Good News Agency – Year XII, n° 198



Weekly – Year XII, number 198 – 24th February 2012

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 (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 via Internet*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



ITF signed memorandum of understanding with Croatia without mines

On February 16 a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the amount of 205.812 HRK was signed between the Croatia without mines and ITF Enhancing Human Security. The signing ceremony took place in Zagreb, Croatia.

The latest donation and the matching funds will be used for demining of pastures, meadows and arable land in the municipality of Kotar near Petrinja, Sisak Moslavina County. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Ms. Đurđa Adlešić, Director of Croatia without mines and Mr. Goran Gačnik, Deputy Director of the ITF.


Mauritania ratifies cluster bomb ban

2 February - Mauritania became the latest country to join the team  to rid the world of cluster munitions when the government ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 February 2012. This brings the number of countries to have fully banned the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster bombs to 68. 

Records show that since 1999, 54 people have been killed or injured by explosive remnants of war in this Arab League member state, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor.  About 9km2 of land in Mauritania is contaminated with unexploded cluster munitions, but in June 2011, at intersessional meetings of the Convention, Mauritania announced that it had a three-year plan for clearance of these areas. Mauritania will formally become a State Party on 1 August 2012 after the waiting period mandated by the treaty.



Human rights



UN Commission on the Status of Women - February 27-March 9

2012 Priority Theme: The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges

Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

Together with the policy making deliberations the Commission acts as a focal point for a vast number of gatherings at UN HQ, organised by governments, international agencies and NGO's. The list of official parallel events and unofficial NGO events is available online. 


UN tribunal welcomes arrest of former member of Serb paramilitary forces

23 January – The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s welcomed the arrest of Radovan Stankovic, a former member of a Serb paramilitary unit who faces multiple charges for crimes against humanity. Mr. Stankovic was arrested over the weekend in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than four years after he escaped from prison in May 2007.

Mr. Stankovic was first indicted by the ICTY, which is based in The Hague, in 1992. He was then transferred by the Tribunal to Bosnia and Herzegovina in September 2005, where he was convicted to 20 years in prison by the State Court for war crimes, including the rape and enslavement of Muslim women and girls. However, he escaped from prison in Foca two years after his sentencing. Since then, the ICTY had repeatedly called for his arrest and emphasized the importance of apprehending him to make progress in bringing those responsible for war crimes in the region to justice.


Mali becomes first African nation to agree to imprison ICC convicts

20 January – Mali has become the first African country to conclude an agreement to enforce sentences of imprisonment handed down by the International Criminal Court (ICC), it was announced today.

The Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, provides that sentences handed down by judges “shall be served in a State designated by the Court from a list of States which have indicated to the Court their willingness to accept sentenced persons. In addition to the agreement with Mali, the ICC has signed agreements on the enforcement of sentences with the Governments of Austria, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Serbia and Colombia.

The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide..


Bangladesh: anti-crime force enhances its knowledge of human rights principles

Dhaka, 14 February – Between 14 and 16 February, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an anti-crime force, will participate in a training course on humanitarian principles and international human rights law in domestic legislation. The event will be jointly organized by the RAB training department and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Seventy-five officers will take part in the course, which covers international standards governing the use of force and firearms, arrest and detention, and dead-body management in disaster situations. The participants will also learn about the ICRC's mandate and activities, mainly in the areas of protecting detainee rights, tracing missing persons and assisting victims of violence.

In the last three years, the ICRC has held a number of similar training courses both for the Rapid Action Battalion and the Bangladesh Police Service. "The RAB views our initiative as helping it to achieve its aim of complying with human rights law," said Michael Dynes, the ICRC's police and security delegate in Dhaka.



Economy and development



Bill Gates will attend IFAD’s annual meeting to share his prospective on how sustainable productivity improvements can reduce poverty

February 20, Rome -  Development leaders and heads of state, such as Mario Monti, Prime Minister of  Italy, Paul Kagame, President of  Rwanda, and Joseph Boakai, Vice President of Liberia, will congregate in Rome for the 35th session of the Governing Council, February 22-23.

One of the new aspects of  the meeting will be its interactive events, one of which will be led by Bill Gates who will challenge global players and national governments to adopt a new sustainable approach to support smallholder farmers. In December 2011, the Member States gave a boost to sustainable agriculture with 1.5 billion dollars in new contributions to ensure that the IFAD has sufficient resources to do its job for poor rural people worldwide. New programmes and projects started and successful interventions were scaled up: at the end of 2011, IFAD was financing 240 on-going programmes and projects with investments of US$4.6 billion in 94 countries and  is introducing climate-smart technologies and sustainable agriculture in more than 40 countries


Urgent emergency UN meeting in Rome to prevent a full-blown crisis in the West Africa region Sahel

February 15, Rome – The leading figures in the fight against hunger met for an emergency meeting at WFP’s Rome headquarters to organize a rapid, coordinated action in the Sahel region, where more than 8 million people need food assistance. Heads of UN agencies (WFP, FAO, IFAD, UNDP, OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF and USAID), representatives of affected governments and major donors stressed that now is the time for action in the Sahel: they can’t prevent drought but they can prevent famine and build longterm resilience. WFP and partners are launching a regional response to reach more than 8 million people with food assistance. WFP is purchasing food stocks and deploying specialized teams to the region in advance of the peak hunger season to ensure that food is available to the most vulnerable, especially women and children. The total cost of the Sahel response is estimated at 808 million dollars


Harvard offers students $100,000 prize to solve social issues 

February15 (Bloomberg News) - Harvard University is challenging students to develop entrepreneurial solutions to problems like global warming and poverty through a $100,000 competition announced today by President Drew Faust.

Students will form teams and tackle one of five issues that will be outlined later this month. The program is designed to foster energy from business-minded students and “focus it on problems that matter,” the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university said in a statement.

The challenge, part of the school’s innovation lab, has a March 19 deadline for proposals. One winner and as many as three runners-up will share the $100,000 grand prize, according to the statement. The winner will be given space, mentoring and resources in the i-lab.

“For generations, Harvard students and faculty have risen to the challenges posed by seemingly intractable problems,” Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber said in the statement.

Over the course of the competition, $50,000 will be distributed to 10 finalists to develop their proposals, according to Harvard’s website. The contest is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Final project submissions are due in May.


FAO will help to restore Afghanistan’s irrigation network and teach farmers a technical know-how

February 14, Rome – The Food and Agricultural Organization has signed a 27.7 million dollars agreement with the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water to provide technical assistance, including expertise and training, for rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s dilapidated traditional irrigation systems.  The initiative also aims to improve the knowledge and skills that farmers need to run and maintain irrigation systems and to help them increase crop production. Pasquale Steduto, head of  FAO's Water Development and Management Unit, explains: “The irrigation systems had suffered over the past three decades (…) because people were moving away from the rural areas, leaving no one to maintain the systems or transfer indigenous skills to the younger generation”. The rehabilitation of irrigation will lead to an increase in the crop yield of around 20% and benefit around 230.000 households. Between 2004 and 2011, FAO-assisted irrigation projects helped Afghanistan to increase its crop productivity and coverage of irrigated lands, almost 778 000 hectares of  land have been rehabilitated


The Horn of Africa remains one of the priorities of FAO’s new Director General but Somalia’s famine ends

February 3, Nairobi -  The United Nations declared an end to famine conditions in Somalia: the number of people in need of emergency assistance in Somalia has dropped from 4 million to 2.34 million. FAO’s new Director-General José Graziano da Silva explains: “Long-awaited rains coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months are the main reasons for this improvement”. At the same time he warned that with recurrent droughts in the Horn of Africa hunger remains a threat unless long-term measures are taken to restore food security: for this reason he called for a renewed commitment by all stakeholders involved - governments, regional bodies such as the African Union, the private sector, civil society organizations, humanitarian and development actors, and the peoples of the region themselves.


89.9 million dollars IFAD loan to India for poverty reduction in Uttarakhand State

February 1, Rome – The Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs of the Republic of India, Venu Rajamony and the IFAD Country Manager for India, Nigel Brett, signed the loan agreement to improve agricultural livelihoods in the State of Uttarakhand, one of the poorest states in India. The 50% of beneficiary groups will be female, covering around 143,000 households: the main focus of the project will be to support and develop the food production system by improving technologies for traditional food crops and livestock and by introducing new crops and products






FAO, Bill Gates eye cooperation on anti-hunger efforts

Greater information, productivity, market access for small farmers key

23 February, Rome - Improving agricultural data systems and boosting support to smallholder farmers in the fight against hunger emerged as key topics during discussions between Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, today at FAO headquarters.

The philanthropist and digital technology icon met with the head of the specialized UN agency, discussing ways to improve FAO's data collection systems and to develop a public, multi-agency scorecard to better measure the progress of hunger reduction. They also talked about how to boost sustainable productivity and market opportunities for smallholder farmers, who make up the bulk of the world's poor. Possible areas of cooperation include improving agricultural statistics, the use of communication and information technologies to benefit agriculture as a whole, and small-scale farmers in particular, in addition to supporting the development of a scorecard system. During the meeting, Graziano da Silva presented Gates with a permanent building pass to FAO, in a symbolic gesture of FAO's commitment to working closer with the private sector and civil society.


Maldives: aid reaches victims of unrest

Male/Delhi/Geneva (ICRC/MRC) 17 February – Following the recent political unrest in the country, the Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC) and the ICRC are providing humanitarian assistance to the people most affected, focusing on first aid and support for health care facilities. .

"We worked with the MRC to prepare and facilitate the emergency response, and we have already been able to undertake significant humanitarian work," said François Stamm, head of the ICRC's regional delegation in New Delhi, speaking during a recent visit to Male. "The Maldivian government has given us access to all places of detention, enabling us to meet people arrested in connection with the recent events."

For the first time since the beginning of the unrest, a team of ICRC delegates assessed conditions at prisons in Male and Maafushi. They also visited people under house arrest and in police custody in Maafushi, Dhoonidhoo and Addu, including Gan and Hulhudhoomeedhoo. In all, the ICRC has interviewed and registered 75 detainees.

The ICRC has met Maldivian president Mohamed Waheed, foreign secretary Ahmed Naseem and the new ministers of home affairs and defence, Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Mohamed Nazim respectively. The organization also discussed the current humanitarian situation with ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.


Business leaders support a $2 million capital campaign to help poor children in the Dominican Republic 

Philadelphia attorney funds a community complex to benefit 5,000 poor children   

Kansas City, Mo., USA, January 17 – Poor children in the Dominican Republic will now have a chance at a better life through Children International, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization, thanks to businessman Larry Phelan.

The Philadelphia attorney funded the newly inaugurated signature community center that will serve 5,000 children in the slum of La Caleta near Santo Domingo. The center will provide children access to medical and dental care, education support and nutritional programs.


Colombia: ICRC helps displaced persons in Catatumbo

Bogotá (ICRC) – On 17 February 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will distribute food, hygiene kits and essential household items to 336 displaced persons in the municipality of El Tarra in the Catatumbo region of the department of Norte de Santander.

Some 87 families have fled from Motilandia, where numerous clashes have taken place in recent weeks. They are all staying in temporary shelters provided by the local council. 

The ICRC's humanitarian assistance comes in addition to the financial support it provided two weeks ago to the first 280 people who left Motilandia.

In accordance with its mandate to protect and help victims of armed conflict, the ICRC will be present in the field to closely monitor the situation of the civilian population in the Catatumbo region. The ICRC reminds all parties to the armed conflict of their duty to respect and protect civilians and their property in accordance with humanitarian law.


X Games' snowboarder Hannah Teter helps feed poor children in Zambia

February 16 – X Games Gold Medal winning snowboarder Hannah Teter raises funds at the Clearasil(R) PerfectaParty to feed poor Zambian children served by Children International, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization. The snowboarding champion celebrated her 25th birthday during the X Games, with a party hosted by Clearasil® PerfectaWash™, and guests contributed donations to help feed impoverished children in Zambia.

Teter currently donates a portion of the proceeds from her Sweet Cheeks Panties line to help provide nutritious food to schoolchildren who would otherwise go hungry. With 19 percent of Zambian children suffering from malnutrition, according to UNICEF, the meal provided by the feeding program may be the only meal they will eat in a day. (…)



Peace and security



Memorandum of understanding signed with Cranfield University

16 February - Professor Ian Wallace, the Head of Cranfield Defence and Security and Mr. Dorijan Maršič, Director of ITF Enhancing Human Security signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 16 February 2012 at Cranfield University’s Shrivenham campus. The MOU envisages that Cranfield University and the ITF will work together to implement programmes and projects in fragile states and post-conflict countries, and promote the development of national capacities through education and training.

Cranfield University is the pre-eminent European institution in teaching and research in the fields of defence, security, technology and management. The University has significant experience in the development and delivery of training programmes to national authorities, defence forces, the emergency services and related agencies worldwide. Cranfield University and the ITF have worked together for nearly a decade on a number of programmes and projects in South East Europe and the South Caucasus.


Ban hails Latin American nuclear weapon-free zone on 45th anniversary

14 February – On the 45th anniversary of the treaty that created a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed the pact as an example of how regional initiatives can advance global norms on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of atomic energy. (...)

Latin America and the Caribbean was the first region in the world to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone with the Treaty of Tlatelolco – named for an area within Mexico City – in 1967.


Former Peace Fellow pursues human rights

By Kate Nolan 

Rotary International News, 14 February – A barrister for the British government, Francesca Del Mese sought a Rotary Peace Fellowship in order to pursue international work. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Watford, England, she applied and was accepted into the 2002-04 class at the University of Queensland in Australia. For her applied field experience, she worked in the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, and later prosecuted war criminals of the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. As a consultant at The Hague, she trained judges from Jordan on international criminal law.  Del Mese is one of more than 600 former peace fellows who have gone on to build peace in their communities and nations after completing their Peace Centers studies. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution.

In 2007, Del Mese traveled to Uganda to advise a London-based nonprofit concerned with human rights violations stemming from the country’s 20-year civil war. Del Mese interviewed dozens of the some 30,000 Ugandan children who survived abduction. (...)  Last year, Del Mese became the legal adviser, based in Geneva, for the UN Commission of Inquiry into atrocities committed in Syria. (...)

Current and former Rotary Peace Fellows, other Rotary Foundation alumni, and Rotarians will have an opportunity to hear the latest developments in peace and conflict resolution and learn practical skills from experts in the field during the Rotary World Peace Symposium in Bangkok, Thailand. The symposium, together with the Rotary Alumni Celebration, will be held 3-5 May, immediately preceding the 2012 RI Convention.


Ban welcomes signing of non-aggression pact between Sudan and South Sudan

13 February – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the signing of a non-aggression and cooperation pact between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan and urged both countries to maintain the positive spirit that led to the agreement and abide by its provisions.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Non-Aggression and Cooperation signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday calls for the respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs and rejects the use of force in relations between the two countries. South Sudan became an independent State last July, six months after its people voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan.


In South Sudan, work begins on UN-backed training centre for ex-soldiers

9 February – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has helped to launch the construction of a training centre in the west of the country that is aimed at helping former soldiers disarm, demobilize and return to civilian life.

Former soldiers attending the centre, to be built on land donated by the state Government of Western Bahr el-Ghazal, will receive training in livelihood skills and other measures to help them enter the job market, including basic literacy and business skills.

Participants will also take part in wage-earning work such as developing or maintaining infrastructure at the facility.

The facility is being jointly backed by the mission (UNMISS) and the national Government through its disarmament commission, the mission said in a press release issued on Tuesday.

The new centre will contain offices, classrooms, registration and counselling rooms, recreation facilities, accommodation, dining and assembly areas, and the first batch of 500 ex-combatants are expected to start training in April.


Building peace in the 21st century  - Barcelona, 23-25 April

Barcelona to host the first International Congress on Building Peace

Barcelona – The Letter of Peace addressed to the UN Foundation is delighted to announce the celebration of the “First International Congress on Building Peace in the 21st Century” (CIEP) to be held on 23rd, 24th and 25th April 2012  in Barcelona. The event, which is being coorganized with the University of Barcelona, is a contribution to world peace and space for dialogue with specialists in the culture of peace from around the world.

The opening ceremony will be held on Monday April 23 at 19.00. There will be presentations by Dr Didac Ramirez (Rector of the University of Barcelona), Dr Francesc Torralba (Professor of Ethics at Ramon Llull University and Director of the Universitas Albertiana Peace Institutes) and Dr Federico Mayor Zaragoza (Director General of UNESCO from 1987-1999 and President of the Culture of Peace Foundation). The remainder of the congress proceedings will take place in the historical buildings of the University of Barcelona.

During the three days of the congress there will be discussions about multiple peace-building initiatives taking place in various locations around the world. The congress will also serve to bring together insights and contributions to the field from academia and grassroots.






USAID-funded initiative helps rural municipalities upgrade health service

Paraguay program provides $1 million worth of medical equipment to rural clinics

February 17 – Widespread poverty, lack of viable economic opportunities and weak local institutions in northeast Paraguay compel many rural families to engage in illicit activities to generate income. Local governments are frequently perceived as weak and ineffective because they are not able to respond adequately to the demands for critical, basic public services in rural communities, including health, water and education. The social costs of illicit activities in terms of conflict and crime are immeasurable.

Local government receives $1 million worth of supplies - With funding from USAID, ACDI/VOCA’s Northern Zone Initiative, or as it is known locally Iniciativa Zona Norte (IZN), works to strengthen local governments in Paraguay’s conflict-affected northern zone.

On February 14, citizens from four municipalities saw their governments in action. With the help of ACDI/VOCA and program partners, over 1,660 boxes of electric hospital beds, medical furniture, laboratory supply kits, electronic diagnostic machines, vital signs monitors, surgical instruments, x-ray machines, and disposable packs and supplies such as syringes, gloves and masks, were handed over to local mayors and the directors of the health centers in the municipalities of Chore, Curuguaty, San Vicente and Capitan Bado.


India prepares for Polio Summit 2012 - New Delhi, February 25-26

by Dan Nixon 

Rotary International News,16 February - In the wake of India achieving one year without a case of polio, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in partnership with Rotary International, is organizing Polio Summit 2012. It will be held  25-26 February in New Delhi. The summit is aimed at sustaining the country's momentum toward eradicating polio by increasing awareness of the disease, securing strong support from governments and other partners, and promoting routine immunization. The meeting also will create a platform for government and health officials to develop a strategy for ending the disease in the three other countries where it is endemic -- Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan -- and throughout the world.

More than 1,000 government leaders, health officials, and Rotarians from India and neighboring countries, along with representatives from Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are expected to attend the event. (...) Before the summit, on 19 February, more than 200 Rotarians from several countries will participate with their Indian counterparts in the country’s National Immunization Day. About half of the visiting Rotarians also plan to attend the Polio Summit.(...)


Lebanon: Caring for the most vulnerable

February 7 - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing mental healthcare in two refugee camps in Lebanon for the past three years, both to Palestinian refugees and to vulnerable Lebanese in the area. Now MSF has opened a new project in northern Lebanon, following the arrival of 4,500 Syrians who have fled the unrest in their country.

MSF has put in place several mental health programmes for Palestinians and Lebanese living in and around the two largest refugee camps in Lebanon: Burj el-Barajneh in Beirut and Ein el-Hilweh in Saida. Over the past three years, more than 2,200 patients have benefited from free psychological care, provided through a multidisciplinary, community-based approach. In total, more than 15,500 free-of-charge psychological and psychiatric consultations have taken place.

Recently, with thousands of Syrians – many of whom have physical wounds –fleeing the violence in their country and seeking refuge in Lebanon, we dispatched medical teams to evaluate their health status. This resulted in our setting up a new health programme in Wadi Khaled, in the north of Lebanon, in November 2011. We have been working in Lebanon for three years, and were therefore in a position to monitor closely the health situation for Syrians arriving in the country.


Global NGO Project HOPE delivers $2 million of urgently needed insulin to Tajikistan

Project HOPE responds to emergency appeal from health authorities in former Soviet republic

Millwood, Virginia, USA February 6 – Global NGO Project HOPE delivered urgently-needed insulin valued at $2 million to Tajikistan after supplies of the medicine to treat diabetics had run out in the former Soviet Republic. “Currently, there is not just a shortage, but there is not any insulin available in the country,” said Colin Credle, regional manager of humanitarian aid for Project HOPE in Central Asia.

“Project HOPE continues to work closely with Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to address their most critical needs. The MOH approached HOPE and the U.S. Department of State as a last resort to help provide Insulin for several thousand diabetes patients who are unable to locate or obtain insulin needed for survival.  The medicine was donated by Eli Lilly and Company to Project HOPE and could not have come at a more critical time,” said Mr. Credle. 

The donated insulin brings the total value of humanitarian aid to Tajikistan from Project HOPE to over $300 million since 2002.  All transportation costs have been funded by the U.S. Department of State.  The “public-private partnership” model at the heart of HOPE’s humanitarian program in Tajikistan is being touted as a successful and promising model for the future in places like Central Asia.


Global NGO Project HOPE training medical social workers in China to help alleviate the emotional pain of childhood cancer

Millwood, Virginia, USA, February 3 – On World Cancer Day, global NGO Project HOPE says a growing corps of medical social workers in China is helping families deal with traumatic stress caused by the rising trend of childhood cancer in China.

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide and the World Health Organization estimates that 84 million people will die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 without intervention. The vast majority of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and, in China, an estimated 45,000 new cases of pediatric cancer occur each year.

Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, has partnered with the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center(SCMC) to develop a program to train medical social workers, a relatively new specialty in China’s health care system to help families navigate the painful journey of cancer therapy in the hospital and at home. 

“Our goal is to empower parents by helping them acquire the skills that will give them the strength and endurance to face all challenges that may occur throughout the cancer treatment process,  said Dr. Ji QinYing, Director of the Social Worker Department at SCMC.



Energy and safety



UN and partners help to power education with solar panel donation

17 February – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has partnered with religious institutions to provide solar panels that will power much-needed electricity to schools as well as promote the use of renewable energy. The first solar panels were donated to the Ebrahim Hamim Madrasa and the Islamic Centre of Social Welfare outside of Jalalabad, in the eastern province of Nangarhar, last week. The solar panels and related equipment will benefit around 570 students, including 350 girls, by powering lights in the school, stated the mission.

During the handover of the equipment, the principal of the school, Mawlawi Esrarullah Hamim, said that the support given to the ulamas, or religious scholars, through the donation could also help create a culture of peace.,“Supporting ulamas means supporting peace because our people respect mullahs and religious scholars. They could encourage people to support peace and reconciliation process,” said Mr. Hamim.


Tribal Clean Energy projects awarded $6.5 million from U.S. Energy Department

February 16 - As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to strengthening partnerships with Tribal Nations and supporting tribal energy development, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that 19 clean energy projects to receive more than $6.5 million. These competitively selected projects will allow Native American Tribes to advance clean energy within their communities by assessing local energy resources, developing renewable energy projects and deploying clean energy technologies. These projects will help Tribal communities across the country save money and create new job and business opportunities.

The Energy Department has taken a number of steps to strengthen its support for Tribal energy development and empower Tribal leaders to make informed decisions that promote community economic development. Over the past year, the Department has established the Indian Country Energy Infrastructure Working Group with Tribal leaders from across the country and launched programs to provide technical assistance and support to help Tribal communities, colleges and universities deploy energy projects and gain skills in energy development and financing.


Millions of people to receive solar energy access through UN-backed initiative

New York, Feb 16 - A Mauritius-based company announced today that it will provide access to low-cost solar energy for 33 million people in Africa and Asia for the next four years, as part of a United Nations-backed initiative to fight poverty.

The solar energy provider, ToughStuff, will expand access to low-cost, durable solar panels and solar battery packs to low-income communities in 10 African countries and four South Asian countries. The company’s efforts are part of Business Call to Action (BCta), a global initiative supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that encourages private sector efforts to develop inclusive business models that can have both commercial success and a positive impact in development.

The company estimates that some $520 million will be saved by consumers by switching from kerosene or biomass fuel to solar energy. In addition, carbon emissions will be reduced by up to 1.2 million tons by 2016. To provide its services, the company will rely on a network of village-level entrepreneurs that are provided with training on how to sell, rent, or provide access to affordable energy services.


New water pump will help Matau primary school kids stay healthy and in school

Oprah’s all-time favorite guest T.Trent sees real progress with school construction on Zimbabwe visit

Harare, Zimbabwe, February 3 - Go to any U.S. school, and you will find water fountains in the school hallways.  But at the Matau Primary School in Zvipani village in northeast Zimbabwe, the nearest water source for thirsty kids is nearly a mile away from school.

That is about to change. Save the Children put the finishing touches this week on a new water pump on school grounds. Over the past month, workers drilled nearly 140 feet into the ground to find water. The community chipped in by digging trenches so workers could lay the pipes connecting the water hole to a water storage tank and pump. After putting in the pipes, the workers hooked up the electrically-powered pump. Today, for the first time, clean water is flowing from the tap. The water project is part of the Matau Primary School project funded through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation in honor of Tererai, Oprah’s all-time favorite guest. The education project includes infrastructure upgrades at the Matau Primary School, as well as learning programs for nearly 4,000 children in Matau and nearby communities.



Environment and wildlife



Madagascar Red Cross responds to the cyclone Giovanna

By Mbola Ranaivomanana, in Madagascar

16 February – Accompanied by high winds and heavy rain, intense tropical cyclone “Giovanna” landed in the district of Brickaville, in the East coast of Madagascar, during Monday night on the 14th of February. It came out of the sea in the Mozambique Channel causing much damage in its path with the regions of Brickaville and Vatomandry the most affected. The latest assessment of the National Office of Disaster Management, reported 16 dead, 65 injured, 10,856 people affected, 3,380 houses totally destroyed and 1,480 houses damaged. The number of victims is increasing every day. (...)

The Malagasy Red Cross responded well before the cyclone. As soon as the Malagasy Meteorological Service has confirmed that the cyclone would hit the country, 1,416 volunteers were involved in an early warning campaign. They traveled to each neighborhood with their megaphones and also went door to door. They have also worked with local radio stations to broadcast alert messages. "People laughed us when we did the alert campaign because the weather was great last Monday. But that reaction does not discourage me," said Solange, a volunteer from Ambohimanarina branch.

A few hours after the cyclone, the Malagasy Red Cross volunteers started to assess the damage and the resulting needs. They joined the search and rescue operation, and then helped them to move to the camps, providing first aid where needed. As the storm was so sudden and so strong they also are giving psychological support in each camp. (…)


Canada, Mexico and the United States announce grants to address North American environmental challenges

Montreal, 16 February - The Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), composed of the ministers of environment of the three countries, today awarded more than $1.3 million in grants under the CEC’s North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA) program. The grants will support communities in their efforts to address environmental problems at the local level across North America.

Eighteen projects were chosen from 500 proposals received as part of a new initiative announced 22 June 2011, at the CEC Council’s meeting held in Montreal. The successful projects span the ecoregions of North America and support environmental action at the community level from the subarctic tundra, to the grasslands of the Great Plains, to the tropical forests of Mexico. Projects address issues ranging from the effects of climate change on Woodland Caribou and the Athabaskan Peoples in Canada, to citizen-powered air quality testing in Louisiana and protecting the health of women and children through the adoption of better, clean energy cooking stoves in Mexico.


Environment Bank and Mission Markets launch online conservation credit platform

London, February 16 - The Environment Bank today launches the first online ‘conservation credit’ trading platform.  The Environment Bank, the first organization to deliver biodiversity offsetting in the UK, and Mission MarketsTM, a professional services firm specializing in the impact and sustainability sectors and operating an international platform for exchanging environmental credits, today jointly announce the first online marketplace for conservation credits in the UK.

The online Conservation credits Exchange will allow conservation groups, farmers and landowners to register their wildlife sites so as to provide ‘conservation credits’; these credits will then be available to developers for purchase to offset their impacts on biodiversity – putting a transferable value on biodiversity loss and establishing private sector funding for the long-term management of conservation sites.

The Environment Bank is a private sector company established to help deliver the Government policy of biodiversity offsetting as set out in the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper (Defra). Mission Markets, Inc. ( is a boutique professional services firm specializing in the impact and sustainability sectors.


Volvo Group and WWF expand climate partnership

Sanya, China - Volvo Construction Equipment and Volvo Buses have joined the Volvo Group’s cooperation with WWF´s Climate Savers program, pledging to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 million tons from construction equipment, buses and trucks through 2014.

“By expanding the partnership with WWF to include our buses and construction equipment, the Volvo Group will demonstrate that it is serious about continuously raising our targets in terms of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from our products, by complying with our vision for sustainable and carbon-neutral future transportation,” said Volvo’s CEO Olof Persson.

The Volvo Group became the world’s first auto manufacturer to join WWF Climate Savers in November 2010 with a commitment to reduce the lifetime CO2 emissions of its trucks sold from 2009 to 2014 by 13 million tons compared to 2008 models.

Thanks to improved fuel efficiency, the goal has now been increased to 30 million tons, and will include the company’s buses and construction equipment. Thirty million tons is the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by Sweden in its entirety in seven months.



Religion and spirituality



United Kingdom - Queen launches Diamond Jubilee year with multifaith reception

London — Representatives of the United Kingdom Baha'i community joined members of eight other religions at a special gathering to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. At a reception held at Lambeth Palace – official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury – Baha'is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Zoroastrians discussed their beliefs with the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and showed them treasured objects from the various faiths.

Highlighting the ongoing centenary commemorations of 'Abdu'l-Baha's travels to Egypt and the West, the Baha'i community displayed a robe that He had worn. Baha'i representative, Shirin Fozdar-Foroudi, described the simple robe as a reminder of the spirit of 'Abdu'l-Baha whose life of service was an example to all.

The reception held on 15 February was one of the Queen's first public engagements to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee year. Addressing the gathering, the Queen said, "Faith plays a key role in the identity of millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but a sense of belonging."


4th Annual International Conference on Religion, Conflict and Peace

March 23-25, 2012 ~  Dearborn, Michigan USA

by Common Bond Institute Common Bond Institute

Registration and the call for proposals are open for the 4th annual international conference on "Religion, Conflict and Peace". The international forum promotes inter-religious and intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of social paranoia, intolerance, negative stereotyping, scapegoating, and islamophobia, and the promise of reason, understanding, compassion, and cultural harmony.

The conference is an official partner event of the Charter For Compassion and the Parliament of World's Religions. It is sponsored by the the Common Bond Institute, Henry Ford Community College and the Parashakti Temple of the International Humanistic Psychology Association and endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally. Full details are available on the conference webpage.

The Conference seeks to create an engaged, inclusive dialogue to consciously explore together both broader historical dynamics, implications, and possible remedies, and more recent specific manifestations playing out around us in society today. (...)



Culture and education



IPDC Bureau meets to select media development projects to be supported this year

The 56th annual meeting of the Bureau of the International Programme for the Development of Communication, more widely known as IPDC, will gather from 22 to 24 February 2012 at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris to select the projects that will receive the Programme’s support this year. The members of the 8-person Bureau, representing UNESCO’s Member States, will have to choose among the 103 projects that have been submitted to IPDC. They will focus on the most deserving ones and those most likely to make a lasting impact on media development in the countries concerned.

The majority of the projects proposals (39) concern Africa, a UNESCO priority. Twenty-six have been submitted from Asia and the Pacific; 21 from Latin America and the Caribbean; 13 from the Arab Region; 3 from Europe and one is of interregional scope.

While the topics of the projects are wide-ranging, each will be expected to contribute in its own way to at least one of IPDC’s priorities: promoting freedom of expression and media pluralism; development of community media; and human resource development.

IPDC is the specialized Programme within the UN system dedicated to strengthening the capacities of free, independent and pluralistic media in developing countries and countries in transition. In the last two years, IPDC has supported 176 projects in 86 countries across the globe, channeling a total amount of over 4,5 million US dollars.


Chilean student leader named Person of the year 2011 by UK newspaper

14 February - A 23-year-old Chilean student leader has been named as ‘Person of the Year 2011’ by a British newspaper. Camila Vallejo received the accolade from The Guardian, ahead of leading personalities, including German chancellor Angela Merkel. Vallejo, ex-President of the University of Chile’s Student Federation (FECH), secured 78 per cent of the votes among readers.

Chile’s student federations, together with education unions, have been engaged in an ongoing battle for citizens' fundamental right to quality free education, with massive demonstrations besetting the country for many months last year. They have been leading the demands for a profound reform of the education system, derived from President Piñeira's education policy which echoes the policies of Pinochet's military dictatorship in the 1980s.

More than 50 per cent of the population in Chile are paying for education. The most vulnerable groups are concentrated in municipal public schools which cover just over a half of the registration fees. The rest go to private schools which are financed by the State and also receive direct payments from families.

Vallejo said recently that students would continue their struggle for free, quality education. In an interview with, an independent platform, she explained: "For the first time in Chile, students have organised. This led to many political discussions about the problems education is facing, and about solutions for this crisis.”


2012 International essay contest for young people

Young people from around the world are invited to enter the 2012 Goi Peace Foundation - UNESCO International Essay Contest for Young People.

The theme for this year's contest is: "Creating The Future We Want"

Future begins with the vision we hold now. What kind of future do you wish to create for yourself and the world? Please share your dream and ideas for making it a reality.

The deadline for entry is June 30, 2012. Prize winners will receive a cash award and will be invited to Japan for the award ceremony. Complete guidelines at:



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Next issue: 16 March 2012.


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

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster: Simone Frassanito. Media coverage: Maurizio Palazzoni  


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 3,000 NGOs, 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as 22,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.

The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.


*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).