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Good News Agency

Monthly – year 14th, number 218 – 15 November 2013


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


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, 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


Colombia: UN chief congratulates negotiating parties on peace agreement

November 7 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Colombia following an announcement that negotiating parties in Havana, Cuba, reached an agreement on the issue of political participation in the South American country. The Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released a joint statement announcing an agreement covering the latter’s participation in national politics if talks in Havana reach a final deal to end their decades-old armed conflict, according to media reports. The agreement also calls for the FARC to disarm and form a political movement.



Creative Europe programme: easier access to funding for culture and creative industries

November 6 - Artists and cultural professionals facing financial difficulties in today's harsh economic climate will be able to get funding more easily thanks to a new loan-guarantee facility set up as part of the Creative Europe programme agreed by Parliament and Council and endorsed on Tuesday by the culture committee. With a budget of over €1.4 billion, the programme will promote the mobility of artists and the distribution of European audiovisual works. It will bring together and reorganise the existing Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus programmes and will run from 2014 to 2020.



Chad: Soldiers trained in international humanitarian law before deployment to Mali

N’Djamena, October 31 – Over 1,000 Chadian soldiers have received training in international humanitarian law in preparation for their peacekeeping operations in Mali. The course was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in conjunction with the Chadian army. International humanitarian law is a set of rules that, for humanitarian reasons, seek to limit the effects of armed conflicts by restricting the means and methods of warfare and by protecting people who are not, or no longer, taking part in hostilities. .

During the five-day course, held at the Loumia training centre from 21 to 25 October, officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers learnt the basics of international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement that govern armed forces in peacekeeping operations. Some of the participants will be joining the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); others will be posted to the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA). The training course was made possible by successful cooperation between the ICRC, the Ministry of Defence and the Chadian army.




Human rights


Colombia ICT initiative connects ethnic minorities, builds pride

USAID-funded program increases positive messaging about Afro-Colombian and Indigenous groups

October 28 – Communications connect families, friends, communities and the world. A recent interethnic exchange in Colombia brought together various indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups to share communications best practices, foster cultural identity and deepen ethnic pride.

The strategic communications exchange in Colombia’s Cauca and Chocó departments was an initiative of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC), one of the most influential indigenous organizations in Latin America. It was supported by the USAID Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program, which is implemented by ACDI/VOCA.

CRIC leads a communications network known as Red AMCIC that works to strengthen the social fabric of ethnic minority communities through high-impact communications.

Indigenous and Afro-Colombian citizens are often poor, marginalized and beset with social problems. Many lack access to resources to improve their lot.



Syrian refugee women battle boredom and bad memories by making carpets

October 24 - A few women, no more than 40 in southern Turkey's Adiyaman refugee camp, lead a different life; a life first of learning, then of work. A large tent in the centre of the camp of 10,000 refugees has become a carpet-making workshop. The project was set up by the camp management with help and money from the local municipality, which supplied looms and other equipment. Under the guidance of a Turkish teacher, the women learn the techniques of traditional carpet-making and then, within weeks, start making their own.



ECPAT International awarded Hilton Humanitarian Prize

New York, October 24 – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded ECPAT, the leading global network of organizations dedicated to stopping the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), the 2013 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million, the world’s largest humanitarian prize, at a dinner on October 23, 2013 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

This marks the 18th year the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has presented the Hilton Prize to an organization that is significantly alleviating human suffering. The international Prize jury selected ECPAT, one of approximately 200 nominees received this year, as the recipient in an effort to put a spotlight on the devastating injustices of CSEC.

With the International Labour Organization estimating that up to 1.8 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry or pornography worldwide generating a $12 billion global market, ECPAT was recognized for its work in combating the evolving ways in which children are sexually exploited. Impacting the growth of this criminal industry is the ever-expanding use of new technologies, the increase of international tourism and the impact of poverty and natural disasters on children’s vulnerabilities.




Economy and development


Russia announces US$6 million for food security in developing countries

November 5, Rome– Vladimir Kuznetsov, Acting Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, announced his country’s plan to contribute US$6 million to IFAD’s 9° replenishment, after the Governing Council of IFAD approves its membership in February 2014.

Russia’s application for membership of IFAD is testimony to a strengthened partnership between the country and IFAD in the international arena, particularly around G20 and G8 efforts to promote food security and nutrition. IFAD has been an active participant in some major outcomes of the G20, notably the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) set up by the Group of 20 to avoid a repeat of the 2007-08 food-price crisis. IFAD has been a strong contributor to the food security and agriculture agendas of the G20 in the past three years. The Fund welcomed the choice of the Russian presidency of the G20 to focus its agenda for food security on comprehensive rural development and risk management – an area where the collaboration between IFAD and the G20 has led to the forthcoming establishment of the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management at IFAD.



Conservation agriculture contributes to Zimbabwe economic recovery

November - The economy of Zimbabwe – once considered the breadbasket of southern Africa – has begun to turn around after a decade-long recession that saw a sharp drop in agricultural production, falling incomes and increasing food shortages. With some 70 percent of people relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, the strength of this sector is key to economic recovery.

FAO has worked with the government to increase farmers’ uptake of conservation agriculture – a no-till system that increases yields while protecting fields from erosion, improving soil quality and mitigating the effects of drought. In its initial stages, conservation agriculture is more labour-intensive than conventional methods, so FAO has initiated a programme of training and demonstrations, and introduced laboursaving mechanical planters to win over farmers. As a result, Zimbabwe has seen “spontaneous adoption”, meaning farmers see gains on their neighbours’ farms and make the decision to adopt conservation agriculture. Today more than 300 000 Zimbabwean farmers are practising this method and have nearly tripled their production.



Germany helps WFP strengthen food security through Vouchers in Sudan

October 28, Khartoum -  The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a generous contribution of €1 million (US$2.3 million) from Germany towards its operations which plans to provide assistance to more than 700,000 people in Darfur and the eastern and central regions through vouchers during 2013.

WFP launched its voucher programme in Sudan in 2009, with the aim of supporting families most in need of food assistance as well as boosting the local economy and markets. The vouchers allow families to redeem more than 10 food items at participating local stores.  These items include locally preferred food items such millet and groundnut oil that cannot be provided in WFP’s traditional food basket. WFP is planning to expand its voucher programme to various locations in the Darfur states and in central and eastern Sudan in 2014.  Sudan remains one of WFP’s largest and most complex emergencies, with the provision of food assistance to more than 3.9 million people affected by conflict, displacement and chronic under-nourishment in Darfur, in the east and in the border areas to the south.



United Kingdom contributes to FAO’s work in Syria and Lebanon

October 21, Rome – The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is donating £10 million to FAO humanitarian projects in Syria and Lebanon.

Part of UK’s contribution will go towards boosting winter wheat and barley production in Syria, where more than 4 million people are food insecure. The remainder of UK’s contribution will go towards FAO’s animal vaccination support programmes in areas bordering Syria: many refugees have arrived with unvaccinated sheep, goats and dairy cattle, and the risk of disease outbreak and infection as a result of the cross-border movement of animals is high.

Livestock are one of the mainstays of the rural economy in Lebanon, and the uncontrolled spread of disease could cripple the country’s agricultural sector. FAO will work with Lebanon’s Ministry of Agriculture to scale up its existing vaccination programme to protect 58 000 cattle, 277 000 sheep and 424 000 goats. The project will also provide 2300 of the most vulnerable farmers with animal feed in response to high feed prices and strong competition for pasture.






China contributes US$2 million to WFP’s response inside Syria

November 6, Damascus - The Government of the People’s Republic of China has made a generous contribution of US$2 million towards the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) emergency food assistance programme that is currently supporting four million conflict- affected people inside Syria. This contribution will enable WFP to purchase 2,000 tons of bulgur wheat, vegetable oil and rice, which will be included in WFP food rations that will be delivered to 1.2 million internally displaced Syrians, fulfilling their food needs for a period of one month.  

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the designated coordinator of humanitarian assistance in Syria. WFP distributes life-saving food assistance to affected communities in all 14 Syrian governorates through SARC’s nationwide network of branches and volunteers.

The Syria response is WFP’s largest and most complex emergency worldwide. WFP needs to raise US$30 million each week to meet the food needs of people affected by the Syrian conflict.



Emergency supplies reach thousands of families hit by Bohol earthquake

By Nichola Jones, IFRC

November 5 – Vital supplies from the  Philippine Red Cross have reached more than 4,000 families left homeless and struggling to cope in the aftermath of the earthquake which rocked BoholIsland in central Philippines three weeks ago. A convoy of trucks rumbled into some of the worst affected towns and villages as a programme of aid distribution began this week and an international appeal to help those hardest hit gathers pace.

The latest distributions began in Buenavista, Tubigon and Loon in Bohol’s North West on Sunday (November 3) and followed the arrival of a fresh delivery of supplies from Manila. They will continue with the help of staff and volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) over the coming days. (…)

A 5.4 million Swiss Francs (USD 5.9 million, 4.4 million Euros) appeal was launched by the IFRC last week to help the Philippine Red Cross increase its emergency humanitarian operation to reach 50,000 people.



Japan’s contributions help WFP provide emergency food assistance to Syrians in need

October 28, Damascus - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a fresh contribution package totalling US$4.9 million from the Government of Japan towards its emergency food assistance programmes supporting more than 800,000 conflict-affected Syrians, including internally displaced persons and refugees. With these substantial funds from Japan, WFP has been able to provide life-saving food assistance to over half a million Syrians who have been displaced across all 14 governorates of Syria as well as almost 300,000 refugees seeking shelter in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.To date, Japan has contributed over US$15.2 million to WFP’s programme assisting Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries, mainly through food vouchers.  Almost US$2.4 million has been allocated to purchase food rations that are distributed every month to displaced persons inside Syria.

WFP needs to raise US$30 million each week to meet the food needs of people affected by the Syrian conflict. This would not be possible without the commitment and support of valuable donors such as  the Government of Japan



New soccer balls bring joy to Palestinian youngsters in Lebanon camps

October 24 – Thanks to a generous donation by International Relief & Development (IRD) and One World Futbol Project, Palestinian children in the refugee camps now have the opportunity to enjoy some fun-filled moments on the soccer field. Through its in-kind program, ANERA has distributed 8,380 “virtually indestructible” soccer balls to children to preschools, schools, remedial centers, vocational training centers and sports clubs across Lebanon. More than 1,000 were delivered to Beddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

The new balls will keep bouncing back, even under extreme conditions. The unique design and specialized foam material are a perfect match for children playing in the camp’s uneven, rock-filled streets and rubbish-strewn lots.



Russia contributes wheat flour worth US$ 1 million for refugees in Kenya

October 23 -The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of wheat flour from the Russian Federation worth US$ 1 million to support refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya.

WFP will distribute the wheat flour to refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps as part of a staple food basket that consists of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt.

“This contribution comes at a particularly critical time when our refugee programme is facing funding difficulties,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP’s Country Director for Kenya. “Russia’s generosity will help WFP to continue providing vital assistance to the refugees, who have no other means of support.” Kenya hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world. WFP has been providing food assistance to thousands of refugees from across the region since the camps in Dadaab and Kakuma were established more than 20 years ago.




Peace and security


World Science Day for peace & development - November 10:

This Annual UNESCO Day seeks to renew the national as well as the international commitment to science for peace and development and to stress the responsible use of science for the benefit of society. The Day is part of an International Week of Science and Peace

www.un.org/en/events/scienceday/ - www.unesco.org/


Consortium of concerned physicians, scientists and former nuclear industry technicians issue ‘Santa Barbara Protocol’ on the continuing dangers posed by Fukushima disaster

Proclamation document and public awareness campaign borne out of a public meeting hosted by the United Nations Association-USA held in Santa Barbara, California in October 24, 2013

November 6 – In an effort to raise public awareness about the ongoing release of unknown amounts of radioactivity and the resultant global threat to public health and the environment caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan on March 11, 2011, a consortium of concerned citizens today issued the ‘Santa Barbara Protocol’ under the auspices of the United Nations Association, Santa Barbara/Tri-County Chapter.

Developed to serve as a general call to action for the international community and specifically to demand action and transparency from government entities responsible for mitigating the effects of this grave threat to humanity, ‘The Santa Barbara Protocol’ is comprised of three primary stipulations:

1. We insist that any and all actions necessary should be taken immediately by authorities to halt the contamination of the water and air as a result of the leakage of radioactive material at Fukushima; 2. We implore Japanese government officials and other involved parties from the international community to secure the nuclear plant at Fukushima so that the fragile, unstable radioactive nuclear material will not progress to a nuclear event that threatens our existence; and,

3. We demand that governments, international bodies and industry initiate an immediate moratorium on all construction of nuclear plants or weapons until such time as there is more diligent consideration of the safety of all nuclear materials.


Iran and UN atomic energy agency agree to strengthen nuclear cooperation

November 11 - The United Nations atomic watchdog and Iran today signed a joint statement in Tehran in which they agree to strengthen their cooperation and dialogue to ensure the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear programme. Iran’s cooperation will include providing the IAEA with timely information about its nuclear facilities and in regard to the implementation of transparency measures. For its part, the IAEA agreed to continue to take into account Iran’s security concerns, including through the use of managed access and the protection of confidential information.



Disarmament has been in the news this month

November 1 - The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this year to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, calling attention to the important initiative of the United Nations to locate and destroy the chemical weapons that have already been used during the civil war in Syria. The UN initiative was born of an agreement between the United States and Russia which avoided, at least for the time being, a major escalation of that war.

Other international agencies have renewed the call for the signing and ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1992, but has yet to be fully implemented by many major countries. Of special importance in the renewed campaign is the involvment of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which is composed of parliamentarians from around the world. More than 40 Speakers of Parliament took part in their recent general assembly meeting which put a great emphasis on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. (Source: Bulletin of World Report on the Culture of Peace, November 1, 2013.)



UAE supports demining operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan

October 30 - KandaharProvince, one of the most rugged, rural areas of Afghanistan, is also one of the country’s most mine-contaminated areas. UNMAS estimates that nearly 26,000 inhabitants of KandaharProvince live within 500 meters of a minefield. In 2011, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) allocated US$25.8 million to assist Afghanistan’s development by supporting demining operations in Kandahar. The two-year Emirates Mine Clearance Project Afghanistan (EMCPA) followed a community-based demining (CBD) approach and resulted in the clearance of 45% of the hazardous areas in Kandahar. The project also generated employment for over 1,000 people in Kandahar and resulted in the release of land to local communities for agriculture and other income-generating activities. Land was also released for the construction of essential infrastructure, including much-needed houses for returning refugees.

The UAE has made a remarkable contribution to ensuring that Afghanistan meets its international obligations under the Ottawa Treaty and can declare itself mine-free by 2023.



NATO and Ukraine navy together in the fight against piracy

The Chairman of NATO's Military Committee, General Knud Bartels, travelled to the Gulf of Aden on 28-30 October 2013 to visit the Ukrainian Navy frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy deployed there as part of Operation Ocean Shield, NATO's counter piracy mission. The Ukrainian frigate joined Operation Ocean Shield on 10 October 2013, marking the first time a partner nation has contributed to the Alliance's counter-piracy effort.  The Ukrainian ship and its crew were supported by Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in the United Kingdom and individual Allies in preparation for the mission.

Since August 2009, NATO warships and aircraft have been patrolling the waters off the Horn of Africa as part of the international efforts to counter maritime piracy.  Ocean Shield also includes the HDMS Esbern Snare of the Royal Danish Navy and the US Navy Frigate USS De Wert.  All four ships are operating together off the Horn of Africa, deterring acts of piracy.



Seeds for Peace - Growing food, building relationships

Taking skills home to Northern Nigeria

Seeds for Peace was the first day convened last Sunday, 28 October 2013, for eager Christian and Muslim farmers in northern Nigeria. Visionary Maijama'a Usman Mohammed Inuwa asked the women and men -- sometimes feared, mistrusted adversaries -- to bring their best, native, open pollinated seeds to exchange with one another.

Usman's Sunday, one-day Seeds For Peace seminar on (1) Biointensive Agriculture and (2) RelationshipBuilding brought together eager Muslim and Christian farmers to " listen to 6 stories of one another and exchange open pollinated seeds." They all brought seeds to share, some of which others had never seen in their lifetimes. There was an outpouring of generosity and excitement among the sometimes-alienated Christian and Muslim farmers who were thrilled to share the day to do what had never before been done there. Participants said: "This is the kind of agriculture we want. When are you coming to our village to teach us?" Usman assured them he'd go to them to teach all he had learned in Kenya. Usman believed it was "the beginning of our Biointensive Agriculture program in Nigeria."



Israeli, Palestinian TV to simultaneously air film about conflict

By Felice Friedson, Diana Atallah / The Media L

October 3 - United by the small screen, Israelis and Palestinians will transcend their divisions this week when “Under the Same Sun,” a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is broadcast simultaneously on Israel’s Channel 2 and the Palestinian Ma`an television stations.

The film, which was produced by an Israeli and directed by a Palestinian, was shot in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem and stars actors from both Israel and the PalestinianTerritories. (...) Set in the near future, it focuses on how two business leaders cope with the unique political and personal challenges posed by operating in societies where there is a strong stigma against working with the “other side.” (...) Search for Common Ground’s founder and president, John Marks, hired the Palestinian director and Israeli producer in 2011 after an extensive month of searching for the right team. He hopes that Israelis and Palestinians will realize that most people on both sides want to bring an end to the conflict. (...) http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Israeli-Palestinian-TV-to-simultaneously-air-film-about-conflict-327845


13th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty - December 2-5

The Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (13MSP) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2 to 5 December 2013, followed by a one day preparatory meeting of the Third Review Conference on 6 December 2013.

At these meetings, States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty will give progress updates and share plans on implementing the treaty obligations and States not party will give updates on progress made in joining the treaty, as well as discuss aims and preparations for Third Review Conference that will take place in 2014.






Helping to plug the medicine gap in Syria

By Vivian Tou’meh, Syrian Arab Red Crescent

November 1 – Paying for medicines and medical treatment has become one of the most difficult issues that Syrians face since the crisis began. The local market has been severely affected and many medicines have become prohibitively expensive as most of the pharmaceutical factories have been either destroyed or shut down.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is trying to ease the situation, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Small pharmacies have been added to many of the shelters through the Red Crescent’s branches and sub-branches in order to assist people directly.Inside the warehouse at the Red Crescent’s Rural Damascus branch centre pharmacy, volunteers are unpacking the 150 parcels of different medicines from the IFRC. The medicines are used by the Rural Damascus polyclinic, health point, mobile health units and health teams. (…)



Guinea - A Rotary team boards the Africa Mercy, a 500-foot floating hospital, to provide a stream of care and compassion to ports of call

By Kate Nolan

28 October - A team of health professionals is touring Donka hospital in Conakry, Guinea (...) This Rotary Foundation vocational training team is the first to serve under Rotary’s partnership with the nonprofit Mercy Ships. Rotary District 7690 inNorth Carolina, USA, sponsored the team with a packaged grant, part of the new Rotary grant model that launched worldwide 1 July. The team’s five members will train Guinean health professionals at the two national hospitals.

The Africa Mercy, a 500-foot oceangoing hospital ship, is docked in Conakry for a 10-month medical mission. The Mercy Ships staff and visiting experts, such as this team, will tackle a range of tasks, including setting up medical and dental clinics, conducting health screenings, performing surgeries on board, and conducting health care outreach throughout the country. The ship also will serve as a steel-hulled security blanket. (...)



Millions of children in Syria and region to be vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps and rubella

October 25, Amman, Geneva - As Syria awaits confirmation of suspected polio cases in the east of the country, UNICEF has joined the World Health Organisation and other partners in mounting a large-scale immunisation effort aimed at protecting as many children as possible both in the country and across the region against polio, as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Inside Syria, a campaign led by the Ministry of Health began on October 24 targeting 2.4 million children with vaccines against polio, measles, mumps and rubella.

UNICEF is mobilising a huge supply operation to make sure that vaccines are in place across the region, and reaching out to partners across all sectors to help raise community awareness of the importance of vaccinating children. Multiple, supplemental immunisation campaigns against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases will take place inside Syria and across the region through the end of the year.



On World Polio Day, Rotary spotlights the fight to end the disease

By Dan Nixon – Rotary News

October 25 – Rotary helped put polio eradication on center stage on the day best known for rallying support to finish the job – World Polio Day, 24 October. A special Livestream presentation  –  World Polio Day: Making History – showcased the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Co-hosted by Rotary and the NorthwesternUniversityCenter for Global Health, the 60-minute program took place before a live audience at the John Hughes Auditorium on Northwestern’s Chicago campus and streamed online to viewers worldwide.

RI President Ron Burton kicked off the event by noting that Rotary began immunizing millions of children against polio in the 1970s, first in the Philippines and then in other high-risk countries.

“Polio rates in those countries plummeted,” Burton said. “As a result, in 1988, Rotary, the World Health Organization [WHO], UNICEF, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came together to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.  More recently, the initiative has benefited from the tremendous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation . . . . It is so very important to finish the job.” Dr. Robert Murphy, director of Northwestern’s Center for Global Health, emphasized that polio eradication “is completely doable. . . . [It] will result in preventing billions of cases of paralysis and death, saving billions of dollars, assuring that no parent in the world will have to worry about this terrible disease ever again.” (...)



Liberian mother care groups result in healthier mothers and babies

LAUNCH program helps improve food security and nutrition in Liberia

October 7 – Children play and munch on fruit as the leaders of mother care groups, sitting in a circle of wooden benches in the small rural village of Sahoyea in Liberia, meet to provide feedback from their participants.

“I want to know how to take care of my baby,” says one mother to the group. Many mothers in the group nod in agreement. They are here to learn exactly that, and are proud to be part of these mother care groups, which give practical advice to pregnant and new mothers. Topics discussed by the groups include caring for small children, maternal nutrition and health, the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, hygiene, and vaccinations. Participants are given food rations for children under two, but many women whose children have graduated from receiving rations still continue to attend the groups—a testament to how much the women value the groups.

Mother care groups are part of the larger Liberian Agricultural Upgrading, Nutrition and Child Health (LAUNCH) project, funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA. http://www.acdivoca.org/site/ID/news-Liberian-Mother-Care-Groups-Result-in-Healthier-Mothers-and-Babies



Energy and safety


USA - Energy Department invests to drive down costs of carbon capture, support reductions in greenhouse gas pollution

November 7, Washington - As part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan, today the Energy Department announced the selection of 18 projects across the country to research innovative, second-generation technologies that will help improve the efficiency and drive down costs of carbon capture processes for new and existing coal-fired power plants.

To date, the Obama Administration has invested $6 billion in clean coal technologies to ensure the U.S. continues to have access to safe, sustainable and affordable energy from our abundant domestic fossil resources. Developing, demonstrating and deploying these technologies is a critical part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy. With nearly $84 million in investments from the Energy Department – and additional cost-share from industry, universities, and other research institutions – the projects will support the development of advanced technologies that will help enable efficient, cost-effective application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes for new and existing coal-fired power plants.



IKEA to nearly double current size of Maryland's largest rooftop array, on distribution center in Perriville, making it one of the largest such installations in U.S.

November 7, Conshohocken, Pa., USA - IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings retailer, today announced plans to nearly double the solar array completed in April atop its Perryville, Maryland distribution center, the state’s largest such solar energy system. Installation of the new panels will begin this month with completion expected after the New Year.

The 467,618-square-foot solar addition will consist of a 2.2-MW system, built with 7,337 modules, and will produce 2,695,355 kWh of electricity annually for the facility. Including the existing system, this distribution center’s total 4.9-MW solar installation of 25,913 panels soon will generate 6,092,533 kWh of clean electricity yearly, the equivalent of reducing 4,299 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), eliminating the emissions of 896 cars or powering 591 homes (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html).

For the development, design and installation of the Perryville distribution center’s current and expanded solar power system, IKEA contracted with Inovateus Solar LLC, an industry-leading solar power distributor and integrator specializing in large-scale solar installations.



L'Oréal USA named one of top US companies utilizing solar power

October 24, New York - L’Oreal USA was awarded the “2013 Solar Champion” award last night by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) at the Power International conference and tradeshow in Chicago. SEIA honors individuals, agencies and organizations whose innovation, leadership and determination contribute to achieving the solar industry’s goal of building 10 GWs of solar capacity annually in the U.S. According to “Solar Means Business,” a yearly report developed by SEIA and Vote Solar, a grassroots organization working to make solar a mainstream energy resource, L’Oréal USA was one of twenty leading US companies utilizing solar power in its facilities. L’Oréal USA was recognized for the total solar capacity and number of installations the company has at its facilities across the country. L’Oréal USA has installed more than 9.7 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic systems (2,500,000 solar cells) in its US facilities over the past 18 months.



USA - Energy department announces $60 million to drive affordable, efficient solar power

October 22, Washington – Building on President Obama’s broad-based plan to cut carbon pollution and support clean energy innovation across the country, Energy Secretary Moniz announced today about $60 million to support innovative solar energy research and development. As part of the Department’s SunShot Initiative, these awards will help lower the cost of solar electricity, advance seamless grid integration and support a growing U.S. solar workforce.

“The tremendous growth in the U.S. solar industry over the past few years is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that protects our air and water and provides affordable clean energy to more and more Americans,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Over the last three years, the cost of a solar energy system has dropped by more than 70 percent – helping to give more and more American families and businesses access to affordable, clean energy.




Environment and wildlife


USA - Presidential order creates task force to deal with climate impacts and costs

November 1, Washington, D.C. - Today, through an executive order, President Obama created a task force to aid state and local governments in preparing for climate change and building resiliency. The task force includes the governors of California, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, Vermont, Illinois, and the mayors of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston. The executive order also directs federal agencies to do more to plan for climate change.



Companies disclose ecological footprint of 82 million tonnes of pulp and paper

October 30, Gland, Switzerland - WWF recognizes the leadership in transparency of 25 of the world’s most important pulp and paper manufacturers, as demonstrated by their participation in the WWF Environmental Paper Company Index 2013. Companies voluntarily disclosed the ecological footprint of 40 product categories, more than doubling those evaluated in the 2011 index. WWF's Environmental Paper Company Index covers the major impacts of the paper industry on the environment for the production of newspaper grades, graphic paper, packaging, tissue, or pulp. The companies scored against 3 aspects; impacts on forest ecosystems from fibre sourcing, emissions from manufacturing processes such as water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and reporting and Environmental Management System.



Asian countries make historic pledge to save the ‘ghost of the mountain’

October 23, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - Representatives from Kyrgyzstan and 11 other Central and South Asian countries made a historic pledge today to protect and conserve snow leopards and their habitat in the high-mountain landscapes of Asia. Joined by conservation experts from around the world and the international donor community, the 12 nations endorsed the Bishkek Declaration on Snow Leopard Conservation and the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program. The declaration marks the first time that governments and non-governmental organizations have teamed up to conserve snow leopards and their habitat. The summit and work of the government of the Kyrgyzstan, the World Bank, range states and the other partners is bringing the plight of the snow leopard to the attention of the world. Saving snow leopards and managing the high-mountain landscapes of Asia also helps maintain water and food security for upland and downstream communities alike.



Denmark recognized for inspiring leadership on climate and energy policies

October 21, Copenhagen, Denmark – Global conservation organization WWF has applauded Denmark’s ambitious climate achievements and its commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy across the entire economy by 2050.

Denmark will receive a Gift to the Earth, WWF’s most prestigious award for governments, companies and other organizations, presented by Jim Leape, WWF International Director General, to the Prime Minister of Denmark, Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt on 21 October.

“Denmark shows that it is possible to develop a sustainable society and at the same time secure economic growth and welfare. It is the lighthouse we need to show that change is possible. Hopefully other countries will look toward Denmark for inspiration to rise to the urgent challenge of protecting the Earth’s climate. As a global conservation organization, WWF recognizes Danish leadership on this important matter,” says Jim Leape, WWF International Director General.

The world must develop an equitable low carbon economy by 2050, which is achievable, as outlined in WWF’s The Energy Report, 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. But despite compelling scientific evidence of the need for this to happen, the world is not reacting quickly enough. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just re-confirmed that the Earth is warming at an alarming rate.




Religion and spirituality


Representatives of 3 religions sign on a Jordan River Covenant:  'Rehabilitate the Jordan River'

November 12, Dead Sea, Jordan - During a region wide conference held by EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) on the Northern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan yesterday, senior clerics and representatives from the 3 monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - gathered together to learn about the current state of the Lower Jordan River and to endorse the "Covenant for the Jordan River" calling on regional governments to work together towards its rehabilitation.

The Lower Jordan River, holy to the three religions, once boasted a lush wetland ecosystem that was the biological heart of the Valley.  Sadly, the once "deep and wide" river has been highly demised over the past 50 years. According to a recent economic report published by FoEME, the touristic potential of the Lower Jordan, if rehabilitated, could bring significant increased religious tourism to the region.  Moreover, religious communities and leaders can play critical roles calling upon regional decision makers to act to ensure that their holy sites are cared for and respected.

By engaging Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in Jordan, Palestine and Israel as well as internationally, through its widespread faith based advocacy campaign based advocacy campaign, FoEME aims to leverage support from faith based communities toward the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.




Culture and education


Latin America: calling for free and universal early childhood education

November 5 – Education International’s Latin American Regional Office has taken steps to consolidate trade union work in early childhood education. A meeting of member organisations was convened to analyse, plan and unify trade union action in this field in Santiago, Chile, on 28 and 29 October 2013. The regional meeting was attended by education union leaders from several Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Chile, as well as representatives from Denmark.

The participants agreed that early childhood education is the only level of education that cannot be repeated at another time in life.  The State should therefore establish policies and a public budget to guarantee education at this stage of life, ensuring that the same standards of quality and equality apply throughout the country. Furthermore, public policy should ensure that early childhood educators have the same professional status and career as all educators.

The meeting also looked at systems for hiring staff, how to organise early childhood workers, what their principal demands were, and trade union strategies. The participants decided to work towards getting countries to create the pedagogical changes and conditions necessary to provide universal, compulsory early childhood education. It was also agreed that training should be backed by policies for growth, not only economic growth but policies that ensured sustainability for life, food, health and education.



Earvin "Magic" Johnson joins with Time Warner Cable to inspire young people to become interested in math and science

New York, November 5 - According to sports legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the game of basketball is math and science in motion – geometry, physics and even chemistry help bring the game to life. The five-time NBA champion and Chairman and CEO of the television network ASPiRE has joined with Time Warner Cable to expand its STEM in Sports campaign. The program is the latest from the company's signature Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, which is designed to inspire the next generation of problem solvers by connecting young people to the wonders of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The campaign is designed to leverage students’ love of basketball and other sports to spark a passion for STEM. Johnson is currently featured in a new 30 second Public Service Announcement (PSA), as well as in an exclusive web video available on the CAMM website.

Complementary basketball-focused games and activities and parent/educator learning guides are now also available for download on the CAMM website. They add to an already robust library of engaging STEM in Sports tools and resources that marry STEM principles to football, golf and racing.



Rotary International UN Day 2013 - November 2

Rotary's relationship with the United Nations dates back to 1945 when some 49 Rotary members acted as delegates, advisors and consultants at the United Nations Charter Conference. Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status possible with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization.

Each year at Rotary UN Day, more than 1300 Rotarians including many Rotary International Directors, Foundation Trustees, past Senior Leaders, and guests come together at UN Headquarters in New York.  The program is designed to inspire and educate all participants as well as provide insight into the relationship between Rotary and the United Nations. 

Rotary Day at the United Nations also includes a special program for youth interested in humanitarian service.



In Somalia, WFP helps girls to feed their dreams

October 31, Hargeisa - “Aqoon la aq’aan waa iftiin la aane” ("To be without knowledge is to be without light") is a popular Somali proverb.  But for many young people in this culturally rich country, years of conflict and cyclical droughts have placed the light of learning out of reach. Today, WFP is investing in the future of Somali children by providing meals to around 106,000 children in 473 primary schools in the parts of the country to which the humanitarian agency has access. 

In Somalia, parents often choose to keep girls at home to help with domestic chores.  To combat this tendency, which might see girls lose out on an education and the daily meals provided at school, WFP provides take-home family rations to girls. These give parents an incentive to send their daughters to school. In Hargeisa, the take-home rations consist of 3.6 kg of cooking oil for each girl. To qualify for these rations, girls must be in school for at least 80 percent of the school month.



UNESCO approves emergency funds to evaluate state of Mali’s intangible heritage

October 28 – A United Nations committee has approved an emergency assistance package of $307,307 for a two-year project to evaluate the state of intangible heritage throughout Mali, beginning with the northern regions that suffered the most from recent armed conflict and occupation. The project will evaluate the state of intangible heritage – knowledge and practices related to nature, oral traditions, songs, rituals, festivals and traditional crafts – throughout the West African nation. The project also includes workshops to strengthen capacities in inventory techniques and intangible heritage management methods that will benefit 190 people. In addition, two plays will be produced, along with a documentary film and a radio programme, to raise public awareness about intangible cultural heritage.




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Next issue: 13 December 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 (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


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* http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf - 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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