Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 1



Weekly - Year IX, number 1 – 11th January 2008

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 4,000 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



Antitrust: European Commission welcomes Apple's announcement to equalise prices for music downloads from iTunes in Europe

Brussels, 9 January - The European Commission welcomes Apple's announcement to equalise prices for downloads of songs from its iTunes online store in Europe within the next six months. This puts an end to the different treatment of UK consumers who currently have to pay higher prices for downloads. The different treatment to UK consumers was a major concern for Which?, a UK consumer protection organisation, who filed a formal complaint with the Commission. The Commission’s antitrust proceedings have also clarified that it is not agreements between Apple and the major record companies which determine how the iTunes store is organised in Europe. Consequently, the Commission does not intend to take further action in this case. (…)

Apple operates an iTunes on-line store with different views in the European Economic Area (EEA) which sells music downloads.  EEA consumers can only buy music from the view which is directed to their country of residence and which contains the music that is cleared for sale in that country. iTunes checks the consumer's residence through their credit card details. For example, in order to buy a music download from the UK view a consumer must use a credit card issued by a bank with an address in the UK. Prices for iTunes downloads in the UK are currently nearly 10% more expensive than downloads in the euro-zone.

Following iTunes' announcement, UK consumers will soon pay the same for music downloads from iTunes as customers from the euro-zone countries. (…)


US Congress Adds $600 Million for UN Peacekeeping

New York, 8 January (UNA-USA E-News Update) - Thanks to the efforts of all UNA-USA members and chapters that contacted their members of Congress in support of UN funding last year, including during December's Darfur National Action Week, the President last week signed a bill providing the full budget request for UN assessed contributions, a $600 million increase for UN peacekeeping, and a $30 million increase for UN voluntary contributions. In addition, the final FY08 omnibus spending bill contained a more flexible version of an impractical Senate-adopted amendment that would have withheld all UN funding until every UN agency and program instituted wide-ranging transparency measures.



Human rights



Central African Republic: distribution of relief in Birao

January 3 - The town of Birao was particularly hard hit by the military operations that took place in the Vakaga region in November 2006 and March 2007. (…) The situation is particularly acute for people who are elderly, living alone or heads of household. The ICRC is hoping that its distribution of essential relief (tarpaulins, mats, soap, blankets, kitchen sets, etc.) to 325 people living in Birao will help to alleviate their plight. The organization recently handed out essential items to a group of Sudanese refugees from Darfur.

In addition to providing assistance, the ICRC, which has been present on a permanent basis in Birao since October 2007, carries out activities to protect the civilian population and to spread knowledge of international humanitarian law among bearers of weapons, the political authorities and members of civil society while endeavouring to boost the operational and organizational capacities of the local branch of the Central African Red Cross Society.

The ICRC also strives to restore family links, especially for people in the Sam Ouandja refugee camp, where 2,650 Sudanese refugees from Darfur are sheltering.



Economy and development



US$11.9 million IFAD loan to Armenia for developing microenterprises

Rome, 8 January – A new US$32.2 million Farmer Market Access Programme in Armenia, supported by a US$ 11.9 million loan and a US$500,000 grant from IFAD, will provide innovative financing for poor rural and peri-urban people to develop profitable on-farm and off-farm small businesses. The programme will provide loans to people who develop rural microenterprises that have the potential for rapid growth but are held back because they can’t qualify for conventional bank loans.  The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters by IFAD’s President Lennart Båge and Armenia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ruben Shougarian.

The OPEC Fund for International Development will cofinance the programme for US$10 million. Other cofinanciers will contribute US$2 million; the Government of Armenia US$5 million; participating financial institutions US$900,000; and project participants US$2 million. (…)

The programme’s main financing instrument will be a venture capital fund – the Fund for Rural Economic Development in Armenia (FREDA) – which represents an innovation for both rural Armenia and IFAD. Those applying for financing under the programme will have to show that their enterprise will foster sustainable income growth among the programme’s target groups, which include farmers and unemployed, under-employed and self-employed people. Applicants for FREDA support who engage women as suppliers and employees will be given preference.

The programme will also help participants gain access to the knowledge, technology and infrastructure they need to enable them to profit from domestic and export markets. (…)

Contact information: Farhana Haque-Rahman - Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes  


Overview 2007 on trade agreements and disputes in Latin America 

Recourse to the World Trade Organization and integration regimes as a means of resolving disputes, plus new advances in regional agreements, took place in 2007.

4 January - Major landmarks during 2007 in Latin American and Caribbean trade, disputes and the evolution of the Doha Round process are covered in two articles posted on the web page of the ECLAC Division of International Trade and Integration. The article Overview of Trade Issues in 2007 (Balance de temas comerciales en 2007) analyzes the issues and positions held by the countries of the region in the Doha Development Round, following the resumption of negotiations last February.  It also reviews progress in extra- and inter- regional trade pacts. In 2007 the members of the Andean Community of Nations and the Central American Common Market both began, separately, negotiations toward association agreements with the European Union (EU). Trade agreements were approved between Peru and the United States, Chile and Japan, and the CARIFORUM countries (CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic) with the EU. In Central America, the Protocol to the Treaty on Investment and Trade in Services was drawn up. In South America, countries agreed to the creation of the Union of South American Nations and, at the end of 2007, signed the Founding Act of the Banco del Sur by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela, with initial capital of US$7 billion. The adhesion process of Venezuela to MERCOSUR also continued, among other developments. (…) 


Fisheries and aquaculture recovery three years after the Asian tsunami

"Soft" assistance now key

20 December 2007 – (…) FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department has played a leading role in helping fishers and fish farmers in the region get back on their feet, building and repairing boats, providing replacement fishing gear, and clearing and rehabilitating damaged fish farms. Now, as the immediate impact of the disaster is fading, the UN agency remains engaged in affected countries, helping fishing communities and national authorities transition from short-term recovery to looking at long-term issues like fisheries resources management, safety at sea and sustainable development. "Now that many fishers and aquaculturists are back to work, we're trying to address the underlying vulnerability and unsustainability of their livelihoods that characterized many areas prior to the tsunami," says Lahsen Ababouch of FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, who coordinates the agency's post-tsunami assistance in the areas of fisheries and aquaculture. "This means doing things better. For example, working with national authorities we've helped establish boat construction standards appropriate to local conditions, published construction manuals, and have helped train boatbuilders in best practices. New boats will last longer and be safer," he explains. (…) Noting that FAO has provided a good deal of material assistance, Ababouch argues that the UN agency's most valuable contribution to tsunami rehabilitation is in the area of providing technical training and policy advice, rather than in delivering goods and making repairs. (…) 


Arsenic threat in rice - Reducing arsenic levels in rice through improved irrigation practices

19 December 2007, Rome – High levels of arsenic in rice could be reduced by applying improved irrigation management practices in Asia, FAO said today in a new report entitled Remediation of Arsenic for Agriculture Sustainability, Food Security and Health in Bangladesh. Studies have shown that high concentrations of arsenic in soil and irrigation water often lead to high levels of arsenic in crops and are posing an increased food safety risk. At present, twelve countries in Asia have reported high arsenic levels in their groundwater resources. “The problem of high arsenic levels in crops, particularly rice, needs to be urgently addressed by promoting better irrigation and agricultural practices that could reduce arsenic contamination significantly,” said Sasha Koo-Oshima, FAO water quality and environment officer.  “Arsenic-contaminated rice could aggravate human health when consumed with arsenic-laden drinking water. The widespread addition of arsenic to soils, for example in Bangladesh, is degrading soil quality and causing toxicity to rice. Arsenic contamination is threatening food production, food security and food quality,” she noted. (…) A related Cornell University project proved that between 30 and 40 percent less irrigation water is needed in raised-bed- system. Fertilizers are also captured better – with the effect that farmers will need less fertilizers. The raised-bed-system represents a major shift in rice production but tests show that farmers prefer the new approach due to visibly higher yields, water savings, lower tillage and labour costs and production of a safer crop. (…) 


Economic growth favors drop in unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean 

Regional unemployment rate will register 8.0% in 2007, and should decrease to 7.6% the following year.

14 December 2007-One of the main characteristics of the current period of economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is the improved situation in employment. The Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2007, released yesterday by ECLAC, notes that this trend continued over  2007, with an increase of 54.1% to 54.6% in the regional employment rate among the working age population. This is reflected in a new decrease in unemployment, from 8.6% in 2006 to 8.0% in 2007. Over the past five years, the regional unemployment rate has dropped a total of three percentage points, nearing its level at the start of the 1990s.  Projections for 2008 suggest continuing decreases in unemployment, to 7.6%.

The sustained and elevated economic growth, unprecedented in the region, is reflected in the dynamic demand for labour. In 2007, wage employment was again the segment with the highest rate of growth (4.0%),  exceeding notably growth in total employment (2.8%).  Another 2007 trend was the sharp increase in formal employment. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru all registered increases of some  5% or more during the first semester or the first three quarters of the year. Including estimates for 2007, the past five years have seen formal employment rise by approximately 17.5% in Mexico, 25.3% in Brazil, 26.9% in Peru, 29.3% in Costa Rica, 31.2% in Chile, 47.6% in Nicaragua and 49.5% in Argentina. Also over 2007, growth in formal employment exceeded that of informal employment in  Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Uruguay. (…) However, the ECLAC report also warns of serious problems that persist in the labour market. Estimates indicate urban open unemployment of at least 17 million people, with a high percentage of those employed lacking the income necessary to escape poverty.


ECA Publishes report on determination of fundamental datasets for Africa 

14 December 2007 - The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has published a new report defining fundamental geospatial datasets for Africa. The report is the first attempt to provide a continental common definition of what constitutes a minimally necessary core of geospatial data and information products to which policy makers can add other sectoral datasets to ensure geographic consistency in making decisions on socio-economic development issues.

The report comes following an exhaustive literature review and widespread consultations with other institutions on the continent, details of which was compiled by EIS-Africa and the South African Human Sciences Research Council. It proposes the following definition: “Fundamental data sets are the minimum primary sets of data that can not be derived from other data sets, and that are required to spatially represent phenomena, objects or themes, important for the realization of economic, social and environmental benefits consistently across Africa at the local, national, subregional and regional levels.” Based on this definition, the report goes on to identify ten fundamental data themes, which are geodetic control network, imagery, hypsography, hydrography, boundaries, geographic names, land management units, transportation, utilities and services, and natural environments. 


St. Lucia ready to use US$3.5 million to help reduce youth unemployment 

Castries, St. Lucia- December 11, 2007 - A project to increase youth employment in St. Lucia by providing private sector-driven training was officially launched today by Prime Minister Stephenson King. The OECS Skills for Inclusive Growth Project will improve the knowledge and skills of beneficiaries to help youth transition to the labor market. The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance was accompanied by five Cabinet ministers and many other high raking government officials among them, the Minister for Economic Affairs, Economic Planning, Investment and National Development, the Hon. Ausbert D'Auvergne, and the Minister for Education, the Hon. Arsene James.  Also participating in the opening ceremony were Ms. Chingboon Lee, World Bank Sector Leader, Angela Demas, Task Team Leader for the project, representatives of the Saint Lucian private sector and members of civil society. Recent economic expansion in the region provides St. Lucia and other Caribbean countries with an opportunity to broaden the gains to youth. Youth unemployment in St. Lucia was 39% in 2005 compared to 13% for the workforce as a whole. Recent World Bank data estimates that bringing youth unemployment down to the levels of the whole workforce would increase GDP by 1.3 percent. It would also help to reduce youth crime and violence which is negatively impacting economic growth. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and the National Skills Development Centre (NSDC). It is the first phase of a regional program that is open to other countries in the region, of which Grenada is expected to be the second. (…) The project funded by a US$3.5 million zero-interest credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the institution of the World Bank that provides interest-free loans, has a 35-year maturity and a 10-year grace period.,,contentMDK:21601081~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html


Nepal’s ‘poorest of the poor’ reap the benefits of innovative leasehold project

In the Middle Hills district of Nepal, an IFAD-funded project has helped reverse environmental degradation and bring people out of poverty. As a result of the project’s impressive impact, the government adopted a leasehold forest policy in 2002 and integrated the approach in its poverty strategy. Now a new project is building on the success of the first, introducing livestock and microfinance components. (…)

Nepal’s government launched the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project in 1993. Its goal was to reduce poverty and restore environments in the Middle Hills by offering 40-year leases of small plots of degraded, public forest land exclusively to groups of the poorest rural households. Leasehold forestry user groups usually consist of 10 or fewer households. The stronger the group, the better chance it has to continue to maintain and improve the site.  Participants rehabilitate the land by banning grazing and by stall-feeding their livestock. They also use and sell forest products such as timber, fuelwood and fodder. The leases provide poor rural people with long-term land tenure and give them the incentive to regenerate, protect and manage degraded forest areas under their use, while offering them benefits in terms of improved livelihoods.(…) 

As a result of the project’s impressive impact on poverty, the government identified leasehold forestry as a priority programme in its Poverty-Reduction Strategy Paper for 2002-2007.  To help Nepal implement this national programme, IFAD designed the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme, which began in 2004. It focuses on further improving household forage and tree crop production, increasing household production of livestock, especially goats, providing access to microfinance institutions, and supporting the government’s capacity to implement leasehold forestry in a gender-sensitive way. (…) During a joint review of the programme, IFAD and the government discussed the criteria for choosing participants in the forest development programmes, options for diversifying incomes, and for collaborating with civil society. (…) 


Small-scale farmers become entrepreneurs

Have you ever wondered where the cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes and green beans sitting on supermarket shelves come from? In Mozambique if you shop at Shoprite, Africa's largest food retailer, which has operations in 16 countries, you'll be buying vegetables produced locally by small-scale farmers. The IFAD-funded PAMA Programme - the Agricultural Markets Support Programme - supports the implementation of major economic reforms launched by the government during the 1990s, including the commercialization of small-scale farming through better access to markets and improved linkages with private sector operators. The programme enables small-scale farmers in Boane, 30 km south of Maputo, to cultivate cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes and other cash crops in the rehabilitated irrigation schemes which were severely damaged during 16 years of civil war. The province of Maputo is taking advantage of existing irrigation infrastructure to improve market linkages and increase agricultural production.

Today, in the Boane area, the irrigation schemes cover 405 ha of land and the programme works with approximately 400 farmers. "Before, the farmers did not have any know-how, they did not know which crop would be more marketable," explains Mário Quissico, the marketing specialist from AGEMA. "Now farmers know what the market needs. They negotiate directly with the buyer and cultivate to meet demand. As a result their activity is profitable and sustainable." The PAMA team contracted AGEMA to provide support to farmers. Together they had to work hard to get the farmers to where they are today. "Before we came into the picture, farmers produced low quality products. They were unable to sell directly to the buyer and had no idea of how to link up with big buyers. At best they sold their goods through intermediaries or at farm gate, and had little or no negotiating power" says Rui N. Ribeiro, PAMA coordinator. "Now they are organized in associations and as a result have more bargaining power." (…)  Thanks to the efforts of Ribeiro and his team, the farmers’ associations are now well established in the market. The associations have matured and are well organized. (…)






WFP food convoy leaves Nairobi for Kenya's Rift Valley

WFP is delivering food to thousands of desperately hungry people fleeing Kenya's post-electoral violence.

Nairobi, 7 January - A convoy of food from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) left Nairobi today for displaced people in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley and more WFP food left the town of Eldoret for thousands of desperately hungry people in the western town of Kisumu. Twenty trucks loaded with 670 metric tons of food – enough to feed at least 70,000 people for two weeks – arrived in Nairobi from the port of Mombasa on Sunday. Nine of the trucks unloaded their food in Nairobi today and the remaining 11 headed on to Eldoret. The trucks were escorted by police from Mombasa because transporters refused to leave without security escorts. The 11 trucks left Nairobi with a WFP escort vehicle for the town of Nakuru, 150 kilometres northwest of the capital, and will pick up an escort for the last leg to Eldoret. The trucks for Eldoret are carrying a total of 380 tons of pulses, nutritious corn-soya blend (CSB) and vegetable oil – enough food to feed more than 38,000 displaced for two weeks.

 The trucks unloading in Nairobi will provide stocks that WFP can draw on as soon as a plan to provide food assistance to the hungry in Nairobi’s slums is agreed by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRC), other partners, church-based organizations and the authorities. A total of 40 tons of WFP food left Eldoret by truck today for the western town of Kisumu, where WFP partners report 3,000 displaced people are in desperate need of food. The KRC told WFP on Sunday that it has distributed 229 tons of food to 42,000 people in the Northern Rift Valley. One hurdle is that the displaced population is in flux with people using the relative calm to move. But assessments are underway to find those in need. (…) To respond to the current crisis, WFP is drawing on stocks from its other operations in Kenya – feeding 700,000 people hit by drought and 1.1 million children in 3,800 schools and an HIV/AIDS project in Nairobi and Eldoret. But the borrowed food will need to be repaid. 


UNICEF ready with critical supplies for children affected by unrest in Kenya

Nairobi, 4 January - As roads begin opening in Kenya and transport becomes possible, UNICEF is working with the Kenya Red Cross to send essential supplies to children affected by the violence due to political upheaval. Throughout the country, an estimated 500,000 people may need humanitarian assistance.  The majority are women and children, says UNICEF. After four days of violence, the number of reported dead is more than 300 including up to 50 children who perished in a church in the town of Eldoret which was set ablaze by rioters. The violence has affected much of the country including in the highly-populated slums in the capital, Nairobi. The Kenya Red Cross describes the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces as experiencing a complete breakdown of law and order. Humanitarian needs include food, water, shelter, sanitation, medical supplies and protection.  “Safe spaces” for mothers and children must be set up to protect them from violence.  There have been reports of sexual violence against children and women in the affected areas. In addition, there is an acute shortage of fuel as many petrol stations have been looted or destroyed by rioters.(…) 


Rehabilitation of livelihood structures

January 4 - DanChurchAid (DCA) has received Euro 250.000 from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department in response to the situation in Bangladesh after the Cyclone SIDR.

The contract is focused on rehabilitation of livelihood structures as well as water and sanitation in two southern districts of Bangladesh. (…)

DanChurchAid (DCA) has recently established a permanent presence in Bangladesh in order to be better prepared to respond to the recurring annual floodings but especially to the sudden disasters striking regularly but unexpectedly. The DCA presence in Bangladesh is essential for the ability to secure funding from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department as well as other donors.


Our Giving Community leads transformation of $4 billion charitable marketplace

2008 National Workplace Giving Summit set for February 6-8 in Los Angeles

Portland, ME, January 4 (CSRwire)  - The National Alliance for Choice in Giving, founded in 1987 to promote diversity and donor empowerment in on-the-job giving, announced today that it has changed its name to Our Giving Community. (…) Our Giving Community represents more than 60 charitable federations and funds and 3,000 nonprofits nationwide that raise over $100 million annually through workplace-based giving programs. (…)

Our Giving Community's signature event is its annual workplace giving conference. The 2008 National Workplace Giving Summit will be held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles next February 6-8.  Scores of leaders of the nation's new generation of workplace giving federations will attend, including representatives of Earth Share, Community Shares USA, Community Health Charities, America's Charities, Global Impact and Neighbor to Nation. Several Los Angeles area workplace giving federations also will be on hand, including Asian Pacific Community Fund, Community Health Charities of California, Earth Share of California and Brotherhood Crusade. (…)


Bangladesh: Rebuilding begins in earnest

By World Vision staff

27 December 2007 - World Vision relief teams in Bangladesh have commenced their second phase of the Cyclone Sidr response after a smooth and successful distribution of emergency relief goods.

On 9 December, World Vision completed distribution in the severely-affected districts of Bagerhat and Pirojpur. In the Bhandaria sub-district under Pirojpur district, food and non-food items were distributed to 13,000 people in the unions of Ekri, Goiuripur and Telikhali. In the Morelegonj sub-district under Bagerhat district, relief packs, including blankets and jerry cans, were distributed to 12,000 people in the unions of Nishanbaria, Ghawkhali, and Chingrakhali.

World Vision has set up water purifying units that were donated by the United States government in three areas that face water crises. These units are able to pump out clean water while regular water sources are restored.

With the completion of the first phase emergency response, World Vision is now focusing on medium-term activities, both within and outside of normal project areas. Through the end of February, relief teams will concentrate on repairing water points and deep tubewells, and will help people to restore their livelihoods, especially in the local agricultural and fishing industries. World Vision is also distributing building materials and helping rebuild infrastructure such as marketplaces. Child-friendly spaces will continue to operate in cyclone-affected communities, providing a safe place for children to play and learn while their parents rebuild or participate in World Vision cash-for-work initiatives.

The World Food Programme will partner with World Vision to distribute 1,430 metric tons of food to cyclone-affected people in the Shamnagar sub-district under the Satkhira district. The food, which includes rice, pulses, salt, vegetable oil, high energy biscuits and wheat soya blend will help to support nearly 50,000 people over a period three months. Local women are taking a lead role in managing the distribution of this food.

Relief teams are grateful for the collaboration between local government officials, the Bangladesh army, union council members, community leaders and residents, who have joined up to deliver food and other goods.


Hunger in 2007: inspired help from a caring world

In 2007, the Internet helped make the hungry world a smaller place for people wanting to support WFP.

Rome, 27 December 2007 - The year 2007 saw the United Nations World Food Programme - the world’s frontline hunger agency - battling against the effects of climate change, soaring food prices, and the needs of millions of hungry people across the world. Thankfully, the growing problem of global hunger has inspired new, creative efforts to galvanize more support to feed a hungry planet.

The internet, with its immense power and reach, combined with social networking, chalked up many successes: : 11.5 billion grains of rice donated to WFP -- enough to feed more than half a million people for a day -- since this vocabulary-based game became an overnight success just three months ago; 500,000 to 1 million people have been playing on-line at any one time, including 500 registered groups on Facebook. Chez Pim : US$90,300 raised (more than 9,000 raffle tickets sold) through a leading international food blogger’s seasonal fundraiser, “Menu for Hope”. Through sales of on-line tickets that give purchasers a chance to win a variety of donated “foodie” items, a unique connection was made between people with a fascination for fine food, dining and gastronomic delights, and the lives of impoverished farmers in Lesotho who stand to benefit from the funds raised. : 6 million copies now in circulation of the world’s first and most popular humanitarian video game ( designed for kids to understand more about hunger, an increasingly invisible and distant concept in the developed world. Hungerbytes! 140,000 viewings of a provocative video designed to inspire students, would-be filmmakers and others unleash their creativity through a unique, international competition to produce the best, short video about ‘byting’ global hunger on YouTube. Walk the World: In its fifth year, over half a million people participated in “Fight Hunger: Walk the World” -- a global walk in all 24 time zones which raised US$1.5 million, supported by WFP’s corporate partners, TNT and Unilever. Rugby World Cup: Billions of rugby fans learned more about hunger through the “Tackle Hunger” campaign which was launched during the Rugby World Cup in France. WFP is the humanitarian partner of the International Rugby Board. “World Hunger Relief Week”: Through its customers in 35,000 restaurants in more than 110 countries and territories YUM! Brands raised awareness of hunger and mobilised over US$10 million to feed hungry people during its October campaign. “Child Vitality”: Unilever’s marketing campaign in the Netherlands, Pakistan and Indonesia raised almost US$200,000 to support school children, while spreading the word about global hunger. Top Chefs for Home Cooks (“Topkoks voor thuiskoks”): The current number one bestseller in the Netherlands, this recipe book brings together 52 famous international chefs to help WFP feed thousands of school children in Malawi through book proceeds ($10 per book); one of many initiatives launched by WFP corporate partner TNT. The above initiatives helped strengthen efforts to get ahead of the hunger curve, but much more needs to be done: Hunger’s toll: 25,000 people a day die from hunger-related causes – one child every five seconds.

WFP: Will feed some 80 million people this year, in 80 countries -- more than 80 percent of those assisted are women and children. Almost 80 percent of the food WFP purchases with cash donations is bought in developing countries, benefiting local farmers. In 2007, WFP received over $2.6 billion in contributions, mainly from donor governments. Low overhead: Out of every dollar donated, 93 US cents directly supports WFP field operations.


Barron Hilton contributes $1.2 billion from sale of Hilton Hotels & Harrah’s to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Expands philanthropic legacy of his father Conrad Hilton

Los Angeles, December 26, 2007 -The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has announced that its Chairman, Barron Hilton, is building on the philanthropic legacy of his father by contributing approximately $1.2 billion of proceeds from the sale of Hilton Hotels Corporation and the pending sale of Harrah’s Entertainment into a charitable remainder unitrust that will eventually benefit the foundation.  This brings the total value of the Hilton Foundation and its related charitable entities to approximately $4.5 billion.

Barron Hilton also indicated at a recent meeting of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation board of directors that it is his intent to further follow in his father’s footsteps by contributing 97% of his entire net worth, estimated today at $2.3 billion, including the created trusts, at whatever value it is at the time of his passing. (…)

Conrad Hilton established the foundation in 1944 and, when he died in 1979, left virtually all of his fortune to the foundation. In keeping with Conrad Hilton’s directive that the foundation be global in its reach, more than 50 percent of its grants annually are directed to international initiatives.  The foundation concentrates most of its funding on major long-term projects that will affect systemic change.  It has been a pioneer in providing water and sanitation systems for villagers in developing countries; supportive housing for mentally ill homeless and homeless mothers and children in the U.S.; blindness prevention and treatment worldwide; drug abuse prevention among youth; and early childhood education for children with disabilities.  Since its inception, the foundation has committed more than $560 million to charitable work throughout the world. (…) Barron Hilton’s current gift and his commitment to leave the bulk of his estate to the Conrad Hilton Foundation guarantees that the work of the foundation will continue and expand for many years to come, further supporting the foundation’s grantmaking strategy of funding for the long-term.


Adopt a Duck today and help support Clean Up and Life Saving Victoria

Help raise money for Clean Up Australia and Life Saving Victoria by adopting a rubber life saving duck to compete in The Great Australia Day Duck Race 2008.

Held as part of the Australia Day long weekend celebrations, thousands of numbered bright yellow ducks will race down Melbourne's Yarra River. The first duck to reach the Parks Victoria Duck Catcher will win a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer ES for its owner.

Life Saving Victoria, Parks Victoria and Mitsubishi will be presenting the event along with Network 9 and Westpac on Monday 28 January 2008. You can adopt a duck for $5.00, $20 for a family of four, $35 for a flock of seven or $50 for a flotilla of ten.



Peace and security



NAPF launches an Appeal to the next US President

January 7 - The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has launched an Appeal to the next President of the United States calling for US leadership for a nuclear weapons-free world. The Appeal will be delivered to the White House on January 20, 2009 when a new President is inaugurated.

You can sign the Appeal online by clicking here.

The Appeal reads in part, "The era of nuclear weapons must be brought to an is our responsibility to eliminate them before they eliminate us."

It continues, "I call upon the next President of the United States to make a world free of nuclear weapons an urgent priority and to assure US leadership to realize this goal."

Please sign the Appeal today on our website:

You can also download the Appeal to collect printed signatures here.


Angola: landmines clearance facilitates national reconstruction

Luanda, 19 December 2007, - The chairman of the National Inter-Sectoral Commission of Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH), Santana André Pitra "Petroff" Wednesday here said that landmines clearance in the country has been enabling the implementation of the national reconstruction programme. (…) He referred that 453 kilometres of power supply networks and 36,007 kilometres of railway lines were cleared from landmines. To him, this activity counted on the participation of national and international institutions and NGOs.

Demining units of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and of the Civil House of the Presidency verified 395 kilometres of road, cleared or removed various anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.

He described the landmines action as being of extreme importance of the country's economic development process, due to enabling the implementation of plans of the government, aimed at reducing poverty and improvement of their living conditions. The official stated that apart from having allowed turning the country into a scene of undertakings, the demining process is also enabling the increase of cattle-raising activities. (…)


First Regional Workshop: ‘Towards an Anti-Personnel Mine-Free South Caucasus’ a success.

Civil society organizations from the South Caucasus region agreed to create a regional NGO consortium

Geneva, 18 December 2007 – For the first time, representatives of civil society organizations and media agencies from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, including Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia, gathered in a workshop in Kiev, 26-27 November 2007. (…) The civil society delegates were joined by members of international NGOs and intergovernmental organizations as well as representatives of the European Commission, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom. Also, representatives of the de facto authorities in Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia attended the meeting as observers and presented papers giving their respective positions on the landmine issue. (…)

The workshop was organized by Geneva Call in collaboration with the Ukrainian Peace Keepers Association, a Ukrainian NGO. It was generously funded by the European Commission, Germany, Switzerland and Lithuania. Immediately after the workshop, representatives of civil society organizations from the “frozen conflict” regions in the South Caucasus participated in a three-day training to enable them to do a survey on the socio-economic needs of landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities in the conflict zones. Also for the first time the civil society organizations from both sides of the conflicts agreed to work together in this common project. This need assessment survey is kindly financed by the European Commission and Germany.


Vietnam: 100,000 items of UXO removed                       

18 December 2007 - More than 100,000 landmines and items of unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been removed from two provinces in Vietnam by MAG since the organisation started humanitarian mine action in the country in 1999. In eight years, MAG – the largest civilian clearance agency conducting clearance operations in the country – has removed almost 120,000 landmines and UXO, cleared 643 hectares of land for development projects and visited nearly 150,000 houses during operations in provinces straddling the former demilitarised zone (DMZ).

At the end of hostilities with the US, the Vietnamese military estimated that there were between 350,000 to 700,000 tonnes of UXO still scattered across the country. The military’s estimate was based on the failure rates of US ordnance dropped during the conflict between the north and south of Vietnam. There is also UXO left behind from Vietnam’s fight for independence from France in the 1950s and a later conflict with China.

In Quang Tri alone, the provincial military estimated that there is still almost 400,000 hectares of UXO-contaminated land, accounting for 80% of the province’s entire land area.

MAG Vietnam’s Country Programme Manager, Jimmy Roodt, said the MAG’s mine action teams (MATs) had initially focused on the two provinces either side of the DMZ because they were the hardest hit during hostilities. (…)


Ten years in Mine Action

17 December 2007, - Thousands of people have been able to return home to restart their life, since the Danish Refugee Council started its Mine Action unit, Danish Demining Group (DDG), ten years ago. Today, Mine Action is an important component of the humanitarian work of the Danish Refugee Council. Every day people are injured or killed by mines or unexploded ordnances.

"Landmines and unexploded ordnances are still a huge problem in current and former war torn countries around the world," says Head of DDG, Anette Christoffersen. "People are injured by remnants of war, and not at least women and children are at risk." The Mine Action unit, DDG, was established in beginning of 1998 right after Denmark signed the Ottowa Convention. So far, 156 States have signed the convention and thus committed themselves to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines. It further prohibits countries from developing, producing, storing, or transferring anti-personnel landmines. (…)

DDG works, amongst others, in Afghanistan, which is one of the most contaminated countries worldwide. Around four million Afghans live in places contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnances. "Since 1998, we have cleared more than 1 million square meters land, thus enabled people in these areas free access to their land and to infrastructure. Still, there is a long way to go in Afghanistan - on average some 65 people, especially women and children, are injured or killed by landmines or unexploded ordnances every month," says Anette Christoffersen. (…)






UNICEF welcomes International Year of Sanitation 2008

Children and women comprise 90 per cent of those affected

New York, 1 January – UNICEF today officially welcomed the first day of the International Year of Sanitation 2008. The international year aims to highlight the need for urgent action on behalf of the more than 40 per cent of the world’s population who continue to live without improved sanitation. Lack of proper sanitation contributes to the deaths of thousands of women and children every day from largely preventable causes, including diarrhoeal diseases. Though more than 1.2 billion people worldwide have gained access to improved sanitation between 1990 and 2004, an estimated 2.6 billion people -- including 980 million children – have yet to be reached. This is one of the single biggest development challenges facing the world today.

The International Year of Sanitation 2008 was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006 to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing by half the proportion of people living without access to improved sanitation by 2015. In addition, progress on sanitation will contribute to the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals. Improved sanitation includes clean, safe toilets, wastewater management and hygiene promotion, all of which prevent the transfer of pathogens in human excreta. When not treated safely, it adversely impacts health, often deprives children of getting an education, and impedes social and economic development. (…)

Improving sanitation leads to improved health, dignity, social and economic development, protects the environment and helps people break the cycle of poverty. The year will include major regional conferences on sanitation to share best practices and help accelerate progress, including those that focus on school sanitation.  It will also help encourage public and private partnerships, to help tap into the comparative strengths of each sector, advocate and raise awareness on sanitation, leverage additional funding, and develop country-level plans of action. (…)



Energy and safety



Democratic Republic of the Congo: drinking water flows again for over 500,000 people

21 December 2007 - Two major water-supply projects have recently been completed with ICRC assistance in Goma and Bukavu, the largest cities in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "The population of these two cities has exploded as a direct result of the fighting in North and South Kivu," said Max Hadorn, head of the ICRC's delegation in the country. "The existing infrastructure is totally inadequate and lack of water has been a serious problem for the inhabitants."

The Bukavu project, which is being managed by the national water board, Rigideso, was completed in less than two months. By restoring to working order a section of the water-distribution system that serves 300,000 people, it will bring relief to thousands of household that have been without running water for three years in an area hard hit by a series of cholera epidemics, the most recent in late 2006.

The Goma project, also carried out in cooperation with Regideso, required two years of work and 300,000 dollars to complete. It has provided the city with its largest pumping station, which is connected to three densely populated neighbourhoods. Over 200,000 people, including many of those displaced by the fighting, will benefit from the new facility.  "In situations like this, we must not forget that scarcity of water in urban areas is a problem for host families as well as for displaced people," said Florence Dapples, an ICRC coordinator for water-supply projects.

The ICRC has also connected the Katindo military hospital to the existing urban water-supply network and built an incinerator, a placenta pit and a sterilization room. The facility is currently treating numerous patients wounded in the recent fighting in North Kivu. (…)


World Future Energy Summit

Meet the leaders, change the world

Abu Dhabi, January 21-23, - With a fantastic line-up of speakers confirmed, a large international exhibition and a wide range of networking events, we are delighted to be working with Masdar to present the first World Future Energy Summit. The conference will cover a wide range of issues looking at World Future Energy Policies and Strategies, Making It Happen – projects, technologies and commercial realities as well as Pushing the Boundaries – energy on the horizon to 2028 and beyond.  Plus a number of streams focusing on carbon management, waste to energy, solar, wind, biofuels, clean transport, green property and sustainable architecture. (...)

Since it's launch in January 2007, the World Future Energy Summit has received outstanding support and enthusiasm from leaders throughout the world keen to debate the future developments as climate change concerns reach an all time high.


2008 Iowa renewable fuels summit -  Johnstone, IA, USA, January 31

The second annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit will be held on Thursday, January 31, 2008 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Polk County Convention Center.

Panel discussions will include "A Sustainable Renewable Fuels Future", "Future Fuels Need Future Markets" and "Economic Vitality of Renewable Fuels."

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) brings together Iowa ethanol and biodiesel producers to foster the development and growth of the state’s renewable fuels industry through education, promotion and infrastructure development. IRFA is committed to making Iowa a leader in producing renewable fuels and value-added co-products.


Energy Efficiency & Renewables: policies, applications & research

University of Malta, 29 January

A one-day seminar on energy efficiency & renewable energy policies, application and research is being organised by the Institute for Energy Technology, of the University of Malta. The seminar will be held on Tuesday 29 January 2008, at the Coastline Hotel, Salina.

Policy making, research and applications on energy efficiency and renewables have recently become major areas of interest to legislators, energy providers and users. Various EU Energy Directives focus on energy efficiency as the immediate measure required to curb increasing use of fossil fuels. Malta is an island that is fully dependent on imported fossil fuel supplies, and hence it would be the first to suffer the consequences of sudden changes in the provision or cost of this essential commodity. Consequently, Malta should be at the forefront of applying energy efficient measures to everyday life. Likewise, renewable energy technologies are important to diversify the energy mi  of the Island and reduce pollution. This seminar aims at presenting existing policies, experiences and case studies of energy efficiency and renewables as applied in some European countries and Malta, in order to raise awareness and stimulate further cooperation between interested parties. The seminar covers a number of topics that include energy policies, energy efficiency and renewable energy in Spain, the U.K. and Malta. An exhibition by companies active in the field of energy efficiency will also be displayed.



Environment and wildlife



Where a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador planted Seedlings of Hope

A section of the Manatuto-Dili road which was recently damaged by mudslides. Experts say deforestation is partly to blame.

Timor-Leste, 27 December 2007 - Although Mr. Nuncio Pereira, a resident of Hatu-Udo sub-division of Ainaro district in Timor-Leste is not particularly media savvy, he would like to make an acquaintance with Japanese celebrity and UNDP Global Goodwill Ambassador Ms Misako Konno whose contribution is transforming the lives and livelihoods of communities in one of Asia’s remotest and poorest frontiers.

Mid this year, Ms Misako Konno made a US $ 52, 173 contribution to UNDP Timor-Leste to support tree planting activities in the Ainaro and Manatuto districts. “I would like to thank her and all the Japanese people for supporting us in a most beneficial way,” says the skinny, middle-aged man. “They are giving us not only fish but also showing us how to fish,” he remarks emphatically. A member of the twenty-member Aitano Harii Self Help Group (SHG), Mr. Pereira derives great pleasure in taking visitors on a tour of the group’s tree-nursery project which boasts a record 35,000 seedlings of various species. The group is the talk of the village. Through its small income generating activities it has secured US $ 725. The cash is accessible to members as a credit facility. In the two districts of Ainaro and Manatuto, over 250,000 seedlings are being prepared in nurseries to be planted in January and February 2008, courtesy of Ms Konno’s contribution.

“We had no idea of Self Help Groups, let alone savings and credit schemes,” says Mr. Leopoldo De Araujo, the group leader, Aitano Harii SHG. Most importantly, members now see themselves as the vanguard of a new generation and the custodians of the local environment. “We would like to leave lots of trees as a legacy to our children,” observes Mr. Bosco De Araujo. That legacy is largely the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ainaro and Manatuto Community Activation Project (AMCAP). It is a project that blends elements of innovative farming technology, community mobilization techniques and micro-credit enterprises to facilitate sustainable development in a territory blighted by chronic poverty and natural---as well as man-made---disasters.  (…)


Kicking the CO2 habit at Climate Convention meet

UN, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway Outline Climate Neutrality Strategies in Bali and Beyond

Bali/Nairobi/Oslo/San Jose/Wellington, 12 December 2007 - The United Nations has become part of the growing worldwide effort to become climate neutral.  Members of the UN attending the crucial climate convention meeting in Bali today announced that they are offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions linked with travel to and from the event.  The move, covering some 20 agencies, funds and programmes, also includes the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and his team.  In order to show leadership and demonstrate practical action in support of developing countries and the urgent need to counter global warming, the UN bodies have jointly agreed to invest in credits accumulating in the adaptation fund of the Kyoto Protocol.  The UN calculates that its greenhouse gas emissions arising from travel to and from Indonesia represents around 3,370 tonnes of carbon dioxide worth approximately $100,000 at current carbon prices.  Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said today: "The UN is today delivering as one on the issue of climate change as it is increasingly doing across the range of 21st century challenges as part of its on-going and forward-looking reform agenda". 

Norway, one of four countries that have pledged to go climate neutral nationally, today also reconfirmed that it is backing the UN system-wide work towards climate neutrality with an initial investment of $820,000 for the UNEP-hosted Environmental Management Group.  Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development, said: "We believe it is important that the UN take the lead and facilitate a common understanding of what climate neutrality is and how to achieve it. We are very happy to witness the strong system-wide response across the UN these past months, coordinated by the UN Environmental Management Group, the EMG, and we are proud to be a key financial supporter." The news comes as Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway fleshed out some of the pioneering plans and strategies they are developing in order to achieve climate neutrality in their own countries. (…)


Climate change: a growing challenge for development and poverty reduction

by Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), published in the official book of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)

In 2007 the world focused on climate change as never before, following the release of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that put to rest any reasonable doubt about human contribution to global warming. The panel found that warming is unequivocal, and added that it was at least 90 per cent certain that human activity, rather than natural climate variation, was responsible for the higher average temperatures we have seen in the past 50 years. (…) Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for most poor rural people, and it is also the human activity most directly affected by climate change. In the months following the report, there have been many millions of words dedicated to climate change and its impact. Attention has focused on mitigation, slowing the pace of climate change, and adaptation, helping people cope with its effects. Remarkably little has been said or written about the people who will feel the impact most – the poor rural people of developing countries – and even less attention has been given to how they can contribute to slowing its advance. (…)

Poor rural people can play a key role in activities that collectively result in significant emissions savings. But governments and public policies must put the right incentives in place for this to happen, particularly compensation and payment for the environmental services poor rural people provide. With appropriate and innovative incentives, poor farmers, forest dwellers and indigenous peoples can make an important contribution to emissions reduction and carbon sequestration.

Climate change will affect us all, but it poses a particular risk to development and poverty reduction, and to the achievement of the MDGs. Our efforts will be more effective if we recognize poor rural people as effective custodians of the natural resource base, and ensure they have access to the technology and financing they need to cope with climate change and be part of the solution. By listening to the voices of poor rural people when planning adaptation and mitigation processes, we can reduce the risks of climate change, while accelerating progress towards a world without poverty. 


Recovery of the Circuit of Four Lakes in the Peruvian Andes

The Recovery of the Circuit of Four Lakes is registered as a PARTNERSHIP with the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. This Partnership in Sustainable Development is composed of major groups: Indigenous Peoples, NGOs and Local Communities. The Partnership is mentioned in the United Nations Secretary General Report to the 62nd Session of the General Assembly on Sustainable Mountain Development (Doc. A/62/292).

The First phase of the project received a grant from Rotary International. It consists of cleaning the waters and banks (over ground and underground) of Lakes Acopia and Pomacanchi. Project leader is Alberto Delgado Araoz. Coordinator is Engineer E. David Perez Mercado. Environmental Biologist is Carla Zuzunaga Palomino.

On Saturday November 17, 2007, Rotary Club del Cusco President Federico Alarco and past President Flavio Miraval, met with project coordinator E. David Perez Mercado and Luis Delgado Hurtado, President of Yachay Wasi, to inspect work accomplished. A positive review was given.

On November 23, 2007, Yachay Wasi representatives met with Dr. Alejandro Soto Reyes of the Compania de Television Cusquena (CTC) who aired news of the project and of the beauty of the Circuit of Four Lakes on his Sunday show.

Yachay Wasi, a 501(c)(3) non profit tax exempt Cultural and Educational Organization based in

New York City and in Qosqo (Cuzco), Peru, is also a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in

consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). Yachay Wasi is also in

Operational Relations with UNESCO.



Religion and spirituality



Interfaith Talk Radio

On Interfaith Talk Radio, you are invited to become part of the deepening dialogue on spirituality.

Wednesday January 2, and subsequent wednesdays, 2 - 3 p.m., on KKNW, 1150 AM radio or live at ; Northwest Interfaith Community Outreach takes a step forward with the new, weekly Interfaith Talk Radio Show featuring Rabbi Ted Falcon, Muslim Sufi Minister Jamal Rahman and Pastor Don Mackenzie. Listen in and contribute to the growing and deepening interfaith dialogue on matters of Spirituality, Faith, Compassion, Inclusion And Social Justice. Info


UNESCO - Encounter of African Religious Traditions with Islam, Christianity and Secularism according to the works of Leopold Sédar Senghor - Paris, 15 January

Intellectuals and scientists meet to reflect on the theme of interreligious dialogue and examine the question of the different religions in Africa, the relationship between them, their influence on culture and secularism in various countries.

This meeting is organized at UNESCO Headquarters on 15 January 2008 (Room IV, 9 am-6 pm) and is followed by a round table on 16 January (9.30 am - 1 pm)

This encounter is organized by the Centre international francophone d’échanges et de réflexion (CIFER), World Assembly of Religions for Peace, Société des Africanistes with the assistance of the Permanent Delegation of Senegal to UNESCO.


Call to Prayer and Action - 15-18 January

Students and youth call to prayer and action for Christian Unity

From 18 to 25 January 2008 Christians all over the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. On this occasion, we, the major global Christian student and youth organizations and youth desks of the different Churches call upon all our members to take action and make our voices heard for Christian Unity. (...)

The annual Week of Prayer has become one of the most symbolic and active signs of Christian unity among Christians around the world.


World Religion Day - 20 January 2008

Observed on the Third Sunday of January each year in over 80 countries, World Religion Day helps foster interfaith understanding and harmony.

The aim of World Religion Day is to foster the establishment of interfaith understanding and harmony by emphasising the common denominators underlying all religions. The message of World Religion Day is that, mankind, which has stemmed from one origin, must now strive towards the reconciliation of that which has been split up.;jsessionid=289686DA8DB5D3930B67517B9C7E1E01?nbpath=1981,601923&action=item&keywords=&from-display=&from=&until-display=&until=&location=Global&sector=&calendar=all


A call to peace in the USA  and prayers for native American ancestors of the land

The Global Link Teleconference - January 20th, Sunday, 4pm Eastern Standard Time USA

Voices of global citizens calling for peace to prevail on earth will be connected Live by Teleconference. Starting with Blessings for the Native American Ancestors of the Land,  prayers for peace in each of the 50 US States will follow. Your active prayers for peace will commune with voices from around the world to inspire, awaken and further elevate the conscious evolution of humanity. A multi-cultural, interfaith opportunity for the global heart to merge as ONE through LIVE interactive prayers.

This Teleconferences will be broadcasted live by the All One Now Network webcast service - The Global Link Teleconferences are hosted by The World Peace Prayer Society .  To learn more and register please visit:  


Jesus and Buddha paths to awakening - January 25-27, 2008

Albuquerque, NM - The Four Noble Truths are the distilled essence of the Buddhist teaching. In this retreat, each of the Four Noble Truths will be introduced and explored, with emphasis given to the presence of each Noble Truth at the heart of Jesus’ call to awaken to God’s presence in every detail of our daily lives.



Culture and education



Literacy project hits the road with a renowned African explorer

By Susie Ma 

Rotary International News, 26 December 2007  African explorer Kingsley Holgate has teamed up with U.S. and South African Rotary clubs on a humanitarian mission through 33 African nations to distribute books to poor children. The books come from a literacy project spearheaded by District 5890 in Texas and District 9300 in South Africa. The project, called “books for the world,” strives to provide reading and writing materials where few are available. U.S. clubs collect the books and South African clubs distribute them.

The project started after a meeting between Charlie Clemmons, past governor of District 5890 in Texas, and Edward Pope, past governor of District 9300 in South Africa. “I said ‘We’ll bury you in books’,” Clemmons recalled of that meeting in 2000. “So for the last seven years, we’ve been working on burying them in books, and for the last seven years they’ve been increasing distribution.”

The project got a big boost this year when Rotarians from District 9300 began working with Holgate to distribute the books and bring publicity to the project.

Holgate, who has been compared to Scottish adventurer David Livingstone, has been trekking through Africa with his wife and son for the past decade. His journeys have been featured on National Geographic Television. In April 2007 he started a yearlong expedition around the rim of Africa. He and his team are distributing mobile libraries – beige trunks with the Rotary emblem that contain books and pencils – to schools and libraries along the way. He is also giving away mosquito nets and eyeglasses as part of his mission. (…)

The book project has shipped 19 containers of books from Houston to Johannesburg, South Africa, this year. Each 40-foot container weighs 42,000 pounds and contains at least 50,000 books. District 9300 in South Africa recently opened a new distribution center to keep up with demand and donations. The books come from schools, libraries, individuals, and Rotary clubs in 16 states in the United States as well as Canada and Australia. Not only are the donated books getting a second life – but so are the containers. They are large enough to be converted into classrooms, medical clinics, or libraries.

The project operates on individual, club, and corporate donations as well as grants from the Rotary Foundation. The project was awarded a US$12,500 Matching Grant from the Foundation this year. It costs $7,700 to purchase a container and ship it to South Africa.

Last year 20 containers were purchased and shipped at the cost of $134,800. This year Rotarians estimate they will spend $288,000 to send books valued at $20 million. “It’s all volunteer,” Clemmons said. “Every dollar in the program goes into books or containers or shipping.”


CSE awards schools for their environmental best practices in 2007

New Delhi, December 17, 2007 - A government school in the small hamlet of Boormajra in Punjab’s Ropar district; a rural school in a remote corner of south Sikkim; and two schools from Delhi and Noida respectively have been adjudged the ‘greenest’ in the country by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). (…)

Under the Green Schools Programme, schools across India carry out rigorous self-audit on environmental practices within their own premises, following a set of guidelines outlined in CSE’s Green Schools Manual. The schools have used the manual in their environmental studies programmes and as an activity in the eco- clubs.

From 1,200 schools in 2006, the Programme is now reaching out to and covering 3,500 schools in the country. The rural-urban ratio has tripled. Of the 20 schools shortlisted in 2006, only 3 were rural or semi-urban; in 2007, this number has climbed to 9. Also, more than 50 per cent schools from 2006 have repeated the audit.

The 2007 awards initiative has shown that environmental awareness levels in these schools have increased sharply. In 2006, none of the schools had clear data on per capita waste generated -- this year, all the 20 had extensive data. (…)



* * * * * * *

Next issue: 1st February 2008

* * * * * * *


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 4,000 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:


* * * * * * *