Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 12



Weekly - Year IX, number 12 – 3rd October 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), Maria Grazia Da Damos, Elisa Peduto, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos. 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 49 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



Environment: new EU legislation requiring collection and recycling of spent batteries applies from today

Brussels, 26 September - Revised EU legislation that aims to protect human health and the environment by ensuring waste batteries are properly collected and recycled applies from today. The directive also makes producers responsible for the management of batteries once they become waste. Adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2006, the revised Batteries Directive should be transposed by Member States into national law by today. So far seven Member States have communicated to the Commission national legislation which fully transposes the directive.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The revision of the Batteries Directive represents another important step towards our goal of making Europe into a recycling society. By setting collection targets and requiring recycling, this legislation will also help to protect the health of European citizens and contribute to making consumption and production in the EU more sustainable. Those Member States that have not yet transposed it should do so without delay."


China Extends Application of “Internet Treaties” to Hong Kong SAR

Geneva, 26 September - As of October 1, 2008, the terms of two key international copyright treaties will extend to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). The Government of the People’s Republic of China has notified the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that it has extended application of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Phonograms and Performances Treaty (WPPT) - known as the “Internet Treaties” - to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. These treaties which entered into force in 2002 bring the international system of copyright and related rights more in line with the challenges of the digital age. (...)

Mr. Francis Gurry, who was appointed this week as WIPO’s new Director General by the WIPO General Assembly, welcomed the notification from China as a positive step, which would enable Hong Kong’s talented creators to create, distribute and control the use of their works within the digital environment with greater confidence. (...)


Women advocate and rethink Magna Carta of Women in Philippines

15 September - The Philippines may well be the pioneer in women's legislation in the Asia-Pacific region once the proposed Magna Carta of Women is approved by the two houses of Congress. Initiated by women and gender advocates who are active in the processes around the Convention on the Elimination on All Form of Discrimination (CEDAW), the bill aims to strengthen the existing constitutional provisions and special laws on gender equality and women's empowerment.

Among the salient points of the proposed Magna Carta include provisions on protection from violence; increased participation and representation; equal treatment before the law; comprehensive health services; comprehensive health information and education; and equal rights in all matters relating to marriage and family relations. The bill also provides for the non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in media and film; and equal access and elimination of discrimination in education, scholarships and training, which can prevent the expulsion of female students who are pregnant outside of marriage, among many others. (...)

A national coalition of women's groups and a member of CEDAW-Watch in the Philippines, PILIPINA took the lead in advocating the bill and consulting various women's constituents across the country.



Human rights



UNICEF welcomes British recognition of migrant children’s rights

23 September - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today applauded the decision by the British Government to grant children seeking asylum, migrant children and those trafficked into the country the same rights as British children, including their right to education, health care and social services. “The decision paves the way for vulnerable children who are subject to immigration control to enjoy the fundamental human rights spelled out in the Convention [on the Rights of the Child (CRC)] for every child,” UNICEF said in a press release. “The move, made over the weekend, signals the Government’s full commitment to supporting the children’s rights as laid out in the CRC,” the statement added. (...) At the same time the Government announced its intention to sign the CRC’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, further strengthening its support of the most vulnerable children.


Afghanistan: Persons held in Bagram and their families reunite

Kabul/Geneva, 23 September - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United States military authorities in Afghanistan have announced the start today of the first face-to-face visits between individuals currently held at Bagram Theater Internment Facility and their respective families. This initiative comes in the wake of a programme established in January 2008 to enable families to communicate with their relatives held in Bagram via a videophone link. The programme has been a major success, with nearly 1,500 calls made over the last eight months between persons held in Bagram and their families, who had come to the ICRC delegation in Kabul from around the country. (…)

As part of its humanitarian mandate, the ICRC helps individuals held in connection with the ongoing armed conflict to establish and maintain contact with their families. This is largely done through exchanges of Red Cross messages - written messages to relatives made otherwise unreachable by conflict.


Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia move to new homes after UN-funded repairs

23 September - Sixteen refugee families living in Liberia now have a place to call home thanks to the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which funded the rehabilitation of 32 houses for Sierra Leoneans who cannot go back to their homeland or are unwilling to repatriate. (...)

The renovations are part of a process to locally integrate some 3,500 Sierra Leonean refugees living in camps in Liberia. The first batch of 118 people moved into their new homes in Bensonville in Montserrado County last weekend, after making the 60-kilometre journey from the Banjor and Samukai camps. (...) As part of the local integration process, a further 110 houses are under construction, including 50 in Bensonville and 60 in the nearby town of Memeh. (...)


UN welcomes United Arab Emirates' plan to tackle plight of stateless people

23 September - The United Nations refugee agency has welcomed a decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to resolve the situation of thousands of stateless people living there, and voiced the hope that the Persian Gulf nation’s efforts will encourage other countries in the region to do the same. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are thousands of stateless people living in different parts of the Middle East. When state boundaries were established and the Gulf States were formed, some countries used tribal affiliations rather than borders to determine citizenship. As a result, thousands of people were left out and ended up without the nationality of any state. Without nationality, stateless people in are often unable to travel or gain access to the full range of public services, including education, that are available to citizens. Children of stateless people are also born stateless. (...)



Economy and development



US$18.7 million loan and US$515,000 grant to Madagascar

will support farmers’ organizations improve agricultural production, increase rural families’ income

Rome, 1 October - A US$18.7 million loan and a US$515,000 grant from IFAD to the Republic of Madagascar for the Support to Farmers’ Professional Organizations and Agricultural Services The Project will help strengthen farmers’ organizations to increase levels of production, and better integrate into the economy. The IFAD project is co-financed by the European Union, African Development Bank and the World Bank and is part of the Agriculture Sector Programme recently adopted by the Government. The loan agreement was signed today in Rome (…)

85% of the population of Madagascar live in rural areas and recent reforms have helped reduce rural poverty. The project will boost farmers’ production by supporting them in joining farmers’ associations and agri-business centres (CSA) to improve services to farmers. The project will improve access by rural poor people to financial services through regional agricultural funds (FRDA) The IFAD project will target 75,000 poor rural families belonging to 1,000 farmer organizations, at the grass-roots level, regional level and six organizations at national level. These include small-scale farmers with little or no land and households with nutritional deficits. Women and young people will be specifically targeted as potential members of farmers’ associations. (…)

Information: Farhana Haque-Rahman,


Around $16 billion in new commitments unveiled at UN anti-poverty event

25 September - Governments, foundations, businesses and civil society groups have rallied around the call to action to slash poverty, hunger, disease and other socio-economic ills by 2015, by announcing an estimated $16 billion in new commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), at a high-level event at United Nations Headquarters.

“Today we did something special. We brought together a broad coalition for change,” the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told a news conference at the end of the day-long event, which he convened with General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto. The gathering “exceeded our most optimistic expectations,” he stated, noting that it generated an estimated $16 billion, including some $1.6 billion to bolster food security, more than $4.5 billion for education and $3 billion to combat malaria. “If so, that expression of global commitment would be all the more remarkable because it comes against the backdrop of financial crisis,” said the Secretary-General.(...)

Mr. Ban has called for a summit on the MDGs in 2010 to further assess the delivery of the commitments undertaken. (...)


UN joins Europe, World Bank to boost recovery of States after conflict, disaster

25 September - In an effort to more effectively help countries recover from conflicts and natural disasters, the United Nations, European Union and World Bank signed an agreement today to harmonize their collective assistance, developing common tools, training and evaluation mechanisms. “We believe a common platform for partnership and action is central to the delivery of an effective and sustainable international response after disaster- and conflict-related crises,” the three partners said in a joint declaration at UN Headquarters in New York. “We are engaged in significant work to reform the processes used by national and international partners to assess, plan, and mobilize support for recovery to countries and populations affected by natural disasters or violent conflicts.” (...)


ACDI/VOCA signs grant agreements with Rwandan cooperatives

11 September - ACDI/VOCA signed grant agreements with five Rwandan cooperatives (...) to increase agricultural production and expand the use of agricultural inputs and services in order to help increase farmer incomes. ACDI/VOCA works with cooperatives in Rwanda to help them transform their operations and improve economic opportunities for smallholder members.

Over the next 12 months, ACDI/VOCA’s cooperative development team will assist the cooperatives with grant funding, training and technical follow-up to improve general management and cultivation practices. These efforts will increase agricultural productivity through added crop management, expanded use of agricultural inputs (e.g., fertilizer, selected seed varieties) and small equipment and machinery for processing and technical support. Funding and technical support will target selected food crops (...). Interventions will also link the cooperatives with prospective buyers, including mills and agro-processing plants. (…)


ADRA bolsters fight against hunger in North East India

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 11 September - In response to recent rice shortages in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, where about 1 million people are facing famine after a plague of rats decimated the region’s rice crops, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has launched MIZOFAM, an 11-month emergency food project to assist 25,000 highly vulnerable people. MIZOFAM, a project worth $1,171,200 funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) through ADRA Germany, has partnered with the government of Mizoram to conduct training in capacity building and disaster preparedness and response. The initiative is implemented during six community festival days at six different locations where disaster risk reduction topics are discussed through various media outlets, competitions, children’s games, posters, and plays. MIZOFAM, which encourages the involvement of community members and Village Disaster Committees (VDC), also provides educational materials for each village. (…)


Ethiopia: New project won - Ethiopian coffee development program

10 September - ACDI/VOCA has won a Cordaid-funded Ethiopian coffee development program, which will benefit 12,000 smallholder coffee farmers. The program will increase smallholder incomes by focusing on the major constraints in the coffee value chain: coffee productivity, quality, traceability and export management.

To address these constraints, ACDI/VOCA will provide training and technical assistance to farmers in composting, pruning, timely cherry picking and sun drying on raised beds. ACDI/VOCA will also work with exporters, unions, washing station owners, cooperatives and farmers to implement a system of traceability in order to guarantee that quality characteristics are preserved from the farm to the cup and to ensure that the premiums for this quality make their way back to the smallholder producers. This technical assistance will complement the activities of other donor-funded projects, which are focusing on seedling multiplication, grading and marketing. (...)






Central African Republic: humanitarian aid reaches Marazé for first time

Bangui, 25 September - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), through its Kaga-Bandoro sub-delegation, has for the first time delivered humanitarian aid to some 7,800 people living in the 26 villages situated on the main road between Bouca and Marazé, in the Bouca sub-prefecture of north-eastern Central African Republic. The emergency supplies (...) were delivered to people who had fled the fighting between government forces and the Armée populaire pour la restauration de la République et la démocratie (APRD) in 2006 and 2007, and also to people displaced more recently by the attacks of highwaymen in May 2008. (...) In addition to distributing essential supplies to displaced people, the Kaga-Bandoro sub-delegation (...) helps to provide safe drinking water for the local population and spreads knowledge of the basic rules of international humanitarian law among weapon bearers. It also provides support for local Red Cross chapters helping needy people.


Fast-food operator kicks in $80 million to help UN feed schoolchildren

25 September - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will be able to provide over 200 million meals to hungry schoolchildren in the developing world, thanks to commitment of $80 million announced today by leading restaurant company YUM! Brands. The pledge was made during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York, which coincides with the UN high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the eight targets for slashing poverty, hunger, illiteracy and other socio-economic ills by 2015.

Set up in 2005 by former United States president Bill Clinton, the CGI - rather than giving away money - creates an opportunity for people with ideas to connect with people with resources. Its members have made commitments designed to, among others, reduce poverty and hunger, work toward education for all and combat disease. (...) President Clinton has also announced a partnership with WFP to combat intestinal worm infections among children, a huge and debilitating health problem in developing countries. WFP hopes to reach more than 2 million schoolchildren a year with de-worming tablets.


Euro 2008 goals net €500,000 to Afghan war victims

Geneva, 22 September - Goals scored at the European Championship in June raised more than €500,000 (US$734,000) to help rehabilitate land mine victims in Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday.

Tournament organizer UEFA gave €4,000 (US$5,900) for each of the 77 goals scored in 31 Euro 2008 matches played in Austria and Switzerland. An extra €200,000 (US$294,000) was raised from fans' donations through the official tournament Web site. "The needs are great in Afghanistan," said Alberto Cairo, head of the Geneva-based ICRC's work with the war-disabled. "Sadly, the number of people injured or who have lost limbs as a consequence of land mines is huge. "Out of the 15,000 people who seek assistance at our limb-fitting center each year, over 3,500 will be helped thanks to the generosity of football fans."


Massive India flood strands millions

by Ryan Hyland 

Rotary International News, 19 September - Past RI President Rajendra Saboo visited the Saharsa District of Bihar, India, last week to survey the devastation caused by August's massive floods.

The Kosi River in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, overflowed its banks in August after torrential rainfall from heavy monsoons caused a dam to burst in southern Nepal, setting off the worst flooding in 50 years. Millions of people have been displaced, and hundreds of villages are under water in northeast India. (…)

“I'm happy to see how Rotary clubs and districts from all over the country are responding,” says Saboo. “Rotarians are doing a good job during the intermediate relief stage. As the rehabilitation stage nears, I believe Rotary has tremendous potential of doing good, as we have in many other natural disasters.” Relief aid trucks have been coming in from districts throughout the country. Districts 3131 and 3140 have already sent trucks full of medicine, food, clothes, and blankets. Two doctors from District 3100 arrived to provide medical care.

Because areas in Bihar are so ravaged by the flood and conditions are still too dangerous to return, nearly half of the 1.2 million people left homeless are in government and relief agency camps. (…) Rotarian volunteers have arrived in Bihar to help distribute kits and other aid to camp refugees as well as families stranded deep inside swampy villages.

Saboo said the main need for people in the flood zones is basic medical care. (…) Rotary districts in India also are arranging accommodations for visiting volunteer doctors who are coming to provide preventive care in the refugee camps, he adds. (…)


World First Aid Day - From Solferino to ‘first aid for all’

10 September - Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are steadily and significantly expanding their first aid programmes and increasing access to first aid services and training for the general public, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, on World First Aid Day. (…) With hundreds of thousands of staff and volunteers involved in first aid, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are the most important providers of first aid services and training globally. In Europe alone, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies train some 3.5 million people every year in first aid - that is 56% of the estimated 6.2 million people trained in life-saving techniques annually on the continent. In 2007, the American Red Cross trained 5.4 million people, nearly half of the 10.9 million total who followed first aid courses. (…) The International Federation introduced World First Aid Day in 2000, and each year, more than 100 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world organize events and ceremonies on the second Saturday of September to raise public awareness of how first aid can save lives in everyday and crisis situations.



Peace and security



The International Coalition for the Decade calls for the celebration of the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21st and the International Day of Non-Violence on October 2nd 2008

This year, these International Days of the United Nations are particularly important because 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  They should allow the large public to discover, in all the countries of the world, the various initiatives of peace and non-violence actors who endeavour courageously, and sometimes at the peril of their own lives, to reconcile the enemies of the past, to educate for peace and non-violence, to defend human rights, liberties, democracy, development and to promote social justice and the respect of the dignity of all humans.

The International Coalition for the Decade invites all those who wish so, to celebrate the International Days of Peace, September 21st and Non-Violence October 2nd by bearing the symbols of peace, such as the flag and the International Day of Peace sticker , by participating in events such as peace prayers, educational and awareness-raising events and symbolic acts or by starting local initiatives. The Coalition calls, in particular, upon all the cities of the world to get engaged in the celebration of these International Days. Various examples of actions can be consulted on the websites  ;


Timor-Leste entering period of peace, its leader tells high-level UN meeting

25 September - Timor-Leste has entered a new phase of peace, economic growth and reduced crime since the unsuccessful assassination attempts against the leaders of the small South-East Asian nation in February, the country’s President told the United Nations today.

Addressing the General Assembly’s annual high-level segment, José Ramos-Horta said the attacks against him and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão “shocked the nation” and “served to unite the people in opposing violence.” The period following the attacks “has been the most peaceful in many years without any politically motivated violence registered so far and even common criminality has been significantly reduced,” he said. (...) Timor-Leste can also take pride in its economic growth, with real GDP rising 7 per cent this year, with that figure being revised upwards to 19 per cent when oil and gas revenues are taken into account. (...)


Angola: Mapping the hidden enemy

18 September - The mapping of dangerous areas is central to MAG’s work. Locating priority clearance areas - such as people’s gardens, agricultural land, essential resources, schools, communal areas and access routes - is key to the efficiency and safety of the clearance process.

In order to improve map-making, MAG Angola has upgraded its geographical information systems (GIS) capacity with the help of specialist non-governmental organisation MapAction. Funded by Adopt-a-Minefield, four members of MAG’s Angola staff undertook a 12-day summer course in Luena, Moxico Province - one of the most mine-affected provinces in the world. They were taught by MapAction volunteers on how to import GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates into GIS, make maps of mined areas and how to calculate the size of areas precisely, and prepare maps for reporting purposes. (…) MAG has been active in Angola since 1994. Its current operations are centred in Luena, where most of its 180 Angolan and eight international staff are based. (...)


Bridging the North – South Divide through Sustainable Tourism Development

IIPT 1st European conference, hosted by Stenden University, Leeuwarden, Holland, 21-24 October

Build on, expand, and leverage current North-South, and South-South initiatives towards sustainable tourism development, poverty reduction, and societal betterment. Conference Goals:

1. Provide a Forum for governments, private enterprise, donor agencies, foundations and NGO’s to debate and reach consensus on more effective models of achieving North-South and South-South collaboration towards sustainable tourism development, poverty reduction, and societal betterment. 2. Identify Models of Best Practice in North-South and South-South collaboration in achieving Sustainable Tourism Development 3. Facilitate effective knowledge transfer on Models of Best Practice and state of the art contribution of technology to Sustainable Tourism Development, Community Empowerment, and Destination Marketing. 4. Enhance the role of the Media, and the role of Culture and Sport in nurturing North-South and South-South dialogue, relationships and collaboration. (…)

The International Institute For Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) is a not for profit organization dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives which contribute to international understanding and cooperation.


Bill Gates, Founder and Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to Receive the 2008 Goi Peace Award – Tokyo, 9 November

The Goi Peace Award selection committee will bestow the 2008 Goi Peace Award on Bill Gates, founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in recognition of his visionary leadership in helping to create a more equitable world. Gates will receive the award at a ceremony during the Goi Peace Foundation Forum 2008 to be held at Bunkyo Civic Hall in Tokyo on November 9, 2008. (…)

Under the Gateses’ leadership, the foundation’s grantmaking is now organized into three programs—Global Development, Global Health, and United States. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. The foundation has given $16.5 billion in grants since its inception, has an endowment of $37.3 billion (as of March 31, 2008), and supports work in more than 100 countries.

The Goi Peace Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in Tokyo, Japan in 1999. It is dedicated to promoting world peace, transcending all boundaries of race, religion, or politics. (…)






Leaders at UN launch campaign to virtually eliminate malaria deaths by 2015

25 September - Government, business and civil society leaders gathered at the United Nations today to launch a global campaign to reduce malaria deaths, currently at more than 1 million each year, to near zero by 2015, with an initial commitment of nearly a $3 billion.

The Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) aims to cuts deaths and illness by 2010 to half their 2000 levels by scaling up access to insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying and treatment, and achieve the near-zero goal through sustained universal coverage. Ultimately it seeks to eradicate the disease completely with new tools and strategies. Fully implementing GMAP will require $5.3 billion worldwide in 2009, $2.2 billion of it for Africa, and $6.2 billion in 2010, $2.86 billion for Africa, to expand malaria control programmes. An additional $750 million to $900 million per year is needed for research on vaccines drugs and other new tools. (...)


Save the Children, PATH and Johns Hopkins University launch newborn survival project

Westport, Conn., 24 September - (...) Nearly 4 million babies die each year in the first month of life - half in the first 24 hours of life - mostly from preventable and treatable causes.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, 15-year-old Mollie Juberien of Minnesota, and Chris Elias, President and CEO of PATH, joined with former President Bill Clinton to announce a new initiative to save newborn lives at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. (…) The kit - a small rectangular purple and white cardboard box - will contain items to improve hygiene at delivery and promote proper care of newborns, and will be paired with health worker counseling to new moms on issues like exclusive breastfeeding. (...) The kit contents will vary by country. (...)

The program will be rolled out to seven countries in Africa and Asia over five years. The proposed countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mali and Mozambique. (…)


MSF provides emergency care as violence intensifies in North Kivu, DRC

24 September - In addition to direct violence from shooting and attacks, the vulnerability of the population is increased by recent looting of health centres, including those in Kachuga and Busihe supported by MSF. (…) Despite the insecurity, MSF was able to keep the hospital running, including a nutritional centre with 54 malnourished children. By the following evening fighting ceased and many displaced are now returning to Masisi town. MSF is assessing needs and, following reports of rape perpetrated by armed men, raising awareness of the availability of medical care. MSF is currently the only international organisation providing assistance in and around Masisi town. (…) Since early September, MSF has struggled to provide care in areas of active conflict in North Kivu. (...) Today a reduced team is back in Nyanzale and full teams are back at work in Rutshuru and Kabizo. An emergency team is providing medical care to people newly displaced in Kanayabayonga. MSF has continued to provide care in Mweso Hospital, though a large number of patients were relocated to protect them from fighting. (...)


UN-endorsed initiative to train midwives could save hundreds of thousands of lives

“By investing in midwives and universal access to reproductive health, millions of lives can be saved.“

22 September - With half a million women dying in pregnancy or childbirth every year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) have launched an initiative which could help cut mortality by about 75 per cent by training midwives in developing countries. (...) An additional 334,000 midwives are needed, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO). The UNFPA-ICM programme will increase the number of births attended by professional midwifery providers and develop the foundations for a sustainable midwifery workforce in selected developing countries. Its focus will be on training midwives, developing practice standards, and strengthening national midwifery associations. (...)

The $9-million initiative will start in 11 of the hardest-hit countries with the highest levels of maternal deaths and disability and the lowest rates of births attended by skilled workers - Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia. It will then expand to include 30 countries and, if funding permits, even more. (...)


Afghanistan: polio vaccinations on Peace Day

21 September - Traditionally marked as International Peace Day, 21st September is an occasion in Afghanistan to mark the desire for peace through activities nationwide. After a call for safe passage so that polio vaccinators could reach children in conflict-affected parts of Afghanistan, Sunday saw the launch of vaccination campaigns in the southern and eastern provinces of the country. This came a week after doctors working on polio eradication were killed by a suicide bomber. Last week, President Hamid Karzai issued a statement that government forces should refrain from attack on Peace Day, and anti-government elements were quoted in the media as supportive of Peace Day. Following these statements, 14 000 vaccinators have fanned out across the polio-affected provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar, Lagman, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Helmand and Farah to vaccinate 1.8 million children. (...)


After devastating floods in Nepal, MSF continues assistance

10 September - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing critical healthcare to around 27,000 displaced people following devastating floods in Nepal. The crisis began on August 18 when heavy monsoon rains caused the Saptakoshi River to break through a retaining wall, flooding the Sunsari District in the southeast of the country.

The deluge has caused catastrophic damage to lives, livelihoods and infrastructure in an already fragile area. Around 54,000 people from the Kusaha, Haripur, Shreepur, Loukahi and Bhokraha Village Development Committees (VDCs) have been displaced. (…) In response, MSF has set up a clinic on the western side of the floodwaters, in Saptari district, focussed on assisting children under-5 years and treating emergency cases, including diarrhoea. The teams are also running mobile clinics, setting up points from which to treat severely dehydrated patients with oral rehydration salts, instigating efforts to improve the availability of clean water and sanitation, and collecting data. (…) MSF is currently preparing for a potential outbreak of cholera and arrangements are underway for a cholera treatment camp.


Project HOPE continues humanitarian assistance to Georgia

On September 10, Project HOPE sent another humanitarian shipment of more than $700,000 work of burn dressings to be used in hospitals in Georgia. The dressings, donated by 3M, were specifically requested by the people of Georgia to help treat men, women and children suffering from burn related injuries.

On August 12, Project HOPE sent more than $400,000 of antibiotics to the people of Georgia  through a U.S. Department of State airlift that arrived in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi and was handed over to the Ministry of Health for distribution. Nearly 4,000 bottles of the antibiotic cefprozil, donated by Bristol-Myers Squibb, made up the Project HOPE shipment that was added to other humanitarian aid supplies that the Department of State gathered for the airlift. (…)


Canada announces $30 million for polio eradication

4 September - The Government of Canada today announced financial contributions of Canadian $30 million towards the eradication of polio in sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with Rotary International. This announcement comes on the heels of a June pledge of $60 million to finance polio eradication activities in Afghanistan. The funding will help immunize children in sub-Saharan Africa, with $15 million already earmarked for Nigeria, where polio is still endemic. An outbreak in northern Nigeria is currently putting the region at risk; stepped-up vaccination activities are essential to preventing and minimizing the consequences of spread.

With these two latest contributions, Canada has committed close to Canadian $331 million towards polio eradication and is working to support new immunization strategies in polio-endemic countries to finally stop the disease entirely.


“Fortify West Africa”: Millers commit to combat vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 5 September - All 13 wheat flour millers of French speaking West Africa and key development partners met for 3 days in Abidjan to launch a new commitment by the private sector to combat vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, iron, folic acid and zinc, are major causes of premature death, disability and reduced work capacity throughout the world. Eliminating vitamin and mineral deficiencies (VMDs) is critical to improving the survival, growth and development of children and the health and survival of women. 

One of the most cost-effective strategies for sustainable control of VMDs is food fortification - engaging private sector food companies to add vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed staples and condiments. (…) This meeting was part of the “Fortify West Africa” initiative which aims to reach at least 70% of the population of the UEMOA zone with fortified food products. UEMOA has a total population of over 85 million of whom 15.6 million are children under 5 years old. (...)



Energy and safety



Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Directors honored as “Heroes of the Environment” 2008

September 26 - TIME magazine has today awarded the three Directors of EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) - Nader Khateeb (Palestinian Director), Munqeth Mehyar (Jordanian Director) and Gidon Bromberg (Israeli Director) as “Heroes of the Environment” for the year 2008. TIME’s annual recognition of heroes spotlights the most innovative and influential activists of the planet who offer hope for the future. 

The three Directors are being honored for leading environmental activism that fosters peace, most notably for promoting cooperation over the shared water resources of the region; the Lower Jordan River, the Dead Sea and the Mountain Aquifer. FoEME, established in 1994, is the only regional organization bringing together Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli environmentalists, focusing on transboundary environmental issues. (…) FoEME Directors join notable figures from last year’s “Heroes” including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, former Soviet Union President Michael Gorbachov, and others in their efforts to promote a sustainable tomorrow. (…)


Poland becomes 28th member country of the IEA

Paris, 25 September - Poland has become a new member country of the International Energy Agency (IEA). The government in Warsaw completed all necessary steps under its national legislation to accede to the IEA founding document, the Agreement on an International Energy Program (I.E.P. Agreement). With the membership of Poland, the IEA now has 28 member countries. (…) Poland - an EU member country since 2004 - is the largest economy, energy consumer and energy producer in Central Europe, and plays an important role in the transit of hydrocarbons to Europe and in energy co-operation in the region. (...)


USA: Community Wind can play a pioneering role in Renewable Energy Development

by Patrick Mazza and Lloyd Ritter

New report looks at opportunities to increase local wind turbine ownership

9 September - Wind power is booming and the United States is now the world leader with billions of dollars in growth each year. From Wall Street to Main Street, investor interest in wind power is booming, but policies now favor large institutional investors. Opening up wind power ownership to smaller investors, local lenders, farmers, ranchers, consumer-owned utilities, school districts, colleges, Native tribes and other citizens will allow more people to enjoy the financial benefits of wind power while accelerating its growth. (...)

Community Wind 101: A Primer for Policymakers, was released today by the National 25x'25 Alliance, Energy Foundation and Harvesting Clean Energy, as Congress once again tackles energy legislation and just months in advance of a new Administration and Congress which are expected to make energy a top priority. The report makes clear that community wind must be an integral part of the nation's energy strategy and lays out a set of public policies designed to grow local wind investment and ownership. (...)


First International Energy Agency (IEA) review of the EU's Energy Policy now published

Brussels, 4 September - President of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso and Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs today received the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka who presented the main findings of IEA Review of the EU's Energy Policy. This is the first time that the IEA has made an in-depth analysis of European Energy Policy. The Review strongly endorses the broad outlines of the Commission's energy proposals tabled during the last year. (...) "The review of EU energy policy is a highly visible and politically important exercise that is very useful for the Commission. It shows clearly that the EU is now recognised as a single entity in energy matters", said Commissioner Piebalgs. The Review endorses the broad outline of the Commission's ambitious energy proposals tabled during the last year. It specifically praises the coherent EU energy and climate change approach and the Commission's market liberalisation package for electricity and gas. (...)


RES - the School for Renewable Energy Science

Be a part of the driving force! Discover tomorrow's energy solutions today!

Now accepting applications for 2009.

Akureyri, Iceland - The main academic objective and goal of RES is to offer excellent education programmes in renewable energy science and technologies, as well as to strengthen future cooperation between leading Icelandic and international academic and research institutions in the utilisation of renewable energies.

RES is headquartered in Iceland, a country renowned for its unique geological conditions and for the highest use of renewable energy per capita in the world. We are a young and ambitious school, committed to the quality of our education, rigorous curriculum, international faculty of highest standards and a creative study environment. (...)



Environment and wildlife



New UN scheme seeks to combat climate change from deforestation

24 September - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced a pioneering initiative aimed at combating climate change through creating incentives to reverse the trend of deforestation, at an unveiling with Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg. The UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Programme is designed to tip the fiscal balance in favour of sustainable management of forests, simultaneously bringing economic benefits to participating countries and contributing to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. (...) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that the cutting down of forests is now contributing close to 20 per cent of the overall greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. (...) Initially nine countries - Bolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zambia - will receive assistance through the Programme to reduce the role deforestation plays in amassing greenhouse gases. (...)


UN and Norway UNite to combat climate change from deforestation

New York, 24 September -Tropical forested countries are stepping up the fight to combat climate change via a pioneering new initiative called the UN-REDD Programme announced today. The Programme, to be carried out by three United Nations agencies, was unveiled by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg whose government is financing this initial phase in the amount of US$35 million.

Nine countries have already expressed formal interest in receiving assistance through the UN-REDD Programme-Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam, and Zambia. Some among them like, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania will "quick start" their efforts through developing national strategies, establishing robust systems for monitoring, assessment, reporting and verification of forest cover and carbon stocks, and building necessary capabilities-with support to others to follow in due course. (...)


Landmark New Report says emerging green economy could create tens of millions of new "green jobs"

New York, 24 September (ILO/UNEP) - A new, landmark study on the impact of an emerging global "green economy" on the world of work says efforts to tackle climate change could result in the creation of millions of new "green jobs" in the coming decades.

The new report entitled Green Jobs: Towards Decent work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, says changing patterns of employment and investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies, and could create millions more in both developed and developing countries. (...)

Green jobs reduce the environmental impact of enterprises and economic sectors, ultimately to levels that are sustainable. The report focuses on "green jobs" in agriculture, industry, services and administration that contribute to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment. It also calls for measures to ensure that they constitute "decent work" that helps reduce poverty while protecting the environment.(...)


Lights out campaign lights up marketing awards

A powerful message about the need for action on global warming

18 September - WWF’s “Earth Hour”, which encouraged consumers around the world to switch off their lights for 60 minutes, again blazed its way into the spotlight as Asia’s most effective marketing campaign for 2008 yesterday. Earth Hour took home the Platinum award, the leading prize of the Asian Marketing Effectiveness Awards 2008 which took place in Macau, having earlier won four gold awards. The win caps a remarkable year for Earth Hour, which also took home honours from the Spikes and Cannes awards. Millions of people on six continents in more then 400 major cities, including Chicago, Copenhagen, Manila, Tel Aviv, Bangkok, Dublin and Toronto, used the simple action of turning off their lights for one hour on 29 March to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming. (...)


Battling a banana killer in East Africa

FAO field schools help Ugandan farmers combat banana wilt, boost production

Rome, 15 September - joint FAO-government project in Uganda has helped over 3 000 farmers combat a pestilent disease that threatened to wipe out production of cooking banana, a staple crop upon which 14 million Ugandans depend for food and income. Not only has the spread of banana bacterial wilt (BBW) been contained in the districts where the project was implemented, but several participating farmers have doubled or tripled their production of the fruit. (...)

Two years ago, FAO and Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries began setting up Farmer Field Schools in five pilot districts where the disease was either endemic or appearing in limited foci. The aim was to help local growers acquire hands-on knowledge in how to prevent the disease from occurring and spreading. The results have been remarkable. (...)

The project in the five districts has been so successful that Uganda’s government recently announced it intends to use the field schools approach across the entire country as a part of its agricultural extension services (...) and in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Religion and spirituality



Religious and political leaders dialogue on the role of religions in peace

26 September - The United Nations Liaison Office of the World Council of Churches (WCC) co-sponsored an international dialogue on September 25 between some 300 religious leaders and political figures - including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - aimed at exploring faith perspectives and the role of religion regarding global issues such as poverty, war and prejudice while deepening mutual understanding.

The event, which was called “Has not one God created us? The significance of religious leaders contributing peace” (...) Aimed at exploring faith perspectives and the role of religion regarding global issues, “the event demonstrated both the power and potential of religious leaders contributing to peace” said Rev. Christopher Ferguson, WCC Representative to the United Nations. (...)


Churches have a role to play in helping men become better partners

Patriarchy has been the dominant influence in shaping men and oppressing women, a workshop sponsored by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) has concluded.

23 September - Meeting in Blantyre, Malawi, from 13 to 19 September, 35 men and women from Africa, Asia and Caribbean stated in a report that patriarchy is also a critical theological issue for the church to confront. "Churches have been complicit in gender disparity, discrimination and violence because they have failed to engage patriarchy critically," they said in the report on the workshop "In Partnership for Gender Justice: Towards Transformative Masculinities." "Patriarchy has pervaded all spheres of life from culture to social organization, political and economic systems, institutions, theories and structures. This reality has resulted in the oppression of women and also large numbers of men in all spheres of life.

The workshop was organized as part of the ongoing gender justice work of WARC and as part of WCC's preparation for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011. Its aim was to hold a conversation between men and women in the context of the call for men to be partners with women in the fight against gender disparity, discrimination and violence. (...)


First Catholic Media Festival in Kenya focuses on media as ’Third Parent’

Nairobi, 12 September (CISA/ICN) - At least 10 Catholic schools turned up for the first ever Catholic Media Festival which was inaugurated on September 12 at the Consolata Shrine Parish in Westlands, Nairobi (Kenya). The three-day event explored the theme: "Media, the Third Parent".

The festival was launched by Fr Vincent Wambugu, the Secretary General of the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC). "This is a very great event because it is the first one of its kind. I would like to also appreciate the theme, ’Media, the Third Parent’," Fr Wambugu said. The Church, he said, valued that role of the media. "We shall not gag the media but ask for responsibility."

The festival was jointly organized by the main Catholic media houses in the country. (...)


Australia: 7th International Interfaith Abraham Conference - 19 October 

“Walking together: Our faiths and reconciliation”

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam need to listen to and work together with indigenous voices to recognize injustice and to explore common traditions of offering forgiveness and moving forward in a new direction. The Abraham Conference provides a practical way forward for people of all faiths and backgrounds to become aware of our responsibilities and thus work towards reconciliation.



Culture and education



International Day of Older Persons, 1 October

Towards a society for all ages

The International Day of Older Persons 2008 will be celebrated at UN headquarters on 2 October 2008. It is organized by the New York NGO Committee on Ageing in cooperation with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Department of Public Information. The theme for 2008 Rights of Older Persons was chosen to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (...)

On a moonbeam and a ray of hope: A new youth initiative of the Secretary-General in Kenya backed by Norway and Finland            

Nairobi, 23 September - A UN-HABITAT training school sponsored by the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon with generous financial support of Norway and Finland is now teaching young people from the most deprived neighbourhoods of the Kenyan capital how to build better homes. Known as the Moonbeam Youth Training Centre, it was born after Mr. Ban paid his first official visit to the giant slum of Kibera in January 2007. (...)

Launching the programme, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka pointed out to about 300 youths from the slums of Nairobi in attendance that housing is a sector for the future and the young, because it takes time and needs a long-term engagement. She urged young people to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Secretary General and the sponsoring donors to learn income-earning construction skills that will transform their lives. (...) The Prime Minister of Kenya, Mr. Raila Odinga has expressed his personal interest and enthusiasm for the project (...)


Hundreds of writers worldwide demand education for all children

Washington, D.C., 18 September - In a global effort, Save the Children has enlisted the support of 260 authors, playwrights and screenwriters from 49 countries to sign to a joint letter demanding United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and world leaders take action to ensure all children have the opportunity to attend school. The letter targets world leaders who will meet on September 25, 2008 in New York to discuss how to accelerate action towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. (...) Save the Children has been inviting writers to speak out on behalf of children as part of its Rewrite the Future campaign which aims to change the lives of the many children missing out on education simply because they are born in countries affected by armed conflict. (...)


Award Ceremony of the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education 2008

On 18 September 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO will present the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education 2008 to the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (South Africa), in recognition of its outstanding efforts in building sustainable reconciliation through education and in addressing systemic injustice in Africa.

The prize-giving ceremony will be preceded by the projection of the documentary “Truth, Justice, Memory: South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Process”.

The event is organized within the framework of the celebrations of the International Day of Peace (21 September), and of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


How emergencies open the door to gender-equal education

17 September - The right to education in an emergency and how it can be used to address inequalities in such situations are themes explored in two linked events in Geneva this week.

In a first workshop (17 to 18 September), gender, education and emergency specialists will examine the different effects of conflict and natural disasters on schoolboys and girls as well as on male and female teachers, and the opportunities that arise to increase gender equity as communities and nations rebuild themselves. This workshop, co-organized by the International Rescue Committee, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, UNICEF and the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, strategically leads up to a daylong discussion on the right to education in emergencies convened by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on 19 September.

This annual ‘Day of General Discussion’ is intended to provide States and other actors with comprehensive guidance as to their obligations to promote and protect the right to education as outlined in articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


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Next issue: 24 October 2008.


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