Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 13



Weekly - Year VIII, number 13 – 26th October 2007

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



Asia-Europe young leaders symposium: 2nd Conference for young political leaders

Copenhagen (Denmark), October 24-28

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)  is pleased to announce the upcoming 2nd Conference for Young Political Leaders, to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark from the 24th to 28th October, 2007. The conference shall examine the Future of ASEM: Youth Responses to Global Challenges by bringing together representatives of youth branches of political organisations and young leaders who hold a position of responsibility in those youth organisations recognized as having an influence on national or international politics.

The conference shall also culminate in the drafting and dissemination of a subsequent Report and Declaration which shall be submitted for the consideration of the ASEM Heads of State and Government in October 2008.

ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 27 EU Member States and the European Commission with 16 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.



Human rights



United Nations in Russia launches website for people with disabilities

On 19 October, in view of the annually marked United Nations Day the UN Office in the Russian Federation organizes a launch of its new website adapted for persons with disabilities. Adaptation of the UN website for people with disabilities was carried out in accordance with international standards developed by the Web Accessibility Committee of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). As a result, the website that has English and Russian versions, has become one of few websites with full access for blind and visually impaired users in Russia and globally.

The question of accessibility to electronic means of communication has become central at UN events dedicated to the rights of disabled persons and modern information and communication technology (ICT). In Russia, this issue has gained importance in view of the coming ratification of the recently adopted international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the same time, there is a better understanding that ICT for disabled persons is not only an essential instrument for integration in the life of society, but also a significant operational factor that allows these people making a valuable contribution for the benefit of the society.  (…);jsessionid=a25_CHzpZSW6


New guide on building age-friendly cities

London/Geneva, 1 October - WHO today releases the first guide on age-friendly cities. The guide, which is based on consultations with older people in 33 cities in 22 countries, has identified the key physical, social and services attributes of age-friendly urban settings. Istanbul, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, and Tokyo were part of the consultation along with many other regional centres and towns. The publication titled Global age-friendly cities: a guide is being launched in London and in Geneva on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons. (…)

Led by New York, other cities are exploring what makes cities more age-friendly for increasing older migrant populations. "Age-friendly cities benefit people of all ages, not just older people, and WHO is committed to disseminating and promoting the implementation of the guide worldwide," said Mrs Daisy Mafubelu, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family and Community Health. The guide is aimed primarily at urban planners, but older citizens can use it to monitor progress towards more age-friendly cities. At its heart is a checklist of age-friendly features. For example, an age-friendly city has sufficient public benches that are well-situated, well-maintained and safe, as well as sufficient public toilets that are clean, secure, accessible by people with disabilities and well-indicated. (…)



Economy and development



12 Projects reach final stage of "Experiences in social innovation" competition

Finalists will participate in the Innovation Fair

18 October - Twelve projects from eight Latin America countries are finalists in the 2006-2007 round of the Experiences in Social Innovation competition, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The projects come from Argentina (2), Bolivia (1), Brazil (4), Colombia (1), Ecuador (1), El Salvador (1), Mexico (1) and Peru (1). Among them are initiatives to provide telephone assistance to the elderly, improve the quality of life of pre-schoolers living with HIV/AIDS, reduce maternal-infant mortality and generate income.

This year, seven of the finalists work in areas of youth and/or education, including prevention of violence in schools; student housing in a family setting; literacy training; protection of teen domestic workers; alternatives to gang membership, and inclusive access to education. All the initiatives contribute to progress in meeting Millennium Development Goals and promoting social cohesion, with innovative approaches to improving community health, education, nutrition, environmental protection and income generation, through activities that promote gender equity and attention to youths.

The 2006-2007 competition finalists will be joined by the five prizewinners from last year's contest at the Innovation Fair -- to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, from 4 to 7 December - to showcase their achievements and share experiences with the general public. The Awards Ceremony will be held Friday, 7 December. (…) 


Rural Bangladeshi woman is a 'Barefoot Researcher'

New York, 17 October - Momana Begum, a rural Bangladeshi grandmother who never learned to read or write, is making a profound difference in her village. Momana comes from one of the most destitute families of an extremely poor village. Despite seemingly insurmountable poverty, Momana—and her colleagues—are improving her village and demonstrating that even those most marginalized—either because they are poor or because they are women—can impact and improve their community.

In 2005, The Hunger Project in Bangladesh launched a “Barefoot Researcher” which finds its roots in Participatory Action Research (PAR). Barefoot Researchers are volunteers from the poorest areas and are among the most destitute people within these very poor villages. The Barefoot Researchers are trained by The Hunger Project to identify the obstacles they and their neighbors face, understand the underlying factors of those obstacles and then create solutions. Barefoot Researchers are empowered to enroll and mobilize others in their communities to work with them to carry out those solutions.

Momana, after receiving her training, formed a research team of 25 other poor women from her village. These women performed a census of their village, systematically identified the main issues people had—and then armed with that data, took action. (…)  Momana—and the other 5,000 Hunger Project Barefoot Researchers throughout Bangladesh—have come to discover that poverty is not their fate, that they are not less worthy and valuable human beings. Momana—and the others—have discovered that they have the skills, ability, intelligence and creativity to discover the issues that most important to their community and cause change to address those issues. They find that they have the ability and skills to end their own hunger and poverty. (…)

The Hunger Project is an international NGO that works in partnership with grassroots women and men in more than 22,000 villages across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America to sustainably end their own hunger.


ECLAC and the Government of Germany will focus cooperation in areas of social cohesion, technology and innovation

Other initiatives will be developed in sanitation, decentralization and renewable energies

16 October - The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and InWEnt Capacity Building International, of Germany, today signed a Memorandum of Understand aimed at fostering mutual cooperation through a series of joint initiatives over the next three years.  The agreement (…) outlines a framework for the development of cooperation projects and strategic association, as stipulated in the April 2007 agreement between ECLAC and Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic and Development Cooperation (BMZ) to implement the programme "Toward a More Just and Equitable Globalization."(…) InWEnt (Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung gGmbH / Capacity Building International) is a German organization dedicated to the development of human and organizational resources in international cooperation. It works with technical and management teams, and economic, political, administration and civil society decision-makers.


With project “Clean School”, ADRA improves children’s access to water and sanitation in DRC

Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 12 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) will improve access to safe drinking water and teach practical hygiene and sanitation methods through a three-month project in Katanga province, in southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The newly implemented project, known as Clean School, will run from October to December 2007.

Many rural Congolese families have poor access to clean water and limited understanding of good hygiene, sanitation principles, and practices. The Clean School project will improve the hygiene and sanitation of 12,242 pupils in 18 schools in the town of Lubumbashi by building 208 latrines, providing faucets for hand washing, and drilling five wells. In addition, students will attend classes in hygiene and sanitation education to encourage safer hygiene practices. Classes will focus on the importance of clean water and hand washing.

Funded by UNICEF, the Clean School project is valued at $445,000.

Other current ADRA DRC activities include projects in education, health and sanitation, and nutrition support and rehabilitation, along with a resettlement program for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and families returning from exile and displacement after the country’s decade-long civil war.


Committee on Trade, Regional Cooperation and Integration recommends enhanced intra-African collaboration

Addis Ababa, 11 October (ECA)- The fifth session of the Committee on Trade, Regional Cooperation and Integration of the Economic Commission for Africa ended Wednesday October 10, with the adoption of recommendations urging African regional institutions to enhance their collaboration for the advancement of the continental integration agenda. The outcomes of the meeting focus on the need for key regional integration actors including ECA, the African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (ADB) to design a common framework in support of the rationalization strategies of the Regional Economic Communities, especially in their transformation into Free Trade Areas, Customs Unions and Common Markets. This framework should facilitate the promotion of intra-African trade through the harmonization of trade protocols and policies including rules of origins, efficient management of corridors and the monitoring of non-tariff barriers. (…)


Microenterprise loans will help entrepreneurs create new jobs in Bangladesh

Rome, 10 October – A new US$57.8 million development project will help provide credit to nearly 117,000 microentrepreneurs in Bangladesh enabling them to expand existing small enterprises and develop new ones. Nearly 90 per cent of the borrowers will be women. The Finance for Enterprise Development and Employment Creation Project will also create thousands of jobs for extremely poor rural people. 

The project will be largely funded by a US$35 million loan from IFAD. It is cofinanced by the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and its partner non-governmental organizations, who will contribute US$22 million and US$700,000 respectively. Participants in the projects will also contribute US$60,000. (…) The project will train microentrepreneurs to manage their businesses more effectively. It will also show them how to add value to on-farm and off-farm products during the various stages of the market chain, from the purchase of raw materials to the sale of finished products. (…)


More than 150 countries to mark World Food Day

Special events scheduled for 16 October on “The Right to Food”

Rome, 10 October  – More than 150 countries around the world will observe World Food Day this year, organizing special events, conferences, contests, sports activities and a global candlelight vigil on “The Right to Food”.

FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October, the day the Organization was founded in 1945 in Quebec City, Canada.  This year’s World Food Day theme, "The Right to Food,” highlights a basic human right that is often ignored as severe food insecurity continues to afflict more than 850 million people. The right to food, according to international law, is the right of every person to have regular access to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and culturally acceptable food for an active, healthy life. It is the right to feed oneself in dignity, rather than the right to be fed. Since the 1996 World Food Summit, FAO has worked with governments and communities worldwide to gain recognition for this basic human right. (…)


ECLAC and the Italo-Latin American Institute strengthen their cooperation programme - The two entities will conduct joint activities to promote economic and social development

9 October - The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Italo-Latin American Institute (IILA) today signed a Framework Agreement for Inter-Institutional Cooperation to strengthen joint cooperation activities for the economic and social development of the countries of Latin America and their relations with Italy and the European Union. The agreement was signed at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile, by Ernesto Ottone, Deputy Executive Secretary of this UN regional commission -- in representation of its Executive Secretary, José Luis Machinea -- and by Paolo Bruni, IILA Secretary General.  


ECA embarks on a project to engender the Millennium Development Goals

Addis Ababa, 4 October (ECA) - The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in partnership with UN-Habitat and UNDP's Regional Gender Programme- Africa Bureau, has initiated an important project on “Assessing progress in implementing the Millennium Development Goals in relation to Gender Equality in Africa”. To kick-start this initiative, a workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 26-27 September 2007, gathering representatives from ECA's African Centre for Gender and Social Development (ACGS), the ECA African Centre for Statistics, UN-Habitat and UNDP's Regional Gender Programme- Africa Bureau.

Opening the workshop, Ms. Nefize Bazoglu, Head of UN-Habitat Monitoring Systems Branch, underlined the importance of cooperation and partnership between UN entities and hailed the initiative as a very encouraging example of such cooperation. The current project, she said, “ brings together two UN Programmes and the Secretariat. It also provides the opportunity for closer collaboration between the Gender and the Monitoring Sections within UN-Habitat itself.” (…) Participants also examined potential sources of data and were introduced to UrbanInfo, a user-friendly computer software that UN- Habitat is currently using as a data management tool, combining both data, graphs and maps. Closing the workshop, Mr. Oyebanji Oyeyinka, Director of the Monitoring and Research division of UN-Habitat, underlined that this important strategic partnership should be sustained and extended to other areas of confluence. “It is indeed critical for Africa”, he said, “to generate and disseminate knowledge and information on issues that are at the heart of its development process”.


ASEM Youth Dialogue 2007: Asia-Europe Strategic Choices for Equitable Development

Mindoro (Philippines), 10-17 November 2007 - The ASEM Youth Dialogue provides a valuable challenge through which youth can exchange perspectives on priority themes in the ASEM agenda. The Conference in Mindoro, the Philippines, shall examine "Conscious Choices for Equitable Development", by bringing together up to 40 young representatives from youth organisations working in this field. The programme will include field trips to sustainable development sites, experience sharing, keynote lectures and interactive discussions.

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) was established in February 1997 under the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process. In 2004, the membership grew from 25 to 38 countries, plus the European Commission. ASEF seeks to promote mutual understanding, deeper engagement and continuing collaboration among the people of Asia and Europe through greater intellectual, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges between the two regions. These exchanges include conferences, lecture tours, workshops, seminars and the use of web-based platforms. Hence, a major achievement is the establishment of permanent biregional networks focused on areas and issues pertinent for reinforced Asia Europe relations.


IFAD’s map and study on migrant remittances shows that the money sent home by migrants now tops 301 billion euros, three times official development assistance

On 26 October, Kevin Cleaver, Assistant President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, following the International Forum on Remittances on 18-19 October in Washington, will present some of the highlights of the forum to the foreign press in Rome. He will also present IFAD’s map and study on migrant remittances ‘Sending money home: Worldwide remittances to developing countries’. The study, carried out in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, shows that the money sent home by migrants now tops 301 billion euros, three times official development assistance. 

The IFAD study is the first of its kind to take into account money sent home informally, by hand, post or unregulated community bankers. More than a third of this money is sent to poor rural areas in developing countries, providing a major capital source for development. Both private and public economic players and planners have yet to fully appreciate the enormity of these sums in the new global economy or their possible benefits for the recipients. The International Forum on Remittances brought together key players to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities of remittances and shed light on the rural dimension of these flows (…)

For more information contact: Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes ,






UK aid charity provides rare glimpse from inside North Korea

An exceptional glimpse of life inside one of the world’s most isolated regimes – North Korea – has been provided thanks to a disaster relief charity set up by a UK Rotary club

23 October - ShelterBox specialises in providing emergency accommodation and other survival essentials to disaster victims. Aid is delivered in pre-packaged kits – ‘ShelterBoxes’ – each designed to help a family of 10 survive for at least six months. The charity has just delivered 200 boxes containing tents and other equipment to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), after being asked by the country’s government to help families left homeless by recent floods.

ShelterBox photographer Mark Pearson travelled with some of the boxes to Jigokri, a small village in the province of Kangwon – no more than 25 miles from the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the North and South Korea. The area is extremely sensitive and very few visitors to North Korea are allowed beyond the capital Pyongyang, let alone within such a short distance of the DMZ. (…)  The invitation to assist in North Korea came via First Steps, a Canadian charity that has been operating for several years in the country and was aware of the work of ShelterBox.

The ShelterBox Trust is a UK registered charity organised and administered by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard. The charity’s President is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.  By working through local Rotary clubs in the countries where disasters have occurred, ShelterBox is often able to get aid where it is needed faster than any other organisation. Approximately 45% of funding comes as donations from the UK public. The remaining money is raised by Rotary Clubs worldwide. (…)


Peru and Paraguay hit by extreme weather conditions; European Commission grants aid of Euros 3 million

Brussels, 19 October - The European Commission has taken two decisions on the supply of humanitarian aid to combat the effects of the cold weather in Peru and the drought and forest fires in Paraguay. The two grants of EUR 1.5 million each will provide assistance for around 60 000 people in Peru and 40 000 in Paraguay, all among the most vulnerable. The funds are administered by the Commission's humanitarian aid office (ECHO), under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

"These two countries are accustomed to extreme weather conditions. However, we cannot escape the fact that the associated problems are growing in scale and depriving the local people of any hope of a better existence. Most donors in Peru have shifted the focus of their humanitarian funding from the cold weather to the terrible consequences of the earthquake. In Paraguay, donors have been concerned principally with putting out the fires rather than helping the victims. In both cases, the Commission is stepping in to meet the needs of those who have suffered, seeking to finance projects that have a disaster-preparedness dimension. Let us do what we can to stop history simply repeating itself", said Louis Michel. (…)

For more information on Commission humanitarian aid:


Central African Republic: permanent ICRC presence in Birao

18 October - After opening a sub-delegation in Paoua over 18 months ago and another one in Kaga Bandoro in early 2007, the ICRC has now established a permanent presence in the north-eastern part of the Central African Republic by setting up a third sub-delegation in Birao, near the border with Sudan and Chad.

The ICRC's presence in the area will enable it to assess and respond to the population's needs in terms of protection and assistance, to broaden its contacts, to support the local branch of the Central African Red Cross Society in its efforts to boost its capacities, and to carry out activities aimed at raising awareness of international humanitarian law

Although the situation in the north-east of the country has remained relatively calm in the past few months, the consequences of the violent clashes that took place in November 2006 and March 2007, compounded by torrential rains and a lack of basic infrastructure, have yet to be fully assessed. By establishing a permanent presence in the area, the ICRC hopes to be able to better respond to the situation.


38.7 million people break Guinness World Record for Stand Up and  Speak Out on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Johannesburg, 18 October - Over 38.7 million people, in 111 countries have broken the Guinness World Record – set last year at 23.5 million - for the largest number of people to “STAND UP AGAINST POVERTY” in 24 hours.

The “Stand Up and Speak Out” record attempt took place over 16th and 17th October and was jointly organised by the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) with a wide range of other partners. The challenge saw millions of people physically and intentionally standing up against poverty, inequality and in support of the Millennium Development Goals. They spoke out to demand a more urgent political response to the growing crisis of global poverty.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who led a stand up action at UN Headquarters in New York, said “Today tens of millions of people are making their voices heard by standing up and speaking out against poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals. They are sending messages that call on their leaders to keep their promises. They are calling for the actions of citizens to be matched by the actions of Governments, in developing and developed countries alike, to demonstrate the political will required to end the scourge of poverty once and for all."

For 24 hours from 9pm GMT on the 16th of October people around the world from all walks of life came together in their schools, streets, market places, in front of government buildings and local councils, in workplaces and houses of worship, at sports and cultural events and at public landmarks to demonstrate their frustration that we still live in a world where 50,000 people die daily from preventable causes. The mass mobilisation provided a platform for global civil society seeking more active involvement in the current aid architecture debate, debt cancellation processes, trade negotiations and public accountability monitoring. The largest numbers of people who took part in this mobilisation came from developing countries. (…)

For photos & video, please visit  


Celebrities serve as bingo callers in benefit to build new school in Sudan

Save the Children to build and equip school in Atok, where no school exists today

Washington, DC, October 10 - A group of committed Los Angelinos including Felicity Huffman, Helen Hunt, Ricki Lake, Anthony LaPaglia, Bill Macy, Neil Patrick Harris and Steven Weber joined Save the Children this past Saturday night to host a Bingo Night that raised funds to build a school in the village of Atok in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Due to decades of war, no schools for children exist today in many areas of Sudan including the village of Atok.

The special fundraising event coincides with the first anniversary of Save the Children's Rewrite the Future campaign which seeks to address the educational needs of an estimated 39 million children whose living situations are so unstable as a result of war and conflict that they are prevented from attending school. Actresses, writers and producers from the television and movie industry put together the event including Gabrielle Allan-Greenberg, Gia Carides, Jennifer Crittenden, Jackie Filgo, Juliette Hohnen, Elizabeth Ingold, Allison Smith, Jamie Tarses, and Katie Tarses. LaPaglia and Weber, whose wives are on the committee, emceed the agency's second annual live auction in Los Angeles. Last year's event helped build a school for 270 children in the remote area of Dendi, Ethiopia. (…)


UNDP launches TV spot featuring Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane

Geneva – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) seeks to galvanize global efforts against poverty by launching a new TV spot directed by world renowned film director Wim Wenders, starring UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors Zinédine Zidane and Ronaldo. Created pro-bono by the advertising agency Young & Rubicam (Paris) and produced by LDM Productions the spot shot in Paris on 23 April will be released during the second week of October. It will be broadcast worldwide thanks to the generous support of television channels and networks. In this unusual TV spot, Zidane and Ronaldo simply thank anonymous people in the streets of several cities for what each of them did to help reduce poverty. The aim is to encourage people and institutions alike to take initiatives and cooperate at all levels to succeed in halving poverty everywhere by 2015.

This is one of eight goals adopted in 2000 by 191 governments known as the “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” to combat poverty, hunger, diseases, illiteracy, gender gaps and environmental degradation. In 1990 one person out of three in the world lived on less than a dollar a day. This figure has now dropped to one in five. Although this global success is driven by large countries such as China and India, many countries lag behind and 54 have become poorer. (…)



Bloomberg Family Foundation contributes US$ 9 million to WHO to support life-saving road safety programme

Geneva, 16 September - The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced a US$ 9 million contribution from the Bloomberg Family Foundation to support an important new effort to pilot policies and programmes to prevent the needless loss of life on the world's roads. Demonstration projects in Mexico and Viet Nam will help significantly decrease the death, injury and disability resulting from road traffic crashes - an area of public health which has been underfunded in the past.

Road traffic crashes kill nearly 1.2 million people annually and injure up to 50 million more, with the majority of deaths and injuries occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death globally for 10-to-24 year-olds. Most of these young lives are lost while walking, riding on their bicycles or motorcycles, or using public transport. In addition to the human suffering they cause, road traffic crashes place a huge burden on national economies; their cost in low- and middle-income countries amounts to more than the annual development assistance the countries receive. (…)



Peace and security



German NGO works on landmine clearance in Quang Tri (Vietnam)

15 October - Germany-based Solidarity Service International (SODI) on October 15 started its landmine clearance initiative in a resettlement area for flood victims of the Hai Lang District in central Quang Tri Province. Under the initiative, around 40.8 ha of lands will be cleared to build houses, schools, clinics and farms for the locals.

The organisation plans to clear mines and unexploded ordnances on around 160 ha of cultivated land in the resettlement area by early 2008 with the aim of reducing the instances of injuries and deaths posed to farmers when clearing land for agricultural production.


From Lake Geneva to the Dead Sea: Armin Köhli’s new cycling challenge

9 October - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, together with Municipalities of Nova Gorica and Krsko, Institute of Republic of Slovenia for Rehabilitation, Embassy of Switzerland, Slovenian Cycling organization, Cycling clubs Hit Nova Gorica and Olimp 2004 welcomed Armin Köhli in the Municipality of Nova Gorica on 9 October 2007.

Armin left Geneva on 1 October and plans to arrive to Jordan on 18 November 2007, where the 8 Meeting of State Parties to the Ottawa Convention against landmines is due to take place. By accomplishing this effort, Armin hopes to raise public and media awareness in the fight against the landmines, which causes 15.000 victims every year worldwide, many of them being children. Countries to be crossed are: Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Armin Köhli is a double amputee and endurance cyclist. For several years he has taken part in campaigns to raise awareness about antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs. He has taken on the challenge of a 4800 km bike tour across Europe and the Middle East. For the past four years Armin dedicated his cycling efforts in the fight against landmines by taking part in various projects.


Azerbaijan: New play areas protect children from landmines

Geneva (ICRC), 8 October – The Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society is today opening safe-play areas for children in two villages in the Gazakh district, along Azerbaijan's western border with Armenia.

In Azerbaijan, large numbers of landmines and other explosive remnants of the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict continue to prevent many residents from returning to a normal way of life. This is especially true for the children, whose natural curiosity and desire to play can have deadly consequences if they encounter a mine.

The playgrounds in the Gazakh district are part of an ongoing project that started in 2005, with financial assistance from the Norwegian Red Cross and practical support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Since the beginning of 2007, the ICRC has been providing the Red Crescent with both financial and other support for the project. (…)Over the past two years, 25 safe-play areas have been set up. Another 10 will open this month. The project is just one of many carried out by the ICRC and National Societies around the world to reduce the impact of mines and other explosive remnants of war through practical measures in contaminated areas. (…)


Survivors and States join forces against cluster bombs

Belgrade, October - Cluster bomb survivors gathered in Serbia this week to ensure their rights were at the heart of international efforts to ban the weapon by 2008. Twenty-two of the 26 affected states participated in the Belgrade Conference of States Affected by Cluster Munitions, the latest development in the Oslo Process for a new treaty banning these weapons, which has gathered the support of 82 countries in just seven months. (…)

During the conference, Albania announced it would not produce or trade in cluster bombs, pending the negotiations of a new treaty. Uganda and Montenegro announced they will destroy their stockpiles. Serbia declared it is considering a moratorium.

Survivors from Afghanistan to Uganda were united in their demand for a strong, effective treaty to ban the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all cluster bombs. Clearance of contaminated land, upholding the rights of victims to rebuild their lives, and international financial assistance were equally appealed for. (…)

The CMC is an international network of over 200 civil society organisations in 50 countries committed to protecting civilians from the effects of cluster munitions. Members of the CMC network work together on an international campaign calling on governments to conclude a new international treaty banning cluster munitions by 2008. More information on the CMC is available online at


Bié: British NGO destroys over 1,000 explosives devices (Angola)

At least 1,406 explosive devices were removed and destroyed in the southern Bié province by the British NGO "The Hallo Trust", during the third quarter of 2007.

According to the institution's provincial director, Tomé Filipe, among the explosive devices destroyed there were 50 anti-personnel mines, 38 anti-tanks, 1,069 non-detonated explosive devices and 13 ammunitions of small calibre. The explosive devices have already been deactivated and collected in some mined fields, while others were found in open air in Kuito, Katabola, Chitembo and Kunhinga districts. According to the director, in the same period the NGO cleared an area of 190,913 square metres in the afore-mentioned regions and reduced the dangers of landmines in an area of 130 kilometres of roads. At the moment, as to the official, the institution is carried demining works in some mined fields of Kuito, Chitembo and Katabola districts.


1-2 November: A global convention to ban chemical weapons

The year 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). To promote the work and achievements of the CWC, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in conjunction with the International Council of Chemical Associations and the European Union, is hosting the Industry and Protection Forum (IPF) 2007. (…)

The Forum will take place on 1-2 November 2007 at the World Forum Convention Center (WFCC) in The Hague, The Netherlands. It will promote the implementation of the Convention and awareness of its requirements, and will discuss practical experience with its implementation. It will also help international cooperation in key areas relevant to the Convention, as well as debating and promoting the involvement of the chemical industry in the effective implementation of the Convention. The Forum is being organised for the first time, and will bring together all key stakeholders engaged in the CWC implementation from all over the world. (…)






Rotarians travel to Ethiopia to immunize children against polio 

Rotary International News - 18 October - More than 70 Rotarians from the United States and Canada are working with fellow Rotarians, volunteers, and health workers to administer the oral polio vaccine to children as part of a nationwide immunization campaign in Ethiopia 18-20 October. (…)

Significant progress has been made toward ending polio in Ethiopia, which has not reported a single case of the disease this year. The country recorded 22 cases in 2005 and 17 in 2006 after an outbreak in the Horn of Africa. Vigilant surveillance remains critical, especially during the upcoming season of traditional pilgrimages that bring many travelers to the region.

In addition to protecting children from polio, the group will visit a Rotary club-supported well project that provides clean drinking water to about 30 villages. 

For as little as 60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life. To date, the annual number of polio cases worldwide has been reduced from 350,000 in the mid-1980s to approximately 2,000 cases in 2006. Only four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan – are still polio endemic.

Rotary’s commitment to end polio represents the largest-ever private sector support of a global health initiative. In 1985, Rotary members worldwide vowed to immunize all the world’s children against polio. Since then, Rotary has contributed US$620 million to polio eradication, of which $7.7 million has supported immunization campaigns in Ethiopia.

In addition to raising and contributing funds, over one million Rotarians have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries during national immunization campaigns.


Reports of significant progress in fight against malaria

Seattle, USA, 17 October - Significant gains in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa are being made, according to a new report released today. The report, Malaria and Children, prepared by UNICEF on behalf of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), contains a comprehensive assessment of the progress that has been made in malaria control. “In Sub-Saharan Africa, Malaria kills at least 800,000 children under the age of five each year,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Controlling malaria is vital to improving child health and economic development in affected countries.  Studies show that malaria disproportionately affects the poorest people in these countries, and so contributes to their further impoverishment.” 

The report shows that, from 2004 to 2006, there has been a rapid increase in the supply of insecticide-treated nets, with annual production of nets more than doubling from 30 to 63 million. Another large increase in production is expected by the end of 2007.  The number of these nets procured by UNICEF more than tripled in the two years to 2006 to nearly 25 million and is more than 20 times greater today than in 2000.  The Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria, a public-private partnership that provides health funding, has also increased its distribution of insecticide treated nets from 1.35 million in 2004 to 18 million in 2006, and other major donors have scaled up their activities. Along with this increase in supply have come improvements in the distribution of nets to those communities in greatest need.  Distribution of the nets and other malaria interventions have been successfully incorporated into existing maternal and child health, immunization and antenatal care programmes. (…)


US announces boost for FAO’s bird flu programme

Country and communication activities to benefit

Rome, 17 October – The United States will support FAO’s avian influenza control and prevention programme with an additional US$38 million, FAO announced today. The United States is one of the biggest donors to the agency’s programme. With the new funding, US support to the FAO avian influenza programme has reached a total of about $63 million.

FAO is currently assisting more than 100 countries in their efforts to prevent and control avian influenza. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said in a letter to FAO that the contribution will be earmarked for core Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza containment and control activities, including in-country surveillance and early warning, efforts to reduce disease transmission, and communication to increase public awareness and preparedness. (…)


Training of teachers on how to give psychosocial support in emergencies

Tehran, 15 October – “Training teachers and counselors on how to provide psychosocial support to children and their families before a disaster strikes should be an essential element of any emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction program,” UNICEF’s Representative in Iran, Christian Salazar, said today. Speaking at a conference organized by the Iran Interior Ministry’s National Disaster Task Force, Salazar stressed that most disaster-affected populations were able to recover from their experiences and return to normalcy provided that security was restored and they had access to basic information and the skills to help themselves.(…) 


Teaching good eating habits to reduce malnutrition and diet-related diseases

FAO publishes planning guide for nutrition education in primary schools

Rome, 9 October - Educating school children in healthy nutrition is one of the most effective strategies for overcoming malnutrition and chronic diet-related diseases but has been neglected far too long, FAO said today.  The UN agency announced the publication of a new comprehensive guide for curriculum development addressing nutrition education in primary schools. (…)

Good nutrition education can make children aware of how to achieve a nourishing diet with limited means; how to prepare and handle food safely and how to avoid food-related risks. As future parents, they will know about the benefits of breastfeeding and complementary feeding, and be able to educate their children to follow a diet that is well balanced and of good quality. (…) 


The Global Fund taps Mercy Corps for major Pakistan TB initiative

Portland, Ore., USA, 4 October – Mercy Corps is teaming up with The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Pakistan Ministry of Health on a five-year, $56 million program that aims to reduce the burden of TB by 2015, in line with the Millennium Development Goals. This agreement marks the first partnership between the Global Fund and Mercy Corps, as well as an expansion of the global humanitarian agency’s health programs.

Mercy Corps is the principal recipient of a $26 million initiative to lead advocacy, communication and social mobilization efforts with eight partner organizations. The agency has been running similar programs for the past three years in 13 districts. New projects will include large-scale social marketing campaigns and ongoing activities in 57 hard-to-reach, underserved districts, specifically targeting rural populations, females and youth ages 15 to 25. Programs commence this week. (…)

According to the World Health Organization’s 2007 Global TB Report, Pakistan suffers from the seventh-highest burden of TB in the world. The bacterial disease kills 62,000 people there each year, and only 27 percent of the cases are detected. The number of TB cases in Pakistan is on the rise due to grinding poverty – more than 20 million people live on less than $1 a day – and explosive population growth. (…)


AmeriCares and International Medical Corps airlift relief for cholera outbreak in Iraq

Stamford, CT, USA, October 4 – AmeriCares and International Medical Corps (IMC) are delivering critical medicines to Iraq in an emergency airlift responding to the cholera outbreak in that country.  Cholera and other forms of dehydrating watery diarrhea have spread through northern Iraq recently, affecting some 30,000 people there. The first cholera cases were reported in Baghdad at the end of September. According to healthcare workers in the country, there is a shortage of medicines to control these disease(s) that can spread widely and rapidly. (…) IMC will airlift the shipment to Iraq and will assist the Iraqi Ministry of Health with the distribution of the medicines where they are needed most. At least half of the donation will go to internally displaced communities.

In cooperation with Iraqi health authorities, International Medical Corps distributed cholera treatment supplies for over 3,000 patients at the end of August. IMC is also supporting an educational campaign on cholera prevention that is headed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health. (…) Since 2003, International Medical Corps has been helping to restore the Iraqi health infrastructure through the rehabilitation of health structures, training of doctors, nurses, and paramedics; providing medical equipment and drug supplies to primary health care centers; re-establishing disease surveillance systems; and extending and rehabilitating water supply and purification systems. All IMC programs focus on strengthening the existing Iraqi infrastructure to avoid the creation of a parallel system in order to encourage long-term change and limit dependence on foreign assistance.



Energy and safety



One laptop per child dream in sight

New York, 22 October (UN Headquarters) – The United Nations’ senior-most diplomat responsible for the world’s most vulnerable countries has lauded the persistent efforts of American architect and computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte to make available a low cost, durable and simple to use laptop to children in the developing world. The initiative is the brainchild of Professor Negroponte, founder and chairman of the One Laptop per Child non-profit association, currently on leave from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was co-founder and director of the MIT Media Laboratory.

Speaking at a special demonstration of the so-called “$100” laptop organised by his office at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Cheikh Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) praised professor Negroponte for defying the sceptics and bringing nearer to fruition what had sounded to many people like a dream when the idea of a “$100 laptop” was first mooted.

The laptop packs several innovations including a sunlight readable display so that it can be used outside. It has no moving parts, can be powered by solar, foot-pump or pull-string powered chargers and is housed in a waterproof case. (…) Professor Negroponte’s project launched the "give one, get one" scheme that allowed individuals to purchase two laptops at a pre-determined price after the project's founder admitted that concrete orders from the governments of developing nations had not always followed verbal agreements. One laptop would be sent to the buyer whilst a child in the developing world would receive the second machine.


Bioenergy policies and targets: opportunity for, or threat to, the European forests?

Geneva, 16 October - The recent surge of interest in renewable energies and, in particular, biomass energies has complex consequences all over the world. UNECE and FAO are together exploring these impacts and opportunities for the forest sector in the European region, so that policy making may be based on the most reliable and recent information and analysis. (…) To address these questions, a UNECE/FAO policy forum on “Opportunities and impacts of bioenergy policies and targets on the forest and other sectors: what is the future contribution of wood to meeting UNECE region’s energy needs?” was held in Geneva on 10 October 2007, in conjunction with the annual session of the UNECE Timber Committee. A study on "wood resources availability and demand - implications of renewable energy policies" by the UNECE/FAO Timber Section in cooperation with the University of Hamburg was presented at the Forum. Analysing national and European policies and targets for renewable energy, it showed that huge extra amounts of wood would be required in the future if these targets were to be met. (…)


Waste water gets a second and third life at Dow

16 October - The Dow site in Terneuzen, the Netherlands has won the Cefic European Responsible Care Award 2007 for its project to reuse household wastewater for the production of demineralised water. Since the start of Dow’s operations in Terneuzen, water management has been essential for the company as the Zeeus-Vlaanderen region where the Dow’s site is located has a structural lack of fresh water.

In order to deliver water for generating steam and to feed manufacturing plants in their production location, Dow, in co-operation with the district Water Board and Evides, a local water purifier, took the first steps towards sustainable management of the regional water balance.

Building the necessary infrastructure, new water production facilities and reusing Dow’s internal fresh wastewater effluent as cooling tower water supply were the key aspects of this unique and innovative project. Thus, reusing the waste waters originating from all households in Terneuzen, the water can be delivered - after purification in the biological waste-water treatment plant of the Water Board - as clean effluent to water producer Evides. This means it is no longer necessary to discharge the waste water effluent into the Western Scheldt estuary. Evides uses the effluent to produce demi-water (demineralised water) which is then delivered to Dow.  (…)


Commission promotes take-up of hydrogen cars and the development of hydrogen technologies

Brussels, 10 October - The European Commission has adopted two proposals today that will mark a step forward in the development and marketing of clean and safe hydrogen vehicles The first is the setting up of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), an ambitious industry-led integrated programme of Research, technology development and demonstration activities. This Public-Private Partnership driven by European industry will be implemented over the next 6 years with a financial contribution from the EU of € 470 million, to be matched by the private sector. The JTI should accelerate the development of hydrogen technologies to the point of commercial take-off between 2010 and 2020. Secondly, a number of hydrogen cars are already ripe for market introduction today. Thus, the Commission proposes to simplify their approval so that they will be seen more often on Europe's streets. Both proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. (…)



Environment and wildlife



First agreement that might save Mediterranean monk seal from extinction

Adeje, Tenerife, Spain, 17 October – A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the protection of the Eastern Atlantic Populations of the Mediterranean Monk Seal was concluded under the auspices of CMS. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Republic of Portugal and the Kingdom of Spain signed the agreement in Adeje in the margins of the CMS meeting on Western African Talks on Cetaceans and their Habitats (WATCH). The agreement will be open for signature to all the Atlantic range states. Since 1986, the populations of Mediterranean Monk Seals have been at the centre of the Mediterranean Action Plan of UNEP. The Mediterranean Monk Seal has also been a main focus of CMS conservation measures for marine mammals. The Mediterranean Monk Seal is one of the most threatened marine mammals in the world and is listed on the Appendices of the Convention. Only approximately 500 Mediterranean Monk Seals remain in the wild. (…) Monk Seal populations play an important role in coastal and marine ecosystems. But natural phenomena and the development of human activities have significantly reduced them. The Eastern Atlantic Populations of the Mediterranean Monk Seal greatly suffer from entanglement and mortality in fishing gears, over fishing, hunting and human persecution, pollution, as well as from natural factors such as toxic phytoplankton. (…)


UNECE assesses the environmental performance of Montenegro

Geneva, 11 October - The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has just issued the second Environmental Performance Review (EPR) of Montenegro, which has been prepared by a team of international experts with the coordination of the UNECE secretariat. The environmental performance of the Republic of Montenegro was reviewed for the first time in 2002. This second review reflects the progress made by the country since then and the challenges that remain to be tackled. Mr. Predrag Nenezic, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Montenegro, launched the EPR on 11 October 2007 at the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” in Belgrade.

As a result of the efficient work carried out by the UNECE international team of experts and good collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Montenegro, the second report of EPR contains a set of 31 specific recommendations. They relate to priority actions that need to be implemented to improve the state of environment and to create the necessary preconditions for a more effective integration of the goals of sustainable development into sectoral policies. (…)



Religion and spirituality



The Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) and  Kehillat Mevakshei Derech offers a new bi-weekly course: “Encounter with the Religions  of Jerusalem”

Join us as we delve together into the religions of the residents of our city so that we may come to understand better the special religious tapestry of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, October 18 - Some 40 people came to the opening session of this new series. The theme was the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) community and it was presented by Rabbi Dr. Don Maimon, after short introductory notes by Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Executive Director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, and by Ms. Felicie Rosenberg, a member of both IEA and Mevakshei Derech and organizer of the course. The next session will take pace on Wednesday 31.10.07 at 19:30: Fr. Dr. David Neuhaus will present the Catholic community.

Rabbi Maimon started with a general introduction to the series. It is a theological scandal that religion, which is supposed to connect people, is used to separate them from one another. Especially in the Holy Land religion is a central component in the communal identity and without deeply understanding it is impossible to build real coexistence. (...)

Today, when the world is a global village and communities interact with each other, everyone has to know the other. Therefore interfaith encounter is unavoidable.


Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concern - United Nations HQ, 22-26 October

“Unless there is a spiritual renaissance, the world will know no peace.”

(Dag Hammarskjöld, UN Secretary-General, 1953-1961)

In honor of the 62nd anniversary of the United Nations, the Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns has been created to bring about a culture of peace in which we, the peoples of the world, can address together our common challenges in a holistic, positive and transformative way. The Week’s activities recognize that spirituality and adherence to universal values, such as those expressed in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are key to providing solutions to global concerns.

The Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns is being launched on 22–26 October, 2007 at UN headquarters, during the United Nations 62nd anniversary, to inspire and generate collective engagement in an annual worldwide celebration. Members of the UN community and the public are invited to participate in a series of programs and activities.

Sponsored by the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values & Global Concerns (NY) in partnership with the Values Caucus and the Spiritual Caucus.


Baha'i testifies at U.N. about understanding among religions

United Nations, 5 October (BWNS) - A Baha'i from Tanzania - where different religious communities live peacefully together - testified yesterday before the United Nations General Assembly on how to promote religious understanding. Addressing an informal hearing on "Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace," Mitra Deliri said that in her country, "large Christian and Muslim populations live side by side, intermarry and celebrate each other's religious festivals."  "It is a living example of religious pluralism," she said. "This coexistence did not come about by accident but rather as a result of the vision and deliberate action of Tanzanian leaders, dating back to the country's first president...," she said.

Ms. Deliri, who represented the Baha'i International Community at the two-day hearing, also said it was important for governments to create a climate where freedom of religion or belief is clearly upheld in law and in practice. (…)

Ms. Deliri was among approximately two dozen representatives of nongovernmental and religious organizations from around the world who addressed the General Assembly yesterday.

Other speakers, for example, included Paul Knitter of the Union Theological Seminary in the USA, Gamal I. Serour of the International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research at the Al Azhar Centre in Egypt, Sohan Lal Gandhi of the Anuvrat Global Organization in India, Fatima Ahmed of Zenab for Women in Development in Sudan, and Steven Rockefeller of Earth Charter International in the United States. (…)


"What the World Needs to Know about Interfaith Dialogue..." by Richard M. Landau

Everything you need to know about working in harmony with people of other faiths

The product of 25 years of research and practice, What the World Needs to Know about Interfaith Dialogue... is a comprehensive ebook that covers virtually every aspect of dialogue between diverse religious groups. (...) Written in an accessible style, shows you how to overcome basic differences to ensure the longevity and productivity of an interfaith dialogue group. (...)  So whether you are new to interfaith dialogue or you’ve been in the field for years, What the World Needs to Know about Interfaith Dialogue… is a critical tool to help you work in harmony with people of other faiths.

It’s an entertaining, fast-paced reference text supplemented with additional useful anecdotal information. It touches on virtually every situation and challenge you’ll encounter in interfaith dialogue. (...) it’s an exhaustive sourcebook and a manual of diplomacy and tact. (...)


“Children First”: Week of Prayer and World Fellowship 2007 - November 11-17

The World YWCA/YMCA Week of Prayer and World Fellowship 2007 will take place from November 11-17 with the theme Children First. The theme reflects the challenges children face in our community; discrimination, poverty, injustice, violence and lack of education. As a women's organization, the World YWCA believes that the empowerment of girls is intrinsically linked to the empowerment of women. We need to focus on children to ensure our future leaders are healthy and strong.

The World YWCA is a global network of women leading social and economic change in 125 countries worldwide. It advocates for peace, justice, human rights and the environment, and has been at the forefront of raising the status of women since it was founded in 1855.


Christian and Muslim women in dialogue: “Moving towards peace through religion”

Tehran, Iran, November 25-28

Women from the WCC (World Council of Churches) constituency and from Iran's Muslim majority as well as some Muslim women from outside Iran will begin a dialogue on the role of women in “Moving towards peace through religion” at a 25-28 November meeting in Tehran, and through preparatory discussions on the internet. One aim of the three-year dialogue process is to publish material on a just society of women and men, and on the treatment of women in the world of religion. The participants' diverse backgrounds as teachers, clergy, artists, academics or NGO-activists will ensure a hands-on approach to these issues.

The process is being organized by the WCC programme on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in collaboration with an Iranian NGO, the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue (IID), which will also host web-logs for each of the women to discuss approaches to the topic.


Global Link Teleconference -  May Peace Prevail On Earth heard around the world!

October 27th, Prayers for the World

Participants from around the world connect on a telephone conference line to offer blessings and prayers for peace to prevail in every country (195) on earth.  This is a unique opportunity to listen to the voices of the world praying for peace simultaneously and in unison. 

To view participation map, testimonials, and teleconference information please visit www. Hosted by The World Peace Prayer Society


"Prayer: between faith and science" - 2nd International Congress "PRAYER 2007" at the University of Hamburg, 3-4 November

Where does prayer start for a modern person? Is prayer to devote oneself to a divine advocate in the sense of the large world religions? Or is it Buddhist meditation? Or is it simply the silent dialogue with ourselves? As the 1st congress on prayer in 2005 was such a success, the  non-denominational and politically independent Society "Ethik im Alltag"  ("Ethics in Everyday Life") is organizing - together with the University of Hamburg -  a second congress on the same subject.  Mrs. Lelani Dias, initiator and organizer, says, "Many of us only start to pray when there is a crisis in our life, but religion and the search for unity  belong to the roots of our cultural identity".

The variety of the programme explores the various aspects  of prayer and addresses everyone who seeks fresh viewpoints and possibilities to  re-discover prayer. In 32 speeches, presentations and workshops plus cultural events renowned scientists, artists, peace activists, management trainers and representatives of various faiths will come together. Speakers include Professor Hans-Peter Dürr (Global Challenges Network), Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrook (World Congress of Faiths, GB), Dr. Anna Gamma (Lassalle Institute for Zen Ethics Leadership), Rika Saionji (World Peace Prayer Society Japan), Dr Rhaim Oruc Güvenc (Mamara University Istanbul). The congress will be inaugurated on November 2nd at 7 pm with "Prayers of the World - The Search for Unity" at  St. Johannis Church Harvestehude. For more details please see or contact press representative Mrs. Stefanie Koch at


Thiruvalla Peace Center: One Modest Building Hosts an Immense Statement of Peace

On September 9th, 2007 in Thiruvalla, India, interfaith peacebuilders from around the world witnessed the inauguration of the first United Religions Initiative (URI) Peace Center in the region.  Joseph Chaco, a local resident, envisioned this project to address the growing intra-Christian conflict in Kerala that threatens to erupt in violence.  In order to set aside a space where the local community could engage in much needed interfaith dialogue, he decided to donate a small plot of land for the project.  The URI, an NGO that works on a global, grassroots level to promote enduring daily, interfaith cooperation and to end religiously motivated violence, provided him with a grant of $2,500 dollars – enough to build a modest building in the middle of the lush countryside.  This project was dedicated with a plaque from the URI and was an illustration of the immense power of grassroots work around the world.  Peace begins at home and almost all attendees of this inauguration noted the feeling of small but powerful change that this event incited in each one of them.

URI’s Executive Director, Charles Gibbs, wrote an inspiring account of this event, one of an infinite number of small but profound stories that bear witness to often overlooked, local efforts to promote peace.  Please visit  to read this account and view pictures of the inauguration.



Culture and education



Haiti: UN peacekeepers rebuild school in troubled neighbourhood of capital

19 October – More than 1,500 children in one of the most troubled neighbourhoods of Haiti’s capital are attending classes again after soldiers serving with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) helped to renovate a school building that had been left unusable by the violent activities of armed gangs. At a ceremony yesterday, MINUSTAH officials handed over the keys for the Lycée Jacques Roumain in the Martissant district of Port-au-Prince, which re-opened last month and already has 1,576 students. The school has been renovated, complete with new toilets, fences, a kitchen, repainted buildings and dozens of classroom benches for children, thanks to a joint effort involving MINUSTAH, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the national education ministry. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided much of the funding for the project, which cost about $1.7 million. (…)


UN peacekeepers open resource centre for Liberian schoolchildren

19 October - About 600 students will benefit from technical and vocational skills training at a new resource centre equipped with computers, sewing machines and a library, courtesy of Pakistani peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The Pakistan-Liberia Friendship Centre is located in C. H. Deway High School in Tubmanburg, some 60 kilometres west of Monrovia, the capital of the West African nation that is seeking to recover from a brutal civil war that killed almost 150,000 people. (…)

UNMIL Force Commander Lt.-Gen. Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor lauded the Pakistani contingent for their active involvement in building peace through community empowerment projects such as renovating schools, providing computers and educational materials, and skills training. He called on Liberians to take the initiative to build their country, saying “self-help is a very necessary attribute in national development.”

Established in September 2003, UNMIL supports the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace process; protects UN staff, facilities and civilians; bolsters humanitarian and human rights activities; and assists in national security reform, including national police training and the formation of a new, restructured military.


IFAD - On the occasion of International day for the Eradication of Poverty,  presentation on desertification by Italian high school students

On the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, 70 Italian students visited IFAD. The students were selected by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA) from among a total of 300 who participated into DesertArt initiative.

DesertArt is an initiative aimed at raising awareness amongst young people about land degradation, desertification, climate change and their impact on poor people worldwide. Through DesertArt, the students had the chance to experience lives very distant from their own by means of art, literature, and intercultural exchanges with students from developing countries, including Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

The students came to IFAD to present their research and exchange their views and experiences with IFAD staff. For more information: Farhana Haque Rahman, Chief of Media Relations and Special Events, Communications Division,


"In the Circle of Creation": A glance into the culture of the American native people and a convention to spread the educational principles of Earth Charter

by Elisabetta Dalto

17 October - During the Italian week for the celebration of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, Cogeme Onlus Foundation, Earth Charter Affiliate in Italy, is organizing an international event to be held on November 10th, in Castegnato, Brescia titled “In the circle of creation. Education and wisdom of native people”, a space to know more about the American native people and for the disemination of the Earth Charter as an educational tool.

Among many speakers, it has to be highlightened the presence of Manitonquat, the spiritual guide of Wampanoag Tribe, who will bring useful remarks on the deep and holy relationship which bound men to nature according to the culture of the American native people. His teaching will give rise to helpful hints which can represent the starting point for the application of the Earth Charter’s principles.

The convention organized by Cogeme Onlus Foundation in collaboration whit Castegnato Municipality, is supported by the Province of Brescia and Lombardia Region as well as by Università Cattolica S. Cuore and Italian Ministry of the Environment. On an international level, the Foundation has obtained the patronage of UNESCO (Paris) and of Green Cross International.

Cogeme Onlus Foundation was born from the service company Cogeme spa in Rovato (Brescia) and is deeply involved in natural environment, thanks to the promotion of projects, research and events about education on sustainable development.


Training workshop on educational policy and education for international understanding

The 7th Asia-Pacific training workshop was held at the UNESCO Peace Center and the International Cooperation Training Center on 1~16 Oct 2007 for the purpose of training EIU trainers of member states.

Convening 25 educators and educational administrators of 18 countries within and without the region this workshop delivered EIU concepts and themes in an integrative and synthetic mode. Sessions for themes of EIU (cultural diversity, sustainable development, human rights, peace, and globalization) were primarily presented by lectures and moderator through the combination of lecture and activity, and then participants were requested to share local cases and situations that would lead to discussion for reflection or adoption.   

In addition, study visits to KEDI and KERIS and the visit to a middle school class gave a comprehensive and realistic picture of Korean school system, so that the trainees can have a comparative reflection on their local educational conditions and envision for better policy and system towards a Culture of Peace.  All the sharings and reflections were summed up in participants’ presentation of national action plan which was cooperatively drafted by both teachers and educational administrators.

Considering the scope and diversity of participants and the interpersonal, intersectoral, and intercultural interactions sensed throughout the workshop, the training reached closer to its aim than ever before.


EDC receives $4M to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning for students and teachers

National Science Foundation increases funds for ITEST programs

Boston, MA, USA, 15 October – Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) has been awarded a $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue and expand its work as a national resource center for over 100 programs designed to produce more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) savvy kids to fill the looming shortage of qualified U.S. workers.

The resource center supports the national effort known as ITEST (Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers). ITEST reaches more than 120,000 students and over 4,000 teachers in grades 6-12, through projects in schools, universities, museums, and afterschool programs.

Under the 4-year grant agreement, EDC will continue to bring students and teachers from each of the projects together—both in person and virtually—to share promising practices, address challenges, and offer recommendations that can be shared with educators and policymakers across the U.S. This information and the lessons learned are shared through a Web site (, publications, conference presentations, and public symposia and webcasts. (…) The ITEST initiative, including the Learning Resource Center, are funded by the National Science Foundation.

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is an international nonprofit organization that conducts and applies research to advance learning and promote health. EDC creates and manages more than 300 projects in 35 countries. Visit


Sustainable Development: Education and Environment Ministers join forces

Geneva, 11 October - Education and Environment Ministers of the UNECE region met for the first time in the framework of the “Environment for Europe” process and, in a joint statement, reaffirmed their commitment for the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the region. They considered achievements, lessons learned and challenges identified in terms of implementation of the UNECE Strategy for ESD since the Kiev Conference and agreed on the way ahead. They were proud that all commitments made in Kiev and Vilnius were fulfilled as a regional contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

A comprehensive reporting mechanism and set of indicators was valued as an innovative tool that helped countries to evaluate progress in the implementation of the Strategy. The feedback of 36 national implementation reports – even though the details of information are different – was a success. The pilot reporting exercise was one of the success stories of the first phase of implementation (2005–2007), showing that the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) are well on their way to building institutional capacity necessary for ESD. The South-East European (SEE) countries are still in the initial stages of implementing the Strategy. Other countries reported significant progresses. (…) 


Ecovillage Design Education - Training of Trainers  - 27 October -  24 November

The Findhorn Foundation in partnership with the Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education

Based on the Gaia Education Ecovillage Design Curriculum - an official contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014

You are invited to join this four-week comprehensive training of trainers on the fundamentals of sustainability design for urban and rural settlements, covering all elements of an ecovillage-based education. This will entail training at three distinct levels: First, we will explore the content of each of the four key pillars of ecovillage-level sustainability: ecology, economy, community and worldviews.  Second, we will weave together insights and discoveries made in each of these areas into an integrated design process with hands-on practical application exercises.  Third, we will explore different participatory learning approaches to deliver the Ecovillage Design Curriculum, developed by leading edge sustainability educators from around the world. (…)

The programme is based at the Findhorn Ecovillage and comprises four separate weeklong modules, which may be attended as a whole or separately. It will provide a practical forum for learning and developing skills needed to work with and teach effectively design for sustainability at all levels. Ecovillage Design - Training of Trainers is an advanced training course aimed at individuals involved in sustainable community initiatives of all kinds; students and professionals in architectural, engineering and building careers; permaculture and other sustainability designers; sustainable land use and regional planners; social workers, educators and business people interested in ethical development.



* * * * * * *


Next issue: 16 November 2007


* * * * * * *


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 3,700 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 48 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to over 2,800 NGOs around the world and it is available in its web site:

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.

The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing.         

Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


* * * * * * *