Good News Agency – Year VI, n° 12
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 3,700 media in 48 countries, as well as to 2,800 NGO and service associations.
It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included in the web site http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/uk/uk_sum_monde.htm
ILO-IPEC nominated inventor of new ergonomic loom honored with 2005 Tech Museum Award
New loom is helping reduce child labour in carpet weaving sector
Lahore, Pakistan, 21 September (ILO News) - The inventor of a new "ergonomic" loom that will help reduce the use of child labour in the carpet weaving sector by improving the working conditions and incomes of adult weavers has been awarded the 2005 Tech Museum Prize for pioneering work that benefits society through the use or development of new technologies. Mr. Saeed Awan, Director of the Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (CIWCE) in Lahore, Pakistan, will share the US$ 250,000 prize with four other laureates. The prize is awarded annually by the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.
Mr. Awan carried out a risk assessment of the health and safety conditions of child workers in the carpet industry on behalf of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) of the International Labour Office (ILO). The study found that carpet weavers suffer from major health problems due to a loom design that hasn't changed for centuries. He came up with the idea of an "ergonomic" loom for adult carpet weavers. "The real winners of the award are the millions of carpet weavers. I hope that this loom will be adopted throughout the country and reduce child labour", said Mr. Awan.(…) IPEC is using this method to induce families to send their children to school instead of working. So far ILO-IPEC, with the financial support of carpet manufacturers and the US Department of Labor (USDOL), has rehabilitated around 26,000 working children in this sector.(…)
Uganda: new training agreements signed
16 September - The Government of Uganda and the ICRC have signed two Memoranda of Understanding on the training assistance that the ICRC will provide to the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) over the next three years. Through this agreement, the ICRC intends to strengthen the teaching of international humanitarian law (IHL) and humanitarian principles within the police and army for the benefit of their respective staff at all levels.
Since 1987, the ICRC has endeavoured to promote IHL among Uganda's armed forces. More than 8,000 people have attended IHL sessions at army and police training facilities as well as in the field. The ICRC has been active in Uganda since 1979 and carries out its activities in close cooperation with the Uganda Red Cross Society and other organizations.
Raising the Voices East Africa 2005
Author: Olivier Le Blanc <ugandaSPAMFLTER@SPATMFLTERdangermines.ca> .
Kampala, Uganda, 14 September - Raising the Voices East Africa 2005 was conducted successfully from August 28th to September 3rd 2005 at Ranch on the LakeCountry Club in Kampala, Uganda. Margaret Arach Orech, ICBL Co-chair of the Working Group on Victim Assistance and Olivier Le Blanc, Capacity Builder Officer from Mines Action Canada (Young Professional International Mine Action Program) organized and facilitated this 5 days advocacy training workshop with 10 participants coming from Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. Raising the Voices East Africa was the first workshop of its kind in the region.
Raising the Voices program empowers survivors. First, it gives them knowledge by introducing them to three key documents: the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Second, it equips them with basic advocacy skills, so that they can lobby decision makers to bring about a positive change. Third, it provides an opportunity for survivors to share experiences and build networks. As a result of this entire experience survivors build self-confidence and self-esteem.
This successful program has trained over 50 landmine survivors from South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caucasus. Graduates are now advocates in their respective countries, and participate in MBT-related meetings at the national, regional, and international level. (…)
Raising the Voices East Africa 2005 was made possible with the financial support of the Austrian Government’s Development Cooperation program. A comprehensive report of the workshop will be produced for distribution at the 6MSP in Zagreb in November 2005.
Italian President Ciampi receives FAO Agricola Medal
For his commitment and efforts in the global fight against hunger and poverty
Rome, 28 September - Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was today presented with FAO's Agricola Medal in recognition of his strong support for the fight against world hunger and poverty. FAO's Director-General, Dr Jacques Diouf, presented the medal to President Ciampi at a ceremony at the Quirinale Palace in Rome.
According to the accompanying citation, FAO conferred the medal "as a token of its esteem and respect for President Ciampi's untiring efforts to promote a more effective and efficient global commitment against hunger and poverty."
"President Ciampi has seized every opportunity to call for increased national and international investment flows to the agricultural sector and for the full cancellation of the debt of the poorest countries and easier access of their products to the markets of the industrialized countries," the citation stated. (…)
FAO's Agricola Medal honours distinguished personalities for their commitment to and support for the promotion of sustainable food production, improved world food security and stronger international cooperation. World leaders who have previously received this award include: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, President Jacques Chirac of France, President Jiang Zemin of China, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, and President Johannes Rau of Germany.
ICCR launches EthVest database
New York City, NY - September 26 - The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) today launched EthVestSM, its new online database containing news, data and intelligence on ethical investing activities. EthVest contains more than 2,000 shareholder resolutions and results of proxy votes covering more than a decade of faith-based and socially responsible shareholder activism. ICCR member organizations focus on social issues as well as corporate financial performance in making their individual investment decisions, and details of many of these initiatives are provided in the online, subscription-based resource. (…)
The new ICCR subscription EthVest Database contains more than 12 years of ICCR shareholder activism, much of the content in the form of 2,000-plus shareholder resolutions (complete text), as well as details of shareholder-sponsored resolutions (…)
ICCR (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility) is a thirty-year-old international coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors including denominations, religious communities, pension funds, healthcare corporations, foundations and dioceses with combined portfolios worth an estimated $100 billion. (…)
New US$2.1 million loan to help farmers and fishing communities recover from the tsunami disaster in the Maldives
Rome, September 25 – Fishing families and small farmers whose livelihoods were destroyed by the December 2004 tsunami disaster will benefit from a new asset recovery programme in the Maldives. The US$5 million programme will be financed in part by a US$2.1 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD will also provide a US$ 200,000 grant. An additional US$500,000 grant will be provided by the Italian Government and the Government of the Maldives will contribute US$93,000. Today’s loan agreement, the first of two, was signed by the IFAD President, Lennart Båge, and the Maldive’s Minister for Finance and Treasury, Qasim Ibrahim, at the World Bank’s MC Building in Washington D.C. (…)
The asset recovery programme will help restore the country’s fisheries and agricultural sectors to levels equal to or better than before their devastation by the tsunami. The programme will provide fishing communities with new boats and cold storage facilities and build new receiving stations for cleaning and processing fish. Small farmers who lost their harvests will be assisted with sustainable farming techniques to help improve their crops and make them less vulnerable to natural disasters. (…) With this loan IFAD will have financed four projects in the Republic of Maldives for a total of $10.2 million dollars. For more information: Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes email@example.com
Organic World Congress: IFAD experiences from India and China
Adelaide, 20-23 September – The advantages of organic agriculture, which excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetically modified organisms and pharmaceuticals, will be discussed at the Organic World Congress in Adelaide, Australia from 20 to 23 September. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will participate in the congress, along with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The congress will be hosted by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA). Participants will debate and discuss the important role that organic systems play in ensuring long-term sustainability, in line with the congress theme “Shaping Sustainable Systems”.(…) In China and India, organic production is growing steadily. The value of Chinese exports grew from less than US$1 million in the mid-1990s to about US$142 million in 2003 and were expected to reach US$200 million in 2004, with more than 1,000 companies and farms certified. (…) IFAD has found that organic agriculture can be particularly useful in environments where resources are scarce and cultivation is problematic. The emerging market opportunities for organics appear to be conducive for the adoption of organic agriculture among small-scale farmers in India and China. (…)
In Afghanistan, Lower Opium Cultivation and Declining Drug Incomes in 2005 Break Four-Year Trend -- First Improvement Since Fall of Taliban
UNODC Executive Director Calls for the Removal of Officials Involved in Deadly Trade
Vienna, 20 September (UN Information Service) - Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), offered the first complete analysis of the 2005 opium situation in Afghanistan at the RIA - Novosti in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, 20 September at 13:00 hours. According to UNODC's Afghanistan Opium Survey 2005, to be published in late September, opium cultivation is down this year by 21 per cent, from 131,000 to 104,000 hectares (ha). Also, fewer households were involved in opium production (-13 per cent), revenues from drugs were lower (-3.5 per cent), and Afghanistan's legal economy continued to grow significantly (10.4 per cent). "This is the best drug-related news since the fall of the Taliban," said Mr. Costa. "This year, we saw how well the stick and carrot approach really works. The fear that authorities would eradicate the opium crops made it riskier for farmers to cultivate poppies. At the same time, income support in the countryside gave farmers an opportunity to engage in other, legal activities. Of course, one year does not make a trend, but these policies are working."(…) UNODC reports that cultivation declined most in regions that benefited most from economic assistance. "Illicit though it is, in many parts of Afghanistan, opium is the only commercially viable crop. It is no surprise, therefore, that the three provinces that received the greatest volumes of income support in 2005 - Nangarhar, Badakhshan and Hilmand - curbed cultivation the most. (…)
Mauritania: organising women in the informal economy – a success story
Brussels, 16 September (ICFTU OnLine) - The CGTM, the Mauritanian trade union centre affiliated to the ICFTU, has achieved remarkable results within the campaign to organise women in the Maghreb launched by the ICFTU in 2004. (…) Whether working the fields bordering the River Senegal, the dying workshops of Nouakchott or the market gardens of Akjoujt, the protagonists of this latest briefing are the women waging the day-to-day battle to scrape a living for themselves and their families and clinging to the hope that trade union solidarity will bring them a better life.
"Being able to recruit thousands of poor workers in the informal economy is an important step forward for us; it gives us credibility as a major player in the fight against poverty," insists Abdallahi Ould Mohamed, known as Nahah, General Secretary of the CGTM (*). "The aim is not only to ensure an improvement in the working conditions of these women but also in their living conditions, which will benefit their families too. Informal workers are extremely poor people, and the reason these women flooded to our union is because they were carried by the hope of an improvement - however small - in their conditions, which are extremely difficult at the moment."
The ICFTU (The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) represents 145 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 154 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org
Africa can move faster on MDGs, says report
Addis Ababa, 13 September – A new report on the Millennium Development Goals published by the Economic Commission for Africa says that despite widespread pessimism, some African countries are on course to meet key Goals and that with the right policies, many more could meet the target date of 2015. The report says countries such as Ghana, Botswana, Uganda and Burkina Faso are likely to achieve Goal One of halving poverty by the deadline. Many more countries remain far behind, but the report argues that their governments can be successful at reducing extreme poverty if they use the MDGs as a tool in shaping their development policies. The report, entitled ‘The Millennium Development Goals in Africa – Progress and Challenges”, has been issued to coincide with the World Summit at UN headquarters in New York from 14-16 September.(…)
EI-Novib Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme: first foundation stone for school laid down in Aceh
21 September - In their mission from 12-15 September to the disaster-affected areas in the Aceh province of Indonesia, Education International General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen and Novib (Oxfam Netherlands) Executive Director Sylvia Borren laid the foundation stone in the ceremony that marks the first school to be rebuilt in the area.
As part of the EI-Novib Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme, 28 schools are to be rebuilt in Aceh, Indonesia. All 28 schools will be primary schools, each equipped with 6 classrooms.
An important feature of the EI-Novib programme is the involvement of local communities in the reconstruction process. Each school will be located where they would help local communities to rebuild their life. Actual construction work will be supervised by ILO technical officers but performed by local professionals from an NGO and from the communities themselves. To make sure that children can return to school as soon as possible, the target construction period is 7 months. The programme will also provide training for local teachers. (…)
Counterpart Teams with Somalia Diaspora
Volunteers abound in Minnesota to send much-needed help home to the African nation
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, September 18 – Children's books and medical stethoscopes are equally familiar objects to Abdurashid Ali, the president of Somali Family Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, he knows many people back in his homeland of Somalia are not as fortunate. Along with other concerned Somali Diaspora volunteers, Ali and Somali Family Services, working with Books for Africa and Counterpart International, helped load a forty-foot container with more than US$110,000 worth of such commodities to be sent to Somalia. The shipment, which included six pallets of primary school books, medical supplies and equipment, was loaded at the Rotary Hospital Medical Supplies for International Distribution site in St. Paul.
Organizing the logistics was Rang Hee Kim, program manager and export specialist with Counterpart's Humanitarian Assistance Programs who comments, "After years of droughts and floods, Somalia's difficulties were only complicated by the tsunami last year. The Diaspora in Minnesota has teamed up with Counterpart and Somali Family Services to send critically-needed items so their families back in Somalia can resume a normal life."
Since 2000, Counterpart has delivered more than $1.7 million worth of humanitarian assistance to Somalia. (…)
Caritas Officials on front lines of Tsunami relief efforts to meet in Rome
Vatican City, 16 September – Caritas officials from those counties most devastated by last year’s Tsunami in Southeast Asia will be in Rome next week for a strategy meeting aimed at strengthening on-going, multi-million dollar efforts to re-build homes and communities.
Officials from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand will be at Caritas Internationalis (CI) headquarters from 20-21 September to meet with scores of other Caritas agencies from around the world that have contributed to the Confederation’s Tsunami emergency operation.
CI has raised some US $450 million as a key part of the Catholic Church’s commitment to “accompany” the people of the affected areas.
Among the more than 60 participants at the gathering next Tuesday and Wednesday will be representatives from donor agencies in various countries of Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
The two-day meeting will discuss effective ways to continue constructing earthquake-resistant houses and community infrastructure, creating jobs, and providing social assistance. It will also look at specific challenges such as land purchases for new housing and plans for marking the first anniversary of the 26 December 2004 tsunami.
Florida Rotary members help shelter thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana
Lakewood Ranch, Florida, USA, September 15 - For more than two weeks, west-central Florida Rotary club members have quietly but efficiently worked to provide temporary shelter for thousands of people displaced by hurricane Katrina.
Their efforts have sent nearly 1,000 shelter boxes -- each pre-packaged box containing tents and supplies to accommodate 20 people -- to hurricane-ravaged communities in Mississippi and Louisiana and to communities receiving evacuees from the affected region. Another 250 boxes reached the disaster zone via Rotary clubs in Great Britain, where the ShelterBox program originated.
“This is the first time shelter boxes have been needed in the United States,” says Jerry Hearn, a member of the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota. The 60-member club has made the ShelterBox USA program its ongoing community service project for several years, sending the boxes worldwide to help victims of manmade and natural disasters, including the tsunami that hit South Asia in December 2004. (…)
Liberia: ICRC distributes seeds and tools in Nimba County
2 September - Struggling against the poor state of the roads after continuous rainfall, the ICRC has just ended a series of food and seed distributions to 46,000 returnees (7,700 households) in the southern part of Nimba County. These distributions are in line with the mission of the ICRC to alleviate the suffering of the population during or after conflict. In total, 240 metric tonnes of food and seeds plus 20,000 tools were delivered to communities most in need. The tools will be used for farming and rebuilding homes.
"These distributions will enable farmers to start planting the local variety of rice seeds and help them move towards sustaining their lives which depend mainly on agricultural activities," says Martin Bissig, ICRC relief coordinator.
This particular area of Nimba is considered a priority in terms of the vulnerability of the returning population who, in most cases, come back home empty handed. (…)
ICAF announces Katrina Healing Arts Program to benefit kids
Dr. Ashfaq Ishaq, Executive Director of the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF), announced the launch of the Katrina Healing Arts Program at the XIII World Congress of Psychiatry in Cairo, Egypt. (…) ICAF is well positioned to transfer the experience and knowledge gained in South Asia to benefit the children directly affected by Katrina. Volunteers and donations are needed to provide art workshops and art therapy programs to these young survivors. Volunteers with professional experience or training in art therapy are requested to email their curriculum vitae to firstname.lastname@example.org . Financial donations may be made by check payable to ICAF for the Katrina Healing Arts Program, and mailed to 1350 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20036. Donations can also be made online at www.icaf.org.
ICAF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prepare children for a creative and cooperative future by employing the visual and digital arts to heal, inspire and unify children across the globe. (…) To see the artworks produced through the Healing Arts for Tsunami Survivors program, go to:
Thailand’s US$ 10 million kick-starts UNESCAP Tsunami regional trust
Bangkok 26.September (UN Information Services) -- A regional trust fund to support tsunami early warning arrangements in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia is being launched today with a US$ 10 million contribution by the Government of Thailand. The fund will be managed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), which is the regional arm of the United Nations for Asia and the Pacific. The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr. Kantathi Suphamongkhon, and H.E. Dr. Kim Hak-Su, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, will sign the trust fund agreement on 26 September 2005 at a ceremony at the Ministry. The trust fund will contribute to the broader United Nations response to the tsunami by supporting development of a regional early warning system that would take the form of a network of national and regional centres. The fund will assist these centres to build capacity in terms of technologies, organizational arrangements and expertise. Thailand is cooperating with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), an international entity situated in Thailand, in establishing one such regional centre.(…)
EU Commission to Support Palestinians with €280 million in 2005
September 19 - On the eve of the Quartet meeting (EU, US, UN and Russia) in New York on September 20, 2005, the European Commission can announce that its allocation to the Palestinians in 2005 will be greater than foreseen, at around €280 million (€1=$1.22). This package includes a substantial contribution to tackling the priorities identified by Quartet Special Envoy James Wolfensohn in the aftermath of the Israelis’ withdrawal from Gaza. A special €60 million allocation will help revive the Palestinian economy and create institutions capable of addressing the new responsibilities arising from disengagement. These efforts are designed to maintain the momentum created by Gaza withdrawal, and to ensure that this important event leads on to full implementation of the Roadmap.
In New York for the Quartet meeting and the UN Ministerial week, EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner commented: “Only Israel and Palestine can make peace – but Europe is playing its part in the international Quartet to create the environment in which peace can take root.” (…)
Iraq: Iraqi Red Crescent Society and ICRC help displaced families in Tal-Afar
16 September - The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) estimates at around 5,000 the number of families from Tal-Afar in northern Iraq that have had to flee their homes and take refuge in surrounding towns and villages following the escalation of violence in the city. While some are staying with friends or relatives, others are living in abandoned villages or small camps, with no access to such basic items as food, water or bedding. The IRCS has set up camps around Tal-Afar to host displaced families.
The ICRC has supplied the IRCS’s Mosul branch with 5,000 individual food baskets, 1,000 jerrycans, 1,000 buckets, 1,000 blankets, 100 tents, 600 kerosene stoves and 600 hygiene kits. In addition, the ICRC has supplied 50 stretchers to the IRCS and 50 to the Directorate of Health.
Since the start of the military operation in Tal-Afar in July, the ICRC has been providing 900 families with 180,000 litres of drinking water a day.
The ICRC is endeavouring to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of people affected by the hostilities in Iraq, working in close collaboration with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. It calls on all those involved in the fighting to respect the basic rules of international humanitarian law that are applicable in Iraq. This includes taking every feasible precaution to spare civilians and to ensure that the principles of distinction and proportionality are respected in all military operations.
DVD on animal mine detection
Geneva, 21 September - The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) has published a series of three short films on animal mine detection, available as a DVD.
Animals are an important tool for deminers because, “they have a keen sense of smell and they work faster and more cost efficient than manual demining. Dogs are at their best in low density minefields. Reducing the area to pinpointed threats is a time consuming process for manual demining, and dogs can do the job much more quickly”, says Dr. Ian G. Mc Lean, a mine dog specialist from the GICHD.
One of the films describes a relatively new technology, Remote Explosive Scent Tracing (REST), which involves bringing the odour of the minefield to a detection animal working elsewhere. “Although first used 15 years ago, this technology was never properly developed. Recently, the GICHD has been supporting further developments and deployments, and the REST concept is now gaining acceptance.” (…)
Designed primarily to support training, the films are each 30 minutes long, and are on training and deployment of mine detection animals, remote detection using animals and vapour detection.
The DVD is available free of charge to the general public and to the mine action community and can be ordered online at http://www.gichd.ch/482.0.html It can be broadcast without restrictions by private and public television stations, as long as the copy-right of the GICHD is acknowledged.
CEC seeks comments on children’s health and environment report
Montreal, 20 September – For the 125 million children in North America, the physical environment where they live, learn and play is an important determinant of their health and well-being. The relationship between environmental risk and children's health is examined in the first-ever regional report on indicators of children's health and the environment, prepared by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
The CEC is seeking public comments on the draft report, entitled Children's Health and the Environment in North America: A first report on Available Indicators and Measures. The report presents national data on thirteen indicators in three general areas - asthma and respiratory disease, the effects of lead and other toxics (including pesticides), and waterborne disease-and is derived from the material contained in "Country Reports" that were prepared by the national governments. (…)
The goal of this new CEC report is to provide decision-makers and the public with information on the status of key parameters related to children's health and the environment in North America as a means of measuring and promoting change.
This CEC-led effort also forms part of the Global Initiative on Children's Environmental Health Indicators as endorsed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Global Initiative is led by the World Health Organization, with support from the US Environmental Protection Agency. As such this report represents a significant regional learning opportunity that may inform similar projects in other parts of the world.
Project HOPE’s Director, HIV/AIDS Programs Receives International Honor
September 20, Millwood, Va., USA – Project HOPE congratulates Dr. Renslow Sherer, Director, HIV/AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infections Programs, on a remarkable recognition by his peers. On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) has selected, from its membership of 12,800, just 50 individuals to be conferred honorary lifetime memberships. Dr. Sherer is one of the 24 Americans selected for this honor. (…)
Dr. Sherer has been a primary caregiver for persons with HIV disease since 1982. He has been a leader in Chicago in HIV prevention, care, research, training, and health policy. (…) He has numerous national and international publications and presentations on the clinical and social impact of the HIV pandemic. He led the clinical team that designed the CORE Center, a model ambulatory facility for HIV and related infectious diseases that opened in Chicago in October, 1998. (…)
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in 33 countries across five continents. For more information, please visit www.projecthope.org.
"Treat every child as your own" campaign launch
The "Treat every child as your own" campaign was launched by the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS on 16 September, during the 2005 World Summit. The campaign aims to prevent new infections among young people, and particularly to protect children affected by the disease from stigma. At the event, UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot and Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, together with Mrs Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda and President of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS, signed an agreement to strengthen collaboration and to provide technical guidance and assistance with resource mobilization as well as monitoring and evaluation of the campaign's impact.
New Partnership Promises Universal Push to Save the Lives of Women and Children
United Nations, New York, 12 September - Millions of women and children worldwide will enjoy a better chance of survival thanks to a new global initiative announced at an official side event of the 2005 World Summit. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health will mobilize global and local commitment and action to reduce deaths among mothers and children, promote universal coverage of essential interventions, and advocate for increased resources for these efforts. (…) Speaking on behalf of five United Nations agencies involved in the new initiative, Ms. Obaid said: “We are committed to working together to scale up action to achieve Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] 4 and 5 to dramatically reduce child and maternal mortality by 2015. This is a major effort, and no one agency can do it alone. Commitment and partnership are essential.” The United Nations partners include: UNFPA; the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the World Health Organization (WHO); and the World Bank. Estimates show that ensuring the access of women and couples to voluntary family planning could reduce maternal deaths by 20 to 35 per cent, and child deaths by as much as 20 per cent, according to Ms. Obaid. “ (…) The Partnership includes a number of countries, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, donors, academic institutions and other parties concerned with maternal and child health. (…)
Solar cooker in Chad
A loose association of five German nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) has formed the PapiTchad Work Group to promote the "Papillon" solar cooker in Chad and evaluate the results. The Papillon is essentially a parabolic cooker consisting of two reflective "wings" with a gap in between to allow for comfortable use by the cook and folding of the reflectors for transport and storage. The work group, in conjunction with a Chadian instructor, has provided construction courses for local craftsmen. PapiTchad is partnering with the Chadian Association of Volunteers for Progress and the Environment.
Derk Rijks of the KoZon Foundation began a small demonstration project in northern Chad at the Iridimi camp for refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan. Mr. Rijks took 100 "CooKits" — panel-type solar cookers developed by Solar Cookers International — to the camp. The project tested whether food donated to the refugees by the United Nations World Food Programme could be solar cooked and whether the refugees would accept solar cooking. Three CooKit trainers from N’Djamena, Chad — Marie-Rose Neloum, Martine Missal and Esther Ndoroumta — aided in the training. The refugee women were enthusiastic! They cooked rice, maize and sorghum porridge, legumes, dried fish and okra sauces. Staff members from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva were very helpful. Efforts are being made to expand the program. www.kozon.org
Solar Cooker Review, http://solarcooking.org/newsletters/scrjul05.htm#News_you_send
New movie explains urban water conservation to Nepalese television viewers
Kathmandu, 22 September – A new movie explaining the importance of urban water conservation based on a love story has been aired to a nationwide television audience in Nepal as part of a campaign to help broaden public understanding of clean water and sanitation. The television movie “Jalpari”, was directed by the comedians Madan K. Shrestha and Haribansa Acharya, both of whom acted out the story of the girl Jalpari whose parents would not let her a marry a Kathmandu boy because of water scarcity in the city. Newspapers said the September 17 show had not only drawn 60 percent of the nationwide television audience, but that it had conveyed the message on rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling techniques in a delightful and entertaining story which ended happily when the Jalpari’s parents finally agreed to the marriage after seeing how the boy’s family had adopted proper water conservation techniques at home. (...)
Solar Cooking in Haiti
Communities in Partnership, a Canadian organization that promotes solar cooking in Haiti, has introduced a new twist — the "Kyoto Twist." Canada’s government is encouraging its citizens to fight global climate change by reducing individual emissions of greenhouse gasses by one ton per year. Solar cookers in developing countries that displace the use of firewood save an estimated one to two tons of greenhouse gasses per year. The Kyoto Twist — named for the world’s greenhouse gas reduction treaty — enables Canadians to buy a solar cooker for a family in Haiti. The Haitian family gets immediate relief from firewood scarcity, high fuel prices and smoky kitchens, while the Canadian chalks up at least a one-ton reduction in greenhouse gasses. Contact: Jack Anderson, email@example.com
Solar Cooker Review, http://solarcooking.org/newsletters/scrjul05.htm#News_you_send
Deserts, Drylands and Desertification Through the Eyes of Children
15th International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment
Nairobi, 23 September – Children from around the world are being invited to express their hopes and fears about the future of the world's deserts and the issue of desertification in general in this year's International Painting Competition on the Environment. The Competition is organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment (FGPE), Bayer AG and the Nikon Corporation. It has been held annually since 1990 and in that time has received over 160,000 entries from children in over 100 countries. (…)
The theme of this year’s Competition is Deserts and Desertification, mirroring the fact that 2006 has been designated the International year of Deserts and Desertification and it is also the theme for World Environment Day 2006. The issue of desertification concerns the entire planet. Around 1/3 of the world's population live in drylands. Their degradation and desertification is a very real threat to people's lives and livelihoods, as well as to the health of the planet as a whole. (…) Children who will be between the ages of 6 and 14 years on World Environment Day 2006 (5 June 2006) from all regions of the world are invited to submit their paintings on the theme to their Regional UNEP Office by 20 January 2006. (…)
WWF associate organization acquires biodiversity-rich coastline in Argentina's Patagonian region
Buenos Aires, 21 September – WWF's associate organization, Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina (FVSA), has recently acquired land in Patagonia in the southern Argentinian province of Chubut. The acquisition of the 7,360ha San Pablo de Valdés wildlife reserve, which includes 12km of pristine coastline, gives FVSA access to management decisions in the nearby Valdés Peninsula protected area and UNESCO World Heritage site."In this way, FVSA will contribute, with all the actors involved, to achieve the effective management and implementation of this unique area," said Javier Corcuera, FVSA's CEO. “FVSA and WWF want to ensure that this environmental jewel shines.”
Peninsula Valdés is marked by its vibrant coastlines, a stunning array of tall cliffs, rocky reef and exotic marine mammals, including the southern elephant seal, sea lion, southern right whale, and Magellan penguins. The area is also home to more than 60 species of birds, as well as several species of terrestrial mammals, such as the grey fox, guanaco, and mara.
FVSA will concentrate its efforts on the effective management of San Pablo de Valdés through responsible tourism and monitoring species with high conservation value.
Through a “Save Valdés” project, FVSA-WWF, in collaboration with the government and local community, will design and build a visitors centre in the whale-watching town of Puerto Pirámides. Other project activities with partners include a sustainable tourism plan for Valdés and improving codes of conduct for whale and dolphin watching.
2010 sustainability targets achievable - with effort
Brussels, September 12 - The European chlor-alkali industry made continued progress last year towards sustainability goals set for 2010. In particular, energy consumption, environmental emissions and workplace accidents, particularly by contractors, were all reduced. However, there was a small increase in the number of process incidents and progress slowed on completion of hazard assessments for 29 chlorinated substances with eight still in progress. (…)
During 2004, Euro Chlor set an additional new 15th environmental performance indicator for the industry - all 41 producer members in the EU-25 countries, Norway and Switzerland must gain EMAS (Eco-Management & Audit Scheme) and/or ISO 14001 (International Organisation for Standardisation) environmental accreditation for their plants by 2010. Currently 59 of the 74 plants operated by Euro Chlor members are accredited to one or other standard.
Of the 14 established indicators, the most important economic improvement - with environmental overtones - has been in reducing energy usage. Compared with the base year 2001 (3,632 kWh per tonne of chlorine produced), energy consumed per tonne dropped to 3,505 kWh by 2003 and decreased to 3,491 kWh in 2004. This represents a 3.3% reduction against a target of 5.0% for 2010. (…)
WFP supports BBC in school twinning initiative
London, 23 September - WFP has joined forces with the BBC to promote partnership and dialogue between school children in Africa and Britain. WFP has used its contacts with African schools in Lesotho, Malawi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo to facilitate “school twinning” arrangements between Africa and Britain. The BBC “World Class” initiative is seeking to twin 1000 British schools with partners across the African continent. (…) The BBC, working in conjunction with the British Council, will seek to link the British schools with counterparts in Africa, helping them to establish an appropriate channel of communication and establish a dialogue between the two. The BBC says its “World Class” initiative will develop relationships, enrich learning and enhance understanding between school children in Britain and Africa. Schools participating in the twinning programme will be encouraged to share their experiences and celebrate the culture of the countries they come from. (…)
Canadian teachers support Education International’s solidarity fund
22 September - Members of Canadian EI affiliate the CTF have launched a fundraising initiative to assist those affected by hurricane Katrina.To celebrate World Teachers' Day on 5th October, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union is selling bookmarks to raise awareness of the plight of teachers and education workers of the American Southeast in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The money raised will be distributed through Education International's Solidarity fund to support those teachers and education workers and their families most adversely affected by the disaster.
It is estimated that, as a result of hurricane Katrina which hit the US golf coast on 29 th August, as many as 250,000 elementary and secondary school students are out of school and 75,000 university and college students are unable to access their campuses. Due to relocation of students, other states are feeling the strain to their education systems.
EI launched a Hurricane Katrina Disaster Appeal on 8th September. More details are available here http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/20050922.htm For more information about World Teachers' Day, please visit www.ei-ie.org/worldteachersday
Saudi Arabia provides US$ 15 million to UNESCO programme for students and universities in the Palestinian Territories
15 September - The Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People yesterday committed US$15.2 million to a UNESCO programme to benefit Palestinian universities and students in need. The programme will be implemented immediately out of UNESCO’s office in the Palestinian city of Ramallah. The programme will provide direct financial support to 11 Palestinian universities and to Palestinian students in need who are enrolled in those universities and in leading post-secondary colleges. The Saudi grant will also be used to assist the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education in creating a student aid system. Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Azziz, the Saudi Minister of the Interior who is also the Director-General of the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People; the Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura represented by Ahmed Sayyad, the Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Cooperation; and the Palestinian Minister for Education and Higher Education, Naim Abu-Humos signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the programme in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) yesterday. (…)
Awards ceremony for journalists’ use of ICTs
Addis Ababa, 13 September - ECA and its partners this year will present awards to African journalists who, in their opinion, have made significant strides in promoting the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the continent. The annual African Information Society Initiative (AISI) media awards will be presented tonight, 13 September, during a conference of African journalists underway in Grahamstown, South Africa. (…) The Highway Africa Conference - which this year is taking place from 12-16 September - brings together the largest number of African journalists. (…) "The media awards, now in their third year are given by ECA and its partners to African journalists who have made significant efforts in reporting on a non-traditional area - ICT for development," explained Aida Opoku-Mensah, Officer-in-Charge of ECA's Development Information Services Division (DISD).The partners involved in the endeavour include German Technical Corporation (GTZ), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Institute for Information Communication and Development (IICD) and the Open society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).(…)
Moldova: Talking About Reproductive Health - in Schools and with Peers
Drepcauti, Moldova, 2 September - Traditionally, reproductive health, family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections were not subjects for open discussion among adults, let alone students, in this largely rural, conservative area. But this town now hosts a groundbreaking family life education project that has managed to get people talking about these sensitive, but important, subjects. They were not easy topics to broach. “We did have problems in the beginning,” says Vitalie Lemni, the principal of the town's secondary school. “Initially, many people here did not understand what we were trying to do in introducing these subjects. Some thought we were promoting sex among adolescents.” But the Drepcauti school district overcame the initial fears by initiating an outreach programme that paid attention to the community's concerns. Trained community volunteers, along with selected teachers, lobbied influential political and religious leaders, convincing them that family life education would be good for the community. (…) “UNFPA's role here has been vital in getting this project approved by the authorities and also in providing us with teaching materials, supplies and a computer with Internet connections,” says Lemni. “The Fund also arranged for medical doctors to deliver illustrated lectures on reproductive health to the faculty, students and their parents.”
The pilot project on family life education began in 2004 and finished in the summer of 2005, covering 35 schools across the country. (…) UNFPA has been instrumental in helping the Ministry of Education develop teacher's training manuals and student handbooks. (…)
Australian and Belarus Youth Campaigners participated in the 3rd World Youth Congress in Scotland
Author: Iouri Zagoumennov <izaglmSPAMFLTER@SPATMFLTERyahoo.com> .
Scotland, September 1 - The 3rd World Youth Congress was hosted by Scotland from July 31 to August 8 and attracted an unprecedented level of global interest. The organizers received over 4,000 applications from over 150 countries - four times the number for the previous event in Morocco. From those applications, 600 young people were selected to attend the Congress.
Some of the world's most dynamic and socially-aware young people came together to discuss and plan youth-led action, to promote the implementation of the UN Millennium goals, and to build stronger communities without damaging the environment. Among the participants were representatives from the Australian and Belarus Youth Campaigns to Ban Landmines who shared with the other international youth leaders their experiences and successes in promoting the mine ban in their countries and worldwide. The Belarus campaigner also participated in the gala concert and performed the song “Mine-Free World” which was composed by his rock group ZIGZAG, and was warmly received by the international delegates. The music video for this song will soon be available via the ICBL web site.
Earth Charter in Action book will be launched 7 - 9 November
Celebrating five years of the Earth Charter
“Toward A Sustainable World: The Earth Charter In Action”. Prefaces by Mikhail Gorbachev and Maurice F. Strong, Foreword by Wangari Maathai, Afterword by Princess Basma Bint Talal
Toward a Sustainable World: The Earth Charter in Action is a collection of thematic and descriptive essays inspired by the Earth Charter. The book is organized by the structure of the Earth Charter and demonstrates the rich diversity of its uses, principle by principle. It points toward the many possibilities for future utilization to work across faith traditions, nations, and generations, and the northern and southern hemispheres.
Well-known contributors include Homero Aridjis, A.T. Ariyaratne, Leonardo Boff, Kamla Chowdhry, Jane Goodall, Yolanda Kakabadse, Ruud Lubbers, Federico Mayor, Steven C. Rockefeller, and Erna Witoelar. Contributors are practitioners, experts, and Earth Charter activists from around the world. There is a special emphasis on contributions from youth. The editorial team included Peter Blaze Corcoran, Chief Editor; Mirian Vilela; and Alide Roerink. (…)
This book demonstrates the rich diversity of uses of the Earth Charter and points toward its many future possibilities. Thematic and descriptive essays and artwork from around the world inspired by the Earth Charter will be included in the book.
KIT Publishers in Amsterdam in cooperation with the Earth Charter International Secretariat in San Jose, Costa Rica and the National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO), Amsterdam, the Netherlands, will edit and publish the book. The retail price for the book will be € 25, but substantial discount is offered for institutions and companies that are willing to buy larger amounts of books
10th International Congress “Education for World Citizens” - 17-22 October, Samara, Russia
In the framework of the Decade of culture of peace and nonviolence «Through Education for World Citizens - to Culture of Peace»
The Aim: creating conscious humanity and a new society for Peace by means of Education and Culture based on unlimited inner potential of every human being.
· To create a net of informational scientific cultural and educational model communities all over the world.
· To share visions, actions and adopt Education for World Citizens Declaration
· To bring together people who are ready to act together for co creating a joint project for integrating our visions and actions for culture of peace
· To accept a program of integrated actions (2005 – 2012)
· To create “Planet 3000” international ream
The congress is conducted by international team of educators who have KNOW HOW of new educational technologies of consent and developing cooperation. (…)
Brazil - 24th Gandhi Week, October 2005
Our traditional Gandhi Week is designed to make Brazilians grow familiar with non-violent action as a means for social transformation: one of the greatest innovations in the political scene of the XX century, brought about by Mahatma Gandhi. This year celebrations will begin on Oct. 2 and end on Oct 30. Three Brazilian states and 21 cities will be involved. Over 150 venues will welcome activities related to the Mahatma’s life and ideals: all of them are open to the public in general and are free of charge. They are coordinated by Associação Palas Athena and entirely carried out by volunteers, and by means of partnerships and cooperation. (…)
14 thousand children, of 100 governmental and private schools, will engage in research and debate, and participate to literary contests held by the Municipal Education Departments of their cities in partnership with Associação Palas Athena. In order to prepare teachers for this task, a kit with books and articles on Gandhi, and also documentary videos (10 min. each) that approach violence from the biological, philosophical and legal standpoints were arranged. The 24th Gandhi Week counts with institutional support from UNESCO, and reflects the belief that “Gandhi’s greatest accomplishments are yet to come”, and depend to a great extent on each one of us.
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OUR CHALLENGE: VOICES FOR PEACE, PARTNERSHIPS AND RENEWAL
by Lesley Vann
In this challenging and sensitive period for humanity, hope for the future is needed alongside tangible manifestations that progress toward planetary sustainability, equity, understanding and unity, also is evident. This year’s United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) Conference for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) presented on many levels the vision for global partnerships, renewal and peace. Engaging more than 3500 conference participants with speakers from the UN and its specialized agencies, government, academia, the private sector and NGOs, the result was a diverse, fruitful admixture. The group clearly represented the segment of humanity focused on the resolution of suffering and the fostering of global progress on all fronts. This was a group of doers, a group seeking to “hold the vision before the eyes of humanity” so this commitment to global progress could be worked into reality.
Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor opened the General Session with the statement this 2005 Conference was different from prior Conferences because of the inextricable linkage of governance issues with Conference themes. This Conference is tied to the intergovernmental process and recent reports, such as the Cardozo Report. The ensuing UN Summit of world leaders – the largest single gathering of world leaders in history -- also addressed this. In the sweep of meetings from this NGO Conference, to the subsequent UN Summit, to the UN General Assembly and The Clinton Global Initiative, what we are witnessing is the increasing dialogue between UN staff, global leaders and “we the peoples” via their NGOs. These voices are becoming increasingly interwoven and mutually relevant. The quest for global partnership is forging ahead.
President of the UN General Assembly Jean Ping next welcomed the group, urging its decisions regarding the future of the United Nations and global governance. “We are working together toward a true Culture of Peace,” he said. “This Conference represents a true contribution to the ongoing work of the reform of the UN System, the strengthening of the UNO and of global human rights and freedoms. These are essential for our shared future.”
Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, next welcomed this large group, saying the UN needs reform and revitalization as well as economic, civil and political rights for all. The disastrous recent events make clear our shared mandate. “Only if the entire UN System works together with Civil Society will we succeed.” To assure a thriving UN System Mr. Egeland suggested several points that included a major upgrade of the global humanitarian system. This would enhance the UN’s response capacity and apparatus. Predictable funding is essential, he said. With the proposed central fund, aid agencies will be able to jumpstart crises, offering aid during times of urgency. NGOs and governments in partnership can best provide humanitarian assistance.
Mr. Egeland proceeded with a call to action: “Africa is the continent of the future. It is home of one of the most promising generations of new civil society organizations. But alongside this promise 20 million lives are in peril. This is the silent tsunami at this time. Each year hundreds of thousands of children die from preventable causes, mostly preventable disease and malnutrition.” In the tsunami relief we saw the common work of a united humanity – all working toward the same goals. In places like Darfur, Nepal and Indonesia there are countless local NGOs where people sacrificially place their lives on the line to serve populations at risk. NGOs need to commit to coordination and information sharing to reap the benefits that coordination provides. The tsunami showed us that receiving the benefits of aid brings accountability and responsibility. Public funds must be used in a transparent and accountable manner. This too is an area inviting global partnerships. Humanitarian service requires all our efforts. We need to match political efforts with a specific humanitarian and moral response. The response we had in the tsunami cannot be the exception, it must be the rule, Mr. Egeland admonished. For example we must recognize 3.8 million deaths in the last seven years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We must respond to suffering everywhere – as we do currently in Somalia, Sudan, etc. Our generation has no more worthy goal or aspiration. From Niger to New Orleans to North Korea the suffering of our fellow creatures calls all of us to respond. We need a UN that can work with all – and these are our goals, Mr. Egeland said.
A UN that works for all was the premise for this 2005 DPI NGO Conference. This theme was echoed by Ms. Wahu Kaara, coordinator of the Kenya Debt Relief Network. She works with A Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), which she says has become a united global movement. “Freedom is under challenge. The word has been hijacked in recent times; but those who nurture and breathe life into humanity are moving the call for human progress forward. We hope we will break the rigid walls surrounding us. No wonder we are caught in a cyclic debate between poverty reduction and poverty eradication. Economic and social development are what must be discussed. Of course debts must be forgiven and we need international taxes and international distribution of income. These and others are important criteria if we hope to build a shared world.” Ms. Kaara underscored that no government should call for the deletion of Millennium Development Goal reports and outcomes from the UN Summit Report. She called for the implementation of recommendations by Jeffrey Sachs and others in their work with the United Nations Millennium Project and Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “We must rise up and agree we have created poverty from a view of scarcity. But we must change that paradigm.” A thunder of applause followed Ms. Kaara’s remarks. Mr. Tharoor then emphasized Gandhi’s quote that all actions must be weighed by how they would affect the poorest among us.
This vision of partnership with shared global responsibility was echoed by Joan Levy, Chair, NGO/DPI Executive Committee, who described the broad work that engages NGOs within the UN, The Dag Hammarskjöld Centenary, and NGOs’ ongoing communication, outreach and partnerships. Ms. Levy described how DPI’s weekly NGO Briefings provide updates and calls to action within and between groups and the United Nations. The UN’s NGO website also provides broad resources (http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/). Ms. Levy asked attendees to consider how partnerships can be forged locally, nationally and globally to advance shared concerns and goals, emphasizing cooperative collaborations in a spirit of goodwill. "Goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world." (Alice A. Bailey) Goodwill can be said to demonstrate partnership in action.
This theme of goodwill and partnerships in UN Reform and the implementation of the MDGs resounded in the remarks of Joseph Donelly, Chair, 58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference. Every voice counts, he assured the group. We can say that the MDG implementation deadline of “2015 is now, 2015 is today, it is upon us, and what will we do?” He invited the group to seize this opportunity and this Conference in a way we have never done before. It is time to break all the records. Our challenge, he told us, is to see how we will use our voices for peace and partnerships, to see how we will make a better world – especially on the eve of the UN Summit.
The three days included morning and afternoon panel sessions, midday NGO interactive workshops and multi-stakeholder dialogues, participatory roundtable discussions, and intermittent plenary sessions and keynote addresses. These covered the gamut of titles from Peace Building and Community Well-Being: the Importance of Media Collaboration and Strategies; Human Rights and Dignity for All: Youth Engagement in the Peace Process; Collective Security: the Priorities of Civil Society; A Dialogue: The Future of the United Nations; Envisioning A Secure World; Spare No Effort: 2015 Is Now; We The Peoples: Every Voice Counts; Achieving Collective Security: Partnerships to Prevent Fear, Violence, Genocide and Terrorism Through Targeting the MDGs, and many more, including a fruitful discussion on public education via websiste development, such as with www.chattheplanet.com
“One people, one purpose, one mind.” Secretary-General Kofi Annan roused the group, “You must make yourselves the guardians of the reforms of the international System. Let us again acknowledge the wisdom of the UN’s founders to insist upon NGO involvement…Please keep making your voices heard, loud and clear enough to lift the sky. And keep raising your voices after that, to hold governments to their promises and to help translate those promises into action.” Each of the following speakers repeatedly emphasized the imperative for global understanding, cooperation and the sacrifice of all self-interest in our interdependent world: Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, Founder and Former President, National Association in Support of Children’s Rights, President, Human Rights Defence Centre, Iran; Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor, International Criminal Court; Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime; Gareth Evans, President and Chief Executive, International Crisis Group; Daniel Opande, Former Force Commander, UN Mission in Liberia; Jean Ping, President of the 59th Session of the General Assembly, UN; Mark Malloch Brown, Chief de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, UN; Georg Kell, Executive Director, Global Compact, UN; Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General, UN; Melba Pria Olavarrieta, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization; Jan Eliasson, President-Elect, 60th of the General Assembly, UN; Felicity Hill, Political Adviser on Nuclear and Disarmament Issues, Greenpeace International; Ngozi Uti, Executive Director, Centre for Women’s Studies and Intervention, Abuja, Nigeria; Benjamin Quinto, Executive Director, Global Youth Action Network; Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development; Salil Shetty, United Nations Millennim Development Goals Campaign, United Nations Development Programme, and dozens more representing the thousands of NGOs present.
To reflect the diversity of global challenges and creative responses, the UN published in its Conference description the following: “In a world of shared threats and opportunities, all countries have a vested interest in overcoming obstacles to security, human rights and development. Broad and sustained global cooperation among States is crucial to ensure that people everywhere enjoy freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity. However, governments alone cannot accomplish these goals. Success depends on collective action among the United Nations, civil society, the private sector and inter-governmental institutions. Such partnerships are particularly important in a global world where traditional boundaries between the impact of public and private responsibilities have become increasingly blurred, and where threats to health, such as HIV/AIDS, the environment and climate change extend far beyond national boundaries.” The conference panel, “In Larger Freedom: The Challenge of Partnerships” underscored the above points. This panel “highlighted the challenges of forging effective partnerships for development. It (looked) at the efforts of governments, global corporations and civil society organizations to build capacity in developing countries, promote political stability and good governance, and encourage innovative solutions to common problems. These panel speakers discussed the importance of pooling financing and other resources such as intellectual capital, technology, expertise and delivery systems. The group highlighted the role of NGOs in promoting corporate social responsibility as well as the best practices of partnerships to improve public health, nutrition, education, the environment and standards of living worldwide. …”
“In 2005 we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver a modern Marshall plan for the developing world.” (Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK) The Millennium Development Goals require the political will of Member States for their implementation. Civil society organizations and NGOs in particular recognize their roles, indeed, responsibilities to mobilize this political will, working at the local and national level to promote democratic processes and good governance, advocate fair trade and labor laws, support financing for development initiatives, and end violence against women and children. Civil society organizations are deeply committed to ending extreme poverty, protecting the environment and mitigating the inequitable aspects of globalization. Many NGOs advocate that development issues be the central focus of the 2005 World Summit.” “The Millennium Campaign is something UNDP is strongly supporting as part of its ‘Core Program’ to reach out and assist the implementation of the MDGs. One of the features Jeffrey Sachs and his team working on the Millennium Project has been to uncover the paradigm that began with the belief that there were limited funds available to reach the MDGs. We must recognise this is really a very doable proposition. Thus we are putting in place programs allowing the Millennium Development Goals to go forward.”
Who can chart exactly the sweeping benefits of NGOs everyday around the world, and at the 2005 DPI NGO Conference with its merging of global voices and global aspirations? On September 25th The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund agreed to forgive the debts of many developing nations! “The path to complete debt relief now has been cleared. Across Africa and around the world, leaders in 38 countries will no longer have to choose between spending to benefit their people and repaying impossible debts, often the legacy of governments past.” (www.worldbank.org) And so with Mr. Donnelly we can conclude that “where alliances of civilization can bring and wield new life -- we must be the very renewal we promote. We must be the peace, we must be the change, we must be the transformation we serve. We should be proud of what we are but more so of what we can be. We must be part of the United Nations renewal that changes us as we ask others to change themselves and ask the United Nations to transform. We have a conference to go into and a world to go out to…. Let us assure every voice will count.”
(For more Conference information please see the following weblink: www.undpingoconference.org)
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Next issue: 28 October.
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