Good News Agency – Year III, n° 11



Weekly - Year III, number 11 –  1 June 2002

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 free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.





International legislationHuman rightsPeace and safetyEconomy and developmentSolidarity

HealthEnergy and safetyEnvironment and wildlifeCulture and education



International legislation



Afghanistan: Successful turnout for women's election

Kandahar, 27 May - As elections for the Loya Jirga continue across Afghanistan, a successful turnout for the women's nominations in the southern city of Kandahar was reported on Sunday. "We are very pleased with the turnout. As you can see, more and more women are nominating themselves, and this is also surprising for us," Mohammad Umar Satai, a member of the local election commission told IRIN in Kandahar city.

This was the first phase of the election in which a total of 28 female candidates of a possible 60 were nominated. The second phase, in which five seats will be contested, is due to take place on 2 June. (…)


Treaty governing use of oceans reaching near-universal participation, UN reports

New York, May 20 - A United Nations treaty governing use of the world's oceans has reached near-universal participation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report released 20 years after the accord was first adopted.

In the two decades since the Convention on the Law of the Sea was opened for signature, 137 countries and the European Community have become parties to the treaty, the Secretary-General notes in his report. While the accomplishments over the past 20 years have been impressive, the challenges of implementing the treaty are also formidable. (…)

First raised in 1967 as an idea to regulate the use of the seabed, the Convention was eventually adopted in 1982 as an unprecedented attempt by the international community to regulate all aspects of the resources of the sea and uses of the ocean. The Convention, which enteredforce on 16 November 1994, or one year after the 60th country's adherence to the accord, covers such issues as setting limits to national jurisdiction over the seas, navigational rights, deep seabed mining, and protection of the marine environment. In addition, the accord features a binding dispute settlement mechanism known as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The court which deals with the interpretation or application of the Convention, has already heard 10 cases.


All Municipalities in Jordan endorse the Earth Charter

On Wednesday 15 May, the heads of the Kingdom of Jordan's 99 municipalities endorsed a declaration of support for the Earth Charter at the Greater Amman Municipality. According to the Jordan Times of 16 May 2002, the adoption of the Earth Charter by local municipalities is intended to promote an integrated and strategic plan in Jordan to advance sustainable development in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Earth Charter - Australian Capital Territory : what a commitment!

The Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory ( has endorsed the Earth Charter and calls on the ACT Government (which is drawn from the majority party in the Assembly) to adopt the Earth Charter as a framework of principles to help guide the work of its new Office of Sustainability. This endorsement follows a number of multi-sector fora and public meetings held over the last few years where support for the Earth Charter was expressed by the major political parties, civil society representatives, and progressive business leaders.

Senate Puerto Rico fully endorses the Earth Charter

On 22 April, the Senate of Puerto Rico, approved the Resolution Number 1582, endorsing the Earth Charter and expressing the commitment of the Senate of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico to the principles declared in the Earth Charter. The resolution includes a quote as follows: "The Senate of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico, exhorts the Government and all sectors: arts, science, religious, educational institutions, media, business and non governmental organizations to adopt and agree to be ruled by the principles established in the Earth Charter and to develop and put into practice, with creativity, the vision of a sustainable way of life at a local, national, regional and global levels."


African Ministers adopt new OAU Drug Control Action Plan for Africa

Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, 14 May  - The first ever OAU (Organization of African Unity) Ministerial Meeting on Drug Control in Africa resulted in the adoption of a new OAU Plan of Action for Drug Control 2002-2006. The Plan contains a set of drug control action priorities and assigns clear responsibilities for their implementation to OAU member states, regional and international organizations, and the civil society. It also contains a time-frame and target dates for implementation, and introduces the concept of open and participatory monitoring and review mechanisms, so as to enable all parties to assess progress and achievements of drug control action in Africa. (…)

The plan contains action commitments in 7 priority areas, ranging from measures in drug control institution-building, policy and legal development, increased information, research, analysis and networking on drug control problems in Africa, to technical improvements in drug abuse prevention, rehabilitation and law enforcement measures.



Human rights




Bolivia - Training in human rights and humanitarian principles for national police

23 May - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regional delegation in Buenos Aires launched a training programme for the national police with an introductory seminar in La Paz. The aim of the programme is to increase knowledge of human rights norms and universal humanitarian principles so as to ensure that they are fully respected by law enforcement personnel, especially in the maintenance of law and order and public security. The programme covers both the relevant domestic legislation and international treaties in force. (…)

Such programmes, which are among the preventive activities the ICRC carries out in many countries affected by internal violence, help to ensure that those who enforce the law, whether they are police or security officers, fully comply with their duty to respect the rights of the individual.



Peace and safety



West Africa: Regional small arms network formed

24 May - The West African Network on Small Arms (WANSA), the region's latest initiative to curb small arms trafficking was created on Tuesday at the end of two-day conference held in Accra, Ghana. The conference discussed several issues such as latest trends in arms trafficking, conflict prevention and security sector reform, Napoleon Abdulai of the Mali-based Programme for Coordination and Assistance on Security and Development (PCASED) told IRIN.

Delegates also discussed how to lobby West African governments to implement the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, adopted at a UN conference in New York in July 2001. According to PCASED, the region has about eight million illegal arms in circulation.


Belgrade clearinghouse to help curb small arms in south-east Europe

22 May - A huge steamroller crushed a neat row of rifles, machine guns and handguns on a Belgrade street earlier this month to dramatize the opening of the South East Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, administered by UNDP.

Small arms and light weapons kill more than half a million people around the world every year, and millions more see their homes, livelihoods and hopes destroyed. Proliferation and illicit trafficking of these weapons has emerged as a serious problem in the region over the past decade, undermining the rule of law, fuelling crime and insecurity, exacerbating conflicts, and undermining post-conflict peace building.

The UNDP Trust Fund for Support to Prevention and Reduction of the Proliferation of Small Arms is funding the clearinghouse, with support from the Governments of Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. (…) The clearinghouse will support efforts under the 1999 Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to reduce small arms proliferation in the region.


UNDP launches partnership to curb illicit small arms in Kosovo

20 May - UNDP Kosovo has launched a broad partnership to control illicit small arms to keep development in Kosovo from being disrupted by insecurity and violence. The premiere of a documentary made by young people, In the Hands of the Youth, that explores the issue of illicit guns in Kosovo, highlighted the launch in Pristina last week. (…)

The UNDP project is an 18-month, US$2 million effort to develop a comprehensive strategy on the issue, assist police in working closely with communities to tackle root causes of the problem, fund weapons collection and destruction initiatives, and create parameters for the legitimate use of small arms. The UNDP Trust Fund for Support to Prevention and Reduction of the Proliferation of Small Arms is providing $400,000, and UNDP is seeking additional partners to support the project, that will work with the UN Mission in Kosovo and the NATO-led Kosovo Force, as well as the Kosovo Police Service, government, educators, and civil society groups. (…)



Economy and development



Cocoa revives local economy on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea

28 May - Farmers rose before dawn, lining up their trucks to get the last of eight million cocoa seedlings distributed by a UNDP initiative earlier this month to re-establish cocoa farming on Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea. The programme is revitalizing the economy, an important step in cementing peace in an area torn by conflict during the past decade. (…)

The price of cocoa on world markets has climbed from a low of US$727 a tonne in November 2000 to more than $1,500 a tonne this month. The programme would have been successful without the price boost, said Mr. Korokoro, with the higher prices "its growth has been phenomenal." (…)

Cocoa has traditionally been the primary source of income for about 80 per cent of the population, but many cocoa plantations were destroyed during nine years of civil war or languished from neglect. The cocoa sector was therefore the first priority for UNDP efforts to support recovery. The programme aims to enable farmers to reach pre-crisis levels of production by 2005 by helping them rehabilitate their cocoa blocks, providing seedlings and offering agricultural advice. The UN Office for Project Services is implementing the initiative and Australia, the European Union and the United States are providing support.


Cameroon: Railway gets World Bank funding

Yaounde, 24 May - The World Bank is allocating funds totalling 15.6 billion FCFA (just over US $22 million) to Camrail, the Cameroonian railway company announced in a news release on Wednesday. (…) To fully modernise the network, a further 62 billion FCFA (US $82.6 million) is needed, Camrail said, adding that this would be covered partly through its own funds and partly through loans. The European Investment Bank has already agreed to a loan of 7.9 billion FCFA and two Cameroonian banks have offered 2.9 billion FCFA, the utility said. (…)


Europe's agriculture ministers meet in Cyprus

Nicosia/Rome, 24 May - Agriculture Ministers and high-ranking officials from 43 European member countries of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a representative of the European Community will meet in Nicosia, Cyprus, from 29 to 31 May 2002, to review the state of agriculture and food security in the region.

The 23rd session of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe will be held in Nicosia, at the invitation of the Government of Cyprus. In addition to the state of food and agriculture, the Regional Conference will recommend measures to be taken in order to strengthen the fight against hunger and undernourishment in Europe. (…)

Discussion will focus on preparations for the World Food Summit: five years later, to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome from 10 to 13 June 2002. Two other important items for the European region will also be discussed: food safety and quality, following up on the Pan-European Conference on that subject which took place in Budapest last February, and the fight against desertification and land degradation following discussions held last March at the 32nd session of the European Commission on Agriculture. (…)


Marking Africa Day, UN hails continent's efforts to overcome conflict, poverty

New York, May 24 - Observing Africa Day, which marks the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the United Nations Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced their support for African leaders' efforts to tackle the continent's problems and stressed the need for international assistance in reaching that goal.

In a message on the occasion of the Day, which is observed on 25 May, the Secretary-General praised African leaders for their resolve in moving the continent steadily towards democratic and economic empowerment, and showing courage, determination and responsibility in lifting countries out of war and poverty. (…)


UN hails Forum’s declaration defining basis for ecotourism development

New York, May 23 - The United Nations environment agency has hailed the strong turnout for the first-ever world conference on ecotourism that has just ended in Canada, saying that it boded well for the industry's intention to develop in a way that respected fragile ecosystems. (…)

Through several rounds of talks, some 1,200 delegates from 133 countries discussed policy and planning issues, regulating the industry, product development and promotion, and monitoring the costs and benefits of ecotourism.

The dialogue culminated in the Québec Declaration on Ecotourism, which will be presented later this year to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Major follow-up activities to the Ecotourism Summit include the International Ecotourism Conference in October in Australia and the Bishkek Mountain Summit, the culminating event of the 2002 International Year of the Mountains, in November in Kyrgyzstan.

The four-day Summit was an initiative of UNEP and the World Tourism Organization, and convened in partnership with Tourisme Québec and the Canadian Tourism Commission.


Info Finder - new online search tool for global link to agricultural and environmental information

Rome, 21 May - The Future Harvest Centres, a network of global food and environmental research organizations, launched a new online search tool in Rome on Tuesday aimed at revolutionizing the way external users access its wealth of specialized agricultural and development information.

The Info Finder will allow users to intelligently search the rich reserves of online material produced by Future Harvest Centres around the globe and system of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), as well as that of the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) operated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by linking information to a single network. (…)


Programme agreement signed for USD 29.9 million IFAD-initiated community-based agricultural and rural development programme in Federal Republic of Nigeria

Rome, 21 May - A Programme Agreement was signed today at the IFAD headquarters in Rome. The loan extended by IFAD to the Federal Republic of Nigeria was for USD 29.9 million on highly concessional terms1. The loan will co-finance the Community-Based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme, a USD 68.5 worth IFAD-initiated programme to be implemented in the eight northern Nigerian states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, Kano and Borno.

The programme will support the Government’s efforts to address rural poverty by identifying the most deprived people and empowering them to effectively participate in development activities. The overall goal is to improve the livelihoods and living conditions of poor rural communities in the programme area, with special emphasis on women and other vulnerable groups. (…)


Student Forum on Sustainable Development: Vienna, Austria, 21-24 May 2002

Senior students from international affairs / socio-economic / bio-technical faculties of universities in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia attended a Forum on Sustainable Development, organised by the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna from 21 -24 May, 2002. Cosponsored by the City of Vienna and UNIDO, it is hoped that the forum will help draw the attention of young people to the forthcoming Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) (26 August - 4 September 2002) and give the participants an insight in the practical consequences of sustainable development in the Central and Eastern European region.


Iraq earns additional $169 million under UN 'Oil-For-Food' programme

New York, May 21 - Baghdad has exported 6.9 million barrels of petroleum over the past week, ending a month-long, self-imposed suspension of its crude sales, according to the United Nations office overseeing the humanitarian oil-for-food programme for Iraq.

Earning an average of approximately E. 26.85 (euros) or $24.45 per barrel, the week's exports netted an estimated E. 185 million or $169 million in revenue under the oil-for-food scheme, which allows Baghdad to use a portion of its petroleum profits to purchase relief aid, the Office of the Iraq Programme reported today.

Despite the recent sales, the programme continues to face a funding shortfall, with 763 approved humanitarian supply contracts, worth over $1.9 billion, still awaiting funding, the Office said.

Meanwhile the value of contracts still pending approval - those on "hold" - now stands at $5.2 billion. Under a recently adopted Security Council resolution extending the oil-for-food programme, new procedures were put in place to simplify the delivery of humanitarian aid to Iraq which should clear the holds, the Office said. (…)


UN Asia-Pacific Commission plans changes to focus more on poverty, globalization

New York, May 21 - The United Nations commission for Asia and the Pacific today announced that government officials from the region have agreed to a plan that would revamp the agency's work by focusing it more on poverty reduction, globalization and emerging social issues.

In announcing the plan, the head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Kim Hak-Su, said it was time "to change the way the UN works in Asia and the Pacific and perhaps we can be a reference to other regional Commissions." (…) The changes were announced after a closed-door roundtable meeting of government ministers at the 58th annual session of the Commission being held in Bangkok. The ministers are expected to adopt a resolution tomorrow to formally grant approval to the new scheme. (…)






Western Georgia - ICRC launches assistance programme

24 May, Tbilisi - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Georgian authorities today signed a memorandum of understanding that formally launches a new assistance programme for 20'000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs) and local residents in Western Georgia (Samegrelo and Imereti) . The ICRC had stopped such assistance in the area in November 1995, but decided to resume aid after a survey in 2001 showed that these persons were facing enormous difficulties in meeting basic needs.

Under this memorandum of understanding, the Georgian Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation will ensure the identification of beneficiaries and distributions through local authorities. The ICRC will provide commodities for dry food distributions, resources for programme management and needs based monitoring of beneficiaries identified by the Ministries to confirm they require the assistance of the ICRC to meet basic and emergency food needs. (…)


Burkina Faso: UN Volunteers announce new project to assist poor youth

New York, May 24 - United Nations Volunteers (UNV), the Bonn-based volunteer arm of the UN system, today announced plans to support poor and marginalized young people living in cities in Burkina Faso.

With $2.2 million from the Government of Luxembourg and nearly $300,000 worth of in-kind support from the Government of Burkina Faso, <"">UNV will undertake a five-year project to counsel an estimated 1,200 street children, juveniles and other marginalized youth on educational and vocational options that can improve their future prospects.

Starting in July, teams of international and national UN Volunteers will set up counselling centres in Bobo-Dioulasso and Houndé, the capitals of two of the poorest provinces of the West African country. At the centres, young people will benefit from psychosocial help, while older youth will receive job counselling. The project also envisages an information campaign to counter the exploitation of young women and children. (…)


Central African Republic: WFP mobilises support to 6,000 IDPs in north

Nairobi, 24 May - At the request of the government of the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun an emergency operation to provide food to internally displaced people (IDPs) forced to flee armed conflict in the northern part of the country, near the border with Chad. (…)

The project would provide 216 mt of food rations over three months to some 6,000 IDPs dislodged by armed activities around their villages since January. An estimated 4,500 IDPs are in the town of Kabo and 1,500 in Batagafo, approximately 400 km north of the capital, Bangui. Food from local stocks has been sent, and distributions at the sites will begin on Monday.


South Africa: Bono spread message for African recovery

Johannesburg, 24 May - South Africa's plan for African recovery, controversial US farm subsidies and the unfairness of having to pay to use a toilet are the new refrains of rock star and humanitarian activist Bono.

The man whose journey to stardom began with anthemic songs about injustice in Northern Ireland is on a four-nation fact-finding tour of Africa with US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill the man who, as Bono puts it, controls the purse strings of one of the world's richest countries.

Bono's mission? To create awareness of Debt, Aid, Trade for Africa (DATA) - a non-profit organiation which aims to raise awareness about unpayable debts, the need for foreign development assistance, especially to fight AIDS, and trade rules which are considered unfair and keep Africa poor and marginalised.

Addressing the media in Pretoria, South Africa, he said: "I'm extremely fond of this continent. I believe it is the continent of the future and I believe the 21st century is the African century. I just don't want it to take until the end of the century to get it right." (…)






FIFA bags top health award. World Cup to be tobacco free

The World Health Organization’s highest tobacco control award will be given to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in recognition of its tobacco control work, culminating in its decision to declare the 2002 World Cup tobacco free. The award will be given to FIFA on 28 May 2002 during the 53rd FIFA Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea. (…)

The Director-General's award is given to people and organizations who have shown exceptional courage and vision in tobacco control. Among the past recipients are the King of Thailand, the current Foreign Minister of South Africa and the former Attorney General of Minnesota, USA.

The games' kick-off on 31st May happens also to be the day WHO's 191 Member States have designated to mark World No Tobacco Day to raise national and international awareness about tobacco control issues.

As part of a Memorandum of Cooperation signed between WHO and FIFA, there will be no tobacco advertising or promotion at World Cup venues and tobacco and tobacco products will not be sold at the games in Korea and Japan. There will be no smoking in public areas. Specially designated smoking zones will be few and clearly demarcated, situated away from the general public, protecting them from exposure to second-hand smoke. Frequent public announcements will inform and remind the public about the tobacco-free policy. (…)


Angola: HIV/AIDS training for journalists

Luanda, 27 May - A network of Angolan journalists concerned about HIV/AIDS is taking shape, following a workshop on reporting on HIV/AIDS held in Luanda last month, the first such training to take place in Angola.

Twenty journalists, half from the provinces and half from the capital, attended the 15-18 May workshop sponsored by the UN agencies UNAIDS and UNICEF under the "Telling the Story" (TTS) project. TTS focuses especially on youth and HIV/AIDS and is supported by grants from CNN mogul Ted Turner's United Nations Foundation, which targets seven countries in Southern Africa, where the pandemic is most serious. (…)


Angola: Measles campaign launched

Johannesburg, 27 May - More than 150,000 Angolan children are to be vaccinated against measles through an emergency campaign in newly accessible and Quartering Family Areas (QFAs), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a press release. (…)

Angola's ceasefire has allowed humanitarian assistance to reach communities previously cut off by the war. It has also led to the quartering of former rebel UNITA troops, and separately their families. But the Angolan government-run demobilisation operation has come under criticism over the limited amount of relief supplies available to UNITA troops and their families. (…)


Armenia moves forward on South Caucasus anti-drug initiative

Friday, 24 May - As a small country on the crossroads of trade routes linking Europe and Asia, Armenia faces an ever-present threat of illicit drug trafficking. The Government is joining with the European Commission and UNDP in the second phase of a regional anti-drug programme for the South Caucasus -- which includes activities in Azerbaijan and Georgia -- to bolster its defenses and foster cooperation among the three countries. (…)

The programme also aims to reinforce and harmonize legal and regulatory drug control regimes, strengthen border interdiction defenses on both east-west and north-south routes, and foster regional cross-border cooperation. Another objective is developing compatible systems of drug intelligence information.

Funding for Armenia's segment of the programme totals US$872,000. (…)


Ethiopia: Training for HIV/AIDS youth counsellors launched

24 May - Ethiopia's first-ever team of youth counsellors who will help combat HIV/AIDS was launched on Friday. The members of the 30-strong team, which specialises in voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), will return to their local communities to teach youth counsellors about HIV/AIDS.

The team, known as youth master trainers, were taught in the town of Nazret - one of the main towns hit by HIV/AIDS - where prevalence among young people is around 16 percent.


Angola: Aid agencies move into family quartering areas

24 May - Aid agencies in Angola are extending relief operations into quartering camps where UNITA soldiers' families have gathered, and areas of the country that have now become accessible as a result of a 4 April ceasefire between government and UNITA forces.

Relief workers who have been operating in the quartering camps' family areas since the ceasefire, as well as the Joint Military Commission (JMC) which is overseeing the demobilisation process, have described the humanitarian situation there in recent weeks as critical. Official JMC statistics show that more than 65,300 soldiers had already registered at the 35 cantonment locations by Monday, accompanied by almost 164,000 of their relatives who are being quartered separately.


Malawi: Aid starts to flow

24 May - After several appeals, aid is finally starting to flow into Malawi. IRIN reported on Tuesday that the European Commission said it would supply 95,000 mt of food aid to help the country overcome crippling food shortages. (…)

According to the agreement with the Malawi government, 15,000 mt of maize will be distributed between April and September among the most vulnerable. It will give 3,000 mt of Likuni Phala (a maize and porridge mix) to 475,000 children under five and 5,000 mt of fortified maize to 100,000 pregnant and lactating mothers. During the second half of 2002 7,000 mt of maize will be distributed as nutritional support to under-five children, the elderly and lactating mothers.

The EC announcement comes as other donors have closed their purses on Malawi in the face of allegations of bad state expenditure.


Cameroon: Private companies and churches team up against AIDS

17 May - Twenty-one private corporations and three religious organisations in Cameroon signed a partnership agreement last week in the capital, Yaounde, to conduct a series of joint activities over the next four years to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The activities, to be conducted in collaboration with the Comite Nationale de lutte contre le sida (CNLS), would encourage their respective members and the rest of the Cameroonian population to adopt safer sexual practices and ultimately reduce the rate of HIV infections. The CNLS estimates that 600 people are infected each day in Cameroon while the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is currently around 11 percent. (…)

Their plan of action gives priority to prevention of mother-to-child transmission, education of the youth and adults, provision of medical assistance including treatment to those infected with other sexually transmitted diseases. The organisations also pledged to protect the rights of their members and encourage those already infected to participate in education and information campaigns. A  solidarity fund would be created within each business and religious group. (…)



Energy and safety



Solar power brightens villagers' lives in northern Syria

17 May - Four rural villages in the Aleppo region in northern Syria not connected to the national electric grid are generating power locally with solar panels, a model that holds promise for other remote rural communities around the country. The Japan International Cooperation Agency installed solar panels to supply electricity in all the villages, including individual systems for homes in three villages -- Fedre, Katoura and Kaliff -- and a central system in Zarzita. The agency also installed solar power for pumping water in Kalif and Zarzita and for water desalination in Kalif, which is in an arid area with brackish water.

A complementary UNDP initiative, carried out by Syria's Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology and funded by Japan, provided training in operating and maintaining the power systems. It also laid the ground work for wider use of solar power, as part of the national electricity supply system, to serve remote rural communities.  (…)



Environment and wildlife



New rules on recycling old batteries to protect health, environment

New York, May 28 - A group of experts working for a key international treaty on hazardous wastes has finalized a set of guidelines promoting the environmentally sound recycling of spent lead-acid batteries -- an important step in the efforts to reduce the global risk of lead poisoning, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (…)

In many developing countries, retired batteries are still broken manually using an axe. This is extremely dangerous to the workers, UNEP said. Inhaling dust, fumes or vapours dispersed in the workplace air can lead to acute lead poisoning. The more common problem, however, is chronic poisoning from absorbing low amounts of lead over long periods of time.

According to UNEP, the guidelines will now go forward for final adoption to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 6), scheduled for 9-13 December 2002 in Geneva.


PrepCom IV for the World Summit for Sustainable Debelopment - UNIDO SIDS Side-event

Bali, Indonesia, 27 May - 7 June, 2002

PrepCom IV, the last of the formal Preparatory Committee meetings for the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), is taking place in Bali, Indonesia, 27 May - 7 June 2002. UNIDO has invited participants to attend a "side-event" it is holding in Bali on Energy for Sustainable Development of SIDS (Small Island Developing States), on Thursday 30th May, from 1:15 to 3:00 pm, in Caucus Room three.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are heavily dependent on fossil (petroleum) fuels and conventional biomass. The way in which these fuels are currently used has negative impacts on the environment and places a heavy financial burden on SIDS. The problem is aggravated by a lack of efficiency in the use of these energy sources. At the UNIDO side event, Director of UNIDO's NY office and Assistant Director-General for UN Affairs, Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl, will present a proposal to assist SIDs acquire energy self-sufficiency and increase the use of available energy for productive activities. Director Freudenschuss' presentation will draw on UNIDO's existing projects in Cuba, Seychelles and Fiji.  (…)


Several US States adopt the “smog dog”

24 May - Almost everyone's been embarrassed at one time or another by an over-eager dog sniffing in the wrong places.  Now car owners have to worry about the "smog dog," designed to "sniff" tailpipes to detect air pollution.  Formally called the AccuScan Remote Vehicle Emissions Testing System, the smog dog analyzes exhaust from cars as they pass roadside monitors.  A camera adjacent to the smog sensors takes pictures of the cars' license plates, and the owners are notified of the results.  Polluters are hauled in for an official emissions inspection, while in some states, owners of very clean cars get a letter of congratulations waiving their next emissions appointment. Smog dogs are already in use in several Western states and are currently being tested in Virginia, which could face sanctions from the U.S. EPA if it can't clean up its air.  Most of the pollution in that state is from vehicles, and of that, 10 percent of the cars account for 50 percent of the pollution.


UNIDO - MRI Forum: CDM and Kyoto Protocol, Tokyo, Japan, June 24-25, 2002

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is the only practical vehicle for Developing Countries’ participation in the Kyoto Protocol; success in fighting global warming, therefore, is contingent upon success of the CDM. As CDM is a mechanism based in private investment, it seems necessary for its early development to bolster the awareness and interest of industrialists and investors on its particularities, potential and characteristics. The objective of the Forum is: to appraise Asian industrialists about the climate change negotiations and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) provided by the Kyoto Protocol; to discuss the opportunities existing within the Asian industrial sector and the issues related to CDM; to come up with concrete suggestions for developing the CDM from an Asian industrial investors’ perspective.

More info: Guillermo Jimenez, e-mail:


US college campuses become promoters of sustainable development

21 May - College campuses, long regarded as bastions of left-leaning life, are becoming promoters of sustainable development. Oberlin College recently completed a comprehensive study of how to reduce pollution from its operations, the State University of New York at Buffalo spent $17 million to retrofit buildings with energy-efficient technology that will save it $9 million per year in utility bills, and Stanford University is spending $3.2 million on an entirely off-the-grid new building.  Meanwhile, 275 universities worldwide have signed the Talloires Declaration, which commits its parties to incorporate sustainability and environmental literacy into teaching, research, operations, and outreach.  That's good news, because in many communities, universities are some of the biggest developers, always at work on a new dormitory, research facility, or alumni center.



Culture and education



UNESCO initiative for world cinema

Paris, May 27 - Travel and cinema will be showcased at the close of the 164th session of UNESCO's Executive Board on Thursday, May 30. Six films about travel by one of France's great cinema pioneers, Georges Méliès (1861-1938), will be screened and the Organization will launch a new project for a List of Representative Works of World Cinema. (…)

The event is organized as part of the International Year for Cultural Heritage, with the support of the Electricité de France foundation and the International Scientific Audio-visual Conference Image and Science. The six silent films will be screened in their original format at their original speed, accompanied on the piano by Lawrence Lehérissey with commentary by the filmmaker's granddaughter, Madeleine Malthête-Méliès. UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura will present her with the UNESCO Fellini Medal for her work in reconstituting her grandfather's cinematic work.

The occasion will also see the launch of a joint project by UNESCO and the International Council for Cinema and Television (ICCT) to draw up a List of Representative Works of World Cinema, that best typify a movement in film-making, a social trend, an historic period, a new technique, a culture, or ethical value. Such works might include, for example, an outstanding film of the nouvelle vague, the first film using computer-animation, or a feature about social change in Africa. (…)


Afghanistan: Huge teacher training programme launched

27 May - One of the largest educational training programmes ever undertaken in Afghanistan was officially launched at a ceremony in the southern city of Kandahar on Thursday by the UK-based NGO Islamic Relief (IR). Under the scheme, 40 schools would be rehabilitated in the city. As part of the education programme, IR is training teachers in the city, formally the spiritual stronghold of the brutal Taliban regime, who had banned girls over the age of 12 from school and stopped women from working.


UN Forum on Indigenous issues ends first session; Annan calls it 'historic' start

New York, May 24 - The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today wrapped up its first-ever session, which Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed as an "historic" initial step towards meeting future challenges.

"With the inauguration of this Forum, indigenous issues assume their rightful place - higher on the international agenda than ever before," Mr. Annan told the assembled participants, including many indigenous persons dressed in colourful traditional attire. "We begin a new chapter in the history of indigenous people at the United Nations."

The Secretary-General said it was "entirely appropriate" that as victims of discrimination who were often poor, indigenous peoples now had a platform for raising their concerns. (…)

Representatives of 172 indigenous nations, organizations, groups and other entities from around the world gathered for the two-week session, which also attracted governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia. Established in 2000 by the UN's Economic and Social Council, the Forum, which is composed of 16 independent experts, is mandated to discuss indigenous issues relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.


Pirelli "INTERNETional" Award granted to FAO's WAICENT Portal

Rome, 17 May - The "Best multimedia product for environmental information," one of the Pirelli INTERNETional Award prizes for the diffusion of scientific culture, was awarded to the WAICENT Portal of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at a ceremony held yesterday at Palazzo Taverna in Rome. Ms. Carleen Gardner, FAO Assistant Director-General, General Affairs and Information Department, received the award on behalf of the UN specialized agency. The CEO and Director-General of Pirelli S.p.A., Mr. Carlo Buora, handed Ms Gardner a commemorative plate and a Euro 15,000 cheque (US$13,000). The award ceremony was attended by several Italian VIPs, high ranking FAO officials and journalists.

The Pirelli INTERNETional Award is an international multimedia award for work entirely carried out on the internet aimed at the diffusion of scientific and technological culture.

WAICENT is the World Agriculture Information Centre, FAO's strategic programme for improving access to documents, statistics, maps and multimedia resources on agriculture, forestry and fisheries.



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Next issue: 14 June 2002




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