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A culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour


Monthly – year 13th, number 211 – 8 March 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 1,500 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. It is a supporter of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) provided to the UN Secretary-General for presentation 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 an active role in the field of Information through Internet.*   



International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation


March 11 - 15: High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy, UN Headquarters, Geneva

Drought is widely recognized as a slow creeping natural hazard that occurs as a consequence of the natural climatic variability. In recent years, concern has grown world-wide that droughts may be increasing in frequency and severity given the changing climatic conditions. Responses to droughts in most parts of the world are generally reactive in terms of crisis management and are known to be untimely, poorly coordinated and disintegrated. Consequently, the economic, social and environmental impacts of droughts have increased significantly worldwide. Because of their long-term socio-economic impacts, droughts are by far the most damaging of all natural disasters.

At this High Level meeting in Geneva - organized by UN agencies - government ministers, officials, scientists and stakeholders including NGOs and businesses will focus attention on national drought policies.



Final meeting of the Post-2015 Global Thematic Consultation on Governance

28 February - 1 March, Johannesburg

The Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post 2015 Agenda will take place from 28 February to 1 March at the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa. Through this event, the UN is facilitating the consultation process of civil society, experts, parliamentarians, foundations, private sector, trade unions and other key stakeholders to build a shared vision of the centrality of governance to the post 2015 development framework.

The event will bring together about 170 participants including opinion leaders, representatives from the grassroots, civil society organizations, academia, and parliamentarians from across the globe to discuss the potential contribution of governance and accountability to a new global development paradigm underpinned by human rights principles and standards.

The event is preceded by a series of pre-meetings from 24 to 27 February that will highlight progress being made by African countries in democracy-building, strengthening regional governance processes and developing a bold vision of the "Africa We Want Post-2015".

The Global consultation on Governance will conclude with a report that will contribute to international discussions on the post-2015 development framework.



US: Violence Against Women Act renewed

28 February - Bipartisan efforts to ensure the safety of all domestic violence victims should continue following the vote in Congress on February 28, 2013, to renew the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), Human Rights Watch said today. The bill includes provisions aimed at improving access to justice and services for victims from a range of backgrounds, and continuing efforts should include advancing protections for immigrant victims. The bill passed by the House of Representatives addresses gaps in access to justice for victims of violence on Native American reservations. It includes protections against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) victims, and modestly expands protections for immigrant victims.

VAWA is the primary federal law providing legal protection and services to counter domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking. Congress has reauthorized VAWA twice since it originally passed in 1994.



Bosnia and Herzegovina joins the UNECE Industrial Accidents Convention

22 February -The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) welcomes the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents on 20 February 2013. The Convention enters into force for a State on the ninetieth day after the deposit of the State’s instrument of accession; Bosnia and Herzegovina will thus become the forty-first Party to the Convention as of 21 May 2013.

With the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina, all States in South-Eastern Europe now benefit from the Convention's legal framework.




Human rights


March 8 - International Women's Day

2013 UN Theme: A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women

The Feminine is on the rise in human consciousness and this key festival is widely celebrated around the world. In our time the rights of women, and the rights of children nourished by women, are key issues in every modern society.

In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. For the United Nations, International Women's Day has been observed on 8 March since 1975. The Day is traditionally marked with a message from the Secretary-General.



March 4 - 15 - UN Commission on the Status of Women, UN Headquarters, New York

Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

Together with the policy making deliberations the Commission acts as a focal point for a vast number of gatherings at UN HQ, organised by governments, international agencies and NGO's.

See the list of official side events and unofficial NGO paralell events.



Musicians from around the world join forces with UN to highlight women's rights.

22 febbraio 2013-More than 20 musicians from across the globe are joining forces with the United Nations to spotlight the importance of empowering women through a song that will be released on International Women's Day, celebrated on 8 March. The song, entitled “One Woman: A song for UN Women,” was inspired by the stories of women supported by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). “One Woman” seeks to become a rallying cry that inspires listeners about the mission of UN Women and engages them to join in the drive for women's empowerment and gender equality, according to the agency. The software company, Microsoft, has sponsored the song and music video production, and all proceeds from its online sales on iTunes and Amazon will go directly to UN Women in support of its programmes to empower women on the ground.




Economy and development


 Increased wheat production seen in 2013

7 March, Rome - First forecasts for the 2013 wheat harvest point to production increasing to 690 million tonnes - 4.3 percent up on 2012. This would be the second largest crop on record, according to the latest issue of FAO's quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

The production hike is expected mostly in Europe, driven by increased plantings in response to high prices and a recovery in yields in some countries, notably the Russian Federation.

The outlook in the United States, while less favourable because of earlier drought conditions, has improved somewhat over the last few weeks.

The Crop Prospects and Food Situation report focuses on developments affecting the food security situation of developing countries.



U.S. Chamber and United Nations to host International Women's Day Forum

March 8, Ford Foundation Headquarters, New York

Washington, March 1 - The U.S. Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) and the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) will convene an International Women’s Day forum titled  How ♀ Economic Empowerment Strengthens Business..This one-day forum will bring together leaders committed to the economic empowerment of women. It will highlight the influential role women play in the business sector and how companies and their partners are working to catalyze the economic empowerment of women in global markets.

The United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), serves as a gateway for public-private partnerships with the UN system, in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other key UN objectives. UNOP provides Partnership Advisory Services and Outreach to a variety of entities, including companies, foundations, government agencies, and NGOs.

BCLC is a top resource and voice for good business. Its network represents 125 companies committed to positively impacting society. The organization’s research, ideas, and programming embody business’ unique ability to achieve positive outcomes for societal challenges.



Brazil's Itaú Bank to expand access to loans for low-income entrepreneurs

Using technology and relationships to support new and existing account holders

New York and Sao Paulo, Feb. 28 - Some 100,000 small-scale entrepreneurs in Brazil will gain access to US$167 million in business loans following a commitment by Itaú Unibanco to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative aimed at encouraging the private sector to fight poverty and backed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Itaú Unibanco, one of the world’s largest banks in market value, will expand access to small loans, also known as microloans, for entrepreneurs living and working in urban communities. While 85 percent of Brazilians live in cities, up to 40 percent lack access to formal banking services such as savings accounts and credit.

Brazil comprises an estimated 10.3 million informal, unregistered enterprises. Its informal or “shadow” sector accounts for roughly 17 percent of the economy, with millions excluded from banking and insurance services that could help lift them out of poverty and achieve greater resilience in the face of financial or other crises.



IFAD grant to scale up Agricultural Bank of Sudan Microfinance Initiative: rural microfinance services for one million poor women across the Sudan

February 21, Rome - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$925,000 grant to the Republic of the Sudan to scale up the existing Agricultural Bank of Sudan Microfinance Initiative (ABSUMI). The objective is to further improve the livelihoods of 150,000 poor households by increasing income and savings through access to a wide range of agricultural and non-agricultural investments.

Offering Islamic sharia-compliant credit, savings and microinsurance, particularly to women, ABSUMI was created within the Agricultural Bank of Sudan through a pilot phase : when it began in 2010, ABSUMI was built upon the proven “village sanadiq” model and incorporated a range of strategic innovations and unconventional business practices including group guarantees and effective training. The improved information-dissemination and training paired with the confidence in the model and the presence of enabling regulatory framework resulted in  the success of the initiative. As of September last year, the programme had reached more than 60,000 people in 10,000 households across 97 villages. As a response to this successful outcome, IFAD has approved the new grant to expand the initiative.



Innovative technologies in northern Ghana increase yields

Ghanaians treat farms as businesses, reap rewards

February 15 – Farmers in Ghana’s remote northern region face difficulty in accessing inputs as well as markets for their crops. They also experience a high rate of soil depletion and sometimes lack the required skills and knowledge to manage their farms. Taken together these challenges result in low yields. To help address these challenges, ACDI/VOCA’s ADVANCE program, funded through USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, collaborated with seven private sector companies to set up on-farm demonstration plots. The plots demonstrated techniques for growing maize, rice and soya in nearly 50 communities across the northern Ghana region.

Today, more than 5,000 smallholder farmers have acquired new skills, knowledge and production technology because of the project. They also learned better management practices to run their farms as businesses.



IFAD loan and grant to boost agricultural productivity in Tunisia

February 12, Rome - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will extend a loan and grant of US$ 11.4 million and a loan of $ 16.1 million from the Spanish Food Security Co-Financing Facility Trust Fund to the Republic of Tunisia, to finance the second phase of the Agropastoral Development and Local Initiatives Promotion Programme in the South-East. The programme will aim to improve agricultural productivity and stimulate job creation for rural youth and women.

Poverty and unemployment still present a challenge in Tunisia where the agriculture sector makes up 8% of  the country’s gross domestic product and provides employment to 18.3% of the national labour force. The Programme will intensify investment in infrastructure focusing on natural resource management and irrigation to improve agricultural productivity. In addition, it will promote local economic initiatives by providing assistance and resources in the form of access to microcredit, knowledge and training opportunities. Training and resources will be provided to local community representatives and partner organizations to strengthen their capacity to engage effectively with other participants. Overall, 13,200 households in Tataouine and Kebili provinces are expected to benefit.



Beyond the Millennium Development Goals: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda - March 18, Paris

This conference is organized by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The Network is a council of scientific and technical experts from academia and civil society representing diverse viewpoints on sustainable development. It is charged to advise the UN in the process of devising a new set of goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015.

The Paris Conference will explore key questions including: What have the MDGs achieved and what are the lessons learned? What are the major global sustainable development challenges the world will face in the coming years? How can the post-2015 development agenda address them? How can problem solving for sustainable development be promoted? How can France contribute?



International Day of Happiness - 20 March

A conversation on “Happiness and wellbeing: Essential for a sustainable future” organized by the UN Academic Impact (UNAI) in association with the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the UN

The General Assembly, by its resolution A/RES/66/281, has proclaimed 20 March as the International Day of Happiness. The resolution recognizes the "relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals ... and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives; and the need for "a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples."

The conversation, a joint initiative of the Permanent Mission of Bhutan and UNAI, will explore happiness as a universal goal and aspiration for people around the world. Open to all.

UNAI aligns world’s universities and colleges with the United Nations and with each other for promoting United Nations ideals and goals.






EU and FAO underline support for nutrition and food security in Malawi

March 5, Brussels/Rome/Lilongwe - During a high level visit to Malawi, EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will meet today with President Joyce Banda to discuss the country's challenges on nutrition and food security, and to underline ongoing EU and FAO support in this area.

Malawi has made progress in the fight against hunger but malnutrition remains endemic in the country, with over 47% of children suffering from stunting (when growth is held back due to a lack of access to nutritious food).

The EU is a major donor in Malawi, spending €605 million under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) between 2008-2013. In November 2012 at the EU's European Development Days in Brussels, FAO has been supporting Malawi since 1986 in the design and implementation of policies and programmes to improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries and to ensure food security and good nutrition for all.

Director General, Graziano da Silva, said: "Malawi has committed itself at the highest level to ending hunger and extreme poverty. It recognizes the right to food, invests in excess of 10% of its national budget in agriculture, and has transformed itself from an importer into an exporter of maize. The result is that Malawi is on track to meet the Millennium Development hunger target.”



Biomedical mogul gives $70-million to Nev. Foundation

March 1 – Billionaire biomedicine entrepreneur and philanthropist Alfred Mann has donated $70-million to the Nevada Community Foundation, tripling the charity’s endowment, the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes. The 25-year-old foundation comprises more than 150 funds supporting a variety of causes. Foundation officials would not specify where Mr. Mann directed his gift but said they will work with the 88-year-old Las Vegas resident to “strategize his philanthropic interests.”

Mr. Mann founded a series of aerospace and biomedical firms, some of which have become dominant producers of pacemakers, insulin pumps, and cochlear implants. His biomedical-engineering foundation has supported institutes at the University of Southern California, PurdueUniversity, and TechnionUniversity in Israel.



WFP to receive large wheat donation from Government of Pakistan

February 28, Islamabad - The Government of Pakistan has announced a donation of 75,000 metric tons of wheat to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) at a time when critical funding shortages threatened the provision of emergency food assistance to almost one million displaced people in the country’s north-west. Valued at approximately US$25 million, the contribution places Pakistan as WFP’s second largest donor in the country so far this year. The wheat will be milled, fortified and then provided to families displaced by security operations or only recently able to return to their homes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Combined with much-needed contributions from other donors, it will allow WFP to distribute a full cereal ration to these groups until the end of the year.

WFP’s emergency response to the needs of displaced communities in the north-west aims to assist about 8 million people at a total cost of US$540 million over the next three years and it also seeks to improve economic opportunities and promote social inclusion in FATA, boost community resilience in disaster-prone locations, and prevent and treat moderate acute malnutrition among young children and women.



Leading global humanitarian organization selects cloud to help enhance capacity and response

Microsoft technologies to be implemented as the standard communications platform in Geneva and preferred option for Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies worldwide.

Redmond, Wash., USA . February 25 -  Microsoft Corp. today announced that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has expanded on a global Enterprise Agreement with a new Memorandum of Understanding to offer Microsoft Office 365 and other products as the standard communications and collaboration platform for its National Societies worldwide, providing greater licensing flexibility. The signing has the potential to serve over a million volunteers and staff members in the network.

Through this renewed and expanded partnership with Microsoft, the IFRC is aiming to help these National Societies grow stronger by more strategically using technology advances such as cloud services, while making the best use of the resources and investments made by donors. Already two of the estimated 80 early-qualifying National Societies — in Bangladesh and Namibia — have deployed Office 365 and many more are expected to follow close behind.



African trust fund for food security becomes reality: Equatorial Guinea provides first contribution for "Africa for Africa" anti-hunger pool

February 22, Malabo/Rome - Equatorial Guinea donated $30 million to a new solidarity trust fund that aims to mobilize African financial resources in support of strengthening food security in the region. The goal of the new trust fund is to pool resources from Africa's strongest economies and use them across the continent to support national and regional food security initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The idea of the fund was launched during FAO's April 2012 regional conference held in the Republic of Congo, when the host, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, called for greater solidarity between African nations to fight hunger. Besides Equatorial Guinea, other African countries have expressed their intention to contribute to the fund, like Angola.

The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is intended to complement, not supplant, development assistance from overseas donors. At the onset, it will focus in particular on strengthening the resilience of rural families and communities in the face of recurrent droughts and other crises such as the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, scaling up activities that have already proven successful. Administered by FAO, the fund will support Africa-led, Africa-owned initiatives such as the African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to boost agricultural productivity in the region.



An advocacy organization brings computer skills to disabled in Kazakhstan

February 20 – People living with disabilities in Kazakhstan have an ally in The Namys foundation, an organization dedicated to representing the disabled and advocating for their rights. The group has had recent success, working with the government to develop an unprecedented National Action Plan that addresses issues from employment to building codes to social integration.

Namys was one of 12 civil society organizations (CSOs) awarded an institutional strengthening grant under the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded program. With the money, it was able to hire an experienced social enterprise consultant to develop a business plan and introduce staff to the basics and peculiarities of financial sustainability.

They jointly developed a two-year financial sustainability plan and fee-for-service plan that would transform Namys into a well-run and effective advocacy organization with a stable future.

The foundation began collecting fees for some of its services, and was able to upgrade the equipment used in class and pay for instructors. Staff got a leg up on developing project and volunteer management skills, strategic planning and public relations.



Mali: CARE and local partners are distributing food in Timbuktu region

Bamako (February 18 - Although humanitarian access remains limited in northern Mali, CARE and our local partners are on the ground, distributing much-needed food to both returnees and people who have remained in the conflict-ridden Timbuktu region. Over the past few days, we've have distributed 450 metric tons of food to 25,881 people in the Timbuktu region, and aim to reach more than 47,000 people with essential food items by the end of the month.

Overall, 4.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Mali.

Since mid-January, CARE has distributed 668 metric tons of food to 46,888 people – both internally displaced people and host communities – in the regions of Mopti and Ségou, along with more than 2,320 family kits full of emergency supplies, such as mats, blankets, soap, mosquito nets and kitchen utensils.

Food and access to water, sanitation and hygiene remain the highest priorities according to CARE's recent assessments conducted to ascertain the needs of newly arrived displaced people as well as the local population in Mopti and Ségou. CARE will continue its food distributions, aiming to reach 200,000 people in the regions of Timbuktu, Mopti and Ségou over the next six months. CARE is also constructing and rehabilitating water points and latrines, and is distributing hygiene kits to local and displaced communities in the regions of Mopti and Ségou.



Five Dollars per person: Luxembourg is highest per capita donor to WFP Afghanistan

February 18, Kabul -  With a donation of more than US$660,000, Luxembourg is the first country to contribute to the regular operations of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan in 2013. This donation makes Luxembourg the highest per capita donor to WFP Afghanistan.

Since 2010, Luxembourg has consistently supported WFP’s activities in Afghanistan. This latest contribution brings the total amount donated in the past three years to more than US$2.9 million which equates to approximately to 5 Dollars from each Luxembourger: Luxembourg is WFP’s largest donor per capita globally. Since 2010, contributions from Luxembourg have been used to provide supplementary nutritional products for pregnant women and young children, to buy high-energy biscuits for students, and to provide cash vouchers that can be redeemed for food by vulnerable families. 




Peace and security


From dismay to inspiration: the final day of the Oslo nuclear weapons civil society forum

3 March, Oslo, Norway - Day 2 of the Oslo civil society forum brought with it much important and new information and ended on a wave of inspiration and joy that will surely carry the delegates back to their countries ready to redouble their efforts to eradicate nuclear weapons.

During the day the issues dealt with covered how to go about getting a treaty to ban nuclear weapons and the panellists presented possible precedents and useful examples such as the creation of the International Criminal Court and the treaties to ban cluster weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. In the afternoon attention moved towards how to build a social movement and for this the experience was sought of experts in the use of new communication media: e-mail and social networks. And as the forum started to draw to a close, the energy started to rise in the auditorium as young delegates from Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Sweden and Germany presented their activities.

This journey to nuclear abolition is going to be a hard one and today it might seem impossible, but the great and hopeful thing is that sometimes the impossible happens.  After all let’s not forget that the Berlin Wall fell in the blink of an eye, unpredicted by anyone in the West.



Darfur: UN and partners assist civilians fleeing renewed tribal violence

25 February – The United Nations and its partners in Sudan are providing urgent aid and airlifting wounded civilians from a town in western North Darfur, where 60,000 displaced people have already sought refuge from fighting for control of gold mines.The current humanitarian situation in the El Sireaf locality and in North Darfur follows an outbreak of violence on 5 January between the Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes in the Jebel Amir area of North Darfur, resulting in a mass displacement of more than 100,000 people.UN and partnering aid organizations delivered over 700 metric tones of food and other relief supplies to the area in the last month.

The Mission has been supporting reconciliation initiatives between the two sides and conducting security escorts to facilitate humanitarian access, and has significantly increased the number of daily patrols in North Darfur areas most affected by the violence.(…)



Nauru ratifies cluster bomb ban

21 February - The Republic of Nauru has ratified the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, becoming the 78th State Party to the lifesaving treaty. The instrument of ratification was deposited on 4 February and Nauru will formally become a State Party on 1 August 2013, after the waiting period mandated by the Convention. Nauru attended a Pacific Island Forum workshop on unexploded ordinance last year hosted by Palau, in which other regional states voiced their support for the ban on cluster munitions.



UNESCO partners with Tunisian Ministry of the Interior to improve safety of journalists

14 February - In the context of support for institutional reforms in Tunisia undertaken by the United Nations, UNESCO and the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior began a cooperation programme in January 2013 aimed at training security forces on human rights, freedom of expression and safety of journalists. The programme is the first of its kind in the Arab region.

The first training was held from 28 January to 13 February at the l’Ecole de formation des cadres de la Police de Salambo. This training of trainers included sessions that brought together members of the security forces and journalists, helping to create a space for dialogue between these two groups so that everyone better understands the situation and the role and needs of the other in a democracy.

The programme will additionally include the adoption by the Ministry of the Interior of a code of conduct for members of its security forces to improve media relations and safety of journalists.






Bloomberg Philanthropies to donate $100 Million to polio eradication

Fresh financing expresses confidence in new strategic plan to finish the job

New York, February 28 – In a major new commitment, business publishing magnate and New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a $100 million donation to support polio eradication efforts through Bloomberg Philanthropies. The donation will help fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s six-year plan to eradicate polio. Bloomberg joins key private donors to polio eradication, including the founder of CNN and the UN Foundation Ted Turner, Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote and Indian philanthropist Rajshree Birla.

The number of polio cases plunged to the lowest level ever in 2012 - less than 225 cases - and the number of countries where polio transmission has never been stopped was reduced to three - Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India, long-regarded as the nation facing the greatest challenges to ending polio, was declared polio-free in February 2012. In response, the World Health Assembly declared ending polio a “programmatic emergency” for global public health and the Presidents of Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are overseeing the implementation of emergency action plans in their countries. These plans have led to significant advancements in the efforts to reach hard-to-access children with the polio vaccine.



Sudan: Medical assistance to people affected by clashes in North Darfur

Khartoum/Geneva, 26 February – After dozens of people lost their lives and several others were injured in tribal clashes between 21 and 23 February, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society delivered medical supplies to the hospital in Al Sireaf and evacuated seriously wounded patients from the North Darfur town.

They also provided medical supplies for hospitals in Saraf Omra and Al Junaina, where other people injured in the clashes were taken.

In early January, tribal tensions and clashes in the Jebel Amer area of North Darfur resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of people, who dispersed to five main locations: Kabkabiya, Al Sireaf, Saraf Omra, Garra Al Zawia and Abu Gamra.



Mozambique: MSF teams expand emergency response for flood victims

25 February – Recent floods in Mozambique’s Gaza province have devastated the city of Chokwe, putting the main hospitals and health structures out of action and leaving people in urgent need of medical care. In response, teams from the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are bringing in extra staff and medical supplies, and working to get the health facilities up and running again. Since arriving in Chokwe on 30 January, MSF staff have provided more than 10,000 medical consultations. More than 3,300 of MSF’s medical consultations so far have been for HIV-positive patients in need of antiretroviral medicines or counselling, with 900 for people suffering from malaria.



As Rotary celebrates 108th anniversary, gains against polio continue

By Dan Nixon 

21 February – Rotary’s 108th anniversary on 23 February marks a year of both achievements in the fight to eradicate polio and a stepped-up commitment to finish the job.

Worldwide, 222 polio cases were reported in 2012, a little more than one-third of the 650 cases reported in 2011. India marked its second year without polio on 13 January. Overall, the annual incidence of polio has decreased more than 99 percent since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988. Then polio infected about 350,000 children per year.

Although the wild poliovirus is now endemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, it could spread from there back to other countries. 

Among Rotary’s chief responsibilities in the eradication initiative is advocacy, an increasingly important element of this latter stage of the effort. In addition to contributing more than US$1 billion to the GPEI, Rotary has helped secure over $9 billion from donor governments since the initiative began in 1988. Rotary is boosting its advocacy work in the 200 countries and regions where Rotary clubs exist to encourage every national government to help meet a $700 million shortfall (as of 1 February) in funding the GPEI through 2013. (...)



South Sudan: MSF vaccinates 132,500 against cholera

February 22 – More than 105,000 refugees and 27,500 residents of Maban county, South Sudan, have been vaccinated against cholera. With the cooperation of South Sudan’s Ministry of Health, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched the vaccination campaign as part of a cholera preparedness and prevention plan.

Teams had already set up and pre-stocked cholera treatment facilities in the camps, in case of an outbreak. However, the remoteness of the area and supply difficulties mean that the consequences of a cholera outbreak could be severe. Prevention is crucial alongside preparedness, and a vaccination campaign is just one extra method of prevention.

Around 110,000 refugees who have fled the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Sudan’s Blue Nile state are now gathered in four refugee camps, which are located in an extremely harsh environment. The refugees are entirely dependent on humanitarian organisations for food and medication. With no easy access routes, it was a challenge for MSF to bring in nineteen 200-litre fridges, the generators to keep them running and the 290,000 vials of vaccine. Despite the logistical challenges, the exceptionally vulnerable population and the potentially devastating consequences of an outbreak justify the implementation of a vaccination campaign.

The MSF teams were supported by staff from humanitarian organisations GOAL, Medair, Relief International and Solidarités, as well as the International Organization for Migration and the Ministry of Health. (…)




Energy and safety


Team of experts helps Rotarians design a sustainable project in India

By Arnold R. Grahl 

26 February – A Rotarian-led team of hydrologists, engineers, geologists, and other experts traveled to the Thane district of northwest India in October to help local Rotarians and their international partners design a global grant project to bring clean water and sanitation to more than 1,800 villagers. The team, funded by The Rotary Foundation and a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, is one of the first of its kind. It’s the product of the Project Enhancement Process (PEP) pilot, which is designed to enlist the help of Rotarians with expertise in the water and sanitation area of focus so that clubs and districts can put together larger-scale, sustainable projects. (...)

After deciding to pursue a water, sanitation, and hygiene project in the Akre Gram Panchayat region of India, the Rotary Club of Thane North and its international partner, the Tacoma club,  requested an evaluation team through the PEP Pilot to help them assess and plan their project. The project would benefit about 350 households in nine villages in the SupiRiver watershed, where villagers are trying to eke out a living growing rice. (...) The team’s findings were the basis for recommendations that the Thane North and Tacoma clubs will turn into a global grant application with a budget of about US$333,000. (...)



Energy Department announces $20 million for new tools and technology to strengthen energy sector cybersecurity protections

21 February, Washington, D.C. – As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to strengthen the United States’ cybersecurity defenses, Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the availability of up to $20 million for the development of tools and technologies to enhance the cybersecurity of the nation’s energy delivery control systems for electricity, oil, and gas. As part of this funding, the Department of Energy (DOE) will require that award recipients collaborate with the energy sector to test the developed technologies so that they are best designed to meet the unique requirements of energy delivery systems.



Global Atlas for Solar and Wind launched

14 February - The groundbreaking Global Atlas for Solar and Wind is now available online. The new web-based portal, which serves as a repository for renewable energy resource data from around the world, represents the largest initiative ever undertaken to assess renewable energy potentials on a global scale. Launched during the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) January Assembly, the ambitious project was initiated by the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group and is the result of a two-year collaborative effort with IRENA.

The Atlas provides critical information that can help countries evaluate renewable energy potentials and can function as a catalyst to trigger planning and policy development. It can also help investors assess emerging and new renewable energy markets. The portal features high-quality resource maps from leading technical institutes and simplified models for evaluating the technical potential of renewable energy supplies. It also contains video tutorials and information on best practices for evaluating solar and wind potentials.

The Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group played a critical role in developing the Atlas, with working group countries contributing resources such as satellite maps, validated data sets of national atlases, and the expertise of their national research facilities.



USA - Energy Department offers $15 million for innovations in U.S. solar manufacturing

As part of the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, the Department has announced $15 million in new funding to spur innovation in manufacturing processes for solar energy systems. This investment will help ensure that the energy technologies of the future are made in the United States. Projects selected for the Solar Manufacturing Technology (SolarMat)   funding will aid the development of next-generation technologies that reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of manufacturing processes for photovoltaics and concentrating solar power—which will create jobs and boost American competitiveness in the industry.




Environment and wildlife


Global demand for medicinal plants can boost green jobs growth in Nepal, says UN

28 February – The growing global demand for medicinal and aromatic plants could help drive Nepal’s green economy, particularly in poor communities where many types of such plants are harvested, says a new study released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Government of Nepal.

More than 100 types of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are harvested in Nepal and traded in international markets. They were exported at a value of $9.8 million in 2009, up from $3 million in 2008, according to figures cited by UNEP.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders earlier this month to implement policies that protect the environment, stressing that this will also benefit their economic growth and prosperity.



Countries agree on UN-backed guidelines to curb illegal fishing

28 February – After years of negotiations, member countries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today agreed on a set of voluntary guidelines that target illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The guidelines, developed through a consultative process led by FAO, aim to cut down on IUU fishing by improving the accountability of flag States – those countries which register fishing vessels and authorize them to fly their flags.

The proposed guidelines include recommended approaches to urge, encourage and help countries comply with international obligations regarding the flagging and control of fishing vessels. They also look at ways to deter non-compliance and to assist developing States build capacity.

The guidelines were agreed on after more than five years of consensus building among countries, and will be presented to the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) for endorsement in June 2014.



American Electric Power agrees to retire three coal-fired Power llants in major clean air and climate victory

February 25 - Columbus, OH, USA - Today a coalition of citizen groups, states and U.S. EPA announced a landmark settlement agreement with American Electric Power (AEP) requiring AEP to stop burning coal by 2015 at three power plants in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. AEP also agreed to replace a portion of these coal plants with new wind and solar investments in Indiana and Michigan, bringing more clean energy on line to meet the region’s electricity needs.

A total of 2,011 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired power will retire as part of the settlement, removing almost 12 million tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution and nearly 84,000 tons of sulfur dioxide pollution that the three coal-fired power plants spew into the air each year.

Today’s settlement comes in a lawsuit originally filed in a federal court in Ohio in 1999, and is a modification to a prior 2007 settlement.



March 21 - International Day of Forests and the Tree

In December last year the UN General Assembly proclaimed this new date on the UN calendar. It affirms the degree to which human beings are struggling to develop a new and more responsible relationship with the natural world.

The Day will celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.




Religion and spirituality


March 1 - World Day of Prayer

2013 theme: I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me.

World Day of Prayer is a global Christian ecumenical movement of 'Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action'. This is a movement initiated and carried out by women in over 170 countries. Throughout the entire day, we collectively pray all over the world, beginning with the first sunrise and ending at the last sunset. Our prayers follow the sun's path around the globe.

Every year a fresh service is prepared by women from a different country. In 2013 the Service has been prepared by women of France.



Religious communities must embrace shared values to foster peace – UN officials

New York, February14 - Senior United Nations officials today stressed the importance of religious communities joining forces to foster peace and development and to combat extremism.

“All of the world’s great religions share the values of peace, human dignity and respect for others,” <"http://www.un.org/sg/dsg/statements/index.asp?nid=387">said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, at a special event at UN Headquarters to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week. “We welcome opportunities to join forces with people of faith who are working for peace, development, human rights and the rule of law.”

While many conflicts in the world are marked by religious disputes, Mr. Eliasson underlined that inter-faith dialogue can help resolve conflicts. “With dialogue, we can combat hate. With inter-faith harmony, we can build bridges to a better future.”

The President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, said the UN can greatly benefit from engaging with religious leaders around the world who are working to achieve peace, and pointed out that many UN agencies have strengthened their partnerships with faith-based groups.




Culture and education


UNA-USA, Ron Clark Academy hosts hundreds of Atlanta area students for Model United Nations Conference

Middle school students debate the most pressing issues facing the UN

Atlanta March 2 – Hundreds of Atlanta area middle school students are attending the second annual United Nations Association of the USA’s Global Classrooms® Ron Clark Academy Model UN Conference today at the GeorgiaTechResearchInstituteConferenceCenter. In Model UN, students role-play as representatives from countries, interest groups, and nongovernmental organizations in simulations of UN bodies.  Global Classrooms Model UN has amazed schools around the globe with its ability to cultivate global literacy, life skills, and attitudes necessary for active citizenship, showing that students deeply care about the world outside their local community.

Students will discuss issues that impact the international community, such as access to medication, maritime safety, the question of Palestine, and the rights of indigenous peoples. More information on the Ron Clark Academy Conference can be found at

http://www.unausa.org/gcatlanta and http://rcacademy.typepad.com/rcamun


Broadband access can help bridge educational divides, empower students – UN report

New York, February 25 - Broadband connectivity has the potential to transform education by giving teachers and students access to learning resources and technologies that will allow them to improve their skills in the context of a globalized economy, according to a United Nations report released today. The report,  Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda, argues that access to high-speed technologies over fixed and mobile platforms can help students acquire the digital skills required to participate in the global economy and contribute to ensure their employability once they finish their studies.

The report, released by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development during the World Summit on the Information Society +10 inParis, emphasizes the importance of broadband access as a way to accelerate the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pertaining education, which aims to achieve universal primary education for boys and girls by the year 2015.

Set up by the ITU and UNESCO in 2010, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development aims to boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and believes that expanding broadband access in every country is key to accelerating progress towards the achieving all MDGs.



Liberian youth build better futures for themselves and their communities

21 February - More than 100 Liberian youth gathered at a four-day summit in Monrovia hosted by USAID’s Advancing Youth Project. They came to share their successes as youth club leaders who are striving to improve their lives and their communities through participation in literacy, numeracy, and livelihood skills training programs.

Located on the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa, Liberia is striving to rebuild after 14 years of civil war, which began in the late 1980s and endured into the early 2000s.

The USAID/Liberia Advancing Youth Project is being implemented by EDC in collaboration with YMCA of Liberia and Mercy Corps. The program trains teachers and targets youth and young adult learners ages 13 to 35, offering day and evening classes in the Alternative Basic Education curriculum that includes literacy, numeracy, life skills, and work readiness. The program also offers learners the opportunity to gain expertise to improve their livelihoods areas, such as small-scale agriculture and micro-enterprise training. The Advancing Youth Project works closely with the Liberian Ministry of Education and other government ministries, including Agriculture, Health, and Youth and Sports, as well as with nongovernmental organizations and private companies.

More than 9,000 learners from 5 of Liberia’s 15 counties are enrolled in Advancing Youth Project courses and programs. The Project aims to reach more than 16,000 Liberian youth by 2016.



Save the Children, UNICEF to receive $12 million from IKEA Soft Toy for education campaign.

8 February - -The IKEA Foundation along with IKEA customers and co-workers have partnered together on a $12 million donation to Save the Children and UNICEF for global education projects. The $12 million donation will support 18 education projects carried out by UNICEF and Save the Children in 17 countries. UNICEF's share will fund the Schools for Africa initiative in eight countries and the Schools in Asia initiative in China. Save the Children's equal share will support education for children in the most marginalized groups (minorities and children with disabilities) in Asia and Eastern Europe.

The donations help UNICEF and Save the Children train teachers in child-friendly teaching methods, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials, and increase school attendance rates. The IKEA Foundation aims to improve the opportunities for children and youth by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change, and enable them to take charge of their own future.



Teachers step up for better education

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, teacher training shows promising results

February 7 – The challenges faced by the DRC’s teachers are daunting. Located in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, the country struggles to provide basic services to its 71 million people. Conflict between government-loyal forces and other armed groups has destabilized eastern DRC, driving millions from their homes and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Armed militants remain active in the region, threatening violence and abduction.

Despite this adversity, teachers are turning out by the thousands for training to improve their methods of instruction. In 2012, more than 31,000 DRC teachers took part in a nine-day professional development institute in mathematics, and in 2011, a French language institute attracted 27,000 participants.

These trainings are part of the USAID-funded Package for Improving Education Quality (PIEQ) program, which aims to improve French and math learning in the DRC. Directed by EDC in collaboration with the country’s National Ministry of Education, PIEQ is working with teachers from 3,000 target schools in Bandundu, Equateur, and Orientale provinces to increase student learning by improving teaching and the school environment. Tests given to teachers before and after they attended the training institutes show substantial gains, with their skills improving on average by 28 percent.



March 21 - World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day, sponsored by UNESCO, aims to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Moreover, this Day is meant to support poetry, return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, promote teaching poetry, restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theater, dance, music, painting and so on, support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art.



World Social Forum - Tunis, Tunisia, March 26 - 30

The World Social Forum is a bi-annual or sometimes annual gathering of social movements and alternative civil society organizations from around the world. It features open ended discussions and meetings on a variety of themes, including: the building of new universalisms; a human society, based on the principles and values of dignity, diversity, justice, equality between all human beings; and the build up of alternatives to capitalism and neoliberal globalization, regulated upon the principles of cooperation, fiscal justice and international wealth redistribution.

World Goodwill's Cycle of Conferences Initiative offers information and a visualization on the January World Economic Forum in Davos and The World Social Forum.



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Next issue: 12 April 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), Chiara Bartoletti, Elisa Minelli, Elisabetta Pacifici, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster and media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito



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, not-for-profit 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 section A - International Organizations, page 12, the Report says:

”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.”

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