Good News Agency

Weekly – year 12th, number 202 – 18th May 2012


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



Ban praises Algerian elections and greater representation of women

New York, May 14 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the people and the Government of Algeria for the peaceful conduct of legislative elections last week, and welcomed the increased representation of women in the new parliament, according to his spokesperson.

The Secretary-General had, at the request of the Algerian Government, sent a High-Level Panel to the North African country to observe the electoral process involved in choosing members of its People’s National Assembly and keep him abreast of developments.

The spokesperson said Mr. Ban reiterated the continued commitment of the United Nations to support Algeria’s efforts to achieve socio-economic development and democratic reforms.


Countries adopt global guidelines on land tenure

Historic international agreement on how tenure and access rights to land, fisheries, forests should be handled

11 May, Rome - In a landmark decision the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) today endorsed a set of far-reaching global guidelines aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries.

The new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security outline principles and practices that governments can refer to when making laws and administering land, fisheries and forests rights.

The aim of the guidelines: to promote food security and sustainable development by improving secure access to land, fisheries and forests and protecting the rights of millions of often very poor people.


Sweden ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) on 23 April 2012 becoming the 71st State Party to the treaty.

Sweden has never used cluster bombs, but has produced and stockpiled them. However, Swedish representatives said at both the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Beirut in September 2011, and at the CCM intersessional meetings in Geneva last week, that stockpile destruction is well under way and should be finished by the end of 2014.

“It is thanks to a long-standing commitment of civil society around the world that the treaty banning cluster munitions became a reality in 2008. I am happy that Sweden now finally is also a State Party to the CCM and is joining the other 70 states that have already banned this terrible weapon,” said Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) member Anna Ek, from the Swedish Network Against Cluster Bombs.

Sweden engaged in the Oslo process that created the lifesaving ban and considerably changed its position from being a producer of cluster munitions to supporting the adoption of the Convention, and signing it in December 2008. Now that it has ratified Sweden will formally become a State Party on 1 October 2012, after the waiting period mandated by the Convention.

Sweden is one of 20 European Union (EU) member states who have joined the Convention.



Human rights



Pathways To Peace/Culture of Peace representatives participated at the United Nations World Press Freedom Day - 3 May

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) was jointly established in 1991 by UNESCO and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), in the framework of a conference held in Windhoek, Namibia. More than two decades after the Windhoek conference, WPFD celebrated on 3 May each year, continues to resonate in defense of media freedom.

This year, we all have been encouraged by the unprecedented global socio-political democratic developments in which various media played an important part. Indeed, though many factors were at play in the events taking place, particularly in north Africa and the Middle East, including underlying economic woes and political suppression, which elicited mass organization especially by young people, we cannot deny the fact that the freedom to harness the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially those of new media, played a significant role.

This coming together of press freedom and freedom of expression, through various traditional as well as new media, has given rise to an unprecedented level of media freedom. It has enabled the emergence of new ways to communicate, to share information and knowledge and has also allowed civil society, young people and communities to bring about massive social and political transformations.


Forest Peoples: numbers across the world

Forest Peoples Programme - supporting forest peoples' rights

By providing estimated figures for indigenous and forest peoples’ populations in countries and regions across the globe, this new Forest Peoples Programme report seeks to raise awareness of the existence of peoples who primarily depend on forests for their livelihoods, and to enhance their visibility as key actors and rights-holders in the management and use of forests and forest resources. These figures may serve as a useful reference in advocacy for the recognition of forest peoples’ legal and human rights.


Contemporary slavery: understanding the new face to an old evil

Conference in the European Parliament - 27 June

On 27 June 2012, Metin Kazak MEP will open a conference in the European Parliament organised in conjunction with UNPO examining the current extent and forms of slavery across the world.  Discussing cases from the Haratin in Mauritania to the human trafficking that afflicts Europe, the conference will raise awareness of contemporary slavery and, in bringing together policy makers and experts, posit possible solutions to the mitigation and halting of the practice.



Economy and development



Saudi Arabia and FAO step up in-country cooperation

Over $66 million for FAO technical assistance projects

Rome, 17 May - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to allocate $66.7 million to implement FAO's technical assistance projects in the country, according to an agreement signed today at FAO Headquarters during the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East.

Under the five-year programme from 2012 to 2016, FAO shall provide technical assistance and expertise for 17 specific projects in Saudi Arabia covering several areas.

This will include the transfer of technology, sustainable management of natural resources including water and forests, sustainable crop production and protection, the rational management of animal and fisheries resources, animal health, capacity building and the strengthening of rural institutions.

The programme aims to benefit small-scale agricultural producers and fishers who will be able to increase and diversify food production.


Development cooperation will play key role in gaining sustainable development – UN

14 May  – Partnerships and development cooperation among countries will play a key role in accelerating sustainable development, a top United Nations official said today, stressing that assistance will need to focus on helping developing countries find longer-term solutions to eradicate poverty and transition into a green economy.

“If ongoing preparations for Rio+20 have resulted in any insights, a basic one is that development cooperation will play a key role in expediting implementation in sustainable development,” the Secretary-General of the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20), Sha Zukang, told a conference in Brisbane, Australia, on the implications for development cooperation of the transition towards sustainable development.

 The two-day Australia High-Level Symposium, ‘Shaping a Sustainable Future – Partners in Development Cooperation,’ which began today, seeks to facilitate an informal dialogue on development cooperation among high-level policymakers, multilateral and civil society organizations, philanthropic foundations and the private sector.


UN experts call for global financial tax to offset costs of economic crisis

New York, May 14 - A group of United Nations independent experts today called on the European Union (EU) to take the lead in promoting the adoption of a global financial transaction tax that would offset the costs of the current economic crisis and protect basic human rights.  

“Where the world financial crisis has brought about the loss of millions of jobs, socialized private debt burdens and now risks causing significant human rights regressions through wide-ranging austerity packages, a financial transaction tax (FTT) is a pragmatic tool for providing the means for governments to protect and fulfil the human rights of their people,” said the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda.  

According to a news release by the UN office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), estimates suggest that at its lowest rate the FTT would yield about $48 billion across the Group of Twenty (G-20) major economies, with higher rates offering up to $250 billion dollars per year to offset the costs of the enduring economic, financial, fuel, climate and food crises.   

The call from UN experts comes a day ahead of the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit of industrialized countries, which will take place in Camp David in the United States.  

“EU countries must take bold leadership now to pave the way towards what should eventually be a global FTT,” the UN experts urged, welcoming recent EU proposals to implement the financial transaction tax across the Eurozone.


Contemporary slavery: understanding the new face to an old evil

Conference in the European Parliament - 27 June

On 27 June 2012, Metin Kazak MEP will open a conference in the European Parliament organised in conjunction with UNPO examining the current extent and forms of slavery across the world.  Discussing cases from the Haratin in Mauritania to the human trafficking that afflicts Europe, the conference will raise awareness of contemporary slavery and, in bringing together policy makers and experts, posit possible solutions to the mitigation and halting of the practice.


Food vouchers boost nutrition and markets in Somalia

Nairobi, May – Thousands of people in Somaliland are getting more fresh meat in their diet as a result of an innovative project that provides parents with vouchers to help them afford nutritious food from local traders. Under the programme people receive US $80 of vouchers each month, and can use them to buy a variety of food including rice, cooking oil and fresh camel and goat meat. So far, around 15,000 people in north-western Somaliland are being given the vouchers as an alternative to food rations, and WFP plans to expand the initiative to other areas later this year.

The first phase of the voucher project is linked to WFP’s nutrition programme for young children in Burao, Somaliland. In the past, the family of each child being treated for moderate malnutrition received a monthly ration of food from WFP, but now WFP has switched to providing a set of vouchers that families can use to buy food from local retailers. In the first phase of the voucher project, there are 13 local traders registered to accept the vouchers, including those who sell fresh camel and goat meat, which are staples of the diet for most people in the largely pastoralist region and can play a vital role in improving nutritional status.


African nations discuss creation of an African food security trust fund

FAO to help draft details of proposal

30 April, Brazzaville – The creation of an African-funded trust fund to support food security in the continent was discussed at FAO’s Regional Conference for Africa, held last week in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. Complementing international resource mobilization, the Africa Trust Fund would raise resources in the continent to fight hunger and would also allow for the scaling up of successful activities to prevent and respond to food and agriculture crises in the region.

FAO will engage in countries-led consultations in order to draft a detailed proposal for approval by participating member countries.

During the Regional Conference, the President of the Republic of the Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for African solidarity to help respond to recurring food security crises in the continent, with the Sahel and the Horn of Africa currently most affected. The President of the Republic of the Congo stressed the value of political commitment in ensuring food security and made a “vibrant appeal” for African governments to show solidarity with countries in the Horn of Africa and the African Sahel regions, where millions are currently in need of assistance.


International media and knowledge centre inaugurated

United Arab Emirates donates facility for communication, knowledge sharing and e-learning

24 April, Rome - An international media and knowledge centre was inaugurated at FAO headquarters today by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

Funded by the United Arab Emirates, the Centre is named for the country's founder and late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who once said, "Give me agriculture and I will give you civilization". With FAO's support, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan helped turn large tracts of the desert green by investing in agriculture, and in particular in date palm production.

The new facility covers some 260 square metres of floorspace and was designed by Italian architect Marco Felici. The Sheikh Zayed Centre features a conference hall allowing for live TV transmissions and debates, a new TV studio with post-production suites and e-learning facilities. It boasts state-of-the-art broadcasting and communication technology.






Vulnerable communities, ADRA responds

May 10, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is assisting families in Peru's southeastern region, who have been enduring harsh weather conditions during this year's first quarter. The region has been severely affected by heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, and strong winds, leading to the overflow of rivers and landslides. Below-freezing temperatures have followed this rainy season, which has triggered the threat of frostbite to vulnerable residents, amongst them children and the elderly.

ADRA is delivering blankets to an estimated 700 families affected by the cold spell in the District of Velille. The blankets will serve as a protective barrier against the cold, with priority given to children, elderly, and families living in higher-altitude areas. In total, ADRA will be distributing approximately 1,400 blankets to its beneficiaries, equating to two blankets per family. ADRA's 12-day intervention will complement aid distributed by local government institutions that are also responding to the current situation.


Building connections to improve aid to the needy

By Hildy Gottlieb

May 9 – Nonprofit aid groups working to provide services in foreign countries often do not share results or coordinate their efforts, although doing so would benefit them greatly, says Alanna Shaikh, creator of AidSource. That concern prompted Ms. Shaikh to build a network that would make it easy for aid providers to share their stories of success and failure online.

In the latest episode of Making Change, Ms. Shaikh describes how social networks are helping people and organizations build new connections that improve the ability of nonprofit workers to serve needy communities.

Hildy Gottlieb is the co-founder of Creating the Future and author of "The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing 'Nonprofit Organizations' to Create the Future of Our World." In this podcast, Making Change, she interviews leaders to discuss how those who are working for the greater good can effect more social change. New episodes of Making Change appear once a month.


Ambassadors and IFRC together for Africa

By Siddharth Chatterjee

May 4 – Africa’s most pressing humanitarian and development challenges were top of the agenda at a high-level Ambassadorial event organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on 4 May. The event was attended by 26 African Ambassadors from the Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva and the African Union representative, and was co-hosted by IFRC Secretary General Bekele Geleta and His Excellency Minelik Alemu Getahun, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia.

Discussions included how best to strengthen the partnership between African governments and their National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, known as the auxiliary role, with particular focus on the current food security crisis in Sahel and elsewhere on the continent.

The group heard of the outcomes of a high-level Sahel food insecurity meeting co-organized by the African Union and the IFRC in Dakar, Senegal, on 25-26 April. These included an agreement on a twin-track approach that focuses on African solutions and joint advocacy on the worsening Sahel food crisis, and a commitment to addressing policy and financial barriers to successful food production through sustainable and equitable agricultural growth and development. (...)


EU provides additional € 16.5 million to UNICEF for Sahel food crisis

4 May, Brussels – European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) has decided to fund several UNICEF projects in the Sahel for a total amount of € 16.5 million. Funds will be used to provide treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in west and central Africa.


Unilever Food Solutions and WFP work together to guarantee school meals to 40,000 students in the Philippines

Manila, May – Through its innovative “Sandwich Heroes” campaign, Unilever Food Solutions, a subsidiary of Unilever, has raised Php 400,000 in the Philippines for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The donation will allow WFP to feed 40,000 children under its school meals programme in conflict-affected areas of Central Mindanao.

Thirteen restaurants took part in Unilever Food Solution’s pioneering project, which involved each restaurant offering their signature or best sandwiches for the campaign. Unilever Food Solutions made a donation to WFP for each featured sandwich sold from October 2011 to January 2012.

Unilever has contributed to WFP and its fight against hunger in the Philippines since 2008. Globally, Unilever has been a WFP corporate partner since December 2006, donating a total of US$17.7 million to support WFP’s work around the world.


United States underlines strong support for Nutrition And School Meals Programme in Lao PDR

Vientiane, May – A delegation of representatives from the United States Embassy in Lao PDR, the Ministry of Education and Sports, and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has completed a three-day visit to Saravane Province where they observed activities under WFP’s School Meals programme. The visit followed a generous US$10 million contribution by the United States to WFP’s School Meals programme, which provides daily nutritious snacks to 150,000 schoolchildren in six provinces in Lao PDR.

The visit was part of the joint effort by the U.S. Embassy and WFP to raise awareness of malnutrition in Lao PDR. Malnutrition is the single biggest contributing factor to infant mortality in the country and can cause long-term damage to brains and bodies from childhood. WFP and the U.S. Embassy are committed to working with other development partners to identify and develop effective solutions to address malnutrition.

 In recent years, WFP’s School Meals programme has proved an effective tool to improve both educational achievement and nutrition among Lao children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition grant, is the programme’s largest donor.



Peace and security



Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future

Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future is the United Nation's 2012 theme for the International Day of Peace (September 21). This is an important theme for our times which you can build upon. What ideas does this bring to mind? What can you create, what actions can you take to bring this theme to life? There is an added dimension if we take this theme in relation to a Culture of Peace, and view it through the Peace Wheel from Pathways To Peace. Let us know what Sustainable Peace looks like to you when applied to GOVERNANCE, LAW, SECURITY, ENVIRONMENT, HABITAT, ECONOMICS or BUSINESS? Please send your comments to: We will collect your suggestions and and post them in future newsletters.

The Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) is a cooperative local-global Peacebuilding Initiative uniting the strengths of organizations, networks, projects and people to realize a Culture of Peace for the Common Good.






From the community, for the community

Volunteer community mobilizers’ network fully operational in Kebbi State, northern Nigeria

Kebbi (Nigeria), May 11 – Selected from their respective settlements (villages), 200 volunteer community mobilizers (covering 200 high risk settlements) are now fully operational in Kebbi State, in northern Nigeria. Their mission is to reduce the percentage of missed children through targeted house-to-house interventions to generate demand for and acceptance of oral polio vaccine.

These volunteers have been trained to work as “change agents” in the community and are responsible for house-to-house mobilization for polio and routine immunization and introduce some key household practices.


Mali: Gao hospital operational again

May 10 – Access to health care is a major challenge for people in northern Mali affected by armed violence. In Gao the hospital is operational again thanks to the efforts of the ICRC, which among other things has delivered surgical supplies.

"Only a few weeks ago, the hospital was deserted by its personnel and looted. It did not have water or electricity, because there was no fuel to run its generator," said Attaher Maiga, the head of the ICRC office in Gao. "People living in and around Gao were in considerable distress. There were pregnant women who died because they could not obtain suitable care, and victims of gunshot wounds who found themselves in appalling circumstances."

Today, 10 May, the ICRC is delivering to the hospital a large quantity of surgical supplies brought in from Niamey, in neighbouring Niger. This aid is in addition to two deliveries of medicines and medical supplies to Gao that took place in April. Altogether, enough aid has been supplied to care for nearly 500 patients suffering from illness and around 100 requiring treatment for injury. The return of some hospital staff made it possible for the ICRC to support the resumption of activities in the hospital, which is the referral medical facility for the entire region.


Rotarians celebrate milestones in the fight to rid the world of polio

By Ryan Hyland 

May 8, Rotary International News – Rotarians Tuesday celebrated two major milestones in the organization’s decades-long fight to rid the world of polio.

During the third plenary session of the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, which was also made available through a live webcast, Rotarians were congratulated for meeting and exceeding Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge, Rotary's response to $355 million in matching grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for polio eradication efforts. Attendees also celebrated India’s removal from the polio-endemic list in February, which leaves only three countries where transmission of the virus has never been stopped. But speakers reminded the festive assembly that the work is far from complete, because the ultimate goal has not been reached.

“We know that we haven’t reached our goal. We haven’t ended polio,” said John F. Germ, chair of Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge Committee. “Our clubs are still planning polio fundraisers for the coming years and encouraging donations from people in their communities.”

Germ announced that, as of 4 May, Rotarians and supporters have raised $215.7 million for the challenge, which runs through June. But with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative facing a significant funding shortfall for 2012 and beyond, it is vital for clubs and districts to keep pushing forward with their many creative fundraisers. (...)


Nepal: doctors hone trauma management skills

Kathmandu (ICRC) 07-05-2012 – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Dhulikhel Hospital of Kathmandu University are jointly organizing an emergency-room trauma course that will be given in Kavre from 6 to 8 May. Twenty surgeons and other medical personnel will attend.

The vice-chancellor of Kathmandu University, Dr Suresh Raj Sharma, inaugurated the course together with the deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Nepal, Jerome Fontana, at a ceremony in Dhulikhel Hospital on 5 May. "Strengthening the capacity of medical professionals to deal with trauma cases is crucial in Nepal – especially since the country is earthquake-prone and runs the risk of an overwhelming number of casualties in the event of such a disaster," said Mr Fontana in his address. Since 2011, Dhulikhel Hospital and Kathmandu University have been working together with the ICRC to take over full responsibility for the course.

Since 2001, the ICRC has been providing training and support for medical personnel in Nepal treating people wounded in connection with the conflict and other violence.


Poll shows strong U.S. support for UN health work

UN Wire, 4 May - More than 8 in 10 American voters say they support an active role of the country in the United Nations, especially in matters of women's health and disease monitoring and control, for which World Health Organization support reached 89%, according to a poll released Thursday by the United Nations Foundation and its sister organization, the Better World Campaign. "As election-year polls continue to show the American electorate split on a wide variety of issues, a vast majority of voters agree on one issue in particular: the value of a strong U.S.-WHO relationship," said Timothy E. Wirth, UN Foundation president.

The Huffington Post (5/3), The Hill/Global Affairs blog (5/3)


Eyeglass distribution changing lives in Vietnam

Kon Tum, Vietnam, April 19 – Learning got a whole lot easier for 94 students in Dak To District when they received new eyeglasses from ChildSight®, a program that improves the vision of children in Kon Tum Province, Vietnam and strengthens the ability of health personnel to provide pediatric eye care services. Uncorrected refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) can lead to visual impairment, blindness and disability, especially in developing countries. It is estimated that one in five Vietnamese children suffers from refractive error, yet the vast majority remain undiagnosed and untreated.

To remedy this, school children in primary and secondary schools are screened by trained teachers. Those who do not pass the visual acuity examination are tested by specialists from the Community Eye Unit at the Kon Tum Center for Social Diseases Prevention and Control. Students determined to have refractive errors receive free eyeglasses.


Red Cross targets mothers with mass media campaign for ‘polio free’ Haiti

April 19, Port au Prince – The Red Cross is launching a countrywide public awareness campaign today to encourage mothers to get their children vaccinated, as the country makes a bid to become officially certified as polio free – the last country in the Western Hemisphere to achieve this recognition.

The awareness campaign is in support of the upcoming vaccination programme, led by the Haitian Ministry of Health and other partners including WHO/PAHO and UNICEF, which will provide vaccines for all Haitian children, up to the age of 10, against measles and rubella in addition to polio in order to keep them healthy. Vitamin A and albendazole (a de-worming medicine) will also be offered as will vaccines to combat tetanus. The American Red Cross is also supporting the programme by providing $2 million to the United Nations Foundation.

The nationwide vaccination programme is due to start 21 April which marks the beginning of World Immunisation Week.



Energy and safety



Solar Electric Light Fund receives grand challenges explorations grant for groundbreaking research in global health and development

Washington, May 9 (CSRwire) - The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Steven McCarney, SELF Project Manager, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled, “Development and Field Testing of a “Battery Free” Solar Freezer for Immunization Support.” Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  SELF’s project is one of over 100 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mr. McCarney’s project is designed to accelerate the development and field testing of two solar powered, battery-free vaccine icepack freezers to support immunization efforts. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not have such a prequalified freezer system; this project will conduct field tests of solar powered, battery-free freezers alongside WHO prequalified battery-free vaccine refrigerators at remote health posts in two Colombian indigenous villages in the Sierra Nevada mountains. If successful, immediate deployment of the freezers will begin.


USA - Energy Department announces guide for 50% more energy efficient hospitals

May 8 - The Energy Department today announced the release of the final installment in a series of four 50% Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDGs). This latest guide will help architects, engineers, and contractors design and build highly efficient hospital buildings, helping to save energy and cut facility operational costs. The 50% AEDG series provides a practical approach for designers and builders of large hospitals, and other major commercial building types, to achieve 50% energy savings compared to the building energy code used in many parts of the nation.


Renewable energy generation is big business in Kenya

By Peter Kahare

1st May, Kenya -- Take an exponentially rising need for clean, reliable energy; add a new renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFITT); and then consider erratic weather conditions that have affected over-relied upon hydropower generation in Kenya and you get an influx of interest in renewable energy by Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is one IPP that has decided to venture into wind energy generation. General Manager of KTDA Power Company, Lucas Maina, said in an interview that the decision to venture into wind energy production was based on the fact that wind power is cheap to produce compared to hydropower. (...) KTDA plans to sell energy from the wind project to the national grid, therefore generating more income to sustain its operations. (…)


Israeli public hearing on launch of lower Jordan River master plan

April - This month, the Israeli Lower Jordan River Drainage Authority held its first public hearing presenting the Authorities' plan to produce a master plan from Naharayim to Bezek Stream on the Israeli side. Findings of initial studies on ecology, archeology and cultural heritage were presented as well as an overview of future project outputs.

 The hearing was very well attended, including the participation of many residents and former mayors and municipal staff, who over the years have participated in many of FoEME's activities along the river valley. The need for a regional effort was highlighted during the public hearing, including the opportunity presented by the regional NGO master plan that FoEME will launch in the coming weeks.

 The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation and the Osprey Foundation.



Environment and wildlife



Greenpeace is leveraging social media in its push for a zero deforestation target in Brazil

May 13 - The environmental activist group has launched a "Brazilian Friend Finder" to support its petition drive to counter a proposal to weaken Brazil's Forest Code, which mandates how much forest farmers and ranchers are required to maintain on their land. If the petition gets 1.4 million signatures – one percent of Brazilian voters - then Congress must formally consider and vote on the proposal.


Disaster risk reduction: a global advocacy guide

May 11 – Disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives encapsulate the growing recognition that relief is not enough in mitigating disasters and that resilient communities in fact are the key to reducing the impact and severity of natural hazards when they strike. The challenge remains in keeping the spotlight on DRR efforts and maintaining the engagement of concerned actors including governments and donors on the issue at hand.

Although relief and emergency appeals procure greater investment and garner greater global advocacy and resource mobilization, studies have indicated that investment in DRR is highly cost-effective and more importantly has a profound impact in saving lives and livelihoods when natural hazards strike. The challenge remains in mainstreaming a ‘culture of preparedness’ and accruing the necessary financial investment and institutional support to maintain it.

This global guide to advocacy for DRR aims to strengthen the skills, knowledge and proficiency of practitioners in advocating on DRR approaches to decision-makers, donors and policy-makers. It is designed to help National Societies meet those challenges.


Eco-innovation: when business meets the environment

2012 Eco-innovation call for proposals is open

Bruxelles, 11 May - The European Commission grants up to 50% co-funding to finance green ideas: the total budget available for the 2012 Call is 34.8 million Euros. The call will close on 06 September 2012 at 17:00, Brussels local time.

With 3.4 million jobs in eco-industries and a growing demand for environmental products and services, Europe has the potential to meet the environmental challenges of the future. The EU's Eco-innovation initiative was set up to tap this potential to the fullest by giving clever ideas and new environmentally-friendly solutions a chance to reach an EU-wide market. Eco-innovation boosts economic growth whilst protecting the environment.

The cross-cutting initiative provides funding for projects in various sectors that mitigate environmental impacts or promote a more efficient use of resources. Priority areas include material recycling, buildings, the food and drink sector as well as greener business.

Ecology goes hand in hand with innovation. Projects must be environmentally beneficial, innovative and economically viable in the medium to long-term. Eco-innovation funding is only there to help ideas get off the ground - the project must be able to carry on without EU funding.


Protecting oceans equals protecting our planet

United Nations, May 9 (IPS) - The U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), whose mandate includes the preservation and protection of the world's fast-degrading oceans, will play a pivotal role in Expo 2012, an international exhibition to be formally opened later this week in the coastal town of Yeosu in South Korea.

"From the U.N.'s perspective, the seas form part of what is commonly referred to as the 'global commons', and as such, any threat to this global resource ought to be addressed," Amina Mohamed, a U.N. assistant secretary-general and UNEP's deputy executive director, told IPS.

She pointed out that the largest creatures in the world live in the oceans (blue whales) as well as the smallest (bacteria). "Protecting our oceans is tantamount to protecting our planet and is critical for long-term sustainable development," said Mohamed, who is also co-commissioner-general of Expo 2012 and a former Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

The primary theme of Expo 2012, which runs May 12 May through Aug. 12 - is "the living ocean" and the protection of the world's marine ecosystems. The U.N. Pavilion located in the exhibition site will bring together more than 20 U.N. agencies and international organisations, primarily to showcase their collective efforts at the sustainable use of oceans and coasts.


WWF Climate Savers companies cut 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gases

May 9, Gland, Switzerland - Corporate members of WWF's Climate Savers programme cut their carbon dioxide emissions by more than 100 million tonnes over the period 1999 to 2011, according to an independent review of the programme released today. The figure is equivalent to double the current annual emissions of Switzerland.  The review, conducted by the international energy consultancy Ecofys, also finds that as Climate Savers companies continue to deliver on their commitments up to 2020, overall emissions savings since 1999 could exceed 350 million tonnes. This is roughly equivalent to the current annual emissions of Spain.

Current Climate Savers members include Alpro, Arjowiggins Graphic, Catalyst, The Coca-Cola Company, Collins Companies, Diversey, Elopak, Eneco, Fairmont, HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, KPN, Lafarge, National Geographic, Natura, Nike, Nokia Siemens Networks, Novo Nordisk, Resolute Forest Products, Sofidel, Sprint, Tetra Pak, Sagawa, Sony, Supervalu and Volvo. Commitments by former members Nokia, Polaroid and Spitsbergen were also included in the analysis.

WWF is releasing the results to coincide with three days of meetings it is holding in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where it will encourage existing Climate Savers companies and other corporations to further boost industry efforts against global warming.



Religion and spirituality



Sharing Sacred Spaces

May 9 - The Downtown Islamic Center (DIC) will open its doors to visitors and friends from other religious and spiritual communities on Saturday, May 12. The event is the eighth and final installment of the Council for the Parliament of World Religions’ “Sharing Sacred Spaces” project, which has brought together eight different religious and spiritual communities in Chicago's Downtown.  Each community has opened its doors on one afternoon during the year to showcase its sacred space and to share the history of its community and traditions.

The culminating event for this phase of the Sacred Spaces project will occur on June 10th, 2-4pm  in Chicago. A solidarity pledge will be signed by all eight religious and spiritual communities. This will be a celebration for all who participated in this eight month project as well as the general public. The pledge, written by the eight communities themselves, will celebrate the significance of eight diverse communities agreeing to stand in solidarity with one another. For questions or information about these events, contact Kathy Dale McNair


Buddhist teachings offer insights into achieving a sustainable future -- Ban Ki-moon

New York, May 5 - The teachings of Buddhism can offer significant insights on how to improve the condition of the planet and lead the way to a more sustainable future, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, in a message marking Vesak Day, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha.

"The spirit to care not just for ourselves but for others based on an awareness of our interlinked fates lies at the heart of Buddhism," Mr. Ban said."These teachings challenge families, communities and nations to act in concert of the advancement of our common well-being. That is the best way to secure individual and collective progress in an interdependent world," Mr. Ban added. He noted that Buddha's teachings are particularly relevant now as countries prepare for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil next month, which Mr. Ban referred to as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to set the world on a more equitable and sustainable path of development."

"We must also change longstanding assumptions and open our minds to new ideas and possible solutions if we are to address major global threats, from the proliferation of deadly weapons to intolerance and inequality," Mr. Ban said. He invited Buddhists and people of all traditions to use the Day of Vesak to reflect on how they can change their actions to pave the way for a more sustainable future.



Culture and education



Ford Foundation gives $50-million to push for longer school days in USA

By Caroline Preston

May 10 – Calling efforts to extend school days “the beginnings of a national movement,” the Ford Foundation today announced it will put $50-million into efforts to push for additional learning time at schools in poor neighborhoods across the country. In 2009, Ford pledged $100-million to improve high-school education; with today’s announcement, half that money will be narrowly focused on lengthening school time.

“Over the past few months, the idea of expanding and redesigning learning time for our kids, for America’s children, has been gaining the kind of momentum very few movements have gained in a short period of time,” said Luis Ubiñas, president of Ford, in making the announcement. (...)

Mr. Ubiñas and other coalition members who participated in the announcement said that extended school time is a proven way to improve education and student achievement. All of the schools in Phoenix’s Balsz Elementary School district, for example, are now labeled as “performing” or better, compared with half that were “underperforming” or “failing” before the district expanded its school year to 200 days in 2009.


Africa acknowledges crucial role of qualified teachers

May 8 - Teachers’ professional development represents one of the three main pillars of the Second Decade of Education for Africa. The other two pillars are formal and non-formal vocational education and training, and higher education. These pillars were reaffirmed by the Conference for Ministers of Education of Africa (COMEDAF V) in Abuja, Nigeria, on 23-27 April.

Education International actively participated in this event, which was hosted by the Africa Union Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria.

Among the other participants were Peter Mabande of the Pan African Teachers’ Centre, Ministers and top officials of 34 countries, and representatives of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), UNESCO, UNICEF, civil society organisations, the Africa diaspora, and partners from Europe and America.

EI participated in discussions by the civil society round table. It also presented its Quality Educators project, a response to the lack of qualified teachers in Africa, and engaged in working sessions with partners such as UNESCO and ADEA.


CISR and JMU College of Business awarded $629,513 USAID contract to work in Iraq

May 4 - The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) at James Madison University (JMU), is pleased to announce the receipt of a $629,513 USAID grant to provide information and guidance regarding accreditation of two Iraqi universities through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).

The challenges facing business and finance education in post-conflict Iraq at the university level and the tertiary education system as a whole are immense, and no single program will be able to sufficiently address every deficiency identified. However, by focusing on manageable components, changes can be introduced into Iraqi institutions of higher learning that will smooth the process by filling skill gaps identified by professors, administrators, and researchers.

The Iraqi university participants in this program will gain a greater perspective on subjects specific to finance/business education, enabling them to enhance their degree programs.

The program is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development and part of a larger USAID initiative to directly contribute to Iraqi Private Sector Development. 


Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution

Rotary Peace Fellows are leaders promoting national and international cooperation, peace, and the successful resolution of conflict throughout their lives, in their careers, and through service activities. Fellows can earn either a master’s degree in international relations, public administration, sustainable development, peace studies, conflict resolution, or a related field, or a professional development certificate in peace and conflict resolution.

Fellows are chosen from countries and cultures around the globe based on their ability to have a significant, positive impact on world peace and conflict resolution during their careers. Learn more about program eligibility and deadlines on site:


Bulgari partners with "Evita" to raise funds for Save the Children's HEART program - healing and education through the arts

April 27, Westport, Conn., USA – Bulgari announced that they will celebrate the much anticipated return of "Evita" to Broadway with an exclusive private event and performance benefitting Save the Children's HEART program, dedicated to Healing and Education through the Arts.

Starting April 25, tickets will be available to the public for this exclusive celebration package including a private event on June 25 hosted by Bulgari at their flagship store on Fifth Ave. Bulgari has been supporting Save the Children's global education efforts since 2009, raising funds that have totaled nearly $16 million, partly through the sales of these special-edition rings.

Save the Children's Healing and Education through the Arts ( HEART) program is a new and innovative global education program. HEART brings the proven power of artistic expression — drawing, painting, music, drama, dance and more — to some of the world's most vulnerable children, helping them heal and learn so they can reach their highest potential. HEART is currently carried out by Save the Children in preschools, primary schools, and after-school programs in Haiti, Malawi, Mozambique and Nepal. For more information, visit


15th UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival): Human Dignity - October 18-28

Call for entries

October 18-28, 2012 Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Francisco and Stanford University - celebrates the power of international documentary films dealing with human rights, the environment, protection of refugees, famine, homelessness, racism, disease control, women's issues, children, universal education, war and peace. In addition to our ongoing celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year we emphasize the theme Human Dignity

Formats: 16mm and 35mm, Beta SP, Blue Ray DVD, DVD (NTSC)

Entry fee: $25 for films up to 30 min. (late deadline $35) and $35 for films longer than 30 min. (late deadline is $45). Regular deadline – May 22, late deadline –June 2. The entry form:  or



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Next issue: 8 June 2012.



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