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


Monthly, year 15th, no. 226 –  11 July 2014


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


Initial UN report aims to 'reconnect science and policy towards global sustainable development'

1st July – To achieve a sustainable transition by 2050, when more than nine billion people will live on Earth, there needs to be significant adjustment to the current patterns of consumption and production, delegations heard today as a United Nations high-level political forum considered a new report aiming to lay the foundation for a new global sustainable development agenda.

The “prototype” Global Sustainable Development Report, created by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, looks three generations back — from 1950 to 2013 — and 40 years into the future to 2050, to learn from what was tried, in order to put economies and societies on the path of sustainable development.

The Report aims to make the findings of a wide range of scientific currently meeting in New York under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council.

Among the findings, the report authors said that historical progress towards sustainable development has been mixed. The world has managed to feed, nurture, house, educate and employ on the order of an additional 800 million people every decade from 1970 to 2000, and even 1.1 billion people in the 2000s, it reports. “Yet, we have not managed to employ our much greater wealth and technological capacity to eliminate poverty and hunger,” they wrote, noting that 850 million people today remain food insecure.



U.S. Conference of Mayors adopts bold resolution on nuclear disarmament

Santa Barbara, CA – The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), a non-partisan association of America’s big cities, on June 23, 2014 unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums at its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.

The resolution notes that on April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed landmark cases in the International Court of Justice against all nine nuclear-armed nations, claiming that they failed to comply with their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law to pursue negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons. They also filed a companion case in U.S. Federal District Court. In its resolution, the USCM “commends the Marshall Islands for calling to the world’s attention the failure of the nine nuclear-armed states to comply with their international obligations and calls on the U.S. to respond constructively and in good faith to the lawsuits brought by the RMI.”

The U.S. based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a consultant to the Marshall Islands on the lawsuits. David Krieger, President of the Foundation, stated, “It is extremely reaffirming that the U.S. Conference of Mayors is supporting the Marshall Islands in its legal cases against the nine nuclear-armed nations. Their resolution reflects an understanding that every city in the world is a potential target for the devastation that would be wrought by the use of nuclear weapons.”



Europe: progress for transgender rights

June 24 - The Netherlands, Denmark, and Ireland have moved to improve the rights of transgender people. However, each country retains some requirements that undermine the right of transgender people to have their identity reflected in law. On July 1, 2014, a new Dutch law on transgender rights will come into force allowing transgender people to change the gender designation on their official identity papers.




Human rights


The United Nations joins the world in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela

Every year on 18 July — the day Nelson Mandela was born — the UN joins a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July "Nelson Mandela International Day" in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. General Assembly resolution A/RES/64/13 recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.



Ethiopia: helping South Sudanese refugees to survive

4 July The Ethiopia Red Cross Society, assisted by the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Swiss Red Cross Society, is responding to the urgent needs of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who have fled the fighting in South Sudan.  As more refugees cross from South Sudan into Ethiopia to escape the fighting, ICRC, Ethiopia Red Cross and other Red Cross Movement staff and volunteers are working hard to provide proper hygiene, water, sanitation, household items and emergency health care.




Economy and development


International Cooperative Day - July 5

Co-operative enterprises achieve sustainable development for all. The cooperative movement encompassing financial organisations, farmers, producers and consumers is playing an incredible role in pioneering new ethics and values in business and economics.

This Day, which is observed on the first Saturday of July, marks the formation in 1895 of the International Cooperative Alliance. Today the Alliance includes 268 member organizations (many of which include thousands of cooperatives) from 93 countries, representing one billion individuals worldwide. We forget how widespread cooperative enterprises are: in Kenya 63% of the population derive their livelihood from cooperatives; in the US 30,000 cooperatives provide over 2 million jobs; in 2007 consumer cooperatives in Denmark held 36.4% of the consumer retail market; 91% of all Japanese farmers are members of cooperatives.


UN conference to convene Civil Society to support post-2015 development agenda

Will conclude with adoption of ambitious “Action Agenda” for NGO community

New York, July 1 - The 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference, titled “2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda,” will be held at United Nations headquarters from Wednesday, 27 August to Friday, 29 August 2014. In line with previous conferences, this 65th conference will adopt an outcome declaration that aspires to be ambitious and inspiring and to offer a civil society “Action Agenda” for the post-2015 development goals. The 65th DPI/NGO Conference will take place less than a month prior to the 23 September 2014 Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the launch of intergovernmental negotiations at the 69th Session of the General Assembly.

Representatives of civil society will convene from around the world to discuss key issues on the post-2015 development agenda, including climate change. The conference provides a unique opportunity for NGOs to come together to engage diplomats, UN officials, policy experts, scientists, educators, businesses, trade unions, parliamentarians, local authorities and others from around the world on the role of civil society in the post-2015 development agenda.

A “zero draft” of the document that will serve as the basis for the conference outcome declaration is posted on the conference website for inputs, in addition to information about the programme:



Four new Africa Solidarity Trust Fund projects will benefit 24 countries

June 25, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea – The FAO-managed Africa Solidarity Trust Fund today gave a green light to four new, continent-spanning projects. The projects, worth $16 million, will span 24 different countries in West, Central, East, and Southern Africa, focusing on youth employment and malnutrition, transboundary animal diseases and food safety and urban food security.

The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013 as a unique Africa-led initiative to improve agriculture and food security across the continent. Since its inception, the Fund has already provided financing for projects in six countries – Mali, the Niger, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Malawi–  including building resilience for conflict affected rural communities, reducing rural poverty through youth employment opportunities and building best practices to increase crop and livestock production.

Next allocation planned will cover a continental intervention to support African rural youth future through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and a facility for South-South Cooperation from Africa to Africa, to allow a better sharing of knowledge and development solutions within the continent.



Fishing families in Pakistan benefit from Saudi Fund and IFAD fortified partnership

June 24, Jeddah -The Saudi Fund for Development and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) strengthened their partnership today to support a US$35.3 million project aimed at providing income-generating opportunities for women and men in coastal communities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The MOU specifically highlights the Saudi Fund’s contribution of $3.3 million for the on-going, IFAD-supported Gwadar-Lasbela Livelihoods Support Project, which is connecting small fishers to regional markets. The two target districts of Gwadar and Lasbela share three quarters of Pakistan’s coastline, where more than 60% of the population lives in poverty. Because of their distance from the capital and limited connections with the rest of the country, these districts remain underdeveloped despite large fishing grounds and ample growth potential.

To address these challenges, the project is improving infrastructure and marketing facilities, enhancing communities’ access to capital, and strengthening community and village organizations.



Summary of the First UN Environment Assembly of the UN Environment Programme

23-27 June - The first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was held at Unep headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23-27 June 2014. More than 1,200 participants, including environment ministers, heads of international organizations, government representatives, civil society representatives and business leaders, attended the assembly. The overarching theme of the session was “Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including sustainable consumption and production.”

Delegates adopted one decision and 17 resolutions on, inter alia: strengthening UNEP’s role in promoting air quality; the science-policy interface (SPI); ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA); implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; illegal trade in wildlife; chemicals and waste; and marine debris and microplastics. During the closing plenary on Friday, the Ministerial Outcome Document of the UNEA of unep was adopted, although several member states noted their reservations with the document.

Many described the first session of the UNEA as a historic event but called for continued efforts to strengthen UNEP to support implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.






Canada donates 6.7 million dollars towards WFP Programmes in Pakistan

July 3, Islamabad -  The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$6.7 million from the Government of Canada for nutrition, school feeding and relief activities in Pakistan. The contribution will enable WFP to run its school feeding programme without a break in food supplies until December 2014, supporting more than 200,000 students in nearly 1,200 schools in six agencies of FATA. Part of the donation will also be used for nutrition activities. In addition, the funds will support the milling and fortification with micronutrients of 2,905 metric tons of wheat donated by the Government of Pakistan to WFP for its relief operation.

WFP’s school feeding programme focuses on the conflict-affected areas of FATA which are highly food insecure and characterized by low literacy rates, especially among women. WFP is targeting approximately 60 percent of the schools in six agencies with the aim of stabilising enrolment and encouraging boys and girls to get an education.



The Howard G. Buffett Foundation joins Shakira's Pies Descalzos Foundation and Activia to provide school meals to children through the World Food Programme

July 2, Los Angeles, CA, USA - Due to the overwhelming success of the campaign launched by Shakira and Activia, Howard G. Buffett, a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger since 2007, today announced a commitment by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to provide additional funding to support WFP’s school meals program.

The foundation will provide funding for 600,000 school meals and will match additional public donations made at www.wfp.org/shakira for another 600,000 meals. With each meal costing just US$0.25, WFP can provide a child with a month's worth of school meals for $5.

As part of the campaign supporting WFP, Activia and Shakira’s foundation, Pies Descalzos, donated a total of 3 million meals for children in need.



Caritas aids families caught in Iraq conflict

by Caritas Internationalis

1st July – Caritas Iraq is providing food, bedding and hygiene kits to 2000 Iraqi families who have fled their homes after fighting broke out in the north of the country.

Heavy clashes between armed groups intensified in June, causing a massive movement of 400,000 people out of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and other towns towards Kurdistan. Iraqi Christians have been one of the groups affected.

Christians have also fled Mosul in large numbers.(...) People are living in camps, churches, mosques and with local people. Caritas Iraqi staff and volunteers in the north will distribute aid to a further 1000 families more than the 2000 already reached.

Caritas helps people regardless of their religion. Pope Francis has called for peace and political dialogue, and reaffirmed that more violence will never bring hope and peace. Caritas France (Secours Catholique) has launched a petition in English and French calling on the EU to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty as a way to stem the flow of arms into the region.



Canada supports WFP’s fight against hunger and malnutrition in Sudan

1st July, Khartoum-  The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed today a generous contribution of US$4.5 million from the Government of Canada towards WFP emergency operations in Sudan. The new contribution will be used to support nutrition activities which are a key component of WFP’s emergency response in Sudan where more than 2 million children suffer from moderate acute malnutrition every year.  

Canada has also contributed half a million Canadian dollars towards the United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) in Sudan which is managed by WFP and provides safe and efficient passenger and small cargo services to the humanitarian community across Sudan.   

Canada is one of WFP’s top donors in the fight against hunger.

Sudan remains one of WFP’s largest and most complex operations.  In 2014, WFP plans to reach 4.1 million people across Sudan, of whom 3.2 million are in the conflict-affected region of Darfur.



USA -  Corporate, philanthropic leaders pledge $1.5-billion in impact investments

June 25 – More than 20 private-sector investors have committed to $1.5-billion in new investments designed to deliver positive social and environmental impact, in addition to profit, according to the White House. The pledges came out of a roundtable on impact investing hosted today by the White House. They include a commitment from Prudential Financial to create a $1-billion impact-investing portfolio by 2020 to promote financial and social mobility, and promises from the McKnight Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to dedicate 10 percent of their endowment assets to impact investments.

In addition, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation pledged investments meant to expand energy efficiency, and the Ford Foundation said it will invest in economic mobility.

Among the other participants are The Wallace Global Fund, the Omidyar Network, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.



US wheat grain contribution helps food insecure Palestinians

June 22, Jerusalem - After a journey of 21 days, a ship carrying wheat grain from USA delivered its cargo for WFP’s food assistance operations in Gaza and the West Bank.

The grain will be offloaded and transported to the West Bank and Gaza, where it will be milled in local Palestinian milling factories, supporting the local economy. After the milling process, the flour will be bagged and distributed to food insecure Palestinians as part of WFP’s in-kind food distributions. The wheat will feed 85,000 people in Gaza for three months, while 73,000 people in the West Bank will receive wheat flour for more than five months.

The wheat grain donation, worth more than USD 7.4 million, is part of a larger overall contribution by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to WFP’s operations in the West Bank and Gaza. Over the past three years, USAID has donated more than USD 55 million for WFP’s operations in Palestine.



Save the Children to provide child-friendly spaces for children affected by US border crisis

Fairfield, Conn., USA, June 21 – Save the Children is working to address the immediate needs of children at the US border who have fled violence and insecurity in Central America. Thousands of minors are now overwhelming our border control institutions ill-prepared to meet the basic needs of such large numbers of unaccompanied children. Those numbers are only expected to grow in the coming weeks and months: according to government estimates, more than 47,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border, with more than 60,000 expected this year.

“Parents have made the desperate decision to send children alone across thousands of miles. These children have already faced a long and dangerous journey to reach the United States, and are extremely vulnerable to further harm,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. “We are working quickly to identify their needs and help provide them a safe space where they receive the age-appropriate care and support they need.”

Save the Children opened a child-friendly space in McAllen, Tex. on Saturday to provide psychosocial support and care programs that will serve an estimated 150 mothers and children each day. Child-friendly spaces are one of Save the Children’s signature programs to provide care and services to children in crisis, both in the US and globally.



Bulgarian Red Cross responds as thousands are affected by floods

By Andreea Anca, IFRC

21 June – The Bulgarian Red Cross staff and volunteers responded immediately to the humanitarian needs following the flash floods that suddenly hit the north-eastern part of the country late on Thursday, 19 June. Disaster emergency  response teams are in place and volunteers distribute blankets, pillows, bed linen, food, drinking water to the affected population in and around the cities of Varna and Dobrich. Teams of psychologists provide psychosocial support in order to help people cope with the impact of the disaster.

Thunderstorms and torrential rains triggered floods that claimed 13 lives so far in Varna and two in the town of Dobrich, and caused dozens of evacuations and considerable damage to houses, private businesses, roads and other public infrastructure. (...) Authorities declared a state of emergency on Friday, June 20 in the two worst affected municipalities of Varna and Gabrovo and declared a day of mourning on Monday, 23 June. The Bulgarian Red Cross response teams continue their work and assessment of needs in cooperation with the structure and teams of the Ministry of Interior. No IFRC assistence is requested so far.



Iraq: ICRC steps up aid operation as conflict intensifies

20 June – Armed conflict continues in Iraq. Fighting has spread from Mosul into parts of central Iraq, and has been taking place in Anbar since December. Thousands are dead and over 800,000 displaced. The ICRC has been helping displaced people since the beginning of the year. So far, we have provided food and other aid to over 150,000 people who have fled the fighting. The ICRC has carried out distributions in Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Karbala, Najaf, Babel, Al Qadissiya, Salah al-Din, Kirkuk, and Nineveh.

After negotiating with all parties to the conflict and coordinating its activities with the Ministry of Health, the ICRC directly delivered wound-dressing materials for 500 patients to Fallujah's main hospital. We provided three other hospitals with enough dressing materials for 550 patients. The ICRC also completed the repair of a primary health-care centre and a water pumping station in Ramadi city, which had been damaged in clashes.



THE ONE 2014 assigned to Barbara Hoffman for her cause in Mozambique, Africa

On a heartwarming and uplifting night in the lively city of Hong Kong, filled with touching stories, entertainment and charity, THE ONE 2014 - Barbara Hofmann, was announced on June 12th at the award’s third Gala Dinner held at Holiday Golden Mile. 400 of Hong Kong’s socialites, celebrities, decision makers and entrepreneurs came to honour the four finalists. Donations continued throughout the evening with several generous individuals making personal donations to each of the finalists and to THE ONE Foundation.

THE ONE Committee’s recent formation of a US$100,000 Emergency fund will, on a case by case basis, be used to help any one of the selected finalists over the years. This emergency fund was developed as a result of our experiences in which our finalists have written to us for assistance after they have used up their funds. These additional funds will be used to help them in the case of emergencies to ensure that they can continue helping individuals in need.

We are proud to dedicate THE ONE 2014 award of $100,000 USD to Barbara Hofmann, known to many thousands of children in Mozambique as “Mama,” who devoted her life to the children of war-torn Mozambique by founding the ASEM - Association Pour Les Enfants de Mozambique  - in 1991. Her mission involves working directly to help the marginalized children and youth of Mozambique and investing in ways to improve and empower these children towards a better tomorrow. 

Over the first three years, THE ONE has awarded and supported 13 unsung heroes who have used the award money to build schools and hospitals, to provide medicine and medical care to the needy and to educate and protect the powerless children of the world. These heroes have affected and improved the lives of millions in India, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, East Timor, Thailand, India, Mongolia, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia.



Kyrgyzstan: protecting children from violence

by Almaz Jumaliev

12 June – A number of street and working children are increasing rapidly in Kyrgyzstan due to difficult economic and social situations in the country. It creates family relation problems, alcoholism and violence against children. DanChurchAid and the Centre for the Protection of Children aims to address the issues and problems facing the children by providing education, temporary shelter, food, and psychological support.

Recently, DanChurchAid financed a new project titled “Stop Silence about Violence against Children” implementing by CPC together with other local civil society organizations.  

The “Stop Silence about Violence against Children!” is funded by the European Union and implementing by the Center for Protection of Children, in partnership with the Association of NGOs to promote the rights and interests of children, Legal Clinic ‘Adilet’, ‘Y-Peer’ and Danish international organization DCA Central Asia.

The total budget of the project amounts to EUR 875,000. The European Union provided EUR 710,000 and DanChurchAid contributed EUR 165,000.




Peace and security


Integrating mine and explosive risk education into the primary schools of DRC

June, 25 – In 2013 UNMAS-DRC provided, through its programme, risk education to more than 218,000 Congolese. One of the most important groups that UNMAS targets is young people. This is an enormous task. To address it, UNMAS-DRC, in partnership with the national Ministry of Education, took the initiative to develop teachers’ capacities in delivering risk education in primary schools with the aim of raising awareness about mines and explosive remnants of war.

Due to the size of the country and number of schools, the UNMAS-DRC programme is building a pool of national experts who can train teachers around the country. An important group of trainers, National Education Inspectors, participated in a three-day Training of Trainers on Risk Education session recently in Kinshasa.



Syrian Kurdish armed non-State actor commits to ban anti-personnel mines, sexual violence and child recruitment

16 June – On 5 June 2014, in Ramalan, in the Kurdish region of Syria, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), and the « Democratic Self-Administration in Rojava » signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning AP mines and the Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence in armed conflict and against gender discrimination.

Geneva Call’s delegation also raised the issue of child recruitment and use in hostilities. “Despite earlier measures to prohibit the recruitment of children under 18, we admit that the problem persists, we are aware of international concern about this issue, and we are making every effort to find a permanent solution, in collaboration with all stakeholders, and particularly with Geneva Call,” YPG Deputy General Commander Redur Xelil said.

Geneva Call will visit the police training academy for a closer review of the curriculum, and assess the requirement to integrate other norms into it, such as the treatment of detained minors.



Palestine announces intention to join cluster bomb ban

6 June – Attending a 27 May workshop on the Convention for Arabic speaking countries hosted by Norway and facilitated by Lebanon, Geneva-based representative  of Palestine Ibrahim Musa stated Palestine’s intention to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the next group of treaties that Palestine signs.

.Palestine’s announcement of its intention to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions was warmly welcomed by attendees at the workshop including the Cluster Munition Coalition, International Committee of the Red Cross, and other states in attendance.Palestine also indicated its intention to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.






South Africa - More MSF patients with DR-TB gain access to dramatically cheaper version of life-saving drug

Johannesburg, June 30 — After a three-year long struggle, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has received approval from the South African Medicines Control Council (MCC) to import a dramatically more affordable version of an antibiotic, linezolid, in order to expand access to the medicine and provide better treatment options to patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) in Khayelitsha, Western Cape.

With the MCC approval, MSF can now import the first quality assured generic version—that has been approved by the UK regulatory authorities—at a purchase price of US$8 per tablet (~R85). This is an 88% price reduction on the brand name private sector price. While this generic linezolid is not yet registered in South Africa, MSF is now allowed to import the product after applying for permission from the MCC under section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965. (…)



Volunteers mount vaccine drive after polio crops up in Syria

June 24 – Thousands of volunteers recruited and deployed by nonprofit groups have inoculated some 1.4 million children in rebel-held parts of Syria this year, braving shelling and air strikes to combat the disease after an outbreak in October, reports The Washington Post.

A handful of groups active in Syria, united as the ad hoc Polio Control Task Force, won cooperation from opposition fighters to orchestrate the vaccine campaign in the northern part of the country, to which UNICEF and other global aid agencies have had limited access. The effort is supported by a patchwork of local charities, international aid groups, and foreign governments.

Polio had not been seen in Syria for 15 years before last fall’s outbreak.



Mali: Health professionals trained in war surgery

Bamako/Geneva, 24 June – A workshop on the treatment of patients injured by firearms or explosive devices, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is opening today in Bamako. Over three days, some 30 surgeons, anaesthetists and specialized nurses from northern Mali and neighbouring Niger will share their experience with one another and discuss topics such as ballistics, the surgical treatment of abdominal injuries and of chest or brain trauma caused by weapons or mines, mass casualty management, the prevention of infection, and the physical rehabilitation of war-wounded patients.

The ICRC is providing support for several health-care facilities in northern Mali.



Hilton Foundation launches Marilyn Hilton Award for Innovation in Multiple Sclerosis

Los Angeles, CA, USA, June 17 – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is issuing an open invitation to submit proposals for the Marilyn Hilton Award for Innovation in Multiple Sclerosis Research. The goal of the award is to stimulate innovative and potentially paradigm-shifting research on Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which may otherwise go unfunded in times of fiscal restraint.

The Foundation expects to commit up to $6 million in grant funding to be distributed over a four-year period, with the intention of supporting multiple awards. For this funding cycle, the Marilyn Hilton Award will support grants of up to four years, totaling no more than $900,000 per organization over the grant period. A Scientific Advisory Committee will select the winners.




Energy and safety



USA - Renewables provide 14 percent of electrical generation during first third of 2014

Kenneth Bossong, SUN DAY Campaign

WashingtonD.C., 26June -- Two new back-to-back reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provide a snapshot of U.S. energy trends for the first months of 2014. (...)

From EIA's “Electric Power Monthly” report, five developments of particular note include:

First, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) provided over 14 percent of the nation's electricity for the first four months of 2014 (i.e., 14.05 percent) — a level that the EIA has been saying might not be reached until 2040. Second, wind has now passed the 5 percent threshold (i.e., it accounted for 5.15 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. during the first third of 2014). Third, electrical generation from solar for the first four months of 2014 is more than double that for the same period in 2013 (increasingly 108.9 percent). Fourth, non-hydro renewables (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) have produced more electricity in the U.S. than conventional hydropower for each of the first four months of 2014 as well as for the cumulative four-month period (52.7 percent vs. 47.3 percent). Fifth, electrical generation from nuclear power rose 0.7 percent in the first four months of 2014 compared to the first third of 2013; however, as a share of total U.S. electrical generation, nuclear declined from 19.71 percent in the first third of 2013 to 19.15 percent in first third of 2014. (...)



Israel, Finland, U.S. – best places for cleantech start-up creation

27 June - Israel, Finland and the U.S. provide the best conditions today for clean technology start-up creation according to the second edition of the Global Cleantech Innovation Index, released today by Cleantech Group and WWF. While China and Brazil currently fall outside of the top bracket of start-up generators they are strong commercializers of cleantech , and even the laggards, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia have shown a significant move towards clean technology over the last few years. The Index explores the question of where sustainable innovation companies are being created across the globe, as well as how well their products are being commercialized. It looks at why entrepreneurial companies, developing sustainable innovations, seem to spring up in certain geographies, and which economic, social and environmental conditions cultivate hotbeds for such innovation.



Lighting rural communities and reducing greenhouse gas emission in Africa and Asia

Panasonic joins the Business Call to Action

New York and Tokyo, June 25 - Panasonic Corporation joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) today with a commitment to improve the quality of life for the people in Africa and Asia by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing greater access to energy. The company plans to provide 1 million solar lanterns as a clean and safe light source for people living in regions without electricity by the end of 2018 fiscal year. Launched in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand in early 2014, these lanterns will soon be available in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya and Malaysia. Panasonic’s commitment to the BCtA is focused on providing low-income communities with greater access to affordable light.

By replacing kerosene lamps with its solar lanterns, Panasonic is helping to reduce low-income households’ spending on kerosene, which can cost up to US$100 per year. The solar lanterns will also contribute to eliminating pulmonary sickness caused by kerosene lamps.



French State Bank sets aside 5 billion Euros for green projects

Tara Patel, Bloomberg

Paris, 23 June -- Caisse des Depots et Consignations, a French state bank, is setting aside 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) for green projects after the government proposed a law to spur use of renewable electricity and boost efficiency.“We want to promote the emergence of green debt,” Pierre Ducret, head of the lender’s environmental unit CDC Climat, told a conference on energy and finance today in Paris. Half of the money will go toward making buildings more energy efficient, 2 billion euros for clean transport and 500 million euros for renewable-energy production, Ducret said. The funding is among initiatives pledged by banks including Credit Foncier de France and Societe Generale SA today for loans related to the proposed energy law. Legislation unveiled June 18 seeks to promote growth of renewable power like solar and wind, and reduce energy waste from buildings and transportation.

Financing will be mostly from private industry, with loans “at the heart” of achieving the law’s goals, Finance Minister Michel Sapin told the conference. (...)



WFP supports the rehabilitation of a water reservoir in North Kordofan

June 22, Shabboha, North Kordofan - At the site of a haffir, or water reservoir, in Shabboha, a small village near El Obeid, North Kordofan’s capital, residents of eight villages are participating in a Food-For-Work project implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP). The project, supported by the government of Japan, is run in partnership with Al-Sugya, a local NGO helping communities that have low access to potable water. When fully rehabilitated, the haffir will provide water to a population of 3,280 people.

Through its food-for-work programme, WFP provides food to local communities as seasonal support in order to participate in the rehabilitation work.

Shabboha haffir was originally constructed in 1994 with a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters.  Now with this rehabilitation the new capacity will be 35,000 cubic meters which is sufficient to provide water to the nearby communities for 6 months following the rainy season.



Asia-Pacific: UN launches Sustainable Energy for All Decade, regional hub

18 June – With an estimated 628 million people in Asia- and the Pacific lacking access to electricity and more than 1.8 billion using natural fuels, the United Nation office in the region launched today the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), underscoring the importance of clean forms of electricity in the post-2015 developing agenda.

The UN Decade was launched regionally today in Manila, Philippines. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also launched a Regional Hub to tackle energy issues at the country level.

Accessing forms of clean energy resources is seen as key factor in improving the environment and in making a positive impact on the socio-economic conditions of citizens. New ‘eco-friendly’ activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution could drastically improve the living conditions of existing and future generations.




Environment and wildlife


July 3: International Bag Free Day

Every minute of every day 1 million non-biodegradeable single use plastic bags are in use around the world. Each bag is used on average for only 25 minutes and, depending on the type of plastic, it takes between 100 to 500 years for it to disintegrate.

On Bag Free Day citizens groups around the world campaign for single use plastic bags to be banned.



As World convenes for first United Nations Environment Assembly, UN and world’s insurers unite to tackle natural disaster risk

London, 27 June - A ground-breaking alliance between the United Nations and insurance companies from across the globe today launched a drive to tackle natural disaster risk by identifying the most effective measures to combat disasters and helping communities implement them. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) Initiative brings together insurers from around the world to help communities manage risk. The PSI Initiative’s Global Resilience Project represents a phased approach to protecting communities from natural disasters.

The PSI Global Resilience Project, which is led by Insurance Australia Group, has just completed its first phase. This assessed the effectiveness of a range of disaster risk reduction measures across the three most devastating types of natural hazard-cyclone, earthquake and flood. The findings are outlined in a new report, Building disaster-resilient communities and economies.



Effects of Laos dam project to be revealed

27 June – WWF welcomes the Lao Government’s decision to have the Don Sahong hydropower project undergo a formal consultation process, a decision likely to delay construction of the project. The consultation process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project’s environmental and the social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete.

In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam, bypassing the Mekong River Commision’s (MRC) consultation process. The much-criticised project was discussed at the June 26-27 meeting of the MRC - an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong nations -- Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Don Sahong dam threatens the Mekong’s critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting the world’s largest inland fishery at risk. Close to 200,000 people have signed WWF’s petition calling on the dam builder, Mega First, to pull out of the project.



Paper path to sustainability and social responsibility unveiled

Gland, Switzerland, 17 June – Starting today, more than 100 civil society groups including WWF will be promoting a Global Paper Vision that addresses climate change, human rights and new expectations for corporate transparency.The vision is the product of more than a year’s consultations under the umbrella of the Environmental Paper Network.

Major elements of the Vision include reducing global paper consumption and promoting fair access to paper, maximising the content of recycled fibres, responsible sourcing of fibre, clean production and reduced greenhouse gas emissions along with a suite of measures to enhance the transparency and social responsibility of paper production and consumption.

WWF supports this vision and offers practical solutions for companies and individuals who are looking for responsible ways of sourcing paper. Also, WWF works together with the paper industry towards greener business practices though initiatives such as The Global Forest &Trade Network, and the New Generations Plantations platform and the partnership with Mondi.



Norway and FAO to launch state-of-the-art research vessel

June 9, Rome– Norway is to build one of the most advanced research vessels in the world as part of an ongoing project with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to support developing countries improve the management of their fisheries.

The new $80 million research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen will replace an older craft of the same name that has been navigating the coast of Africa since 1993, carrying out in-depth research into the state of the continent’s marine ecosystems for the EAF-Nansen Project, the latest phase of a unique 40-year programme. The project works with 32 coastal countries in Africa to help them obtain detailed information on their marine resources so that they can develop fisheries management plans, with a focus on maintaining ecosystem health and productivity.

As a direct result of the project and with technical guidance from FAO, 16 countries in Africa have developed management plans for their fisheries.




Religion and spirituality


Hindu prayer opens Virginia’s Portsmouth City Council 1st time in 262 years

Portsmouth City Council in Virginia (USA), established in 1752, had its first historic Hindu invocation on June 24 evening, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the opening prayer from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the City Council. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.



Jewish broadcasting wins top prizes at European TV Festival of Religious Programmes

Hilversum, June 15 - The winner of the Prize for best programme at the European TV Festival of Religious Programmes 2014, organized by SIGNIS and WACC in Hilversum (Netherlands) was Jewish Broadcasting (Joodse Omroep) for Spot the Differences (Zoek de verschillen). This programme also won the Audience Prize.

Spot the Differencesfollows young theatre director Esther Porcelijn from Tilburg as she visits the U.S. Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Here she is the guest of Rabbi Dalfin and his family in Brooklyn who wants to teach her about the life, customs and practices of the world of Orthodox Judaism in the largest Jewish community in the Diaspora. Spot the differences is a coproduction of Jewish Broadcasting and production company Beeld.

Second Prize went to the RTE production Lifers, exploring the lives of three Irish missionaries who have spent a lifetime working in some of the most challenging places on earth. Third Prize was awarded to Feifei, a production by the Dutch broadcaster IKON, which told the story of a young undocumented immigrant in the Nethertlands and which is the first in a series of programmes based around the UN Convention on Children’s Rights.



Frederick in Maryland becomes 12th US city to declare Oct 25 as “Rajan Zed Day”

City of Frederick in Maryland has become the 12th city in USA to declare October 25 as “Rajan Zed Day” after religious statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism.

Cities of Hartford (Connecticut), Taylorsville (Utah), Madera (California), Sparks (Nevada), Chowchilla (California), Sanger (California), Exeter (California), Tulare (California), Santee (California), Dos Palos (California) and Reedley (California) have already declared October 25 as “Rajan Zed Day”. City of Reno (Nevada) has also proclaimed a day in Zed’s recognition twice in the past.

Signed by Frederick Mayor Randy McClement and carrying the city seal, Proclamation of the City of Frederick mentions: “Rajan Zed’s initiative is to bring the various religious communities together throughout the world so that they can live in peace and mutual trust and enrich themselves through dialogue”.

Zed opened the Board of Aldermen of Frederick, second-largest city of Maryland founded in 1745 and incorporated in 1817, with its first historic Hindu prayer on June 19; reciting from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures.




Culture and education


United Nations and Norway to support girls’ education in Malawi

July 2, Dedza/Malawi - A new initiative to ensure better education for girls in Malawi is today being launched by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Dedza. Improving Access and Quality of Education for Girls in Malawi is a three-year, MK 7.2 billion programme that provides a range of interventions to address key threats to girls’ education: poor food and nutrition, inadequate protection, poor-quality schooling and violations of girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.

Funded by Norway, the initiative is supported by the United Nations through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Getting girls to stay in school remains a major challenge in Malawi. According to Government of Malawi figures, only 27% of girls complete primary education. The programme builds on the National Girls Education Strategy which was launched by the Government of Malawi in May to address the root causes of low educational achievement among girls.



Microsoft and Rotary bring technology skills to 150 schools in Delhi NCR

July 1st, New Delhi, India - Microsoft India and Rotary International District 3010 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide the Microsoft IT Academy Program in 150 Delhi NCR schools covering over 150,000 students and 7,500 educators.

The program's resources include online learning content, official Microsoft course materials, curricula, learning management system and instructor tools. Further, each school gets access to student and faculty certifications to train educators to use world-class curriculum in their classrooms. The curricula spans computer basics to high-level programming including Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio and other application development tools.

Microsoft IT Academy is a subscription-based program designed for accredited academic institutions worldwide. Rotary International District 3010 has undertaken to sponsor over 150 schools in this joint initiative with Microsoft.



Mali - Rebuilding Timbuktu: UN agency working with Mali to ‘keep culture significant’

27 June – Two of the World Heritage mausoleums destroyed in Timbuktu have now been rebuilt through a partnership with local communities, the United Nations cultural agency said, adding that it will need an additional $8 million to finish the rehabilitation of the site and of libraries that could again store hundreds of thousands of Malian manuscripts.

“We are looking for $11 million,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative to Mali, Lazare Eloudou Assomo, said in New York. The UN agency has been able to gather around $3 million through bilateral cooperation and other funding, he said, but “if we don’t have the $8 million, it would be difficult for us to implement our activities.”

Timbuktu was an economic, intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa during the city’s golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries. According to UNESCO, the three mosques and the 16 mausoleums comprising the property are part of the fabled city that was once home to 100,000 inhabitants.



Donors make record-setting pledges of $28.5 billion to fund education

26 June – Expectations were blown out of the water today in Brussels as historic financial commitments were made toward funding education in the world’s poorest countries that will help provide a quality education for millions of children.

At what could have been viewed as a melting pot of the education policy world, politics, civil society, and international organisations came together in the heart of Belgium June 25th and 26th for the second Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Replenishment Conference in hopes of hitting what now seems like a very modest US $3.5 billion post-2015 funding goal.

A vast majority of the record-high dollar amount came from 27 developing countries’ promise to increase spending on education by $26 billion over the next three years, a 25 percent jump from current levels. Another $2.1 billion came from the likes of European Union, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom. (…)



Mali: WFP helps get children back to school after conflict

June 21, Bamako - In Northern Mali, a lot more children are finishing the school year than started it. This is in part thanks to WFP School Meals, with funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO). In 2013, as security began to improve in Mali, the government started working towards post-war recovery with an ambitious back-to-school campaign. The “Peace is back, school is back” campaign aimed to help 500,000 children, whose education had been disrupted, get back to school and back on track.

Since December of 2013, in the 617 schools assisted by WFP in northern Mali, there has been an increase in student enrolment of almost 20%. While this increase can’t be attributed solely to school feeding, partners and educators alike said that they believe it makes a significant difference.

Thanks to humanitarian funding from the European Union (ECHO), the WFP emergency school feeding programme currently covers 130,000 children in 617 schools in Gao and Timbuktu.



USA - Nonprofit boosts kids’ math and reading skills over the summer

By Caroline Bermudez

June 16 – For one charity, summer isn’t a time to relax but to charge ahead.

Building Educated Leaders for Life, or BELL, provides after-school and summer programs for low-income children in urban areas, to help reverse the seasonal erosion of math and reading skills. The average American student loses one month of math and reading skills per summer, according to a 2011 study by the RAND Corporation. Low-income children’s literacy skills are set back two months, the study found. By contrast, the average BELL participant gains the equivalent of 1.4 months in reading skills and 1.7 months in math.

Operating in 11 cities, BELL’s summer programs serve 10,000 children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Schools and school districts ask the charity to help students who are the most in need. For up to six weeks—as much as eight hours a day, five days a week—children receive breakfast and lunch and get instruction in reading and math. They also enjoy recess and arts, music, and science activities. The programs try to strike a balance between work and play (...)

Half of BELL’s $22-million annual budget comes from government grants. The other half comes from private support: Target is BELL’s lead corporate sponsor, and the group has received grants from the Wallace and Edna McConnell Clark foundations and the John M. Belk Endowment. (…)



SIGNIS Board of Directors decides to "promote stories of hope through connectivity"

Brussels, June 7 - The Board of Directors of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, meeting in Brussels from 1 to 6 June 2014, has chosen the theme "Media for a Culture of Peace: Promoting Stories of Hope through Connectivity", to guide the work of the association for the next three years.

Under the leadership of new SIGNIS President Gustavo Andújar, and Vice-Presidents Frank Frost and LJ Sinniah, the meeting focused on the achievements and the perspectives offered by the SIGNIS World Congress 2014 in Rome. The Board assessed the findings of the SIGNIS Future Search conference and various international projects, to come up with a new global strategy for SIGNIS and a new theme for 2014-2017: "Media for a Culture of Peace: Promoting Stories of Hope through Connectivity".

The new theme means that SIGNIS wants to build a global culture of peace by conveying hope in the context of the new digital culture. It also hints at a revised communication strategy based on the achievements of SIGNIS members and a better use of the social media and networks.



Mindful Media: transforming children’s relationship with media in the UK

A new programme has been launch by the Transformational Media Initiative (TMI) to help improve children’s relationship with media. The programme currently being run in schools in London teaches children mindfulness techniques to help them have a more aware and responsible relationship as both consumers and producers of media. The programme hopes to combat issues such as cyber-bullying, copycat violence and sexting and inspire children to use the power of media for good. The TMI, which is partnered with the UN Foundation, is a global network of changemakers and media professionals interested in creating media that serves humanity and the planet.http://www.transformationalmediainitiative.org/projects/mindful-media/



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Next issue after the August interval: 12 September 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.”

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