Good News Agency – Year VI, n° 2



Weekly - Year VI, number 2 – 28 January 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 2,500 NGOs 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 as an international organization in the web site



Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarityPeace and security

HealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlifeCulture and education



Human rights



The Situation of Child Abandonment in Romania: this challenge can be overcome

Babies still abandoned in Romanian hospitals: pattern unchanged for 30 years, says UNICEF

Bucharest / Geneva, 20 January  - As new child rights legislation enters into force in Romania, a report finds that babies are just as likely to be abandoned in the country’s maternity and pediatric hospitals as they were three decades ago.

According to a survey supported by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF and carried out in over 150 medical institutions, around 4,000 newborn babies were abandoned in Romanian maternity hospitals immediately after delivery in 2004, or 1.8% of all newborns. The Situation of Child Abandonment in Romania report finds that many of the mothers who abandon their children are very young, poorly educated and living in extreme poverty. The percentage of abandoned babies who are born underweight (34%) is four times higher than the norm for Romania (8.5%).(…)

The Situation of Child Abandonment in Romania report follows a commitment by UNICEF, the Government and NGOs to identify the problem, reveal its underlying causes and suggest solutions to drastically reduce the phenomenon and its consequences. The findings confirm that this challenge is not insurmountable and, though complex, can be overcome. (…)

The Situation of Child Abandonment in Romania report will be launched (in Romanian only) by UNICEF Representative Pierre Poupard at the UNICEF offices in Bucharest at 11.00 (local time) on Thursday, 20 January.


ILO calls for integrated employment strategy for tsunami reconstruction

Says estimated 1 million people lost livelihood

Geneva, 19 January - The International Labour Office (ILO) today urged that "employment-intensive" job creation strategies be integrated into the humanitarian and reconstruction response to the earthquake and Tsunami disaster in Asia that destroyed the livelihoods of an estimated 1 million persons in Indonesia and Sri Lanka alone.  In a strategy paper issued by the ILO Regional Office in Bangkok and to be presented to donors at a five-day U.N. Conference on disaster reduction that opens in Kobe, Japan Tuesday, the ILO said the response to the Tsunami tragedy requires "employment-intensive recovery, giving special attention to the needs of the most vulnerable groups and the reestablishment of social protection mechanisms".

The ILO also pledged to coordinate its effort with "wider government and multilateral efforts". (…)


UNFPA welcomes Millennium Project's emphasis on critical roles of gender and reproductive health in poverty reduction

Development experts strongly support programmes that promote reproductive health and rights, call them "critical to overall success in economic growth and poverty reduction"

United Nations, New York, 17 January 2005—Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has welcomed the recommendations of the report of the United Nations Millennium Project and urged all development actors to implement them rapidly to save lives, reduce poverty and promote development in poor countries. The Millennium Project is an independent group of development experts, led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, New York. (…) Priorities from Africa to the Middle East to Asia should include efforts to achieve gender equality, the experts' report stressed, adding that some countries "need to pay special attention to the situation of girls and women, who tend to face major legal, social and political barriers and biases".

Entitled, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the report was submitted today to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It includes practical recommendations and “Quick Win” actions to save and improve millions of lives, promote economic growth and convert the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from ambition to concretely achievable actions.

Among the report’s 10 key recommendations is that developing countries should adopt MDG-based poverty reduction strategies, and that “specific interventions to address gender inequality should be an intrinsic part of all MDG-based investment packages.” (…)


Children should be first in line following Sudanese peace agreement

UNICEF urges all parties to put children at top of agenda in new era of cooperation in Sudan

Khartoum/ Nairobi / Amman / New York, 9 January – Following the historic signing of a comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) today in Nairobi, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy urged that children be given top priority as development programmes scale up after more than two decades of war.

While congratulating all parties involved in arriving at the Peace Agreement, Bellamy noted that children are often forgotten as agencies and governments move ahead with giant recovery plans. (…)Massive recovery activities are planned to begin in this vast country in 2005. Progress will depend on many factors. The first is maintaining the fragile peace between the Government and SPLM/A. Another is tackling the ongoing conflict in the western region of Darfur. Adequate funding is also critical. Speaking on her return from a five-day visit to tsunami-affected countries in Asia, Bellamy noted that Sudan should not be forgotten. Total financial needs defined by the UN and several partners for 2005 come to US$ 1.48 billion. This amount is needed to assist more than 2 million displaced persons (IDPs and refugees) to return to their homes in the South and to support another 2 million persons affected by the war. Support to all war-affected areas will be critical to ensuring a lasting peace. Of the total amount, UNICEF is requesting almost US$ 289 million for programmes in water and sanitation, health, nutrition, protection, education and advocacy.



Economy and development



Practical action plan to combat poverty unveiled at UN today

UN Millennium Project's "Investing in Development" presented to Secretary-General Annan, welcomed by experts as cost-effective blueprint for achieving Millennium Development Goals by 2015

United Nations, 17 January - In the most comprehensive strategy ever put forward for combating global poverty, hunger and disease, a blue-ribbon team of 265 of the world's leading development experts today proposed a package of scores of specific cost-effective measures that together could cut extreme poverty in half and radically improve the lives of at least one billion people in poor developing countries by 2015.

The recommendations of the UN Millennium Project, an independent advisory body to the UN Secretary-General, are laid out in the report Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The report was presented today to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today. Secretary-General Annan has said the fight against extreme poverty should be the top priority of the world community and the UN system in 2005. (…)

The UN Millennium Project's report is being released as the Asian tsunami disaster has focused global attention on the issue of aid to the world's poor - its urgency, its scale, and its effectiveness. The enormously generous response to the tragedy sent a powerful message that ordinary citizens in wealthier nations do in fact support such aid-if they clearly see the need, and if they believe the funds they provide will reach and help the people in need. The Project's plan addresses these legitimate concerns-and shows that targeted investments in essential public services such as health, education and infrastructure make poor communities less vulnerable to such disasters and to the hardships of disease, hunger and environmental degradation.  (…)The UN Millennium Project studied countries with high concentrations of people living in extreme poverty to determine how much investment was needed to confront hunger, education, gender equality, health, water and sanitation, slums, energy and roads. In low-income countries, that would mean an increase to $70-80 per capita in 2006 for investment, rising to $120-160 per capita in 2015. Many middle-income countries will largely be able to finance these investments on their own-though in many cases they will require adequate debt relief and specialized technical assistance. But for poorer countries, domestic resources will not be sufficient. External financing must fill that gap.


European Commission praises UN Millennium project

Project launch in Brussels features Michel, Sachs, Malloch Brown

Brussels, 18 January - At the European launch of the UN Millennium Project’s Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, praised the report and said it gave him cause to feel “optimistic” for the first time in years about global action against extreme poverty. Michel launched the report here today with UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Director of the UN Millennium Project. The report was officially presented to the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York on Monday, who hailed it as “a major intellectual achievement – a compelling work that contributes greatly to our understanding of the development process, both the obstacles and the opportunities.” (…) Michel said the European Commission should make use of the report to lead donor countries towards the goal of spending 0.7 per cent of their national incomes on development assistance.

The UN Millennium Project’s highly detailed report—the product of 265 leading developing experts totalling some 2,700 pages in 13 volumes—was also praised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as a major contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The report calls for a strengthening of the UN agencies, fund and programs to better support progress towards the Goals. Mark Malloch Brown stressed in his remarks today that the strategic partnership UNDP formed with the European Commission in June 2004 will help both institutions to work much more effectively in the decade between 2005 and 2015, the target date for the Goals. (…)


UN agencies call for immediate action to achieve Millennium Goals

Rome, 18 January - Three Rome-based UN agencies today called for immediate action by developed and developing countries to ensure that the goals of the 2000 Millennium Summit are achieved. (…) The joint statement by Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), and Lennart Bage, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was issued at the Rome launch of the Millennium Project Report.

The Report covers all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the first of which includes a pledge to reduce by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. This goal is in line with the target proclaimed at the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome. (…)

The agency heads noted that three quarters of those living in extreme poverty, about 900 million people, live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.(…)

Farmers in poor developing countries also had difficulty being competitive in selling their produce when markets were flooded by cheap produce from subsidized producers in wealthier countries.(…) The statement noted that only a small fraction of ODA goes to direct food and nutrition support, an amount insufficient for the necessary targeted interventions in rural areas, which can save lives and build livelihoods.

The three agency heads expressed their concern at the finding of the Report that many countries, the majority of them in sub-Saharn Africa, were falling behind in attempts to achieve the MDGs.


The World Economic Forum . Davos, 26-30 January

Geneva, 19 January - The World Economic Forum today released details on this year’s Annual Meeting in Davos, including the key participants, themes and goals. The Meeting, taking place from 26 to 30 January, is being held under the theme “Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices”. (…) Over the course of the five-day Meeting, more than 2,250 participants from 96 countries will convene in Davos, including more than 20 heads of state or government, 70 cabinet ministers, 26 religious leaders, 15 union leaders and more than 50 heads of non-governmental organizations. Around 50% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum's members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

The opening session of the Annual Meeting 2005 will be a major innovation, the Global Town Hall, which is an interactive plenary session designed to bring diverse people, voices and viewpoints together around the Annual Meeting’s theme. The objective is for participants to focus on the toughest challenges facing us and to prioritize the six issues that should be at the top of the global agenda in 2005. The results of the opening Town Hall will be integrated into the relevant sessions in the official programme.(…)


Habitat for humanity building center works overtime for reconstruction

Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, January 21 - Habitat for Humanity's five-year-old building and training center in Batticaloa is running three shifts a day, producing 3,600 concrete blocks every 24 hours to meet the demands for reconstruction following the Dec. 26 tsunami that devastated the Indian Ocean basin.

The center, originally established by the Batticaloa affiliate to hold down building costs, has become an essential tool in the rebuilding plans, providing not only much needed materials for rebuilding, but providing opportunities for Habitat families who lost wage-earners to work at the center to earn a wage. In recent days, the center delivered 10,000 blocks to Habitat homeowners and another 20,000 blocks are ready to be used. Production will start soon on fence posts, beams and pillars, as well as frames for windows and doors. The decision has been made to produce the materials from concrete so "we do not harvest so much wood for building products," said Justice Gregory, Batticaloa affiliate coordinator. Typically, building supply companies donate the raw materials, Gregory said.

The operation is a blueprint for other centers Habitat for Humanity plans to open in four countries to help teach skills and provide materials in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people and left millions homeless. Plans are to build four centers each in Sri Lanka and India, two centers in Thailand and three in Indonesia.


US$ 35 million programme will help Ethiopian small farmers better market their produce

Rome, 20 January  – A new IFAD-supported programme will help reduce the effects of fluctuating commodity prices on the incomes of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia and thereby contribute to improved incomes and food security. The US$ 35.1 million programme will be largely financed by a US$ 27.2 million loan to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters in Rome by Dr. Mengistu Hulluka, Ambassador Extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to Italy and IFAD’s President, Lennart Båge. (…)

The Agricultural Marketing Improvement Programme will strengthen national capacity for market research, intelligence, policy analysis and formulation. Specifically, it will strengthen capacity to develop and implement appropriate strategies and policies to stabilize commodity prices as well as improve linkages between smallholder producers, rural traders, artisans and the marketing chains. The programme will also support the development of improved post-harvest technologies for processing, storage and transportation of agricultural outputs in a manner consistent with a liberalised market economy.

With this loan, IFAD will have provided funds for 12 development projects in Ethiopia, totalling US$ 190 million.


IFAD commits initial $US 100 million to reconstruction in Tsunami-devastated communities

Rome, 11 January  − IFAD is committed to mobilizing an initial $US 100 million in new resources for countries affected by the tsunami. As the UN agency dedicated to eradicating poverty in rural areas, IFAD will be helping people affected by the disaster to rebuild their communities and their livelihoods. The goal is not only to help them to recover, but to increase their capacity to cope with future natural disasters by enabling them to overcome the desperate poverty that makes them so vulnerable. (…)

When natural disasters strike it is the poorest people who are most vulnerable who endure greatest hardships and have the least ability to cope. It is because of poverty that they live in disaster-prone areas. They live in fragile shelters that are easily destroyed by natural forces. They have no insurance to help them pay for lost boats, nets, seeds and other assets they need to earn a living. They have no savings to fall back on for emergency food and shelter. To make matters worse, many poor rural communities do not have safe water to drink, healthcare services or communication systems. Without rapid intervention in emergency aid followed by long-term support for reconstruction, the toll in death and human suffering in these communities will continue to climb. (…)


Tsunami relief: Global Unions launch reconstruction initiative and call for sustained international effort

Brussels, 11 January - With trade unions around the world raising millions of dollars for tsunami relief efforts, the ICFTU and its Global Unions partners today launched an international trade union initiative to channel funding to sustainable rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the areas affected by the disaster. The initiative will identify reconstruction work where trade unions have a specific role to play and where union expertise is most needed, including rebuilding trade union infrastructure, and will help ensure maximum cohesion in the trade union movement's reconstruction activities. (…)

Today’s Global Unions meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, received reports from Global Union Federations on tsunami solidarity action in their sectors, from the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD on development assistance discussions planned at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, and from the ICFTU on pledges received from national affiliates and on trade union actions in the Asia/Pacific region. (…)

The ICFTU represents 148 million workers in 234 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a partner in Global Unions:


ECLAC experts to participate in mission to evaluate damages from tsunami in Indonesia

7 January - To advise on evaluating the damages caused by natural disasters, a team of experts from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is participating in a World Bank mission in Indonesia to evaluate the socioeconomic impact of the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia last 26 December 2004.

Ricardo Zapata-Martí, Focal point for Natural Disaster Evaluation, and Roberto Jovel, a consultant in this field, make up the ECLAC team whose participation was requested directly by the World Bank's Hazard Risk Management Unit, to support the Indonesian government's National Development and Planning Agency (BAPPENAS). The results of this evaluation will be presented to a consulting group created by the government.

ECLAC will serve in an advisory role for this mission, given the extensive experience and knowledge about evaluating natural disasters accumulated by this regional United Nations commission, which has developed a methodology that is widely used and highly respected in Latin America and the Caribbean. (…)


UN-HABITAT and EC sign grant agreement for Somalia

Nairobi, 5 January - UN-HABITAT and the European Commission signed a 5 million Euro grant agreement, on 22 December 2004, for the implementation of the Somalia Urban Development Programme. The Programme is designed to target all major cities and towns in the various Somali regions through the implementation of tangible projects and capacity building activities in the Urban Development Sector. The implementation of the programme is planned over a period of three years, starting 1 April 2005, with a possible extension for a further three years.

The total cost of the first phase of the Programme is approximately 6.15 million Euros. The European Commission has undertaken to finance 5 million Euro (over 80 per cent) of this budget, with the remaining part of 1.5 million US Dollars being funded by UNDP, which also acts as the principal Associate Partner to UN-HABITAT for the programme implementation.

Other international partners in the Programme include ILO, UNICEF, the Italian NGO Consortium UNA, and NOVIB-Oxfam. Furthermore, the programme is designed to benefit from the comparative advantages of all the partners including the political leadership and logistic support network of UNDP in the field and the operational expertise of UN-HABITAT and the other partners.

The proposed initiative recognizes the growing importance of the urban sector, both demographically and economically, in the Somali context and aims at promoting an increasingly democratic, inclusive and accountable system of governance as well as more efficient and socially effective local management practices. (…)


European Commission providing E. 709 million for co-operation and external aid operations

In 2004, the EC is providing, under the MEDA Programme, E. 709 million for co-operation and external aid operations with its Mediterranean partners. This assistance illustrates the EU’s commitment to support development in the region focused on reforms based on common values. Algeria (55 million), Egypt (164.5 million), Jordan (36.5 million), Lebanon (19.5 million), Morocco (156 million), Syria (55 million), Tunisia (24 million), and the West Bank and Gaza Strip (73.5 million) and the region as a whole (125.5 million), are benefiting from this new package that brings the MEDA assistance to the region to over E. 6.156 billion in bilateral and regional co-operation programmes since the Barcelona Process was launched in 1995(source


Latin America and the Caribbean outdo even the most optimistic forecasts by growing 5.5% in 2004

15 December - The economy of Latin America and the Caribbean grew 5.5% in 2004, outdoing even the most optimistic forecasts. Thus, the region's per capita GDP rose by about 4% and for next year GDP is forecasted to grow another 4%, which should improve per capita GDP again, according to figures from the Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2004, presented by ECLAC today .Except for Haiti, every country posted positive growth. This is the second time in the past 20 years that the region's six largest economies (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela) will all grow more than 3%. This occurred previously, in 1997.(…)\tpl-i\top-bottom.xsl


Debt relief: Big Picture includes other meaningful TV clips in its website

Big Picture is a free online tv resource based in London, England. We stream short talking head video clips of some of the most renowned pioneers in Sustainable Development and from the environmental, social justice and peace movements. By offering global leaders in these interrelated fields a fully independent web-based media platform, we aim to make the big picture a clearer one for the world’s online community. (…) Our tv clips allow you to hear directly from some of today’s leading problem solvers and innovators. It is thanks to their insight and dedication - and to the efforts of many progressive thinkers like them - that a better, more sustainable world is already happening.

“Jubilee 2000 and the Debt Crisis” (5m 33sec) - Ann Pettifor is the Director of Jubilee Research at the New Economics Foundation in London and is the former Director of Jubilee 2000. She talks about the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign – the largest and most successful campaign to cancel third world debt in recent history. (…)
“Ecological Debt Relief” (5m 12sec) - Ann Pettifor talks about the way in which the global north is running up a ballooning legacy of ecological debt. (…)






World Mayors, local authorities rally for Tsunami victims

Paris, 20 January – Mayors and local government representatives from around the world have asked their umbrella body, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), to facilitate implementation of an action plan to respond to the specific needs of communities stricken by the tsunami disaster. At an extraordinary meeting in Paris City Hall at the weekend weekend, the officials mandated UCLG – the world’s largest local government organization – to have its World Secretariat act as the focal point for information exchange between local governments. (…)

The mayors expressed their wish to prioritize assistance to children and the reconstruction of infrastructure, with particular attention to the provision of clean drinking water and sanitation. UCLG will facilitate exchange of information on the different initiatives, and will ensure coordination with the United Nations and its agencies.(…)

Participants at the Paris meeting also agreed that UCLG should establish a database of local government experts to enhance the resources of the United Nations, NGOs and national authorities, with which UCLG is collaborating. The database will contain information on the technical expertise available within local government in order to respond to future requests for international assistance in fields such as water, sanitation, transport and infrastructure.


WFP welcomes US$60 million donation from Japan to fellow Asians

Yokohama, Japan, 17 January  – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed “the most generous” contribution from the Government of Japan to WFP’s emergency operation to assist people affected by the tsunami. The donation of US$60 million, confirmed today, is the largest single contribution made by a donor country to WFP’s US$256 million emergency appeal, which incorporates emergency food aid and logistics support for six months.(…)

US$50 million will be spent on emergency food aid for Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and other countries, and US$10 million is to be spent on building up logistics support.

WFP Executive Director, James T. Morris, will visit Japan from 18 to 20 January to attend the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, to deliver a statement on WFP’s role in emergency preparedness and disaster reduction. He will take this opportunity to personally thank the Government of Japan for their most generous contribution.


The Caritas Internationalis response to the tsunami disaster - Update: 17 January 2005

Total amount of funds available within the Caritas Confederation for the tsunami relief effort: Over 70 million USD

Breakdown:    Sri Lanka:                  approx.            USD   7,110,000

India:                                    USD   4,232,000

Indonesia:                                        USD   6,056,00

Thailand:                                          USD     324,000

USD 17,722,000

Unearmarked:                                               USD 52,278,000

The response

Confederation members are currently working together in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand assisting those most in need. Immediate relief has come in the form of food, clothing, medicine, medical care, water purification and sanitation, psychological counselling, and other services. Caritas is also working on long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction for affected communities by building homes, restoring livelihoods through the replacement of destroyed fishing boats and nets, and offering cash for work programmes.


Sri Lanka: young people pitch in to assist survivors of tsunami disaster

Volunteers from the National Youth Services Council packing emergency hygiene kits for women in stricken areas. Moratuwa, 20 kms south of Colombo.

Colombo, 17 January - In a quiet, leafy enclave in Sri Lanka’s capital, 35 young volunteers work in assembly line fashion putting together emergency hygienic supplies. These supplies are badly needed by women and girls affected by the devastating tsunami that claimed 30,000 lives in this island country and left over 800,000 homeless.

The workers, mostly between 15 and 25, are members of the National Youth Services Council, a UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) partner organization, with representatives in virtually every community in the country. Some have been working tirelessly since the 29th of December, when the initiative was launched with funding provided by UNFPA.  (…)

In the first mass shipment, 25,000 packages are being trucked to three of the hardest hit districts – Trincomalee, Galle and Hambantota – and one township, Moratuwa. Some 300,000 of these hygienic kits will be sent to survivors in the coming weeks. (…)


CARE earthquake and tsunami update: Responding to the needs of displaced women in Sri Lanka

Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, January 13 - CARE has been distributing water, food, clothing and other essential items to almost 90,000 people in the days since the tsunami hit Sri Lanka. At the same time, emergency teams are giving special attention to the needs of women, including the distribution of undergarments and sanitary napkins, and offering psychological support to help them cope during this extremely stressful time. CARE also will begin rehabilitation activities in Sri Lanka on January 15.

In order to provide an appropriate response that meets the needs of displaced women, CARE, in addition to distributing feminine essentials, is working in collaboration with local partner organizations to organize camp discussion groups to provide women with psychological support. The discussions focus on women and their children, and how to survive and adapt to their new reality during this difficult time. (…)


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards $1.5 million to CARE

Grant will support tsunami relief in South Asia and victims of conflict in Africa

January 13 - The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded a grant of $1.5 million to CARE that will be used for two purposes. The first is for disaster relief and reconstruction related to the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia. The second is for work in regions of Africa where disasters caused by humans continue to take an enormous toll.

CARE will have flexibility to use the MacArthur funds as it feels best in addressing the immediate needs in South Asia or the continuing and unmet needs in regions of Africa where displacement and loss of life are comparable to those caused by last month’s natural disaster. (…)


European Commission adopts humanitarian packages for Africa  worth more than €80 million

Brussels, 21 January - The European Commission has adopted a series of humanitarian packages for the victims of protracted crises in Africa. These include Coastal West Africa (€31.3 million; €1=US$1.30), Uganda (€20.62 million), Burundi (€20.99 million), and Tanzania (€13.5 million). Projects will be implemented by humanitarian agencies operating in the target regions. The funds are managed by the European Commission’s humanitarian office (ECHO) under the responsibility of EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel. Commented Commissioner Michel: “It is essential that public aid for new needs resulting from the Asian Tsunami is not taken from existing crises which have fallen out of the spotlight. The forgotten crises of Africa need our continued support. As these funding decisions testify, the European Commission’s humanitarian funding is allocated where needs are greatest.” (…) 

ERD Assists Families in Costa Rica After Severe Floods

21 January - Episcopal Relief and Development is providing emergency assistance to people in the Limon province of Costa Rica after heavy rains flooded homes and businesses. The flooding has also damaged crops and communications systems. Rains caused several of the main rivers in the province to overflow, cutting off several communities because of landslides and closed highways and bridges. "About 8,000 people have been affected by the torrential rains and the growth of rivers," said the Rt. Rev. Hector Monterroso, Bishop of Costa Rica. "Many have lost crops and their houses and have been evacuated," said Bishop Monterroso.

On behalf of Episcopalians, Episcopal Relief and Development is supplying emergency assistance to the Diocese of Costa Rica for families displaced by the floods. ERD's aid will help the diocese distribute canned foods, water, medicines, diapers, and roofing materials throughout the region.

Private sector joins hands with UNDP to rebuild homes in Maldives

12 January, Male, Maldives – The island of Naalaafushi has been turned into a construction site since yesterday’s arrival of bags of cement, steel pipes, hammers and other building tools. All buildings on Naalaafushi were either badly damaged or turned into rubble when the Tsunami hit the island and left all residents homeless on 26 December.

“The disaster brought everything to a full stop on the island,” says Moez Doraid, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives. “We are working closely with the government and the private sector to help those on the island to get roofs over their heads. Each new home brings hope.”

Earlier this week, two boats traveled eight hours, carrying 190 tons of building materials provided by UNDP, from Male, the capital of the Maldives to the island which is situated in the Meemu Atoll in the south. Carpenters, plumbers and other construction workers from the private company Banyan Tree Resorts were dispatched to the island to assist the local residents in the reconstruction efforts on the island.

Through this collaboration, UNDP aims to have all 291 inhabitants in new houses before the monsoon season begins in June. The reconstruction efforts in Meemu Atoll marks the beginning of UNDP’s efforts to reconstruct 400 new houses and repair 2000 housing units in the Maldives within the next six months. The Tsunami swept away 10 percent of all houses in the Maldives, leaving more than 12,000 people homeless.  (…)



Peace and security



European Commission and Sudanese authorities sign the Country Strategy Paper to resume co-operation

Bruxelles, January 25 - Following the signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A in Nairobi on 9 January 2005, the European Commission and the Government of the Sudan have finalised the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for their cooperation. This document includes the National Indicative Programme and will be signed at 15h30 on 25 January 2005 by the Minister for International Co-operation, Mr. Takana, and the European Commissioner for Development, Mr. L. Michel. The President of the European Commission, Mr. J.M. Barroso, the Vice-president of the Sudan, Mr. Taha and Mr. Nhial Deng Nhial, Commissioner for External relations of the SPLM, will witness the signature.

In November 1999, after 9 years of suspension of co-operation, the EU and the Sudan engaged in a formal Political Dialogue. Since December 2001, the Dialogue has been intensified with a view to a gradual resumption of co-operation once a Comprehensive Peace Agreement would be signed.

The European Union has been clearly linking its future relations with the Sudan to the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Agreement is considered in particular as a basis to integrate in a global process the other marginalised areas of Sudan, including Darfur. (…)

The CSP creates a framework structuring the EU contribution to the Sudan of an indicative allocation of around € 400M (…)  Also following the signature of the CSP a quick disbursement programme of €50M will be launched, as an immediate peace dividend, benefiting equally North and South (€25M to each region). The programme foresees mostly community based projects, to be implemented in partnership with local NGOs and Non State Actors.


IAEA´s work singled out by UN Panel on global security

11 January - A high level panel has cited the IAEA as "an extraordinary bargain" for its work to prevent widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons, in a new report on security threats facing humanity, and how policies and institutions must change to beat them.

The report A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility includes 101 recommendations on UN reform and for forging a global response to threats of terrorism, poverty, disease, weapons of mass destruction and civil violence. Its 16 authors comprise former heads of state, foreign ministers, security, military, diplomatic and development officials.(…)

Responding to the report, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for urgent action on its recommendations to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and ward off the possibility of a nuclear attack. Including:

As importantly, the Panel emphasized the human dimensions of security, and the need for greater effort for sustainable development.(…)

The recommendations will help set the agenda for a special UN summit scheduled for world leaders in September 2005.






UNFPA ships supplies to ensure safe childbirth and meet women's needs in tsunami-hit countries

Jakarta, 14 January - To protect the lives of Indonesian women affected by last month’s earthquake and tsunami, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has sent 18 tons of equipment and supplies for maternity care to Aceh Province. Contents range from simple supplies for safe and sanitary home deliveries to hospital equipment needed to re-establish emergency obstetric care for those who experience life-threatening complications during childbirth.

“This equipment will give expectant mothers in the tsunami-hit region access to basic health care, and could prevent life-threatening complications from pregnancy,” said Bernard Coquelin, UNFPA Representative in Indonesia. He stressed that ignoring reproductive health needs after natural disasters adds to the death toll. (…)

Protecting displaced women and providing post-disaster counselling are also priorities for UNFPA. With funding from the Dutch Government, UNFPA is helping Sri Lanka’s National Committee on Women assess security and counselling needs in camps throughout the country.

In addition, the Fund is recruiting doctors and technical staff to assist with relief efforts in each of the affected countries. A key objective is to promote equitable and safe access to services, recognizing the special situation of women, youth and other vulnerable populations.


Rumours of unsafe fish in tsunami zone unfounded

No increased risk of fish-borne diseases

Rome, 14 January - There is no evidence that fish- and seafood-borne illnesses have increased in Asian countries hit by the tsunami, according to a new FAO assessment.

Rumours that it is dangerous to eat fish that have been in proximity to or have fed on victims' bodies are criss-crossing southern Asia, and reports suggest that fish consumption is dropping off as a result. However, FAO says that such fears are unfounded. "In light of the information available, there is no evidence, epidemiological or of any other nature, of an increased risk of fish- and seafood-borne illnesses in the affected regions," the Organization said.

This assessment was based on information gathered from FAO and World Health Organization (WHO) personnel working on the ground in countries affected by the disaster.

Fish plays a major nutrition role in all of the countries hit by the tsunami, where the average annual per capita fish consumption is among the highest in the world. According to FAO, eliminating fish from the diet could have adverse nutritional impacts, with possible health consequences -- especially for weakened tsunami survivors recovering from injuries. (…)


African health ministers announce 2005 polio strategy at Geneva meeting 

by Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga , Rotary International News

14 January - Health ministers from the African countries most affected by polio have established an eradication strategy for 2005, according to a joint press release from Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners Rotary International, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

Meeting at WHO headquarters in Geneva on 13 January, the ministers agreed to embark on a series of massive immunization campaigns across 25 countries as a key aspect of the strategy. Polio surveillance will also be stepped up. "We, the ministers of the eight most-polio-affected countries of Africa, together with the global polio partners, commit to further intensifying polio eradication activities with the goal of ending transmission by the end of 2005," they announced at the end of the conference.

According to the press release, the ministers pledged to conduct at least five rounds of national immunization campaigns and involve all sectors of their governments in a bid to reach every child with the polio vaccine.

The polio-endemic countries of Egypt, Niger, and Nigeria, as well as Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, and Sudan, which are experiencing a circulation of the poliovirus originating from a 2003 outbreak in Nigeria, were represented at the event. (…)


UNICEF mobilizes child trauma experts

To Tsunami-affected areas in Thailand

Phuket, Thailand, 10 January - UNICEF said today that a team of specially trained child trauma experts from Thailand have been mobilized and are now commencing work in provinces hardest hit by the deadly Tsunami. The team of 36 child psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and nurses will fan out in four provinces - Pang Nga, Krabi, Phuket and Ranong - where large numbers of children have lost parents, relatives and friends, and have witnessed horrific scenes of destruction.  They will be working with teachers and children in schools, as well as making home visits to families who have borne the brunt of the disaster, including extended families caring for orphans.  Official government statistics report more than 300 Thai children have been orphaned. (…) Key messages include the need for special attention, extra affection and giving children the opportunity to express their feelings; to talk about their experiences and the importance of keeping to regular routines, including going to school and maintaining regular eating and sleeping schedules.  This provides children with a sense of security and normalcy.   Other messages for parents include encouraging children to play and engage in other enjoyable activities to help them deal with stress.

UNICEF also said today that close supervision of children was important to detect extreme signs of distress as well as to protect children from any risks of children being abused.


Trachoma: hygiene helps dramatic success in Morocco

Face washing and use of latrines play a big part in a success story in Morocco where prevalence of the eye disease trachoma has fallen by 75% since 1999, and eye disease in children has been reduced by 90%.

More than 150 million people in 46 developing countries have trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness. In Morocco, a 1992 national survey discovered that 5% of the population had the disease, concentrated in five poor, rural provinces.

Morocco's National Blindness Control Program implemented a SAFE strategy (surgery, antibiotics, face washing, and environmental change). Mobile teams performed simple surgery in small towns, three million doses of the antibiotic azithromycin were distributed; face washing and hygiene were promoted, latrines were constructed and drinking water was made safe.

The trachoma programme was evaluated by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Ministry of Health of Morocco. Now the case studyhas been included in a book of global success stories. (Source: Source Weekly,



Energy and safety



Nuclear science helps Mexico City breathe easier

21 January  - Nobody likes breathing lungfulls of pollution from big cities. Least of all the citizens of Mexico City, whose air is so contaminated it is a serious health hazard. Now the IAEA, through its Technical Cooperation programme, is helping Mexicans breathe a little easier. The Agency has teamed up with local scientists and regulatory authorities on a project aimed at making the air in the capital safer for its people.

For the past two years nuclear "knowhow" has been used to analyse air samples collected from across the city. These nuclear techniques give important new data about the size, type and level of contaminants in dust particles suspended in the air. Armed with this knowledge, scientists and health care experts can better understand and tackle the health dangers associated with pollution, like cancer and respiratory disease. Air pollution in Mexico City contributes to around 12,000 deaths per year, with trends showing children and the elderly increasingly treated for respiratory disease. Exhaust fumes from the city´s four million motor vehicles are a main source of contamination.

Unlike traditional methods for analysing air samples, nuclear tools are sensitive enough to extract key information about contaminants in small, fine particles. (…) Regular air samples taken throughout Mexico City are analysed using a technique known as PIXE (proton induce x-ray emission). The IAEA is providing around $300,000 in equipment and training to scientists at the National Nuclear Research Institute of Mexico (ININ) who conduct the analysis. (…)


International Flood Initiative launched at World Conference on Disaster Reduction

19 January - A new inter-agency initiative aimed at minimizing loss of life and reducing damage caused by floods was launched here today by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. The headquarters for the new project will be based at a planned Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (CHARM) hosted by the Public Works Research Institute in Tsukuba, Japan. (…)

The International Flood Initiative is a response to the increasing number of water related disasters, deaths and widespread damage to goods and assets. Since 1992, the yearly number of water-related disasters has risen from slightly over 50 to more than 150. They claim about 25,000 lives and affect over 500 million others annually, and cost the world economy more than $60 billion, (up from about $10 billion in 1950). And this does not include the cost of damage to cultural assets and natural resources. (…)

The International Flood Initiative will promote an integrated approach to flood management to maximize the long-term benefits of floods and to minimize the hardship, loss of life and damage to goods and assets that result from floods. To achieve this, it will focus on research, training, information networking, promoting good governance and providing technical assistance.


Space technology to boost Africa Water Vision 2025

By Yinka Adeyemi, ECA

14 December  -The Africa Water Vision 2025 will be accelerated by a space technology option which is initiated by the European Space Agency, according to a report of the second TIGER Workshop recently concluded in South Africa at the invitation of the South African government. The Africa Water Vision 2025 is "an Africa where there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation and the environment." (…)

To further define structures, programmes and partnerships of cooperation for the application of space technology for water resources management in Africa, African institutions were invited to submit concrete proposals for pilot projects which would provide leadership in the implementation zone management; hydrological modelling; the problems of floods; and water issues related to health. The proposals will form the first wave for TIGER’s programme for human and institutional capacity building for space-based information to water resources management, said the report.


UNESCO plans global tsunami warning system for mid-2007

12 January - UNESCO is working towards the establishment of a global tsunami warning system that would be operational by June 2007, said UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura. Speaking at a press conference at the Mauritius International Meeting on Small Island Developing States on Wednesday, Mr Matsuura said that assessment missions are already being undertaken to concerned countries as a step towards the creation of the first regional component of the global system, in the Indian Ocean, foreseen for June 2006. “The estimated cost of the scientific infrastructure for the Indian Ocean system with a regional centre and properly equipped national centres is about $30 million,” Mr Matsuura said. “The annual maintenance costs of a regional centre would probably be in the order of one to two million dollars, he added.”

The Director-General said that two meetings of experts will be held in March to analyze the recent Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and to look at exactly what will be required for a global alert system. They will also seek to harmonize all international efforts being made towards the establishment of the Indian Ocean early warning system. (…)


First look at air pollution from over 1,000 fossil-fuel power plants in North America

Montreal, Canada, 11 January – The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) today released the first comparability report on emissions data from over 1000 individual fossil-fuel power plants in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The report, North American Power Plant Air Emissions, is a first step towards the possible development of a shared emissions inventory for North America.

The study finds a small percentage of facilities release much of the electricity sector's sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide emissions in North America. These emissions are known to contribute to acid rain, haze, smog, and climate change, as well as toxic mercury found in fish and eaten by people. "This report shows that, site by site, coal-fired power plants are the dominant source of harmful air emissions from the electricity sector in North America," says William Kennedy, executive director of the CEC.

The report, which compiles data from 2002, notes that each nation has a unique mix of fuels and technologies to produce electricity. Whereas the United States generates half of its electricity from coal, Mexico only gets about eight percent of its electricity from coal, while generating more than two-thirds of its power from oil and natural gas. By contrast, Canada produces the largest share of its electricity from hydropower. (…)


Africa prepares for second phase of World Summit on Information Society

Addis Ababa, 11 January (ECA) - Approximately 1,000 people from the private sector, civil society, media, government and international institutions will meet in Ghana, next month to discuss an “Action Plan on Africa and the Knowledge Economy” (APAKE), for expanding access to - and use of - information and communications technologies in Africa.

The theme of the African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), is “Access - Africa’s key to an inclusive Information Society.” The meeting is scheduled for February 2. (…) Government ministers charged with advancing ICTs in Africa will use the forum to take stock of the achievements made since the establishment, in April 2004, of an African Ministerial Committee to act on proposals coming out of the WSIS in Geneva. The Committee has 13 member countries, with the African Union and ECA providing institutional and logistical support.


Water storage: refreshing the knowledge of centuries

Long before modern dam building projects, the people of southern India had a centuries old grasp of hydraulic engineering in tune with the environment. There are 140,000 water storage tanks in the southern Indian states, the size of football fields or lakes. This system supported millions of people in southern India and Sri Lanka. In the dry season, people used the silt to fertilize their fields, allowing water to percolate deep underground, keeping soils moist when rainfall is scarce. The tank bottom provided grazing for livestock and clay for bricks.

As the system broke down, water levels dropped, forcing farmers to leave their fields. As politicians pursue billion-dollar schemes to bring water from the Godavari River, 200km away, the Godavari Vedika group, supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), are looking at restoring the network of tanks. Pilot projects showed productivity gains of 20-40 per cent for poor farmers and a decline in the need for chemical fertilizer. (Source Weekly


New desalination technology taps waste heat from power plants

Desalination is often touted as one solution to the world's water woes, but current desalination plants tend to hog energy. Now University of Florida researchers have developed a technology that can tap waste heat from electrical power plants as its main source of energy, an advance that could significantly reduce the cost of desalination in some parts of the world.

"In the future, we have to go to desalination, because the freshwater supply at the moment can just barely meet the demands of our growing population," said James Klausner, a UF professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, whose research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"We think this technology could run off excess heat from utility plants and produce millions of gallons each day," said Klausner, lead author of an article on the system that appears in the current issue of the Journal of Energy Resources Technology.  Klausner said the key feature of his system is that it can tap the warmed water that plants have used to cool their machines to heat the salt water intended for desalination, turning a waste product into a useful one. Klausner said a miniature version of the full-scale system could be run using solar or other forms of heat, which might be useful for small towns or villages.

UF has applied for a patent on the technology. Klausner’s research was funded by a $200,000 grant from the Department of Energy. (Source: European Water Management News, )



Environment and wildlife


Governments and NGOs pledge support for coral reefs and small island development

14 January - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, together with the President of the Seychelles and Vice President of Palau, announced new commitments to conserve coral reefs and to preserve the livelihoods of island communities. (…) Pledges of over US$20 million were made by governments and non-governmental organizations, including WWF, the International Coral Reef Action Network, and the Nature Conservancy, to support networks of marine protected areas in small island developing states around the world.

“The financial support will enable the island states to turn political commitments into actions on the ground to increase the resilience of natural systems and generate jobs, income and food security today and for future generations,” said Sian Owen, Coordinator of WWF's Coral Reef Advocay Initiative. (…)


The clean-up begins: Acehnese hired to clear tsunami rubble

Jakarta, 13 January - Three hundred displaced and affected people by the tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh province have been hired today by the Minister of Public Works with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to remove debris from the Indian Ocean Tsunami. This rubble removal mass-employment initiative aims to provide income to displaced people while helping them to begin rebuilding. "To get normality back into people's lives they need to be given the opportunity to start reorganizing themselves in ways that benefit them, earning cash to ensure that they have choice in the market, they can choose what they want to do", said UNDP crisis recovery team leader in Aceh Kristanto Sinandang.  (…)

The emergency relief effort in Aceh is growing steadily. UNDP with its partners is working to assist people in the long process of rebuilding their livelihoods. The disaster has impeded North Sumatra's development gains and jeopardized the region's ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals.


UNDP provides diving equipment for Thai coral clean-up

Volunteer Divers to clear tsunami debris -- from deck chairs to kitchen sinks

11 January, Bangkok, Thailand - A joint assessment mission conducted this week by The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The World Bank and The Food and Agricultural Organization has prompted UNDP to provide clean-up equipment to help rehabilitate coral reefs off Thailand’s coast affected by the December 26 tsunami. Heavy debris, from deck chairs to kitchen sinks, are putting coral in harms way.

Equipment including a vehicle and boat trailer, rubber speed boat, GPS, diving gear, underwater cameras and underwater lift bags will be delivered to the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to begin immediate work on affected areas. (…)

The Department has also asked for help in mobilizing 100 volunteer divers each Sunday for the next couple of months. The volunteer teams will help to clean up debris from coral along Thailand’s west coast. They will also carefully put the reef back in places where pieces have broken off. (…)


Return of the tarpan

3 January - Hundreds and hundreds of black tyres spread out as far as the eye can see across a forest clearing, drawing a big black spot on an almost immaculate landscape. This could easily be the scene of an illegal forest dumping site just about anywhere in the world, but this particular blemish is found at Lake Pape, on the Baltic Sea coast of south-western Latvia.

The tyres are relics of the Cold War. Soviet soldiers used to dispose of them on the lake, floating them in the shape of mock boats so that Red Army planes could use them for target practice. This entire area, until 15 years ago, was an off-limit military zone. Today, it is welcoming bird watchers and nature lovers alike.

With the exception of the tyre ‘cemetery’ — which for some reason has yet be cleared — the Lake Pape area is an enchanting place. It consists of a rich mosaic of wet meadows, grasslands, forests, coastal lagoons, bogs, sand beaches, and dunes, which attract many animals, such as wolf, lynx, otter, beaver, moose, red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. It is also an important resting area for many migratory birds. In total, 271 bird species have been recorded around the lake, including the endangered lesser spotted eagle, white-tailed eagle, and the lesser white-fronted goose.

But, what is really attracting attention these days is the introduction of wild horses and other large herbivores, such as the European bison (Bison bonasus) and the auroch (Bos primigenius) — the ancestor of Europe’s domestic breed of cattle. (…) The auroch, together with the wild horses and bison, have all been reintroduced in the Lake Pape region by WWF, as part of a project that the global conservation organization started in 1999 to restore the area’s natural ecosystem. (…)


Kyoto target within EU's grasp if all planned measures and projects are implemented, projections show

Copenhagen, 21 December - The European Union will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by slightly more than required under the Kyoto Protocol provided that Member States implement all the policies, measures and third-country projects they are planning and several cut emissions by more than they have to.  Latest projections compiled by the European Environment Agency show that the 15 pre-2004 EU Member States (the EU-15) should cut their total emissions to 7.7% below 1990 levels by 2010 on the basis of existing domestic policies and measures already being implemented and, more importantly, additional policies and measures currently planned.

Plans by six EU-15 Member States to use credits from emissions-saving projects in third countries through the Kyoto Protocol's "flexible mechanisms" would contribute a further reduction of around 1.1%, taking the total to 8.8%.

This is more than the 8% decrease from 1990 levels that the EU-15 has committed itself to achieving by 2008-2012 under the Protocol to combat climate change.

Each of the EU-15 countries also has an agreed, legally binding target for limiting or cutting its own emissions to ensure the overall 8% reduction is met. But the projections show that at present Denmark, Italy, Portugal and Spain are on course for above-target emissions, some by a wide margin, even with use of the Kyoto mechanisms and additional measures planned. Germany is in danger of slightly exceeding its emission limit on the basis of existing policies and measures. (…)


Brazil protects three million hectares of Amazon forests

Efforts by WWF in Brazil has helped create three million hectares of protected areas in the Amazon.

Brasilia, Brazil, 23 December - The Brazilian State of Amazonas, by far the largest state in the Brazilian Amazon with some of its most intact forest and diverse landscapes, has announced the creation of a mosaic of protected areas totalling over three million hectares in the southern part of the state. WWF carried out technical and scientific studies that contributed to the design of the protected areas, provided material support for the development of a biodiversity conservation strategy, and also funded the public consultations vital to the process. (…)

The Apui mosaic covers a territory that is slightly less than the size of Belgium. It consists of nine inter-connected conservation areas that fulfil various management objectives and afford different levels of protection — two state parks emphasizing nature protection, four state forests focusing on sustainable forest management, and three extractive and sustainable use reserves that provide options for traditional people and resource users to practice sustainable harvesting.

The measure is intended to protect viable portions of the biological diversity of the region. At the same time, it will help contain the unregulated advance of the agricultural frontier and the illegal invasion of public land in the region, thus helping to bring under control the deforestation that would otherwise occur. (…)


Croatia – World Bank launches E. 80 million anti-pollution project in Croatia

The World Bank launched an 80-million-euro (106-million-dollar) project to fight water pollution along Croatia's Adriatic coast, the Balkan country's main tourism asset. The project, to be implemented by the company Croatian Waters, is aimed at improving water quality and protecting the ecology, public health and the development potential of the important tourist sector. (…)

Over the next 10 to 15 years a total of 177 coastal towns and municipalities will benefit from improved wastewater treatment, discharge infrastructure and sanitary conditions because of the project. The preservation of Croatia's natural resources is vital for the local tourism industry, seen as a key to national economic growth in the medium term. Croatia's tourism industry, which was hard-hit by the 1991-95 independence war, has gradually recovered to its pre-war levels. More than nine million tourists visited Croatia in the first 10 months of 2004, six percent more than the same period in 2003. The World Bank has funded 24 projects in Croatia totalling more than 1.2 billion dollars since 1993. (Source: European Water Management News, )



Culture and education



Tsunami Relief Program: Education International aims to help relaunch the education systems as soon as possible

11 January  - Teachers unions in the region hit by the tsunami suspect that over 75,000 teachers have been affected by the disaster. (…) The aid provided by teachers unions worldwide, channeled through Education International, will prioritise Indonesia and Sri Lanka. EI member organisations in the region mobilised immediately in response to the disaster. Union members provided humanitarian relief in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and are now working to re-establish the education services.

At the initiative of Education International an international trade union fact-finding mission will visit Indonesia/Aceh and Sri Lanka on January 16-22. The mission will be led by Education International's General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen. He will be accompanied by representatives of EI member organisations and of the international trade union movement. It is hoped that the mission will obtain key information for the provision of further support for teachers and children in the countries affected by the disaster and for the re-establishment of local education facilities.

EDC's innovative adult literacy program celebrates 10 years

Thousands of adult learners reached through multimedia programming

New York, 3 January – How do you reach the 70 million adults in America in need of literacy education when most cannot attend a class because of a job, a lack of transportation, or childcare? If you are the Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA), you tap the popularity of television and develop fun programs with celebrities, athletes and actors to capture viewer interest. (…) ALMA, based in New York and celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, created the nationally-televised TV411 series as the backbone of its multimedia curriculum. That curriculum now includes an interactive web site, print materials, and hands-on kits which have helped thousands of adults gain the basic reading, writing, math, and life skills needed to achieve their goals (…)  Since 1994, ALMA has:

Produced 30 half-hour episodes of TV411, currently being broadcast or cablecast nationwide (…) Joined with dozens of public broadcasting stations to air TV411 more than 14,000 times. 

Seen peak viewership of TV411 reach 85,000 viewers in a single day in New York City—more than all the adults served by the City's adult literacy programs in a year.

Produced and distributed 700,000 copies of its magazine, "TV411 IN PRINT" (…)

Trained thousands of teachers, administrators, and community members in 31 states (…)

ALMA receives support from foundation, government, and industry partners.


The Earth Charter – Progress report from around the world

International consultation on Education for Sustainable Development highlights the Earth Charter

Sweden, December - The report of the International Consultation, Learning to change our world, organized earlier this year by the Swedish Government in preparation for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, was issued this month.   The Earth Charter is mentioned a number of times in this summary report. These include a reference to its role as an international document of values and principles for sustainable development, a recommendation to  “Explore the use of the Earth Charter as a major tool for teacher education curricula”, and a note highlighting the Secretariat’s Online Resource Center ( This report demonstrates the Earth Charter's significance in the forthcoming Decade. For the Earth Charter Initiative, borrowing words from the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, we now need to “gather all the positive forces we can and sharpen our action plans and practical tools”.

Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development features the Earth Charter in its final report

Japan, December - The Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) final report included the Earth Charter within their Guiding Principles for designing innovative policies, stating: “…that achieving sustainability is not just a technical problem, but also based on people's mentality, such policies would be most effectively designed around ethical principles such as those advocated by the Earth Charter.” APFED aims to address critical issues facing Asia and the Pacific region and to propose a new model for equitable sustainable development of the region. More information.

The Institute of Modern Languages is planning to use the Earth Charter in Spanish lessons

The University of Queensland is preparing teaching resources to assist Spanish teachers in the Institute of Modern Languages and two other independent secondary schools in Queensland to teach Spanish. The Earth Charter’s text is being used as a source of rich content that will be at the basis of student learning.    More information.

A network magazine is calling for artistic contributions around the Earth Charter principles

The Friour Project, a network magazine based on the principles of the Earth Charter, started at the end of 2002 as a reaction against the war preparations on Iraq. It was conceived as a zone to link different networks together and also open to individual artists and poets.  It was also conceived as a shared magazine, meaning that different networkers could produce an issue of the magazine based on a theme related with peace efforts in the world. 

This magazine is now promoting the participation of all artists around the world in expressing the Earth Charter principles through visuals, as well as poetry and texts.  Reception of documents will end on June 30th, 2005.  All works will be published in the new issue of the Friour Network Magazine. Further information.

New partners join Earth Charter Community Indicators Project

United States, December 2004 -  Hillsborough Community College, University of Tampa and The International Network have recently joined the Earth Charter Quality of Life Indicators Project.  Part of the methodology of this project is to celebrate community forums with deeper discussions on the question, "What makes life worthwhile for you?" in various geographic locations. Student Activities Directors at each campus will be encouraged to have all student organizations participate in the indicators' surveys as well as to have students participate in helping with the project for community hours credit.   More information.



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