Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 2
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 http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/uk/uk_sum_monde.htm
Aarhus membership climbs to forty: Germany to become 40th Party to environmental rights treaty
Geneva, 18 January -- Germany has become the latest country to ratify the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Germany’s action, which took place on 15 January 2007, will raise the total number of Parties to the Convention to 40. Germany follows Sweden, which became a Party to the treaty in 2005, and Greece, Luxembourg and Slovakia, which became Parties in 2006. (…)
Mr. Kaj Bärlund, Director of the UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division, expressed satisfaction with the progress enjoyed by the Convention: “With the latest ratifications, the Convention moves much closer to creating a means by which citizens from across the entire region can enforce their rights to protect and enhance the environment. With the number of Aarhus Parties rising to 40, attention may now shift to deepening implementation of the agreement, while countries outside our region stand to gain from the valuable lessons of UNECE’s experience with environmental democracy.”
On 14 January 2007, the Third Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions enters into force, six months after the two first countries ratified it. This completes the process of establishing an additional emblem for use by Governments and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The coming into force of this Protocol - and with it the additional emblem of the red crystal - is considered a concrete sign of the predominance of humanitarian principles over any other considerations governing the mission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement. The possibility of using the red crystal will make it easier for national societies who do not wish to use the red cross or the red crescent emblems to be recognized and admitted to the Movement. This consolidates the Movement's universality.
The Protocol provides for new flexibility, allowing national societies to include a combination of emblems recognized by the Geneva Conventions inside the red crystal for their identification. Under international law, the red crystal offers the same protection as the red cross and the red crescent when marking military medical personnel, establishments and transport; the staff of national societies; staff, vehicles and structures of the ICRC and the International Federation. (Existing law - Additional Protocol I of 1977 - also allows use of the emblem by certain civilian medical establishments.) The ICRC and the International Federation are allowed to use the red crystal in exceptional circumstances, if they consider it necessary for their work; but they will not change their present emblems or names.
The longer-term challenge is now to secure the same world-wide recognition and respect for the red crystal as given to the red cross and the red crescent. This will facilitate access by humanitarian workers to victims of conflict and other crises, in particular in situations where the use of an emblem devoid of any perceived political, religious, cultural and connotations may be an advantage.
ECA, ECOWAS and UEMOA to chart a legal framework for ICT development in West Africa
January 16 - A workshop organized last month in Ouagadougou by ECA's sub regional Office in West Africa (SRO-WA) and ISTD gathered ICT experts, lawyers, trade specialists and economists on the most effective legal framework for ICT development in the region. Discussions focused on how to put in place an enabling legal environment for e-commerce and for an enhanced cyber crime control. Two studies commissioned by SRO-WA and ISTD served as basis for discussion. Funded by Finland and by the Canadian e-Policy Resource Center, the two studies dealt respectively with a harmonized legal framework for e-commerce and a harmonized legal framework on ICT in general. In this regard, participants reviewed the recommendations, the set of priorities and the proposed roadmap. (…)
A Follow up Committee composed of ECA, ECOWAS, UEMOA, BCEAO in addition to the Host country (Burkina) and the Chair of ECOWAS/UEMOA organs (Niger) will coordinate the follow up and implementation of the workshop recommendations. The final outputs on the legal framework for ICTs in West Africa are expected by May 2007.
UN Rights Council appoints Nobel Peace laureate to lead mission to Darfur
29 January (UNRIC) - Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and co-founder of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, will lead a five-person high-level mission to evaluate the human rights situation in the war ravaged Darfur region, the United Nations Human Rights Council announced today. The Council’s President, Mexican Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, appointed the five “highly qualified persons” comprising the Darfur mission after conferring with the Council and Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, who will also participate in the mission.
The appointments come more than a month after the decision to convene a high-level panel to assess the human rights conditions in Darfur, which has witnessed countless instances of abuses, among them mass rape, abduction and forced relocation. Over 200,000 people have been killed in the region since 2003 and another 2 million displaced from their homes due to prolonged fighting among Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups.
UNICEF and Council of Europe agree to cooperate to improve the lives of children
Strasbourg, France/Geneva, 23 January -- UNICEF and the Council of Europe today signed a Joint Declaration to strengthen their partnership to maximize results for children.
Speaking at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly debate, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, called for a renewed commitment to protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation. Veneman also highlighted the Council’s leadership on children’s issues and its commitment to bring about positive change for children. “We look to organizations such as the Council of Europe to further push the legal standards on prevention of violence and to monitor progress made in Member States,” said Veneman. “While legal obligations lie with the state, all sectors of society share the responsibility of condemning and preventing violence against children.” The partnership will further strengthen cooperation between UNICEF and the Council of Europe in formulation of strategies, research, analysis, data collection and policy development.
UN expert to visit US to discuss respect for human rights in war on terrorism
January 16 – An independent United Nations expert on safeguarding human rights while fighting terrorism is to visit the United States this spring at the invitation of its Government for wide-ranging discussions to help ensure that US counter-terrorism laws and practices respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, welcomed the Government’s decision to invite him following a request he made in October, when he said the US Military Commissions Act (MCA) violated the country’s international obligations under human rights laws in several areas. These included the right to challenge detention and see exculpatory evidence and he specifically cited the President’s power to declare anyone, including US citizens, without charge an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ subject to the jurisdiction of a military commission. He noted that the MCA denies non-US citizens, including legal permanent residents, in US custody the right to challenge the legality of their detention by filing a writ of habeas corpus. (…) Mr. Scheinin said then that he would also like to discuss other rights concerns such as the Patriot Act, immigration laws and policies, secret detention centres, rendition flights to countries where detainees might face torture, breaches of non-refoulement (deportation) and the denial of extra-territorial human rights obligations. (…)
Special Rapporteurs are unpaid and serve in a personal capacity, reporting to the UN Human Rights Council.
EU pay case opens legal door on wage gap
A U.K. labor union plans to bring a barrage of cases that will test the significance for female workers of a recent European Court of Justice decision. Advocates hope it will ease the penalty for taking time out of the paid work force.
By Mindy Kay Bricker
January 15 -- A labor union based in the United Kingdom is preparing over 50 legal cases to test the influence of a recent European Court of Justice decision that has a potentially major significance for working women. The cases, which were amassed by labor union Prospect before the court's decision, will be brought to various U.K. Employment Tribunals, the country's judicial bodies that resolve employment disputes. "We are ready for that challenge," said Paul Noon, general secretary of Prospect. "This case is a wake-up call, particularly for public sector employers, that additional experience does not lead to better performance indefinitely or in every case."
The decision by the Luxembourg-based court, which ensures law is uniformly interpreted throughout the European Union, was made in the case of Prospect union member Bernadette Cadman, a 42-year-old inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, an authority that works with local governments to enforce health and safety regulations in Great Britain. Reached in October, the decision allows employees in the European Union to challenge employers when a shorter length of service justifies their lower salaries.
Prospect, which covered Cadman's legal expenses, and the Equal Opportunities Commission in Britain hail it as a potential legal breakthrough for women in the European Union, who, on average, earn 15 percent less than men for every hour worked, according to the European Commission's 2006 gender equality report. (…)
Brussels, 26 January - The Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner will attend the EU-Afghanistan Ministerial Troika meeting in Berlin on 29th January. The agenda includes implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, the EU contribution to improving law and order in the country, counter-narcotics, and regional developments including Afghan-Pakistan relations. The Commissioner will take the opportunity to present her plans for the next four years, with proposals for a package worth €600 million for Afghanistan for 2007-2010, with a focus on three key priority areas: reform of the justice sector; rural development including alternatives to poppy production; and health. The Commission remains one of the top donors in Afghanistan and one of the very few giving a multi-year commitment. (…)
Conference on good governance and social and environmental responsibility
25 January - The Over the past decade, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda has moved centre stage within the business community. The Oslo conference aims to take the ongoing debate on business and sustainability even further. It will be a platform for an integrated approach comprising key players from business, government, academia, trade-unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).Conference programme
The Oslo conference on good governance and social and environmental responsibility will address a broad range of sustainability issues in the global market place: human rights, decent work standards, environmental and climate change, corruption and corporate governance. Can we continue to operate as we have, or do we need to think and act in radically different ways?
The top experts in the field will be speaking at the conference. It will be an innovative and challenging event, with focus on some of the most urgent issues facing us today. It will also provide an excellent environment for networking.
Chilean retail trade: integrated and international
Chile's largest retail stores are taking their integrated model of consumer goods and credit to other Latin American markets.
24 January -- The past decade has seen the emergence of a group of Chile retail firms capable of halting the efforts of international corporations to enter the domestic market. At the same time, major Chilean retail stores have been successful in developing a complex new model of integrated trade and expanding this to neighbouring countries. In a context of economic expansion and growing consumption, retail trade in Chile faces intense competition in a small domestic market. The response of leading national retail chain stores has been to develop a new kind of enterprise: integrated retail trade. This is the analysis of Álvaro Calderón Hoffmann, Economic Affairs Officer in ECLAC's Investment and Corporate Strategies Unit, in the article El modelo de expansión de las grandes cadenas minoristas chilenas ("Expansion Model of Chile's Large Retail Chain Stores"), published in Revista de la CEPAL N° 90. (spanish only at this moment).
Calderón describes this new Chilean model of integrated retail services, which is based on six pillars: department stores, home improvement stores, supermarkets, administration of credit cards, financial services offered through the retail firms' own banks, and real estate development. Completing the model is the provision of a wide range of products, including travel, banking and insurance services, all available in one-stop-shopping. (…) Moreover, at the first sign of saturation in the local market, these Chilean retail firms successful sought new opportunities for growth abroad, primarily in neighbouring Argentina and Peru. According to the author, the success of this Chilean model rests on a combination of factors: the best practices of international retail chains, familiarity with local conditions, a diversified product line that includes banking services, and the ability to survive in a highly competitive market.
The ECLAC website consolidates its popularity as a key source of economic and social information
In 2006, some 22 million files were downloaded from the United Nations regional commission's Internet site.
24 January -- In 2006, the Internet site of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) consolidated its position as one of the principal sources of economic and social information in the region, as evidenced by the latest statistics on site visitors and downloads. The number of visitors to the ECLAC site at www.eclac.cl (or www.eclac.org ) exceeded 9.5 million between January and December 2006, while the number of files downloaded was nearly 22,160,000. These statistics illustrate the growing popularity of the ECLAC website since its launch in 1995. The ECLAC site houses 35 separate sub-sites corresponding to different divisions within the institution. Each day, these sites make available a broad range of material, including economic and social statistics, documents, publications and information for the media.
Among the most popular documents on the ECLAC site are Globalization and Development, which has been downloaded some 848,000 times since its May 2002 release, and The Millennium Development Goals: A Latin American and Caribbean Perspective, with more than 837,000 downloads between June 2005 and December 2006.
Egypt’s once-barren hills bear fruit with WFP's help
Aswan, 24 January -- Mangoes and cantaloupes are springing up in the hills along the river Nile in a WFP-assisted project to help poor Egyptian farmers prosper. WFP spokesperson Khaled Mansour went to see the flourishing crops in the previously arid area. Six years ago, Abdul Latif left his carpenter’s shop and a small plot of land in Egypt’s southern Aswan province, to move into the desert hills bordering the Nile. Abdul Latif was given six acres of barren land in Wadi Al-Sa’ida, a newly reclaimed area in Edfu District, under an ambitious government project to help landless and poor farmers. Today, the area is lush with corn, vegetables and other crops.
“I earned more money as a carpenter but now I am a real landowner and I have something to leave to my children,” says Abdul, 45 and a father of six. Abdul has invested any spare cash in his farm. He says WFP food assistance was vital in allowing him to do this: “The flour, the oil and the lentils I got every three months enabled me to throw every extra bit of money I had into the land. When I became more confident, I sold off my carpenter’s shop and plowed that money into the land.” WFP has helped some 1,500 families who have settled in the area and now Wadi Al-Sa’ida houses four newly constructed villages which are equipped with basic irrigation systems, schools and basic medical services. (…)
FAO urges food aid reform
One third of aid resources never reach beneficiaries
Rome, 24 January - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today proposed a series of major changes in the way international food aid is managed and delivered. In the latest edition of its flagship annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA), FAO recommended an end to the widespread practice of “tying” food aid -- resulting in roughly a third of the global food aid budget, or some US$600 million, being spent in donor countries and never reaching beneficiaries. Emphasizing the critical importance of sound food aid management, the report also suggested that, wherever possible, aid be provided in the form of cash or food coupons rather than food aid shipments, which can affect producers and markets in recipient countries and distort international trade. (…)
In contrast with aid in kind, “cash-based transfers or food vouchers can stimulate local production, strengthen local food systems and empower recipients in ways that traditional food aid cannot,” the report said. SOFA noted that as much as 90 percent of all food aid resources may be “tied” to some specific conditions. These often make it difficult for implementing agencies to use the aid in the most efficient way and ensure that it effectively reaches the people who need it most.
The world’s leading food donors spend as much as half of their food aid budgets on domestic processing and shipping by national carriers, according to research quoted by the report. Overall, one third of global food-aid resources were wasted by such requirements, it added. (…)
A US$22.2 million IFAD-supported project to help develop small rural businesses in El Salvador
Rome, 22 January – A US$22.2 million development project will assist over 70,000 poor rural people in El Salvador’s eastern region to develop and transform small-scale farming activities into rural businesses. The Rural Development and Modernization Project for the Eastern Region will be partly financed by a US$15 million loan and a US$1 million grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. An agreement was signed today by El Salvador’s Ambassador to Italy, José Roberto Andino Salazar, and IFAD President Lennart Båge, at IFAD headquarters. The Government of El Salvador will provide the balance of the total funds for the project.
Poor rural families in the La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel and Usulatán municipalities usually grow fruit, vegetables and nuts, and raise pigs, poultry and cattle. Most of the produce is used for their household consumption. The project will help these families access the rural financial services they need to develop their farms into income-generating businesses. Project participants will mainly be small farmers but microentrepreneurs, artisans and young people will also be included.(…)
From Somali Family Services
22 January - Construction of the new Puntland Resource and Service Center (PRSC) commenced January 19, in Garowe, Puntland (Somalia). PRSC is a project initiated to strengthen civil society organizations in Puntland through technology transfer and capacity building. The centre is envisioned to improve the collaboration of civil society organizations and Puntland government for good governance. The estimated cost of the project, funded primarily by United Nation Development Programme for Somalia and Diakonia, Sweden, the project is close to a half million dollars. Other partners include: Books For Africa, Counterpart International, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Metropolitan State University, Puntland Authority, and many individual donors. This will be the first resource center in the entire Puntland region of Somalia. (…) The PSRC project was initiated by Somali Family Services (SFS) nonprofit based in Minnesota. SFS's International Program (IP) is an initiative to promote interaction and an exchange of knowledge, ideas and resources. This initiative is intended to enhance opportunities for all institutions involved to support civil society organizations, educational institutions, government institutions, health institutions, and humanitarian efforts in Somalia. (…)
China to send agricultural experts to Gabon
Will help small-scale farmers in agriculture, livestock and fisheries
Rome, 18 January -- China will send 44 agricultural experts and technicians to Gabon to help small-scale farmers there improve crop and animal production, fish farming and processing of agricultural products, under an agreement signed today between the two countries and FAO.
The agreement is part of FAO's South-South Cooperation initiative, which aims to strengthen cooperation among developing countries at different stages of development to improve agricultural productivity and ensure access to food for all.
The Chinese specialists, with expertise in the fields of water control, crop production, animal diversification, aquaculture and processing, will assist the Government of Gabon for two years in implementing the first phase of the country’s Special Programme for Food Security.
Based on the results of the first phase, a larger National Programme for Food Security will be developed, and the number of experts and technicians may be increased to assist the government in implementing the expanded programme.(…)
Global Summit of Women 2007 update: meet participating leaders
January 15 -- The President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, leads a stellar group of women leaders from business and government who are planning to be part of the 2007 Global Summit of Women to be held in Berlin, Germany from June 14-16th. The first woman president of Latvia, Dr. Vike-Freiberga is credited with enabling her country's inclusion in NATO and in the European Union. Nominated by three Baltic States for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations, President Vike-Freiberga was initially appointed by Kofi Annan to be part of the commission looking into implementing reforms within this international organization.
The Vice President of El Salvador, Ana Vilma de Escobar, will be attending her second Summit and will be presenting in the session on "Corporate Social Responsibility." An economist by profession, Vice President de Escobar once headed up her country's export commission before she became its first female vice president.
On the corporate side, the head of IBM France, Francoise Gri, will be part of the Summit's CEO Forum. Named one of Fortune 'Top 50 Powerful Women', Ms. Gri is an IBM veteran. She will be joined at the Summit's CEO Forum by the Chairwoman of Microsoft Russia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), who has grown her company's presence in the region; and by Cornelia Groehl from Germany, who serves as President-Europe of a Johnson & Johnson division. Several women executives are also slated to participate in the Summit program, some of whom are featured in the Summit's website:
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awards $2 million grant to Three Square, pioneering effort to end hunger in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, January 11 – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a grant of $2 million to fund Three Square, a unique collaborative effort with the Las Vegas community to enhance production and delivery of meals to those who lack sufficient food in the Las Vegas area. Formed in late 2006 after a Hilton Foundation-funded study showed a growing need to address hunger in Southern Nevada, Three Square is embarking on an innovative program designed to transform food production, collection and delivery. The grant will fund the planning that will lead to the construction of a central food production facility that will produce nutritious meals to be distributed through Southern Nevada food service organizations. As a first step in the program and to address immediate needs, Three Square will produce 5,000 meals per week in 2007. (…)
Three Square began as the vision of Conrad N. Hilton Foundation board member Eric Hilton, a Las Vegas resident. “Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing and most prosperous cities in the country and it is shocking to find that so many of my fellow citizens are going hungry, especially children and seniors,” said Hilton.
To understand the enormity of the need, the Hilton Foundation’s study revealed that, although nearly 150 non-profit agencies in Southern Nevada are providing wholesome meals for people who lack adequate nutritious food, they are not able to keep up with the demand, and that only 43 percent are receiving a daily meal. The research further indicated that the need will double in seven years. (…)
Developing a socially responsible private sector, one principle at a time
The South Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association have signed onto the UN Global Compact, confirming their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These are the first two local organizations to join the Compact. Various sectors were represented when the announcement was made, including civil society, the private sector and public sector organizations. The three partners announced the official launch of the "Corporate Social Responsibility mapping project" which will hopefully serve as a baseline product to move from "philanthropy to CSR". The project is co-funded by the Chamber, the STCIC, BP, Guardian-Holdings ltd and UNDP. The overall objective is to improve the coordination and cooperation amongst all CSR actors in the country and to create a stronger impact for current private sector-led initiatives. (…)
January 26 - Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is providing emergency assistance to people in Burundi following floods and those left displaced in Sudan after increasing unrest. (…) ERD is supporting the Anglican Church of Burundi to help them provide immediate aid such as food supplies and basic materials. The support will also provide seeds and tree seedlings. ERD has been working in partnership with the church on a long-term development program focusing on food security and primary health care. (…)
In partnership with Action by Churches Together International (ACT), ERD is supplying critical assistance such as clean water, health care and other basic necessities. As the height of the winter season approaches, the most vulnerable populations, including women, children and the elderly, many of whom live in camps, are in need of vital aid. Over the past three years, ERD has supported people displaced by the conflict in Sudan as well as refugees in neighboring Chad. ERD is also working on a multi-year partnership with the Episcopal Church of Sudan’s Sudanese Development and Relief Agency on capacity building training and workshops. (…)
26 January - Thousands of typhoon victims in Marinduque and Catanduanes received food and non-food donations today from the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). The non-food items distributed in Marinduque came from the US government through the US Agency for International Aid (USAID). PNRC chairman Richard Gordon and secretary general Corazon Alma de Leon led the distribution of relief goods. In Boac Town Plaza, Marinduque where the first distribution took place, a total of 1,000 families each received non-food items composed of two blankets, two mosquito nets, two sleeping mats, a water can and a hygiene kit. These non-food items were purchased using the USAID donation of US$50,000.
At 12 pm, the Red Cross team boarded a C130 cargo plane going to Catanduanes. More than 1,050 families received relief goods at the Cabugao School of Handicraft and Cottage Industry. Over 600 families received non-food items, while almost 500 received food including 15 kilos of rice, canned food, noodles, mongo, salt and sugar.
Last January 22, Gordon and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney together with the 3rd US Marines Expeditionary Brigade conducted a similar relief operation in Legaspi, Albay. There they also launched the USAID-funded “Red Cross Emergency Messaging System” which allows the Red Cross to instantly broadcast through text, emergency-related information including evacuation instructions.
Washington, DC, January 26 – Save the Children and the Warm Up America! Foundation will host a reception at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., (2320 S. Street, NW), at 5:30 pm, Wednesday, January 31, 2007, to honor more than 18,000 Americans who have created over 250,000 baby caps to help save the lives of newborns in developing countries.
Knitters and crocheters from across the country will attend the event to view caps representing the handiwork of all 50 states and to read excerpts from nearly 10,000 personal notes asking America’s leaders to support additional funding for child survival programs in poor developing countries. ABC Senior News Analyst and Save the Children Trustee Cokie Roberts will serve as emcee for the event.
“Knitters and crocheters in all 50 states are using their skills and raising their voices to say that low-cost, low-tech solutions – combined with political will and financial commitment – could help save three out of five of newborns who die each year,” said Save the Children President and CEO Charles MacCormack. (…) Save the Children is calling on America’s policy makers to nearly double spending for child survival programs to $660 million. Providing support for the health of mothers and their children is the best investment of U.S. foreign assistance dollars.
Save the Children plans to deliver the caps to mothers and babies in Malawi and Bangladesh.
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, January 26 – (…) In September of 2005, ADRA initiated a project to assist an estimated 900 families in the ongoing resettlement projects in Makobola village in South Kivu province. Currently, ADRA is expanding the ongoing intervention to support an additional 60 families, bringing the number of beneficiaries to nearly 6,000 people. The assistance provided for the additional 60 families mirrors the aid the original 900 families have already received, ensuring that “all 960 families will have received the same level of assistance by the end of the project,” assured Njoke.
Each family will receive a kitchen kit containing eating utensils, plates, cups, and cooking pots; two 20-liter jerry cans for water; a hygiene kit comprised of bath soap, laundry soap, and a treated mosquito net, as well as blankets and shoes for the children. As it did with the initial 900 families, ADRA is providing the additional 60 families with shelter kits containing construction materials, such as galvanized roofing sheets, roofing and carpentry nails, doors, and windows. ADRA will help construct the two-bedroom homes with unbaked mud bricks supplied by the beneficiaries. (…)
WFP welcomes historic donation from Tunisia
Rome, 25 January -- WFP has welcomed its first donation from Tunisia since 1997, which will go to assist impoverished people worldwide. WFP expressed the hope that the donation would set in motion a continuing and growing partnership with Tunisia. Tunisia donated US$100,000 to the UN frontline agency for food assistance without any conditions. Most donations to WFP and other humanitarian organisations are targeted at specific projects or countries, but the Tunisian donation is multilateral, making it possible for WFP to use the money for any of its operations facing severe shortfalls. (…)
Geneva/Conakry, 24 January – With the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Red Cross Society of Guinea has launched a major operation to provide first aid for victims of the violence in the country. Over 600 volunteer first-aid workers have been assembled in Conakry and throughout the country.
The ICRC has supplied the Guinean Red Cross with more than 30 first-aid kits and basic items such as sleeping mats, blankets and jerrycans. Through its offices in Conakry and Nzérékoré, it has also provided radios, vehicles, fuel and meals for the volunteers.
Conakry, like most large cities in the country, has suffered many casualties and significant property losses. On 22 January the ICRC provided six vehicles to take wounded people to Donka Hospital in Conakry, where 119 patients were admitted, most of them with bullet wounds. The ICRC gave the hospital a surgical kit for treating up to 150 gunshot victims. (…)
The ICRC has been conducting regular reviews of the capacity of Conakry’s medical facilities to deal with the situation. It has also been providing material and financial support for the Red Cross Society of Guinea, which has people on the ground in all 33 national prefectures. The skill and high standards of the National Society volunteers have been commended by one and all.
Johannesburg, South Africa - 24 January - Members of an international team of graduate students at the University of Witwatersrand raised more than $12,000 to help AIDS orphans in Africa by completing a 20-day trek across South Africa in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In addition to the funds, which will go to the organization Rotarians for Fighting AIDS (RFFA), the students used the high-profile event to raise public awareness about the plight of the millions of children worldwide left orphaned or at risk by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The five students from Japan, Kenya, and the United States - four of whom are Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars -- walked in relay from Johannesburg to Cape Town, a distance of 1,250 miles. Along the way, the hikers raised funds for children's assistance projects in several African nations. Rotary's Ambassadorial Scholars program helps students develop a cross-cultural perspective and a broader worldview by studying abroad for one year. (…)
With the support of nonprofit organization Hope Worldwide, RFFA is implementing community-led responses to help AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Cote d'Ivoire, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia. In addition to training more than 40,000 caregivers, RFFA aims to provide psychosocial support for more than 146,000 orphans in the next five years. RFFA members are Rotary members from around the world who share a common interest in addressing the HIV/AIDS problem. (…)
Washington DC (January 23, 2007) – To aid communities shattered by the fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah resistance in Lebanon, Counterpart International and a U.S. religious congregation have combined to provide mobile primary healthcare facilities and farm animals to replace livestock slaughtered in air strikes. Partnering with Counterpart, The Community of Christ church from Independence, Missouri, provided funding for an urgently-needed mobile clinic to support people affected by the fighting in Lebanon and Israel. A US$30,000 World Hunger Fund grant from the church will support a livestock replacement project to equip families with goats and poultry they can raise for food and sell for money to re-build farm property. (…)
UN Agencies help Bangladesh provide aid in cold wave
New York, 19 January -- United Nations agencies, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are supporting the Government of Bangladesh in responding to a recent cold wave that has hit the country, killing more than 130 people and affecting at least 100,000 since early January. During the current cold wave, temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius have been recorded in three northern districts, reportedly the lowest temperatures in 38 years. A number of districts have been affected.(…) The unusually cold weather has damaged crops, disrupted communication and transportation, and spread diseases, especially among children and the elderly. The level of suffering of the poor, street children, women and aged people is high, as they cannot afford warm clothes and adequate food. Ahead of further expected cold waves, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working to complement the national response by providing emergency assistance to ten affected districts. (…) The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has made a cash grant of $50,000 available to the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator to provide warm clothes in the affected areas, in cooperation with partners such as Bangladesh National Scouts, Bangladesh National Cadet Corps, Handicap International and other NGOs. (…)
United Nations supports Sri Lanka flood response
New York, 19 January -- The United Nations is undertaking a number of initiatives to support the Government of Sri Lanka in response to recent flooding and landslides that have struck Hambantota, Ampara and Nuwara Eliya districts on the Southern/Eastern slopes and Central Hills of the country. These activities complement the effective and coordinated response by the Government of Sri Lanka to the disaster, which has saved many lives and rendered fewer people homeless. A total of 18 people died and more than 30,500 people were affected in the two worst districts of Nuwara Eliya and Hambantota. In support of the Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has fast tracked the landslide mitigation and hazard mapping programme to minimise future potential landslides and impacts. The UNDP has committed to secure $100,000 for mitigation of floods and liaises with the 24/7 unit of the government Disaster Management Centre. Together with the United Nations, the Government of Sri Lanka is organizing assessments for the next stage, which will concentrate on flood mitigation. (…)
United Nations Emergency Fund helps 31 countries in 2006
New York, 10 January -- The United Nations has committed $241 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to more than 328 projects in 31 countries during the first nine months of the Fund’s existence. Some $174 million was disbursed from the rapid response facility for new and/or rapidly deteriorating emergencies in 24 countries, including Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Myanmar, Niger, Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria and Timor-Leste, as well as in the occupied Palestinian territory. (…) By the end of the year, 52 Member States, Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture and the Disaster Resource Network (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) had pledged nearly $298 million to the CERF for 2006. (…)
At the well attended high-level conference in support of the CERF, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 7 December 2006, 49 donors – including 16 new donors – pledged $344 million for 2007. (…) Approved by the General Assembly in December 2005 and officially launched on 9 March 2006, the CERF aims to save lives by providing quick initial funding for life-saving assistance and rapid response in sudden onset, rapidly deteriorating, and underfunded emergencies. (…)
WFP has welcomed a donation of more than US$300,000 from the Catalan Cooperation Agency for Development, an organisation of the Generalitat of Catalonia which governs this Spanish autonomous community.
The donation will be used to support WFP operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is assisting more than three million people. Six years of war and unrest in DRC have taken their toll on the nutritional status of displaced families whose children have been forced to grow up in harsh conditions – many of them have perished due to their parents’ inability to provide for them. Sporadic violence in eastern DRC remains a constant danger for the civilian population, limiting their ability to plant and grow crops. A further threat comes from HIV/AIDS, especially for displaced people who lack the means to protect themselves against the pandemic.
According to the Catalan Cooperation Agency of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, the 2003-2006 Management Cooperation Plan states the need to respond to complex humanitarian crises; the provision of assistance in general, as well as during emergencies, is among the Plan’s strategic objectives.(…) WFP also provides food rations to those Congolese affected by the violence: among them are demobilised child soldiers, communities undergoing reconstruction and people affected by HIV/AIDS. This assistance is being provided against a backdrop of urgent need for the international community to help with rebuilding infrastructure, communications and restarting agricultural production.(…) WFP plans to distribute an average of 7,000 tons per month to 875,000 people across the country, from January to June 2007.
Citigroup & WFP launch WFP emergency network
Davos, Switzerland, 25 January - Corporate and Investment Banking and WFP have announced the launch of the WFP Emergency Network, a ground-breaking partnership between the private sector and WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation and the UN’s logistics coordinator in times of disaster as well as its lead agency in the fight against hunger.
As the rate of emergencies increases, WFP is faced with an unprecedented challenge of developing a faster and more efficient response to potential crises worldwide. Amer Daoudi, Associate Director of WFP Operations division Citigroup also announced that its Foundation would grant WFP $3.2 million over two years to increase the agency’s capability to assess food security in crisis-prone countries ahead of disaster, a critical priority for WFP. (…) SENAC is a three-year initiative to strengthen WFP’s capacity to conduct robust and impartial emergency needs assessment when a disaster occurs.(…)
Commemoration ceremony marks the 10th anniversary of the Guatemalan peace accords
The "Firm and Lasting Peace Accord" was signed in 1996 and its verification was undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations.
24 January -- A decade ago in Guatemala City, the government of this Central American country and the commanders of Guatemala's United National Revolutionary Front signed the "Firm and Lasting Peace Accord," thus concluding six years of negotiations and ending more than three decades of armed confrontation and a painful chapter in Guatemalan and Latin American history. Also party to this process was Boutros Boutros-Ghali, then-Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as representatives from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, the United States, Spain and Norway.
"It was an organized and well-articulated process, but it was not free off difficulties," said Antonio Castellanos, Guatemala's Ambassador to Chile, during a commemorative ceremony held around the Peace Bell in the gardens of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). He added that the United Nations participated in a "direct and decisive" way in this peace process and the resulting accord, which marks its tenth anniversary. For his part, ECLAC's Executive Secretary José Luis Machinea highlighted the role of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), which supported the path to national peace, from its creation with the signing of the Peace Treaty on 29 December, 1996, until the end of its mandate in 2004. He also praised the current process of Central American integration, in which Guatemala is fully immersed, as an important resource in advancing towards a renewed social and economic pact.
24 January – United Nations peacekeepers launched an operation early this morning in Cité Soleil, an inner-city neighbourhood of the capital Port-au-Prince, to occupy a house that had continually been used by armed gangs to conduct criminal activities and to fire on UN troops patrolling the area.
The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) initiated the operation at 4:30 a.m. to take control of the house from where gangs often shot at peacekeepers, putting the area’s population in danger. UN forces returned fire only after identifying the shooters – who then quickly fled the scene – as gang members. UN blue helmets acted to “increase the presence on the ground” of troops and also to “continue to reinforce the security of Cité Soleil,” MINUSTAH acting spokesperson Sophie Boutaud-de-la-Combe told the UN News Centre. No UN forces were injured in today’s operations.
Two Jordanian peacekeepers with MINUSTAH, Tareq Al Jaafreh and Rabi Merei, were assassinated in Cité Soleil on 17 January last year while patrolling a security checkpoint. MINUSTAH troops now maintain a permanent presence in the neighbourhood that has long been regarded as one of the most violent in the entire Western Hemisphere.
Contact: Gohar Gyulumyan, Rotary World Peace Fellow, Phone: +1 919-724-0117
Sandra Prufer, Rotary Media Relations Europe/Africa, Phone: +1 847-866-3208
Evanston, Ill., USA, 22 January -- Amid today's headlines of war, suicide bombings, and violent crime signs of peace are welcome. Gohar Gyulumyan has decided to make a career of working towards peace and sustainable economic development in the Caucasus region, and Rotary International is helping the 37-year-old Yerevan native by awarding her with a fellowship in peace and conflict resolution studies. Launched in 2002, this two-year program is aimed at helping the next generation of government officials, diplomats and humanitarian leaders develop the skills needed to reduce the threat of war and violence worldwide.
Gyulumyan says that because of the political instability and ethnic conflicts after the break-up of the Soviet Union, especially the territorial Nagorny Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan, she felt the call of duty to reduce the violence and to create a better life for her people. "Even 10 years after the ceasefire the conflict can re-escalate at any point,"says Gyulumyan, who worked for the Ministry of Finances and Economy in the 1990s and most recently for the Worldbank's office in Yerevan. "Our political and economical problems are interrelated. We moved from a planned to a market-oriented economy, but the lack of security hinders the economic progress in our country.” The fellowship allows Gyulumyan to earn a Master's degree at one of seven Rotary Centers for International Studies around the world. Centers are located at leading universities in the United Kingdom, the U.S., France, Japan, Argentina and Australia. (…)
Up to 70 Rotary World Peace Fellows are selected each year in a globally competitive selection process based on their professional and academic achievements. Their interests and areas of expertise include public health, sustainable agriculture, international law, public policy, economic development, journalism, and social justice. (…) Application for the Rotary World Peace Fellowship must be made through a local Rotary club. The deadline for the 2008-10 class is 1 July 2007. For more information: www.rotary.org/foundation/educational/amb_scho/centers/index.html
More equipment to clear landmines, unexploded ordnance in Vietnam
As part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen U.S.-Vietnamese relations, the Department of State recently provided nearly $1 million worth of state-of-the-art equipment to Vietnam to help clear unexploded ordnance and landmines left there from past conflicts. Since joining the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program in 2000, Vietnam has received more than $37 million in U.S. assistance for demining, mine risk education, survivors assistance, an ongoing Landmine Impact Survey, and demining equipment.
This latest lot of equipment was provided by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, and turned over by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to the Vietnamese Army Engineer Command's Technology Center for Bomb and Mine Disposal (BOMICEN). It included mine detectors, bomb locaters, spare parts, personal protective equipment, explosive ordnance disposal suits, and medical trauma kits to treat any Vietnamese deminers injured during the course of clearance. See related photos at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/pix/b/78448.htm . (…)
CIDA: Canada's new Government invests in Afghanistan's Minefield Clearance and Community-Led Development
The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages, today announced that Canada will provide $8.8 million dollars for demining activities in Kandahar Province and across Aghanistan as well as $1.9 million dollars to promote community-led development in Kandahar Province. The Minister made the announcement during a visit to CFB Valcartier. (…)
Canada's contribution will support activities undertaken by the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) across the country, including minefield survey and clearance, stockpile destruction, mine risk education, victim assistance and capacity building and co-ordination. The objective of the UNMACA and the Government of Afghanistan is to reduce by 70 percent the land area contaminated by mines and UXOR - estimated at 720 million square metres - by the end of 2010. Over the past 17 years, more than one billion square metres of land has been cleared of mines and UXOR in Afghanistan. (…)
New findings by scientists in Denmark are proving that red foliage is far more than aesthetically pleasing. Red foliage could indicate the presence of landmines buried below.
January - Jarne Elleholm and Carston Meier, scientists with Aresa, a Copenhagen-based biotech startup company, are conducting experiments with the thale-cross plant. The genetically modified plants’ leaves turn color when the roots come in contact with nitrogen dioxide, a compound that is naturally leached into soil from home-made landmines. In many conflict-affected countries, homemade landmines are made in plastic and rubber containers, allowing compounds in the explosive to leak into the surrounding soil. The modified version of the plant detects those compounds and produces red foliage upon contact. (…)
In order to plant seeds in a large area (such as a minefield), Aresa uses a seeding hose, known as a “hydroseeder”, which can seed the size of a football field in a day. The time delay comes as the thale-cross plant grows, a process that normally takes four-five weeks. The genetically modified thale-cross will react to nitrogen dioxide and turn red, rather than naturally neutralizing it. So far the thale-cross plant has turned red in all experiments, but it does not grow to be very large, making it difficult to see. Elleholm says that if the current success rate of experiments continues, Aresa will have a reliable mine-detecting plant in two years. Aresa has not mastered the plant-technique, but the process is well underway, and presents a distinct approach to mine-detection in the future.
New phase of Nepal’s peace process begins with UNDP support
The United Nations has begun registering and storing weapons of Maoist former combatants in Nepal, marking a new phase in the peace process following last year’s comprehensive agreement ending the long-running civil war in the Himalayan country. The registration and storage process is under way at two of seven designated cantonment sites across the nation. This significant process is being supported by teams of registration experts on loan from UNDP in Afghanistan. The experts are training Nepalese registration officers. (…)
The disarmament of former combatants is one of the steps being taken by the UN in support of the peace accord signed in November by the Nepalese Government and Maoist rebels who had been conducting an insurgency for a decade. More than 13,000 people are estimated to have been killed during the conflict, and thousands more have been displaced from their homes.
Under the agreement a new constitution will be drawn up. Recently UNDP launched an initiative to improve capacities and the readiness of key national actors and the public at large to participate in a successful constitution building process in Nepal. Already a small team has begun work, providing advice and expert technical support to decision makers, civil society and other key players. (…)
The Peace Alliance Annual Conference, February 3 – 5 Washington, D.C.
Now, more than ever, we must connect with hundreds of citizens from across the country who have come to Washington to lobby for a US Department of Peace. Expand your understanding of the US Department of Peace legislation, being re-introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. After two days of education and training, you will walk the Halls of Congress, visiting your members of the House and Senate to lobby for the bill.
Wage Peace with Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Michael Bernard Beckwith, plus leading experts in: Conflict Resolution & Prevention - Peacebuilding & Global Security - Human Security: Keeping America Safe - and more...
A Department of Peace will augment our nation's current problem-solving options, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict. This legislation will be re-introduced into the new 110th Congress at the end of our conference. This is an important time for us to be in Washington working with our members of Congress. Join us!
UNICEF completes construction of first health and development centre in Aceh
Banda Aceh, 26 January -- UNICEF has completed construction of the first of the 227 mother-and-child health centres it is building in Indonesia’s tsunami-devastated Aceh province and earthquake-hit Nias Island. The Tanjung Polindes, a 190 square metre midwifery centre and residence on the edge of the capital Banda Aceh, will be handed over to the provincial government on 26 January. Three more health centres are under construction, 40 are under tender, and another 80 are under design with sites already identified. UNICEF has committed to build a total of 227 health centres across Aceh and the North Sumatran island of Nias under its “Posyandu Plus” programme, a cornerstone of its $335 million tsunami recovery effort. (…) To ensure quality of service, UNICEF in collaboration with Aceh provincial health authorities and partners will roll out an inclusive training programme for healthcare providers. Systems for supervising and monitoring the quality of services will be designed to help maintain and improve the services of the Posyandu-plus centres. (…)
25 January - Over the past few weeks, the ICRC improved the water and sanitation infrastructure of 21 primary health care centres (PHCC), in three governorates (Salaheddine, Kerbala and Diwaniya). Works included the repair of the electrical system, water pipes, water storage tanks and sanitation facilities.
The ICRC also improved the water supply system in Al-Karamah Hospital in Baghdad.
Aware of the immense needs in Iraq and of the lack of maintenance of health infrastructures, the ICRC has been working to rehabilitate a large number of health centres throughout the country. In 2006 alone, the ICRC improved the water and sanitation facilities in 67 PHCCs, in various governorates, serving some 9,000 patients per day. In addition, emergency rehabilitation work have been done in 10 Iraqi hospitals. ICRC emergency interventions focus on areas and governorates affected by violence and those hosting a large number of internally displaced people.
Global goal to reduce measles deaths in children surpassed
New York/Geneva, 19 January - Measles deaths have fallen by 60 per cent worldwide since 1999 – a major public health success. This exceeds the United Nations goal to halve measles deaths between 1999 and 2005 and is largely due to an unprecedented decline in measles deaths in the African region. The progress was announced today by partners in the Measles Initiative: the American Red Cross, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to new data from WHO, global measles deaths fell from an estimated 873,000 deaths in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. In Africa, the progress has been even greater, with measles deaths falling by 75 per cent, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000. The data will be published in this week’s edition of The Lancet. (…)
A strategy to reduce measles mortality, consisting of four components, has been key to ensuring the massive global decrease in measles deaths. The strategy calls for the provision of one dose of measles vaccine for all infants via routine health services; a second opportunity for measles immunization for all children, generally through mass vaccination campaigns; effective surveillance for measles; and enhanced care, including the provision of supplemental vitamin A.
As a result of this strategy, between 1999 and 2005, global measles immunization coverage with the first routine dose increased from 71 per cent to 77 per cent, and more than 360 million children aged 9 months to 15 years received measles vaccine through immunization campaigns. (…) http://www.measlesinitiative.org/presskit/measles_PR_FINAL.pdf
After historic ratification, European countries meet for the first time to improve water management and curb water-related diseases
Geneva, 17 January -- Today, the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes are meeting in Geneva for the first time. Their goal is to translate into action the Protocol’s provisions for the coming three years. The meeting is expected to launch ambitious programmes to prevent, control and reduce water-related diseases. (…) The programmes to be decided on at the meeting include activities related to the setting of targets under the Protocol and the report on progress achieved; surveillance of water-related disease and response systems; the human right to water and equitable access to safe drinking water; water supply and sanitation and climate change adaptation strategies; and public awareness and capacity-building activities.
Transboundary water resources play a vital role in the region: it has several hundred transboundary water bodies, including rivers, lakes and groundwaters, and countries depend on their neighbours for up to 90% of their water. Thus international cooperation is crucial to ensure the sustainable use of such resources. The spread of diseases transmitted by water is especially common in Eastern Europe, where 16% of the population still has no access to home drinking water. (…) In Western Europe there is growing awareness of the importance of emerging diseases and new challenges posed by global change. Projected more frequent heavy rainfalls, increased periods of drought in the Mediterranean and water stress in other regions, and global temperature increases in seas, lakes and rivers – all of these may affect water quality and quantity. This can lead to unexpected outbreaks of water-borne diseases, increased harmful algal blooms and the creation of environmental niches for previously unknown vectors. (…)
Joint press release issued with the Liaison Unit Warsaw of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) and the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)
Geneva, 23 January - Wood is gaining an increasing attention, in the framework of climate change discussions and energy security, as a carbon neutral energy to replace non-renewable energy sources. This, combined with rising energy prices, is leading to an increase in wood demand. "Since traditional use of wood in Europe, notably by the pulp and paper industry, continues to expand as well, the competition between wood for bio-energy and for traditional wood processing industry is an increasing challenge", emphasizes Bernard de Galembert, Forest Director at CEPI, the Confederation of European Paper Industries. On the other hand, forest inventories have shown that in most European forests, annual growth exceeds by far the volume of wood harvested. This has led to discussions on how best to mobilize additional wood resources, considering the impacts by and on other sectors and finding ‘win-win’ solutions. During a two-day workshop (11-12 January 2007) on ‘Mobilizing Wood Resources’, over 100 different stakeholders and country delegates presented their positions and strategies towards increasing wood mobilization and then discussed and assessed their opportunities and risks. (…)
Steiner announces finalists for 2007 Environment & Development Awards
World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, 25 January -- Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), today announced the 10 finalists for one of five Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (Seed) Awards. The winners of the Seed Awards, an incentive scheme for local entrepreneurs to promote economic growth, social development and environmental protection will be announced at the forthcoming United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in May 2007. This announcement compliments a similar release made at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, today. (…)
Finalists for the Seed Awards 2007 take a range of promising, locally-adapted approaches to sustainability, including the promotion of traditional medicine and community-based tourism and the production of alternative fuels. The countries represented by finalist initiatives are Brazil, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Tanzania, and Vietnam. (…) The announcement of the 2007 finalists follows a rigorous 10-month selection process that drew together more than 230 applications from more than 70 countries worldwide – representing close to 1,100 organisations from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups, labour, public authorities, UN agencies and others. The selection process to shortlist finalists involved an external selection team of ten international experts. (…)
France joins the Billion Tree Campaign
Paris, 18 January -- From Paris, France, the United Nations Environment Programme launches a second appeal to the international community to join its first global tree planting project Plant for the Planet: the Billion Tree Campaign. Several partners in France (Planète Urgence, ADEME - Botanic - Comité 21 - Groupe Yves Rocher - Forestavenir - Fédération des Forestiers Privés de France - France Nature Environnement - Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche - Ministère de l'Ecologie et du Développement durable - Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle - Nature & Découvertes - Office National des Forêts - IUCN - UNESCO-MAB) offer their support to the initiative, which will help mitigate climate change and catalyze environmental action around the world. (…)
This people-centred campaign is raising awareness of the interdependence between humankind and the planet’s ecosystems, as well as the linkages between tree planting and climate change mitigation, the restoration of biodiversity, air and soil quality, and food security. To date, over 157 million tree planting pledges have been recorded, including 5.5 million in France. (…)
New measures to protect Mediterranean fish stocks
FAO General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean concludes annual meeting
Rome, 16 January -- A large group of nations whose fishing fleets regularly ply the waters of the Mediterranean have agreed upon a series of new measures aimed at conserving the region's fish stocks, FAO said today. The measures were adopted during the annual meeting of FAO's General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), held last week in Rome and attended by 19 countries plus the European Community. One of the meeting's main outcomes was an agreement on the use of new, more selective types of netting in bottom trawls. Changes to the shape of the mesh holes in the "cod end" section of the trawls will permit small juvenile fish that have not yet reproduced to escape capture and return to the wild to breed. Among the species that will benefit are red mullet and hake, popular with consumers and of economic importance but categorized as either fully- or overexploited by FAO.
The commission also agreed on a common set of benchmarks for measuring the capacity of fishing fleets in the region and assessing their impacts on shared fish stocks, the first time such a unified system has existed in the Mediterranean. Additionally, GFCM members signed off on new rules for tuna fishing, recently adopted by the International Commission on Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and forwarded to the GFCM since both commissions share responsibility for managing migratory bluefin tuna stocks in the Mediterranean region. This raises the number of countries who have directly agreed to abide by these ICATT rules from 42 to 56. (…)
Green Cross Sri Lanka is in the process of establishing a park at Wellawatta beach in the Colombo district to be named the “Shoo Iwasaki Green Cross Park.” This park will have all the normal facilities and amenities for visitors including a canteen and an information center, which will be lit by Solar panels that will be do- nated by Green Cross Japan and its President Shoo Iwasaki. The Government of Sri Lanka, through the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, will provide some financial assistance.
The 2007 UNA-USA National High School Essay Contest on the United Nations
“What can the United States do to improve maternal health” around the world
Chapter Winners Announced
January 30 -- Since 1986, the National High School Essay Contest on the United Nations has inspired students to engage global issues and the work of the UN through scholarship and critical thinking. Each year, UNA-USA publishes a topic and question of particular importance to the international community. Students then conduct research and write a response to the question, based not only on the information they have found, but also on their own views and opinions. (…)
For many students, this essay contest is a continuation of the work they have already undertaken in school, whether for a social studies course, an elective class on international affairs, or a club or program such as Model UN. For others, the event is an introduction to global issues and the UN's work. Regardless of their experience, students should all have the opportunity to gain knowledge and form opinions about the issues that impact their lives. (…)
This year, the contest returned its focus to the MDGs, looking specifically at Goal Five, which calls on the world to make motherhood safe by improving maternal heath in developing regions. By reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015, we can end the untimely deaths of hundreds of thousands of women and the suffering of their families and communities. Students were asked to answer this question: What can the US do to help improve maternal health around the world? (…)
The national winners of the contest will be announced in mid-February 2007. For information about the judging and other details, click here.
Christian Brother Encourages Adoption, Teaching of Earth Charter
Janiuary 3 - Australian Christian Brother Moy Hitchen tells the Catholic News Service that he encourages adoption and teaching of the principles of the Earth Charter by the Christian Brothers, because it offers "guidelines for stewardship of the earth." Advocacy for environmental justice has taken Brother Moy, who blogs his Eco-Journeys at the web site of Edmund Rice International. into some of the globe's most economically and ecologically challenged communities. "In a sprawling slum in Nairobi, Kenya," reports the CNS, "he was struck by the contrast between environmental disaster -- a "filthy black river (of) industrial waste, human sewage and plastic bags full of household garbage" -- and vestiges of the natural world that were struggling to survive." (…)
Brother Moy visits Christian Brothers around the world explaining the connections between ecology, spirituality, and social justice. "The great spiritual traditions are in partnership with the earth," he says. "And the Congress of Consecrated Life in Rome in 2004 had 16 recommendations, one of which was to maintain a triple dialogue -- dialogue with the poor, dialogue with the world religions and dialogue with the earth..."
Read more: Catholic News Service, “'Love your local ecosystem,' Christian Brother tells others," by Barbara J. Fraser, 02 Jan 2007.
The International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) announced today that the world’s largest celebration of children's creativity and imagination will take place this June at the most prestigious public venue in the world – The National Mall. The Festival will open every day with a ceremony at 10:30 am and festivities will continue until 5:00 pm. The Festival on the Mall will be open and free to the public.
The fusion of art, sport and technology with dance and musical performances, co-creation of works by child artists and famous artists, and workshops on peace education and creative leadership, will make the Festival a complete synesthetic experience – a total work of art that will transform the Mall. The Festival showcases children's creativity, imagination and talent; equips them with communication, collaboration and leadership skills; and promotes mutual respect and trust as a foundation to future peace-building initiatives. American children host their international counterparts, serving as youth ambassadors. Washington Area families host the international delegations.
Hosted every four years by ICAF, the Festival is a culmination of ICAF's global art program in which more than 3 million children in 100 countries are participating. (…)
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