Good News Agency – Year VI, n° 13



Weekly - Year VI, number 13 – 29 October 2005

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 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




Economy and developmentSolidarityPeace and securityHealth

Environment and wildlifeReligion and spiritualityCulture and education



Economy and development



Lessons of experience: trade and development board hears that one-sixe-fits-all approach doesn’t work

14 October (…) UNCTAD´s Trade and Development Board (TDB), listening as expert panellists and representatives of developing countries reviewed the results during its annual session the past two weeks, heard a disillusioning message: Many of the globe´s least developed countries prettied themselves up as they were told to do, at great sacrifice. . . and still didn´t receive an invitation to the global economic dance. Their trade did not expand dramatically, foreign investment in many cases did not flood in, and where it did arrive it often was focused on "extractive industries" that used natural resources but did little to create jobs or spill over into boarder economic growth. (…)

Chastened and wiser, development experts and a series of government officials said during the TDB´s 3-14 October session that a current, temporary upswing in the economies of many developing nations - driven by demand from India and China for raw materials - should not be wasted. Plans for economic growth and development aid should be tailored to each country´s specific situation; poorer nations should focus on diversifying their economies; they should foster a domestic investment base that keeps profits at home; and they should temper the enticements they offer to foreign investors to avoid a "race to the bottom" . It was noted that even the current 4.4% growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the world´s least developed countries, or LDCs, are located, is not enough to significantly reduce poverty there or to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Many participants in the meeting -- while lauding recent international agreements to cancel the foreign debt burdens of many poor nations -- therefore called for expanded development aid from industrialized countries. (…) At the Board´s closing session, Secretary-General Supachai announced the appointment of an independent, seven-person panel to advise him on ways to make UNCTAD a more effective and prominent organization.


The US Proposal on agriculture has potential to push Doha Round negotiations to an ambitious conclusion

17 October (ECA) - The recent US proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the liberalization of international trade in agriculture has the potential of moving the Doha Round negotiations towards an ambitious and successful conclusion. However, analysis by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and its affiliate, the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) shows that the benefits likely to accrue to African countries from this proposal could be easily eroded depending on the treatment of “sensitive products.”

The US proposal, initially floated on the 10th October, proposes linear reductions on four tariff bands, with the highest tariff lines being subjected to the largest tariff reductions. At face value, this could be very beneficial to African exporters as it will greatly reduce tariffs payable on agricultural exports to rich countries, and would particularly reduce tariff peaks and other high tariffs. However, it is still not clear how the issues of sensitive and special products will be treated. (…)

The ECA analysis recommends that African trade negotiators should pay close attention to the list of sensitive products that will emerge in later stages of the negotiations. The ECA paper states that: “ the persisting result and conclusion is that any level of ambition is going to be eroded by high levels of sensitive products.” It further adds that if Africa loses potential gains from ambitious tariff cuts to sensitive products; the effect will be like giving with one hand and taking away with the other.(…)


New US$17.3 million loan to assist the rural poor in the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Rome, October 13 - More than 26,200 rural women and food insecure families will benefit from a new development programme in the poor districts of Attapeu and Sayabouri provinces in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The US$25.9 million programme will be financed in part by a US$17.3 million loan and US$693,000 grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). An additional US$1.3 million grant will be provided by the World Food Programme and US$2.0 million from the German Government through the German Agency for Technical Cooperation and the German Development Service. The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic will contribute US$3.4 million. Today’s loan agreement was signed by the IFAD President, Lennart Båge, and Soutsakhone Pathammavong , Ambassador of Lao People’s Democratic Republic to France , at IFAD Headquarters in Rome .

The programme will assist rural poor people, especially women, living in the uplands, including people who have moved recently from the remote uplands and resettled in more accessible areas. It will enable poor farmers to make better use of services and natural resources to increase their incomes and food security. Better roads will link remote villages to produce markets and help them generate more income. The programme will provide access to essential social services and strengthen the capacity of local community organisations to manage and plan development activities in their villages. (…)


New US$20 million project to support Government of Rwanda 's strategy to reduce poverty through improved agriculture

Rome, 7 October - More than 75,000 rural poor people in Rwanda will benefit from a project that will test innovative farming and livestock practices, strengthen the capacity of farmers associations and local government to deliver services and interact with central government offices, and build a knowledge management system to share technical innovations with farmers throughout the country. The project is being supported by a US$8.2 million loan and US$200,000 grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with cofinancing from the United Kingdom 's Department for International Development and the Government of the Netherlands . The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters by IFAD Vice President Cyril Enweze and Rwanda 's Minister of State for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Monique Nsanzabaganwa. (…)

The seven-year Support Project for the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture responds to a request by the Government to put some of the elements of their national strategy into action. The project will eventually contribute to a sector-wide approach to agriculture in the country, with support from multiple donors. (…)


Eating orange fights Vitamin A deficiency and poverty

Ouagadougou , Burkina Faso, October 7 – Helen Keller International (HKI) recently launched a four-year project, funded by The McKnight Foundation, to introduce and promote new varieties of orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes (OFSP) in Burkina Faso. Consumers in the United States are used to eating sweetpotatoes that are orange-fleshed and an excellent source of vitamin A, but, in most of the rest of the world, sweetpotatoes are white-fleshed and contain no vitamin A. Introducing OFSP varieties has been shown to be an effective strategy to control vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and improve food security. The McKnight Foundation has supported similar projects in Eastern Africa, but the introduction of OFSP in West Africa remains limited. HKI initiated this newest project in an effort to demonstrate the potential for OFSP to alleviate malnutrition in the fragile Sahel region of West Africa, where Burkina Faso is located.

At a workshop held in September in Ouagadougou as part of the project, HKI worked with representatives from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the National Farmers Federation, the French Agency for Food Security, other NGOs and Ministries of Agriculture, Education and Health to develop a plan for OFSP production and consumption. (…)


Organized by ECLAC, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Twenty Projects from Nine Countries Reach Final Stage of Competition on Social Innovation

2004-05 winners to be announced 10-11 November at ECLAC headquarters, Santiago, Chile. 

6 October - Twenty projects from nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have been selected as finalists in the competition "Experiences in Social Innovation", organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Initiatives are from Argentina (3), Bolivia (1), Brazil (9), Chile (1), Colombia (2), Guatemala (1), Haiti (1), Paraguay (1) and Peru (1). All have made an important contribution to the fight against poverty and inequality in their respective countries, by offering innovative approaches to improving health care, education, nutrition, agricultural production and people's incomes, particularly those of the poorest, most excluded sectors. Moreover, four projects work with indigenous populations and two have brought growing recognition of the traditional medicine of these original peoples.

The awards ceremony will take place on 10 - 11 November 2005 at ECLAC headquarters, in Santiago, Chile. The winning project will receive US$10,000; the second, US$8,000; the third, US$5,000; the fourth, US$3,000; and the fifth, US$2,000. The other 15 finalists will receive honourable mentions.(…)


Forest and timber sector expresses concern for economic viability, illegal logging,
and the public image of wood: Markets for forest products continue at record levels

Geneva, 4 October - The UNECE Timber Committee analyzed the current forest products market situation in 2005 and forecast markets for 2006 in light of current policy issues. The theme of the annual Timber Committee Market Discussions was “Forest certification policies’ influence on forest products markets in the UNECE region.” (…)

The UNECE Timber Committee reviewed the current major developments affecting forest sector policies and markets: illegal logging, inside and outside the UNECE region, the threats to economic viability of forest owners and industries from intense global competition, the challenge and opportunities presented by the growing demand for wood energy and the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol. Governments, civil society and industry are working increasingly together to address these issues, for instance through public procurement policies, certification, corporate responsibility measures, “green building” schemes and improved communication.(…) 


Gender Budgets and Valuing Women's Voluntary Work: UNIFEM and UNV Launch New Initiative in Latin America

New York/Bonn, 3 October - Using gender-responsive budgets to recognize and strengthen women's role in governance and resource allocation in Latin America is the focus of a new initiative launched by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

The two-year project, "Engendering budgets: Valuing women's voluntary contributions to national development in Latin America," will work to mainstream a gender perspective into local government expenditure plans. Through this project, UNIFEM and UNV will make women's unpaid and volunteer contributions to the health of their communities, which is still largely unrecognized, both visible and valued.(…) The project will take place in five Latin American countries where previous and continuing efforts to bolster women's participation in local decision-making processes serve as best practice examples.(…)






CRWRC begins food distribution to hungry in Malawi

Grand Rapids, MICH, USA, October 20- The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) an agency acknowledged by the United Nations for its integrated approach to disaster relief, will begin distributing food on Thursday, October 19 to 5,000 families plagued by famine in Malawi.

"Its the worst maize harvest in 10 years," says Bruce Campbell-Janz, CRWRC relief program manager. "One third of the population is in need of food assistance." Distribution of 1,750 metric tons of maize and 350 metric tons of beans will begin first in the southern Malawi district of Mangochi and will continue for seven months until the next harvest in April 2006. Thirty-four metric tons of drought-resistant cassava and sorghum seed (along with other alternative drought-resistant seed) are also being distributed to help prevent the recurrence of famine in 2006.

"Planting, cultivating and eating drought-resistant crops leads to greater ongoing food security for the community," says Campbell-Janz. CRWRC has three staff persons working alongside established partners in Malawi - Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian in the Salima district and Save Orphans Ministries in Mangochi - to ensure that those who are hungry receive the food they need. (…) CRWRC has contributed USD$167,000 of its own funds to the USD$838,000 food aid and food security project. The remaining USD$671,000 has been provided through matching funds granted by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). For more information about these programs, please visit


Caritas Pakistan travels to remote villages to assess needs 

By Nana Anto-Awaukye, CI Field Communicator in Pakistan

Balakot, 18 October 2005 – Driving along the Balakot road, life carries on as normal. Market traders display their bananas, apples, and grapes. Herds of goats and cattle wander aimlessly on the roads between cars, motorbikes, bicycles, and trucks. As the road takes you into Balakot, the devastation of the earthquake is everywhere –buildings reduced to rubble, people forced to clamber over what was once their home, and the homes of neighbours, as the only way to reach their destinations. Along the roadside there are piles of brightly coloured clothes and tower-high packets of biscuits. These are some of the goodwill relief items sent by people in the first days after the earthquake. Today, the coordination of relief is more focused, and Caritas Pakistan is listening and talking to elders in communities to find out what their real needs are.

Trucks, military vehicles, and the familiar white 4x4 cars of international aid agencies jostle for space on the small winding road to the village. The best way to reach people is to get out and walk, which means climbing over what was once the front of houses, to reach the village of Naraha. On reaching the village, the first thing that strikes you is the collapsed minaret, with its shiny silver crescent moon glinting in the sun and the men of the community gathered around it. (…)


WFP welcomes swift response from Japan to earthquake

Yokohama, 18 October 2005 - WFP has welcomed a swift contribution from the Government of Japan of US$2.5 million to the agency’s emergency operation for those hit by the South Asia earthquake. Japan was one of the first countries to donate to WFP’s relief effort, confirming its contribution just one week after WFP sought emergency aid as part of the UN’s overall flash appeal. To date WFP has received US$10.6 million of the US$ 88 million it requires. Japan’s donation will be used to purchase high-energy biscuits, which are ready to eat – essential when people have no kitchens or stoves on which to cook. WFP plans to provide food aid to one million of the people most severely affected by the earthquake for the next six months. As the lead agency for logistics, WFP is identifying the fastest way to reach earthquake survivors, many of whom are located in remote, mountainous areas. Helicopters and trucks are being deployed to reach towns and villages cut-off by landslides.


FAO and Brazil collaborate to promote school nutrition and food security

Other developing countries to benefit

17 October, Rome - Brazil and FAO will work together on school nutrition programmes in poor countries, according to a multilateral agreement signed in Rome today. Through this initiative, Brazil wants other countries to benefit from its National School Nutrition Programme and from the experience gained through the Zero Hunger Programme championed by President Lula. (…)

The first country to benefit from the Brazilian school nutrition experience will be Haiti, whereas three African countries, Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique will collaborate with Brazil and FAO in food security programmes. Other countries may join later. Brazil will send nutrition and food security experts to these countries to assist them, together with FAO technical services, in developing national school feeding and food security projects.

In Brazil, the National School Nutrition Programme provides meals to 37 million schoolchildren and adolescents of up to 14 years of age, representing around 20 percent of the country's population.(…)

Today's agreement was signed by the Minister for Education of Brazil, Fernando Haddad, the Ambassador of Brazil to FAO, Flávio Miragaia Perri and FAO Assistant Director-General Henri Carsalade, together with Ministers or Ambassadors of the beneficiary countries.


Rotary members worldwide unite to fight polio

Role of civil society vital in world’s largest global health endeavor

Evanston, IL, USA - October - This fall, hundreds of Rotary club members from the United States, Canada, France, The Netherlands, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia will join thousands of their fellow Rotarians and millions of other volunteers and health workers in India, Indonesia and African nations to help immunize children against polio.

Through Rotary International, the fight against polio has been largely driven by volunteers. Never before have individual volunteers and the influence of the private sector played such a core role in a global public health effort. (…) Rotary volunteers will join tens of thousands of traditional and religious leaders, teachers, parents and a huge force of other volunteers and health workers to reach every one of the 80 million children during these immunization campaigns. (…)

Overall, great progress has been made in the effort to end polio worldwide. In the two decades since Rotary and its global partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, cases worldwide have been slashed by 99 percent with 1,255 reported all year in 2004. Today, half of the world’s population now lives in certified polio-free areas. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, as well as the Western Pacific region in 2000, and Europe in 2002. (…)


FAO appeals for $7 million to assist farm families affected by Pakistan earthquake

Help needed to restart herding and farming activities once rescue and relief activities over

13 October, Rome -- FAO has launched an appeal for $7 million to help farm families affected by the earthquake in northern Pakistan resume their agricultural activities over the next six months. Following the immediate rescue and relief activities and as soon as conditions permit, FAO will field assessment missions to determine the impact of the earthquake on agriculture and to work with the Government to prepare a plan for reconstruction of the agriculture sector, the U.N. agency said. (…)

Based on the results of the assessment, FAO will prepare targeted interventions for around 100 000 of the most affected farm families. Assistance is necessary during the next six months to help farmers and herders re-establish their livelihoods.


UN-HABITAT pledges Pakistan earthquake recovery support

Nairobi, 11 October  Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, this week offered the agency’s immediate support with emergency relief and recovery following a massive earthquake in Kashmir on Saturday that claimed more than 33,000 lives. (…) UN-HABITAT staff and experts were sent to Pakistan to help both the government and the United Nations Resident Coordinator effectively address and coordinate immediate and transition elements related to shelter and settlements recovery. UN-HABITAT also appealed to the donor community for approximately US$ 8 million to bring relief to more than 150,000 families affected by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck close to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Saturday morning claiming more than 33,000 lives and causing widespread devastation.(…)


MSF: More teams and cargo to Asian earthquake area

First projects are up and running in Pakistan and Indian Kashmir.

Islamabad, 10 October - The international medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started to provide medical assistance and relief goods to the victims of Saturday's earthquake in Pakistan and India. At the Pakistani and Indian controlled sides of Kashmir MSF teams are focusing on medical assistance, mental health counselling and the distribution of relief and medical supplies to assist the existing response.

In Pakistan a team is offering medical assistance in the local district hospital in the town of Muzaffarabad, north east of the capital Islamabad. From Muzaffarabad several teams will focus on delivering medical and relief assistance to some areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. (…)

In Indian-administered Kashmir, teams concentrate on giving assistance to the towns of Baramullah and Uri and the region of Tangdar. Additional medical and logistical supplies are under way. Additional support is also given to the hospital of Srinagar. (…)

In both regions MSF is setting up psycho-social support for those who have lost family members, especially children who have lost their parents. (…)



Peace and security



Physicians for Peace® partners with Old Dominion University to bring Dominican exchange students to Norfolk, VA, USA

Norfolk, VA.,USA – October 19, 2005) In partnership with Old Dominion University (ODU), Physicians for Peace (PFP), an international, humanitarian, non-profit, medical education organization will bring five third year physical therapy graduate students from Universidád Católica in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to Norfolk, VA October 19-28, 2005. (...)

The mission of Physicians for Peace (PFP) is to further the cause of world peace and international goodwill by providing quality medical education and care to those in need. Founded by internationally acclaimed humanitarian Dr. Charles E. Horton, Sr. of Norfolk, Virginia, USA, Physicians for Peace has sent teams of medical volunteers throughout the world to deliver much-needed healthcare services, medical education and medical supplies. Using medicine as a peace-building tool, PFP has conducted programs in more than 45 countries over the past three decades, building bridges between diverse cultures, ethnicities and religions.

Physicians for Peace is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that encourages financial and in-kind contributions to underwrite its mission-based work. For more information, please visit


Croatia to Host International Conference on Landmines Ban in November

HINA news agency, Zagreb

Zagreb, 18 September - The sixth meeting of countries which have signed the Ottawa Convention Banning Landmines will take place in Zagreb from 28 November to 3 December, an adviser to the Croatian foreign minister, Diana Plestina, said earlier this week. (…) Plestina said about 1,150 square metres of land in Croatia were suspected of hiding mines, mostly in eastern Slavonia and in the Zadar hinterland. She recalled that 410 people in Croatia had been killed by mines so far, while some 1,460 had been wounded.

Croatia has fulfilled a very important provision from the Ottawa Convention - the destruction of 10,000 stored mines. The convention was signed in 1997 after negotiations in Oslo with the purpose of adopting a ban on landmines, demining, and helping mine victims.

The Zagreb meeting is expected to pool some 600 delegates.


Switzerland donated once more to the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance  

Ljubljana, 18 October - Memorandum of understanding was signed today between  International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) and Swiss Federation in amount 250.000,00 CHF (…)Funds will be earmarked for demining operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina for support of two manual clearance teams within the project of Norwegian People's Aid.  Swiss Federation has already, over the past seven years, contributed to ITF more than 3 millions of american dollars and remains one of biggest and most regular donors to ITF.

Problem of eliminating mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) still remains very present in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is the most mine polluted country in South-East Europe region. Mine affected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina still cover more than 2.000 square kilometers of surface, which represents approximately 4 percent of total country size


Bangladesh Campaign organizes Artist's Camp for a Mine Free World

Authors: Rafique Al Islam and Fred Lubang

Bangladesh, 13 October - The Bangladesh ban landmine campaigners led by Nonviolence International-Bangladesh and the Chattagram Charushilpi Foundation culminated the month-long Artists Camp with the theme, “For Peace, Let the World be Mine Free”, through an exhibit which featured the paintings of renowned artists along the said theme. Hundreds of people participated and witnessed the series of activities that were held weeks before and during the event. The activities were comprised of a number of public briefings and orientation seminars on various aspects of the landmine issues which included a brief introduction to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and its history; the latest status of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Nairobi Action Plan; Bangladesh’s position on the landmine issue as well as the other neighboring South Asian countries; and the next steps that the Bangladesh government should take in relation to the national legislation and its commitments. These topics led to many interesting discussions amongst the various participants. The documentary film, Disarm was also screened as well as other films along the theme.(…)

The organizers plan to bring the paintings to be displayed at the forthcoming States Parties Meeting in Zagreb, Croatia in November 2005.


Adopt-A-Minefield® - Night of a Thousand Dinners®  2005

Each year, people across the country and around the world come together on a single night to enjoy a fundraising dinner to help end the global landmine crisis. This year, Adopt-A-Minefield’s Night of a Thousand Dinners® event will be held on or around Thursday, November 3, 2005. Any gathering that you hold, including office holiday parties, can be transformed into an event of global significance. Awards will be given this year for ‘Most Funds Raised’, ‘Most Creative Dinner’ and ‘Best Photo’ so be sure to send in your stories and photos with your donations!

Night of a Thousand Dinners 2004 inspired citizens to take action against landmines and raised nearly $500,000 for mine action. (…) It is a campaign of the United Nations Association of the USA, which engages individuals, community groups, and businesses in the United Nations effort to resolve the global landmine crisis. The Campaign helps save lives by raising funds for mine clearance and survivor assistance and by raising awareness about the landmine problem.

The idea behind Adopt-A-Minefield® is both powerful and simple. Designed to move beyond the political and policy debates typically associated with banning the use of landmines, the Campaign provides a practical solution to the tens of millions of mines that contaminate the world and to the countless survivors of landmine accidents.






Pakistan-administered Kashmir: ICRC field hospital opens in Muzaffarabad

Geneva, 21 October – A 100-bed field hospital was opened in Muzaffarabad today by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Its first patient was a girl with a broken and badly infected leg, a type of injury all too frequent as a result of the earthquake.

The hospital is staffed by over 50 medical personnel furnished mainly by the Norwegian and Finnish Red Cross and by over 100 locally hired medical and support personnel. The latter will number 150 within a few weeks. The facility, which will serve as a general hospital, consists of an assembly of over 30 tents, including staff accommodation, a kitchen, administration office and pharmacy. It will provide care in the domains of surgery, obstetrics, internal medicine and paediatrics. (…)


Uganda: Fighting malaria

Geneva, 19 October  – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets to over 40,000 internally displaced families as part of a month-long anti-malaria campaign in Uganda's three northern districts of Gulu, Pader and Kitgum, where malaria remains one of the major causes of death. The beneficiaries, who so far number 3,000 families in five camps for internally displaced people in Gulu and Pader districts, are being taught how malaria is transmitted and how to use the nets correctly.

The ICRC helps provide primary health care in the camps and supports seven hospitals, including the facility run by the Ugandan army in Gulu. (…)


African AIDS Commission meets in Washington ahead of final report

Addis Ababa, 17 October (ECA) – One of Africa’s leading initiatives against HIV/AIDS, the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA), holds its final meeting in Washington, D.C., this week at the end of its two-year mandate. The Commission’s brief is to advise African governments on how to strengthen their effectiveness against the pandemic, which is having a profound, structural impact on the continent's capacity to meet its development challenges.(…) The Commission’s report will offer policy advice and action points on how to reinforce prevention efforts; strengthen health systems and treatment; protect vulnerable groups, including women, young girls and orphans, more effectively; and achieve more sustainable and coordinated funding, among other challenges. (…)


Arsenic removal water filter could help save millions of lives : UNESCO-IHE calls for donors

13 October - A filter that removes arsenic from water and that could save tens of millions of lives was launched today at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Simple and ecologically sound, the filter uses an absorbent recycled by-product available at no cost almost everywhere in the world. It was developed by the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

Arsenic in drinking water is both a natural phenomenon and the result of human activity (mining, extraction of minerals, coal-burning electricity production). There is no medical treatment for intoxication by arsenic-contaminated water. Prevention is the only recourse. It is a serious problem in many countries around the world including Bangladesh and the United States, as well as Argentina, Chile, China, Ghana, Hungary, India, and Mexico. (…)


CARE launches bird flu awareness campaign in Vietnam

9 October - CARE is launching a campaign to raise awareness about Avian Influenza, or bird, flu, in Vietnam, as concerns grow that a type of bird flu will cross over from animals to humans and jump borders, creating a global epidemic of disease. Vietnam is one of four countries with confirmed human cases of bird flu.

Public service announcements on Avian Influenza (AI) created by CARE are now airing on television in Binh Dinh province in Central Vietnam and Long An province in the Mekong Delta. These announcements are expected to reach 1,500,000 people — approximately 60 percent of the total population of both provinces. They provide information on who can become infected with AI, how people can protect themselves and their families from the virus, and how farmers can keep their flocks of poultry from getting the disease. (…)


CARE and WGBH Boston provide prescription for child survival

9 October - CARE, Save the Children and UNICEF are participating in Rx for Child Survival, a campaign created by public television station WGBH in Boston, which provides basic preventative healthcare necessities for children in developing countries, including immunizations, antibiotics, vitamins and essential nutrients, liquids for hydration and insect netting. The campaign is part of the Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge television series premiering in November, 2005 on local Public Broadcasting System stations in the U.S.

Advanced medical science has produced new vaccines, cured diseases and increased the life expectancy of many people in the world. Even so, developing nations actually have a decreased life expectancy due to new and deadlier diseases, microbial resistance to antibiotics and a travel network that can spread diseases around the world more quickly than ever before.

According to WGBH, the series is intended not only to increase awareness of the health risks problems surrounding the people in developing nations, but also to get viewers to take action — locally and globally — by speaking out, volunteering and through donations.

Rx for Child Survival is specifically focused on preventing millions of children under five who die every year, by providing them with basic medical interventions. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Singapore to Host UN Champions of the Earth Awards

Nairobi/Singapore, 19 October -- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will host the award ceremony of its premier environmental award – Champions of the Earth – in Singapore in 2006. This was announced by the Director of Communications and Public Information of UNEP, Mr. Eric Falt, today in Singapore. The Champions of the Earth award, a new international environment award established in 2004, is presented annually by UNEP to outstanding environmental achievers and leaders.

Award winners are selected from nominated individuals or groups who have made a significant and recognized contribution regionally and globally to the protection and sustainable management of the Earth’s environment and natural resources. Selected candidates are rewarded for their creativity, vision and leadership. The awards will be presented in Singapore in April 2006 at a ceremony to be attended by well-known regional and international personalities and dignitaries. The event is supported by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore, (MEWR), and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). (…)


UNESCO and Italy take first step towards creation of environmental institute

19 October - UNESCO and Italy have taken the first step towards establishing an institute for environmental development. The proposed institute would be located in Trieste (Italy) and offer an international programme for education, training and capacity building in environmental development. Following the usual procedure for such a project, UNESCO’s Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, the Italian Minister of Environment and Territory Altero Matteoli and, representing the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Delegate of Italy to UNESCO Giuseppe Moscato signed a memorandum of agreement yesterday at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. (…) 

The next phase of development for the institute on a partnership for environmental development (IPED) will be a feasibility study carried out jointly by the Italian authorities and UNESCO, in particular the Natural Sciences Sector. It will be submitted to the Executive Board during the next biennium for a final decision to be taken at the next General Conference.


Pere David's deer thrive in China 20 years after re-introduction

Wuhan, Hubei, China, 19 October – Twenty years after being re-introduced back into the wild in China, Pere David’s deer are once again thriving in the Central Yangtze region.

The Pere David's deer was once found only in China along the central and lower Yangtze River basin. But, years of overhunting and loss of its wetland habitat due to reclamation led to the extinction of the species in the wild in the early 20th century. However, a small population of Pere David's deer bred at the Woburn Abbey wildlife park outside of London were re-introduced to the Central Yangtze in 1985 by the Chinese government, and in 1986 by WWF. From this founder population of 39, the numbers of Pere's David deer in China have increased steadily. A recent count put the number at 2,500 individuals at three national nature reserves. (…)


Bolivia takes the lead in certifying tropical forests

Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 12 October – Bolivia has certified more than two million hectares of its forests, making the South American country the world leader in tropical forest certification.

In recognition of achieving good forestry management, timber company CIMAL/IMR received an award, on behalf of the certifier SmartWood, for its commitment to certifying 300,000ha of its forests. Of the 300,000ha, 25 per cent is considered a forest of high conservation value and has been designated a reserve. Also recognized at the award ceremony were 23 national forest operations for their contributions in making Bolivia a world leader in forest certification. (…)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, not-for-profit, non-government organization based in Bonn, Germany, providing standard setting, trademark assurance, and accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in responsible forestry. It was created in 1993 by environmental organizations such as WWF.

Bolivia was one of the first countries to initiate efforts promoting the conservation of its forests through sustainable management and FSC forest certification, a trend that began early in the 1990s and grew stronger following the passing of the country’s forestry law in 1995. (…)


Tackling wastewater pollution at source cheaper than cleaning up

Policies using taxes to cut pollution offer the most cost effective route to reaching EU wastewater targets

Copenhagen, 7 October - A 'Polluter pays' approach, based on taxes and levies, reduces volumes of polluted water and offers the most cost effective route to compliance with EU legislation, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) based in Copenhagen. The pilot study, 'Effectiveness of Urban Wastewater Treatment Policies in Selected Countries', analyses successes and failures in policy for Denmark, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. It explains the relationship between effective wastewater management and the policies behind them.

Water pollution caused by 'untreated' wastewater continues despite three decades of efforts to clean up European surface waters. Several EU Member States have not satisfied the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD), originally adopted in 1991 to cut waste water pollution by 2000. The Dutch model, which is based on high water pollution levies and full costing of sewerage, comes close to satisfying the legislation and is the most cost-effective of the examples in the report. The report suggests that the absence of water pollution taxes in France and Spain will result in these countries failing to reach the 2005 targets cost-effectively. Denmark complies fully with the Directive, with discharges decreasing by 90%. (…)



Religion and spirituality



Values highlighted on UN anniversary

United Nations, 7 October (BWNS) -- In observance of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, the Baha'i International Community has issued a major statement that focuses on the importance of the oneness of humanity and religious freedom as critical values in the process of UN reform. "The blurring of national boundaries in the face of global crises has shown, beyond a doubt, that the body of humankind represents one organic whole," says the statement, which is titled "The Search for Values in an Age of Transition." Accordingly, the oneness of humanity must become the overriding focus as humanity searches for solutions to global challenges such as poverty, AIDS, environmental degradation, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons.

"It is clear that none of the problems facing humanity can be adequately addressed in isolation from one another," the statement says. "The increasingly apparent interconnectedness of development, security and human rights on a global scale confirms that peace and prosperity are indivisible -- that no sustainable benefit can be conferred on a nation or community if the welfare of the nations as a whole is ignored or neglected." Moreover, the statement asserts that the issues surrounding religion and freedom of belief have now risen to a level of "consuming global importance, which the United Nations cannot afford to ignore." (…)

Within the framework of these two main themes, the statement offers a number of concrete recommendations to the United Nations. These recommendations fall in four broad areas: human rights, development, democracy, and collective security.

The full text of "The Search for Values in an Age of Transition" can be read at:



Culture and education



Education International affiliates attend seminar for Peace Education Materials

21 October - The 3rd Korean-Japan Seminar for Peace Education Materials was held from October 7th to 9th. The theme of this year’s annual seminar was Practical teaching cases in teaching about Japanese colonial period of Korea. 40 Participants from EI affiliates the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations (KFTA), Korean Teachers and Educational Workers' Union (KTU), and Japanese Teachers’ Union (JTU) attended the seminar. The seminars aim for better education on the history shared between Korea and Japan. They have done a lot to promote the exchanges of views on the period from 1910 to 1945 when Korea was an occupied colony of Japan. (…)

As the world’s largest Global Union Federation, and the only one representing education workers in every corner of the globe, Education International unites all teachers and education workers no matter where they are. Education International protects the rights of every teacher and education worker, and every student they educate.


Business Schools respond to new global realities, survey shows

New York, NY, October 19 -- A biennial report – Beyond Grey Pinstripes, released jointly today at Citigroup by World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute – finds that more business schools are doing a better job preparing students for the reality of tomorrow's markets, equipping them with an understanding of the social, environmental, and economic perspectives required for business success in a competitive global economy. The 2005 survey finds that an increasing number of business schools are offering courses in ethics, corporate social responsibility, or environmental sustainability. (…)

In the survey, changes in coursework proved noticeable. Of the 91 business schools surveyed on six continents, 54 percent require a course in ethics, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or business and society, up from 45 percent in 2003 and 34 percent in 2001. Additionally, the report finds that some leading schools are launching innovative courses on such topics as exploring private-sector approaches for addressing problems in low-income markets. The number of these courses offered has increased dramatically since 2003.

As a clear indication of the importance of these issues globally, three of the top five ranked schools, and 12 of the top 30, are located outside the United States. (…)


Tertiary education soars in middle-income countries

13 October - More students than ever are seeking higher education in middle-income countries, where tertiary enrolment has jumped by 77 percent over the past decade. This compares to an increase of 43 percent in rich countries, according to a new study by UNESCO and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Entitled Education Trends in Perspective - Analysis of the World Education Indicators, the study tracks demand for primary to tertiary levels of education between 1995 and 2003 and then analyses the policy choices made by 19 middle-income countries participating in the UNESCO/OECD World Education Indicators (WEI) programme. The results are all the more surprising given the relatively high cost of higher education. Even wealthy nations of the OECD find it difficult to mobilize the financial resources needed to maintain, let alone expand, access to higher levels of education. And as the report points out, OECD countries had the relative luxury of building their education systems for more than four decades without population growth: the number of children in 1995 and 2003 remained the same as in 1960. (…)


LIFE 2005-2015: UNESCO’s new initiative for literacy

6 October - UNESCO’s new Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) was launched today during the 33rd session of the Organization’s General Conference. Its objective: to help reduce by half the rate of adult illiteracy in the world by 2015. Some 771 million adults in the world today are illiterate, a large majority of them women and girls. In addition, approximately 103 million children have no access to school and are therefore not learning to read, write or count. About 85% of illiterate people are concentrated in 34 countries*, particularly in rural areas. The LIFE strategy will help accelerate the literacy drive in countries where the rate of illiteracy is higher than 50% and/or the number of illiterate people is more than 10 million. (…)

The strategy will be implemented in three phases, starting in 2006 for the first group of countries (Bangladesh, Egypt, Haiti, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal and Yemen), then 2008 and 2010 for the second and third groups respectively. (…) The initiative will emphasize South-South cooperation among countries. (…)


Iraq: Scholarships go to Dhi Qar University from Italy Campania Region

On the basis of a Letter of Intent (LOI) UNESCWA signed with the Ministry of Universities and Research and Innovation Centres in Campania, Italy, and Dhi Qar University, Iraq, 7 scholarships were awarded to the university. The scholarships are the result of a partnership seeking to build capacities in higher education, research and development. The partnership was formed on the basis of recommendations made at the Forum on Capacity Building through Technology Transfer and Networking held by UNESCWA from 11 to 12 March 2004.

The scholarships amount to 70,000 and will be paid annually over 3 consecutive years to cover the studies of 7 students from Dhi Qar University seeking graduate studies at the following Italian universities: Università Federico II, Università orientale, and Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli. UNESCWA is seeking to secure more scholarships for universities in its member countries, particularly in Lebanon and Syria for which 2 similar LOI were signed in late 2004.


FAO recognizes journalists' role in the fight against hunger

Journalists are key allies for FAO in raising awareness of the problem of hunger in the world. Journalists inform readers, listeners and viewers around the world of the plight of those who do not have enough to eat. They communicate complex agricultural and economic issues to the wider public. They report on successful solutions and projects in the battle against hunger. And they provide millions of farmers with valuable information on how to produce more food in a sustainable way.

In recognition of the important role of the media in the fight against hunger, FAO has since 1979 presented the A.H. Boerma Award to journalists or groups of journalists from around the world who have helped focus public attention on food security and rural development in developing countries. The award honours former FAO Director-General Addeke Hendrik Boerma (1968-1975). Winners receive US$10 000, a medal inscribed with their name and a personalized handcrafted scroll. The prize is awarded every two years during the FAO Conference.


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Next issue: 18 November.


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