Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 13



Weekly - Year IX, number 13 – 24th 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. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of 4,000 media in 49 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities. 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



Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will enter into force in January 2009

14 October - Twenty States have now ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which therefore will enter into force on 2 January 2009, three months after the deposit of the 20th instrument of acceptance.

“This is a very important step in the history of the safeguarding of cultural heritage,” declared Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. “This represents an essential addition to UNESCO’s standard-setting apparatus. From now on, it will be possible to offer legal protection to the historical memory that is in underwater cultural heritage, thus curtailing the growing illicit trade by looters.” (...) The international treaty represents the international community’s response to the increased looting and destruction of underwater cultural heritage, which is becoming ever more accessible to treasure hunters. (...)


The Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance, focus on Gender, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Manila, Philippines, 19-22 October 2008

The overall purpose of the congress is to provide a forum for legislators and decision-makers in formulating gender responsive legislation in climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR). The specific objectives are:

1.                        To understand the phenomenon of climate change and its implications, and study the appropriate risk reduction strategies.

2.                        To review gender aspects of climate change and DRR, and formulate appropriate actions.

3.                        To define the roles women can play in addressing the impacts of climate change and in DRR programs and policies at global, national and subnational levels.

4.                        To identify and define the action agenda for parliamentarians in making gender responsive legislation and programmes related to gender in climate change and DRR.

(...) The Congress is organized by the Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP) in partnership with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR). (...)


World YWCA Prepares for 42nd session of CEDAW

7 October - The 42nd session of the Convention of the Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from October 20 - November 7. (...) CEDAW is often referred to as the international human rights treaty for women. Over 185 countries have ratified the convention and many more have adopted specific laws to support this international bill of rights for women. (...)

“The World YWCA celebrates the improved status of women brought about, in large measure, by the resilience of the women’s movement and through instruments such as CEDAW,” says World YWCA General Secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda. “We still have large steps to make, but the World YWCA is committed to improving the lives of women and girls to ensure the protection and promoting of human rights and gender equality worldwide.” Full text of the Convention (available in various languages)



Human rights



Trade unions fighting against human trafficking

Brussels, 22 October - On October 18, the second EU anti-trafficking day will be held across Europe. On this occasion, the ITUC, its Pan European Regional Council (PERC) and the ETUC emphasise that labour rights are human rights which apply to all, regardless of immigration status. Human trafficking, as one of the worst forms of exploitation of migrant workers, has in previous years been identified as a priority issue on European and international trade union agendas.

As a result, the Greek Confederation of Labour GSEE is hosting a conference in Athens on 21-23 November 2008 organised in cooperation with ITUC, PERC and ETUC to develop a specifically targeted trade union strategy to better defend the rights of these “invisible” workers.

Unreasonably restrictive migration policies throughout the world, including in Europe, render migrant workers extremely vulnerable and often push them into informal and unprotected working conditions. (…) Ensuring freedom of association for all workers offers an effective tool for workers to protect and defend their interests themselves, and to help victims of trafficking regain their lives and dignity. Many children are also trafficked, and trade union actions on child labour are also a key area of action. (…) To see the second newsletter of the Global trade union alliance to combat forced labour and trafficking:

To see the ITUC Video on forced labour: 


New Resource for Media Launched on World Food Day

October 16, New York - Today, MADRE joins with its sister organizations to recognize World Food Day and to decry the rising numbers of people suffering from hunger. As the food crisis continues to rage across the globe, it has only been compounded by the current financial crisis. By the end of 2008, the number of malnourished people is set to reach one billion. However, the food crisis is not an issue of shortage but of inequitable distribution. Even as global crop yields are projected to reach record levels, rising prices place basic necessities out of the reach of millions.

Vivian Stromberg, MADRE Executive Director, said today, “On World Food Day, we must emphasize that the right to food has been fatally undermined. The first step towards a solution is to recognize the central role of women in agriculture, as they make up more than half of that labor force. The next step is to listen to their solutions. One concrete solution is underway in Sudan, where a MADRE partner Fatima Ahmed is creating a women farmers’ union. Another solution can be found in Nicaragua, where MADRE partner Rose Cunningham is coordinating a network of women-run organic farms.”

Today, MADRE also announced the launch of a new initiative, the International Network of Women’s Human Rights Experts. Through this Network, MADRE connects journalists with women activists and human rights experts working at local, national, and international levels. Two such experts are available today and listed below. Membership includes women who span every region of the world and who share a commitment to defending women’s human rights. More information can be found here:  


Brazilian solidarity with displaced Bolivians in Amazonia

Brasiléia, Brazil, October 14 - Almost 600 Bolivians have crossed into the north-west Brazilian state of Acre over the past few weeks to escape political uncertainty and violence in their country linked to planned constitutional amendments.

According to official figures, some 570 Bolivians have arrived in Brazil. Most are living in the border towns of Brasiléia and Epitaciolândia in this Amazon Basin region and receiving assistance from the government. Some have found shelter with friends and relatives in Brazil. (...)

Brazil hosts around 3,800 refugees from more than 70 countries. It is also one of the few countries in the world to accept refugees for resettlement, including Colombians and Palestinians.


New European 50/50 Campaign launch to promote democracy and to increase women’s presence at the top of European politics

The European Women’s Lobby 50/50 Campaign “No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality” was launched on 16 September 2008 and will run until June 2009.

2 October - The European wide campaign aims to increase the presence of women at the highest level of European politics and to encourage women and voters in general to cast their votes in the next European elections. The Campaign is already personally endorsed by almost 200 well known personalities across Europe such as European Commission President and Vice President José Manuel Barroso and Margot Wallström, Prime minister of Belgium Yves Leterme, President of the Slovenian Republic Danilo Türk, former Irish President Mary Robinson, Nobel Price winner Orhan Pamuk, and the former President of the European Parliament Simone Veil.

The EWL invites people from across Europe to support the 50/50 Campaign by signing the petition and by taking part in lobbying actions. The Campaign website offers different tools to be involved and influence political parties and decision-makers in views of the European elections 2009.


Realizing Rights supports the ‘In My Name’ campaign to end poverty

“The current financial crisis shows the evils and injustice of an unequal world.” - Mary Robinson

25 September - As part of a new campaign to demand that world leaders uphold their commitments to halve world poverty by 2015, a special channel has been launched on YouTube titled In My Name. A song - In my Name - written by Black Eyed Peas frontman, was launched, calling on politicians to honor their promises and urging people to use their individual power to bring about change. “Politicians promised in 2000 to halve poverty in 15 years,” said. “They made this pledge in my name, now they must act to achieve it.”

Mary Robinson joined United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and many other activists and celebrities who added their name to a pledge wall set up just metres across the road from UN headquarters in New York, urging governments to do more to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. (...)


UN-ESCWA launches a supportive Guide in the Arab Region on Gender in the Millennium Development Goals

Beirut, 14 September - On the occasion of the 12th Regional Coordination Mechanism Meeting (RCM), UN-ESCWA Executive Secretary, Bader Omar AlDafa, launched on Sunday a report on “Gender in the Millennium Development Goals: Information guide for Arab Millennium Development Goals reports” at the UN House, Beirut in the presence of representatives of UN regional organizations and media institutions. AlDafa said in his statement that the Guide is the result of cooperation among the various UN organizations, and it came in response to the need to develop a single information gathering monitoring system for gender sensitive indicators and sex-disaggregated data. “It provides a statistical framework for an evaluation and follow-up of international agreements on the matter, such as those contained in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the United Nations Millennium Declaration,” AlDafa said. (...)

The Guide can be obtained through the UN Information Services.


UN highlights development successes in EU partnership

The United Nations has published its third annual report detailing joint UN/EU achievements. The report covers 2007 with a focus on human rights and the Millennium Development Goals.
Titled “Improving Lives”, the report coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and describes the partnership’s endeavor to help countries build the necessary capacities, structures and knowledge to enable people to exercise their rights and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In 2007, the UN and the Commission have worked together in over 100 countries around the world. The report captures an impressive array of results achieved under the leadership of these countries. (...) Human rights and the Millennium Development Goals have the common objective of promoting human dignity and well-being for all.



Economy and development



Social innovation contributes to eradicating poverty

Communities improve their living conditions with a dozen projects selected by social innovation contest.

16 October - “Social innovation is a privileged tool people have to solve their problems,” said Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), during International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. An array of social entrepreneurs from the region has demonstrated this with income-generating projects based on sustainable development models. Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean has dropped from 44% in 2002 to 35% in 2007. (...) These figures could be lower if governments, civil society and communities were to take action. On the one hand, governments are implementing transfer programmes, occasionally conditioned, that have effectively helped to alleviate poverty conditions. On the other, community organizations, sometimes with the support of local authorities or other civil organizations, have been for years designing and carrying out innovative programmes that have allowed them to rise above the conditions of extreme poverty in which they were living.

These are the kind of successful examples ECLAC has sought to identify through the “Experiences in Social Innovation” contest, supported by the Kellogg Foundation. “We are convinced that these initiatives will serve as an inspiration to others in the region who may be facing similar situations,” said Ms Bárcena. (…)


International Day of Rural Women, 15 October 2008

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” The idea of honouring rural women with a special day was put forward by international NGOs at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. It was suggested that 15 October be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” the eve of World Food Day, in order to highlight the role played by rural women in food production and food security. “World Rural Women’s Day” has been celebrated, primarily by civil society, across the world for over a decade. (...)


West Africa: Farmer-to-Farmer Program

14 October - AACDI/VOCA has won a $7.24 million, 5-year USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (FtF) program in West Africa. ACDI/VOCA will field highly qualified volunteers to support international agricultural development activities with an emphasis on improving private agricultural operations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria along with partners Land O’Lakes and Winrock International. Activities may relate to all aspects of agricultural production and post-harvest activities, such as processing, marketing, credit and input supply, as well as improved agribusiness management, environmental conservation and improved policy and regulatory regimes. The West Africa FtF program’s primary goal is to generate rapid, sustained and broad-based economic growth through short-term technical assistance in the agricultural sector. A secondary goal will be to increase the American public’s understanding of international development issues and programs. (...)


Community efforts can help rural poor adapt to environmental threats

Barcelona, Spain, 8 October - Expanding nature-based enterprises can increase income for the world’s rural poor. This approach, as outlined in the latest World Resources Report 2008, can also develop the rural poor’s resilience to social and environmental threats such as climate change.

Three-quarters of the 2.6 billion people who live on less than $2 a day are dependent upon local natural resources for their livelihoods. Threats such as climate change and ecosystem degradation are beginning to strain those livelihoods, and it will be necessary to shape development strategies that build resilience against such threats and ensure stable and prosperous communities.

World Resources 2008: Roots of Resilience - released here today as part of the IUCN World Conservation Congress - closely examines existing community-based efforts. The report argues that properly fostered nature-based enterprises can improve rural livelihoods and, in the process, create resilience to economic, social, and environmental threats. (…)






UN stands up with millions across the world to take action against poverty

17 October - There is no time to waste in the fight against poverty, the Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro warned as she led a gathering at the United Nations to symbolically stand up against poverty today, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. (…) The event at UN Headquarters is part of the global “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty” campaign, involving some 67 million people - or about 1 per cent of the world’s population - in over 2,000 events across more than 100 countries this weekend. The campaign is aimed at mobilizing support to fight against poverty and call on world leaders to deliver their commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed targets to halve extreme poverty and address other social ills by 2015. (…) “This mass mobilization will demonstrate to world leaders that citizens do not consider the global financial crisis to be an excuse for breaking promises, and they must commit to concrete plans of action now to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve the MDGs by 2015,” said Salil Shetty, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign.


UN food convey successfully reaches conflict zone in Sri Lanka

17 October - A major United Nations food convoy arrived today in northern Sri Lanka to assist over 200,000 displaced persons after being forced to turn back yesterday due to fresh fighting in the area between Government forces and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The 50-truck World Food Programme (WFP) fleet re-entered the region known as the Vanni following the UN receiving renewed assurances this morning from both parties to the conflict that the convoy would be able to proceed safely. Carrying 750 tons of food for the estimated 230,000 civilians displaced behind the lines of confrontation in the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, this is the second convoy in as many weeks and part of an ongoing UN effort to supply humanitarian aid to civilians moving to avoid fighting. (...)


Professional football against hunger

European football leagues join FAO to raise awareness

Rome, 15 October - The European Professional Football Leagues and FAO today launched a campaign to raise funds and awareness about the increasingly critical problem of world hunger.
The campaign, known as Professional Football Against Hunger, was launched at FAO headquarters in the presence of Italian former football star and FAO Goodwill Ambassador Roberto Baggio together with other famous names in European football. (…) The campaign, which represents an important milestone in the involvement of professional football in the global fight against hunger and poverty, will include the twenty-eight Member Leagues and Associate Members of EPFL, representing more than 960 professional football clubs across Europe.

“The proceeds from the campaign will be used to finance micro-projects in developing countries. Currently some 2 600 such projects are underway in 130 countries,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf at the launching ceremony. (...)


World Food Day: 7 things to do for WFP, every day is World Food Day

Rome, 15 October - Among other things, World Food Day is an opportunity to learn about global hunger and join in the fight against it! Here are seven things you can do right now, without leaving your computer.

1) Learn about WFP’s work. Here are ten facts you never knew about us.

2) Find out where the hungry are. Check out the interactive hunger map here.

3) Play Food Force, a compelling computer game that simulates WFP’s work.

4) Become a Facebook fan of WFP and get your friends to do the same.

5) Check out our HungerBytes video competition and share your favorite video with friends. Click here.

6) Play FreeRice to expand your mind and translate your right answers into rice for the hungry.

7) Fill the Cup for a hungry person. Make a donation.


A long walk home

by Donna Polydoros

Rotary International News, 15 October - Rotarian Bob Solis walked 700 miles from the Open Arms orphanage near East London, South Africa, to Cape Town in 30 days. Solis, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Sun City, Arizona, USA, organized A Long Walk for Children to raise $280,000 to accommodate 50 more children at the Open Arms orphanage in eastern South Africa. “When you’re walking up hill number 97 and the wind’s in your face and it’s raining hard, you just think, ‘Hopefully, someone will get a home out of this effort,’” says Solis.

Solis came up with the idea for the walk as a way to capture people’s imaginations and expand the donor base for the South African orphanage he and his wife opened with their life savings in March 2006.”Every week, we get calls to take in more children,” says Solis. “Those are the hardest phone calls to get.” Solis presented his idea for the walk to the Rotary Club of East London Sunrise, which jumped at the chance to help. Club members arranged all of Solis’s accommodations during his journey and publicized his walk country-wide. (…)

Solis ended his walk with a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for many years. He bused the children and workers from Open Arms to Cape Town to join him in paying tribute to Mandela and to celebrate the success of the walk.


Earthquake recovery continues in Pakistan

7 October - Three years after a powerful earthquake devastated areas of Pakistan on 8 October 2005, most of the affected families are well on the road to recovery - but more work has to be done, according to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS). PRCS Secretary General Ilyas Khan said that Red Cross Red Crescent recovery efforts are focused on building safer communities for the affected families. (...) The earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, killed more than 73,000 people left an estimated 3.5 million homeless. The PRCS, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), responded quickly to bring immediate help and relief to more than one million people in the worst-hit areas in North West Frontier Province and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. After the emergency phase, PRCS and its Red Cross Red Crescent partners launched recovery projects such as the reconstruction of public facilities, strengthening communities’ disaster preparedness, providing medical and health care, improving water and sanitation and promoting livelihood opportunities. These activities are still ongoing and are expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2009. (...)


Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awards nearly $24 million in new grants

Los Angeles, 29 September - The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation today announced nearly $24 million in grants to organizations focused on some of its key program areas including blindness and trachoma prevention, early childhood education and development, safe water development and disaster relief and recovery. (...) The foundation awarded $10 million to The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia to help eliminate trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness, in Mali, Niger and Ghana and implement a control program in two states of southern Sudan. (...) The foundation has awarded a $500,000 capital campaign grant to Special Care Inc. in Oklahoma City, OK to expand facilities for educating children with special needs, as well as their families. Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust in Uttaranchal, India will receive $650,000 towards the development of safe water and sanitation initiatives. (...) United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area will receive $1.3 million to support the Bridge to Quality Program of the Greater New Orleans Child Care Rebuild Collaborative, a group of non-profits that are partnering to help rebuild child care facilities in the area. (...)



Peace and security



UN donates satellite system to produce border map in Sudan

19 October - The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has handed over a satellite imagery system to the team tasked with producing a border map, one of the key elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the long-running north-south civil war in the vast African nation. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi presented the equipment, worth $600,000, to the Ad hoc Technical Border Committee - whose 18 members are drawn from both parties to the peace accord – yesterday in the capital Khartoum. It will be used to create the map to delineate the 1 January 1956 border, one of the major benchmarks of the CPA. Next month, a final report, including the map, will be presented to the Presidency. Once it is endorsed, the Committee must proceed with demarcation on the ground. (...)


Colombia: ICRC assists over 1,600 displaced persons

Bogotá, 16 October - As armed conflict continues to rage in the departments of Antioquia and Cauca, more families are being forced to abandon their homes in search of safety. In the past two weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has delivered 28 tonnes of food and other aid to over 1,600 displaced persons. In Antioquia, 285 people living in the rural area of Punta de Ocaidó (Urrao municipality) have fled to the nearest village, which is two days’ travel by mule from the main town. About 30 per cent of the displaced are indigenous people and the remainder are of African descent. (...) The ICRC was able to carry out this humanitarian operation thanks to the cooperation of Programa Aéreo de Salud de Antioquia (a Colombian airborne health service), which supplied a helicopter. The Colombian Red Cross also lent a hand. In Timbiquí, Cauca, over 1,300 indigenous people who had fled their rural homes because of the fighting - including 285 women and 808 children - received assistance from the ICRC. (...)


France: Cinema Verite 2008 supports the Convention on Cluster Munitions

During its 2nd International Rendez-Vous, held in Geneva, Paris and Abu Dhabi from 8 to 15 October, the French film festival Cinema Verite called on its prestigious guests to support the Convention on Cluster Munitions by signing the People’s Treaty.

15 October - Last year, Cinema Verite had joined with ICBL Ambassador Jody Williams and with the ICBL, Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureates, to shed light on the crisis caused by landmines and cluster munitions. A convention to ban cluster munitions was being negotiated at that time. It has since then been adopted by 107 countries in May 2008 in Dublin. (…) Through their signature on the People’s Treaty, they joined over 100,000 citizens in 89 countries who have already signed to remind governments that the world is watching and that they must fully commit to solving the cluster bomb problem by signing the Convention on Cluster munitions in Oslo, on 3 December 2008. Help us make history again! Follow this link to add your signature as well to the People’s Treaty:


Swiss vow to fight terror, help disarmament

10 October - Switzerland is committed to fighting terrorism and promoting worldwide disarmament, its delegation told the United Nations General Assembly this week.

They said the country would ratify the latest four protocols to battle terrorism on October 15. But Switzerland believes there is an urgent need to draw up an international convention to define the concept clearly in international law.

With an international disarmament conference in Oslo two months away, the Swiss also confirmed their intention to destroy all cluster bombs in the country’s arsenals within eight years.

As for nuclear weapons, Switzerland believes that nuclear nations should no longer keep their missiles on constant alert but be subject to international regulations.


ANAMA cleared 1,695,875 sq.m territory of Azerbaijan from mine and UXO last month

Baku, 6 October - (Rashad Suleymanov-APA) - Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) cleared 1,695,875 sq.m territory of Azerbaijan from mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) last month, Press Service of ANAMA told APA. 15,101 unexploded ordnances were found and neutralized. 339 workers, 5 mine clearance flail machines and 30 mine seeking dogs were used.

ANAMA has cleared 75,109,944 sq.m territory by now and 343 932 mines and unexploded ordnance have been found and neutralized. (…) According to statistics quoting various sources from September, 2001, 101 mines killed 57 and injured 137.






Russian Federation: ICRC assists over 13,500 earthquake victims in Chechnya

Grozny, 20 October - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), working in cooperation with the Chechen Branch of the Russian Red Cross Society (RRC), delivered emergency supplies last week to over 2,700 families in three villages in the Kurchaloy region and one village in Gudermes region. The villages had been severely affected by an earthquake on 11 October. (...)

On 13 and 14 October, the ICRC, in coordination with the Chechen Ministry of Health, also provided three surgical kits to Central Regional hospitals in Gudermes and Shali and to Hospital N9 in Grozny. The kits can treat about 75 patients each. The ICRC is currently conducting additional assessments, focusing on water needs and on assistance to hospitals damaged by the quake. The ICRC’s budget for the Russian Federation totals 19 million US dollars. (...)


Studies affirm technical feasibility of polio eradication

16 October - The New England Journal of Medicine today published two new research papers which affirm the technical feasibility of polio eradication. The first study, by researchers from the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and national and international counterparts, demonstrates a doubling of seroconversion rates in newborns receiving mOPV1. The second, by researchers from Imperial College London, evaluates the efficacy of monovalent oral polio vaccine type 1 (mOPV1) in northern Nigeria. Investigating the immunity status of more than 20,000 children, the study found mOPV1 to be four times as effective against type 1 polio than the traditionally-used trivalent OPV. The programmatic implications of these studies are significant to the global effort to eradicate polio. (...) With the technical feasibility of polio eradication now fully confirmed, the focus is on rapidly overcoming the operational challenges to reaching every child in the remaining endemic areas of northern Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Polio hero: Saurabh Kumar Singh of Bihar, India

14 October - The monsoon came early this year in India. Flooding left millions homeless and official reports say nearly 1,500 people lost their lives. In the north-eastern state of Bihar, one of the last areas in the world where polio still stalks children, the Kosi River burst its banks. (...) Survivors faced perilous days waiting to be rescued, perched on rooftops, in trees or on any piece of dry land, often without food, clean water or shelter. Among the hundreds working to rescue survivors and provide relief to stranded communities was Saurabh Kumar Singh, a polio eradicator in Bihar. A Field Volunteer for the National Polio Surveillance Programme (NPSP) in Madhepura District, one of the hardest-hit by the floods, Saurabh is one of many from NPSP who have worked tirelessly to support the Indian Government and military services move people to safety. Saurabh repeatedly risked his own life by plunging into the swollen Kosi River, personally rescuing dozens of drowning women and children. His intimate knowledge of the district was invaluable to rescuers (...). Thanks to true polio heroes like Saurabh and his colleagues, thousands more will make the journey home this year as the waters subside.


WHO agreed on a research agenda on climate change and public health

Madrid/Geneva, 8 October - A meeting of experts convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Madrid agreed today to a research agenda to develop an evidence-based framework for action on the human health implications of climate change. The plan builds on a comprehensive review of what is already known about health risks from climate change. It was developed by WHO with more than 80 top researchers on climate change and health along with representatives of donor and other UN agencies. The meeting took place 6-8 October and hosted by the Ministry of Health of Spain. “Many agencies, including WHO, have highlighted the health dangers of climate change” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General. “Our 193 Member States asked WHO to help them strengthen the evidence base for policy action. This plan provides the framework for doing just that. It sets out guidance to governments, research institutions and donors looking to fill crucial knowledge gaps.” (...) The plan aims to speed-up, focus and intensify climate change and health research to strengthen the evidence base for discussion at the 15th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP15), to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009, where world leaders will forge a new global climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. (…)


Save the Children and AmeriCares bring vital medicines to storm-ravaged Haiti

Shipment to meet emergency medical needs of tens of thousands of displaced people

Westport, Conn., 7 October - Save the Children is working with the government of Haiti to ensure that lifesaving medicines and medical supplies reach survivors of four recent tropical storms, which left nearly 800 dead after widespread flooding and destruction on the western third of the island of Hispaniola. Save the Children coordinated delivery yesterday of more than 30,000 pounds of medicines and medical and surgical materials - including antibiotics, antiseptics, oral-rehydration salts to treat dehydration from diarrhea, pain medicines, multivitamins, gauze and sutures. The shipment, valued at nearly $3 million and donated and delivered to Port-au-Prince, Haiti by AmeriCares, will help meet the emergency medical needs of tens of thousands of displaced people. Managed by the Ministry of Public Health and Population’s Pharmaceutical Control Division, the products will be distributed free of charge to patients in need through regional medical supply chains, hospitals, clinics and health facilities. (…)



Energy and safety



SolarWorld Opens 500-MW Solar Cell Manufacturing Facility

Oregon, United States, 17 October - SolarWorld has opened one of North America’s largest solar cell manufacturing facilities. The new plant is located in Hillsboro, Oregon and is expected to reach a capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) by 2011.

SolarWorld Hillsboro is a 480,000 square foot facility, measuring one-quarter mile end-to-end. Raw silicon is transformed through the manufacturing process into solar cells that are shipped to the SolarWorld Camarillo plant where they are processed into solar panels.

SolarWorld acquired the Hillsboro factory, which belonged to Japan’s Komatsu Group, in March 2007 for US $40 million and is investing more than US $400 million in the new facility. The company expects to employ 1,000 people at the Hillsboro facility by 2011 to meet this increasing demand worldwide. (…)


New energy economy emerging in the United States

by Lester R. Brown

15 October - As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging in the United States. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced by one powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The transition is moving at a pace and on a scale that we could not have imagined even a year ago.

Wind appears destined to become the centerpiece of the new U.S. energy economy, eventually supplying several hundred thousand megawatts of electricity. Solar power is also expanding at a breakneck pace. (...) The largest U.S. solar cell installation today is a 14-megawatt array at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. (...) Solar thermal plants that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a vessel containing a fluid - heating it to 750 degrees Fahrenheit to generate steam and produce power - have suddenly become an enormously attractive technology. (...) Along with wind and solar, geothermal energy is also developing at an explosive rate. (...)

The new energy economy will be powered largely by electricity from renewable sources. (...) This new energy economy can be our legacy to the next generation.


Clean energy act sets Philippines up for $3 billion rebate

Manila, Philippines, 9 October - With the passing of its Renewable Energy Act - legislation that spent 19 years in limbo - the Philippines can save over US$2.9 billion, a WWF and University of the Philippines study has found. The savings would come from increasing the country’s renewable energy share in its power generation mix from 0.16 per cent to 41 per cent from wind, solar, ocean, run-of-river hydropower and biomass. Today 26 per cent of the country’s power comes from burning imported coal, whilst 23 per cent comes from burning oil. Last year the country imported 101.4 million barrels of oil alone, costing US$7.5 billion. (…) A separate Renewable Energy Coalition analysis says that renewable energy sources can reduce the country’s oil imports by half, and the savings can be used for social and infrastructure programs. (…) The landmark legislation aims to accelerate the development and use of the nation’s vast renewable energy resources through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for investors. (...)


GE Energy invests more than $100 million to launch 2.5xl wind turbine and services, expands manufacturing operations in Europe

Salzbergen, Germany, 1 October (Business Wire) - GE Energy today announced it has already received more than one gigawatt of commitments for its 2.5xl wind turbine over the next year and a half. That represents enough clean, wind-generated electricity to meet the needs of more than one million German households.

To meet the growing demands of Europe’s wind power industry, GE Energy also announced the evolution of its wind turbine manufacturing facility in Salzbergen, Germany. The Salzbergen site will allow GE Energy to focus additional resources on meeting the strong demand for wind energy in Europe.

Historically, Europe has been and continues to be one of the world’s strongest regions for wind energy development. According to the European Wind Energy Association, Europe’s installed wind capacity has increased almost six-fold since 2000 and GE expects strong growth to continue.,563175.shtml


EWEA: Pure power on the horizon

More than one third of the EU’s new electricity generating capacity will be wind power

In its latest report entitled “Pure Power - Wind Energy Scenarios up to 2030”, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) outlines the road towards large-scale wind energy. Presenting three development scenarios for 2010, 2020 and 2030, the report examines in detail the probable impact on electricity, greenhouse gas emissions and the EU economy. It confirms the positive prospects of a technology that last year became the leader in terms of net power capacity additions in the EU (1). Wind power’s share of new generating capacity is forecasted to be 34% in the period 2005-2020 and 46% in the decade leading up to 2030. Wind power’s share of new capacity in Europe in the 25-year period 2005-2030 is 39%. (...)

The wind industry target of 180 GW by 2020 (4) is equivalent to supplying the electricity needs of 107 million average EU households. Such penetration level would avoid the emission of 328 Mt of CO2 - the equivalent to taking 165 million cars off the road -, contribute 44% of the EU greenhouse gases reduction target and avoid yearly fuel costs of €20.5 billion and CO2 costs of €8.2 billion. It would also create hundreds of thousands jobs. (...)[tt_news]=1315&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=7c62923dfd



Environment and wildlife



Global Handwashing Day celebrated in 700 schools across Angola

Luanda, Angola, 17 October - On the first-ever Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, students and teachers from more than 700 participating schools across Angola engaged in symbolic acts of handwashing and listened to government leaders speak out about the importance of using water and soap. The official tune for the festivities was ‘Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands with soap!’ by the young Angolan singer Pedrito do Bie.

In Luanda, Minister of Education Burity da Silva presided over a handwashing ceremony at the Dom Bosco School in the populous municipality of Sambizanga. “It is crucial that teachers and parents - and anyone else responsible for the teaching and upbringing of children - carry forward the message of handwashing with soap. Many sectors have been involved in preparing this day, and we must ensure that the effort to promote good hygiene continues to be an all-out effort,” said Mr. da Silva. (...) National print and broadcast media, as well as news agencies, had an ample presence at the ceremonies, carrying the message of handwashing with soap to viewers and listeners in all corners of Angola.


New list of hazardous substances spotlighted for International Action

Up to nine more persistent organic pollutants may be banned or restricted under the UNEP Stockholm Convention

Geneva/Nairobi, 13 October - A new range of everyday and industrial chemicals used in carpets and textiles up to aviation devices and medical equipment may soon be controlled or eliminated under an international hazardous substances treaty. Scientists today began reviewing four to add to a list of five substances already short-listed last year for consideration under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

The four additional substances are: Commercial uses of octabromodiphenyl ether, a brominated flame retardant used in textiles and carpets. Pentachlorobenzene, found in electrical transformer fluids and as an impurity in herbicides, fungicides and wood treatments. Alpha and beta hexachlorocyclohexane which are by-products of the production of the pesticide Lindane.

Their possible listing will be reviewed in Geneva over the next few days by the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee in advance of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties meeting in May 2009. (...)


Ministers, governors commit to saving Sumatra

Barcelona, Spain, 9 October - New hope was extended to some of the world’s most diverse and endangered forests today as WWF, four Indonesian ministers and ten provincial governors announced a bold commitment to protect the remaining forests and critical ecosystems of Sumatra. The agreement, announced to wide acclaim today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Indonesian government and WWF, is the first-ever comprehensive commitment to protect the world’s sixth largest island and one of its major environmental hotspots.

Sumatra is the only place on earth where tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos co-exist, but all are under threat as are the island’s indigenous peoples. Deforestation and forest conversion for palm oil and acacia plantations in lowland deep peat forests is a major contributor to global carbon emissions. (…) WWF, CI, FFI, WCS, and other conservation groups working in Sumatrahave agreed to help implement the political commitment to protect what remains of the island’s species-rich forests and critical areas. (…)


Green Awards 2008 shortlists announced

London, 9 October - Organisations wanting to demonstrate their commitment to communicating sustainability will soon be recognised when the winners are announced in the third annual Green Awards™ ceremony on the 12th of November. (...) This year Baroness Peta Buscombe, Chief Executive of the Advertising Association boldly followed in the footsteps of UNEP and DEFRA as chair with an esteemed panel of judges including Nick Gammage, Director of Communications at WRAP, Marc Sands, Marketing Director from the Guardian and Philip Sellwood, CEO of The Energy Saving Trust to name but a few. As may be expected, the hot topic throughout was whether companies could be accused of ‘Greenwash’ or were in fact truly living their values by providing both qualitative and quantitative evidence of the positive sustainable impact of their campaigns. (...) The spread of entries included submissions in two new categories, Best Green International Campaign and Best Green Campaigner. According to Green Awards™ producer Iain Patton “one of the greatest challenges in the future will be to bring about change in the values and behaviours of individuals regarding the environment through effective communication.” (…)


World Habitat Day, 6 October 2008

“Harmonious cities”, inclusive cities where everyone and every culture is at home.

The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October each year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. The global observance of the occasion this year will be led from the Angolan capital, Luanda. The celebrations in Angola will show the world, how the country, after years of conflict, is progressing in the establishment of harmonious cities through improvements in urban infrastructure and services, and a new urban development strategy.

The United Nations chose the theme of “Harmonious Cities” for 2008 to raise awareness about the problems of rapid urbanization, its impact on the environment, the growth of slums, and the urbanisation of poverty as more and more people teem into towns and cities looking for a better life. (…) Urgent action is thus needed to foster widespread use of new energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies to reduce urban pollution. (...)


Fourth session of the World Urban Forum, 3 - 6 November 2008, Nanjing, China

“Harmonious Urbanization: The Challenge of Balanced Territorial Development”

The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies and policies. It is projected that in the next fifty years, two-thirds of humanity will be living in towns and cities. A major challenge is to minimize burgeoning poverty in cities, improve the urban poor’s access to basic facilities such as shelter, clean water and sanitation and achieve environment-friendly, sustainable urban growth and development.

The World Urban Forum is a biennial gathering that is attended by a wide range of partners, from non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, urban professionals, academics, to governments, local authorities and national and international associations of local governments. It gives all these actors a common platform to discuss urban issues in formal and informal ways and come up with action-oriented proposals to create sustainable cities. (…)



Religion and spirituality



Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns – 20 - 24 October, UN, New York

Sponsored by the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns (NY), Spiritual Caucus, Values Caucus, UNSRC Enlightenment Society (SEAT) & United Religions Initiative-UN.

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

The Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns takes place at UN headquarters, during the United Nations anniversary, to inspire and generate collective engagement in an annual worldwide celebration.

Download Here 2008 Calendar brochure


Living in community: the goal of Christian-Muslim dialogue

20 October - “Living together in community must take the centre stage of Christian-Muslim dialogue,” said Catholicos Aram I at the opening of an 18-20 October ecumenical consultation aimed at developing a common Christian theological understanding of dialogue with Islam.

“The prevailing misperceptions, ambiguities, polarizations, tensions and collision [of values between Muslims and Christians], hijacked and sharpened by politico-ideological agendas and geo-political strategies, can be transformed only through a shared life in community,” stated Aram I, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church (See of Cilicia), in delivering the key-note speech of the consultation. For Aram I, such a “community building must take place on the basis of equal rights and obligations, as well as full and active participation in all aspects of society life, including decision-making”. It “presupposes a quality of integration that provides equal opportunities, ensures diversity and enhances mutual acceptance”. (...)

Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC), together with a number of Christian world communions, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Roman Catholic Church, the consultation has gathered some 50 church leaders and experts on Christian-Muslim dialogue in Chavannes-de-Bogis, outside Geneva, Switzerland. (...)


UN Secretary-General stresses role of religions in building peace

17 October - All of the world’s great religions have a critical role to play in building and cementing global peace, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told a gathering of Asian religious figures today.

In a video message sent to the General Assembly of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, held at Manila, Mr. Ban called on the religions to work together with the UN to build peace.

“Asia is the cradle of great religions that share noble values pursued by all humanity - values such as mercy, justice and peace,” he said. “And yet mankind has created so many conflicts in the name of religion. That is why organizations like yours are so important.”

Mr. Ban noted that the UN had created the Alliance of Civilizations, which brings together religious leaders, governments, philanthropists, corporations, the media, academia and activists, for the same reasons. “By working with a broad range of partners, in the UN and beyond the UN, the Alliance is addressing the conditions that allow extremism to fester, and helping to create the foundations for peace.”


7th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action, 10-14 November

Inter Religious Federation for World Peace: “A future world of peace is not possible without active, substantial cooperation among the leaders and members of the world’s religions”.

(...) This conference is different from most other peace conferences in that it is not merely academic. Apart from the exchange of ideas on the highest possible level, it is our conviction that peace is not only a matter of discussion and the implication of good ideas, but that peace belongs to the inherent nature of human beings themselves.

The aggression and many other problems in the world are a manifestation or reflection of the inner problems each man or woman, and humankind in its totality. This conference will not only exist of intellectualism, but take the people into a recognition of inner peace and a deeper understanding of what ‘peace’ actually is. (...) Of paramount importance for humanity, especially in the long term, is to change our lifestyles. (...)

The conference is being organized by Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA) (a transnational center for peace and nonviolent action associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations) and is being cosponsored by several internationally acclaimed organizations.

For details and registration form, please visit our website



Culture and education



European Commission launches “Study in Europe” website to promote European higher education

Brussels, 17 October - The European Commission has launched a new web portal called “Study in Europe” to promote the attractiveness of European Higher Education to students from other parts of the world. The portal, at, is part of a wide-ranging campaign to increase the number of students from outside Europe who study in the EU. “Study in Europe” provides clear and up-to-date information about the range of courses on offer in European higher education institutions, admission procedures, costs, scholarships and the higher education environment in Europe.

Potential students will find help to decide which country they should go to, which university they should choose, what they may need before they leave home and what will happen when they arrive at their chosen campus. “Study in Europe” covers thirty-two European countries, their universities and what it takes to live and study in them. (…)


Computer supplies pour in

by Ryan Hyland

Rotary International News,16 October - Collecting donated computer equipment for budget-strapped middle schools in and around northern Tarn, France, has become a central cause for the forward-looking Rotary Club of Carmaux, which is providing students with the tools needed to keep pace with fast-moving technology.

For years, club member Jacky Cathala, with the support of District 1700 (Andorra; France), sent donated computer supplies to underequipped Romanian schools that taught French. After media reports on the success of Cathala’s efforts, requests for equipment began to pour in from school authorities in northern Tarn. So the club launched the Better Computer Learning Conditions in Schools vocational project. (…)

Now Cathala and fellow club members spend hours networking with French organizations that are willing to donate old computer equipment. Rotarians also coordinate with information technology specialists to ensure the systems are working and up-to-date.

Since its launch in December 2006, the project has delivered more than 180 computers and 24 printers to 40 schools. (…)


UN-HABITAT signs education agreement with Afghanistan                  

Kabul, 15 October - UN-HABITAT and the government of Afghanistan this week signed an agremeent aimed at making education more accessible to the country’s citizens.

The agreement was signed by the Afghan Minister for Education Hanif Atmar and the UN-HABITAT Chief Technical Adviser Binod Shrestha while Peter Argo, Acting Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Afghanistan witnessed the ceremony.

Speaking during the occasion, Mr. Atmar said that under the programme, known as Learning for Community Empowerment, his ministry would for the first time be implementing a truly national programme covering all the provinces in Afghanistan. He stressed that the programme was designed by Afghan professionals and will be implemented by the Ministry with the technical assistance from UN-HABITAT. (...)


Egyptian Professor Gaber Asfour and Portuguese author Adalberto Alves to receive 2008 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

7 October - The Director-General has attributed the 2008 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture to Professor Gaber Asfour of Egypt and Portuguese writer Adalberto Alves, on the recommendation of an international jury that examined 33 candidates presented by 20 UNESCO Member States.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura will present the Prize to the laureats in a ceremony at Organization Headquarters on 17 November (Room II, 6.30 p.m.).

Dr Gaber Asfour, professor at several Arab, European and American universities, is a former President of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Culture. Currently at the head of the National Translation Foundation in Cairo, he plays a major role in the dissemination of Arab culture worldwide. His highly original literary criticism has gained international recognition. A champion of intercultural dialogue, he has promoted values such as women’s rights, respect for others, creative diversity and tolerance.

The writer, poet and oriental scholar Adalberto Alves - born José Adalberto Coelho Alves - heads the Centro de Estudos Luso-Arabes of Silves (Portugal). His work has inspired many Portuguese and Spanish writers and has contributed to the dissemination of the history of Arab culture of Portugal’s Moslem era (the Gharb al-Andalus). (...)


The United States Meets Germany: A Forum for Young Leaders - Berlin, November 10 -14

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) is pleased to announce The United States Meets Germany: A Forum for Young Leaders (USAMG) taking place in Berlin from November 10th to November 14th, 2008. The ICD is now accepting applications for participants interested in taking part in this Forum, that is designed with the intention of bringing together young, influential people from both sides of the Atlantic in order for them to gain insight into cultural diplomacy, exchange ideas and experiences and learn from influential players already working in the field.

Participants will develop contacts on both a social and professional level, and participate in challenging discussions. The Forum will therefore produce a dynamic, informed group of Young Leaders who are aware of the potential for cultural diplomacy and have the necessary resources to organize their own initiatives. It is hoped that these participants might cooperate on independent initiatives together in their future. Ultimately the USAMG Forum will improve understanding between the US and Germany, and improve future cooperation and exchange between the two countries.

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy is an international, not-for-profit and non-governmental organization concerned with the promotion of inter-cultural understanding, through research, bi-lateral and multi-lateral programs and leadership initiatives. To learn more about the ICD, please visit our website:

More detailed information about the USAMG and the application process is available on the USAMG website:


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Next issue: 14 November 2008. 


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Elisa Peduto, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos.

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It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace”. 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. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.


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