Good News Agency – Year III, n° 2



Weekly - Year III, number 2 –  28 January 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.



Human rights                                                           Health

Peace and safety                                                      Energy and safety

Economy and development                                    Environment and wildlife

Solidarity                                                                 Culture and education



Human rights



Sierra Leone: Helping women to cope

24 January – The ICRC has concluded its 2001 vegetable farming programme for women in the Koinadugu, Bombali, Bo, Kenema, Pujehun and Tonkolili districts of Sierra Leone. The project, which began as an experiment in 2000, initially focused on associations and groups of women most severely affected by the long years of fighting in the country.

This second phase targeted individual households so that more women outside formal associations could benefit from the project. Over 60,000 women received aid in the form of imported and local vegetable seeds, a hoe, a shovel, a metal bucket, a machete and a wheelbarrow. The programme also included a training course involving a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and agronomists from the ICRC and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society.

During an open day held at the ICRC delegation in Freetown, the publication of the ICRC study entitled "Women facing War" and the community-based vegetable farming project were highlighted as examples of activities for women relevant to the Sierra Leone context. "We focus particularly on women in recognition of the special protection afforded them by the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols", explained the ICRC's communication delegate on that occasion.

Sudan: Government, UNICEF sign agreement on child rights

Nairobi, 21 January - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday, 17 January agreed to provide US $100 million in funding to help improve the lives of Sudanese children over the next four years, the Sudanese Ministry of International Cooperation and UNICEF said in a joint statement. "The 'Programme [of Cooperation]' aims to assist the GoS [government of Sudan] in its obligation, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to protect and promote the rights of children to survival, development, protection and participation," the statement said.

(…) An additional US $32 million would be provided by the Sudanese government and other national partners, the statement said.

The new programme of cooperation would include six major areas of intervention: health and nutrition; water and environmental sanitation; basic education; rights, protection and peace building; planning, monitoring and evaluation; and communication and advocacy.

Child rights, gender equality and HIV/AIDS issues would cut across all interventions, UNICEF and the government of Sudan stated on 17 January. (…)


Cote d’Ivoire: Human rights training planned for the armed forces

18 January - Cote d'Ivoire is to train its armed forces in human rights and democracy, as part of efforts to rebuild public trust and promote political stability, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) which is supporting the initiative, said on 11 January. The training is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2002. Training modules were prepared in December by military leaders, regional administrators, lawyers, and university scholars. Plans are also underway for the armed forces to support development and poverty reduction projects, the UN added.


High Commissioner for Human Rights, Chair of Children's Rights Panel welcome entry into force of Protocol on Sale of Children

18 January – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, and the Chairman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Jacob Egbert Doek, have welcomed the entry into force today of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. (…)

The Optional Protocol prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and provides a non-exhaustive list of acts and activities which shall be criminalized by States parties in order to fight against these scourges. It further asks for the protection of the rights of child victims and for a close collaboration among States parties to fight against the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The new legal instrument is entering into force less than one month after the Second World Congress on Sexual Commercial Exploitation of Children (Yokohama 17-20 December 2001), which called, in its AGlobal Commitment", for further action to put an end to abuse of children. Furthermore, on 5 January 2002, the 11th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit saw the signature of a Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, a move Mrs. Robinson and Mr. Doek also welcomed.


UNHCR to assist in voluntary repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia, Jan. 18 (UNHCR) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will begin repatriating Sierra Leonean refugees from camps in Liberia next month following a spate of recent spontaneous returns and repeated requests from refugees that they be helped to return home. A registration campaign that began in six Liberian refugee camps in January has listed 2,069 repatriation candidates to date. The numbers are expected to increase substantially as the refugee agency begins to record large families rather than the one- or two-person families that have been registered thus far.

UNHCR also expects to sign a bilateral agreement with the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone ensuring the safe return of the refugees and their humane treatment once they are back in their home districts. (...)



Peace and safety



Earthwalker Paul Coleman will cross the Bosphorous Bridge from Europe into Asia

23 January - Earthwalker Paul Coleman who left Manchester on in November 2000 on his epic 15,000-mile walk to China is now in Istanbul. Tomorrow at 3pm he will cross the Bosphorous Bridge from Europe into Asia after receiving permission from the cities Police Chiefs and Government to walk across the famous and highly restricted bridge. “I am here because I am planting trees on behalf of people who have been killed in the last century of war, and by doing this I am drawing attention to the impacts of war on humanity and the natural environment that we all need to exist.” He will be accompanied by members of the media and a police escort.

Coleman will then walk through Turkey, Syria, Jordan and into Palestine where he hopes to plant a tree with Mr. Arafat and Sharon. He has begun a global campaign for others to plant trees on the same day - Earth Day 2002 April 22nd. Presently trees will be planted in the United States, Japan, Bulgaria, Britain, Poland, Germany and Australia.

"A tree means life. No trees, no life. And war of course takes life. War is absolutely devastating to humanity and nature,” Coleman said. He explained that by planting trees he was urging people to stop killing each other and start helping each other to survive.

For more information contact the International Earth Day Network Co-ordinator ( or Simon Buralls, Exec Director of the One World Trust  (


Cambodia saves lives, limbs and land with mine destruction

21 January - Cambodia celebrated lives and limbs saved and land reclaimed from the scourge of landmines by destroying 3,405 mines, the last in its stockpile, at a ceremony at the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) training centre in Kampong Chhnang Province last week. Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng presided at the event, with 3,000 people attending, including defence, police force, and other government officials and representatives from UNDP and other partners supporting Cambodia's de-mining programme, including the ambassadors of Canada and Japan. (…) UNDP, a lead partner of the Government on landmines, channels operational and technical support to CMAC, which has cleared about 90 million square metres of land, benefiting many rural communities. The land is safe for settlement, use of natural resources, provision of social services and access to infrastructure such as water resources, schools, hospitals, roads and pagodas. CMAC also carries out mine awareness education for communities still threatened by uncleared mines.

The country is a signatory to and a strong advocate of the Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Convention), and has adopted national legislation for its implementation. (…)


DRC: Swiss NGO, UN to set up radio station

Kinshasa, 21 January - A Swiss nongovernmental organisation, Foundation Hirondelle, in collaboration with the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo plans to start a nationwide radio station within the next month, the mission's information officer, David Smith, said at the weekend. "It will give priority to the needs of people worst affected by the conflict," he said.

The station, Radio Okapi, will also promote a peaceful resolution of the country's civil war, broadcast entertainment and impartial news. Using frequency modulated (FM) and shortwave frequencies, it will broadcast in at least three local languages, in addition to French and English. It will also carry information from seven regional FM stations, and from FM and shortwave stations in the capital, Kinshasa. Around 100 staff are being recruited, nearly all of them local. Expatriates will manage the stations.

Currently no medium in DRC has the capacity to broadcast nationwide, although the government has announced its intention to do so. (…)


Sierra Leone: 3,000 weapons burned to symbolise end of conflict

Abidjan, 18 January - A symbolic weapons burning ceremony took place at Lungi, north of the capital Freetown, on Friday to mark the end of a decade of civil conflict in Sierra Leone. During the event 3,000 weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were destroyed, Francis Kai-Kai, Executive Secretary of the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, told IRIN on Friday. (…)

The burning of weapons would continue over the weekend, Kai-Kai added, with ceremonies in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone on Saturday, and with more weapons being burned in the southern town of Bo, and in Kenema, in eastern Sierra Leone on Sunday.

Over 45,000 former combatants have handed over weapons to the authorities under the government's disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme since May 2001. (…)


Afghanistan: European Commission to open Kabul office

18 January - The European Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday it would open an office in the Afghan capital Kabul next month to monitor reconstruction and aid programmes. "We want to be a part of the reconstruction of Afghanistan and we hope to have our office open sometime in February," Pedro Martinez, Deputy Head of the European Commission in Pakistan, told IRIN on Thursday. The office would monitor the political situation in the war-ravaged country and provide "optimal coordination" with the European Union's (EU) special representative for Afghanistan, Klaus-Peter Klaiber, a spokesman for External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten told AFP on Wednesday.


Afghanistan: Women educators back at work

18 January - Hundreds of women in the Afghan capital, Kabul have returned to work following the fall of the hard-line Taliban regime. At Kabul University, some 80 female staff are back at their desks. "I was very happy and excited to come back to my job," Humera, a 23-year-old administrative officer told IRIN. She started work at the university in 1995 but was banned by the Taliban a year later. Following five years of being housebound, she said she now felt that she had been "released from prison". Although the university and the Afghan interim administration are not able to pay salaries, women have been flocking to the educational institution. "I don't mind not being paid," she said. "I just want my freedom back and hopefully the international community will help us with payment," Humera added.


Conference on disarmament to open 2002 session on 21 January in Geneva

Geneva, 18 January – The Conference on Disarmament, the world's sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations, will open its 2002 session on Monday, 21 January at the Palais des Nations. The first public plenary will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 January.

The session will open under the presidency of Mohamed Tawfik, Charge d'affaires of the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The presidency of the Conference rotates amongst its Member States according to the English alphabetical order for four-week periods. During 2002, the presidency of the Conference will also be held by Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany and Hungary. The Conference's annual session is divided in three parts. The first part of the session will conclude on 29 March. The second part will be held from 13 May to 28 June, and the third part from 29 July to 13 September.

In accordance with its rules of procedure, the Conference «shall adopt its agenda for the year at the beginning of the session. In doing so, the Conference shall take into account the recommendations made to it by the UN General Assembly, the proposals by its Members, and decisions of the Conference.» (…)


Economy and development



Kenya: eco-sandals from recycled rubber tires

18 January - The name of the Kenyan shantytown of Korogocho means "without hope" in the local dialect, but an environmentalist entrepreneur is working to bring hope to the locals.  In 1995, Matthew Meyer cofounded the Wikyo Akala Project, which recycles rubber tires from the town dump into "eco-sandals" and sells them around the world.  With the help of a website ( launched in 2001, the project is providing ecologically and socially responsible sandals to the world -- and bringing hope (in the form of money for food, housing, education, and health care) back to Korogocho.


Rwanda: UN reports on Country Cooperation Framework

18 January - Two UN agencies have released a report on a five-year blueprint that aims to promote and consolidate good government in Rwanda as well as enhance the management capability of its poverty eradication programme as the country moves form a situation of emergency to one of development.

On the economic management front, the plan is to support poverty eradication initiatives, the coordination and management of aid, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention and control.

HIV/AIDS prevalence has risen from relatively low levels in the early 1990s, and - influenced by rape during the genocide and other social consequences of that national trauma - now approaches 13.7 percent in the 15-40-year age bracket, according to the report. Average HIV/AIDS prevalence for sub-Sahara Africa is 8.7 percent.


Helping poor communities in Nepal benefit from tourism

17 January - Poor communities near some of Nepal's prime tourist destinations stand to reap greater economic benefits with help from an expanding programme. The initiative helps reorient tourism policies to help rural communities where lower castes and ethnic minorities face poverty and discrimination. It aims to develop local strategies to attract tourists to villages in ways that are in harmony with local cultures and environments. The programme seeks ways to attract tourists to the communities to experience the local cultures, such as festivals and crafts, and works with the communities to help develop the services and facilities needed. (…)


Largest ever world wide project to promote biosafety launched by UNEP

A multi-million dollar project to help developing countries assess the potential risks and rewards from genetically engineered crops will be at the centre of an African Regional Workshop on biosafety that opens today.

Nairobi, 16 January - The project, financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), will help up to 100 countries develop the scientific and legal skills for evaluating the health and environmental issues surrounding imports of so called Living Modified Organisms (LMOs).

The three year, $38.4 million, scheme, is seen as a key initiative to help developing countries prepare for the entry into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which was adopted in January 2000. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which is to carry out the project, said: "Industry is convinced that genetically engineered crops are the key to boosting yields in a more environmentally friendly way. But others are concerned that the new technology may actually pose environmental as well as health risks". (…)


IFAD to support the Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme in the United Republic of Tanzania

Rome, 15 January  - A USD 42.30 million project in the United Republic of Tanzania - 'The Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme' will receive a USD 16.34 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund's Headquarters by Dr. Ricky Costa Mahalu, Ambassador of Tanzania to Italy and Mr. Klemens van de Sand, Assistant President of the Fund.

The programme will initially operate in two zones of the country: the Northern and Southern Highlands Marketing Zones. Both of these have a predominance of poorer rural households, with an average per capita gross domestic product that is below the national average. Their potential for improvement in small farmer incomes and production however, is enormous if greater market efficiency and effectiveness is achieved. Given the multidimensional and holistic nature of the programme with emphasis given to rationalization of overall marketing policies and improvements of related infrastructures, it is expected that all rural market participants will benefit. (…)


IFAD to support Financial Intermediation Programme in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Rome, 14 January  – A USD 88.7 million project in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – ‘The Rural Financial Intermediation Programme’ will receive a USD 25.7 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by Ms. Halima Mohammed, Ambassador of Ethiopia to Italy and Mr. Klemens van de Sand, Assistant President of the Fund.

The majority of the programme target group comprises rural households living far below the internationally recognized absolute poverty threshold of USD 1 per day. These beneficiaries are approximately 1.5 million poor rural households that will gain access to improved and reliable financial services either as clients of microfinance institutions (MFIs) or as members of rural savings and credit cooperative societies (RUSACCOs). Poverty in beneficiary households is mainly due to their: limited asset base, lack of access to reliable financial services, frequent droughts, and political and social unrest. (…)






ICRC delivers basic drugs to health centres in Goma

Goma/Geneva – 24 January – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is delivering basic drugs to five health centres on the city of Goma following last week's volcano outbreak. Each shipment contains sufficient drugs to care for 1.000 persons over three months. "We are out of stock of pretty much everything", says Pascal Makasi who works in the Ndosho health centre in western Goma. "Now we can start off again and take care of the most vulnerable patients". According to Mr Makasi, many patients have eye problems and breathing difficulties because of the ash and fumes emitted by the lava covering parts of Goma.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the ICRC are continuing with efforts to reunite families separated by the disaster. The Red Cross has been approached by more than 200 parents looking for the children. (…)


Afghanistan: WFP to begin helicopter operations

18 January - As winter conditions worsen, the World Food Programme (WFP) will deploy helicopters in an effort to access remote areas of Afghanistan where thousands of people are nearing starvation. "These helicopters will significantly enhance WFP's ability to reach areas where access due to weather or insecurity have diminished," agency spokesman, Wagdi Othman told IRIN on Monday in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Two of six helicopters will be based in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, while the other four will be in Chaghcharan and Bamyan, the provincial capitals of Afghanistan's central Chowr and Bamyan provinces. "The north and central highlands are particularly difficult to reach and overland access to remote villages is proving difficult during the winter," he explained.


Pakistan: UNICEF to continue cooperation with government

18 January - The United Nations children's organisation UNICEF would closely cooperate with the government of Pakistan in improving the situation of women and children. The mid-term review of the Pakistan-UNICEF country programme 1999-2003, a project aimed at improvements in health, education and child protection, showed promising results. UNICEF spokesman, George Somerwill, told IRIN in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Wednesday that the most important lesson learned from the project was the significance of coordination among the partners. "Sharing ideas and lessons make a major difference," he said.


Human Development Fund to help Nigerian communities overcome poverty

16 January - UNDP Nigeria has launched a Human Development Fund to promote poverty eradication and community development in the country's most deprived areas.

The fund seeks to create a coalition of development partners to support projects providing basic social infrastructure, such as clean water supply and sanitation, as well as basic health care, job creation opportunities for youth and people in rural communities, functional literacy and micro credit. Resources will come from national, state and local governments, the private sector, wealthy individuals and the international community. The private sector and State governments have so far pledged more than US$2 million, and UNDP Nigeria is providing $6.3 million to support the initiative. (…)






MSF expands relief programs throughout Afghanistan

23 January – More than 80 international staff and over 400 national staff from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontierès (MSF) are now operating relief programs throughout Afghanistan from bases in six cities—Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Taloqan, Faizabad, Kabul, and Jalalabad.

The MSF teams are addressing the health needs of a population that has endured years of conflict, severe drought, and instability. In and around Herat, MSF works in two of the country's largest camps for displaced people. MSF has increased its supplementary and therapeutic feeding centers to care for thousands of seriously malnourished children while also vaccinating children against measles. MSF is also supporting the pediatric ward of the hospital in Herat. (…)


Uganda: Government to promote condoms in villages

18 January - The Ugandan government is soon to start distributing free condoms in villages countrywide as part of its struggle against the HIV/AIDS pandemic and "unwanted pregnancies", according to a senior health official.

Dr Elizabeth Madraa, who heads Uganda's AIDS Control Programme, said on Wednesday that the ministry was already mobilising volunteers at the village level to help carry out the distribution of condoms. "We already have a structure of condom distribution in Uganda, but that is only in urban areas. If we want to promote condom use throughout Uganda, we must make sure they are also available at the village level," she told IRIN.


Pilot programme offers accelerated HIV/AIDS treatment

18 January - A new pilot programme tasked with providing wider access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care was launched in four African countries this week. The CARE partnership pilot programme, run by Dutch NGO PharmAccess International (PAI) and the drug company Roche, is being initiated in major urban treatment centres in Cote D'Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda.

The first step of the pilot programme will run for two years.

According to a statement released by the NGO, the initiative will deliver Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) by focusing on training and building up local medical infrastructures. Over the last six months, 100 healthcare professionals have already received specialised education to support these treatment programmes.


South Africa: Local generic drugs available soon

18 January - South Africa's first locally produced generic HIV/AIDS drugs could soon bring relief to thousands of people infected with the HI virus.

Aspen Pharmacare CEO Stephen Saad, told PlusNews on Tuesday that a cheaper, generic version of AZT could be produced by his company. The daily dosage of the drug would cost US $0.87 a day while a triple therapy combination could cost $1.30 a day. The local company was last year granted voluntary licences by GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb to produce generic versions of their antiretroviral drugs in South Africa.


WHO to push for $66 billion investment in health

14 January  An effort to more than double current investments in health in developing countries will be a key focus of the World Health Organization (WHO) activities in the years to come, the Organization's head said today. "As health takes on a more central role (in development), the expectations for the developing countries to prioritize health will be growing," Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland said at the opening of the World health Organization's 109th Executive Board meeting, today. "But no matter how much the least developed countries invest, there will be a substantial gap which needs to be filled through development assistance. By 2015, (…) US$ 66 billion will be needed, of which just over half will have to be covered by international development assistance."

The figures are based on estimates from the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health which last month presented a report saying a drastic scaling up of investments in health for the poorest countries would lead to a six-fold return in the form of increased economic growth. (...)



Energy and safety



IAEA team to visit North Korean nuclear facilities

Vienna, 10 January - A technical team from the IAEA will visit nuclear facilities in the Nyongbyon area of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from 15-19 January. The visit will include the Isotope Production Laboratory, an installation that the DPRK has stated was involved in the early stages of development of their nuclear programme.

"This is a small but welcome step towards a return to full-fledged inspections required under North Korea's safeguards agreement," said Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director General. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Private backers donate $1 million to UN ecotourism project

24 January - A United Nations project aimed at developing sustainable tourism in fragile natural environments has received a $1 million donation from private sector actors, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

The global cosmetics company Aveda and the UN Foundation -- set up to execute philanthropist Ted Turner's $1 billion gift in support of UN causes -- will give $500,000 each to the project. Two United Nations agencies, UNEP and the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and RARE Center for Tropical Conservation are joint managers of the venture.

Welcoming the move, UNEP said it would help to kick-start the International Year of Ecotourism, which will be officially launched in New York on 28 January.

The project uses tourism to mitigate threats to biodiversity conservation at six World Heritage sites, balancing the demands of tourists with the needs and traditions of local people and the environment. Although there are several environmental problems associated with tourism, such as loss of wildlife habitats and production of waste, tourism is also a source of income for the sites. (…)


Chemicals, strengthening UNEP and modernising the world's environmental machinery key issues at global environment talks - Environment Ministers meet in Colombia on the road to the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Nairobi/Cartagena, 21 January  - A pioneering new initiative to protect the world's people and its environment from hazardous chemicals will be one of the key issues facing ministers meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, this week.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards moving chemical manufacturing from industrialised to developing countries. Experts have told the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) of their concern that many poorer nations may not have adequate safeguards or emergency response systems in place to deal with chemical spills or accidents of the kind that occurred in Bopal, India, 15 years ago. (…) The new approach, suggested in the UNEP report, outlines 18 key areas of action. These include improving the ability of developing countries to deal with chemicals and the issues surrounding them, so called capacity building, promoting cleaner chemicals production and a shift from "highly toxic chemicals to those with lower toxicity or non-chemical alternatives". (…)


China supports process of the Kyoto Protocol

18 January - In the second move in recent weeks suggesting a heightened commitment to the environment, China called yesterday for early passage of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying the treaty would benefit rich and poor countries alike.  The appeal was made during a meeting of European and Asian environmental ministers, who want to move ahead with Kyoto despite the withdrawal of the U.S.  The treaty would require industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent of 1990 levels by late 2012, while setting no goals for developing nations.  However, Xie Zhenhua, director of the State Environmental Protection Agency, said his country would "actively explore" deals with industrialized countries to reduce emissions within China, which contributes about 11 percent of the world's carbon emissions.  Earlier this month, Xie announced that China would double funding to clean up its air pollution over the next five years.


Natura 2000 becomes a reality

18 January - Ten years ago, the nations of the European Union agreed to create Natura 2000, a continent-wide network of conservation areas designed to protect 200 habitats and 600 species.  The network was supposed to be in place by 1998, but foot-dragging and local resistance gummed up the works.  Now, Natura 2000 is finally becoming a reality. Yesterday, the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira became the first nations to set aside Natura 2000 lands, which will be subject to strict conservation rules, including restrictions on industrial activities.  The Canary Islands -- one of the most biologically diverse areas of Europe -- will move to protect the habitat of the endangered giant lizard of Hierro, the continent's rarest reptile.


Coral or no coral? It's my choice

UNEP launches new communication tools to help protect coral reefs

Cancun, Mexico/Paris, 11 January - In response to the growing threat to coral reefs, worldwide, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) have prepared five new "communication" tools to help the tourist industry explain to their customers the importance of protecting coral reefs during their holidays.

The first of these tools, a "wall calendar", is being distributed today to the 1,500 hotels attending MarketPlace - the largest travel and trade exhibition in the wider Caribbean region - taking place here in Cancun, Mexico. The calendar, produced in association with the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), is available in English, French and Spanish. It provides recommendations on twelve areas of action (one per month) that are linked to the protection of coral reefs, including waste water treatment, solid waste management, pool management, energy use, shopping for souvenirs, and tips for snorkeling and scuba diving. Two detachable pages list contacts for organizations in the Caribbean region that can provide more assistance and information to hotel managers and tourists alike. (…)



Culture and education



World Social Forum : Porto Alegre, Brasil, 31 January-5 February

The World Social Forum is an open meeting space designed for in-depth reflection, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and planning of effective action among entities and movements of civil society that oppose neoliberalism and a world dominated by capital and any form of imperialism and that are engaged in building a planetary society centered on the human being.

The World Social Forum-2002 is structured on four basic themes, the same of its first edition:  

production of wealth and the social reproduction; access to wealth and sustainability;  affirmation of the civil society and of public areas; political power and ethics in a new society.


UNEP endorses Restore the Earth conference

18 January - The push for greater efforts to be devoted to the restoration of degraded eco-systems has won a major boost with the endorsement by a second major United Nations agency – UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) – of the Restore the Earth conference to be held in Findhorn, Scotland at Easter 2002.  UNESCO has already endorsed the event.  The conference will be addressed by Fritz Schlingemann, Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe and by Senior UNEP advisor, John Manoochehri.

The conference aims to pull together people from all over the world to celebrate the many Earth restoration initiatives already in train and to propel the issue to the centre of global public consciousness and political debate.  Participants will prepare a declaration to be carried to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit+10) in South Africa in September 2002 calling on world leaders to act now to reverse the unprecedented level of damage currently being inflicted on myriad eco-systems worldwide (…) 


Baroness Emma Nicholson new WHO envoy on health, peace and development

18 January – Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne (UK) was today named World Health Organization (WHO) Envoy on Health, Peace and Development for WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region (which also includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula and northern Africa). Baroness Nicholson will promote health as a tool for peace and development. She will also advise WHO on particular health needs related to peace and development. She is expected to travel extensively in the region and will report her findings to the European Parliament as well as to WHO. (…)


Basketball star Dikembe Mutombo featured in new HIV-Aids Awareness Campaign

Vienna, 14 January (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) today jointly released a new worldwide public service announcement (PSA) featuring basketball player Dikembe Mutombo. The PSA helps to educate young people about the links between drug abuse and HIV-AIDS.

"Using condoms and not sharing needles are intelligent decisions that can help you live a longer, healthier life," said Mutombo in the PSA. "Through education we can learn more about the prevention of HIV and AIDS and together we can help stop the spread of this epidemic." (…)

The PSA was filmed in English and French and dubbed into Portuguese and Swahili. It will be shown during NBA programming internationally and through United Nations television contacts. A poster, featuring Mutombo and the message "Sports. Not Drugs", will be distributed to youngsters around the world through UN field offices. Mutombo is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo and a special emphasis on getting his message out will take place in Africa. (…)

The PSA marks the third year of collaboration between ODCCP and the NBA. Prior media awareness campaigns featured Vlade Divac (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Sacramento Kings) and Eduardo Nàjera (Mexico, Dallas Mavericks). ODCCP and the NBA also worked together to create a camp for children from the Balkans, Basketball without Borders, in the summer of 2001.



* * * * * * *


Next issue: 11 February 2002


* * * * * * *


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 46 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Finland, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, 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, the Club of Budapest, the Earth Charter, Radio For Peace International 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:



* * * * * * *