Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 9



Weekly - Year IX, number 9 – 28th June 2008

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 4,000 media in 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



Council of Europe and EU Agency for Fundamental Rights sign cooperation agreement

Strasbourg, 18 June - The Council of Europe and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights today signed a cooperation agreement which is intended to reinforce complementarity and avoid unnecessary duplication in the field of human rights protection in Europe.

The agreement, which was signed in Strasbourg by Terry Davis, the Secretary General the Council of Europe and Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian State Secretary for European Union Affairs on behalf of the EU, will also provide opportunities for joint activities to promote human rights.

This cooperation agreement is an important step towards a coherent and effective system of fundamental rights protection for Europe, based on common standards. The primary task of the Council of Europe is to develop and promote its human rights standards and to oversee the respect of human rights its 47 member states including the 27 EU countries. The Vienna-based Agency for Fundamental Rights will focus its work on the human rights aspects of EU law and its implementation by EU member states and by EU institutions.


WIPO welcomes accession by OAPI to key industrial designs treaty

Geneva, 17 June - Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed the accession by the African Intellectual Property Organization (known by its French acronym OAPI - Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle) to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs on June 16, 2008. According to a press release by WIPO, the Geneva Act is one of the three treaties that govern the Hague System for the international registration of industrial designs and offer businesses in all participating countries a simple, affordable and efficient way of obtaining and maintaining their industrial designs portfolios. (…)

The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement enhances the Hague system by making it more compatible with the procedures for the registration of industrial designs in countries where protection of industrial designs is sometimes contingent on a more complex examination to determine the acceptability of an application, so as to allow these countries, such as the United States and Japan, to accede to the Hague System.


The chemical industry meets European legislators   7-10 July

From 7 to 10 July 2008, Cefic will stage an exhibition at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, “Building blocks for Climate Change Solutions”. At the same time, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) will discuss amendments to the European Commission’s new legislative package on Climate Change (as the proposal for a new European Trading Scheme for the management of CO2 emissions). Seventeen major companies will show how the chemical industry enables effective solutions through its products in housing and transportation. These two issues of everyday life are major contributors to CO2 emissions: transport accounts for around 20% of such emissions and heating causes about 14% of European greenhouse gases. This interactive exhibition will show how in all the parts of a house (the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the garage, the outside door...) the EU chemistry delivers effective and sustainable answers to climate change issues. Experts and representatives of the industry will describe concrete commitments and show how innovative chemistry can be to the benefit of all. (…)



Human rights



Europe-wide truck tour brings anti-discrimination message to 20 cities

“For Diversity. Against Discrimination”

Brussels, 20 June - Commissioner Vladimír Špidla will tomorrow launch the 2008 “For Diversity. Against Discrimination.” truck tour as part of the EU’s Europe-wide anti-discrimination information campaign. The tour will kick off at the United Islands of Prague music festival (Czech Republic), where 20,000 visitors are expected - before going on to visit 20 cities in 10 different EU countries over the next four months. The initiative - now in its fifth year - aims to raise awareness of the right to a life free of discrimination and has so far reached half a million people.

“Discrimination is unacceptable,” said Mr Špidla, Commissioner for Equal Opportunities. “But too many people in Europe are still unaware of their rights to a life free of discrimination. This campaign takes the message direct to citizens and will help to make the right to equal treatment a reality in everyday life.” (...)


Mexico: ICRC signs cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Public Security

Mexico City, 16 June - The cooperation agreement, signed by the regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ministry of Public Security, is intended to increase awareness of human rights and humanitarian principles among members of the police force. At the signing ceremony on 12 June, Sylvie Junod, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation in Mexico, and Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s public security minister, expressed their satisfaction. “This agreement will mean that middle-ranking officers can become qualified instructors in the use of force and firearms and in arrest and detention procedures,” said the minister. “The idea is to promote ethical behaviour and unconditional respect for individual rights alongside the technical skills for combating crime.” Increasing awareness of national and international human rights and humanitarian principles among police officers forms part of a comprehensive ICRC strategy, condensed in the “To serve and to protect” course. (...)


Council of Europe launches pan-European campaign against corporal punishment of children

Zagreb, 15 June - The Council of Europe launched a Europe-wide initiative against corporal punishment of children in Zagreb, Croatia on Sunday, 15 June. The initiative, under the slogan “Raise your hand against smacking” aims at achieving full prohibition of corporal punishment of children, promoting positive parenting and raising awareness of children’s rights throughout Europe. “The European Convention on Human Rights is for everyone and there is no footnote in it which says that the human rights are for adults only,” said Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio at the launching ceremony. (...)

The event also provided a platform for the representatives of governments and international organisations, parliamentarians, local authorities, ombudspersons, NGOs, and child network professionals to discuss ways to eliminate corporal punishment of children. (...)


Annual Conference UNDPI-NGOs – Paris, UNESCO headquarters, 3-5 September

Reaffirming Human Rights for All: The Universal Declaration at 60”

The 61st Annual Conference for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), will be held in Paris at UNESCO Headquarters from Wednesday, 3 September to Friday, 5 September 2008. This is the first time it will take place outside the UN Headquarters in New York. To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year’s Conference is entitled “Reaffirming Human Rights for All: The Universal Declaration at 60” and is being organized in partnership with the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, UNESCO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government of France.

The Conference aims to highlight effective ways in which civil society, in partnership with other actors, can contribute to the advancement of human rights at the international, regional, national and local levels, generate greater awareness of human rights issues and strengthen commitments to address them among diverse stakeholders worldwide. In addition to representatives of NGOs, civil society organizations, grassroots constituencies, the UN System and Member States, representatives of the media, academia, the private sector and other institutions will also be present. (…)

NGOs associated with DPI, in consultative status with ECOSOC, accredited to UNESCO and/or that work with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are invited to register for the Conference. The registration is available online at; the deadline for registration is 1 August 2008. Please check the website at  for updated information on the Conference.

(Good News Agency will include an editorial on the Conference in its issue of 12 September.)


Teacher union in Ghana releases new study on child labour

11 June - This week, as part of Education International’s campaign against child labour, the Ghanaian affiliates, led by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) launched a new research study entitled: “National Child Labour Situation and Teacher Unions’ Best Practices and Challenges in This Field”. Professor Stephen Ayidiya, of the Department of Social Work at the University of Ghana, led a team of researchers in the collation of data. He said the EI-sponsored research was to get an overview of the child labour situation in Ghana and to identify challenges, best practices and lessons learnt from EI member organizations in that regard. (…) A series of similar meetings will also take place during the next two weeks in Brazil, Honduras and Morocco. The meetings, together with a variety of other events, will be part of the 2008 World Day Against Child Labour campaign. This year’s theme is “Education: the right answer to child labour” and teacher unions worldwide are joining efforts to mark the day. (…)


YWCA - A Century and a Half in New York lights up the Empire State Building

11 June - The YWCA of New York City will commence a year long celebration of its 150th year anniversary of service to women on June 11. In commemoration of this anniversary, the Empire State building will be lit up in persimmon; the signature colour of the YWCA of New York.

Caroline Roberts started the YWCA in New York City in 1858, two years after she returned from England where the movement began. This became the first YWCA to be established in America, and is currently one in about 300 branches in the USA. (...) YWCA of New York City is focused on empowering women and girls to eliminate racism and continues to evolve to meet the city’s needs.

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



Economy and development



New steps toward sustainable trade in fish

International commerce in fishery products now worth US$92 billion a year

Rome, 17 June - 52 FAO Members attending the 11th session of FAO’s Sub-Committee on Fish Trade (2-6 June 2008, Bremen, Germany) have endorsed a set of technical guidelines aimed at promoting responsible international trade in fish and fishery products. The voluntary guidelines are intended to help countries ensure that “international trade in fish and fishery products do not compromise the sustainable development of fisheries and responsible utilization of living aquatic resources.” (...). The value of world exports of fish and fish products climbed to a record high of US$92 billion in 2007, with the proportion of world fish production (145 million tonnes) that is traded internationally now representing 38 percent of the total, or 55 million tonnes, an FAO paper presented at the meeting reported. (…)


IFAD: Sustainable agriculture will help stop desertification

17 June - Poor farmers and herders in countries bearing the brunt of desertification and land degradation can help stop or reverse those processes by engaging in sustainable agriculture, the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says.

Marking World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which is observed on 17 June, IFAD said in a statement that poor farmers and herders can form part of the solution with the assistance of international agencies. (…) This year’s theme for the Day is combating land degradation for sustainable agriculture. The agency called for more efficient water use, improved cropping systems and better forest management, adding that hardier seeds will also help poor farmers withstand droughts and floods.

IFAD, which is tasked with reducing rural poverty, said more than two thirds of its projects are now located in ecologically fragile and marginal areas, where nearly half the world’s poor live. (…)


CARE partners with Cargill to advance long-term solutions to poverty

Washington, D.C., 17 June - CARE announced today a $10 million grant from Cargill to boost efforts to fight poverty and long-term hunger in some of the world’s poorest communities. The donation from Cargill - an international leader in food, agricultural and risk management products and services - will fund projects designed to help 100,000 men, women and children in rural areas throughout six countries fight poverty over the next five years. It is designed to address root causes of poverty by providing training, skills-development and market access for farmers and education for their children. It is the largest corporate grant in Cargill’s nearly 150-year history. (…)

Cargill has partnered with CARE for more than 15 years to combat poverty. Since 1992, Cargill has donated $2.5 million to CARE in a global partnership that has benefited farmers and their families in Africa, Latin America and Asia. (…)


Enhancing food security and reducing rural poverty in the North-west of Azerbaijan

Rome, 17 June - A new US$32.3 million IFAD-supported project in Azerbaijan will help 22,300 rural poor households increase their incomes, achieve food security and contribute to boosting the country’s economy. The Rural Development Project for the North-West will endeavour to reduce malnutrition in a sustainable manner by improving the olivewoods of small farmers and pastoralists in four districts of north-west Azerbaijan, namely Agstafa, Gazakh, Shamkir and Tovuz. IFAD will provide a loan of US$17.2 million on highly concessional terms to finance the project under an agreement signed at IFAD’s headquarters in Rome today. (...) The proposed project will rehabilitate the deteriorating irrigation infrastructure and introduce participatory irrigation management (PIM) practices to ensure efficient and sustainable system management. (…)


Mercy Corps launches innovative microfinance program to help millions of people in Indonesia

16 June - The global relief and development agency Mercy Corps today announced an innovative approach to poverty reduction in Indonesia and the Philippines that will support the growth of the microfinance sector. The project includes the creation of a commercial bank, which will operate as a “bank of banks,” to partner with thousands of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and expand access to financial services for Indonesia’s poor. These services - offered using innovative platforms like mobile phones - will give the poor access to savings, loans, insurance and other resources to help build financial security. The “bank of banks” is part of Mercy Corps’ project MAXIS (Maximizing Financial Access and Innovation at Scale), which is receiving $19.4 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor initiative. The foundation works with partners to make high-quality, low-cost financial services available in developing countries so the poor can manage life’s risks and take advantage of life’s opportunities. (…)


FAO starts seed distribution in Mauritania

Trucks with more than 500 tonnes of seeds are on their way to the countryside

Rome, 13 June - Trucks loaded with more than 500 tonnes of seed left the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott today for six regional capitals, marking the beginning of FAO-supported emergency measures in the country forming part of the Organization’s Initiative on Soaring Food Prices. About 20 trucks full of sorghum, millet, maize and cowpea seeds are now on their way to the country’s south and southeast, while parallel distribution in other regions will be managed by the Mauritanian government. Most of the crops will need to be planted immediately in order to coincide with the rainy season which normally arrives in June. (...)

The FAO Initiative on Soaring Food Prices is also active in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Haiti this season, and activities will begin in Timor-Leste and Mozambique in the coming weeks. FAO is currently providing the funding for the Initiative on Soaring Food Prices, drawing US$17 million from its own resources to kickstart activities in the countries most affected by the crisis while planting is still possible. (…)


Historic collaboration launched to provide Africa’s farmers technologies, infrastructure and financing

Washington, D.C., 11 June - Two of the world’s largest grant-making organizations in African agricultural development today joined forces in a plan to help African countries tackle poverty and hunger through smart, sustainable solutions to improve the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers and poor rural households. The groundbreaking collaboration combines the strengths and expertise of the United States government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The plan was signed by the MCC’s CEO Ambassador John Danilovich and former Secretary-General of the United Nations and AGRA’s Chairman, Kofi A. Annan.

Africa faces huge challenges in transforming its agricultural sector, where the majority of its population is employed. However, lack of adequate infrastructure hinders agricultural growth potential. Africa has less infrastructure today than Asia had at the start of its green revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Closing this infrastructure gap will help to accelerate Africa’s green revolution. (...) The two organizations will initially focus their joint efforts in three countries: Ghana, Madagascar, and Mali. As successes are achieved, efforts will expand into other eligible countries. (...)


Spare Change adds up for microfinance

by Anne Moore Odell

A new campaign by MicroPlace helps raise awareness of the power of microfinance to lift people out of poverty.

4 June - MicroPlace has launched the “Small change. Big change.” campaign to jointly educate investors on the importance of microfinance loans to help the working poor and to provide an easy way for people to invest in microfinance. MicroPlace is an online brokerage offering investors a wide selection of microfinance opportunities that generate a financial return while addressing global poverty. The title of the campaign comes from idea that the average American has about $100 in spare change and that a microfinance loan of as little as $100 can be enough to help a person start a new business and get out of poverty. Investors in the “Small change. Big Change” Campaign can track the impact of their investment online and read stories from people who received the loans.


World congress of social tourism - Quebec, 6-9 October 2008

Tourism Development: Challenges and New Practices”

The World Congress of Social Tourism will be held in Quebec from 6 to 9 October 2008. With its general theme “Tourism Development: Challenges and New Practices”, the BITS wishes to put forward initiatives that nowadays materialize the principles of social, sustainable and fair tourism. Organized evey two years by the BITS, the congress has a special feature this year, since it is hosted in collaboration with the World Leisure Organization (WL); which will hold its congress at the same time, thus allowing synergies between the two organizations. On top of the specific programme offered by the BITS, congress participants will be able to take part in the conference, panels, workshops and the commercial fair organized in the framework of the World Leisure Congress, as well as various social activities that will be good networking opportunities. Quebec 2008 promises to be a great event with over 1200 participants coming from 60 countries (...)






UNHCR: World Refugee Day - 20 June

On June 20 we celebrate World Refugee Day. This year, events around the world remind us of our fundamental need of protection. (...) Since 1951, UNHCR is working to protect refugees around the world. For us, protection consists in tangible improvements in the lives of forcibly displaced persons, from the provision of food and shelter to the support for those lacking legal status or those wishing to return to their home countries. On World Refugee Day, we commemorate this indispensable engagement. For UNHCR, protection is also about raising awareness. We cannot protect refugees as long as their plight remains invisible. On World Refugee Day, we seek to highlight the universal nature of protection. Not only are refugees protected all around the globe. The responsibility for protection is equally global.

Protection is a challenge that knows no national frontiers. Neither can it be left to a single agency to take care of. On World Refugee Day, UNHCR wants to seize the opportunity to launch a global call to action. (...)


Rare stamps auctioned for $1.6 million for projects in Africa by PIMCO’s Bill Gross

New York, 19 June - Proceeds from the sale of a rare collection of Scandinavian stamps were donated in order to expand development projects in Africa that will reach more than a half million people. Bill Gross, one of the world’s most successful money managers, who has also made a name for himself in the world of philately, auctioned off the stamps through the Spink Shreves Galleries auction house in New York City for nearly $1.6 million. The donation, made by Sue and Bill Gross of Laguna Beach, California will go to the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), which is administered by the Earth Institute at Columbia University. (...)

Currently MVP administers 80 villages in 10 different countries reaching roughly half a million people throughout sub-Saharan Africa. By taking an integrated approach to development; tackling hunger, disease and improving infrastructure and education, the project seeks to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, eight globally-agreed to targets aimed at reducing extreme poverty by the year 2015. (...)


UNICEF scales up efforts to assist vulnerable Iraqi children

17 June - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today it is scaling up its emergency operation in Iraq to address the basic needs of more than 360,000 vulnerable children inside the strife-torn nation. After five years of conflict, more than 800,000 Iraqi children are unable to go to school and only 40 per cent can access safe water, according to the agency.

Through its Immediate Action for Vulnerable Children and Family - or IMPACT programme - UNICEF is aiming to assist over 360,000 children this year and ensure they have access to health care and are protected against malnutrition. The programme also seeks to provide safe water, emergency education and specialized care for abused and vulnerable children and women. (...)


MSF scaling up nutritional programs in Ethiopia

13 June - In the past month MSF (Médicins sans frontières) has admitted over 4,000 severely malnourished children into its nutritional programmes in the Oromiya and Southern Nations and Nationalities People’s regions (SNNPR) of southern Ethiopia. On May 13, MSF set up a stabilisation centre to provide 24-hour medical care to severely malnourished children suffering from complications such as malaria or pneumonia in Ropi, Oromiya region. Since then two more centres have been set up in Senbete Shinquille and Shashemene, Oromiya region. (...) In Oromiya MSF has 11 OTPs in various locations throughout the region.

On June 2, MSF teams also started working in the Kambata zone of SNNPR. (...) In the coming days MSF will continue to expand its activities by increasing the number of OTPs in both Oromiya and SNNPR. In addition, MSF teams will continue to carry out assessments in order to identify the worst affected areas and respond where necessary.


Guinea-Bissau: Food and seed distributed to farmers in north-west

Dakar, 5 June - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun distributing food supplies and rice and groundnut seed to over 20,000 people living near the town of São Domingos in north-western Guinea- Bissau, an area where poverty has been aggravated by the low rainfall of 2007. (...) The ICRC distributions, which are being carried out with the help of volunteers from the Red Cross Society of Guinea-Bissau, are part of ICRC activities to assist people in an area that hosts some 8,000 Senegalese refugees and where there are a wide range of problems such as water shortages and inadequate access to health care.

The ICRC has helped repair and upgrade the water-supply system in São Domingos and has offered aid, when needed, to the town’s health-care facility. It has also helped revive market-gardening businesses run by groups of women. (...)



Peace and security



LAO PDR: Safer scrap

16 June - An innovative MAG project to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) from a foundry in Phonsavanh is now underway. The foundry is the final destination of much of the scrap collected in Xieng Khouang. Villagers collect scrap metal and sell it onto local dealers, who in turn sell it onto the foundry. Here, the metal is melted down and made into steel rods used in construction.

The scrap collected often includes UXO, much of which is live. Over 20,000 items of UXO are currently stored at the site, including cluster bomb submunitions, rockets, grenades and white phosphorus rockets. The project will clear UXO from the foundry and scrap dealers’ yards, reduce the acceptance of UXO as scrap metal, and provide scrap dealers with safety briefings and a reporting system for UXO. (…)


ISAF troops of Regional Command Capital providing awareness on unexploded ordnance in northern Kabul

Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

Kabul, Afghanistan, 12 June - Engineers and Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) teams of the French Battlegroup operating under ISAF’s Regional Command Capital (RC-C) conducted an unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness day in a rural area north of Kabul. Seventy young children attended a practical lesson performed by ISAF’s troops, aimed at recognizing unexploded ordnance and at preventing incidents. The main message given to children was: “Don’t touch, even if it bears a strong resemblance to a toy. Just inform someone in authority.”

As the main activity in this part of the country is still farming, the danger for the children is higher. Recently five children were wounded while tilling the soil. In Afghanistan, every year, thousands of people suffer from UXO injuries. ISAF considers this a serious issue and works jointly with international organisations, non-governmental organisations and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to counter this deadly legacy of war.






Reducing child mortality focus of breakout session

by Jenny Llakmani

Rotary International News - 19 June - There are simple ways to reduce infant and child mortality and improve maternal health, Rotarians learned at a breakout session on 17 June organized by the Rotarian Action Group for Population Growth and Sustainable Development (RFPD).

Reducing child mortality is the main focus of RI President-elect Dong Kurn Lee’s emphases for the coming year. 

Dr. Francisco Songane, director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, hosted by the World Health Organization, spoke at the session. He noted that the goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health are lagging behind the other UN Millennium Development Goals. The obstetrician and former minister of health for Mozambique was joined on the discussion panel by Dr. Robert Zinser, RFPD vice chair, and Dr. Ekkehard Pandel, RFPD chair for Germany and director-elect for the 2009-11 RI Board.

More than 10 million children die every year from preventable causes, and 530,000 women die of pregnancy-related causes. (…) Skilled birth attendants, HIV testing, and mosquito nets are three vital interventions, Zinser said. Pandel, a pediatrician, added breastfeeding to that list. (…)

For Rotarians wanting to tackle these issues, Songane offered this advice: “Wherever the club or district is located, deal with the corresponding government in that place. Be part of what has been initiated in that country.


USNS Mercy and ACDI/VOCA join forces in the Philippines

13 June - On May 1 the Military Sealift Command (MCS) hospital ship, USNS Mercy, departed from its homeport in San Diego, California to begin Pacific Partnership 2008: a humanitarian visit to Southeast Asia that brings together efforts from military and civilian agencies in the region. During the four-month deployment USNS Mercy will visit the Federated States of Micronesia, Vietnam, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Philippines. The mission will focus on providing medical, dental, veterinarian and construction assistance services to communities in need. From May 30 to June 13 ACDI/VOCA Country Representative George Dalire and his staff supported the 2008 USNS Mercy humanitarian mission in the Mindanao region, one of three locations the USNS Mercy visited in the Philippines providing healthcare to an estimated 26,383 people and veterinary care to 4,367 animals. (…)


Liberia: ICRC donates medical supplies to Redemption Hospital

Monrovia, 10 June - As part of its ongoing support of the health-care system in Liberia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has donated surgical equipment, drugs and other medical supplies to Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, a neighbourhood of Monrovia. (...) Over the last five years, the ICRC has rebuilt 14 health-care facilities in Lofa county, Grand Kru county and greater Monrovia which were destroyed during the war. In addition, it has continued to help the health ministry prevent disease by funding immunization programmes and mosquito-net distribution at these facilities and elsewhere.

The ICRC will maintain its support for the health ministry until the end of the year, supplying these facilities with essential drugs and equipment, and helping the ministry train and retain health workers.



Energy and safety



Eastern Ontario is Canada’s green energy patch

by Marion Fraser, Energy Consultant

Ontario, Canada, 24 June - Alberta may be Canada’s oil patch, but Eastern Ontario may be Ontario’s only “green energy” patch for the next few years. The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) recently announced changes to Ontario’s standard offer program for renewable energy that will limit new projects in almost all parts of Ontario except Eastern Ontario. A new map of available transmission capacity in Ontario was released on June 2.

According to Ted Cowan of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, “The province became a leader in North America by implementing the Renewable Energy Standard Offer. Ontarians with power line access can produce and sell clean power to the grid. For example, a dairy farm with 80 milking cows can earn about CAN $50,000 [US $49,231] a year extra by making electricity with the manure.” (...)


Fifty years of safer and cleaner vehicles

The value of United Nations Vehicle Regulations

Geneva, 16 June - Seventy three million cars were manufactured worldwide in 2007. (...) The United Nations vehicle regulations have a prominent role in the construction of safer and cleaner vehicles, as well as facilitating international trade. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in June 2008, the Agreement demonstrates the importance of continued joint efforts - by countries, by public and private bodies and by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - at overcoming the negative consequences of vehicle fleets. The Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Vehicles adopted in 1958 (referred to as the 1958 Agreement) has laid the foundations for vehicle regulations over the last 50 years. It is administered by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), which is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Fifty countries, together with the UNECE secretariat, road users, consumer associations, standards setting organizations and NGOs, including vehicle and parts manufacturers, meet for 15 weeks throughout the year to develop and update vehicle Regulations aimed at increasing vehicles’ safety and environmental performance. (…)


TAU Announces new “Supercenter” for renewable energy at conference opened by Al Gore

Center will explore clean energy production through transformational technologies and unique multidisciplinary approach

Tel Aviv, 13 June - Natural resources are rapidly being depleted. (...) The future, it seems, may depend on renewable energy -- new technology that bridges scientific disciplines and commercial opportunities. Tel Aviv University has just taken a big step toward making renewable energy a daily reality. At Israel’s international conference on renewable energy last month, Tel Aviv University announced it will create a new “Supercenter” to develop renewable energies. (…) The Supercenter is Tel Aviv University’s profound response to the serious environmental issues facing the world. Robert Goldberg, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University, announced the creation of the new Supercenter during the conference. (...)


Commissioner Piebalgs launches the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation

9 June - Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, welcomed the Ministerial Declaration signed today by Energy leaders of the G8 countries, China, India, South Korea and the European Community in view of the establishment of a new multilateral energy initiative: the “International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation”, “IPEEC”. The signature took place during the G8 Energy Ministerial Meeting attended by Commissioner Piebalgs and organised by Japanese G8 Presidency in the Aomori Prefecture,

“Given our collective dimension in both economic and demographic terms, representing over 65% of the global energy consumption and global CO2 emissions, G8 countries and the European Union, together with China, India and South Korea are in a privileged position to influence world energy trends, hence the importance of the agreement that has been reached for the establishment of the IPEEC”, said Commissioner Piebalgs. (...) To this end, the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation will be a high level, open, broad and inclusive partnership of the nations seeking to maximise the benefits of energy efficiency through voluntary cooperation. (...)



Environment and wildlife



Smarter technology use could reduce global emissions by 15 per cent

New report shows that global industry could save EUR 500 billion in annual energy costs by 2020

London, 20 June - Transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over EUR 500 billion (GBP400billion/USD 800 billion), according to a new report published today by independent non-profit The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). The report-SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age-is the world’s first comprehensive global study of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector’s growing significance for the world’s climate. (…)


Linking sport and the environment to the peace and poverty agenda in Kenya

UNEP and underprivileged children and youth kick off new reconciliation initiative

Nairobi, 18 June - More than 300 children and teenagers from across Nairobi will gather on 21 June for the launch of a three-month event to promote peace and reconciliation. The ‘Play for the Planet: Play for Peace’ initiative, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has received about $40,000 of support in cash and in kind from UNEP, the International Olympic Committee and sports-goods maker PUMA, as well as the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and ABC Bank. It will run until 21 September to coincide with World Peace Day. The event aims to use the power of sport to promote peace and reconciliation among Kenyans, and to provide a positive environment for interaction for young people affected by the recent post-election conflict in Kenya. The 21 June launch at the Kenya Cultural Centre will include theatre performances, acrobatic shows, peace and environmental messages and a live concert, as well as an exhibition of paintings by internally displaced children. A series of events for children and youth aged 6 to 24 will then take place in schools and communities. (…)


World Day to Combat Desertification - 17 June

“Combating Land Degradation for Sustainable Agriculture”

(…) This year’s celebration is very important since the adoption of the 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention represents a turning point in the UNCCD process and recognizes the convention as an instrument to prevent, control and reverse desertification/land degradation and also to contribute to the reduction of poverty while promoting sustainable development.

The Convention is the only internationally recognized, legally binding instrument that addresses the problem of land degradation in dryland. It enjoys a truly universal membership (…)

17 June constitutes a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels. Country Parties, organizations of the United Nations System, international and non-governmental organizations are invited to organize events to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification as an additional opportunity to increase awareness and participation in the implementation process.


UN children’s environment conference to create change around the world

Stavanger/Nairobi, 16 June - (…) One of the largest international children’s conferences in the world, the biannual Tunza International Children’s Conference, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), takes place on 17-21 June, on the theme ‘Creating Change’. This year, in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, UNEP will show the inspiring initiatives of dozens of children from around the world through ‘My Story’, a series of short video clips that will be posted on the UNEP website (…) The Conference, organized by UNEP in partnership with the Norwegian NGO Young Agenda 21 with Bayer AG as one of the main sponsors, brings together children aged between 10 and 14 from more than 100 countries who are engaged in environmental issues. The aim is to increase their environmental awareness and equip them with skills to promote environmental projects in their communities (…)


Global Green Millenium Awards celebrate achievements of environmental leaders

by Global Green USA

16 June - Event spotlights Global Green’s Climate Solutions for Communities including Sustainable Solar Cities, Healthy Schools, and Green Buildings, Funds raised will Support Rebuilding of New Orleans as model Green City for the 21st Century.

Global Green USA, the U.S affiliate of Green Cross International, presented its 12th Annual Millennium Awards honoring leading innovators for their extraordinary environmental contributions on Saturday, June 14th (...). Alfre Woodard hosted the event, which recognizes those whose lives and livelihood embody Global Green USA’s mission of fostering a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure world. (...) “These honorees demonstrate that smart solutions to global warming exist, are economically viable and provide invaluable health and environmental benefits to our communities” said Global Green USA President and CEO Matt Petersen. (…)


Global water challenge and Ashoka’s Changemakers announce winners of competition to solve worldwide water crisis

Washington, 28 May - Global Water Challenge (GWC) and Ashoka’s Changemakers have announced the winners of a competition to find groundbreaking solutions to the world’s water and sanitation challenges. The global competition, “Tapping Local Innovation: Unclogging the Water and Sanitation Crisis,” was launched in January 2008 and generated 265 entries from more than 50 countries. Each of the three winners will receive a $5,000 award.

The winners, all three from India, are Himanshu Parikh Consulting Engineers, for its “Slum Networking: Transcending Poverty with An Innovative Water and Sanitation Paradigm”, a program that uses natural drainage paths in urban areas to improve the transport of water and sewage to and from low-income households; Naandi Foundation, for its “Community-Based Safe Drinking Water Systems”, user fee-based relationships between service providers and local governments that expands access to safe drinking water; and Swayam Shikshan Prayog, for its “Small Steps, Big Leaps,” a community-led approach to water and sanitation that mobilizes women in rural communities to create demand for better water and sanitation systems. (...)



Religion and spirituality



In parish and parliament, churches of 40 countries give witness for Mid-East peace

18 June - In Australia a broad spectrum of church leaders came together to address national public opinion makers on the Israel-Palestine conflict and launch a parish awareness kit. In Scotland a cross-party group in Parliament met with Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives. In Budapest, Hungary’s second largest church sent letters about peace for Israelis and Palestinians to the national and foreign governments. In Norway the foreign minister and a Palestinian bishop addressed a multi-religious peace service.

In these and some 40 countries last week, there were peace vigils, seminars, concerts, festivals and public gatherings. The activities were part of a joint advocacy initiative, “International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 4-10 June 2008”, convened by the World Council of Churches. Many used a special prayer for the week from church leaders and a common message saying “It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace”. (...)


Religious leaders call for cooperation to combat poverty and achieve Millennium development goals

London, 9 June - The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, today hosted religious leaders of different faiths to discuss the power of multi-religious cooperation to combat poverty and achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Dr Williams is a Co-President of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition. (...) The Archbishop highlighted the potential of faith-based education to create a culture of peace and spoke out against violence targeting religious communities and institutions. (...)

Meeting participants included Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian members and International Trustees of the Religions for Peace network from Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and the Middle East. Members and International Trustees of the global Religions for Peace network discussed multi-religious efforts to advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). (...)


Wanted: International Planners for 2008 anti-fundamentalism event

Are you active in Interreligious Dialogue? Are you interested in peace work? Well, here’s your opportunity to combine both: Become a planner in “Overcome fundamentalism - overcome violence”, our first training course under the flag of EYCE’s three year Interreligious Campaign Against Fundamentalism, that has been launched in Volos, Greece last December!

“Overcome fundamentalism - overcome violence” is scheduled to take place 21st - 28th September 2008 in Pogradec, Albania. We hope to make it a truly multi-religious event, aiming to learn from different experiences of facing fundamentalist attitudes within the religious communities. The seminar will focus on the connection of religious fundamentalisms and violence.
EYCE is looking for volunteers who are active in Interreligious Dialogue and/or peace work. We offer the unique experience of working on an international level with people of different cultures and faiths. (...)


Muslim interfaith conference in Mecca

by David Masters

5 June - Over 500 Muslims from around the world have gathered in Mecca this week in an attempt to build better relations between the people of Islam and other faiths. The three day conference being held in Islam’s holy city was opened yesterday in Al-Safah Palace by King Abdullah, the monarch of Saudi Arabia. In his opening speech, King Abdullah stressed the need for better communication and understanding between the three monotheistic faiths, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. He also spoke about how extremists mar Islam’s image, urging moderate Muslims to live out the tolerance of Islam, and pointing out that Islam is a religion of dialogue and persuasion. King Abdullah’s message was particularly targeted at the two main sects in Islam, Sunni and Shi’ite. (...)

This follows a precedent set by King Abdullah, who recently met with Pope Benedict, and has proposed plans to host a meeting between leaders from the three Abrahamic faiths.



Culture and education



Ljubljana chosen by UN cultural agency as 2010 World Book Capital

18 June - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today that Ljubljana has been chosen as the 2010 World Book Capital as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to promote literature and reading. The Slovenian capital was picked “for the quality of its application, as well as for its diverse and complete programme, widely and enthusiastically supported by all players in the book industry (publishers, bookstores and libraries),” the selection committee said after meeting today at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. (...) Ljubljana becomes the tenth city to be designated as World Book Capital, following Madrid, Alexandria, New Delhi, Antwerp, Montreal, Turin, Bogotá, Amsterdam and Beirut.


Gauteng government hands over 20 new schools

18 June - Twenty brand new and well equipped schools were handed over to various communities in Gauteng on Tuesday as part of the province’s R1.4 billion investment in education for this fiscal year. The schools form part of the Gauteng Department of Education’s commitment to build 54 educational facilities in particular areas, identified through the governments Priority Townships Programme. Each school will cost about R26 million to be built and will come equipped with a computer centre, science laboratories, sports facilities and a media centre.

Speaking at the opening of Kwa-Thema Secondary School, IMGauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa said, “Gauteng needs skilled individuals; which these schools will produce. Education will add to the government’s fight against poverty and unemployment.” (…)


Innovators in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nepal chosen as global geotourism winners

Washington, 17 June - In the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon region, Amazonian youth can now pursue an academic degree in ecotourism. In Nepal, women are being trained as trekking professionals - in a culture that offers women limited job opportunities. In Costa Rica, native Cabecar Indians are learning how to manage a lodge in one of the country’s celebrated rainforests.

These three innovative programs today have been announced the winners of “The Geotourism Challenge: Celebrating Places/Changing Lives,” a global competition sponsored by National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations and Ashoka’s Changemakers. Geotourism is defined as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place - its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and the well-being of its residents.” Launched in January 2008, the competition generated more than 320 entries from 83 countries, the largest number of countries to date for any Ashoka’s Changemakers collaborative competition. Each of the three winners, chosen through online voting, will receive a $5,000 award. (...)


Young people’s voices must be heard, UN officials stress on Day of African Child

16 June - United Nations officials are today marking the Day of the African Child by highlighting the need to ensure that the voices of young people are heard in their schools, communities and countries. “Right to Participate: Let Children Be Seen and Heard” is the theme of this year’s Day, observed annually on 16 June, which is being commemorated in countries across the continent with events including songs, dances and drama presentations. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has marked the Day by drawing attention to the importance of the active involvement of children in schools, community action, media and governance. “Every year, the Day of the African Child reminds adults of the importance to include children in the planning and decision making processes in Sudan,” UNICEF Country Representative Ted Chaiban said, calling for greater efforts to listen to the voices of children and to protect them from harm. (…)


Celebrating Europe’s excellence and creativity

On 12 June the European Commission (DG EAC) and Europa Nostra awarded 6 Prizes, 18 Medals and 3 Europa Nostra Medals to the laureates of the 2008 edition of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony in the magnificent setting of Durham Cathedral in the United Kingdom. The awards were presented by S.A.R. la Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón, President of Europa Nostra, and Mr Vladimir Sucha, Director for Culture, Multilingualism and Communication at the European Commission’s DG for Education and Culture. Dame Lize Forgan, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Find, addressed the audience with a speech ‘One Hundred Thousand Brushstrokes’.

Europa Nostra, the pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage, is the representative platform of over 220 heritage NGOs active throughout Europe. It is the voice of this vast movement of European civil society active in the field of heritage towards international bodies concerned, in particular the European Union Institutions, the Council of Europe and UNESCO.


Dubai Cares partners with Save the Children to improve primary education in Yemen for 46,000 children

Westport, Conn., USA, 11 June - Dubai Cares, a charitable establishment with the aim of educating one million children in developing countries, today announced a joint venture with leading children’s organization Save the Children to support primary education programs in Yemen over a five year period, benefitting nearly 46,000 children from 35 under-developed schools.

Dubai Cares will support Save the Children efforts in 25 rural schools in five districts in the governorates of Lahej and Abyan, and 10 schools in the urban districts of the Aden governorate to improve enrolment among vulnerable groups. The program will also work towards improving the quality of education, ensuring the schools become truly inclusive to all children - especially girls, who continue to be the largest group excluded from education.

The Yemen program marks the second partnership between Dubai Cares and Save the Children, following the announcement in April of a $16.6 million primary education program in Sudan. (…)


The Euromediterranean University founded in Slovenia

9 June - After two years of preparations, the Slovenian Government opens the Euro-Mediterranean University in Portoroz, one of the goals of the six-monthly presidency of the EU. The morning saw the meeting of the International Academic Council and a public conference on advanced learning and intercultural dialogue. The official ceremony will be held in the evening in the presence of Ljubljana’s president Janez Jansa, the president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering. In addition, guest speakers will include Amre Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, several national ministers and MEPs. The international university, that supports the Union’s Erasmus mundus project, aims to “preserve the cultural, artistic and human heritage of the euro-Mediterranean area”. According to Veronika Stabej, Slovenian ambassador to the EU, “multiculturalism and youth exchanges already mean more employment, mobility and social inclusion”. (...)


Green Cross Russia promotes education for sustainable development

On July 1-3, Green Cross will host the 14th International Education for Sustainable Development Conference in Velikii Novgorod, Russia. The mission of the conference is to promote a more comprehensive education system in sustainable development in the region, promote healthier living, and raise awareness as to the state of the environment. The conference will hold discussions regarding the integration of different forms of education in programs and promote new forms of public engagement to address ecological issues including issues of public health, natural resources and the role of government in education and energy policy. The issues will be discussed in plenary section meetings and round-table discussions. The conference will bring together teachers and experts in education and ecology fields to discuss the effectiveness of current programs and projects in Russia and neighboring countries. Specifically, the integration of the informal and formal methods of education in society will be discussed and solutions proposed as to how to reach all segments of the general public. (…)


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Next issue: 18 July 2008.


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