Good News Agency – Year XII, n° 192



Weekly – Year XII, number 192 – 30th September 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. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project presented to the UN General Assembly (, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



International legislation



Maldives becomes latest country to endorse International Criminal Court

21 September – Maldives today became the latest country to agree to be bound by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the independent, permanent tribunal set up to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Indian Ocean archipelago acceded to the 1998 Rome Statute, the legal document establishing the basis for the ICC, in New York today as part of the annual United Nations treaty event aimed at boosting countries’ engagement in the international treaty framework. Maldives becomes the 118th State Party to the ICC, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands and can try cases relating to war crimes committed since July 2002.


Global Conference on cluster bomb ban ends with even more states pledging to join the Treaty

Beirut, 16 September - The Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions ended in Beirut today with a strong international declaration to rid the world of cluster munitions. The conference in Beirut, capital of heavily cluster munition-affected Lebanon, was attended by representatives from more than 120 states and hundreds of civil society campaigners from all over the world. During the meeting countries announced promising progress they’ve made against their treaty obligations, or how they intend to become full States Parties to the Convention.

Czech Republic becomes 66th State Party to cluster bomb ban

23 September - The Czech Republic has become the 66th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The NATO and EU member state deposited its instrument of ratification at a UN treaty event in New York on 22 September.

Italy ratifies cluster bomb ban

23 September - Italy ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 21 September – global Peace Day – becoming the 65th State Party to the international treaty.

Trinidad and Tobago accedes to cluster bomb ban

23 September - Trinidad and Tobago became the 64th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions after acceding to the ban treaty at the UN in New York on 21 September – the third new State Party in just two weeks. 


Former Yugoslav army chief convicted by UN tribunal for war crimes

6 September – The United Nations tribunal set up to prosecute the most serious offences committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today convicted Momčilo Perišić for crimes against humanity and war crimes and sentenced the former chief of staff of the Yugoslav Army to 27 years in prison. Mr. Perišić was found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of aiding and abetting murders, inhumane acts, persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, and attacks on civilians in Sarajevo and Srebrenica.

In the judgment – the first handed down by the tribunal in a case against an official of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – Mr. Perišić was also found guilty of failing to punish his subordinates for their crimes of murder, attacks on civilians and injuring and wounding civilians during the rocket attacks on Zagreb in May 1995.



Human rights



Role of Alliance of Civilizations more vital than ever, say UN officials

23 September – With its ability to foster cross-cultural understanding among peoples and societies, the Alliance of Civilizations initiative is crucial in the struggle to combat intolerance, extremism and bigotry worldwide, United Nations officials stressed today. The work of the Alliance touches on many of the threats at the top of the global agenda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in his remarks to the ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance, which was set up in 2005 by Spain and Turkey under UN auspices. “Two out of every three major conflicts in our world have a cultural dimension. Extremism, religious strife and bigotry fuel the fire,” Mr. Ban said. “Even the most stable democracies suffer horrific acts of hatred and the killing of innocent civilians singled out for their identity or their beliefs,” he added. “Across the world, bridges of understanding strain under the weight of intolerance and polarization.”

The Alliance has a mandate to marshal this power for good, he said, adding that it can also contribute to preventive diplomacy efforts.

The Alliance will hold its fourth forum in December in the Qatari capital of Doha.


UNICEF welcomes agreement against child trafficking in two African countries

22 September – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed a new agreement between the Republic of the Congo and Benin to protect children from child trafficking, a major problem in the region in recent years.  Although the exact number of trafficked children is hard to estimate, UNICEF put the figure at 1,800 in 2007. However, experts agree that the actual figure is now much higher, according to a press release issued yesterday by the agency. Many trafficked children – some as young as six years old – come from Benin and end up in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo’s port city and economic capital, where they end up working as child slaves or in prostitution, entering a cycle of abuse and exploitation.


A Rights-based approach on volunteering

September 8 - "Volunteering is a right, not a privilege. A rights-based approach towards volunteering must be put in place in order to ensure quality, recognition, protection and equal access for everyone, without any kind of discrimination"

This is one of the key concepts of the "Declaration on the Need of a rights-based approach towards Volunteering", approved as a final conclusion of the Stakeholder Conference "The Rights of the Volunteer". The conference was organised by the European Youth Forum - YFJ on 7th and 8th of September in the frame of the II Youth Convention on Volunteering. This was the first step towards the ""Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of the Volunteers"" that will be presented for approval at the next Council of Members of the European Youth Forum in November."

More than 70 Stakeholders contributed to this Stakeholder Conference to bring up the topic of Volunteering, in the frame of the European Year of Volunteering promoted by the European Commission in 2011, AEGEE - the European Students' Forum, representing young volunteers from different countries working together on cross-borders activities to promote co-operation and integration in Europe, fully supports the Declaration as a valid tool to promote a rights-based approach on Volunteering.



Economy and development



IFAD signs new US$15 million loan agreement for poverty reduction program in Nicaragua

Managua, 27 September – The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua signed a loan agreement today with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for a new US$15 million rural development program for Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. The NICARIBE project is notable as it looks to create new opportunities for women, young people and indigenous communities in the Autonomous Regions of the Northern and South Atlantic (RAAN and RAAS), an often overlooked area where more than 70 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

The new program will be implemented by the Rural Development Institute and the regional and territorial governments of the RAAN and RAAS autonomous regions. 

With climate-change and sustainable natural resource management becoming a national priority, the project will also support new approaches for environmental protection in the region and will strengthen local institutions and empower local governments with a territorial economic development fund.


New project won: Liberia—forestry support program

September 22 – ACDI/VOCA has won a $1.2 million grant for the Liberia Forestry Support Program (LFSP) program. In an ACDI/VOCA first, the project is funded by the United States Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program’s goal is to advance the policy and practice of community-based forest management in Liberia.

ACDI/VOCA will do this through adaptive management, learning-based approaches and the development of alternative-livelihood food security and cash income sources.

LFSP will build on and continue the successful activities conducted under the Land Rights and Community Forestry Program (LRCFP), a three-year subcontract funded by USAID to build sustainable income-generation opportunities at the community level around community forestry programs in Nimba and Sinoe counties. Through LRCFP, ACDI/VOCA worked with small, product-focused groups to increase access to markets and initiate economic activities and opportunities.


USA - High volunteerism can mean lower unemployment rates, study says

By Peter Bolton

September 21 – States in which a big share of people volunteer, vote, and participate in other civic events tended to suffer the least-drastic increases in joblessness during the downturn, according to a new report.

The study, by the National Conference on Citizenship and others, mined federal labor statistics and Census data from about 50,000 American households. It found that states that did well based on five measures—helping neighbors, volunteering, registering to vote, voting, and attending meetings—in 2006 did not face big rises in unemployment from 2006 to 2010.

States in which a high proportion of people helped their neighbors did best, followed by those with strong volunteering rates.

Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont were among states with the highest rates of volunteering and some of the smallest increases in unemployment from 2006 to 2010. On the other end of the spectrum, the states with the lowest rates of volunteering and helping neighbors had the highest rise in unemployment during that time: Alabama, California, Florida, Nevada, and Rhode Island.


Historic global church investors meeting

Participants agree to collaborate on corporate responsibility issues

New York, NY, 20 September - 40 participants representing church investors from North America, Europe, Australasia and Africa met in Paris on 14 September for an event hosted by the Church Investors Group (CIG) of Britain and Ireland.

Church investors have often collaborated across international borders, most recently in response to crises at News Corp and BP. As investment portfolios become more global, the need for trusted partners in other regions has become more important. Local engagement expertise can be combined with aggregated global church shareholdings to create a powerful lever for improving corporate performance on environmental, social and governance issues.

One example of future work relates to next year’s London Olympics. US investors are working through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to reduce corporate complicity in human trafficking and modern day slavery. CIG has now agreed to take this forward with UK-listed hotel groups.

Through the lens of faith, ICCR builds a more just and sustainable world by integrating social values into investor actions.


USAID awards $50 million food security contract in Ethiopia

Value chain approach to boost agricultural growth, incomes for Ethiopian farmers

September 19 – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently awarded the ACDI/VOCA Support for Food Security Activities (SFSA) team its second major contract: a five-year, nearly $50 million food security program in Ethiopia to increase agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes.

The Agricultural Growth Program-Value Chain Expansion (AGP-VCE) initiative in Ethiopia will use a value chain approach to increase the competitiveness of select agricultural products; enhance access to finance; and stimulate innovation and private sector investment.

Targeted value chains include: coffee, honey, maize, sesame and wheat.

The new value chain program is part of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, which harmonizes regional hunger- and poverty-fighting efforts in countries with chronic food insecurity and insufficient production of staple crops.


USA - A double win for fresh food

In Michigan, food stamps are worth double at farmers markets, which means more healthy food for low-income shoppers and more customers for local farmers.

by Oran B. Hesterman

September 15 – Detroit is home to the longest-running public farmers’ market in the country, as well as to many low-income residents who receive government aid in purchasing food. But until recently, those worlds didn’t really meet: of $361 million in SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) spent in the city in 2010, less than $200,000 went to farmers’ markets.

A new program is working to close the gap, in Detroit and beyond: to increase access to fresh, healthy food for low-income residents of inner cities and “food deserts” while simultaneously strengthening the local economy and improving the livelihoods of farmers and rural communities.

he program, called Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB), is a project of the nonprofit Fair Food Network. It’s a simple idea: SNAP shoppers use their benefits at a participating farmers’ market and receive tokens for an equal amount to purchase any Michigan-grown fruit or vegetable at the market. In effect, food dollars spent at farmers’ markets are doubled, up to $20 per market day. By spending $20 of SNAP benefits at the farmers’ market, the shopper comes home with $40 worth of healthy, fresh, regionally grown produce.

The program started as a pilot project in Detroit, but it’s now gone statewide, allowing Michigan residents to double the value of their SNAP purchases at 55 farmers’ markets. (…)






India: floodwaters destroy more than 10,000 homes, ADRA responds with aid

September 23 – Silver Spring, Md., USA - Severe rains in the eastern state of Orissa India have inundated the region, affecting more than 170,000 people across the state's 19 districts. The Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding, providing humanitarian aid to victims in the hardest-hit flood areas.

The Agency's intervention focuses in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene through the distribution of water purification tablets, jerry cans, and buckets. These items provide flood-affected victims with safe water for drinking, cooking, and washing. The Agency's response is continuing while the floodwaters recede.


Linkin Park visits children six months after Japan earthquake

Westport, Conn., USA, September 22 - Six months after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast of Japan, American band Linkin Park visited children affected by the disaster in Ishinomaki, a city ravaged by the disaster.

After the disaster, Linkin Park launched a fundraising campaign through their non-profit organization, Music for Relief, with all proceeds going to Save the Children’s relief and recovery efforts in Japan. Linkin Park visited Taizen Elementary School, where band members met students and school officials. Band members also visited a childcare center and Ishinomaki Kita High School, where they were greeted by a group of excited fans.

Six months after the earthquake, although children’s immediate needs have been met, the longer-term recovery is a process that will take years, says Save the Children.

"Linkin Park’s visit has been so important to us in highlighting the longer-term needs of children in recovering from this disaster," said Save the Children Japan CEO Hironobu Shibuya. "The visit also helps our donors see the impact our response to date."

Music for Relief was created by Linkin Park in 2005 to provide aid for those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami. It has since raised more than $4 million toward humanitarian relief efforts.


Rotary  - A look at the Future Vision pilot’s first year

By Dan Nixon 

Rotary International News, 22 September - One hundred Rotary districts and their member clubs set a brisk pace in the first year of the Future Vision pilot, recording many milestones along the way.  The Rotary Foundation awarded 208 global grants, totaling almost US$12 million, in 2010-11. These grants supported large-scale, sustainable activities aligned with Rotary’s areas of focus in 46 countries.

The first global grant project, completed in July, proved highly effective in preventing the spread of dengue fever in a community in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. Other global grant efforts helped provide thousands of people in Sierra Leone with access to clean water, boosted malaria prevention and treatment in Mali, improved sanitation in India, and expanded literacy in Kenya, to name a few. The grants also funded vocational training teams and equipped scholars to work in sustainable development, health care, peace and conflict resolution, and other fields related to the areas of focus.

More than $6 million in Rotary Foundation District Grants supported local and international service projects. District 2650 (Japan) distributed funds from a $271,000 grant to 42 club projects, which included providing computers, sewing machines, and other vocational training equipment to a village in the Philippines, and restoring an elementary school in China’s Shaanxi Province.

The Foundation also formed strategic partnerships with Aga Khan University, a private, nonsectarian university with campuses worldwide, and Oikocredit International, a Netherlands-based cooperative financial institution. Through the partnership with Aga Khan University, Rotary clubs can establish vocational training teams and nursing scholarships with support from packaged global grants. Through the partnership with Oikocredit, clubs can work with microfinance institutions in Oikocredit’s network, also with support from packaged global grants, and help reduce poverty by identifying local needs, developing effective approaches, and structuring training programs to improve entrepreneurs’ business skills.

Pilot clubs and districts are helping to verify what works in the Foundation’s new grant model under the Future Vision Plan. Based on feedback from Rotarians, the Foundation is also making operational improvements during the pilot. (...)


Himalayan earthquake prompts three nation Red Cross response

By Patrick Fuller

Published: 21 September - Red Cross National Societies from three countries have joined emergency relief efforts to bring aid and medical care to the survivors of the deadly earthquake that struck the Himalayan region bordering north India and Nepal on 18 September. (...) Teams from the Red Cross Societies of Nepal, India and China have been mobilised and some are working on the ground, providing emergency relief and medical support to survivors in their respective countries. The epicentre of the earthquake was 64km north-west of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim but widespread damage has been reported across the borders with Tibet, Nepal, China and Bhutan.

John Roche, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) India office said the location was one of the biggest challenges. “This is an extremely remote and mountainous area,” he said. “Getting a clear picture of the scale of the disaster isn’t easy. We’ve had heavy rains in Sikkim and a lot of landslides which have blocked roads. It’s going to take a few days for rescue teams to reach some of the communities that are still cut off.”

In Sikkim, army personnel have battled torrential rain, mist and landslides to reach isolated villages. So far, it has been estimated that 15,000 houses were razed to the ground and more than 100,000 partially damaged. An Indian Red Cross disaster response team has reached Gangtok and there are plans to help up to 5,000 people with emergency items such as tarpaulins, blankets, and shelter kits. The team will also help provide first-aid services to the injured.

A national disaster water and sanitation response team is also en route to the area and planning is underway to airlift relief supplies in the coming days. (…)


Kenya: over 7,000 Somali refugees make first contact with relatives left behind

Nairobi/Geneva (ICRC), September 20 – Over 7,000 Somali refugees in Dadaab, Kenya, have been able to speak with their families by mobile phone thanks to a service set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Many of the thousands of refugees arriving in the Dadaab camps every week have lost touch with their relatives while fleeing the conflict and drought in Somalia.

The mobile-phone service was launched on 18 August and is jointly run with the Kenya Red Cross Society. Any refugee who has arrived in recent weeks is given the opportunity to make a phone call to an immediate family member or other close relative anywhere in the world. The calls last for two minutes and are limited to family and personal news only. So far 7,200 people, including almost 800 minors, have taken advantage of the service.

A team of ICRC staff and Kenya Red Cross volunteers is present in the Dadaab registration area, where the newly arrived refugees can easily approach them. Two other teams move around Dadaab every day, offering the phone service in different locations.


CARE joins the Million Moms Challenge with ABC News and the UN Foundation

First-of-its-kind campaign to connect millions of Americans with millions of moms in developing countries across the globe

19 September - Today, CARE joins ABC News and the United Nations Foundation in the recently-launched Million Moms Challenge. This first-of-its kind initiative will connect millions of Americans with millions of moms in developing countries around the world to engage on the critical issues of pregnancy, childbirth and children's health – moms here helping moms worldwide.

Stories based on compelling characters and innovative solutions will be featured on ABC News' broadcasts including "Good Morning America," "World News with Diane Sawyer," "Nightline," and "20/20," as well as other ABC News platforms including and ABC News Radio. The initiative will lead up to a one-hour prime time special on maternal health anchored by Diane Sawyer on Dec. 16, 2011.  The Million Moms Challenge is a joint effort of ABC News and the UN Foundation, in conjunction with corporate partners Johnson & Johnson and BabyCenter. It is part of an ABC News year-long global health series "Be the Change: Save a Life," which is sponsored in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



Peace and security



African Union and UN agree to try to strengthen cooperation to promote peace

23 September – The leaders of the United Nations and the African Union today agreed to step up the joint peace efforts of the two organizations on some of the major conflicts and security issues across the continent.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, in a meeting on the margins of the current 66th session of the General Assembly, focused their discussions on existing UN-AU cooperation and on recent developments in Africa, especially in Libya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, according to information released by his spokesperson.

Since 2008 the two organizations have operated a joint peacekeeping force in the western Sudanese region of Darfur (UNAMID), while in Somalia, the UN backs an AU-force known as AMISOM.


Largely peaceful elections in Zambia

23 September - Only two incidents of violence, triggered by the late start of voting and the suspicion of electoral fraud, were reported as Zambians went to the polls to elect a new president and government on Tuesday. The nationwide violence expected and feared by many did not occur as citizens spent Monday stocking up on basic commodities.The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has dismissed reports of electoral fraud and extended voting hours at all polling stations affected by the late commencement.


Nuclear safety action plan endorsed at UN conference in Vienna

22 September 2011 – The general conference of the United Nations atomic energy agency today unanimously endorsed an action plan on nuclear safety that is intended to enhance transparency in the ongoing global effort to set effective safety standards. “The IAEA’s [International Atomic Energy Agency] 151 Member States have today endorsed the agency’s Action Plan on Nuclear Safety,” said Yukiya Amano, the agency’s Director General, at the IAEA’s General Conference in Vienna, which concludes tomorrow.

The action plan had been requested by governments at the IAEA’s ministerial conference on Nuclear Safety in June. Mr. Amano said the plan was a product of intensive consultations with Member States and was both a “rallying point and a blueprint for strengthening nuclear safety worldwide”. He said it contained concrete and achievable actions to make nuclear safety more robust and effective than before, following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in March that was triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami.


Ban lauds courage and conviction of former UN chief Hammarskjöld

22 September – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld, the former United Nations chief whose life and work continue to serve as an inspiration 50 years after his tragic death while en route to negotiate peace in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Mr. Ban said he was encouraged by the theme of today’s event, which focuses on the late Secretary-General’s legacy for UN preventive diplomacy in the 21st century.

“Hammarskjöld articulated the very concept of preventive diplomacy,” said Mr. Ban, who dedicated his new report, “Preventive Diplomacy: Delivering Results,” to his predecessor. The report was discussed at a Security Council meeting held today on the same topic.

The discussion, moderated by former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno, also featured remarks by former UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and former Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan.


International Day of Peace, 21 September

Spotlighting some of MAG’s work around the world on Peace Day, teams have been helping safeguard communities in Libya, delivering life-saving education to primary schools in South Sudan, and protecting peace and safety through education programmes in Iraq.

21 September - Rebuilding communities in Libya - MAG teams have been helping Libya’s journey towards peace by destroying and securing thousands of deadly weapons and unexploded ordnance (UXO.

Delivering life-saving education to children in South Sudan - In the new independent Republic of South Sudan, MAG teams, funded by UNICEF, have been training teachers in how to deliver critical Mine Risk Education to their pupils.

Protecting peace and safety in Iraq - In celebration of Peace Day, MAG teams have been delivering Risk Education to more than 70 individuals in the Anishka and Lalish regions of Iraq.

Through its crucial education programmes, MAG is striving to protect the peace and safety of people who live, work and travel through these contaminated areas. Vadar Mustafa,MAG's Community Liaison Coordinator in Dohuk, said: "Peace Day is really important because it makes people aware of the suffering conflict causes, and that we have to work together for peace."

MAG – Mines Advisory Group – is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organisation that clears the remnants of conflict for the benefit of communities worldwide.


UN marks International Day of Peace with call to ‘make your voice heard’

15 September – The United Nations today marked the annual International Day of Peace with tributes to those working to build a better future as well as a call to people everywhere to make their voices heard to strengthen peace and democracy.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day, which falls on 21 September. The theme for this year is “Peace and Democracy: Make your voice heard!” and today’s observance coincides with the observance of the International Day of Democracy. (…)

The International Day of Peace was first established by the General Assembly in 1981 as an opportunity for people around the world to promote the resolution of conflict and to observe a cessation of hostilities.


Ban welcomes agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on Abyei area

10 September – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed an agreement between Sudan and South Sudan to withdraw all forces from the disputed area around Abyei, a long-running source of tensions in the region. The governments of the two countries reached an agreement on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that was facilitated by the African Union High-Level Panel, which is led by the former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Abyei is located within Sudan but is contested by South Sudan, which became independent from Sudan on 9 July. A referendum on its status was to have been held in January this year, but never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.






India's Minister of Health visits Rotary International

India this year has gone more than eight months without recording a single case of polio

23 Septermber - The Honorable Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's minister of health and family welfare, met with Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee on Sept. 23 at Rotary World Headquarters in Evanston, Ill., USA. Topping their agenda was the great progress India has made in the global effort to eradicate the crippling disease polio - Rotary's top philanthropic goal.

One of only four countries where transmission of the wild poliovirus has never been stopped, India this year has gone more than eight months without recording a single case, a significant milestone. "My country has benefited greatly from your support and I thank all of you," said Azad during his remarks to the humanitarian service organization's board of directors and trustees. The success is shared by the Indian government and by the thousands of Indian Rotary club members who help organize and implement massive national immunization campaigns that reach millions of children with the oral polio vaccine as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.


China responds to outbreak of polio

Children and adults all vaccinated

September 22  – Chinese authorities continue to respond aggressively to a polio outbreak in the western part of the country, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Following the initial immunization campaign held on 8-12 September and targeting 3.8 million children, vaccination was expanded to persons aged between 15 and 39 years after the identification of polio cases in adults. To date 10 polio cases have been reported; 6 in children under 3 years of age and 4 in young adults – one person has died.

Hotan Prefecture targeted around 1 million people from 13 September onwards. Vaccination for approximately 4.5 million persons 15-39 years old in other prefectures in southern Xinjiang commences on 23 September.


Pakistan: MSF responds to flood victims in Sindh

21 September – Monsoon rains and floods continue to ravage southern Pakistan, leaving tens of thousands of people displaced and vulnerable in Sindh province. In the coming days, an MSF team of 13 will launch mobile clinics in camps for people displaced from their homes in southern Badin district, as well as the sub-districts of Tando Bago, Dadah and Chabralo.

In the camps for displaced people, there is a need for medical care. Acute watery diarrhoea, suspected malaria, skin infections and respiratory tract infections are all common, while some children are suffering from suspected malnutrition.

The team will continue to identify the unmet needs in Tando Bago, Shahid Fazul Rahu and other sub-districts in the coming days. MSF’s team in Sindh province currently has four international staff and nine Pakistani staff, but they will be reinforced in coming days by additional staff.

Beyond Sindh province, existing MSF teams are working throughout the country, preparing to respond to the humanitarian needs caused by the flooding.


Both potato-soy mix, corn-soy blend can meet food aid needs, study says

By Jennifer O’Riordan

21 September - Providing malnourished children with a potato-soy mix ration rather than the traditional corn-soy blend achieved similar health results, according to a study published in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development. While the potato mix as a ration had the same impact on growth as the standard corn mix, it required less fuel to prepare and takes less time to cook. The potato-based blend was also found to be more easily digested since it has less fiber than corn, thus leading to less discomfort for the children. (...)

Undernutrition plays a huge part in the death of many young Senegalese children – contributing to 31 percent of deaths in those aged five and younger. The results of the study showed that targeted food supplement programs are an important component in improving the nutritional status of a region, especially when combined with better primary care, sanitation, a better water supply and economic reforms that focus on poverty reduction. (…)


Sanofi Pasteur donates vaccine strain used for polio eradication to WHO

20 September – Sanofi Pasteur has donated to the World Health Organization (WHO) a vaccine seed-strain used for the production of oral polio vaccine (OPV). The type 3 polio seed-strain is the original viral seed used to produce large quantities of OPV against type 3 poliovirus.

Since 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) - spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF - has achieved a 99% reduction in the number of polio cases worldwide. This reduction has been achieved as a result of the large-scale administration of OPV. The generous donation by Sanofi Pasteur to WHO has significant implications, both for the global effort to eradicate polio, and also for the post-eradication era.

With this donation, WHO now 'owns' all three seed-strain viruses (type 1, 2 and 3) needed for the production of polio vaccines. While Sanofi Pasteur had in the past made available its type 3 seed-strain, in collaboration with WHO, to other manufacturers to help secure a global supply of polio vaccines, the generous donation at this time will further simplify this process, and is in fact a tribute to Albert Sabin's - the developer of OPV - spirit to assure fair distribution of vaccines.


Save the Children announces helping Babies Breathe partnership

Westport, Conn., USA, September 19 - Save the Children today announced its collaboration with Johnson & Johnson and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in a new partnership to implement Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), an initiative to help save the lives of the hundreds of thousands of newborns who die from birth asphyxia each year in the developing world.

"Birth asphyxia accounts for more than 26 percent of all newborn deaths in developing countries," said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. "This is a preventable tragedy. Newborn resuscitation is a cost-effective, proven solution that can save thousands of lives. With this support from Johnson & Johnson, we will be able to train health workers in some of the poorest, most remote communities in Africa to help their babies survive and thrive."

Birth asphyxia, the inability of a baby to breathe in the moments following a live birth, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Those who survive are at higher risk of developmental challenges. This five-year partnership, which also leverages support from USAID, will allow HBB to expand into Malawi and Uganda where neonatal mortality rates contribute disproportionately to the overall child mortality rate. In Malawi the neonatal mortality rate is 33 per 1,000 live births. In Uganda, the rate is 29 babies per 1,000 live births.

The announcement of the Helping Babies Breathe partnership was made today at a panel hosted by Women, Inspiration and Enterprise about Solutions for Africa.



Energy and safety



Ecuadorian-UN accord that puts ecology over oil drilling hailed as model for world

New York, September 23 - An Ecuadorian accord to leave vast oil reserves, conservatively valued at $7.2 billion, untapped to protect biodiversity in a national park in return for half that amount from the international community was heralded at the United Nations today as a model in the fight to save the planet.

“It is not often that a government chooses sustainable development over easy money,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level meeting on the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, under which the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Ecuador agreed last year to set up a trust fund to protect the Yasuní National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve in the country’s Amazon region, with an estimated 846 million barrels of crude oil lying under it.

UNDP estimates the accord will prevent the discharge into the atmosphere of more than 400 million tons of carbon that would have resulted from the burning of fossil fuels if the oil had been extracted at the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) fields. Ecuador and UNDP have established a trust fund so that contributions from Governments and others can be channelled transparently for social development, renewable energy, reforestation and conservation, as well as for research, science, technology and innovation.For more details go to UN News Centre at:


USA - And now the solar GOOD news: 6.8% solar job growth since August 2010

By Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza

19 September – Breaking news: Over the weekend, sources from The Solar Foundation gave me some early numbers from the 2011 National Solar Jobs Census. There will be more data released at Solar Power International 2011 in Dallas, but here’s the early scoop:

    * As of August 2011, there are 100,237 solar workers in the U.S. in all 50 states.

    * Across the solar supply chain, from installers to balance of system (BOS) manufacturers, to yes, even solar PV manufacturers, that’s a 6.8% growth rate since August 2010.

    * In terms of exact numbers, there were net 6,735 new solar jobs created since August 2010. 

    * When I say, “net,” my sources tell me that these numbers also accurately include the recent job losses from Solyndra and Evergreen.

Now, 6.8% job growth would be great for any industry in any year, but let’s put that in perspective of the overall economy: According to Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc’s EMSI Complete Employment, 2011.3 report, during the same period, from August 2010 to August 2011, the overall economy grew by 0.7%, giving a net increase of 1,219,347 new jobs economy wide, including the solar sector, of course. (…)


Hawaii utility turns to biofuel to lessen reliance on oil

By Steve Leone, Associate Editor,

New Hampshire,U.S.A.,14 September - Isolation has its merits, but in Hawaii the same seclusion that lures planeloads of tourists also severs the state from its sources of energy.

While the rest of the country’s transportation system relies almost solely on oil, Hawaii remains heavily dependent on petroleum for nearly 90 percent of all its energy needs, including electricity generation. The state’s four largest plants — and 9 of the 10 largest — are primarily powered by petroleum. The amount of oil arriving by ship is of great concern for a state that values its environment and the tourism dollars that come with it. But the energy mix has also led to backbreaking electricity rates that are twice as high as the next costliest state and nearly three times the national average.

Those rates — 34.58 cents per kilowatt-hour for residents — are part of the reason behind the state’s aggressive push to get to 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 including transportation and 40 percent for renewable electricity generation. (The security dangers of being so heavily reliant on one source certainly factors into the RPS.) While wind and solar have increased their contributions to the energy mix in recent years, the state’s largest utility is now looking to biofuel as a way to achieve the state mandates without building new power facilities.

In the latest in a string of announcements, Hawaiian Electric Company and Hawaii BioEnergy have struck a 20-year deal to blend 10 million gallons per year of biofuel grown and processed on the island of Kauai and shipped to Oahu, where it will be used at the 650-MW Kahe Generating Station, the largest plant in Hawaii. The biofuel would then be blended with low sulfur fuel oil. The contract still needs approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) as well as input from consumer groups. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Opening the door to carbon crediting for restoring degraded grasslands

FAO helps herders earn money for the carbon they sequester when rehabilitating damaged ecosystems

27 September, Rome - The vast potential of grasslands to support sustainable livelihoods while trapping atmospheric carbon and helping slow down global warming is one step closer to being realized thanks to a new methodology developed by FAO in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the World Agroforestry Centre.

Large swathes of the world's grasslands are moderately to severely degraded — restoring them to a healthy state could remove gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and improve resilience to climate change. So far, however, carbon crediting schemes that pay projects for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering carbon have largely ignored agriculture, including grazing-based livlihood systems.

The breakthrough of FAO's new methodology is that it provides an affordable way to reliably estimate the amount of GHG emissions removed from the atmosphere through improved management of grasslands. The methodology is being applied to a pilot project in Qinghai Province, China, which will eventually be able to deliver significant carbon offsets for a period of 10 years. Online newsroom:


Nature and religion come together in Nepal

13 September – Lumbini, Nepal: WWF has celebrated the planting of 108,000 tree saplings in the Sacred Garden of Lumbini, the holy birthplace of Lord Buddha. WWF-Nepal reached its target of planting 108,000 trees within 2011 as part of a key project to plant a million trees in Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and surrounding areas over a period of 10 years.

Organized by WWF-Nepal and partner organization Lumbini Development Trust, the event brought together over 300 people from different sectors of society.

Covering 14 protected areas in India and Nepal, the Terai Arc Landscape is home to endangered tigers, elephants and vulnerable rhinos. It is one of the few places where these three large threatened animals coexist. WWF-Nepal is part of the Terai Arc Landscape Project which has helped thousands of rural poor to improve their lives in sustainable ways and generated a tremendous support for conservation.


Vegetarian Week - 1-7 October

A sustainable future depends on our food choices

By Prof Richard H. Schwartz

(...) Much of global warming discussions by governments, environmental groups and individuals over the past 20 years has focused on implementing changes in energy use and given little attention to the impact of our diets. This trend changed somewhat upon publication of a landmark 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), estimating that livestock production globally is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs, in CO2 equivalents) than the emissions from all of the world's cars, planes, ships, and all other means of transportation combined.

The FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, also projected that the world's current annual consumption of almost 60 billion land-based animals will double by mid-century if current human population growth and dietary trends continue. (...) Leading climate specialists have focused increasingly on the role of food in global warming, pointing out that there is no more powerful environmental action that any individual can take than adopting a plant-based diet. (...)

When we consider all of these negative environmental and climate-change effects, and then add the harmful effects of animal-based diets on human health, it is clear that animal-centered diets and the livestock agriculture needed to sustain them pose tremendous threats to global survival. A major societal shift toward veganism is imperative to move our precious but imperilled planet toward a sustainable path.



Religion and spirituality



WCC general secretary speaks at Oslo University bicentenary

22 September - The 200th anniversary of the University of Oslo in Norway provides opportunities for celebration, reflection and assorted special events. On Tuesday 20 September 2011 the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, was featured in a series of presentations on justice, peace and the role of religion in global perspective.

Tveit called for Christians and other people of faith to honour past victims of religious violence “by a deeper self-critical reflection on the ambiguity of religious expressions and traditions”. While the teachings of world religions have reflected wisdom and love, he continued, they also “sometimes support, or function as, systems of oppression and exclusion”.

The WCC general secretary described contemporary churches’ attempts to seek justice and peace as a reaction to the historical “Just War” theories by which theologians have attempted to rationalize warfare. He encouraged a quest for a “critical, creative, Christian theology” that recognizes human rights and the capacity to answer human need as basic to our contemporary understanding of the gifts and calling of God.


Mission to Iran seeks to improve relations through religious dialogue

By Dennis Sadowski – Catholic News Service

September 21, Washington (CNS) -- A delegation of Christian and Muslim leaders returned to the United States from Iran hoping that their six-day visit will improve relations between the two squabbling countries in a way that diplomatic channels have not. (...) The trip was arranged with the help of officials at Search for Common Ground, an organization with offices in 27 countries that works to prevent and resolve conflict.

"The primary purpose (of the trip) was to try and deepen the relationship between the two countries by direct human contact on the basis of religious leadership," William G. Miller, senior adviser to the organization who worked in the U.S. embassy in Iran in the early 1960s, told Catholic News Service. Cardinal McCarrick said he believed the discussions among Iranian and American religious leaders would deepen trust where diplomacy has failed. He said the idea of establishing a bilateral commission of religious and academic leaders from both countries was offered during the one-hour meeting Sept. 17 with Ahmadinejad. "The political channel doesn't do too well right now. There should be another channel. The other channel is the religious channel," the cardinal said. Bishop Chane said he welcomed the idea for the commission "to begin to deal with issues that our politicians and folks in the State Department and their (Iran's) foreign minister have not been able to deal with." (…)



Culture and education



Millions of children to benefit from UN partnership to train school principals

22 September – The United Nations educational agency has embarked on a new partnership to train thousands of school principals, beginning in Kenya, Ghana and India, that has the potential to benefit up to 10 million children in the future. The initiative by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Varkey GEMS Foundation, a not-for-profit education organization, is known as the “10,000 Principals Leadership Programme.”

“This partnership is an excellent example of the new platforms for cooperation the world needs today to achieve education for all,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, adding that tackling complex, global challenges requires innovative and far-reaching partnerships between the public and private spheres.

According to UNESCO, school principals in many developing countries receive little, if any, leadership and development training. The new initiative foresees the training of 10,000 principals in the three countries targeted over four years. The agency added that the multiplier effect of the programme has the potential to benefit thousands of teachers and up to 10 million children. Under the initiative, the Foundation, in cooperation with UNESCO, will provide leadership and professional development courses to improve the skills and knowledge of the school principals.


Security in cyberspace:  targeting nations, infrastructures, individuals

Andalo (Trento), Italy - 8-15 January 2012

International School On Disarmament And Research On Conflicts - ISODARCO - Italian Pugwash Group. This is the third time an ISODARCO course will focus on information technologies and their relation to war and international relations; previous courses were held in summer 1999 and summer 2002. This Course will have a broad scope, addressing topics such as cyberwarfare, cyberterrorism, privacy and freedom of speech, organized crime, Wikileaks and others. Last, but not least, the entire realm of cyberspace is now at risk of being "securitized". It would then be removed from public debate and left into the sole hands of law enforcement agencies and defense and military professionals. The overall goal, as in all ISODARCO courses, is to shed some light, tackle controversial issues and provide a forum for high-level general discussion among participants and speakers alike.

English will be the working language of the School. There will be approximately 80 participants. They are expected to attend all lectures and seminars and to stay throughout the week-long course. Applications should arrive not later than November 14th, 2011. Applications may be submitted also on-line at



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Next issue:  October 21st, 2011.

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*In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly (, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information.  In section A - International Organizations, the Report says:

"Participatory Communication and Free Flow of Information and Knowledge has been advanced largely through use of the Internet by civil society corresponding to para 6 in the 1999 Programme of Action calling for the promotion of a culture of peace through sharing of information among actors in the global movement for a culture of peace (p.7). Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet (p.12).