Good News Agency – Year VII, n° 9



Weekly - Year VII, number 9 – 7th July 2006

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 (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. 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 and to 2,800 NGOs.

It is an all-volunteer 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



International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Europe: shrinking safe haven for war criminals

‘Universal Jurisdiction’ prosecutions bring justice for victims

Brussels, June 28  – Prosecutors in Europe are using the concept of universal jurisdiction to pursue foreign war criminals in national courts, a strategy that is gaining momentum across the continent and should be expanded, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The theory is that some crimes are so horrendous that they should be tried regardless of the geography of victims and perpetrators. “Opponents have proclaimed the death of universal jurisdiction, but in fact it’s alive and well in Europe,” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. “This principle is a vital weapon in winning justice for the victims of the world’s worst atrocities.”  

In the 101-page report released today, “Universal Jurisdiction: The State of the Art,” Human Rights Watch looks beyond shrill debates about the concept and examines how it is working in practice. Based on interviews with judges, investigators, lawyers and officials in eight European countries, the report describes how some governments, including Britain, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, have created special war crimes units to conduct investigations across the globe. 

Universal jurisdiction is the power of a national court to try genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or torture – even if neither the suspect nor the victim are nationals of the country where the court is located, and the crime took place outside that country. It was most famously utilized in the 1998 arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on torture charges in London at the request of a Spanish court.   (…)


DR Congo: UN speeds up police training to provide security for elections

29 June – As the United Nations prepares for next month’s elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the largest and most challenging it has ever helped organize, the UN mission there is training thousands of police to provide security for a vote that is meant to cement the vast country’s transition from a disastrous civil war.

Just this week two companies of the National Congolese Police (PNC) completed their training under the auspices of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) in collaboration with the Japanese Cooperation Agency (JCA). (…) With the help of the international community, a total of over 46,000 police officers have been trained so far, 14,000 of them by MONUC. The majority has been trained by partners such as South Africa, Angola, France, the European Union and Japan. (…)

The Congolese electorate of 25.5 million voters will be called upon, for the first time in 45 years, to cast their vote in some 50,000 polling stations for some 33 presidential, over 9,000 national legislative and over 10,000 provincial assembly candidates, in polls that will cost hundreds of million dollars.

In a related development, the UN refugee agency reported that the reintegration of thousands of refugees in DRC’s Equateur province is surpassing expectations and could encourage others to return from the neighbouring Republic of Congo. (…)


Codex Alimentarius Commission meets in Geneva

Ensuring safer food for everyone

Geneva/Rome, 29 June - The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international food standards body of the United Nations, will meet in Geneva from 3-7 July 2006 to consider the adoption of a number of important proposals to improve protection of consumers from disease-causing organisms and substances by reducing their contamination of foods. If adopted, the proposals would set standards that would also facilitate international food trade by eliminating unjustified technical barriers. Some 500 delegates from about 100 countries and numerous nongovernmental organizations are expected to attend. (…) Topics on the agenda are complex and some are likely to cause intense debate such as the discussion on the establishment of a Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria is a potential threat to human health. The incorrect use of antimicrobials, or antibiotics, in animals can result in the selection of bacteria that are resistant to these drugs. Through the slaughtering process such bacteria can end up in food. Resistant bacteria in food consumed by humans may cause disease in humans, which cannot be treated by known medicines. The new Codex Task Force would have the mandate to develop a risk assessment policy and strategies to reduce food safety risks associated with use of antimicrobials.(…)


International conference paves the way for red crystal

June 22 - The 29th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has amended the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to incorporate the additional emblem of the red crystal, which now has the same status as the red cross and red crescent. In addition the participants to the International Conference requested that the ICRC and the International Federation recognize and admit the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PCRS) into the Movement.

As a consequence of this successful outcome the ICRC has now recognized the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Israeli National Society, Magen David Adom (MDA), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will admit both National Societies. This outcome extends the universality of the Movement to an important area of Red Cross and Red Crescent operations and strengthens the operational cooperation of the two National Societies with each other and with their international partners in the Movement.

The Conference had been convened as a follow-up to the diplomatic conference of States in December 2005, which adopted the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, creating an additional protective emblem for the Movement, known as the red crystal. (…)

The acceptance by States party to the Geneva Conventions of the Movement’s amended Statutes also means that National Societies can benefit from the flexibility afforded by the Third Additional Protocol in the use of the red crystal or of a combination of emblems recognized by the Conventions. The use of the red crystal will also provide additional protection to war victims and humanitarian workers in conflict situations where the red cross or the red crescent cannot be used. (…)


Lithuania joins the UNECE Agreement on global vehicle regulations

Geneva, 15 June -- On 25 July Lithuania will become a Contracting Party to the 1998 Agreement on Global Vehicle Regulations. This will bring the total number of Contracting Parties to the Agreement to 28. At present, Contracting Parties include the USA, Canada, the European Community, Russian Federation, Japan, China, Republic of Korea, India, Malaysia, South Africa, New Zealand and many other European States. The 1998 Agreement is the legal framework for the development of global technical regulations for vehicles and their components, with the aim of increasing their active and passive safety, reducing their emissions and improving their security (anti-theft) performance. The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) is the body that administers the 1998 Agreement. To date, two global technical regulations have been adopted in the framework of the 1998 Agreement. They address door locks and door retention components and the measurement procedure for emissions and fuel consumption of motorcycles. (…)



Human rights



A new financing instrument to promote democracy and human rights

Brussels, 29 June - The Commission has adopted a proposal for a self-standing financing instrument to promote democracy and human rights worldwide. The new instrument is to replace the present external assistance scheme (European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights – EIDHR), which will run out by the end of the year. The proposal has immediately been sent to the European Parliament and the Council to ensure an efficient legislative process enabling the instrument to become operational by the beginning of next year. (…)

The proposal for the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights clearly spells out the particular aims of EU assistance under the instrument:

·                     Enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms where they are most at risk and providing support and solidarity to victims of repression and abuse;

·                     Strengthening the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reform, developing political participation and representation, and supporting conflict prevention;

·                     Supporting the international framework for the protection of human rights , the rule of law and the promotion of democracy;

·                     Building confidence in democratic electoral processes through further development of electoral observation and assistance.

Past experiences made with the predecessor scheme (European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights) have been taken into account in the new proposal. There will be a higher degree of flexibility in the EU’s assistance response to changing situations in human rights and democracy processes, while at the same time internal Commission reforms will ensure a smoother and simpler delivery procedure.


Fight modern slavery in Cambodia

29 June - For the fifth year in a row DanChurchAid cooperates with Roskilde Festival (Copenhagen, June 29-July 2) about the humanitarian focus "Act against slavery". The money raised from the humanitarian bottle refund collection will be donated to DanChurchAid partners in Cambodia. DanChurchAid cooperates with the Roskilde Festival about the humanitarian focus at the festival and the humanitarian refund collecting campaign.  Since 2002, DanChurchAid youth volunteers have been in charge of the humanitarian refund collecting campaign at the Roskilde Festival.

Like in 2005, the campaign 'Act Against Slavery' will encourage the festival guests to donate their refund fees on bottles, beer crates and glasses to help the victims of modern slavery. This year - like the previous years - DanChurchAid will stage a big event to make everybody at the festival aware of the horrors of modern slavery and opportunities to fight it.

During the opening Sunday, 30.000 eager festival guests took over the camping grounds, and it didn’t take long before the party got started. Soon 79.000 guests are ready for the full scale festival experience.

DanChurchAid is one of the major Danish humanitarian non governmental organisations (NGO), working with churches and non-religious civil organisations to assist the poorest of the poor. When you buy your ticket for Roskilde Festival, you are supporting a good cause. Each year, Roskilde Festival donates any profits from the festival to humanitarian and cultural purposes.


World Refugee Day: Sudanese teenager transforms pain into art

Joyce Mulama

Nairobi, June 19 (IPS) - The drawing shows a woman clasping a child to her chest. Aptly titled 'Embrace', it depicts a memory that has haunted the artist, a former child soldier from the civil war in southern Sudan who goes by the name of Commander Spoon.  "This woman was carrying one baby on her chest, and holding two others in both her hands. As she was fleeing the fighting, she met me and my colleague. She was crying, asking us not to shoot them, but my colleague shot her and her children," said Spoon, describing an incident that took place in 1997. "I really cried, and drew my gun at my colleague: I wanted to kill him. He drew his at me, but our commander intervened and we dropped the weapons...Since that time, the picture of this woman remains vivid in my mind." The image will also be imprinted on the minds of others, on World Refugee Day (June 20). Spoon's drawing has been copied on T-shirts to be worn by those taking part in events to commemorate the day in Kenya, where the teenager now lives as a refugee.

This comes after the work took second place in a contest for child refugees attending schools in the capital, Nairobi, which was initiated by the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) -- attracting 180 entries. (…) Spoon told IPS that he wanted to show the world what had happened in Sudan during the 21-year war between rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Khartoum government. About two million people died in the course of the conflict, which also displaced close to four million, according to the United Nations.

The incident shown in 'Embrace' was just one of several that Spoon says he witnessed after being recruited to the SPLM/A. Unable to deal with these events, he eventually fled to neighbouring Uganda, then Kenya in 2004. He is now in the Riruta Satellite Primary School in Nairobi.

Following an agreement last year to end fighting in south Sudan, Spoon would have liked to return home. But, the devastation wrought by the conflict gave him pause for thought. (…)


ADRA partners with UN to fight human trafficking

June 28 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) leadership from its office in Thailand met recently with representatives from the United Nations to discuss ADRA’s Keep Girls Safe Project, an initiative that combats human trafficking in Thailand. With approximately 800,000 prostitutes under the age of 18, and 200,000 of these aged 12 or younger, Thailand is one of the sex trade’s worst offenders.

The Keep Girls Safe Project works to reduce the threat of commercial sexual exploitation to vulnerable girls and young women from disadvantaged regions of northern Thailand. It provides educational support for the girls, supplying uniforms, textbooks, stationery, and transportation, along with training in vocational skills. Depending on need, some also receive assistance with living expenses and housing. The project works to empower the girls, as well as raise awareness in the community to the risks and problems of human trafficking. (…)


FEANTSA conference on ensuring access to health for homeless people – Poland, 12-13 Oct.

FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless organises in Poland, on the 12 and 13 October 2006 a conference entitled "The right to health is a human right: ensuring access to health for homeless people".

FEANTSA 2006 annual theme focuses on health and homelessness. Withing this framework, the conference aims to point out the difficulties and issues with which homeless people are faced - ranging from the type of health problems faced by homeless people and the issue of complex and multiple needs; barriers to care faced by homeless people and finding solutions to overcome them; policy solutions to tackle the health needs of homeless people; and the right to health for homeless people.

The conference aims to bring together policymakers, homelessness service providers and healthcare professionals from across the EU to establish a better common understanding and what could be the role of the EU. The conference will feature 5 workshops: Ensuring access to health for homeless people; Mental Health and Dual Diagnosis; The Right to Health; Information and Training for Health; Health Promotion (…)



Economy and development



General Assembly’s budget committee lifts cap on UN spending

28 June – The General Assembly’s budgetary committee today decided to lift the spending cap on the remainder of the United Nations’ two-year fiscal period, authorizing Secretary-General Kofi Annan to utilize the remaining funds in the budget for 2006-2007.

Saying that not enough progress had yet been made in the reform of the Organization, the United States, Japan and Australia dissociated themselves from the consensus decision to lift the cap, which stems from a December decision of Member States to adopt a budget for the 2006-2007 biennium but to limit spending authorization to six months and $950 million, pending significant progress on such reform.

Last week, UN Controller Warren Sach warned the budget Committee that under the cap the “last dollar available” would be spent before mid-July. Mr. Annan has recently expressed optimism that the cap, backed by major donors and opposed by many developing countries, would be lifted since progress in UN reform is ongoing and the Organization is involved in too many crucial operations at the current time for the world to allow them to stall.

In that vein, before today’s vote, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson sent a letter to Member States listing reforms achieved so far during the Assembly’s 60th session, including the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, the Central Emergency Response Fund and the Ethics Office. He also detailed the work being done on management and procurement reform, two priority concerns of the donor nations. Along with lifting the cap, he urged all Members to commit themselves to agree on a resolution containing “concrete and substantive measures” on the management and oversight issues by 30 June.


OECD and FAO to present world Agriculture Outlook at Paris news conference - 4 July

Rome, 30 June - How will agriculture develop across the world over the next 10 years? What will be the effects of rising demand and production in countries such as China, India and Brazil? Such questions are tackled by the OECD and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation in their latest joint study to be presented at a news conference at the OECD’s headquarters in Paris at 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday 4 July 2006.

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2006-2015 presents the latest forecasts of trends and prices of farm products and assesses the challenges and uncertainties ahead. A central theme of the study is the increasing importance of certain developing countries in shaping the future of world agricultural trade. The news conference will be presented by Loek Boonekamp of the OECD and Merritt Cluff of the FAO.


IFAD to provide an additional US$2.1 million loan to Maldivian fishing and farming communities to help recover from the tsunami by building back better

Rome, 30 June – Fishing families and small farmers in remote islands of the Maldives whose livelihoods were devastated by the December 2004 tsunami, will benefit from additional financing for a development programme. The programme focuses on asset recovery and rehabilitation, and on strengthening the country’s fishing and agriculture sectors. The first financial contribution towards the US$5 million Post-Tsunami Agricultural and Fisheries Rehabilitation Programme was approved by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in April 2005 in the form of a US$2.1 million highly concessionary loan and a grant of US$200,000. The new US$2.1 million loan will add to this. The remaining programme costs will be covered by the Government of the Maldives.(…)

The IFAD-supported recovery, rehabilitation and development programme will help restore the country’s fisheries and agricultural sector. Using the principle of building back better, it will provide fishing communities with new boats and cold storage facilities and build new receiving stations for cleaning and processing fish. Small farmers who lost their harvests will be assisted with sustainable farming techniques to help improve their crops and make them less vulnerable to natural disasters. New farming tools and equipment will replace those damaged by the tsunami and a new agricultural produce market will be built in Male’ to help establish marketing channels for producers on remote islands.


Nepal to tap promising trade potential

29 June  - Conflict, poor infrastructure, a narrow range of exports, and slow customs procedures have severely limited Nepal’s share of global exports (0.02%). Through a million-dollar project launched in Kathmandu earlier today, the Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) plan to boost the nations share of international business. As Nepal embarks on its peace process, a trade strategy that fosters growth in jobs and key sectors like agriculture could significantly rejuvenate an economy battered by conflict,” said UNDP Resident Representative Matthew Kahane.  Under the newly launched project, the Government and UNDP will explore Nepals trade potential in three promising new areas: education, health, and high-end retail services. According to a new regional report—also launched today by UNDP—developing countries need to carve out their own niche to succeed in the highly competitive world of global trade; but it is crucial that agriculture is not left behind.

The new Asia-Pacific Human Development Report: Trade on Human Terms, which charts trades impact on progress in the region, concludes that in most developing countries a greater engagement with international markets has been accompanied by a rise in income inequality. 

“Inequality is at the root of Nepals conflict.  Therefore it is crucial that Nepal doesnt follow the trend we have seen in other countries. We should view trade as a means for achieving human development, rather than an end in itself. In a country where most people rely on farming, a trade strategy based on human development has to have agriculture at its core,” Mr. Kahane said. (…);jsessionid=avCOtc6o3jGb

New project to help smallholders and indigenous people in Paraguay improve their livelihoods

Rome, 22 June  Organizations of small-scale producers in Paraguay, many of whom have been badly affected by ten years of decline in the traditional cotton industry, will be helped to identify possible new business ventures through a project backed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Empowerment of Rural Poor Organizations and Harmonization of Investments Project will also assist small-scale farmers with low productivity and limited potential, indigenous groups, rural families headed solely by women and young people. About 120,000 people in eastern Paraguay will benefit. At least one third of them will be women. The project is partly financed by a loan of US$12 million from IFAD. The loan agreement was signed at the organization’s headquarters in Rome today by the Vice President of IFAD, Cyril Enweze and Paraguay’s Ambassador to Italy, Jorge Figueredo Fratta.(…) Young people, indigenous people and women are expected to benefit from project activities. About 72 per cent of Paraguay’s indigenous people are under the age of 30 and they have very limited employment opportunities. Women are largely excluded from social and economic development and many rural women are slipping into deeper poverty. The project will include both groups in activities to strengthen local organizations and in the preparation of business plans.

“In the past, there has been little attention to strengthening subsistence agriculture in Paraguay”, says Paolo Silveri, IFAD’s country programme manager for Paraguay. “This project will support organizations to enable them to manage their own resources and improve their access to existing national resources.”(…)


IFAD loan to fight poverty in Albania’s mountain areas

Rome, 20 June -  A private rural commercial bank providing financial services that promote economic growth will be set up as part of a new development programme supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The programme aims to improve the lives of poor Albanian men and women living in remote mountain areas of the country. The bank is an innovation in Albania. It will be created through the conversion of the already-existing Mountain Areas Finance Fund as part of IFAD’s Programme for Sustainable Development in Rural Mountain Areas. It is expected that by 2010 the bank will provide computerized services through 40 branches in rural areas, catering for around 20,000 clients with savings accounts. About 10,000 borrowers will be able to expand their rural businesses through bank loans. The new bank will have a total loan portfolio of US$40 million.

The five-year programme will cost US$24 million and will be partly financed by a loan of US$8 million from IFAD. The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD’s Rome headquarters by the President of IFAD, Lennart Båge, and the chargé d’affaires, Embassy of the Republic of Albania in Rome, Ilir Tepelena.(…)


Asia’s first Training Centre for Information Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) opens in the Republic of Korea

Bangkok, 16 June (United Nations Information Services)--- The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) opened today its first Information and Communication Technology for Development Training Centre in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

The Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) aims to improve knowledge and productivity for long-term economic growth and sustainable development of the region. The Centre is located in the Metropolitan City of Incheon and is expected to contribute to bridging the digital divide through providing training to policy makers, ICT professionals and trainers, and assisting in the sharing best practices in the area of ICT development among member and associate member countries of UNESCAP.(…)Under the terms of MOU, Microsoft will support the APCICT in a variety of ways including the provision of software and services, and assistance in the development of a technology and training roadmap for the Centre. Microsoft will also provide ICT education, certification, and support to APCICT trainers.

The ICT training centre being inaugurated in the Republic of Korea in month of June when the first computer was installed in the country in 1967 and has since been celebrated as the “information month” since 1988.






Save Eradicating hunger: the European Commission steps up its efforts in food aid and food security with a €197 M package

Brussels, 27 June - The European Commission has adopted its 2006 Annual Work Programme for grants in the area of food aid and food security with a global budget of € 197 million. The EC approach is focused on the integration of food security policy within the fight against poverty, hence recognizing hunger as the basic dimension of poverty. Activities foreseen in the Annual Work Programme aim at contributing to the achievement of the first Millennium Development Goal: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. (…)

The European Commission is committed to give priority to food security operations instead of food aid. Reinforcing rapid alert systems, developing national strategic stocks to prevent dramatic imbalances of local markets in case of severe drought or plagues or improving children's nutrition through schools are key actions of Commission's sponsored programs.

The present Annual Work Programme covers commitment appropriations available in 2006 for grants to International Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations. (…)


Direct Relief International gives additional half-million dollars for Asian tsunami aid

Direct Aid will assist partner organizations in the areas of maternal and child health

Santa Barbara, CA, June 26 – One and a half years after southeast Asia was devastated by the tsunami of December 26, 2004, humanitarian assistance non-profit organization Direct Relief International has announced it is disbursing an additional $595,551 in grants to host country partners in the still-recovering region.

The sum is split among seven individual grants, with five directed to partners in Sri Lanka and two to partners in Indonesia (…)  With these new grants, Direct Relief has provided over $54.8 million in medical material aid and cash grants to the Indian Ocean region since the disaster struck, serving over 4.4 million people. (…)


Paul Tergat: school meals help guarantee success

Tokyo, 3 July - Paul Tergat, the world-record holding marathon runner from Kenya, is the star of this year’s Japan Advertising Council campaign which starts rolling out next month all over the country. In the series of TV, print and radio ads, Tergat attributes much of his success to the meals provided by WFP to his school while he was growing up. “Without those meals, I probably would not have become the achiever that I am today,” said Tergat at the launch of the Japan Advertising Council campaign. Tergat is also a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger, and thus a very active advocate in the fight against global hunger.  “Paul Tergat is truly one of the most impressive examples of what people can achieve when they get an education and good nutrition,” said James Morris, Executive Director of WFP. “We are so grateful to the Japan Advertising Council, which is helping us reach a much wider audience of people willing to support our cause.”

This is the third consecutive year that the Japan Advertising Campaign has chosen to support the work WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation. Last year, it provided school meals for 22 million children in 74 countries, and it aims to increase that number dramatically. (…) The campaign will run on television and radio for one year, thanks to the Japan Advertising Council. It will also feature in magazines and on billboards in subway stations around thecountry. One of Japan’s leading actors, Takashi Naito, narrated the advertisements in Japanese. (…)


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributes $500,000 for earthquake relief

Westport, CT, USA, June 20 - Save the Children announced today a $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support emergency relief efforts in Java following the devastating earthquake that hit the region on May 27. (…) More than 40,000 children were affected by the earthquake. Even more have been displaced due to a looming volcano eruption from Java's Mount Merapi.

In the immediate aftermath of the devastation, Save the Children has been on the ground focusing on providing shelter to the displaced children and families, and attending to the emotional needs of children by providing play kits and designating safe play areas. Because the earthquake happened around the same time students in Java were preparing to take their end-of-year final exams, Save the Children has also committed to distributing school supplies for teachers and students, and classroom tents so that their education may continue.

In December of 2005 the foundation gave a $60 Million grant to Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives global initiative. This generous contribution to earthquake relief efforts from the foundation puts Save the Children significantly closer to reaching its goal of raising $3 million in emergency relief funds that will be needed to continue to help communities recover in the next three to six months.


New Zealand businessman to lead international humanitarian organization

Evanston, Ill. USA, 5 July – William B. Boyd, a retired magazine distribution executive from Auckland, New Zealand, took office on 1 July as president of Rotary International, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations.  Founded in Chicago in 1905, Rotary now supports more than 32,000 clubs in nearly 170 countries, with 1.2 million members.

Rotary's top philanthropic goal is to eradicate polio worldwide. Since establishing the PolioPlus program in 1985, Rotary members have helped to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries, and have contributed more than US$600 million and countless hands-on volunteer hours to the cause.

Besides polio, Boyd says he will make three other major important humanitarian issues his priority – literacy, hunger relief, and clean water.  During his one-year term as head of Rotary, Boyd will encourage Rotary clubs around the world to partner with local governments and other non-governmental organizations to initiate projects that improve literacy and provide clean water to people in developing countries.


NDP honors baseball stars' contributions to Dominican Republic

Boston, 29 June - In an emotional ceremony, 2004 World Series champions David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez were reunited tonight at Fenway Park to celebrate another grand triumph: Their generous support to the United Nations Development Programmes relief and recovery efforts in Jimani, Dominican Republic, in the aftermath of devastating floods in May 2004.

Fans at sold-out Fenway Park joined Dominican Ambassador Flavio Dario Espinal and UNDP Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic in saluting the Dominican superstars, Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry and the team’s charitable foundation. The crowd roared when Ortiz and Ramirez embraced their former teammate Martinez, now pitching for the New York Mets, in the ceremony at home plate minutes before the game, and cheered even louder after viewing a video presentation of thanks from the people of Jimani. (…)

As the Fenway Park scoreboard displayed a message saluting the United Nations Development Programme “for recognizing these three gentlemen,” Ortiz, Ramirez, Martinez and Henry accepted plaques in honor of their leadership in the effort. The stadium crowd honored returning hero Martinez with some of its loudest cheers. (…);jsessionid=avCOtc6o3jGb


Record-breaking swim for Indonesia quake effort

Java, 26 June - Dodging stinging jellyfish and tackling choppy seas, marathon swimmer Monte Monfore has accomplished a world first and new record off the coast of Central Java to highlight WFP’s efforts to help last month’s earthquake survivors. US-born Mont Menyawakan Island in the South China Sea at 4.43am on 9 June, beginning the swim in darkness to represent the devastation inflicted by the Indonesia earthquake. He finished four hours and four minutes later on the uninhabited Kumbung Island, emerging in the morning sun – a symbol of hope for those affected by the disaster. Following the 12.5 kilometre swim, achieved without fins or wetsuit, Monte made a funding appeal for WFP’s Yogyakarta quake relief effort, saying: “Hundreds of thousands have lost nearly everything and now they must begin rebuilding their lives.” During the hazardous crossing, Monte battled nausea and swam against the current for two hours. The Bali-resident said his love for Indonesia, its people and its oceans kept him going. Monte previously collaborated with WFP for its May 18 Fight Hunger - Walk the Walk initiative, swimming the three kilometre Bali Strait and setting a world record at 29 and a half minutes as cities around the world geared up to march against hunger. He braved the churning waters of the strait to throw the spotlight onto WFP’s school feeding project.


Caritas helps shocked survivors in Yogyakarta’s remote villages

Vatican City, 16 June - Caritas Internationalis continues to provide for the immediate needs of the victims of the earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java in the important historical and religious area of Yogyakarta on 27 May. The organisation is also looking ahead to the reconstruction phase, with Caritas launching an appeal for nearly $US 15.5 million to fund its humanitarian work through December 2008.

According to the most recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 5,700 people lost their lives in the disaster, and over 150,000 homes were completely destroyed. More than 400,000 homes were left damaged.

The Caritas programme will benefit nearly 130,000 people, particularly those in remote rural areas, some of which are only reachable by motorcycle tracks passing through rice paddies. The Confederation is planning the long-term reconstruction of social infrastructure, including schools and damaged medical centres, through their programme in Central Java, in particular in the Bantul, Sleman, Klaten and Guning Kidul districts.

Caritas, using its network of personnel already in the country, is working with the national Caritas in Indonesia, known as Karina, and the parish network of the the Archdiocese of Semarang to coordinate bringing immediate relief to the victims. They have been distributing food, water, tents, tools for clearing debris, baby food and supplies, medicines, clothing, household utensils and hygiene sets. A roving medical clinic has also been accessing the injured in some of the remotest areas, as well as ensuring that children get needed vaccines. Many schools have also been re-opened in tents. (…)


Youth philanthropy efforts to help Darfur

Maryland students raised money and leveraged nearly $500,000 worth of critically-needed pharmaceuticals to send to Darfur on the eve of their eighth grade graduation.

Potomac, Maryland, USA, 21 June  – While students throughout the region are busy attending graduation parties and preparing for summer jobs, camps and family trips, the graduating eighth grade class of Norwood School in Potomac will be doing one better, perhaps much better, than their peers at other schools. With their parents, the students are putting together a shipment of desperately needed pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to aid the people of Darfur, Sudan this summer.  The money raised by the families was leveraged into over a half million US dollars worth of drugs and medications by Counterpart International, a DC-based non-profit development agency, which delivers about $100 million worth of humanitarian aid a year. (…)

After almost three years of crises, the western Sudanese region of Darfur is acknowledged to be the most serious humanitarian and human rights tragedy today. According to reports by the World Food Program, the United Nations and the Coalition for International Justice, 3.5 million people are now hungry, 2.5 million have been displaced by violence, and 400,000 people have already died, with a drought and possible famine on the way .

Walter Arbib, whose company SkyLink Aviation of Canada is flying the medicines to Darfur for free, applauded the students' initiative. (…) SkyLink, which operates a lot of the United Nations logistics in the ravaged region, will use its helicopters to deliver the urgently needed medicines to teams in Darfur operated by the International Medical Corps.

Lelei LeLaulu, President of Counterpart International, whose son, Blaise, is also part of the Norwood graduating class, said, "These students may have started a wave of youth philanthropy which could really mature into significant giving by young people and their families."


ADRA opens shelter for victims of domestic violence

June 15 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has opened a shelter for victims of domestic violence in northern Mongolia.  The Family Information and Service Center (FISC), was established to protect victims from their assailants, and provide them with comprehensive legal and psychological aid. The center, located in the northern Mongolia province of Selenge, was completed in early April 2006.

The shelter project developed after the ADRA office in Mongolia conducted an anti-alcohol program in the region and noticed the prevalence of alcohol-induced abuse. (…) One of only four established domestic violence shelters in Mongolia, the center is operated and managed by the National Center Against Violence, a non-governmental organization in Mongolia that works to prevent violence against women and children.

The 20-bed center is the largest in Mongolia, and serves the entire Selenge province. The shelter can accommodate residents for up to three months, during which time they receive counseling, legal advice, food, shelter, clothing, and skills training that will prepare them to become financially independent. (…)



Peace and security



Caritas peace-makers from around the world gather in Sri Lanka 

Bmich, Colombo, 26 June - At a time of crisis in Sri Lanka over 70 peace-builders from the international Catholic humanitarian organisation, Caritas Internationalis, today gathered in Colombo to begin the first ever Caritas world Peace Forum. The delegates, from as far afield as Colombia, Palestine, DR Congo, Ireland and the Philipinnes, will share their widespread experience of working for peace and reconciliation in war-torn communities and provide support  to the Sri Lankan Catholic Church’s efforts in promoting peace. (…)

In Sri Lanka, Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC runs a National Peace Programme aimed at creating a peaceful environment in Sri Lanka which ensures the rights of all communities. Trained peace activists based in all Caritas Sri Lanka’s 13 diocesan centres work with local communities throughout the island, creating inter-religious peace groups and organising awareness-raising seminars and workshops on peace education, human rights and non-violent conflict resolution. 

Exposure visits for children, families, religious and community leaders allow people from different communities an opportunity to share cultural experiences and values, and to build human bonds with one another. Visits to war-affected communities lead to an understanding of the realities of those who are displaced. The National Peace Programme also includes inter-religious peace rallies and marches which help keep the focus on the ongoing peace process.  

Organised jointly by Caritas Sri Lanka and Caritas Internationalis, the Peace Forum continues for three days this week.


DR Congo: Militiamen disarm ahead of deadline

Bunia, 29 June (IRIN) - At least 1,100 former militias have arrived at transit sites in Ituri, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in the past three days, ahead of a 30 June ultimatum by the Congolese army for them to disarm, an official said. (…)

The number of militiamen surrendering their guns at the 12 transit sites across the district is overwhelming, an official of the National Disarmament Commission, known by its French acronym CONADER, said. The officer in charge of CONADER's community office in Ituri, François Nguz, said one of the sites that had initially planned to accommodate 100 ex-combatants per day had received 280 in two days. (…)


Preventing small-arms proliferation – five-year review

Geneva (ICRC), 26 June – Governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations will meet in New York from 26 June to 7 July for the review of the UN programme to eradicate illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Five years after the programme's adoption, this is the first worldwide opportunity to assess progress and decide future action.

Since 2001, a wide variety of steps have been taken at national and regional levels to limit the availability of small arms and light weapons. But it is still not possible to conclude that this process has reduced civilian casualties, afforded humanitarian organizations safer access to war zones, or produced a drop in the availability of illicit arms. The review conference will determine whether global efforts to prevent unregulated availability of such weapons are to be strengthened in the years to come. (…)

Participating as an observer at the Conference, the ICRC will urge governments to draw up a detailed plan to accelerate action on the issue. The ICRC believes governments should agree on standards that define when international arms transfers should not be authorized. Those standards should include a requirement not to transfer weapons that would be likely to be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law. (…)


South Korea: Army removes 2350 land mines

June 29  - The military has removed a total of 2,350 land mines from around military bases in the country heartlands and near the inter-Korean border, the Army said Thursday. The Army will end its land mine-removal operations that began in March 27 next Friday, it said in a statement.

About 770 troops were mobilized for the operations, conducted in areas near six air defense units in the southern part of the country and four sites near the Demilitarized Zone, including areas near to access routes to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, it added. Read full text of the article Army Removes 2,350 Land Mines on the Korea Times website.


Italy renews commitment to humanitarian mine action in Latin America through the OAS

June 19 - The government of Italy pledged a contribution of more than 282,000 euros (some $355,000) to the Organization of American States (OAS) to support landmine clearance operations and the destruction of explosive remnants of war in Latin America. (…)

During the recent OAS General Assembly session, which took place in early June in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Italy’s Permanent Observer to the OAS, Ambassador Gerolamo Schiavoni, underscored his country’s commitment to “concrete collaboration” with the Organization of American States, particularly in strengthening democracy, protecting human rights and supporting humanitarian demining.

This new contribution brings Italy’s total donations to OAS Mine Action Programs to more than $1.4 million. The current contribution will benefit humanitarian demining projects in Central America, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Italy has been an OAS observer country since 1972.


African Student Conference: The Impact of Religion - The Hague, 14 October

The ASC for African students has been organized annually since 1999 at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. These conferences under the title Building Peace in Africa adress critical issues of major concern in the field of advancing peace, justice and sustainable development.

The overall topic 2006 will be the Impact of Religion. The conference is primarily intended for African students studying in the Netherlands and young African Diaspora. But other students or academics with an interest in the subject, representatives of NGOs, officials, and other concerned persons/ organizations are very welcome.

Participation will be free of charge. Contact:  (Vera da Silva)

Please keep visiting our homepage for updates and online registration!






Project HOPE sends second rotation of medical volunteers on a summer-long humanitarian aid mission

June 28, Millwood, Va., USA – Seventeen volunteer physicians, nurses and other health care providers from every corner of the US will join Project HOPE on a continuing humanitarian aid mission aboard the USNS Mercy to bring healthcare to Bangladesh and Indonesia. (…)

These volunteers relieve a portion of the first Project HOPE medical team who joined the mission in May. During the first leg of the humanitarian aid mission, Project HOPE’s medical volunteers evaluated and treated more than 16,000 patients and performed more than 60,500 medical procedures in the Philippines. Through this private/public partnership with the US Navy, Project HOPE brings together multidisciplinary medical teams to provide vital care to those in the Western Pacific and South East Asia. As part of the venture, Project HOPE will send 50 physician and nurses, and medicines and medical supplies to the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh and East Timor.

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world's first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs across five continents.


Red Cross Red Crescent and World Swim for Malaria join forces to combat malaria in Africa

27 June - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced today a new partnership with the London-based charitable Foundation, World Swim for Malaria (WSM). Together they plan to provide life-saving long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) to families in 17 communities in nine East and Southern Africa countries: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda. (…)

This new collaboration efficiently combines resources to achieve results at substantial savings. World Swim For Malaria is providing mosquito nets; the International Federation is supporting shipping costs; and the Red Cross societies are integrating the distribution in their established home-based care programmes for HIV/AIDS clients and families at no additional cost. To ensure that households hang and use nets correctly, Red Cross volunteers will continually check on the households to provide encouragement and education on the use of the nets. (…)

World Swim For Malaria, a simple grassroots initiative, took place between Dec 2005 and June 2006. A quarter of a million people in more than 150 countries swam, splashed, had fun and raised funds in what was the world’s largest ever participatory swim. (…) A second World Swim For Malaria will take place in April 2008 with a target of 1 million people swimming on one day.

This first collaborative distribution aims at distributing 28,000 bednets to protect 100,000 children and pregnant women.


Australian Government gives UNICEF $9.1 million to scale up support for children affected by AIDS in three African countries

New York/Nairobi, 23 June - The Government of Australia has committed US$9.1 million to UNICEF to help the governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania increase the number of children affected by AIDS who are reached by basic services.

In announcing the funding commitment, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Alexander Downer MP, said that the Australian Government’s contribution will help give some five million children better access to education and health care through the UNICEF Children and AIDS Regional Initiative.  The initiative will directly support the ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’ global campaign, led by UNICEF and UNAIDS.

The funds will be used to help families and communities support and care for children affected by AIDS and boost their access to education and health care.  Funds will also be used to support legal and policy reform to protect these vulnerable children. (…)


REACH and breastfeeding: breast is still the best

EPHA Environment Network, International Babyfood Action Network (IBFAN) and Friends of the Earth have joined forces to protect breastfeeding in the campaign for safer EU chemical policy, known as REACH

On Tuesday 27 June 2006, in the European Parliament, Friends of the Earth Europe launched “Toxic Inheritance”, a report revealing that traces of 300 man-made chemicals are found in breast milk. The report examines studies that analyse breast milk to measure persistent pollutants in humans, revealing the worrying presence of over 300 toxic chemicals in breast milk. In this context, the report makes recommendations to strengthen REACH in the second reading, in order to tackle chemical contamination.

In April 2006, the World Health Organisation confirmed breastfeeding as optimal for child health when new growth reference standards were agreed that refer to breastfeeding as “the biological norm” in international benchmarks for children’s growth. This implies that a lack of breastfeeding presents a risk to the baby and to the child and to health later in life. Besides, the World Health Assembly adopted in May 2006 a resolution on infant and young child nutrition calling for the promotion of breastfeeding. IBFAN International Babyfood Action Network reasserts as well that despite the adverse effects of human exposure to hazardous chemicals at all stages in our lives, studies show that breastfeeding has a protective effect. Besides, breastmilk is environmentally friendly; it is a unique and renewable natural resource, perfectly adapted to each individual baby. Breastfeeding generates no waste: there are no problems of disposal of plastics and packaging, no transport costs and no traffic pollution.


Rotary helps world move closer to polio-free status

Copenhagen, 13 June — In 2005, Rotary International contributed US$24.2 million and countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than 400 million children in 49 countries against polio — a crippling and sometimes fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Rotary and its global partners at the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, also helped the world move several critical milestones closer toward eradicating polio globally — Rotary’s top philanthropic goal. These include the successful introduction of more efficient and targeted oral polio vaccines, reaching children in the hardest endemic areas and ending the epidemic in west and central Africa (outside Nigeria).

Great progress has been made in 2005. Two countries were declared polio-free, leaving only four polio-endemic in 2006 (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan). Egypt reported its last poliovirus in January 2005, and Niger's cases in 2005 were all importations from Nigeria. (…)

Health experts agree that stopping the spread of polio can be done this year, except in Nigeria, where at least an additional 12 months will be required to finish the job. (…)

Rotary International is the world’s first and one of the largest volunteer service organizations with 1.2 million members in more than 160 countries. In 1985, Rotary created PolioPlus and set one of the most ambitious goals in the history of global public health to immunize the children of the world against polio. To date, Rotary has contributed nearly US$600 million toward polio eradication. More than 1 million Rotary members have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).


EPA to phase out pesticide that poisons farmworkers

Lawsuit forces EPA to take action to protect workers

Seattle, WA, USA, June 12 -- The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will phase out the use of a pesticide that poisons farmworkers. EPA took the action as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by farmworkers challenging EPA's decision to allow continued use of this pesticide. (…) The pesticide, azinphos-methyl ("AZM"), is a highly toxic organophosphate neurotoxin.  Organophosphate pesticides, derived from nerve agents used during World War II, attack the human nervous system.  Exposure can cause dizziness, vomiting, seizures, paralysis, loss of mental function, and death.  Farmworker families and communities are exposed to organophosphates through "take-home" exposures on clothing, cars, and skin. (…)

EPA has released a draft decision that would phase out all uses of AZM by 2010 with some uses phased out by 2007.  The decision would also eliminate aerial spraying, require 100 foot buffers around water bodies, reduce application rates, require buffers around buildings and occupied dwellings, and require medical monitoring of workers entering fields sprayed by AZM. (…)



Energy and safety



Emissions-free fuel-cell buses debuts in Beijing

Beijing, China, 20 June - Three new Fuel-Cell Buses hit the streets of Beijing today, bringing emissions-free fuel-cell based public transportation to China for the first time. After over 3,000 kilometers of test runs and security checks, today, the buses officially begin running their 18.2 kilometer route from the North Gate of the Summer Palace to the Wudaokou area. "Today marks the first public operation of fuel-cell buses in Beijing, it is the first ever in China, and one of the first in a developing country. The hydrogen refueling station, to be fully operational this summer, will also be the first of its kind in China. -Renaud Meyer, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in China.  Fuel-cell vehicles hold the prospect for zero tailpipe emissions of major air pollutants such as CO, NOx, HCs. They will not only serve to reduce the burden on the environment through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, but will offer a new solution for dealing with the depletion of fossil fuels. (…)

Despite considerable efforts and significant achievements in China to combat air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, China continues to rank second among the world’s largest oil consuming countries. Coal combustion and oil consumption, the two primary sources of air pollution, constitute at least 90% of China’s total energy use. The transport sector, which relies almost entirely on oil, is projected to account for most of China’s new demand for oil over the next 20 years. It is predicted that by 2010, the percentage of emissions from big cities will represent 64% of total emissions from all cities in China.


Office buildings can fight global warming, says World Resources Institute guidebook

Washington, DC, June 21 - Most people associate global warming with industrial polluters. But people who work in office buildings can also significantly impact climate change by introducing energy-efficiency measures to improve building operations. That is the major message in a how-to guidebook released today by the World Resources Institute (WRI) titled Hot Climate, Cool Commerce: A Service Sector Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management. (…)

Case studies in the report detail how service-sector companies have put programs in place to measure and manage their emissions and achieve energy savings. Among the companies profiled are Citigroup, General Electric, IKEA and Staples. (…)

All companies contribute to climate change through their electricity consumption for office lighting, cooling, computers, building equipment, and appliances, as well as fuel use for heating, business travel, and the distribution of products and materials. Electricity and heat (46 percent) and transportation (31 percent) are the two largest U.S. sources of carbon dioxide, which is the most common GHG. (…)

Reducing energy use and managing greenhouse gas emissions can also help build corporate value through competitive positioning, improved shareholder relations, and human-resource management advantages such as better recruitment and retention of employees. (…)

For a PDF of the entire guidebook, reprintable graphics, and other materials, journalists may visit


A New Energy Efficiency 21 tool for climate change mitigation

Geneva, 9 June -- The UNECE Steering Committee of the Energy Efficiency 21 Project (EE21) has approved the new Project Plan for 2006-2009 to promote the formation of a market for energy efficiency and foster financing for energy efficiency investments in countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).

The next phase of the EE21 Project will: (a) accelerate regional networking between national participating institutions and international partners, contributing to regional cooperation on sustainable energy development; (b) promote municipal level projects to enable local and concrete energy efficiency development and meet treaty obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UNECE; and (c) develop and harmonize regional policies and standards to introduce regulatory and institutional reforms needed for the energy efficiency investments that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This new phase of EE21 is intended to enhance regional cooperation on energy efficiency market formation and investment project development. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Environment among 2006 FIFA World Cup winners

Berlin/Nairobi, 3 July  - A pioneering initiative to make the 2006 FIFA World Cup not only entertaining but environmentally-friendly is proving a winning team, it was announced today.  The ‘Green Goal’ project--the inspiration of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the German Ministry of the Environment—aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transport and electricity generation during the month long tournament.(…) A preliminary snapshot indicates that the ‘Green Goal’, which is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and private business, is meeting if not exceedingly expectations.

The Local Organizing Committee (LOC), whose President is the German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, had hoped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically-- partly by encouraging 50 per cent of the estimated 3.2 million fans to take public transport (…) On average, 55 per cent of spectators have been using public transport to travel to and from the stadiums.

Some cities have exceeded expectations. For example Munich had estimated that 30 per cent to 40 per cent of fans would take public transport. So far an astonishing 60 per cent have used the underground train. A significant proportion of fans have also been walking to matches especially in Dortmund, Hanover, Kaiserslautern and Leipzig. (…) Overall the preliminary figures indicate that 70 per cent of fans are coming to matches by means other than private motor cars. The Oeko-Institute cites the introduction of the Kombiticket as one reason for the success. The ticket allows spectators to travel free on public transport on match days.


Finding good news about Latin American and Caribbean forests

FAO meeting highlights examples of effective forest management

Santo Domingo/Rome, 26 June  – Latin American and Caribbean countries gathered here for a high-level FAO meeting on forests today launched a new initiative to collect case studies of successful forest management from around the region so that they can be replicated elsewhere.
(…) "The idea is to use these examples of responsible forest management to help chart a course for improved management of forestry resources across the entire Latin American and Caribbean region," said Carlos Marx Carneiro, an FAO senior forestry officer.

On the surface, the task seems a daunting one: FAO statistics show that Latin America and the Caribbean had the world's highest rate of forest loss for the 1990-2005 period, with the region's forest area declining from 51 percent to 47 percent of the total land area, primarily due to the conversion of forest land to agriculture. Yet despite the grim picture painted by such figures, both forestry authorities and FAO experts say there are numerous examples from around the region of sound forestry management programmes in which people are succeeding in effectively managing forests and the benefits of forestry are being shared among local communities. (…)

Through the initiative, government institutions, private sector companies, local communities, and individuals are being invited to nominate examples of success forestry management programs. These will then be carefully screened and analyzed by an inter-regional panel of experts, with some 25-30 programmes covering a wide range of forestry management topics ultimately being selected for in-depth study. (…)


WWF expedition makes discoveries in the Amazon

Juruena National Park, Brazil, 29 June – A WWF expedition into the newly created Juruena National Park deep in the Amazon forest has revealed several potentially new species to science.

Following a preliminary survey, expedition scientists from Brazil's National Institute for Amazon Research and the Amazonas Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development discovered two new frog, fish and bird species, one tree species and one primate. (…)

In addition to these potentially new scientific discoveries, experts on the expedition came across 200 species of birds, ocelots (wild cats), and a pink dolphin. (…) The Amazon river dolphin, one of the world's three freshwater dolphins, is widely distributed throughout much of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Its habitat, however, is threatened by river development projects, and is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (…)

Covering 1.9 million hectares, the establishment of the Juruena National Park is part of ongoing efforts by the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) Programme, a large-scale conservation programme aimed at creating and supporting a system of well-managed protected areas and sustainable natural resource management reserves in the Amazon.

ARPA is a partnership between the Brazilian government, the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, German Development Bank, Brazilian Biodiversity Fund and WWF. (…)


First MOU between UNESCAP and Korean water supply company

Bangkok, 21 June (United Nations Information Services) -- The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water). The MOU covers regional water resource management, as well as risk management to reduce the impact of disasters such as floods, droughts, typhoons in the Asia-Pacific region. “This is the first MOU to be signed between UNESCAP and a national enterprise from a member country of UNESCAP,” said Executive Secretary of UNESCAP Kim Hak-Su. The MOU was signed by Kim Hak-Su and the President of K-water Kwak Kyul-ho at the Headquarters of UNESCAP in Bangkok. UNESCAP and K-water agreed to work together to promote regional cooperation in water resources, especially in identifying opportunities for direct investment, and training within the region.(…)



Religion and spirituality



“The Tripartite Interfaith Forum: A Backgrounder” – New York, 7 July, 10 am – 12 noon

The First Informal Information Session at the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium, UN Headquarters

The Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace is a new initiative to bring together Member States, UN system Agencies and Departments and Religious and Spiritual NGOs.  The Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN and other interested NGOs are invited to attend this first informal session.  An interest in building interfaith cooperation for peace and a UN grounds pass are all that is needed to attend this meeting.  

If you can not attend and want additional information, please contact Monica Willard, Secretary for the Committee of Religious NGOs at


Habitat for Humanity and Armenia Apostolic Church join forces to serve people in need

An exciting “Building on Faith” project is underway in Armenia:  The Armenian Church and international housing charity Habitat for Humanity are preparing for a 37-home build for families in need, September 5-9. During the “Catholicos Karekin II Work Project: An Armenian Building on Faith Project”, 37 homes will be built with families in need - symbolizing 36 worldwide Dioceses, plus the Holy See, representing the Catholicos of all Armenians - near the Armenian capital city, Yerevan.  Supporters are needed -- Armenian churches are encouraged to galvanize teams to fundraise and to join the build.

In Armenia, 45% of the population lives in poverty.  Over the past decade, the country has suffered ramifications of a devastating earthquake which left 500,000 homeless; a conflict, which hampered rebuilding; the collapse of the Soviet regime, and a newfound independence.  All have led to economic crisis, and poverty. The partnership seeks to rebuild Armenia.“Through this partnership, we are ‘putting our faith into action,’” said Bishop Vicken Aykazian.  “Morally and spiritually, we share common values with Habitat for Humanity: above all, to help people in need.”

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing.  More than 1 million people around the world are living in Habitat homes they helped build, and pay for through no-profit mortgages. For information on how to become a supporter, or how to get involved in the Armenian Build on Faith event, please visit: , or write to


Russian professor receives award for contributions to discourse on science and spirituality

Moscow, Russian Federation, 29 June (BWNS) -- Despite what might be expected from a scientist, for Dr. Gudrat Seyfi, faith plays a key role in his understanding of science. "For me faith implies wisdom that gives answers to the question to which science has not found answers yet," he explains. "The principle of the interaction of science and religion allows a scientist to advance a more complete cognition and understanding of the world as a whole."  Dr. Seyfi's creative and innovative approach in understanding the sciences from a spiritual perspective and his contribution to the discourse of science and religion were formally recognized at a special session of the Scientific Council of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences this March.

The author of several books and numerous articles on faith and science, spirituality and comparative religion, Dr. Seyfi, the vice-director of the Scientific Centre "Eurasia" of the Russian Academy of the Natural Sciences, was awarded a diploma with the highly merited status of "Academician" by the Academy. He recognizes, however, that his perspective, once considered radical, is becoming more widespread. (…) A member of the Baha'i Community of Moscow, Dr. Seyfi describes his own approach to science as being deeply connected to his understanding of the spiritual evolution of humanity. (…)



Culture and education



The Creative Gallery on Sustainability Communications

UNEP is presenting the first international online database of corporate and public advertising campaigns specifically dedicated to sustainability issues and classified by sustainability themes.

The Creative Gallery on Sustainability Communications is the result of a thorough selection, which started with the viewing of over 40,000 ads. The campaigns highlighted in this Gallery address sustainability issues through various themes, tones, types of media and strategies. Some reflect companies' public commitment towards social and environmental issues. Others feature awareness campaigns from public authorities. Some aim to favour the purchase of green products and services, others strive to change citizens' or consumers' attitudes. The Gallery also compile case studies taken from existing UNEP publications like Communicating Sustainability and Talk the Walk. By gathering these campaigns from all around the world, UNEP wishes to inspire and foster more and better communication on sustainability issues from all stakeholders involved in the promotion of sustainable development. However, the selected campaigns do not constitute an endorsement by the United Nations Environment Programme for any message, brand, company or public advertiser.

This Creative Gallery is also designed to aid and promote the area of research, education and information relating to the marketing, advertising and communication business. Therefore, we invite all advertisers - companies, governments, local authorities, consumer organisations, NGOs, etc. - to submit their campaigns in this database in order to share their experience with other communication experts and to ensure that this Gallery remains a living tool, constantly fed by external inputs.(…)


World Vision to provide 10 temporary schools

by Bartolomeus Marsudiharjo - World Vision Indonesia Communications

World Vision will provide 10 temporary schools in Bantul and Klaten districts so that the children in the area can have a comfortable study environment when the new schooling year start in mid-July.

Hundreds of school buildings collapsed when a powerful quake struck the districts on May 27.

World Vision will set up temporary schools in Kebon Dalem, Baturan, Mlese, Banyuripan and Balak villages in Klaten district in Central Java province; as well as in Pandowoharjo, Canden, Terong, Mangunan, Karangtalun villages in Bantul district, in Yogyakarta province. Ronny Ichwan, World Vision Indonesia area coordinator for Klaten district, said each school would be provided with seven large tents, 240 tables, 240 chairs, six blackboards, 2,400 sets of textbooks, a water tank and latrine rooms. “We have ordered the equipment, and hope to handover the temporary schools early in July,” Ichwan predicted.

Six tents will be used for classrooms as primary schools in the region consist of six grades. One tent will be used as teachers’ room.


June 21, 2006: First Global Harmony Day

On June 21, 2006, co-authors of the International site "A New Culture of Peace from Social Harmony and Children’s Priority" ( ), which unites about 150 authors from 28 countries of the world, celebrated the first Global Harmony Day in the history of mankind, established in the Harmonious Era Calendar, which is created by the site’s 27 co-authors. Global Harmony Day is a key date of this Calendar. Dr Semashko, director of the named site and initiator of the Calendar is a founder of this day. He defines its as the uniting centre, common denominator and focusing date of a new Calendar in view of the special vital meaning of harmony. (…)

The Global Harmony Day unites all people of the world. It is a happy holiday of Harmony for Mankind! The authors have congratulated all people with harmony, which mankind begins to master as a positive alternative to poverty, injustice, pollution, humiliation and wars!

Surprising, but a nonrandom coincidence has taken place on June 21, when simultaneously, together with the Global Harmony Day, the Global Harmony Foundation in Washington DC rang the Global Harmony Bell at Capitol Hill and took a Minute of Peace. (…)


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Next issue: 28 July 2006.


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