Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 3



Weekly - Year IV, number 3 – 7 February 2003

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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It 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.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Governments reach agreement on new United Nations Treaty on pollution information disclosure

Geneva, 31 January - Negotiations on a new international treaty under which companies will be required to publicly disclose information on their output of pollutants came to a successful conclusion in Geneva yesterday evening. The ground-breaking treaty has been developed over the past two years under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in the form of a legally binding protocol to the Aarhus Convention, the UNs flagship convention on environmental democracy issues.

Under the new protocol, companies will be required to report annually on their releases (into the environment) and transfers (to other companies) of certain pollutants. The information will then be placed on a public register, known as a pollutant release and transfer register or PRTR. (...)

Although regulating information on pollution, rather than pollution directly, the protocol is expected to exert a significant downward pressure on levels of pollution, as no company will want to be identified as among the biggest polluters.

The Protocol will be formally adopted and signed at the forthcoming Fifth Ministerial Environment for Europe Conference, which will take place in Kiev, Ukraine, 21-23 May 2003. More than 30 States have taken part in the negotiations and might be expected to sign the Protocol in Kiev.

Although the protocol has been developed under the auspices of UNECE, it will be open to accession by any State which is a member of the United Nations. In this way, it is expected to establish a new global benchmark in this area.



Human rights



Democratic Republic of the Congo: major family reunification operation

Goma (ICRC) On 29 and 30 January the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) carried out a major operation to reunite separated family members.

A total of 140 children between one and 17 years of age were flown from Goma to Kinshasa on board a Boeing 737 specially chartered by the ICRC for the occasion. All the children were reunited with their families, from whom they had been separated for several months - or several years in some cases owing to the conflict. The purpose of the operation was to remedy one of the many tragic consequences of armed conflict: the dispersal of members of the same family.

The ICRC is working in close cooperation with volunteers of the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to find the families of unaccompanied children throughout the country. The subsequent reunification operations are carried out both in the areas controlled by the government and in those held by the armed opposition.

Last year the ICRC reunited more than 400 children with their parents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country devastated by several years of war.


Egyptian coalition mobilizes against custom that harms women and girls

27 January - The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) and UNDP are spearheading a coalition of national and international organizations in Egypt in a campaign to stop a practice that blights the lives of millions of women. Female genital mutilation (FGM), sometimes known as female circumcision, is still widespread in areas of Africa and the Middle East, including Egypt. Surveys have found that 97 per cent of Egyptian women have undergone the practice. The three-year US$2.6 million initiative seeks to end FGM in 60 villages in six governorates in Upper Egypt. (...)

The initiative aims overcome community peer pressure and convince families not to subject their girls to FGM. It will use various education and training approaches to reach out to families, community leaders, health workers and religious leaders, encouraging them to work together to eliminate the practice. The campaign will also air broadcasts on national television and radio.

The project will promote networking among local civil society groups, community leaders, the NCCM and government agencies. After the project's strategies are tested and evaluated, it will use successful approaches to reach out to more villages. (...)


Fifth Anniversary of Global March Against Child Labour

20 January, New Delhi - On its fifth annversary, the Global March Against Child Labour calls for urgent action to end child labour world-wide and the achievement of universal quality education. Since its start, the Global March has brought together a movement of over 2000 partners in 140 country to lead the fight against child labour. As a united voice for NGOs, trade unions, teacher associations and individual activists, the Global March has time and again reminded the world that all children must be protected from exploitation and abuse. Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of the Global March, appealed to all people to make this crisis their call to action. "Will we sit comfortably in our homes and offices as we watch the life and spirit of countless children disappear before our very eyes? If we fail to act now we are no less responsible than the worst exploiter."

EI is represented on the Steering Committee of the Global March Against Child Labour and many EI affiliates are founding members of its national networks. To find out how to support the Global March, visit their website:



Economy and development



Troubled Georgia region gets help for development and integration

31 January - An initiative in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region in southern Georgia seeks to spur development and overcome isolation rooted in ethnic tensions to reduce the risk of conflict and help people build better lives. UNDP and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are providing US$4.7 million for the five-year programme.

Bordering on Armenia and Turkey, the region is one of the country's poorest, with an economy based mainly on subsistence farming. Social services are limited, public infrastructure has deteriorated and government institutions function poorly. (...) Support for integrated regional development of Samtskhe-Javakheti is very important, said Teimuraz Mosiashvili, the region's Governor, who called the programme "useful, broad and ambitious." (...)


New project on trade and globalization announced by UNCTAD, INDIA and UK

30 January - UNCTAD, India and the United Kingdom today announced the launch of a new project to assess the impact and opportunities for India of trade and globalization.

The five-year project is being funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), in the amount of some £ 5.4 million (Rs. 41,11,72,300).

Entitled "Strategies and preparedness for trade and globalization in India", the project has two main objectives. First, it will assist Indian trade negotiators, policy makers and other stakeholders in understanding the development dimension of key trade issues, particularly as they relate to the current WTO agenda. Secondly, it will strengthen the country´s human and institutional capacities for analysis of globalization-related issues and facilitate a policy environment that will support and sustain a more equitable process of globalization. In the process, the project should help India derive the greatest possible benefits from the multilateral trading system and influence international trade rule-making. The project will work in partnership with the private sector and civil society. It will focus on institutions and sectors with the greatest potential to affect the poor in their roles as producers, workers, consumers and citizens. (...)


Civil society gains voice on reducing poverty in Zambia

28 January - UNDP has helped transform strained relations between the Zambian Government and civil society into productive dialogue on the national poverty reduction strategy and other development issues. As a result of civil society input, the strategy calls for abolishing 75 District Administrators offices, which have become patronage jobs, and a Presidential discretionary fund that lacks accountability, as well as urging constitutional reform -- all key governance issues.

On education, the strategy recommends higher pay for teachers, incentives for rural teachers, improved teaching materials, curriculum renewal and life skills and HIVAIDS counseling in schools. It also calls for a focus on food security and more investment in agriculture.

Progress began when UNDP helped groups form Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, a broad-based network to participate in poverty reduction strategy discussions with the Government, the World Bank, UN agencies and donor countries. (...) To smooth the way for dialogue, UNDP arranged for training in negotiating skills and conflict resolution for the steering committee through its Peak Performance Programme. The training was effective, and more than 80 per cent of civil society inputs were incorporated into the poverty reduction strategy. The Government and the network have both requested additional conflict resolution training, which UNDP is arranging. (...)


WTO talks: FAO bolsters developing countries negotiating skills

Rome, 27 January - A broad programme for training and capacity building on trade-related issues in food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry will shortly enter its second phase, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said on Monday. It aims at bolstering the negotiating capacity of developing countries in the new round of trade talks.

Launched in 1999, the programme offered participants, mainly government officials dealing with agricultural trade matters, an introduction to the key trade and food security issues relating to the World Trade Organization (WTO). (...)

The second phase, which will include a number of national, regional and global workshops, will begin with a national workshop in Sri Lanka in the third week of February. A subregional workshop for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean Countries will also take place in February.

The technical seminars will enable countries to analyse the potential options and implications of trade talks and means of strengthening their negotiating position. They will also promote dialogue between national policy makers, domestic stakeholders, academics and civil society on issues involved in the current round of negotiations, the "Doha Development Agenda". (...)






Humanitarian organizations unite to fight starvation in Southern Africa

Coalition receives $114 million USAID grant to assist in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Johannesburg, January 22 - The U.S. government has pledged to World Vision, CARE and Catholic Relief Services a $114 million emergency aid grant for a joint response to the severe food crisis in Southern Africa. The grant will provide emergency and supplementary food distributions, agricultural support and development training in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the three countries hardest hit by the current crisis.

The Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) represents an unprecedented collaboration among three leading humanitarian organizations. CARE, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision have joined forces to provide a coordinated response to the food shortage and the related complexities of the existing HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has exacerbated the crisis.  (...)

Poor rainfall, political instability and the HIV/AIDS pandemic have combined to create the most severe food shortage in more than a decade for Southern Africa. It is expected that more than 15 million people in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe will need food aid at least until March. The C-SAFE program will involve a combination of free general food distributions, food-for-work projects, and supplementary feeding. (...)


Government of Kenya and UN-HABITAT to Upgrade Slums

Nairobi, 16 January - Honourable Raila Odinga, the new Minister for Roads, Public works and Housing of the Government of Kenya and Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the "Slum Upgrading Programme for Kenya".

The programme hopes to improve housing, infrastructure services and the overall livelihoods of people living and working in informal settlements. One of the major goals is to ensure that the poor are given some form of security of tenure so that they can participate in the improvement of the urban environment. The programme will begin by working on slum upgrading in Nairobi and Kisumu, the lessons learned will then be replicated in other urban areas in Kenya. (...)


South Africa donates 100,000 tons of maize to WFPs regional emergency operation

Johannesburg The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) expressed immense gratitude in response to todays extremely generous donation of almost US$20 million (ZAR170 million) by the Republic of South Africa to the agencys emergency food operation for southern Africa.

The funds will be used by WFP to purchase 100,000 metric tons of maize in South Africa for distribution to millions of vulnerable people across the region. This contribution is critical to ensure a steady flow of food aid supplies to more than 15 million people, who are in need of assistance in the six affected countries.

This enormous donation comes at a crucial time for WFPs operations in southern Africa and will undoubtedly help millions of men, women and children cope with food shortages in the months ahead the most acute period of hunger until the harvest arrives in April/May, said James T. Morris, WFP Executive Director. It is also encouraging to see South Africa taking a lead role in helping to combat the severe food crisis that is wreaking havoc across the region. (...)

Last year, WFP appealed for US$507 million dollars to provide almost one million tons of food aid to millions of vulnerable people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Following todays South African donation, the agency has now received confirmed contributions amounting to 85 percent of its total tonnage requirements.



Peace and security



U.N. spotlights child soldiers

New York, January 30 -  Governments and armed groups using child soldiers are under new scrutiny by the U.N. Security Council and must take immediate action to end child recruitment, Human Rights Watch said today.

Following a full-day debate on children and armed conflict on January 14, the Security Council today adopted a range of measures demanding accountability from parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children as soldiers. (...)

At the Security Council's request, a report submitted at the end of 2002 by the Secretary General for the first time included an explicit list of parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children in violation of their international obligations. This list, limited to situations on the Security Council's agenda, included parties to conflict in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia and Somalia. The report also mentioned the use of child soldiers in several countries not on the Security Council's agenda, including Burma, Colombia, Sri Lanka and Uganda. (...)


Women all over Europe say no to war against Iraq and call for a halt to militarisation

Brussels, 21 January - The EWL Declaration against War was adopted unanimously by the EWL Board at its meeting on January 18-19, 2003.

The European Women's Lobby, representing over 3000 women’s NGOs in Europe (...) call for:

·                     Governments to use their powers to press for and pursue negotiations in favour of a peaceful resolution.

·                     The rejection of unilateral support of USA policy by any country in the European region.

·                     EU Member States, countries in accession to the EU, and other European countries to bring their influence to bear and to press Iraq to accept political solutions and to accept fully the mandate of the UN inspectors.

For all European Union Member States, countries in accession to the EU, and other European countries to ensure the implementation of all commitments in UN Security Council resolution 1325 on womens role in conflict resolution and sustainable peace.






Afghanistan launches immunization campaign to save women and their new-borns

President Pledges Full Support to Ensure Success

Kabul/New York, 31 January - UNICEF today announced a week-long campaign to immunise thousands of Afghan women against tetanus as part of a global campaign to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus by 2005. Running from February 2-8, health workers and volunteers aim to reach some 740,000 Afghan women aged 15 to 45.  (...)

A recent study by UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance revealed that almost half of all deaths among Afghan women aged between 15-49 are a direct result of pregnancy and childbirth. (...)

During the week-long campaign -- the first of three to be held in 2003 -- over 1,000 vaccination teams will fan out across the cities of Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar. The campaign is conducted by the Ministry of Health and jointly supported by UNICEF and WHO, with active support from NGO partners. The Japanese Governmen is contributing TT vaccines, AD syringes and safety boxes for Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar. (...)


WHO to meet beverage company representatives to discuss health-related alcohol issues

31 January -- World Health Organization (WHO) will host a meeting with selected alcohol beverage company representatives in Geneva on February 12, 2003 to exchange views on the impact of alcohol on global health. Between them, the companies represent more than half of total global alcohol sales. The meeting follows informal discussions over the past six months with a number of alcohol companies, and reflects WHO’s determination to engage with all interested stakeholders in formulating a policy to address the public health consequences of alcohol use worldwide.

The impact of alcohol on global health was highlighted by data obtained for the recently released World Health Report 2002; Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life, where alcohol consumption featured among the top 10 risks to health. (...)

The proposed objectives of next week’s Geneva meeting are to brief participants on current WHO activities in the alcohol policy area; to brief WHO on relevant corporate social responsibility initiatives; and to exchange views on how to make progress in two areas: drinking and driving, and the marketing and promotion of alcohol to young people.

Alcohol is a serious global challenge, says Dr Derek Yach, WHO Executive Director, Noncommunicable DIseases and Mental Health. We need to act now to prevent the already high levels of alcohol-related harm in both the industrialized countries and many developing countries. (...)


Bill Gates gives US$200 million to health research

By: Katie Mantell

30 January - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to give US$200 million to identify the 'grand challenges' facing global health and to fund research to address these problems.

The aim of the initiative is to focus the attention of the scientific community on tackling diseases that affect developing countries, such as malaria and AIDS. At present, only 10 per cent of medical research is devoted to diseases that cause 90 per cent of ill-health worldwide.

Microsoft head Bill Gates unveiled the plan on Sunday (26 January) at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "There is great potential for science and technology to solve persistent global health challenges, but far greater resources are needed," he said. "By accelerating research to overcome scientific obstacles in AIDS, malaria and other diseases, millions of lives could be saved."

To start, an international panel of leading scientists chaired by Nobel Laureate and president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Harold Varmus will identify a set of critical life-endangering problems that could be helped by research.

After these priorities have been published later this year, the initiative will ask scientists from around the world to apply for grants of up to US$20 million to search for solutions to each of the challenges. The grants which will be administered by the US Foundation for the National Institutes of Health will be awarded mainly to coalitions of researchers from different institutions and disciplines, although individual scientists are also eligible. (...)



Energy and safety



Thailand draws on green power for renewable energy

30 January - Thailand is mobilizing to use wood chips, sugarcane residue and other plant wastes, known as biomass, as a renewable energy source that will help trim emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce use of fossil fuels. A biomass energy project supported by UNDP aims to help Thailand reach the goal of tripling the portion of energy it produces from renewable sources from one per cent to three percent of its total power production over the next five years. (...)

The Government and UNDP have taken the first step by opening a One-Stop Clearing-House to provide technical advice for prospective developers, help them secure financing for biomass power plants, support policies and legislation to promote biomass development, and inform the public about the merits of biomass for power.

The project has also set up the Energy for Environment Foundation to support biomass power activities and is building two pilot biomass power plants.

The seven-year project is supported by UNDP with US$6.8 million in funding from the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) unit and $1 million from the Danish Agency for Development Assistance (DANIDA). The Government and the private sector are mobilizing $116.5 million in parallel financing that will help implement biomass power projects.  (...)


Kosovo: Clean water for Gjilan/Gnjilane

27 January - The ICRC last week handed over its last water-supply project in the Balkans to the local water board. The project was to repair a 6.8-km pipeline running from the Prelepnice reservoir to the city of Gjilan/Gnjilane. The reservoir, which can hold 1,000 cubic metres of water, was built by the ICRC in 2001. In the latest work which brought the total cost, including the reservoir, to 450,000 Swiss francs air valves were replaced and purge drains installed at key locations along the pipeline. The ICRC has thus improved both the quality and quantity of the water supply and almost 90,000 residents now have clean water at a reasonable pressure. (...)


Workshop on Groundwater Legalization Review and water Tariff Analysis in Lebanon

17 January - This workshop is one of the main components of the ESCWA-UNDP project entitled: "National Policy Framework for Water Resources Management in Lebanon", which was implemented with the Ministry of Energy and Water in Lebanon. The project has addressed two water priority issues as identified by the Ministry of Energy and Water, namely: capacity building in groundwater legislation, and water tariffs. Hence, the main objective of this workshop was to enhance the capacity of the ministry personnel and the personnel of national agencies involved in water issues in some areas of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which is in this case, the areas of groundwater legislation and assessment of water tariff. This was done by reviewing the existing groundwater legislation and water tariffs situation, in view of recommending appropriate measures for their effective implementation. (...)



Environment and wildlife



A Tale Of Two Peaks: Kenyan mountains highlight stark choices facing world's Environment Ministers in quest for sustainable development

UNEP's Governing Council: 3-7 February 2003

Nairobi, 31 January  - A global assessment of mercury pollution and the environmental condition of conflict areas, from the Middle East to Afghanistan, will be among the crucial issues to be discussed by a global gathering of environment ministers. Well over 100 national delegations are poised to arrive at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for next week's crucial talks which come just five months after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in South Africa. (...)

A survey of the Aberdare Mountains, carried out by UNEP and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has pin pointed a huge number of illegal charcoal kilns which are being fed and fuelled by the highland forests upon which local people depend for medicine and water supplies. The aerial survey, conducted towards the end of 2002, spotted well over 14,000 illegal kilns, some of which are the size of a small factory. They are located mainly in the south and west of the Aberdares.

It has long been known that charcoal production is one of the biggest threats to Kenya's forests and forests across much of Africa, if not the developing world. But until now the sheer scale of the operations and the precise location of kilns has remained a mystery.

The findings, made with support from Rhino Ark and the Kenya Forests Working Group, highlight the need for improved conservation and enforcement in the Aberdares and also the chronic dependency of Kenya on wood as an energy source.  (...)


Plant For The Planet, The International Tree Planting Campaign, Launched

Young People from Africa Join Youth from Across the Globe at UNEP's Governing Council

Nairobi, 29 January to 8 February 2003 - Kenya is to be the launch pad for an international tree planting campaign that will see more than a million seedlings planted across the country by 2008.

The launch of the campaign, "Plant for the Planet", will be one of the highlights for delegates attending the Global Youth Retreat, taking place in parallel to the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Progamme (UNEP). Over 50 young people, aged between 16 and 25 years-old and from 45 countries, will join with Kenyan school children and an international group of environment ministers on 8 February at the Ngong Forest Sanctuary to plant 4,000 trees.

The campaign, which is sponsored by the Japanese-based Foundation for Global Peace and the Environment and Total, is strictly in line with the new Kenyan government's push to restore forests and plant with native and rare, indigenous, trees.

The plantings will involve an estimated 47 native species including the East African Greenheart, warbugia ugandensis; the Naivasha Thorn tree, Acacia xanthophloea; the Brown or Wild Thorn Olive, Olea europeae africana; the Mulundu tree, Elaeodendron buchananii; the Pillar Wood, Cassipourea malosana and the Mugumo tree, Ficus thoningii. (...)


Case studies point towards solutions to Europe's waste problems

Copenhagen, 29 January - Many of the problems linked to Europe's growing waste volumes can be solved if countries learn from others that have pioneered solutions, argues a new report published today by the European Environment Agency. The report focuses on 10 case studies of some of the most significant initiatives undertaken in Europe during the 1990s to promote and encourage waste minimisation. (...)

 The report, Case studies on waste minimisation practices in Europe, aims to support the European Union's policy goal of minimising waste. The studies are drawn from eight countries and cover five themes: producer responsibility, voluntary agreements, legislative requirements, information programmes and waste taxes.

The report draws several general conclusions:

·                     Waste quantities are continuously increasing; two-thirds of the waste is landfilled, whereas waste recycling rates have shown a rather limited increase over recent years;

·                     Solutions encouraging separation at source, reducing landfilling, increasing recycling and waste prevention have been developed in many EEA countries;

·                     Continuous cooperation and exchange of technological and organisational experience is needed to achieve major progress in waste management;

·                     Several cases of waste prevention have been successful but are still only applicable at the local level;

·                     Most of the case studies show promising results and may serve as inspiration for future initiatives.

The report is available from the EEA website at topic_report_2002_2. Printed copies are available on request.


Detailed rules agreed for Kyoto Protocol projects on limiting emissions in developing countries

Bonn, 28 January 2003 - The Executive Board that oversees the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has finalized key procedures for investments in small-scale projects for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, thus paving the way for an early launch of the first CDM projects.

Meeting last week in Bonn, the Board adopted a CDM Glossary of terms used in the Project Design Document, which helps project proponents to understand CDM terminology.

It also finalized the package of simplified modalities for small-scale CDM projects, including a "simplified CDM project design document" for registering such projects, and an "indicative list of simplified baseline and monitoring methodologies" helping project proponents to lower costs for complying with CDM rules. (...)

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol established the CDM as a way of promoting sustainable development while minimizing the costs of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In return for investing in a sustainable development project that reduces or avoids emissions in a developing country, companies will earn "certified emission reductions" that developed countries may use to meet their Kyoto commitments.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board Meets in Gland, Switzerland, February 11-12

As part of their third annual board meeting, the Board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) will approve the report, Ecosystems and People: A Framework for Assessment. This report sets the basis for the work of over 400 scientists from 66 countries that have started to assess the current and future capacity of ecosystems to provide services to humankind, including the impacts of ecosystem change on well-being and human response to these changes.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) examines the condition of the worlds grasslands, forests, rivers and lakes, farmlands, oceans, and other ecosystems. Together, ecosystems produce a range of goods and services -- such as food, timber, clean water, and erosion control -- which support life on earth. However, increasing demands on these ecosystems is rapidly diminishing their ability to provide essential services to humankind. The $21 million, four-year study will involve leading scientists from such organizations as the IUCN-World Conservation Union and WRI.

The MA will provide decision-makers with authoritative scientific knowledge concerning the impact of changes to the worlds ecosystems on human livelihoods and the environment. It will provide governments, the private sector, and local organizations with better information on how to restore the productivity of ecosystems.

The meeting is co-hosted by IUCN - The World Conservation Union and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to create practical ways to protect the Earth and improve people's lives.



Religion and spirituality



"Media and Truth: an Interreligious Perspective on Ethical Reporting : Possibilities and Obstacles" - International Conference, Rome, 17-18 February

The power of media to shape reality is great. We learn of international events through the media, and make moral and political judgments based on the information received. Willingly or not, media people are thus saddled with a responsibility commensurate to this power.

International media coverage of Muslim and Arab societies has produced Islamophobia. Correspondence from the Middle East has enflamed the cinders of anti-Semitism worldwide.

How can media stop producing stereotypes of nations, religions, and the parts in conflict? How can media convey the deeper truths behind screaming headlines? How can media work for peace?

Arab, Israeli, Palestinian, Italian, international and multi-religious media representatives will debate these vital contemporary issues as part of an ongoing process aimed at better communication between the media and religious communities.

The Conference is organized by WCRP/Europe, the European Section of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, an NGO spread out over the 5 continents in over 100 countries including 11 European nations, and by the City of Rome, through the "Rome City of Peace" project, and in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Austrian Embassy to the Holy See, the Austrian Embassy in Rome, the Foreign Press Association in Rome and the Roman Press Association, and the Graz Peace Centre and the City of Graz (2003 Cultural Capital of Europe) which, together with the City of Sarajevo and in concomitance with WCRP’s European Assembly will hold a pan-European conference in Graz next July 5th to 9th entitled "Project; Interfaith Europe". The results of the Rome "Media and Truth" Conference will be reported there.

Conference and program director: Lisa Palmieri-Billig,



Culture and education



UNICEF hands over first consignment of supplies to support free education in Kenya

Nairobi, 31 January - UNICEF today handed over the first consignment of school supplies to the government of Kenya - just two weeks after it pledged the US 2.5. million dollar contribution to support the countrys initiative to provide free primary education.

UNICEF Representative Dr. Nicholas Alipui presented education and recreation kits to Minister of Education, Hon. George Saitoti at a ceremony at the Kihumbuini primary school in Kangemi, a low-income district in the capital city, Nairobi. A large crowd of children, teachers and officials of the Education Ministry witnessed the hand-over of learning, teaching and recreational materials which included exercise books, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, slates, chalk, chalkboards, footballs, volleyballs and skipping ropes. (...)

Todays consignment for schools in Nairobi will be followed by the distribution of supplies to eight other districts: Kwale, Garissa, Wajir, Turkana, Moyale, Marsabit, Moyale and West Pokot. By March some 450,000 children in grades 1 to 3 will have benefitted.

In addition to supplies, UNICEF is supporting the training of five thousand teachers to create child-friendly classrooms and assisting in the repair and rehabilitation of primary school classrooms and their water and sanitation facilities.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has launched a donor appeal to raise another US 4.5 million dollars to increase support to the Kenyan government in its commitment to achieve universal primary education.


UNESCO and the government of Afghanistan launch nationwide literacy project

Paris, 28 January UNESCO and the Government of Afghanistan today launched a major project to boost literacy throughout Afghanistan, which suffers one of the worlds lowest literacy rates. UNESCO estimates that only 51.9 percent of Afghan men over the age of 15 and a mere 21.9 percent of women in the same age group can read and write. A vast effort is underway to rebuild the countrys education system and to get all Afghan children back to school. However, the adult population, which is responsible for the immediate reconstruction of Afghanistan and the revival of its economy, also needs to upgrade skills and knowledge. (...)

The Literacy and Non-formal Education Development in Afghanistan project (LAND AFGHAN) launched today with the signing of an agreement between UNESCO and the Government of Afghanistan in Kabul, aims to fill part of the education gap that resulted from the war.

The projects main focus will be on building up a nationwide network of literacy teachers, trained in modern non-formal education methods. It will also train people in the development and production of teaching materials and provide the necessary equipment for this, including printing facilities. A wealth of existing literacy resources, developed by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre (ACCU) in Japan and UNESCOs Bangkok office, will be adapted and translated into the dominant Pashtu and Dari languages. (...)

The project is initially financed by a US$500,000 contribution from the Japanese Government through a funds-in-trust. It is considered a flagship programme for the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) which will be officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York on February 13.


The IV Iflac Pave Peace International Conference -  Bursa, Turkey, 10-13 April

The Branch in Turkey of IFLAC PAVE PEACE: The International Forum for the Culture and Literature of Peace, is organizing this innovative and important conference, together with IFLAC World Center in Haifa. IFLAC is a network of international peace researchers, writers, poets, politicians, diplomats, educators, journalists and media people, peace activists, women activists, and students, working together to foster joint cooperation and understanding in the Middle East and in our global village. The conference will bring together participants from a broad range of fields, to discuss the impact of the cultural, literary, and social dimensions and elements in the development of multiculturalism with the preservation of national identity in conflicted areas, and the ways  for promoting the aspirations of paving a world beyond war. (...)

The themes to be examined and discussed at this conference will include: From A War Culture To A Peace Culture; Conflict Resolution Through Culture and Literature; Pluralistic Cultural Identity in an Era of Globalization; Women and Peace; The Communications Revolution and its effects on Social Change; Democracy, Human Rights and Peace; The New Generation and Peace; The Importance of the Creation of a Peace Culture in the Global Media including the electronic media: TV, Satellite, Radio and the Internet; (...)



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Next issue: 21 February 2003

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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:


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