Go to the Home Page

Good News Agency

Monthly – year 13th, number 210 – 8th February 2013


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 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information via Internet*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation


Pillay welcomes major breakthrough enabling individual complaints on economic, social and cultural rights

Geneva, 6 February - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday applauded the upcoming entry into force of a key Protocol to an international treaty which will, for the first time, enable individual complaints on economic, social and cultural rights, thereby helping place all human rights on an equal footing. After crossing the required threshold of state ratifications on Tuesday, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will enter into force on 5 May. “The entry into force of the Optional Protocol is a major breakthrough, which will enable victims under the jurisdiction of the States parties to seek justice for violations of their economic, social and cultural rights,” Pillay said. 

Uruguay triggered the coming into force of the Optional Protocol when, on 5 February, it became the tenth country to ratify, joining Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

The Optional Protocol was adopted four years ago, on 10 December 2008, by the UN General Assembly. It gives the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – the body which monitors the International Covenant to which the Protocol is attached – the competence to examine complaints from individuals or groups of individuals who claim a violation of rights protected under the Covenant. It also enables the Committee to conduct inquiries if it receives reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a State party of any of the economic, social and cultural rights covered by the Covenant. Full text of the Optional Protocol:  http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/docs/A.RES.63.117_en.pdf


European Union competencies in respect of media pluralism and media freedom

Febtuary 6 - In January the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), at the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, released this policy report. This independent policy report, written at the request of the European Commission, presents the phenomena of media freedom and pluralism, and the major academic and policy debates surrounding their social, political, economic role and implications. It highlights the importance of media freedom and pluralism for the functioning, sustainability and legitimacy of a democratic government, and therefore the necessity for relevant policy actions.

The text provides a state-of-the-art-perspective on measuring and evaluating media pluralism. It analyses major aspects of media economics and especially ownership, including the concentration tendency, the relationship between pluralism and the increase in online sources, the impact of emerging online-only media companies, and globalisation.

The legal core of the report examines the development of the debate on legal instruments and jurisprudence, as well as the EU legal instruments currently available to tackle media pluralism and media freedom. As there are currently few EU instruments and a general legal uncertainty in this field, the report suggests how the legislation in force could be used or modified in order to foster media freedom and pluralism in a more efficient way. The Report is available at:



Somalia beginning ‘profound transformation’, UN official says during visit

30 January- The top United Nations political official today stressed that Somalia is entering a new chapter in its history, and reiterated the world body’s commitment to support efforts to build lasting peace, during a visit to the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia is beginning to undergo profound transformation,” said Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. “The United Nations will continue to assist however possible at this critical time.” After decades of factional fighting and lawlessness, the East African country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps last year that have helped to bring an end to its nine-year political transition period. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister. 

Mr. Feltman’s visit follows the announcement by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over the weekend that he would be proposing to the Security Council the establishment of a new UN peacebuilding presence in Somalia, as part of efforts to strengthen the UN-AU partnership on the ground. 




Human rights


New gender policy will promote gender equity

Commitment to empower both women and men to succeed in the global economy

January 18 – ACDI/VOCA’s new gender policy outlines programmatic steps to promote gender equity and support non-discrimination. Gender equality is part of ACDI/VOCA’s vision to empower people—both women and men—to succeed in the global economy. Closing gender inequality gaps and responding to the gender dynamics of a development context is part of running effective and efficient programs.

The policy applies to all ACDI/VOCA projects, regardless of whether they are required by project donors. It details specific guidelines on integrating gender equity into core processes, including program design, start-up, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, learning and recruitment.



Human Rights - World Report 2013

This 23rd annual World Report summarizes human rights conditions in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide in 2012. It reflects extensive investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff has undertaken during the year, often in close partnership with domestic human rights activists.

Two years into the Arab Spring, much of the excitement of the early days of protest has waned and frustration at the slow pace of change has set in. Those now in power face a daunting task: building rights-respecting democracies that uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all citizens, even those who are unpopular and suppressed. Governments that support human rights have an important role to play in this critical, transitional period by providing critical, principled support to post-authoritarian regimes to ensure that the promise of the Arab Spring is realized.



Human Rights Watch London film festival

19 films bear witness, challenge viewers to seek justice

The 17th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be presented in London from March 13 to 22, 2013. The program this year is organized around four themes: traditional values and human rights –  incorporating women’s rights, disability rights, and LGBT rights; crises and migration; focus on Asia/South Asia; and occupation and the rule of law.

The program includes 14 documentaries and five dramas, set in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordon, Morocco, North Korea, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Tanzania. Many of the films will be followed by question and answer sessions, and discussions with filmmakers, experts, and film subjects.




Economy and development


IFAD grant for Somalia in response to call for diaspora investment

February 4, Rome - Following the recent call by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Government of Somalia, to its diaspora abroad to invest in the reconstruction of the country, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced a new programme that will leverage more than US$1 billion sent home by Somalis annually.

Remittances from Somalis living abroad are estimated to equal up to 50% of the gross domestic product, which is vital for the country’s economy. Rebuilding Somalia through the Diaspora Investment in Agriculture (DIA) initiative and working with the Federal Government of Somalia and the United States Department of State’s International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), IFAD will provide a grant worth $1.5 million to finance innovative diaspora projects. To encourage cross-border investment in agriculture, improve food security and increase rural employment, amounts ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 will be provided to implement the projects.

David Lane, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, emphasized: “Investing in agriculture is investing in growth. Studies have shown that growth in agriculture is three-to-six times more effective than growth in other sectors in raising the incomes of the very poor. Through this initiative, we are encouraging investment in the basic ingredients of stability, food security and jobs.”



IFAD loan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to support 116, 000 people in coastline districts

January 31, Rome - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will extend a loan of US$30 million to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to finance the Gwadar-Lasbela Livelihoods Support Project, which will take advantage of recent developments and infrastructure in the region to better connect small fishers to regional markets.

Gwadar and Lasbela districts share three quarters of the Pakistani coastline, they are far from the capital city and not well connected to the rest of the country. Despite the potential for growth and development, the area needs improvement. The project will address challenges currently faced by the people in these two districts by improving weak infrastructure and access to markets and processing. Better harvesting and transport facilities will be improved for the fishing communities.

The project will mainly target poor rural households in 382 villages in Gwadar and Lasbela districts, including small-scale landowners, landless tenants, small-scale farmers and fishermen, and rural women. It is expected to benefit about 20,000 rural households.



Angola announces it will contribute to African-led Food Security Fund: President of Angola meets with FAO’s Graziano da Silva

January 30, Luanda - The Republic of Angola will contribute to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund designed to boost efforts to eradicate hunger in the region. President of Angola José Eduardo Dos Santos announced, during a meeting with the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva: “Angola cannot be absent from the fight against hunger”.

The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, which is administered and facilitated by FAO, supports activities to enhance the capacity of governments and regional organizations to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

In his first mission to Angola, the FAO Director-General congratulated President Dos Santos for the country's success in the fight against hunger. Between 1990-92 and 2010-12 the prevalence of undernourishment in the population fell from 64% to 27%, going beyond the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hunger by 2015. FAO supports Angola in this process and currently executes investments of approximately US$ 20 million in agricultural development and food security in the country.



Nutrition training builds skills and expertise in Nepal

29 January - The Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Laboratory: Collaborative Research on Nutrition is advancing Nepal’s capacity to address food insecurity and undernutrition by designing and implementing training programs for individuals across sectors. With input from partners and the Government of Nepal, the Laboratory has trained participants from government, academia and the NGO community, increasing their skills in areas ranging from grant writing to advanced methodologies for applied research and nutrition programming. Nearly half of the trainees have been women. To promote learning exchange and to support the long-term success of nutrition outcomes, the program also identifies candidates to receive advanced-degree training at U.S. universities. Today, seven Nepalis supported by the program are enrolled in Master’s and doctoral programs, with commitments to return to work in Nepal in areas linked to nutrition, health and agriculture.



Launch of youth-focused program will develop leaders in Bangladesh

By Jennifer Brookland

17 January - A launch event in Dhaka celebrated the start of Counterpart International’s Leadership Development Program in Bangladesh, a five-year initiative that will reach 24,000 youth and community leaders. (...) The grassroots program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will enhance the ability of community organization leaders to improve public policy for their constituents. Following its Jan. 17 launch, the program aims to catalyze communities to improve education, agriculture and health care, combat human trafficking and domestic violence, and jump on new market opportunities such as aquaculture.

“Working together we will increase capacity of citizens to effectively and actively engage in democratic processes that enhance community development in Bangladesh,” said Sibel Berzeg, Vice President of Counterpart. The program will also prepare thousands of Bangladeshi youth to become community advocates to alleviate poverty, create jobs, improve the environment and more. It provides the skills-building young people need to plan and manage development projects, as well as grants to actually carry them out. (…)



Fao and France join efforts to improve farmers livelihoods in South Sudan

January 15, Rome - A new programme in the Republic of South Sudan is helping vulnerable farmers to improve their livelihoods by boosting the quality of the seeds used to produce key crops. With the support of the Government of France, FAO is joining efforts with the South Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture to implement the year-long programme.

The project, valued at more than $612 000, will help to train farmers in the production, storage and marketing of quality seeds and cuttings for staple crops like sorghum, maize, cassava and cowpeas. It will also increase the availability of seeds to South Sudan's most vulnerable farmers.

More than 90% of South Sudanese farmers still depend on the informal seed system, which is based primarily on saved seeds (42%), social networks (26%), and local markets (22%). Typically, farmers repeatedly use saved seeds from one season to the next, which tends to lessen the genetic purity of the seed. Joseph Okidi, Project Officer with FAO South Sudan, said: “Through the project, FAO aims to not only reduce the number of households affected by food insecurity through improving the availability and access of locally produced quality seed on the market, but also aims to improve the incomes and capacity of seed producers”. The programme aims to help an estimated 30 000 people from more than 5 000 vulnerable farming households, in addition to 400 seed producers; it includes seed fairs, capacity development for seed enterprises, input distribution and Farmer Field Schools.



First grain warehouse receipts issued in Ghana

Ghanaian producers and consumers to benefit

January 9 – Getting a loan, storing crops, earning more from sales—all are about to become a little easier for Ghanaian grain farmers and traders with the recent issuance of the first grain warehouse receipts. This auspicious event took place in December in Tamale, in northern Ghana, a relatively poor area that is the focus of development efforts. The receipts are a record of deposit that can be accepted as collateral by banks and nonbank financial institutions.

The Ghana Grains Council (GGC) expects that a well regulated warehouse receipt systems will help the country combat persistent problems in agricultural marketing and credit including variable seasonal prices, cheating on weights and quality and limited access to credit. These problems stem from a lack of efficient storage facilities, poorly developed systems of standard grades and measures, unreliable market information systems and lack of collateral for bank loans. In addressing many of these issues, both producers and consumers will benefit.






Michael Kors calls on Fashion World to take action against hunger

January 31, Rome - Michael Kors, a world-renowned fashion designer, and his namesake company will support WFP's work through a combination of awareness-focused campaigns, special events and limited-edition fundraising products. A public service announcement released across Michael Kors’ social media channels launched the partnership in January 2013.

In March 2013, the company will launch two unisex watch styles for its “WATCH HUNGER STOP” campaign. Each watch sold will allow WFP to feed 100 children. There will also be a text-to-donate initiative as another way for individuals to support the campaign.  WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said: “ We look forward to working with Michael Kors. Together, we will generate more attention as well as much needed resources in support of WFP’s efforts to end world hunger”.



Malawi Red Cross hands over houses to earthquake survivors

31 January - The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has handed over 500 repaired and 100 newly constructed houses for survivors of the 2009 earthquake in the northern district of Karonga as part of a recovery project aimed at bringing back normalcy to the lives of thousands.

With financial assistance from the United Kingdom Department for International Development, (DFID), these houses have been built with new technology designed to withstand earthquakes and other disasters.



Mining magnate becomes first African to sign giving pledge

January 31 – Patrice Motsepe, the first black South African to amass a billion-dollar fortune, said Wednesday that he has signed the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate at least half of his family’s assets to its charitable foundation, says Reuters.

The founder of mining enterprise African Rainbow Minerals, Mr. Motsepe is the first African to join the philanthropic effort launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to persuade billionaires to give away at least half of their money. Most of the nearly 100 signers to date are American. Announcing the pledge with his wife, Mr. Motsepe said his donations will primarily be used to bolster health care and education in South Africa and that he would press wealthy compatriots to make similar giving commitments.



Build-A-Bear workshop on prowl for kid philanthropists

By Karen Bliss 

January 30 – Over the past nine years, The Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes program has found some impressive kids. The 400-store chain, which sells make-your-own stuffed animals, holds an annual search for young people, ages 8 to 18, who are trying to make the world a better place. This year, to mark the 10th anniversary, they are on the look out for 10 budding philanthropists.Nominations are now open until Feb. 28.

According to figures from The Build-A-Bear Workshop, more than 100 Huggable Heroes honoured since the program launch in 2004 have collectively raised more than $9.4 million, collected more than 316 million items to donate and recruited thousands of volunteers to help with their various causes.This year, the 10 winners will each receive $10,000, which includes educational scholarships, donation to a charity of their choice, and a mentoring scholarship to support their charitable entrepreneurships. The prize also includes a trip toBuild-A-Bear Workshop headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, where they will be feted, and partake in other related activities.

The mentorship is through the prestigious Jefferson Awards For Public Service, founded 40 years ago by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, as a Nobel Prize for community and public service. Each of the 2013 Huggable Heroes will be paired with a mentor for a year through the non-profit organization’s Globechangers program that will help them acquire and develop skills such as writing business plans, networking and fundraising.



Syria: aid continues to reach those in need despite challenges

29 January – With no end in sight to the fighting, the humanitarian situation in Syria keeps deteriorating. The ICRC, together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, continues to work to overcome the obstacles it faces in its efforts to bring much-needed assistance to people throughout the country.

The suffering of men, women and children has reached unprecedented levels across the country. As fighting escalates in different parts of Syria, gaining access to certain areas, such as Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Idlib, is becoming increasingly challenging. Nevertheless, food parcels, hygiene items, mattresses and blankets continue to be delivered and distributed across the country in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. In addition, efforts continue to meet water and sanitation needs throughout Syria.

"Responding to the needs in an efficient and timely manner remains a cornerstone of our operations," said Edwin Gilmore, who coordinates the ICRC's logistics in the country. "Road blockage, damaged infrastructure and heavy fighting are some of the challenges we have to work our way around to reach those in need. At times that means we have to find alternative routes or seize a brief window of opportunity when the fighting subsides."



WFP donates medical equipment worth 16.2 million rupees to Balochistan Health Department

January 23, Quetta - Dr. Masood Qadir Nosherwani, Director General of the Balochistan Health Services, received the equipment from Jean-Luc Siblot, WFP Representative Pakistan. The current donation includes blood pressure apparatus, delivery tables, oxygen cylinders, infant scales, and furniture for patients and staff. The equipment will be used at basic health facilities in Balochistan where WFP implements its nutrition programme. The donation also includes vehicles, laptop computers, scanners and printers for health department staff.

WFP’s nutrition activities are carried out in partnership with the Health Department of Balochistan, UNICEF and other NGOs under the recovery phase of the 2010 and 2012 floods.

WFP provides specialized nutritious food to treat moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) among children of 6 to 59 months of age. During 2012, WFP distributed more than 1,400 metric tons of specialized nutrition products in Balochistan, assisting more than 130,000 moderately malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. In 2013, WFP’s nutrition programme will cover 500 supplementary feeding sites in nine districts of Balochistan.



Caritas helping Darfur ten years on

18 January  – Caritas will help over half a million people in Sudan’s Darfur region this year as part of a US$9.6 million (7.3 million euro) programme.  Through its work with the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, a network of over 130 churches and related development organisations, Caritas will place a big focus on helping people become more self-sufficient.

Projects such as the replacement of fuel-powered water pumping systems with solar powered systems mean that communities will save money and will not be so reliant on outside factors for their access to water.  Another focus will be ensuring people have access to agricultural training as well as seeds, tools and cash grants.

Caritas began to work in Darfur in 2004 after a conflict between rebels and the Government led to a massive humanitarian emergency. A shift in Sudanese Government policy means that aid workers from South Sudan had to return home last year. There will be a further shift to put aid programmes in the hands of local agencies this year. ACT-Caritas has been giving increasing support and training to local Sudanese partners who will be accompanying Darfuris in the future.




Peace and security


Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi receives award at Rotary Global Peace Forum

By Arnold R. Grahl 

Rotary News -- 29 January .   Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar's democracy movement and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, delivered the keynote address at the Rotary Global Peace Forum held in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 25-27 January. (...)

able goal, but one that we must nevertheless continue to endeavor toward. She said that democratic institutions are necessary to guarantee human rights. “The kind of peace we want is very simple. We want permanent peace,” said Suu Kyi. She also noted that young people have an important role to play. The Honolulu forum emphasized the importance of getting youth involved in the peace process. “We must help our young people so that they may be able to take over our task of nation building,” Suu Kyi said. “We depend on our young people to take us forward.”

More than 1,800 Rotarians, Rotary alumni, and supporters of Rotary's peace program took part in this event, the second of three peace forums planned by RI President Sakuji Tanaka. The first was held in Berlin in November, and a third is planned for Hiroshima, Japan, 17-18 May. The forum also addressed environmental conservation as a means of promoting peace. Attendees adopted a declaration supporting The Green Path to Peace, which urges those in the family of Rotary to act as catalysts for peace through efforts that conserve and protect the planet. (...)



Bombay Archdiocese launches campaign to stop violence against women

By Tony Spence

January 28 – Violence against women in India has been going on for centuries, but recently it seems as if it has reached a tipping point with the news of the terrible gang rapes of several young women. People and institutions across India are taking up the cause and trying to end this national shame.

The Women’s Commission of the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai) is one of the lead lights in this fight with its new campaign, “37 Million Diyas: Say Yes to Love, Say No to Violence.” The number is the difference between the male and female population of the country, one of the biggest factors in the violence, and the result of the widespread practice of aborting female children.

Yesterday, parishes across the archdiocese held a an hour of prayer and remembrance for women victims of violence  — killing, rape, domestic violence and human trafficking of girls. Cardinal Oswald Gracias has vowed prayer and work on behalf of women and “it will continue for as long as it takes  for you and me to bring about change.” (…)



UN mission sheltering civilians after fighting in South Sudanese town

28 January  – The United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan is sheltering around 2,500 people who fled an outbreak of violence over the weekend in the eastern town of Pibor, a spokesperson for the world body said today.“The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirms that on Sunday, fighting erupted in Pibor market between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and unidentified armed elements,” UN spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey told a news briefing in New York.

The Mission is providing medical help to the injured and helped to evacuate two people from Pibor in Jonglei state to Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011. That same month, the Security Council established UNMISS with the purpose of consolidating peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.The fighting comes as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He called on the continent’s leaders to boost efforts to lift millions out of poverty and end recurrent cycles of violence to accelerate development in the region.In late December, UNMISS sheltered some 5,000 people seeking safety at its base in Wau amidst violence and protests that began after officials said they would move the seat of local government out of Wau.



Good start of the year to stop explosive investments

Switzerland and Netherlands ban investments in cluster munition production

21 January – From 1 January 2013 legislation banning forms of investments in cluster munitions came into effect in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) welcomes the steps taken by the Dutch and Swiss governments, both States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). With this new legislation, the Netherlands and Switzerland join a growing number of states in outlawing financial support for production of these banned weapons.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Market Abuse (Financial Supervision Act) Decree was changed to include an obligation to “prevent any Dutch financial institution to directly support any national or foreign enterprise which produces, sells or distributes cluster munitions.

In Switzerland, on January 1, the revised Federal Law on War Material came into force, which includes a prohibition on direct and indirect investments in the development, manufacturing or acquisition of prohibited “war material”, including cluster munitions.






Computer mogul Dell gives $60-million for health care in Texas

January 31 – The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation announced $60-million in pledges Wednesday for improving health care in central Texas, including $50-million for a new medical school at the University of Texas, the Austin American-Statesman writes. University officials expect to open what will be called the DellMedicalSchool in 2015 or ’16. The additional $10-million will support community-based programs to improve access to and quality of health care in the region.

The gifts bring to $150-million the foundation’s contribution to medical efforts in central Texas and to more than $100-million its donations to the Austin campus. Mr. Dell dropped out of the university in 1984 and began selling computers out of his apartment, a precursor to his founding of Dell, the world’s third-largest maker of personal computers.



Hospital partnerships improve patient safety

New resources for safer care at the disposal of developing countries

31 January, Geneva - WHO released today a resource package of practical tools specifically aimed at improving patient safety in hospitals in developing countries. The resource package was co-developed by frontline health professionals through a pioneering WHO programme, African Partnerships for Patient Safety (APPS), that pairs 14 African hospitals each with a hospital in England, France or Switzerland.

Through the programme, health professionals from the partnered African and European hospitals have developed a variety of ways to work together and support each other to provide safer care. They have worked closely with WHO’s Patient Safety Programme to adapt resources such as the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist specifically to the context of African hospitals. The resource package includes online training seminars and templates to help hospitals to identify and take action on specific priorities such as infection prevention and control, safe surgery and health-care waste management.



Mali: MSF gains access to town devoid of healthcare

25 January – Two weeks after military operations began in northern Mali, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to work in the regions of Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu. In addition, on the morning of 24 January, a small MSF medical team managed to reach Konna, a town located 70 kilometres north of Mopti, in the pivotal area between Mali’s northern and southern sectors, where there has been intense fighting over the past week. Now that access has been permitted, the team is assessing the medical and humanitarian needs in the area.

They also visited the Konna health centre, finding upon their arrival that there were neither any medical staff nor any patients in the town’s health care facilities. Team members therefore began providing primary healthcare consultations and organised mobile clinics to address the health needs of people in the area.

Further north, in Douentza, MSF continues to work in the city’s hospital. The medical staff remained at the hospital around the clock despite intense bombing in the area, conducting approximately 450 medical consultations over the past week. In Timbuktu, medical activities are on-going, particularly in pediatric, obstetrical, emergency, and surgical care. Medical supplies and medicines have also been delivered to the health centres that MSF supports in the Timbuktu region.



Music and mothers: Intensified communication efforts in the fight against polio in Chad

18 January  - In response to the escalating number of missed children in N’Djamena, the Government, with the support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, carried out an intensified social mobilization and communication campaign involving prominent Chadian Artists, the Scouts Movement and the National Council of Youth during the last immunization campaign.

Popular Chadian musicians rallied in the fight against polio with an open air, free-admission concert to raise awareness in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. They captured the attention of thousands of people, not only through their music, but also by expressing strong messages about the importance of vaccinating children against polio.



Rotary’s leadership considered vital to eradicating polio

By Daniela Garcia 

16 January - A polio-free India is proof that Rotary is able to tackle the world’s most difficult health challenges, according to Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization (WHO). Addressing the 2013 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, Aylward praised Rotary’s work in bringing the world to the threshold of polio eradication, but reminded the incoming district governors that it will take their leadership to complete the job. (...)

Discussing the successes of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) — in which Rotary and WHO collaborate with UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Aylward cited India, which has not had a reported case of polio in two years. In February (2012), WHO removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries, disproving the experts who had maintained that polio could not be eradicated there. And if continuing tests of polio cases recorded through 13 January continue to yield negative results, WHO will declare that India has interrupted transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus for the second consecutive year. 

Polio remains endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. But because nonendemic countries remain at risk for cases imported from those three, immunization must continue everywhere to ensure that polio is eradicated worldwide. (...)




Energy and safety


US Energy Department announces new SunShot projects to harness the power of big data

30 January - As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, the Department today announced seven data-driven projects to unearth new opportunities for reducing costs and accelerating solar energy deployment in the United States. These projects – located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas – will result in viable methods for dramatically transforming the operations of solar researchers, manufacturers, developers, installers, and policymakers, and speed the commercialization and deployment of affordable, clean solar energy.

The Energy Department will invest about $9 million across the seven projects announced today. These efforts will help scientists, project developers, installers and communities work together to discover previously unexplored ways to improve solar cell efficiency, reduce costs and streamline installation processes.



District grant projects meet multiple needs in India

By Dan Nixon 

24 January, Rotary News - Rotarians in Maharashtra, India, used a 2011-12 district grant to meet a range of community needs, from providing families with clean water to equipping homes with solar energy.  “District leaders considered projects that came under (Rotary’s) six areas of focus,” says Rahul Timbadia, past governor of District 3140. “Geographical areas were identified, for example, where there was no electricity or water, which could then be (addressed) by clubs and thus impact the community.” (...) “The overall impact of the district grant on the quality of life in the communities served can be described as very significant,” says Timbadia. “Since the district awarded grant funds to 45 clubs, the impact was certainly widespread.” 

Clean water projects, for example, benefited 15 villages in Maharashtra state, with small dams, rainwater harvesting, bore wells, and water purifiers. Among these efforts, the Rotary Club of Bombay West constructed dams to serve two villages highly prone to drought.(...)  District grant-funded projects brought solar-powered lighting to homes and streets in more than 15 villages.

Other efforts included establishment of a human-milk bank at a hospital serving the poor, diagnosis and treatment of children suffering from malnutrition, provision of a kidney dialysis machine and other medical equipment, vocational training for youth and adults, construction of toilet blocks, and funding for a vocational exchange team to study in Austria.

The grant also funded diagnostic aids for a school for hearing-impaired students near Mumbai. The facility, which provides education from preschool through high school, receives ongoing support from the Rotary Club of Mumbai Queen’s Necklace. (...)



European Investment Bank and IRENA to promote Southern Mediterranean renewable energy manufacturing

23 January - The European Investment Bank (EIB) will cooperate with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to promote renewable energy (RE) manufacturing in the Middle East and North Africa, starting with a study of investment potential in the southern Mediterranean countries this year. The EIB and IRENA affirmed in Abu Dhabi on 16 January that they would jointly assess the region’s capability to attract foreign investments to develop local renewable energy industries.

Southern Mediterranean countries face enormous energy challenges because of rising demand and concerns about supply security and environmental sustainability. RE technologies could help to increase competitiveness and create much-needed employment opportunities in the region, IRENA and EIB officials said. Manufacturing in the RE sector could help to transform southern Mediterranean economies and ensure their future sustainability.



First IEA regional technology study plots carbon-neutral Nordic energy system

22 January  - The Nordic region can become carbon-neutral by 2050 through big changes in its energy sector, including a ten-fold increase in wind generation, an end to all use of coal and significant electrification of transport, the International Energy Agency reports in the first regional edition of its flagship technology publication, Energy Technology Perspectives.

By listing the best ways for the region to reduce emissions, the new report offers important lessons for other countries by expanding on the Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 global scenarios for energy policies that would limit average global temperature increase to 2°C.

Nordic Energy Technology Perspectivesoutlines the opportunities and challenges for the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway – a major fossil fuel exporter – and Sweden to use their rich renewable energy resources to transform their landscape and economy, with 10 000 onshore and 3 000 offshore wind turbines and the region exporting 75% of its new power generation.



New Cefic guide looks at biodiversity and the chemical industry

Cefic launched on January 9 a new guide aimed at helping chemical companies get started in integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services in their strategy and daily operations.

The Cefic guide looks at biodiversity and ecosystem services from the perspective of the chemical industry. Like all sectors, the chemical industry both has impacts on biodiversity and depends on healthy ecosystems. In most cases, the direct impacts of chemicals manufacturing on biodiversity are fairly limited, but they can be more important in other phases of the value chain.

The guide encourages companies to assess how their operations impact and depend on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Understanding these links helps manage risks and tackle potential opportunities, for example to improve resource efficiency or develop new products.




Environment and wildlife


WWF: Global system to curb aircraft emissions could easily take flight

29 January - A global system to regulate runaway greenhouse gas emissions from aviation is technically and economically feasible and could help address climate change, according to a new WWF report. The report comes ahead of a critical meeting of the High Level Group established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal this week, where governments will attempt to revive a decade-long effort to address aviation emissions.  Aviation is the most emission-intensive form of transport on the planet and, together with shipping, is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions contributing to climate instability and extreme weather. Aviation Report: Market Based Mechanisms to Curb Greenhouse Gas emissions from International Aviation outlines four options, and weighs their pros and cons, to develop a global system to regulate emissions from aircraft.



USA - Federal Court rules in favor of clean air

Rejects EPA rules that would allow more soot pollution

Washington, D.C. January 22 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today rejected U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules that allowed large soot-generating power plants to be built even though they violate clean air standards. The EPA estimates that soot pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and also is a major cause of haze and ecosystem damage in parks and wilderness areas.

Earthjustice represented the Sierra Club in this challenge to EPA rules that allowed plants to be constructed even if they would cause or worsen dangerous levels of soot pollution in the air people breathe. In fact, the 2010 rules allowed plant after plant to take advantage of an EPA-created loophole and be built without even checking whether they would cause or contribute to unhealthy levels of soot pollution. The court also struck down the EPA’s waiver of a legal requirement for finding out how much soot pollution is already in the air before a new plant can be built.



Governments at UN forum agree on legally-binding treaty to curb mercury pollution

19 January – Over 140 governments meeting at a United Nations forum in Geneva have agreed to a global, legally-binding treaty to address mercury, a notorious heavy metal with significant health and environmental effects. The treaty, which has been four years in negotiation and which will be open for signature at a special meeting in Japan in October, also addresses the direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal and safe storage of waste mercury. Pinpointing populations at risk, boosting medical care and better training of health care professionals in identifying and treating mercury-related effects will also form part of the new agreement.

Among the provisions of the treaty, governments have agreed on a range of mercury-containing products whose production, export and import will be banned by 2020. These include batteries, except for 'button cell' batteries used in implantable medical devices; switches and relays; certain types of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs); mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps; and soaps and cosmetics.

Certain kinds of non-electronic medical devices such as thermometers and blood pressure devices are also included for phase-out by 2020.



Philippines: Red Cross provides aid for 280,000 typhoon survivors

16 January - The ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross are continuing their effort to help the victims of Typhoon Bopha (locally known as Pablo). More than a month after the typhoon swept away communities in eastern Mindanao and left more than 1,800 people dead or missing, needs are still immense. In the areas hardest hit, in Davao Oriental province, almost 95 per cent of the roads, houses and crops have been destroyed.

The ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross worked hard to respond to the emergency as it occurred, and are now attending to food, clean water, shelter, health care and other needs with the aim of helping people resume their normal lives. The ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross have scaled up joint operations after their initial emergency response. These efforts have focused on: setting up a field clinic in Baganga to respond to the most urgent needs until normal facilities are fully functional again; making supplies available so that people can take immediate steps to remedy their lack of shelter; and providing food, potable water and basic household items to the neediest so that they can concentrate on rebuilding their lives.




Religion and spirituality


World Interfaith Harmony Week - 1-7 February 2013

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual even to be observed during the first week of February starting in 2011. World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/65/5 adopted on 20 October 2010. In the resolution, the General Assembly, points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith

Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly encourages all States to support during that week the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.




Culture and education


UNESCO to help Mali restore cultural heritage damaged during recent violence

30 January – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today announced it will help rebuild and safeguard Mali’s cultural heritage, which has been the target of attacks during the current crisis.

According to media reports, Islamist extremists set fire to a library in the city of Timbuktu containing thousands of historic manuscripts, many of them dating back to the 13th to 16th centuries. The manuscripts deal with subjects ranging from religious studies to mathematics, medicine, astronomy, music, literature, poetry, architecture and women’s and children’s rights.

UNESCO will send a team of experts to Mali to assess the damage and determine the most urgent tasks as soon as security conditions allow it. A special working group will also be established to draw up an action plan to guide reconstruction activities in the medium and long term



USAID selects EDC to help improve reading in the Philippines

Waltham, Ma, January 23 – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has selected EDC to lead a new four-year effort in the Philippines to improve reading skills in the early grades. The Basa Pilipinas (Read Philippines) project will seek to improve the reading skills of 1 million children in Filipino, English, and selected mother tongues by 2015.

EDC will implement the new $23 million initiative that will support the Philippine government’s national reading program by improving teacher and administrator training, developing reading specialists, and establishing a core group of trainers. It will also develop, produce, and distribute age-appropriate and gender- and culture-specific early-grade reading materials; use technology to improve access to reading materials; and create partnerships with the private sector to leverage resources. In addition, EDC will assist the Philippine government in developing reliable early-grade reading standards and promoting reading through national and local advocacy activities with government, private sector, and community stakeholders.

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that addresses some of the world’s most urgent challenges in education, health, and international development. EDC manages 250 projects in 30 countries.



USA - Save the Children receives $30,000 from Appalachian Power in support of reconnecting McDowell initiative

Donation to Benefit early childhood development, literacy and health programs in three elementary schools in West Virginia's impoverished McDowell county.

Washington, D.C., January 14 - Save the Children received a $30,000 contribution from Appalachian Power to support early childhood development, literacy, as well as physical activity and nutrition programs in West Virginia's McDowellCounty. Focused on helping children in need grow, achieve academic success, and develop healthy habits, the programs are offered in partnership with three elementary schools, as part of the Reconnecting McDowell Initiative.

Save the Children is one of 110 partners of the Reconnecting McDowell Initiative, launched last year to revitalize the poverty-stricken county in southern West Virginia. Since the start of the initiative, Save the Children's programs — offered through Bradshaw Elementary, Iaeger Elementary and Welch Elementary schools — served 527 children in need.

In West Virginia, Save the Children has operated its core programs — Early Steps to School Success, Literacy, and Healthy Choices, since 2010. The organization currently partners with 11 communities in five counties, benefiting 3,952 children in the state.



USAID awards Iraq broadening participation through civil society program

Strengthening local capacity to engage with vibrant democratic institutions

January 8 – ACDI/VOCA was recently awarded a $15 million sub-agreement under Mercy Corps International to implement USAID’s Iraq Broadening Participation through Civil Society program.

The three-year program seeks to foster more participatory and dynamic democratic systems through a stronger, more vibrant civil society. The program will aim to deepen citizens’ social and political engagement and nurture an active and interconnected Iraqi civil society that offers greater opportunities for citizens to contribute to and benefit from the country’s development.

ACDI/VOCA will implement activities related to civic education and service learning. It will also work with Mercy Corps to support civil society organizational development in the regions for which it is responsible. In addition, ACDI/VOCA will coordinate with other consortium partners in advocacy toward a civil society enabling environment.



Earth Charter International enters new phase

In this new year the Earth Charter International will be refocusing its program of work. While the Earth Charter document continues to be used and spread through the efforts of the many thousands of individuals and organizations around the world, the ECI Secretariat and Council will be undertaking a program of work predominantly focused on education for sustainable development.

The main focus of ECI will be on the establishment of the new EarthCharterCenter for Education for Sustainable Development. The new Center will focus its activities on coordinating the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter. This project has been established to fulfill the overall goals of the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD), which is to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to encourage changes in behavior that allow for a more sustainable and just society for all. The specific area of knowledge creation and actions of this UNESCO Chair is the intersection between sustainability-related knowledge, education, and a strong ethical framework.

The UNESCO Chair project, housed in ECI's new, green-designed facility in Costa Rica is expected to become a locus for education for sustainable development and Earth Charter research and training and several programs will be launched in 2013.



Dominican friar “Frei Betto” to receive 2013 UNESCO/José Martí Prize

Building a culture of peace, social justice and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, has designated the Brazilian Dominican friar Frei Betto as laureate of the 2013 UNESCO/José Martí Prize for his exceptional contribution to building a universal culture of peace, social justice and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ms Bokova selected Frei Betto on the recommendation of an international jury. The prize will be awarded on 28 January in Havana, Cuba, at the Third International Conference on World Balance (28 to 30 January). The conference marks the 160th anniversary of José Martí’s birth.

The laureate was selected in recognition of his work as an educator, writer, and theologian; his opposition to all forms of discrimination, injustice and exclusion; and his promotion of a culture of peace and human rights. The author of more than 50 books, Frei Betto was born Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo in Belo Horizonte (Brazil) in 1944.  He joined the Dominican Order at the age of 20 while studying journalism.  During the time of military dictatorship in Brazil, Frei Betto was imprisoned twice, once briefly in 1964 and again from 1969 to 1973.



* * * * * * *



Next issue: 8 March 2013.



Good News Agencyis published monthly (except August) in English, Italian and Portuguese. Past issues are available at www.goodnewsagency.org . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi (sergio.tripi@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org), Vhiara  Bartoletti, Elisa Minelli, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster, media & NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 3,000 NGOs, 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as 23,000 Rotarians in the world.


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 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.

The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.


*In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly (http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf), Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information.  In section A - International Organizations, the Report says:

"Participatory Communication and Free Flow of Information and Knowledge has been advanced largely through use of the Internet by civil society corresponding to para 6 in the 1999 Programme of Action calling for the promotion of a culture of peace through sharing of information among actors in the global movement for a culture of peace (p.7). Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet (p.12).   

Go to the Home Page