million. (...)


Lauding immunization pledges, UNICEF says they will save millions of lives

New York, June 13 - The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today congratulated the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) on its London conference in which public and private donors pledged $4.3 billion, which it said will save millions of lives. “The generosity and commitment of the donors at today’s GAVI replenishment conference will benefit the lives of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable children around the world,” UNICEF said.

Despite significant progress in reducing childhood mortality, nearly two million children still die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, UNICEF said.

Launched in 2000, the GAVI Alliance is a global health partnership of private and public sectors comprised of, among others, developing world and donor governments, private sector philanthropists such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the financial community, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, research and technical institutes, civil society organizations and multilateral organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the World Bank.


Nigeria triples number of children fully vaccinated

Advances made while running aggressive polio eradication activities.

1 June – Nigeria has nearly tripled the proportion of children covered by routine immunization between 2006 to 2010, according to a new national study. The increase took place against the backdrop of aggressive supplementary immunization campaigns to eradicate polio.

The results of the National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS), conducted in October 2010, indicate that 52% of Nigerian children aged 12-23 months are reported to be fully immunized, compared with just 18% in 2006. In 2003, when the first baseline study was undertaken, the corresponding figure stood at just 13%.

The study results clearly demonstrate how routine immunization services can be improved in a polio-endemic country even during frequent supplementary immunization rounds. In Nigeria, these mutually beneficial results are due to the strong leadership of Nigeria's National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). The results come at a critical time in the efforts to eradicate polio from Nigeria, with just 21 cases of the paralytic disease recorded in 2010 and eight in the first quarter of 2011 – the lowest number of cases ever-recorded. Global health leaders at the World Health Assembly in May 2011 acknowledged these gains. The survey demonstrates that coverage of routine immunization contributes to the interruption of poliovirus as well as the sustained protection of children against other vaccine-preventable diseases.


UNICEF makes vaccine prices public in move likely to have major impact on developing country market

Geneva 27 May – In a bid to increase transparency and stimulate competition to bring down the prices of vaccines needed in the developing world, UNICEF has decided to publish the prices it pays to vaccine manufacturers. A voluntary price reporting system was established earlier this year that covered the annual prices paid by UNICEF over the last decade. Despite initial reluctance, most companies have now given their green light for UNICEF to publish retrospective prices. From now on, price reporting will be systematic and company prices will be routinely published. The GAVI Alliance, a major financer of vaccines for low income countries, can also help to bring down prices. MSF urges GAVI to use their buying power to stimulate competition and to create incentives for emerging country producers to speed up the development of low-cost, adapted versions of vaccines.



Energy and safety



USA: DOE and The Appraisal Foundation announce new partnership to focus on energy performance and building appraisals

June 13 - As part of the Obama Administration's efforts to improve commercial building efficiency 20% by 2020, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a partnership with The Appraisal Foundation that will help expand access to energy efficiency and building performance information for commercial buildings and help American businesses to reduce energy waste. Under the new partnership, the Department of Energy and The Appraisal Foundation will work to ensure that appraisers nationwide have the information, practical guidelines, and professional resources they need to evaluate energy performance when conducting commercial building appraisals. This will help enable investors, building owners and operators, and others to accurately assess the value of energy efficiency as part of the building's overall appraisal.


Dow Jones marks completion of major solar power system

New York, June 10 - (Globe Newswire) - Dow Jones & Company this week marked the completion of its 4.1 megawatt solar-power installation in South Brunswick, N.J. The system is one of the largest at a single corporate site in the U.S.

A publisher of news and business information around the globe, Dow Jones maintains a 200-acre campus on U.S. Route 1 in South Brunswick, N.J. At peak production, the solar-power system provides half the power needs for the campus, Dow Jones' largest.

Dow Jones & Company is a global provider of news and business information and a developer of technology to deliver content to consumers and organizations across multiple platforms. (…)


San Diego's New CPV Solar Giant

By David Appleyard, Chief Editor, Renewable Energy World International

The development of a commerical large-scale CPV project is helping to establish the performance credentials of a technology that offers significant opportunities at the power plant scale.

7 June, London, UK -- With a 150 MW project planned in San Diego and a 25-year PPA in place, CPV has at last entered the commercial arena. Standing in the New Mexico desert, a 1 MW Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) power plant is establishing a route for the emergence of this utility-scale technology. Installation of this first pilot commercial deployment began in the summer of 2010 and the plant was commissioned early in 2011, with official inauguration in April.(…)


USA: BofA announces $55 mil energy finance program for CDFIs

May 25 – Bank of America today announced a $55 million program to encourage energy efficiency in older buildings by providing low-cost loans and grants to community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank will select up to 12 CDFIs that specialize in financing energy efficiency improvements and have the most effective solutions for funding.

The $55 million includes $50 million in low-cost, long-term loans to CDFIs with innovative energy efficient retrofit programs that finance the upfront investment costs for building owners to make energy efficient improvements. The energy cost savings realized over time will create cash flow to repay the loan. An additional $5 million in grants will also be awarded to help with staffing, training, reserves, and marketing needs associated with the implementation of the programs.

Once CDFIs have made loans to property owners, Bank of America will work with them to collect pre- and post-retrofit data in order to measure program outcomes, including impacts on energy and water usage and associated financial savings. EnergyScoreCards, a subsidiary of Bright Power, Inc., will be the third party consultant for data collection and analysis.



Environment and wildlife



World Environment Day - June 5

2011 theme: Forests: Nature at Your Service

Observed since 1972, World Environment Day is "considered by many to be the most important event on the environmental calendar". UNEP reports that the Day "inspires action by governments, individuals, non-governmental organisations, community and youth groups, business, industry and the media to improve their environment, including clean-up campaigns, tree planting, street rallies, exhibitions, green concerts, essays, painting and photographic competitions, recycling efforts and much more".

Internet-based applications, particularly the emergence of social networks, user-generated content, and micro-blogging have enabled nearly every Internet user to be a potential broadcaster with the ability to rapidly create, modify, and share digital content and knowledge with millions of other users both locally and globally.

This year's Day is linked with the International Year of Forests.


Summit of the Tropical Forest Basins of the World, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

May 31 - June 3

Heads of State and senior officials from more than 35 countries covering the world's major rainforest regions will meet in Brazzaville to consider the common problems facing the sustainable management of these forest ecosystms.

The Amazon Basin of South America, the Congo Basin in Central Africa, and the Borneo-Mekong Basin in South-East Asia will be represented at the Summit. These make up 80 per cent of the world's rainforests and contain two thirds of its biodiversity. The Summit is a contribution to the International Year of Forests. 


Treasure Island: New species discoveries in Madagascar

Scientists in Madagascar have discovered more than 615 species, including 41 mammals between 1999 and 2010 but many of the exciting and colourful creatures are already endangered.

The significance of the flora and fauna of Madagascar is not only their diversity, but also their remarkable endemism. The high level of species unique to Madagascar resulted from tens of millions of years of isolation from the African mainland and from people, who only arrived 2,000 years ago. The islands have an astounding eight plant families, five bird families, and five primate families that live nowhere else on Earth.

Download report:



Religion and spirituality



World Invocation Day - June 15

On World Invocation Day groups and individuals around the planet unite in prayer and meditation to invoke energies of Light, Love and Spiritual Will, using the Great Invocation. World Invocation Day has been observed annually since 1952.

The intention to express human unity is growing daily within the hearts of people everywhere. In the birthing of a just, interdependent global society we need, above all, more light, love and spiritual will. On June 15 people of all faiths and spiritual backgrounds will invoke these higher energies by using a world prayer, The Great Invocation.

An extended (6:11) video entitled, “The Great Invocation in the Six Languages of the United Nations” was recently created and posted on YouTube—in observance of World Invocation Day,


World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel - May 29 - June 4, 2011

The World Council of Churches sponsors this annual week of prayer, education and advocacy to seek justice for Palestinians so that both Israelis and Palestinians can finally live in peace.

During the most recent World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 29 May to 4 June 2010, churches in more than 20 countries around the world sent a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples. Participants planned their activities around the following three principles:

1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem.

2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially settlements in occupied territory.

3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.



Culture and education



Vocational training teams give kids an edge

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 2 June – Vocational training teams from Rustenburg, South Africa (District 9400), and Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA (District 7980), have discovered that their communities share surprisingly similar challenges when it comes to early childhood education.

“Both areas face similar hardships of poverty, disintegrating families, poor health, and low parental and childhood literacy,” says Barbara Welles-Nystrom, associate professor of early childhood education at Fairfield University in Connecticut, who led the U.S. team’s visit to South Africa in January. The South African team traveled to the United States in March.

The teams of early childhood educators, both sponsored by Future Vision pilot districts, learned firsthand about the challenges of teaching young children in rural villages near Rustenburg and in urban Bridgeport, and shared best practices in areas including preschool curriculum, facilities, and community support. Funded by a US$35,625 Rotary Foundation Global Grant, the project will also include online teacher training. It supports the basic education and literacy area of focus. 

The U.S. team visited seven preschools run by the Royal Bafokeng Institute, which was established by the Royal Bafokeng Nation to support early childhood education in its ethnic homeland. (...) During its trip to Connecticut, the South African team visited preschools, child care centers, workshops, and parent programs. (...)


Bulgari’s campaign for Save the Children selected as one of top cause marketing campaigns of 2010

Westport, Conn., USA, June 2 - Bulgari’s global education campaign for Save the Children was honored today with a Cause Marketing Halo Award in the Best Print Campaign Category at the Annual Cause Marketing Forum Conference in Chicago. A total of 18 awards were given out to programs judged the best cause marketing campaigns of 2010.

For its 125th anniversary in 2009, Bulgari launched a cause marketing program to support Save the Children’s Rewrite the Future initiative, an effort to improve the quality of education for the neediest children worldwide, especially those in conflict-affected countries.  In its first year, Bulgari raised over $9 million to support education programs and teacher trainings in 10 conflict-affected areas around the world.

Building on the success of the 125th anniversary jewelry, a new silver and ceramic ring was designed to celebrate the continued partnership with Save the Children. The ring debuted in October 2010 and supports Bulgari’s commitment for 2010-2011 of an additional $7.4 million to support classroom education, art education and therapy (Healing and Education through Arts or HEART), teacher training, and other related programs in 12 countries, including the United States.


EDC launches new youth program in Mali

Mali president welcomes national initiative to prepare youth for work

Newton, MA, June1 – The president of the West African nation of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, launched a new national program to address youth unemployment through education and training. Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), will implement the program known as PAJE-Nièta (“Support to Youth Entrepreneurs Project”), which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the portfolio of youth development programs known as EQUIP3.

The PAJE-Nièta program will provide 12,000 rural out-of-school youth, ages 14–25, in four regions—Sikasso, Kayes, Koulikoro, and Timbuktu—with improved basic education, work readiness and technical training, social and leadership development, as well as assistance with livelihood activities. A key focus is agricultural enterprise development, with training in agriculture and animal husbandry, to help youth create successful agro-enterprises to respond to the U.S. food security initiative Feed the Future.

The five-year program has a unique implementation strategy: it will be delivered through a volunteer corps made up of Malian youth who have received a formal education and earned a diploma from secondary school, trade school, or university. Two hundred educated youth will commit two years to the project as participants. Their goal will be to prepare other young people for jobs or self-employment across Mali.


Pakistan: new schools open after flooding

EI welcomes the opening of new schools in rural parts of Pakistan which were devastated by flooding last July. New three-classroom primary schools have been established in the Southern Punjab province to replace those schools that were destroyed in the worst flooding to hit Pakistan in 80 years. The natural disaster claimed the lives of thousands of people, and severely disrupted children’s education, as more than 10,000 schools were left damaged.

The school is one of six prototype Transitional School Structures, built to varying designs that are being set up in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces. These temporary schools represent a significant move from the emergency response phase of the flood disaster towards early recovery, and are a key component of the United Nations’ Delivering as One programme.



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Next issue: 8 July 2011.

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