Good News Agency – Year II, n° 10



Weekly - Year II, number 10 –  25 May 2001

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.

Good News Agency is distributed through Internet to over 2,400 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 41 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Finland, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA, and it is also available in its web site:

It is a free of charge service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979. The Association operates for the development of consciousness and supports the activities of the Lucis Trust, Radio For Peace International, The Club of Budapest and other organizations promoting a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity within diversity and on sharing.          Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail:



International legislation




Human rights


Energy and safety


Economy and development


Environment and wildlife




Culture and education




International legislation



Corruption to be central theme of UN Crime Commission meeting

Vienna, 7 May - Progress in fighting corruption will be the chief focus as 40 governments and observers convene here starting 8 May to review a number of issues facing the UN's world-wide crime control programme. In debating the question, led by a panel, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is expected to set the stage for preparations to negotiate a legally binding international treaty on corruption. That process would require a go-ahead from the General Assembly at its fall session.

The panel on corruption will include experts from countries engaged in pilot programmes with the Vienna-based UN Centre for International Crime Prevention. As background for the discussion delegates will have analysis of existing instruments on corruption, both binding and non-binding. Most of the agreements covered are regional, with many disparities in terminology, actions to be criminalized, jurisdiction, sanctions and other matters.


Governments give green light to phase out of world's most hazardous chemicals

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) set for signature on 22-23 May

Nairobi/Geneva 9 May  - An historic chemicals convention, which many scientists expect will deliver a healthier world for people and wildlife from the polar regions to sub Saharan Africa and Latin America, is set to be signed this month in Stockholm by more than 100 countries.

Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of UNEP under whose auspices the treaty was negotiated, said: "Persistent organic pollutants threaten the health and well-being of humans and wildlife in every region of the world. It is therefore vital that after adopting and signing the Convention in Stockholm governments follow up quickly by ratifying the treaty so it can enter into force by 2004 at the latest”. Fifty ratifications are required to make the agreement legally binding.

23 May – The agreement was signed by 90 countries. Canada ratified it two hours after the signing. The Convention defines quotas for the production, import /export and use of the twelve most Persistent Organic Pollutants.


European compliance with Kyoto protocol deemed affordable

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 9 - The European Union could cut its greenhouse gas emissions in line with Kyoto Protocol commitments at an annual cost of under 0.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product, says a study released by the European Commission. The estimated cost is considerably lower than previous figures and will strengthen the European Union’s hand in the global argument over the “affordability” of responding aggressively to climate change.


Second Global Forum on fighting corruption

Civil society organizations have an opportunity to speak with one voice when the Second Global Forum on Fighting Corruption takes place in The Hague, The Netherlands from May 28-31, 2001. The Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos) and Transparency International, in co-operation with a number of Southern anti-corruption organizations, have drawn up an open letter which will be presented to the second Global Forum’s plenary session of Government Ministers on May 31.


"The Berlin Commitment": Pledging to create an environment fit for children

Berlin May 18 - In the belief that every child, without exception, should be assured the right to dignity, security and self-fulfilment, delegates from 51 countries across Europe and Central Asia and the Holy See, concluded an extraordinary meeting in Berlin today with a special commitment to creating an environment fit for children in the region.

The "Berlin Commitment" outlines goals and focus for further development of child-friendly policies in the different States over the next 10 years. The conference is the culmination of a series of consultations between governments, civil societies, NGOs, young people, UNICEF, other UN agencies, the EU, the Council of Europe, OSCE and other regional bodies, all dedicated to improving the lives of children. The continued discussions in Berlin , in addition to the "Berlin Commitment", will also result in a detailed report outlining strategies and recommendations for action.

This is the first time that governments from Europe and Central Asia come together and jointly commit themselves to further the efforts of implementing the Convention of the Rights of the Child. To ensure that all children are respected, without any discrimination, the active collaboration with civil society will be sought.



Human rights



Religions For Peace brings multi-religious perspective to Global Movement for Children, upcoming U.N. Special Session

New York, 14 May -The world's religious communities must assume a key role in promoting children's rights and taking action to ensure that all of the world's children are able to achieve their full potential, Religions for Peace (the World Conference on Religion and Peace) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced today.

The joint statement marked the conclusion of a meeting in preparation for Religions for Peace's participation in the U.N. Special Session on Children, scheduled for September 19-21. During that meeting, UNICEF and Religions for Peace also discussed the importance of religious communities in the "Global Movement for Children", a new campaign dedicated to building a massive constituency of people that support the right of all children to grow up in peace, health and dignity.



Economy and development



FAO raises agricultural issues at UN Conference on Least Developed Countries

May 13 - Food security and the development of the agricultural sector in the world's poorest countries is a major spotlight of discussion at the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UNLDC III) being held in Brussels from 14 to 20 May 2001. Participating at the Conference are FAO and other UN agencies as well as UN Member States and non-governmental organizations.

Least developed countries (LDCs) are countries with a gross domestic product per capita below US$800, weak human resources and a low level of economic diversification. Agriculture is the mainstay of most LDCs' economies, underpinning their food security, export earnings and rural development. Currently, 49 countries with a combined population of more than 600 million people are identified as LDCs…


Lester Brown coins new institute to build eco-economy

Washington, DC, May 11 - The man who founded the influential WorldWatch Institute 26 years ago, Lester Brown, today announced the formation of a new organization, the Earth Policy Institute. Brown says a new organization is needed because "we are losing the war to save the planet."

WorldWatch, based in Washington, DC, is a non-profit public policy research organization. Founded on the idea that information is a powerful tool of social change, WorldWatch publishes an annual environmental State of the World report, a monthly magazine, does research, publishes in some 30 languages, and maintains a working relationship with the world's major news organizations…

To effectively win the war to save the planet, Brown intends to create the building blocks of an environmentally sustainable economy, what he calls "an eco-economy." By definition, an eco-economy is "designed to mesh with Earth's ecosystem instead of disrupting and destroying it," he says. The new institute will produce a book, "Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth," containing detailed descriptions of the policy tools that can be employed, such as a restructuring of the tax system that will simultaneously reduce income taxes and raise taxes on environmentally destructive activities.

The Earth Policy Institute is online at:


IISD signs $700,000 agreement to conduct research project in India to study problems Indian farmers face due to economic globalization and climate change

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, May 11 - The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has just signed an agreement for a $700,000 research project to be conducted in India with partners from India and Norway. The project will look at how farmers in India may be vulnerable to the problems caused both by economic globalization and climate change.

The project will construct a map showing the areas in India that are most vulnerable to such physical changes. Maps of these economic variables will also be developed, and compared with factors such as poverty levels. The result will be a map showing those parts of India most vulnerable because of their poverty, their climate, and their farm products. Case studies of four of these vulnerable areas, and analysis of the types of government policies that might reduce the potential problems, will then be conducted. The result will be a better understanding of these linked issues in India, some policy suggestions to deal with the issues, and thus a better capacity to deal with the problems as they arise.


Prodi articulates sustainable development strategy for Europe

Brussels, Belgium, May 16 - The European Commission has published its long awaited sustainable development strategy for the 15 nation European Union, to be submitted to heads of state at next month's Gothenburg summit. Introducing the plan Tuesday, Commission President Romano Prodi said the strategy would need "initial sacrifices" but would reap "major benefits in the longer run." The position statement has received a generally warm response. The new ones are:

·         Cutting EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020;

·         Adopting by 2004 an ambitious EU energy tax regime with "full internalization of external costs" and indexing of minimum tax rates to inflation

·         Raising transport biofuel consumption to 20 percent by 2020

·         Introducing a system of "resource productivity measurement" by 2003

·         Decoupling transport growth from economic growth by introducing transport charges which "reflect costs to society" by 2005.






CIBA Textiles to co-sponsor UN basketball camp for kids from former Yugoslavia

Vienna, 7 May – Ciba Textiles of Austria announced today that it will join the Vienna-based UN International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) as a co-sponsor of "Basketball without Borders," a camp for young players (aged 12-14) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Slovenia and the Federal Republic (FR) of Yugoslavia.

Nine National Basketball Association (NBA) players, led by veterans Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings, a native of Yugoslavia and Toni Kukoc of the Atlanta Hawks, a three-time European player of the year and a native of Croatia, will conduct a basketball camp in Treviso, Italy, from 29 June to 2 July.


On children: Regional gatherings this month in Beijing, Berlin, Cairo and Kathmandu review progress and sketch out a future agenda - 

Prelude to the UN Special Session on Children this September

Geneva/New York, 11 May  – Calling the month of May “a major month for children,” the United Nations Children’s Fund today heralded the start of a three-week period during which four regional meetings on children and young people will take place [Beijing from 14-16 May, Berlin from 16-18 May, Kathmandu from 19-24 May and Cairo from 28-31 May], involving some 130 governments and hundreds of other organizations. The voices of thousands of participating young people will infuse all four meetings with unusual urgency and relevance.

All four of the regional meetings will serve as preludes to the UN Special Session on Children taking place this September in New York, at which UN member states and their leaders will review progress on global goals and commit to a new agenda for children and young people.


Help under way for refugees, IDPs in Guinea

11 May - The European Commission (EC) announced on Tuesday that it was giving Guinea 4.5 million euros to provide health care, water and sanitation services, shelter and other non-food items for refugees and displaced Guineans, and to support the distribution of food to both groups., an organisation founded by UNDP and Cisco Systems Ltd., said this week it was helping to trace separated children in Guinea and reunify them with their families.

On 4 May, WFP reported that it had provided food for 14,742 internal displaced persons in Mamou, north of the border with Sierra Leone. The beneficiaries, it said, were the most vulnerable of some 32,310 IDPs registered by the area’s authorities.


Niger: WFP to help over 7,000 affected by drought

11 May - The World Food Programme (WFP) is to distribute 430 mt of millet to just over 7,000 schoolchildren and their families in drought-affected Zinder, southern Niger, over a one-month period starting on 15 May. Up to 30,675 people have been affected by drought in Zinder, according to NGO and government reports. WFP said on 4 May that the food situation in the region was “extremely insecure”, with reports of malnutrition and still births. It said cereal stocks were low and prices had increased by 50 percent in March.

Niger has asked Morocco to help it make rain so as to end the drought, AFP reported state radio as saying on Tuesday. President Mamadou Tandja made the appeal during an official visit to Morocco last week. Artificial rain is created by spraying salt crystals into clouds. The crystals capture water vapour and become heavy, resulting in rain.


Mauritania: French aid for decentralisation, water supplies

11 May - Mauritania and France have signed two agreements totalling US $1.2 million to support administrative decentralisation and help to provide drinking water to the semi-arid nation, Radio Mauritania reported on Monday. Meanwhile, Water and Energy Minister Kane Moustapha, inaugurated on 5 May 204 projects costing about US $14 million to provide clean drinking water in regions heavily affected by Guinea worm, a debilitating water-borne disease.


Malawi: IFRC flood update

11 May - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been assisting more than 22,000 families in Malawi affected by recent flooding, according to an update released on Monday. The report stated that the high level emergency phase of the Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and Federation operation is over, and efforts are underway to move into the rehabilitation phase.






UNAIDS welcomes landmark US contribution to international fund

Geneva, 11 May  - UNAIDS welcomes the announcement by the US government to contribute US$ 200 million to a global HIV/AIDS and health fund aimed at fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

UNAIDS applauds the US government’s leadership in being the first country to respond to the call made by the UN Secretary-General at the Organization of African States summit in Abuja, Nigeria last month for a global trust fund. UNAIDS estimates that US$ 7-10 billion are needed from all sources annually to combat AIDS in low and middle income countries for an effective response to the epidemic. UNAIDS hopes that this announcement will give significant momentum to the development of the fund. The US announcement is particularly welcome in the run-up to both the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, to be held in New York from 25-27 June, and to the summit of the G-8 group of countries, scheduled for Genoa, Italy, in July this year.


World AIDS experts call for urgent action, say leaders must demonstrate financial and political commitment

Mont Pèlerin, Switzerland, 10 May – Some 30 world class experts on AIDS have met with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in an effort to help shape the next phase of the global response to the epidemic. The high-level private meeting in advance of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS sought to clarify global goals and targets under discussion by UN member states and to set priorities in defining how to deal with AIDS.

“'There has never been a more important opportunity for concerted world action against the HIV epidemic,” said Gordon Perkin, Director of the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “There is an urgent need for a massive increase in access to proven prevention and care tools.” 

The call for urgent action comes at a time when antiretroviral drugs are becoming more affordable in the wake of commitments made recently by some of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies.


World Health Organization and Aventis announce a major initiative to step up efforts against sleeping sickness

Geneva and Frankfurt 3 May  The World Health Organization (WHO) and Aventis Pharma AG, the pharmaceutical company of Aventis, today announced a major step forward in combating African Trypanosomiasis. Better known as sleeping sickness, this deadly disease currently affects as many as half a million people in sub-Saharan Africa, while an estimated 60 million people are at risk of contracting the disease in 36 countries.

Aventis Pharma has committed US$ 25 million to support WHOs activities in the field of African Trypanosomiasis over a five-year period. The project involves three related efforts: drug donation, disease management and control, research and development.


HIV/AIDS internet training for french-speaking african journalists

The African Women’s Media Center (AWMC) will hold a five-day cyber training on reporting on HIV/AIDS for French-speaking African women journalists from June 11 to June 15, 2001. The Internet-based seminar is designed to equip French-speaking journalists with substantive knowledge about HIV/AIDS and provide practical tips on reporting on HIV/AIDS in Africa. Sessions will be live for four hours each day for five days.


$100 Million Gift to Johns Hopkins University Targets Malaria

Baltimore, Maryland, May 10 - An anonymous donor has pledged $100 million to the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health for a 10 year effort to rid the world of malaria by developing a new vaccine and drugs.

The gift will establish the Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute. The multidisciplinary center will combine traditional approaches with new weapons such as genomics and bioinformatics to take aim at a disease that kills an estimated one million to two million people a year and leaves hundreds of millions of others sick and destitute

Attempts to develop a malaria vaccine have failed. Research is underfunded, because malaria is a relatively small problem in the developed world, the university said. Pharmaceutical companies have limited economic incentive to develop drugs aimed at a market in the developing world.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute will collaborate with scientists across the United States and around the world and with WHO's "Roll Back Malaria" program, aimed at halving the disease's worldwide impact by 2010.


Secretary-General advances plans for International AIDS and Health Fund

Geneva, 17 May  - An international fund to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria will be a major tool for economic growth in the developing world, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in Geneva. In a speech to the World Health Assembly, Mr Annan said that in order to encourage development in many countries, the runaway contagion of HIV/AIDS, and other diseases must be contained.  "The devastation wrought by HIV/AIDS is now so acute that it has itself become one of the main obstacles to development," Mr Annan told the delegates of the World Health Organization's 191 Member States who are meeting here this week.


Leprosy: global target 90% reduction of 1991 level - attained

Remaining endemic countries pose greatest challenge

16 May - The overall target, set ten years ago, for the global elimination of leprosy as a public health problem has been attained, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners announced today. Those involved in this effort hailed reaching this goal as a major achievement.

In 1991, WHO Member States resolved to decrease the level of leprosy in the world by over 90%. This has now been accomplished.

To achieve this dramatic reduction of the disease burden, the leprosy elimination effort has increased access to early diagnosis and free cure in communities at risk.

The key force in the leprosy elimination effort is the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Leprosy. Currently chaired by India, it is spearheaded by the national programmes of major endemic countries, WHO, The Nippon Foundation, the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), Novartis and the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) and the World Bank. Created in 1999, this formal Alliance was the natural successor of a little known, but highly effective, partnership actively fighting the disease over the last decade.


Expert Body stresses need for urgent polio eradication and funding for global effort

18 May - The Polio Technical Consultative Group (TCG) reported today that there has been unprecedented progress in polio eradication since the World Health Assemblys 1999 Resolution (WHA52.22) calling for the acceleration of polio eradication activities in all countries. Since then, the global polio burden has been cut in half, and the number of polio-endemic countries has been reduced from 50 to 20. The TCG is the oversight body which sets policies and strategic priorities for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

It is now urgent that eradication be achieved to ensure that polio-free areas are not reinfected. This success also underscores the need to further develop the policy options on when and how to safely stop the use of oral polio vaccine (OPV).

During a special technical briefing, delegates to the 54th World Health Assembly were presented with highlights from the 2001 Report of the Technical Consultative Group on the Global Eradication of Poliomyelitis. The report stressed that a US$ 400 million funding gap now poses the greatest threat to the programme, with half of those funds urgently required before the end of 2002.



Energy and safety



California: religious groups launch energy-saving campaign  

10 May - An alliance of religious groups began a campaign this week to make California’s 50,000 congregations more energy-efficient and to encourage them to use renewable power.  Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown (D) joined Rev. Sally Bingham in screwing in a compact fluorescent in an Oakland church and in criticizing President Bush’s energy policies. Bingham said, “This is going to save money and save Creation.”  With energy prices rising, some experts predict renewed conservation efforts across the country, even though the White House has dismissed conservation as a core part of a national energy strategy.


More new wind generating capacity than nuclear installed worldwide for second year in a row - Trade group predicts 2001 will follow trend as global wind installations rapidly expand

Washington, DC, May 10 - Worldwide installations of wind energy generating capacity outstripped those of nuclear for the second year in a row in 2000, an indication that wind is becoming a competitive player in today's power markets, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today. The steady growth of investment in wind farms makes it clear that deployment of wind power can be part of the solution to America's energy crisis, according to AWEA.

Additions to wind energy capacity worldwide totaled 3,800 megawatts (MW) in 2000, according to figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and AWEA. Some 3,056 MW of new nuclear capacity was installed in 2000, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Public Reactor Information System. In 1999, additions to wind generating capacity totaled 3,600 MW and additions to nuclear, 2,700 MW.


54 countries and 5 international organizations join in a worldwide exercise in nuclear emergency management

Vienna, 16 May -- As part of ongoing international collaboration to deal with possible nuclear emergencies, on 22-23 May 2001 an extensive international nuclear emergency exercise will be carried out based on a French national exercise at the Gravelines nuclear power plant located in the north of France, near the Belgian border. The Gravelines site is home to six pressurized water reactors, each providing 910 MW(e) of electrical power. This exercise will involve a simulated incident at a fictitious unit on this site with the possibility of an environmental impact. Participants may have to decide on measures to protect the public based on actual weather conditions at the time of the exercise.

The exercise is jointly sponsored and co-ordinated by five international organizations, European Commission (EC), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The 54 countries participating worldwide will follow their own actual national emergency response plans and procedures, using their own emergency response centres, and will share information and co-ordinate response activities.


UN sets up regional disaster management facility in India

18 May - The United Nations system is setting up a UNDP Regional Disaster Management Support Facility, based in India, to help governments and communities in the region prepare for natural disasters, mitigate their impact and promote recovery. Dr. Hafiz Pasha, Assistant Administrator of UNDP, announced the initiative at the National Conference on Sustainable Recovery and Vulnerability Reduction in Ahmedabad last week, an event sponsored by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, the Government of India and the UN.


U.S. Groups support new European electronics take back law

European Parliament requires companies to reduce toxics and pay for recycling

Washington, USA, May 16 – U.S. public interest groups today applauded the European Parliament which passed a law requiring manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment to reduce hazardous substances and to pay for the recycling of their products. It is the second EU policy that requires producers to take responsibility for their products when they are scrapped. The first law was for automobiles. Until recently, few in the U.S. paid attention to this problem. "Electronic equipment is one of the largest known sources of heavy metals, toxic materials and organic pollutants in municipal trash waste," said Leslie Byster of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "The new European law sets high standards for producer responsibility and tougher requirements for attaining higher recycling rates”. Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition:

EEB: reduction of waste from electical and electronic equipment

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is a federation of 134 environmental citizens organisations based in all EU Member. Its aim is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens to play their part in achieving that goal.

EEB published a new report entitled "Towards waste-free electrical and electronic equipment", an EEB argumentation paper concerning the proposals for Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and on the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronical Equipment.

The document is on the EEB webpage:



Environment and Wildlife



The Humane Catalog goes online

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal protection organization, now offers an online version of its popular Humane Catalog at A portion of the proceeds from the catalog, which offers a colorful array of gifts and treats for animal lovers and four-footed friends alike, goes to support The HSUS’ efforts on behalf of animals.

“Giving a gift from The Humane Catalog is the perfect way to delight an animal lover and help animals at the same time,” says Steve Putnam, Director of Business Development and Corporate Relations. “What better way to show you care about someone while making the world a better place for animals?”


Kofi Annan denounces U.S. global warming stance

Medford, USA, May 21 - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan sounded an alarm Sunday that climate change "may well be the greatest global challenge" for the next generation, while expressing the "concern throughout the world" over the recent U.S. decision to reject the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. In a commencement address delivered to graduating students at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, the Secretary General singled out the United States as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the human caused pollution that leads to global climate change. “Developed countries are responsible for most of the world's current greenhouse gas emissions. And they are best placed, both economically and technologically, to make - and help others make - the necessary changes,'' Annan concluded.


Eco-friends: Ganga cleaning and Environment Education Programs in India

Eco-friends, a local environmental NGO,  formed an “Alliance For A Responsible And United Kanpur”  and launched a campaign “Kanpur-2001”involving 5000 families to identify and prioritise top 5 problems of Kanpur city: electricity, road condition, air pollution, garbage, water pollution.

Eco-friends makes the results public through media and demands that white paper be issued on these problems so that people could understand the magnitude of the problem and an action plan be prepared to address all these problems.

Kanpur is the most populated (3 million) industrial town along the river Ganga in India. 60 % of the water needs of the town are met through river Ganga. ‘Eco-friends’protects the environment against polluting activities, in order to assure more safe and healthy living conditions perceiving the clean environment (clean water, clean air and clean surroundings) as a fundamental and constitutional right of Human beings.

Eco-friends Society, Post Box. 287, Kanpur-1, India


WWF: Fiji weaving women saving their wetlands

WWF has been working with the women of Navakosobu and Korovuli in Vanua Levu in northern Fiji to help them record their traditional knowledge of the weaving plant, Eleocharis dulcis, known locally as the softer, sensual kuta. Kuta has been used as a weaving plant for hundreds of years in parts of the Fiji Islands but its wetland habitat is becoming more and more marginalised through deforestation, weed infestation and agricultural run-off. With the help of WWF, the University of the South Pacific and various Fiji Government departments and agencies, the women have put together a restoration plan.

Two Fijian communities who have been working closely with WWF to restore the habitat of their kuta, have discovered unexpected benefits from their action plan. “The whole community has come together - men, women, old, young - everyone is involved in the effort to bring these weed-choked, silted up ponds back to their former glory”, said WWF SPP staff Penina Namata and Kesaia Tabunakawai and said the project has brought the community together as never before and has brought unexpected health benefits.


Trex Company announces large-scale plastic recycling plant in Spain

Winchester, VA, USA -May. 11 -/E-Wire/-- Trex Company, Inc., manufacturer of Trex® Easy Care Decking®, today announced the company’s participation in a joint venture, named Denplax, SA, to recycle polyethylene at a new facility in El Ejido, Spain. The other joint venture partners are a local Spanish company responsible for public environmental programs in southern Spain, and an Italian equipment manufacturer. The initial phase of construction has been completed and the recycling plant has begun limited operations.



Culture and education



Kiarostami’s ABC Africa in Cannes Film Festival

The Iranian Director Abbas Kiarostami’s film "ABC Africa" has been selected for projection on 12 May 2001 at the 54th Cannes Film Festival, Films out of Competition. The 90 minute documentary was filmed last year by Kiarostami on a project that assists AIDS orphans in Uganda.

This was the first time that Kiarostami made a film outside his home country. Particularly sensitive to the cause of children rights as reflected throughout his film repertoire, Kiarostami has won the admiration of audiences and critics worldwide. He himself has been a member of the jury of Cannes Film Festival in 1993 and received the Palme d’Or in 1997 for the film "The taste of the cherry". He was also awarded the Special Prize of the Jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1999.


UNESCO and Felissimo launch Continuous Connection, an international design contest

Paris, May 10 - UNESCO and the Japan-based Felissimo Corporation have launched a new international design contest called Continuous Connection, to highlight the connections between people, and between people and their environment.

Held within the framework of the Design 21 Programme, the contest targets young designers world-wide who are keen to develop original products representing innovative visions of the art of living in the 21st century in the categories of Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Home, Home Accessories and New Essentials, which include tools, items for the office, travel, food, etc.

An exhibition by professional designers and artists will be held at the Felissimo Gallery in New York, from May 17, 2001, to illustrate the main theme of the contest. Then, after the application deadline for entries of August 15, a committee of fashion and design specialists will meet in Paris to pre-select 100 designs for competition, 20 in each category. Those pre-selected will receive financial assistance to develop their project and will have to submit their final designs and models by January 5, 2002.


Southern Africa: Education plan for San in pipeline

11 May - Over 80 educationalists, academics and delegates from various countries are attending a conference to formulate the first-ever education plan for the estimated 100,000 San people in the SADC region, the ‘Namibian’ reported on Tuesday. Recent studies indicate that San communities have special problems with formal education that are consistent across the region and that they are in need of specific, targeted attention from policy makers, teachers, NGOs and other stakeholders.

The week-long conference at Okahandja, 50 km north of the capital Windhoek, attracted delegates from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The aim of the gathering was to develop a regional plan of action that “will meaningfully address the challenges that San children face in the education systems of Southern Africa”.


Election support project underway in East Timor

11 May - UNDP launched an initiative yesterday in Dili to support key elections in East Timor through civic education and public discussion of the constitutional process. The $4 million project will also coordinate international and national election observers.

East Timorese go to the polls in August to elect 88 representatives, who will form a Constitutional Assembly. The Assembly will draft and adopt a constitution for an independent and democratic East Timor. Before East Timor can gain full independence, the new constitution must be endorsed by the people. Understanding the urgent need for this project to get underway immediately, UNDP has sidestepped the red tape and is covering running costs until donor commitments are confirmed, said Sergio Vieira de Mello, special representative of the UN Secretary-General in East Timor. It is for this reason that we can launch this initiative today.

Finn Reske-Nielsen, UNDP Resident Representative, said some activities, such as production of voter education materials, are already underway. Last week, UNDP and the UN Department of Political Affairs began training 60 civic education facilitators who will soon be deployed throughout East Timor.


Cultural Centre a new symbol of tolerance in Kosovo

9 May - More than 200 guests attended a reception last week in Kosovo marking the reopening of the Mitrovica Cultural Centre, which has been restored by Albanians and Serbs working together.

The well-attended event demonstrated strong support from both the international and local communities for restoring the centre to its original splendour and encouraging progress towards peace building and tolerance in the region.

The centre features two exhibits: an art exhibit on Mother Teresa, Symbol of Peace and a collection of work from artists from various ethnic groups in Kosovo, including Serbian, Bosniac and Hungarian artists

The centre is the first public structure in the city, the most ethnically divided in Kosovo, to be rehabilitated by Albanians and Serbs working together. Albanian and Serbian companies carried out the work under the UNDP Village Employment and Rehabilitation Programme, with funding from the European Agency for Reconstruction and the Municipal Authority of Bolzano, Italy.


Canadian Government and UNESCO sign agreement to establish Institute For Statistics in Montreal

Paris, May 18 - Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and Louis Hamel, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Canada to UNESCO, today signed the formal agreement on the installation of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in Montreal, Quebec. The agreement result from the decision taken by the Executive Board of the Organization in May 2000 to accept Canada's bid to host the Institute. The agreement governs the conditions of the Institute's location in Canada together with the financial support the Governments of Canada and Quebec are to provide. The Institute's permanent home will be on the campus of the University of Montreal to which the UIS is due to move to in September 2001.

The UIS is the statistical office of UNESCO and is the international agency in charge of global and cross-national data relating to education, science and technology, culture and communication.


UNESCO issues first ever proclamation of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage

Paris, May 18 - The oldest opera tradition of China, Japanese Nôgaku theatre, Sicilian puppet theatre, the Andean carnival of Oruro, Georgian singing, Ifugao narratives from the Philippines, the world of story-tellers, musicians and other mountebanks of a public square in Marrakech, as well as the oral and musical heritages of several African communities, are among the 19 cultural spaces and forms of expression to which UNESCO today gave the title of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

The proclamation of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity, the first of its kind, was made at the end of a 3-day meeting of an international jury of 18 members, chaired by the Spanish author Juan Goytisolo, which reviewed 32 candidatures.

Four of the proclaimed masterpieces were presented by countries of the American continent. They are: the language, dances and music of the Garifuna (Belize, supported by Honduras and Nicaragua); the Oruro Carnival (Bolivia); the cultural space of the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella (Dominican Republic); the oral heritage and cultural manifestations of the Zapara People (Ecuador and Peru).

Three African cultural spaces and forms of expression have also been distinguished as masterpieces: The oral heritage of Gelede, (Benin, supported by Nigeria and Togo); the Gbofe of Afounkaha: the Music of the transverse trumpets of the Tagbana community (Côte dIvoire); the cultural space of Sosso Bala in Niagassola (Guinea).


Remembering/Forgetting: writing histories in Asia, Australia and the Pacific

(conversations about the writing of subaltern, indigenous and intercultural histories...)

July 5 and 6, Blackfriars Campus, Broadway University of Technology, Sydney. This workshop will deal with specific lines of inquiry, such as:

How to write decolonising and post-colonial histories which disperse the binaries imposed by colonial politics? How to write the violence of colonialism and decolonisation and its fluid and contested remembrance? How intercultural histories might be written?…….  Remembering/Forgetting: writing histories in Asia, Australia and the Pacific is supported by the Institute for Cultural Research, a collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Western Sydney and organized by Trans/forming Cultures.

The Trans/forming Cultures research program explores the ways "narratives of the local" are undergoing transformation - both in content and in forms of telling - in our globalising world. Trans/forming Cultures examines the composition of narratives, their circulation and frequent contestation within public culture.

On both an individual and collective basis, narratives offer explanations for current situations, as well as visions for the future: they shape how people make choices and decisions.



* * * * * *



Next issue: 15 June 2001