Go to the Home Page

Good News Agency

Monthly, year 14th, no. 225 –  6 June 2014


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


Kofi Annan urges states to complete Mine Ban Treaty obligations

Geneva, 23 May - “The goal of a world without landmines and explosive remnants of war appears achievable… But to realize this ideal, every one of us – donors, the general public and mine-affected countries – must focus our energies, and our imaginations, on the cause of mine clearance.

As we approach the launch of the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, I urge all States to meet their major treaty obligations, and to complete the task of ridding the world of these most cruel and indiscriminate weapons of war.” -- Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Laureate Kofi Annan, statement on occasion of one-month countdown to Maputo meeting.



Major reform to make the GFCM a modern, competent and effective body for sustainable fisheries

Rome, May 20 - The European Commission welcomes a key reform completed by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) at its Annual Session in Rome today, May 20, which sets ambitious objectives for the conservation of fish stocks  in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The agreement reached is in line with the new EU Common Fisheries Policy and provides the organisation the tools to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries and to ensure compliance. The reformed GFCM will establish common standards, rules and will aim at setting a level playing field in the region.

 The new Agreement will also strengthen cooperation between GFCM Members for the sustainable management of the stocks they share. It will encourage fishermen to be more involved in the conservation of the resources they live of, and it will allow to better monitor fishing activities in the area.

The GFCM is a FAO (United Nations) body whose role is to ensure a good state of stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. All Mediterranean countries are members of the organization, including the EU. In the Black Sea, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine are observers and participate regularly to the work of the organization.



CARE applauds US Senate introduction of International Violence Against Women Act

5 May - The global poverty fighting group CARE hailed the bipartisan Senate introduction of the International Violence Against Women Act, which makes ending violence against women and girls a top U.S. diplomatic priority. The bill number S. 2307 was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH. This legislation - known as IVAWA -  would require the Secretary of State to implement a comprehensive interagency strategy to address gender based violence and raise the profile of efforts within the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.




Human rights


Sri Lanka: Forum on international humanitarian law

Colombo, 26 May - Sri Lanka will host the 24th South Asia Teaching Session on international humanitarian law, organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs Sri Lanka, from 26 to 31May.

Approximately 50 nominated individuals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan will participate in the event. Participants include government ministry officials, members of the armed forces, police services, academics and civil society organisations. Academics and experts in international humanitarian law will deliver lectures on such topics as the role of women in peace-building, the relationship between international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and provisions of international humanitarian law relating to missing persons.

The South Asia Teaching Session, which started in 1999, has developed into a prestigious academic forum recognised throughout the region. It was held in Sri Lanka once before, in 2012, and was also held previously in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.



Donors pledge $600 million to bolster UN-led aid response to South Sudan crisis

20 May - International donors today pledged more than $600 million dollars in aid to South Sudan at a conference hosted by Norway and the United Nations aimed at preventing famine and upholding human rights in the world’s newest country which has been ravaged by months of fighting. Before the conference, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said about $1.26 billion was still needed to meet the total needs of $1.8 billion for this year. The additional funding would allow aid groups to provide food, water and shelter.




Economy and development


ECOSOC High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, followed by Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum - UN, New York, 30 June - 11 July

2 June - The Second Meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the first to be held under the auspices of ECOSOC, will be held from 30 June to 9 July with evening meetings on 30 June and 1 July. The ministerial meeting of the Forum will be held from 7 - 9 July 2014. The theme will be “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals.” This will be followed by the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) from 8 - 9 July, which this year focuses on “Addressing on-going and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains in the future,” and the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) from 10 - 11 July.



Japan supports smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone

June 2, Freetown - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$1.2 million from the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to support smallholder farmers in the Port Loko District of Sierra Leone.

The donation is part of a five-year initiative funded exclusively by the ministry that aims to improve food security by building the capacity of smallholder rice producers in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Preparations began in late 2013, and operations expected to start this year.

Through the initiative, some 450 farming households in target communities in both Sierra Leone and Liberia are participating in a Food-for-Assets project to rehabilitate 106 hectares of unproductive swampland and build irrigation infrastructure.

In exchange for their work, farmers receive rations of rice bought from local farmers’ organizations through WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative. With the support of partners, farmers are also trained in improved production and post-harvest techniques.

The project is part of Japan’s commitment to double rice production in Africa between 2008 and 2018. With this generous support from the Government of Japan, WFP will assist a total of 4,500 people from 900 vulnerable households in the two countries during the five-year period.



UN labour report shows solid return for national investments in quality jobs

27 May – Developing countries that invested in quality jobs from the early 2000s grew nearly one percentage point faster every year since 2007 and were better able to weather the economic crisis than comparable economies, according to a new report by the United Nations labour agency.

The annual report of the International Labour Organization (ILO), The World of Work 2014, focuses this year on the relationship between good jobs and national development through analysis of 140 developing and emerging nations. “Decent work opportunities for women and men help trigger development and reduce poverty,” Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO,” said in a news release on the launch of the report, subtitled Developing with Jobs.

The report cites Senegal, where wage and salaried workers increased from around 12 per cent in 1991 to 26 per cent in 2013, as a case in point, showing that productivity increased there by an average of 0.5 per cent per year. In Peru, it says, wage and salaried workers increased by an estimated 15 percentage points, and productivity grew by an average of 1.8 per cent per year. In both countries, inequality was also reduced as the percentage of working poor declined, it says.



New financing agreement to strengthen small rural businesses in Togo

IFAD invests in youth to boost employment in country's 5 regions

23 May, Rome – The government of the TogoleseRepublic and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a loan and grant agreement today for a US$39.6 million project that will provide needed financial and technical supports and job-creation opportunities for small businesses in rural communities throughout the West African nation.

Small farming and artisanal businesses account for more than 70% of all private enterprises in Togo, it is estimated. The new Rural Entrepreneurship Project is designed to help these small businesses to expand and provide new job opportunities for some 280,000 young unemployed women and men in all five regions of the country. The IFAD-backed project will also seek to improve rural business access to credit and markets.

The project will also help improve conditions for micro and small rural enterprises and support their growth on promising production and transformation systems, and growing markets. It will also improve access to financial services in facilitating sustainable business relationship between micro and small rural enterprises and with viable financial institutions.



Australia donates $2.7 million to WFP to help build resilience in Sindh

May 22, Islamabad - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution from the Government of Australia of US$2.7 million for livelihood activities in Sindh.

With this contribution, WFP will be able to assist 13,000 vulnerable families (80,000 people) through cash for work by engaging them in disaster risk reduction (DRR)/livelihood activities. The priority districts for assistance in Sindh are Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Badin and Mirpurkhas. These areas have been identified as disaster-prone by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and are food insecure.

In the short-term, people receive an incentive, with the provision of cash in return for their work. This addresses their immediate needs, for example the purchase of food and other basic household items. In the long run, the assets created through the projects build community resilience to future shocks and contribute towards livelihood improvement. Similarly, the rehabilitation and management of water courses enhances water availability and improves crop production, enhancing general food security.



Eighty-Five thousand low-income youth open savings accounts through YouthSave

Washington, D.C. May 19 - Dispelling the myth that poverty is the biggest barrier to saving money, the latest figures from a five-year savings program for youth indicate that 85,000 low-income youth in Nepal, Kenya, Ghana and Colombia, have opened savings accounts designed specifically for them. While we must wait another year for final conclusions, preliminary data indicates that YouthSave is contributing to the goal of financial inclusion for a particularly vulnerable population.

Project findings to date also suggest that young people have significant unrecognized economic potential. They provide useful guidance for organizations and policymakers seeking to ensure access to positive social and economic pathways for 1.8 billion youth between the ages of 10 and 24 – the world’s largest generation.

Created in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, YouthSave is led by Save the Children in collaboration with the Center for Social Development at WashingtonUniversity in St. Louis, the New America Foundation and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).

The YouthSave initiative aims to provide savings knowledge and access to formal savings accounts for low-income youth, through partnerships with local financial institutions.



Co-op learning centers open in Ethiopia

Tigray Cooperatives launch new Cooperative Learning Information Center (CLIC)

May 15 – “ACDI/VOCA has established this CooperativeLearningInformationCenter, which is equivalent to preparing a seed bed. Today, the CLIC is inaugurated. That means a tree is planted on the seed bed,” said Sileshi Bogale, ACDI/VOCA’s program manager for the Ethiopia Cooperative Development Program.

Bogale and Ato Negash, Tigray Regional Cooperative Agency representative, recently stood before a crowd of 70 people to inaugurate the new Cooperative Learning Information Center (CLIC) in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Attendees from the regional bureau of agriculture, MekeleUniversity, and Regional Cooperative Agency staff watched as Bogale and Negash cut the ribbon, signaling the CLIC’s opening.

Funded by USAID, ACDI/VOCA’s Cooperative Development Program is implemented in four regions of Ethiopia and targets five unions and 15 primary cooperatives. The program builds cooperatives’ capacity to access markets, create jobs, generate income, reduce poverty, provide social protection, and provide their members a voice and representation in society.






AlJazeera media network and the IFRC to enhance cooperation and ‘give a voice to the voiceless’

26 May 2014 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Al Jazeera media network to improve cooperation and help give a voice to the voiceless. “I see our engagement with Al Jazeera as a key milestone for advancing our outreach and support to those in need,” said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC. The agreement was signed in Doha on 26 May.

The MoU stands as a first step towards greater cooperation in a range of common interest areas: training, cause-related campaigns or key themes such as silent disasters, urban risks, inequitable access to health, first aid, new technologies and humanitarian empowerment.

In recent years, Al Jazeera has emerged as a leading media organization with Arab affiliation and global orientation, comprising a number of specialized satellite channels, educational and training centers, and a specialized department dedicated to fostering human rights and public liberties and protecting journalists and media workers during media coverage. The broadcaster is also committed to raising public awareness of issues that are of public concern, supporting human rights, and advocating the values โ€‹โ€‹of tolerance and democracy.



Shakira’s “La La La” celebrates world coming together, supports school meals

May 23 - When Shakira and Activia, one of the world's largest yogurt brands, teamed up to make the music video for “La La La (Brazil 2014),” they wanted to celebrate the world coming together. But that is not all; using the music video, they wanted to shine the spotlight on WFP's School Meals Programme – one of the many ways WFP and our partners are building a world with zero hunger. With the launch of the video on May 22, Activia and Shakira have donated the value of 3 million school meals to our vital programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nicaragua, which are facing funding challenges. The video itself opens and closes with a brief message about WFP, and with every view online, one more person has the chance to learn about the transformational effects of our School Meals Programme.

In some communities where hunger and poverty are at their worst, a WFP school meal may be the only nutritious meal a child receives on a regular basis.



Germany contributes €10 million to WFP for hungry families in Yemen

May 20, Sana’a -  At a signing ceremony at Yemen’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Government of Germany agreed to contribute US$13.8 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help severely food insecure households across the country with food distributions and cash disbursements.The German contribution will support monthly food distributions or cash disbursements to severely food-insecure Yemeni households under WFP’s operations, which are targeting 2.8 million people by the end of June 2014.

As the second largest donor to WFP in Yemen, Germany has provided funds which have enabled WFP to reach some 5 million people in 2013.  WFP will continue to assist the food insecure and needy people of Yemen in a new operation starting in July. At a cost of some US$500 million over its two-year duration, WFP’s new operation aims to reach 6 million people with a range of assistance including helping to develop agriculture, rural infrastructure, rainwater conservation and rural employment.



WFP begins its support to Jordan’s National school feeding project

May 19, Amman - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) started today distributing locally produced date bars enriched with vitamins and minerals as part of Jordan’s national school feeding programme.

WFP is to provide support to the national school feeding project in Jordan for three years until May 2017 in a project worth US$17 million. The governments of the Russian Federation and Canada provided the funds that will benefit 320,000 school children – half of them girls.

The Ministry of Education will distribute WFP’s locally-produced date bars along with fresh fruit in schools in the most vulnerable and food insecure areas. It will also distribute high-energy biscuits produced in bakeries run by Jordan’s armed forces.

The three-year school feeding project aims to double the number of schoolchildren currently receiving a daily snack in public schools to 320,000 by May 2017.



Winning Rotaractors provide sustainable water and sanitation facilities

May - Congratulations to the Rotaract Club of H.R.College in Mumbai, India, international winner of the 2014 Rotaract Outstanding Project Award. Club members engaged thousands of community members and volunteers in efforts to raise funds and build awareness for their project to provide clean drinking water and sanitation facilities in Kumbharwadi, a drought-prone village near Mumbai. To ensure the project’s sustainability, club members collaborated with the Watershed Organization Trust to select the village, where they are digging wells and installing toilets. Village leaders and residents were involved in planning and funding the projects and are being trained to maintain the facilities.

Read more about this project and the regional winners of the 2014 Rotaract Outstanding Project Award to learn how Rotaractors around the world take action in their communities.



Refugee kids in Lebanon and Gaza get TOMS shoes

April 29 – This is the third year that ANERA has distributed new TOMS Shoes to thousands of refugee children in Gaza, but this time was even more special. ANERA was able to incorporate the delivery into this year’s de-worming program as a way to help protect children from soil-transmitted parasites.

In Al Mosadar village, one mother stressed how important the shoes are to protecting her children against parasites, a preventive measure she learned during one of ANERA’s parasite awareness sessions. The shoes were also distributed in the impoverished Bedouin village of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, where poverty is rampant and the price of a good pair of shoes is beyond the reach of most families.  ANERA also distributed TOMS Shoes to children affected by the December 2013 torrential rains and flooding in GazaCity. Loay El-Jadbah and his father were among the flood victims who, like thousands of others, were displaced from their home.




Peace and security


CMC members join Costarican government and UCR law faculty for panel: “Costa Rica in humanitarian disarmament”

27 May - Cluster Munition Coalition members from Latin America join the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Relations and Culture and University of Costa Rica Law Faculty today for a panel discussion examining the role of the country in humanitarian disarmament efforts. The Panel titled “Costa Rica in Humanitarian Disarmament,” is the first in a series of events planned in in the run-up to the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which will take place 2-5 September 2014 inSan José. At that meeting, Costa Rica will take up the presidency of the Convention, which prohibits these indiscriminate weapons and requires clearance of contaminated areas and assistance to victims.



UN official in South Sudan meets with key rebel leader to discuss peace efforts

23 May – The top United Nations official in South Sudan has met with rebel leader David Yau Yau to discuss peace efforts in Greater Pibor County, Jonglei state, which was once the epicentre of instability in the country.

During a meeting yesterday, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hilde Johnson, commended Mr. Yau Yau, the leader of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A) for his role in facilitating an end to violence in the area. The rebel group signed a peace agreement with the Government of South Sudan on 9 May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which “will lay the foundation of a durable peace for all the people and communities of Pibor and surrounding counties,” she said. Ms. Johnson, who is also the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (UNMISS), which among its traditional responsibilities is protecting tens of thousands of civilians, offered support to implement the agreement.

The Pibor agreement came as a broader accord was signed on 9 May, also in the Ethiopian capital, by South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, and former Vice President Riek Machar, whose supporters have waged a five-month battle that has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and led to gross human rights violations by both sides.



Saudi Arabia donates US$5 million to support conflict-affected Syrians

12 May - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a generous contribution of US$5 million from the Saudi Fund for Development, a government agency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, operating under the guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abduallah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The contribution will help provide food for thousands of internally-displaced Syrians affected by conflict in their country.



Pax Christi International Peace Award 2014 assigned to Jesuit Refugee Service Syria

The Peace Award Ceremony will take place on 8 June in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award¹ has been granted to the Jesuit Refugee Service Syria (JRS Syria) for its outstanding dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians since the war began in 2011. JRS Syria belongs to an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS programmes are found in more than 50 countries, providing assistance to refugees in camps and cities, individuals displaced within their own countries, asylum seekers in cities and to those held in detention centres.

In the Middle East and North Africa, JRS began its work in 2008 in response to the huge number of Iraqi refugees fleeing the conflict in their country. Following the violent events in Syria from 2011 onwards, JRS Syria is now mainly focusing on emergency relief to those in greatest need, medical support and educational activities to enhance reconciliation and co-existence amongst people of different socio-economic and faith backgrounds. In total, more than 300,000 people are helped by JRS in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and the coastal areas of Syria.

The JRS teams are composed of people of different faiths, of national staff and international volunteers, who serve all without distinction. activities.



Report to UN Secretary-General on NAPF disarmament education activities

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) has submitted a report on its nuclear disarmament education efforts over the past two years to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The NAPF report is added to the work of other non-governmental organizations around the world and is submitted by the Secretary-General to the United Nations General Assembly every two years.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has been educating people in the United States and

around the world about the urgent need for the abolition of nuclear weapons since 1982. Based in

Santa Barbara, California, the Foundation’s mission is to educate and advocate for peace and a

world free of nuclear weapons, and to empower peace leaders.






Rotary’s historic climb in Sydney

Adam Ross

30 May - During Friday's world record-breaking SydneyHarbour bridge climb, Rotary members raised enough money to protect 240,000 kids from polio.

Despite the physically grueling four-hour trek up and down the bridge's storied steel arches, the 340 participants kept their good spirits and stood side-by-side waving 278 flags. "When the helicopters were going around, you just felt like one great big nation," says Graeme Davies, district governor of the Rotary Club of Kincumber in Australia.

The massive turnout eclipsed Oprah Winfrey's world-record climb in 2011 when she summited the bridge alongside 315 of her most ardent fans. But for Rotary members, the record paled in comparison to the experience and the opportunity to take a step closer to ending polio forever. The event raised 110,000 Australian dollars (US$102,300). (...)



MSF launches new project to curb spread of HIV in western Kenya

26 May, Nairobi – An ambitious new project in western Kenya aims to drastically reduce the number of people infected by HIV, while helping those living with the disease to live long and healthy lives. Over four years, teams from the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), working with County and Sub County health authorities in Ndhiwa sub-county, Homa Bay county, will encourage people to take regular HIV tests, while providing life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to those who need it.

The MSF/Ministry of Health programme and partners will make HIV tests widely available and promote regular testing. Those who test positive will be put on ARV treatment as early as possible to reduce their risk of transmitting the virus to others. Ongoing support will help them stick to their treatment, which involves taking ARV drugs daily for the rest of their lives.

The programme will also simplify the way healthcare is provided to patients, by adapting medical protocols and including non-medical workers in the provision of care.



Training nurses to save mothers and babies in East Africa

by Maureen Vaught – Rotary News

27 May – (...) Improving maternal health is one of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals, which seeks to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. To address this challenge, The Rotary Foundation and Aga Khan University (AKU) are working together to provide nursing professionals, like Awor, the skills and education they need to improve the lives of mothers and their children in East Africa. She is one of 24 students who received Rotary scholarships to advance their nursing education at one of AKU's three East Africa campuses: Nairobi, Kenya; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Kampala, Uganda. In February, the first class of students in the scholarship program graduated with either a Registered Nurse or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Through a packaged grant, Rotary provided financial support -- about $14,000 per student -- to cover tuition, books, and room and board, among other things. To be eligible for the program, applicants had to live where AKU's East African campuses are located, and their career goals had to focus on improving child and maternal health issues -- an area of focus for Rotary. (...)



Jos blasts: Nigerian Red Cross Society provides vital psychosocial support to victims

23 May – When two explosions rocked the city of Jos in central Nigeria last week, the Nigerian Red Cross Society responded immediately and provided support to relatives of those who lost their lives in the twin blasts, and to some victims who were injured. The National Society, through its Plateau Branch, mobilized 25 volunteers who were the first to provide assistance in the form of first aid and psychosocial support to 90 people. Volunteers also helped reunite hospitalized victims with their relatives, and, together with other partnering agencies, helped transport 118 deceased persons to designated hospitals.

Bello Hamman Diram, Secretary General of the National Society, travelled to the site of the explosions with the director general of the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency, with whom the Red Cross works closely during emergencies.



Helen Keller International raises approximately $1 million to prevent blindness and malnutrition around the world

New York, May 21 – Helen Keller International, one of the oldest global nonprofit organizations devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition, last night celebrated the 2014 Spirit of Helen Keller Gala in New York. The event raised approximately $1 million in support of its sight and lifesaving efforts in Africa, Asia and the United States. Event highlights included international economist and humanitarian Tom Arnold accepting the Helen Keller Humanitarian Award in recognition of his extraordinary dedication to ending child hunger and improving maternal health in the developing world.

Helen Keller International currently has more than 180 programs in 21 African and Asian countries. It also reaches thousands of under-served youth in the United States each year through ChildSight®. This unique program provides free vision screenings and prescription eyeglasses to students living in poverty in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, New Mexico and California.



Time to Act in ‘Real Time’

Rotary Club Marseille launches smart-watch to raise funds for polio eradication

May 20 – The project called Time to Act was developed by the Rotary Club Marseille. The idea was simple: 5 great designers create 5 unique digital watches in 5 years and raise critically-needed funds to get rid of polio once and for all. The first model was designed by the renowned French designer Marc Alfieri and manufactured in Switzerland. Via smartphone app or laptop Bluetooth connection, the polio watch measures in real time the current state of fundraising and progress towards polio eradication. A visual depiction of a poliovirus on the dial will gradually disappear as funds are raised and a clean planet (in form of a 2D map) will progressively appear symbolizing progress towards a polio-free world. (...)

The polio watch is one of the latest initiatives by Rotarians around the world committed to achieve a polio-free world. Since 1985, Rotary members have contributed more than US$1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. (...)



Is every child being reached?

For the first time in the Middle East, mobile technology helps answer this question, in Iraq.

May 16 – Following the April 2014 national polio campaign in Iraq, mobile phones helped the Iraqi Red Crescent Society determine routine and campaign polio immunisation coverage and identify pockets of unimmunized children. This innovative approach is helping to ensure that no areas are missed in the future.  The Iraqi Red Crescent Society deployed 120 surveyors throughout the country to evaluate a total of 3,811 children under five years of age in more than 2,370 households in 19 different provinces. Trained Red Crescent volunteers, who live in the same community as the local population and speak the same language, played a key role in reaching the most inaccessible and marginalized communities.

Analysis of the data collected during the survey indicates that national polio immunisation coverage following the April 2014 campaign was high (91.5%), but varied by province and district. The data shows that routine immunisation coverage remains low and uneven with 21 districts (in nine provinces) reporting less than 80% documented routine polio immunisation.




Energy and safety



Sustainable Energy for All Forum, UN Headquarters, New York, June 4 - 6

At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, leaders declared we are all determined to act to make sustainable energy for all a reality and, through this, help to eradicate poverty and lead to sustainable development and global prosperity.

The Year 2014 marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024) and this high level forum at the UN is the first of what is to become an annual event. The Forum will assess progress on sustainable energy since Rio, showcase success, share best practices, present new commitments, catalyze action and help shape the global energy debate for the next decade.



USA: Green America supports the direction of EPA's new carbon standard for existing power plants; calls for tougher stance on cap & trade

WashingtonD.C. , June 2 - Green America  supports today’s announcement by the EPA that it plans to cut carbon emissions from existing coal fired power plants by 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels. The announcement follows an earlier EPA proposal from September, 2013, aimed at reducing emissions from proposed power plants, which Green America also supports.   Green America represents 200,000 individuals and over 3,000 businesses nationwide.

Currently, the United States emits CO2 at a rate 15% lower than it did in 2005. The EPA’s proposed rules offer states a flexible phase-in period to determine the best method of implementing the emissions limits.  Under the proposed regulations, states will have until June of 2016 to submit a state implementation plan, or SIP, outlining how they will reduce their carbon emissions by the required amount. If the states fail to submit a plan, the EPA will have the authority to provide one for them.



USA: DOE awards $10 million for concentrating solar power storage research

Vince Font, Contributing Editor

Utah, USA, 23 May -- The Department of Energy announced Wednesday it has awarded $10 million to be split between six research and development projects that will focus on thermochemical storage technologies for concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. (...)

The recipients of the Energy Department’s funding are the Colorado School of Mines, UCLA, the University of Florida, the Southern Research Institute, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory. All will work on the development of “novel thermochemical energy storage systems” with the goal of achieving greater levels of efficiency in the storage of higher temperature, higher density solar energy.

CSP technology employs mirrors that concentrate reflected sunlight onto receivers containing heat transfer fluids. From there, the fluids are used to heat water, which in turn generates the steam that is used to power turbines. (...)



Renewable energy provides 6.5 million jobs globally

Sector shows significant job growth over 2012, new IRENA review highlights

11 May - In 2013, approximately 6.5 million people were already employed in the renewable energy industry worldwide, a new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveals. ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2014’ underlines the important role that renewables continue to play in employment creation and growth in the global economy.

The comprehensive annual review shows steady growth in the number of renewable energy jobs worldwide, which expanded from 5.7 million in 2012, according to IRENA. “With 6.5 million people directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy, the sector is proving that it is no longer a niche, it has become a significant employer worldwide,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

Renewable energy employment was shaped by regional shifts, industry realignments, growing competition and advances in technologies and manufacturing processes in 2013. The largest employers by country are China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, Spain and Bangladesh, while the largest employers by sector are solar photovoltaic, biofuels, wind, modern biomass and biogas.




Environment and wildlife


New global alliance commits $80 million to save the world's wild cats and their ecosystems

New York, June 2 - Environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States have together provided funding of $80 Million to change the course of wild cat protection through Panthera, the leading organization dedicated to ensuring the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and conservation action. The announcement of this unique global alliance was made at a private ceremony in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on 1 June.

The guaranteed, 10-year commitment to cat conservation -an undertaking unprecedented in its scale and scope - will immediately fund the most effective solutions for conserving big cats: poaching for local and international trade; retaliatory and punitive killing from conflict with humans; unsustainable hunting of prey; and the loss and fragmentation of habitat. As the animals at the top of the food chain, these cats help maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystems in which they live and upon which humans depend, and serve as the flagship species for conserving large, wild landscapes.



ITU and ETSI align environmental impact methodology

Geneva, 28 May – A standardized way to assess the direct environmental impact of ICT goods, networks and services, as well as their indirect impact on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of non-ICT industry sectors, has been agreed by ITU and the European Telecommunication Standardization Institute (ETSI). The jointly developed specification has been created in acknowledgement of the importance of providing industry with tools to provide a lifecycle assessment of the environmental impact of its activities. The collaboration was, in part, driven by a need to avoid a proliferation of methodologies which would cause confusion to the industry.

It is widely acknowledged that ICTs have an environmental impact at every lifecycle stage. But ICTs can also enable vast efficiencies through the provision of digital solutions that can cut energy consumption and improve inventory management and business processes  by, for example, reducing travel and transportation.



IFAD-GEF: the green development dividend

May 28, Cancun - Higher yields and incomes, healthy ecosystems, and empowered communities — these are among the benefits for small farmers in developing countries from projects co-sponsored by the United Nations' International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The projects and their impact are highlighted in a report released today at the Fifth GEF Assembly in Cancun, Mexico: The IFAD-GEF Advantage: partnering for a sustainable world. IFAD and GEF began their partnership in 2001, working together with rural communities worldwide on poverty reduction and environmental protection. “Since 2001, the partnership between IFAD and GEF has benefited millions of people who have improved their livelihoods and preserved valuable natural resources,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. “At the same time, they have adapted to the growing impact of climate change. In the years ahead, we will capitalize further on our complementary areas of expertise to reach millions more.”



Africa’s longest-known terrestrial wildlife migration discovered

28 May – Researchers have documented the longest-known terrestrial migration of wildlife in Africa – up to several thousand zebra covering a distance of 500km (more than 300 miles) – according to WWF. Using GPS collars on eight adult Plains zebra (Equus quagga), WWF and Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), in collaboration with Elephants Without Borders (EWB) and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, tracked two consecutive years of movement back and forth between the Chobe River in Namibia and Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park, a straight-line distance of 250km (500km round-trip). The findings are detailed in a new study published in the journal, Oryx.

The discovery comes at a time when migrations of a diverse range of species around the world are increasingly imperiled, and zebra migrations in other parts of Africa have been disrupted by physical barriers such as fences. The potential conservation implications of the study are considerable. The observed migration takes place entirely within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) – the world’s largest multi-country conservation area.



New fund a major boost for Amazon protection

22May – The Brazilian government, WWF and partners have committed $215 million for the protection of a vital part of the Amazon rainforest following an agreement signed today.

The move will guarantee funds over the next two decades to ensure long-term protection of the world's largest network of protected areas, 60 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest.

The funding is part of a program called the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA), which aims to permanently protect 15 per cent of the Amazon, an area equivalent to the size of Spain.

The agreement guarantees funds for the next 25 years, after which the Brazilian government will assume the full cost of protecting these Amazon landscapes. The new funding commitment is a result of “ARPA for Life – Commitment to the Amazon”, the latest phase of the ARPA program launched in 2012 during the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainability.

WWF-Brazil worked closely with WWF-US in the negotiations and fundraising required to ensure the success of the project.



New era for environmental protection in Madagascar

22 May, Antananarivo - Over 17 million hectares of land and marine area will be the focus of a new partnership aimed at protecting Madagascar’s unique biodiversity.

The three year agreement signed today between WWF and Madagascar National Parks (MNP) will cover roughly 29% of Madagascar’s total surface are. The aim is to jointly pursue funding and develop programs for the conservation and protection of biodiversity.

Deforestation is one of the most serious environmental threats in Madagascar and the deal is modeled after a successful project in the country’s southwest spiny forest region, where WWF Madagascar has supported MNP in the management of two national parks since 2005.

The two organizations will be working together across six of WWF-Madagascar’s priority areas – a wide variety of landscapes and ecosystems including the northern mountains, the eastern rainforests, the arid southern spiny forests, mangroves, islands, waterways and coral reefs. The land area covered by the agreement contains 85 per cent of Madagascar’s critically endangered lemurs and 99 per cent of its endemic bird species. (…)




Religion and spirituality


The Spiritual Caucus at the United Nations

The Spiritual Caucus at the United Nations gathers in the vicinity of UN Headquarters in New York (September - June) on the third Thursday every month for 30 minutes of silence followed by 30 minutes of dialogue, sharing insights and exploring ways to use an inner focus in service of the work of the UN. On the 1st Thursday of the month the Caucus invites friends to sit in silence for 30 minutes. Traditionally a gathering has been held in the Meditation Room in the public lobby of UN Headquarters in New York, but during the major redevelopment of the UN building in NY the Meditation Room is closed.

In June the Spiritual Caucus invites all to link subjectively on Thursday, 5th, 12:45 - 1:15 USA Eastern Daylight Time, holding the Meditation Room at the United Nations in the light during this period when the Room is closed due to renovation work. Please also link with the full meeting on Thursday, June 19 at 1.15 PM EDT. Please link in from wherever you are. More information at:




Culture and education


Cape Town Development and ECD Directorate to invest nearly R16 million for access to education

2 June, Cape Town, South Africa – The Cape Town Development and Early Childhood Development (ECD) Directorate recently unveiled its ECD spending plans for the 2014/15 financial year. The Directorate recently revealed that it will be investing nearly R16 million  in the construction of more ECD centres of excellence across the city. The announcement came just days before International Children’s Day – a day that seeks to honour and protect children,and highlight the importance of their right to education.



With Syria’s culture near ‘point of no return’, UN agency to create safeguard observatory

28 May – In hopes of ebbing the ‘cultural haemorrhage’ in Syria, the United Nations cultural agency today announced that it will establish an observatory to monitor and access the state of Syria’s cultural heritage which is ‘reaching the point of no return.’Based at its office in Beirut, Lebanon, the Observatory will maintain an online platform where national and international stakeholders will share information on damaged structures, looted artefacts and all forms of endangered intangible heritage.

“In some areas we are reaching the point of no return where Syria’s cultural heritage is concerned,” cautioned Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “The destruction of heritage represents a cultural haemorrhage in addition to the tragic humanitarian crisis and suffering experienced by the people of Syria,” she added. In particular, Ms. Bokova highlighted the recent extensive damage to the historical synagogue of Eliyahu Hanabi in Damascus. “This synagogue bears witness to the cultural diversity of Syria’s history and to the potential of peaceful coexistence among all communities in the country,” Ms. Bokova concluded.



Access, equity and quality at the opening of the world conference on education

27 May - The first session of the conference, devoted to the reality of education in OECD countries, revolved around the relationship between equity and quality. Can there be quality education without equity? Education International's (EI) president, Susan Hopgood, and secretary general Fred van Leeuwen, have been very clear about it: equity is key, and EI's affiliates are at the core of the defense of public quality education throughout the world. Teachers and educators are those who can best defend the idea of equity and quality of our education systems.

Van Leeuwen said that the importance of uniting for quality education is self-evident. “Our common vision of education is imposing itself. Quality, access to education and equity are key values that can be increasingly found in reports by OECD, UNESCO and the United Nations.”

The campaign Unite for Quality Education will be presented to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in September. In the lead up to New York, EI's member organisations will organise to promote the values of quality education all over the world.



The White House announces Time Warner Cable's connect a million minds initiative hits milestone of connecting 1,000,000 young people to the wonders of math and science

Washington, May 27 - The White House today announced that Time Warner Cable (TWC), through its Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, has reached its goal of connecting one million young people to hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities and resources. Pledges to connect a million minds to STEM were collected through the CAMM website, where parents, educators, and mentors also recorded stories of how they introduced students to STEM activities.

The announcement was made at today’s White House Science Fair, which was attended by TWC Chairman and CEO Rob Marcus.



European Commission selects Europa Nostra to run EU Prize for Cultural Heritage for the next four years

Brussels / The Hague, 26 May  - The leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra has been selected by the European Commission to be the organising partner of the annual European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage for a new period of 4 years, from 2015 to 2018. The selection was made following an open call for proposals launched at the beginning of this year on the basis of the new EU Creative Europe programme. The aim of the Prize is to highlight exemplary achievements related to heritage conservation, management, research, education and communication. In this way, the Prize will bring cultural heritage closer to European citizens and contribute to a stronger public recognition of cultural heritage as a strategic resource for Europe’s society and economy. It will also promote audience development for heritage in Europe.

The partnership between Europa Nostra and the European Commission for the running of this Prize was initiated in 2002 and was renewed in 2007, with the support of the previous EU Culture programme. The call for entries for the 2015 edition of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards will be launched in mid-June 2014. The deadline for submissions in four different categories will be on 15 October.



West Bank villages open new preschools

May 19 – The inauguration ceremony was a colorful celebration for Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir villages which are both benefiting from the new facilities. Like many remote villages in the Hebron area, unemployment is rampant and few can afford to pay tuition or transportation fees to send their children to preschool. But that reality has changed since 2010, when ANERA initiated its early childhood development (ECD) program, known as Right Start!, to bring quality preschool education to remote communities like Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir.

Under its ECD program ANERA remodeled and outfitted the preschools with curtains, carpets, child-sized tables and chairs and painted in pastel child-friendly colors that brought smiles to the children’s faces when they discovered their new surroundings. The school’s playground was redesigned with safety in mind. So were the bathrooms, which were properly sized for the youngsters. ANERA also provided high quality learning materials, from books and puzzles to art materials and a special reading corner space.

Thanks to funding from Dubai Cares and support from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, ANERA is establishing kindergarten classes within existing elementary schools across the West Bank. - See more at: http://www.anera.org/stories/remote-west-bank-villages-get-new-preschools/#sthash.lNN9z7oe.dpuf



* * * * * * *



Next issue: 11 July 2014.


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, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster, media/NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries,  to 3,000 NGOs, 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as over 24,000 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 (WANGO) and of the Union of International Associations (UIA).


* 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.”

Go to the Home Page