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In spite of everything, a culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour

Monthly – year 16th, number 238 –11 September  2015


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

NGO Conference at the UN: Honoring the Past, Recognizing the Present, Imagining the Future


International legislation


Iceland bans cluster bombs

31 August  - Iceland deposited its instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. Congratulations on becoming the 95th State Party!A signatory of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since 2008, Iceland has never stockpiled, used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions.(...) “Iceland made a big effort this year to prioritise ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. As use of the weapon continues in Syria and Yemen, and cluster munition remnants continue to take lives and limbs worldwide, it's important that other nations join Iceland in putting the protection of civilians first”, said Amy Little of Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition. The Convention will enter into force for Iceland on 1 Feb 2016.



UN urges all States to sign, ratify Nuclear Test Ban as ‘critical step on road to nuclear-free world’

28 August – For the fifth International Day against Nuclear Tests, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by nuclear-armed states but stressed that these cannot substitute for a legally-binding treaty. “The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is essential for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Ban said in a message. “It is a legally-binding, verifiable means by which to constrain the quantitative and qualitative development of nuclear weapons.”

The UN General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests in December 2009, adopting a unanimous resolution that calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”



Rwanda bans cluster bombs

Rwanda deposited its instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 25 August 2015 at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. Congratulations on becoming the 94th State Party! A signatory of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since 2008, Rwanda is not known to have used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.



UNHCR welcomes Belize's support to global initiative to reduce statelessness

21 August  - The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has welcomed Belize's landmark decision to join the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the second accession by a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state and a strong example for the region. The Convention will enter into force for Belize on 12 November 2015. In November 2014, UNHCR launched a global campaign to eradicate statelessness in 10 years and in consultation with States, civil society and international organizations developed a Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014-2024.



Connecticut's top court bans death penalty in state
13 August - Connecticut's top court ruled that the state could no longer impose the death penalty, calling it unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. The New England state is the latest to back away from the death penalty, following Nebraska earlier this year and Maryland in 2013.
The decision followed a 2012 state law that abolished capital  punishment for crimes committed after that date but allowed it to be imposed for crimes previously committed. The decision comes weeks after liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that they believe capital punishment as currently practiced in the United States may be unconstitutional. "The Connecticut court followed suit in not finding just one problem with the death penalty but many," said Boston College law professor Kari Hong. "I suspect this will be the first of many state courts reconsidering whether the death penalty is cruel."



Colombia commits to ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munition

11 August  – On 10 August 2015the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that Colombia will ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions by the time of the First Review Conference of the convention. Colombian campaigners have been tirelessly advocating for ratification of the convention for over six years since Colombia signed it in 2008. Cluster Munition Coalition has been persistently encouraging the government of Colombia to ratify the convention. In April 2015, through a global action campaigners from around the world demanded Colombia to ratify the convention, by writing letters.

Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela are the only Latin American countries that have not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions yet.




Human rights


The Dolomites embrace human rights.

On September 13th 2015, the Tre Cime Mountains in the Dolomites (Bolzano, Italy) will be the setting for a massive “human chain”, an embrace for human rights. 100 years ago the First World War was fought in these mountains. On September 13th, 6,000 people will meet and 12,000 hands unite to call for protection for every man, woman, and child on the planet. Amnesty International and the NGO Insieme Si Può have come together to work to protect these rights.



Caritas launches appeal to help refugees in Serbia

3 September, Serbia - The number of migrants and refugees entering Serbia has increased drastically since mid-June. Caritas Serbia is looking to respond to the needs of 100,000 people with an appeal for Euro 800,000. The people need food, nappies, health assistance, shelter, counselling and transportation. Many are sleeping in the open, without adequate access to shelter, clean water or enough food.

 Caritas has already been providing aid in Preshevo, Belgrade, Kanjiza, Subotica, Bogovadja, including food, hygiene packs, counselling and other aid. Caritas Serbia are now scaling up their operations to reach 100,000 refugees and migrants. They will be working in Preshevo and Miratovac in the southern border with Macedonia and Kanjiza and Subotica in northern border with Hungary.



UNICEF announces release of 163 more children by armed group in Central African Republic

28 August - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today that 163 children have been released by an armed group in the Central African Republic, where thousands of other boys and girls are still serving as combatants, cooks and messengers for the country’s militant factions. The 163 children, five of the girls, were released today in a ceremony in the town of Batangafo where the handover was facilitated by UNICEF and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The children received medical care and spoke to social workers before they were taken to a transition centre where they will be supported in either going back to school or enrolling in vocational training.



Global pilgrimage for international climate change action starts India tour

20 August, New Dehli - The People’s Pilgrimage is a project of Our Voices (www.ourvoices.net) the global interfaith campaign for climate action. The arrival in India of this inter–faith global environmental movement is seen as an important milestone in a country that has suffered the extremes of climate through heat waves, droughts, floods and cyclones but also shows leadership with massive investment in clean solar power.

Pilgrims from across the world will converge in Paris and state their demands to the world’s governments in time for the opening on 30 November of the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21). They will insist that the agreement the conference is tasked to adopt contain a full range of measures relating to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate impacts, technology and finance and a long-term goal.



Rights activists honored

Alison Des Forges award honorees from Uganda, Syria, Malaysia, Azerbaijan

New York, August 10 – Four courageous and tireless advocates for human rights are the 2015 recipients of the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today.

The winners, leading voices for justice in their countries, are Nisha Ayub, a leading human rights defender on transgender rights in Malaysia; Yara Bader, a journalist and human rights activist who works to expose the detention and torture of journalists in war-torn Syria; Khadija Ismayilova, a prominent investigative journalist who has dedicated her life to fighting for human rights in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan; and Nicholas Opiyo, a leading human rights lawyer and founder of the human rights organization Chapter Four Uganda, who has worked tirelessly to defend civil liberties in Uganda. Ismayilova is currently behind bars and on trial on bogus tax and other charges brought in retribution for her reporting.

The four 2015 honorees will be honored at the Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners held in more than 20 cities worldwide in November 2015 and March-April 2016.




Economy and development


United Nations Private Sector Forum 2015, UN Headquarters, New York, September 26

Hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Private Sector Forum 2015 will focus on the role of the private sector in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Convened in the context of the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, the interactive Forum is designed to increase understanding of efforts underway by the private sector and civil society, and provide a platform for the private sector to announce long-term goals and partnerships that will make an important contribution towards achieving sustainable development for all.



Celebrities join UNICEF and Global Goals to launch ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ on sustainable development

4 September – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Goals campaign today launched the World’s Largest Lesson, an initiative to teach children in more than 100 countries about the new Sustainable Development Goals that will be adopted by the UN General Assembly later this month.

UNICEF announced that the initiative has already attracted support from influential leaders and public figures including Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram, tennis star Serena Williams and the Brazilian footballer Neymar. In addition, Government leaders from a number of countries will be teaching and participating in lessons.

The UN estimates that a potential 500 million girls and boys between the ages of 8 and 14 will have the chance to learn about the Global Goals. These range from ending extreme poverty, to tackling climate change, and giving all children the opportunity to gain a quality education.



Cameroon dedicates $20 million to support national agricultural development

4 September, Yaoundé - The new FAO/Cameroon Partnership Programme (FCPP) will focus on national priorities as set forth in the FAO Country Programming Framework for Cameroon. Priorities include implementing national strategies to boost rural growth, promoting agricultural jobs for youth and women, and developing and implementing policies and strategies to build the resilience of rural populations to disasters and crises. The Programme also foresees the possibility of support to South-South Cooperation activities in other African countries, funded by Cameroon.

Cameroon has already achieved both the MDG target of halving the proportion of the population suffering from undernourishment by 2015, and the more stringent World Food Summit target of 1996 of halving the absolute numbers of the hungry by 2015.



IFAD and Cambodia sign historic host country agreement

August  26, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a host country agreement earlier this month with the Kingdom of Cambodia, the culmination of almost 20 years of support and investment in rural areas. The host country agreement will allow a stronger partnership between Cambodia and IFAD and will expedite coordination and implementation of projects.

IFAD’s current country strategic opportunities programme covers the period 2013-2018. The programme aims to improve smallholders’ access to market opportunities and rural services, and increase their resilience to climate change. IFAD financing to Cambodia for the period 2013 -2018 is estimated at US$55 million. In addition, a US$15 million grant has been allocated from IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme to explicitly factor in actions to address climate change.



Kenya and IFAD join with development partners to enhance cereal production in semi-arid counties

August  26, Rome – Today, the Republic of Kenya and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement to finance the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme – Climate-Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods Window (KCEP-CRAL).

Ten thousand smallholder farmers, including women-headed households and young people whose livelihoods depend on maize, sorghum, millet and associated pulses will benefit from this programme.

The programme funding comprises a US$61.8 million loan, a $10 million grant from IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) and an additional $2 million grant from FAO for capacity-building and agricultural services for farming communities.

IFAD will support smallholder farmers in addressing constraints on production, post-harvest management, processing and marketing. FAO will assist the farmer groups and county governments in adopting good agricultural practices, including conservation agriculture, while the World Food Programme (WFP) will provide support to food- and nutrition-insecure farmers.

The European Union will provide additional funding through IFAD and FAO. For the total cost of $118 million, KCEP-CRAL will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries of Kenya.



Colombia’s Credifamilia to extend US$240 million in mortgage loans to low-income homebuyers

24 August, Bogota, Colombia - Colombia’s Credifamilia has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to expand its successful low-income loan portfolio by extending US$240 million in home mortgages to at least 20,000 households in six urban areas which will house 78,000 people by 2020. The program includes loans for 4,000 informal households who traditionally have had difficulty in accessing mortgage loans. The company aims to address Colombia’s chronic housing shortage by developing home-loan programmes that target low-income families (40 percent which are headed by women), who have limited access to traditional banking services.

Credifamilia has developed a number of dynamic methods for expanding its client base and mitigating risk. These include partnering with supermarkets and pharmacies as payment networks so clients can pay monthly installments near their homes, educating prospective home-buyers with information and technical advice on the home buying process, and individual home appraisals to ensure construction quality and fair market value.



New models of securing customary land piloted in Zambia

20 August- The Dan Church Aid (DCA) partner, Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA), is piloting new ways of securing land rights and ownership for the majority of Zambia’s poor rural households through a project encouraging traditional chiefs to issue Customary Land Holding Certificates. The project called “Enhancing Sustainable Livelihoods for the Poor and Marginalised Households through Land Tenure Security (SULTS),” is aimed at empowering the poor and marginalised communities to hold local leaders accountable in administration of customary land.

Co-financed by the European Union and DCA, and implemented by ZLA in collaboration with associate partners, Gwembe District Land Alliance (GDLA) and Monze District Land Alliance (MDLA), the project, targeted over 4000 households in the Districts of Gwembe, Monze and Solwezi.



ACDI/VOCA promotes youth opportunities

August 12 – Globally, ACDI/VOCA implements agricultural programs that promote opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods. Today, on International Youth Day, we'd like to showcase how we've begun to focus on how youth can benefit from our programs, including what unique strengths young people possess that can contribute to poverty reduction.

Youth tend to be more entrepreneurial than their parents, and are interested in venturing out on their own to prove their abilities and worth. In a market-driven agricultural program, these characteristics make youth ideal candidates to provide services to farmers through small businesses. In two USAID Feed the Future projects, Ghana and Tanzania, youth have been provided with technical training (in, for example, the proper use of pesticides and spraying equipment) as well as entrepreneurship and marketing training. By fostering the creation of youth-run local businesses to provide these services, the projects create market-driven, sustainable channels for sharing information on good agricultural practices with local farmers.



Report of the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Realizing the Future We Want for All

UN, August 3 - In its report Realizing the Future We Want for All, the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda lays out its main findings and recommendations for a development agenda beyond 2015. It calls for an integrated policy approach to ensure inclusive economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability and a development agenda that responds to the aspirations of all people for a world free of want and fear.

The present report outlines a bold vision for transformative change towards inclusive, people-centered, and sustainable development and considers some parameters for consideration when shaping the global development agenda. It arrives at these recommendations by thoroughly discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the Millennium Development Goals and by assessing a number of pressing development challenges that need to be addressed in a global agenda for sustainable development. Finally, the report offers a number of suggestions on the way forward for the consultations of the post-2015 agenda.






U.S. wheat shipment arrives in Yemen to help WFP provide vital food assistance

September 4, Cairo - A large shipment of wheat from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has arrived and been unloaded in Al-Saleef port in northwestern Yemen, providing enough wheat to feed more than 1 million people for two months.

According to a food security report issued in June, 6.1 million Yemenis are severely food insecure – that is 1 in 5 of the country’s population is in need of external food assistance. Since April, WFP has reached over 3.8 million conflict-affected and severely food insecure people in 13 of Yemen’s governorates.



“Mai” Mrs. Sindhutai Sapkal, THE ONE 2015

Builds her dream home for her orphans with her THE ONE Award money

September -  With a vision of uplifting the lives of her deprived children and helping them to get back on their own feet, Mrs. Sindhutai Sapkal is planning to build a vocational training centre (SMABSS) for the students of Sanmati Balniketan Manjari (Orphanage) with the US$100,000 awarded to her by THE ONE.

Nurturing over 1,050 orphaned children over the years, Mrs. Sapkal has an in-depth understanding on how to equip them for the real world. She always believes that only by providing job-related training that they can look out for themselves for the rest of their lives.

 After winning THE ONE Award, Mrs. Sapkal’s plan is to provide practical and technical inputs to the orphans for their livelihood options. SMABSS will provide a home for 40 students who will be taking their education, food and shelter lessons there. In the training center, the children will also receive a 6-month training of computer, mobile, English language and personality development based programs.



Bangladesh - 35,000 flood victims helped with life-saving cash

August 28, Dhaka - More than 35,000 flood-affected people in southeastern Bangladesh are to receive financial assistance so they can replenish food and other necessities lost when the region was hit by cyclonic storm Komen earlier this month. Flood and landslide affected families in critical need in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts will receive 3,000 taka per month over the next three months (totalling US$115), in order to prevent food insecurity and undernutrition from getting any worse. The money is provided by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

With the first payments beginning this week, WFP, together with local NGOs, has set-up mobile bank accounts for the families who will receive financial help.  



‘See the Lord’: Chinese American Catholic group helps needy people see

28 August, Santa Clara, Ca, USA-- Dr. Kelly Kao is no longer making a top salary as a Silicon Valley optometrist and researcher for Google Glass. Instead, Kao and her friends, motivated by their Catholic faith, are using their skills to help poor people see in the Far East and even California's San Joaquin Valley. In the past three years, the Catholic non-profit See the Lord has brought eyeglasses, and vision health care to thousands of poor people in rural areas of Taiwan, the Philippines and Sanger, California.

See the Lord is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, young professionals who became friends through their faith and involvement in the San Jose Chinese Catholic Mission in Santa Clara.



Palestine: Delivering training to healthcare workers stuck in Gaza

26 August – For healthcare workers living in the Gaza Strip, it is extremely difficult to access the specialised medical training they need to develop their skills and provide the best quality care to patients.

Rochelle DeLacey, an intensive care nurse from Auckland, New Zealand, has done two field placements with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Gaza, providing training to local nurses.

Intensive care is a highly technical field of medicine which is extremely important in this small territory where the population is often subject to violence and trauma. Local people not only suffer due to the bombing and fighting, but Israel’s blockade on Gaza also tightly restricts movement of people and supplies. This means healthcare workers are unable to travel easily to access training, and there are also inadequate educational opportunities within Gaza itself. All this limits their capacity to improve their knowledge and provide the best quality care to their patients.

To improve the quality of medical care, MSF has organised a series of specialised medical training sessions in Gaza in recent years.



ADRA responds to flooding in Myanmar

12 August Silver Spring, Md., USA - Severe flooding in Myanmar from a heavy monsoon season and Cyclone Komen have affected more than 1 million people, with waters taking lives, inundating homes and businesses and destroying livelihoods since July. ADRA has already distributed food kits to 400 families by employing creative methods including using a flying fox system to get to families isolated by waters.

ADRA plans to continue response long term. More than 1 million acres of farmland have been destroyed, affecting the livelihoods of many families in 12 out of 14 regions and states including Chin state, Sagaing Region, Magway Region, and Rakhine State




Peace and security


September 21: International Day of Peace

2015 theme: Partnerships for Peace — Dignity for All

UN Peace Day has come to be widely observed around the world with citizens undertaking a huge variety of local actions for peace including interfaith prayers, meditations and minutes of silence. At UN Headquarters, an annual ceremony is held during which the Secretary General ceremonially rings the Peace Bell and calls on the people of the world to observe a minute of silence at 12 noon. The day is celebrated by the UN as a day of non-violence and cease fire, inviting all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

Events organized around the world on the day include festivals, concerts, a global Peace Wave with moments of silence at noon in every time zone and countless local activities. Special talks by leading peace builders from around the world are available now from the Summer of Peace 2015 initiative.

www.internationaldayofpeace.org    www.un.org/en/events/peaceday


September 21, International day of Peace, “A day of Peace” event in Turin, Italy

On the occasion of the International Day of Peace (UN Declaration 36/37 of November 30th1981) celebrated all over the world on September 21, the Committee “Bandiera della Pace” with the patronage of the City of Turin and in collaboration with the associations Centro Studi Parvati, Oro Argento e Sagittario organizes in Turin “A day of Peace”. The event will take place on September 20th at Carlo Alberto square (nearby Turin National Library) from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Symbol of the day will be the “Banner of Peace” by Nicholas Roerich which expresses the commitment of Art, Science and Spirituality for a new culture of Peace. During the afternoon songs, lectures, music, dances and games will be perfomed and witnesses in favor of peace will be given.



USAID funds emergency education for children in South Sudan

25 August, Pibor, South Sudan – The U.S. Government today announced an additional $6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to UNICEF to provide education to children and youth affected by conflict. The additional contribution brings USAID's total grant to UNICEF for emergency education in South Sudan over two years to $23.5 million. These funds will enable UNICEF to increase the number of children and youth who will be reached with emergency education services through USAID support to 200,000. Demobilized child soldiers and other out-of-school children in the Pibor area will now benefit from this initiative. Pibor is one of the least developed areas of South Sudan. Conflict has forced out-of-school girls into early marriage, while boys as young as 14 joined or were conscripted into armed groups. In January, the Cobra Faction armed group began releasing children from its ranks. A total of 1,757 children have been released in the Pibor area; 145 of these children have started attending classes at the Pibor Primary School.



Ipb to Award the 2015 Macbride Prize to two Island Communities: Lampedusa & Jeju Island

August 24, Geneva -  The International Peace Bureau (IPB) is delighted to announce its decision to award the annual Sean MacBride Peace Prize to two island communities who, in different circumstances, show proof of a profound commitment to peace and social justice. Lampedusa (Italy) has responded to the dramatic circumstances of thousands of refugees over the last few years; over a similar period Gangjeon Village, Jeju Island (South Korea) has resisted the construction of a naval base which will destroy the local environment and the traditional way of life of the people.



UN atomic energy agency receives documents from Iran on nuclear programme

17 August – The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has received from Iran information on its nuclear activities in accordance with an agreement signed between the two parties in order for the watchdog agency to assess possible military dimensions of the programme by year’s end.

“Iran provided the IAEA with its explanation in writing and related documents as agreed in the Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, concluded between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran on 14 July 2015,” IAEA announced over the weekend.

The IAEA was asked to monitor and verify the nuclear-related measures set out in the landmark agreement reached in mid-July between international negotiators and the Government of Iran.

The so-called road-map sets out a process, under the November 2013 Framework for Cooperation, to enable IAEA, with the cooperation of Iran, to make an assessment of issues relating to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme by the end of 2015, according to the agency.



UNMAS assists government of Sudan in meeting Ottawa Treaty obligations

August - After decades of conflict, 10 of 18 States in Sudan are still affected by landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), with the highest contamination in South Kordofan, Kassala and Blue Nile States. Accidents that kill and maim civilians remain common, with 177 casualties reported over the last three years. More than 30 per cent of mine and ERW victims have been children. The Government of Sudan has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to meeting Article 5 obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Treaty, by the extended deadline of 1 April 2019.

In April 2015, UNMAS resumed lead of mine action in Sudan, following the departure of UNDP and a request from the Government of Sudan. UNMAS assists the National Mine Action Centre (NMAC), developing institutional, survey and clearance operations capacities; and mobilizing resources for land release, mine risk education and victim assistance.

As of July 2015, out of the 125 square km of contaminated land, 95 square km have been cleared, leaving 30 square km.






Years after Hurricane Katrina, Save the Children “Prep Rallies” and Lassie inspire kids to take action

27 August, New Orleans - Save the Children and its animal ambassador Lassie hosted fun “Prep Rally” events here this week to help local children build resiliency and feel safe as the city commemorates the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. “The Prep Rally is all about empowering our children to get prepared and feel safe,” said Erin Bradshaw, who leads Save the Children’s Get Ready Get Safe initiative.

Save the Children’s new Disaster Report Card, “Still At Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina,” shows that the federal government has yet to close many of the gaps in protecting U.S. children identified after Hurricane Katrina. Children at this week’s Prep Rallies participated in fun activities including the disaster supplies relay race, where Lassie ran by their side. The iconic collie delighted children of all ages at the events.

Teaching children about disasters helps them stay calm and cope during emergencies because they know what is happening, what to do and how to follow adult instructions. Talking about disasters also helps kids understand that caring and informed adults are ready to protect them. Schools and community groups can download the free Prep Rally curriculum at www.SavetheChildren.org/PrepRally.



Boston physician starts campaign for ebola health workers

26 August – Nahid Bhadelia first went to Sierra Leone last year to work for two weeks on a team of health-care workers treating Ebola-infected patients at the Kenema Government Hospital’s Ebola treatment center. In addition to a hospital inundated with suffering patients, the infectious-disease physician from Boston Medical Center found tumbledown facilities without basic medical supplies, tools, or equipment and a team of devoted — but struggling — local health-care workers.

Not only were they fighting to care for the sick in substandard conditions, some were contracting and dying from the disease themselves. They labored for abysmally low wages, if they got anything at all; some had not seen a paycheck in six months. So in June, she set up a crowdfunding campaign through the site GoFundMe to raise money for the Sierra Leone health-care workers and draw attention to their plight. The campaign shares the workers’ stories and shows how they are using the money people donate, some of which goes to the families of Ebola workers who have died from the disease. Dr. Bhadelia has raised about $13,000 of her $50,000 goal, and because Sierra Leone has a mostly cash-only economy, she must distribute the money on her trips there.



Belarusian and Ukrainian children in rehabilitation at Debeli rtič

20 August – With the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, ITF is currently implementing two projects for the enhancement of psychosocial and physical wellbeing of children from Ukraine and Belarus respectively. 40 Ukrainian and 30 Belarusian children are currently accommodated at the Debeli rtič Health and Youth Resort where they are receiving appropriate treatment, within the framework of two projects.

Ukrainian children are the first out of two groups of children from Ukraine - ATO zone in Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have been affected by conflict or have tragically lost a close relative and will receive psychosocial rehabilitation in the natural healing climate of Debeli rtič in August 2015.The project for the enhancement of psychosocial wellbeing of Ukrainian children affected by political violence, instability and armed conflict in the country is being implemented by ITF since 2014.



Pakistan becomes the second polio-endemic country to introduce IPV

Reaching four million children every year, the introduction of IPV will boost immunity against polio in one of the last countries with wild poliovirus

August 20 – Pakistan has become the second polio-endemic country to introduce the inactivated polio vaccine into the country’s routine immunization schedule, a move which will benefit more than four million children per year across the country. With more than half of the global birth cohort now receiving IPV due to the largest globally synchronised vaccine introduction in history, the addition of Pakistan’s children to this number will help to speed Pakistan towards stopping the virus for good.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Pakistan has made significant progress in the fight against polio with a 75% reduction in the number of cases of wild poliovirus compared to the same period last year (from 115 cases to 29 cases). This decline shows that, despite major challenges and remaining hurdles in some provinces, Pakistan is getting closer to polio eradication.



Polio teams support health of remote communities in Nigeria

August 18 – A project to improve access to hard-to-reach (HTR) populations in Nigeria with polio vaccines is having a dramatic impact on the broader health needs of remote communities in Yobe, Nigeria. In July and August, despite escalated insurgency, in addition to over 95,000 doses of trivalent oral polio vaccine the HTR project has delivered over 90,000 doses of vitamin A supplements and over 99,000 deworming tablets to isolated communities in need of medical care. What’s more, over 19,000 pregnant women received Iron Sulfate supplements and over 12,000 received preventative malaria therapy.

The HTR project was set up to access the most marginalised and disadvantaged communities in northern Nigeria with essential vaccines. This July, the Government of Nigeria committed to continuing to fund HTR teams in order to reach pregnant women and children residing in difficult terrains and security-compromised areas. The HTR teams also bring life-saving medicines, child survival and maternal health care services and health education to improve general wellbeing to these communities who are so often underserved.



Forty thousand health workers fan across Yemen

Ensuring children are protected from polio and measles

August 14, – Yemen launches on Saturday 15 August a national round of vaccination campaign against measles and polio, to protect children from these preventable diseases and ensure that Yemen remains polio-free. Despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the campaign is aiming to cover the entire country – more than 5 million under five years of age with polio vaccine and 1.4 million children under the age of 15. More than 40,000 health workers and volunteers are being mobilized for this effort, supported by the government and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The campaign is made possible by contributors to the Horn of Africa polio outbreak, which has included operations in Yemen. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative receives financial support from governments of countries affected by polio; private sector foundations, donor governments, multilateral organizations, private individuals, humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations and corporate partners.



Africa reaches important polio milestone

By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary News 

August 11 - Today marks a significant milestone for Africa in its effort to eradicate polio from the continent. A full year has passed since Africa’s last reported case caused by the wild poliovirus. Somalia was the last country to identify a new case, which occurred on 11 August 2014. While Africa has achieved an important public health milestone, the job is not yet finished. To end polio forever, all countries – both endemic and non-endemic – must strengthen routine immunization, address gaps in disease surveillance and do more to reach children who are still being missed by vaccinators. (...)

Rotary members have played a key role in the eradication effort. They have led the way in raising funds, advocating for government support, building awareness, and mobilizing volunteers on the ground (...)

Through 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is matching 2-to-1 every dollar that Rotary commits for polio, up to $35 million a year.




Energy and safety



At governing body, UN atomic energy chief spotlights sustainable development, Iran nuclear deal

7 September – Supporting the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be a key focus for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in years to come, Director General Yukiya Amano told a meeting of the Agency's Board of Governors in Vienna today, where he also provided an update on the application of nuclear safeguards in Iran, Democratic Republic of Korea and Syria.

Touching on a range of other topics, the IAEA chief also spoke about the role of nuclear energy in the run-up to the global climate summit in Paris later this year, presented the Nuclear Security Report 2015 and encouraged the active participation of Member States in the IAEA's Scientific Forum, to be held next week, focusing on the industrial application of nuclear technology and its importance for development.

During its five-day meeting, the 35-member Board will discuss measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety, and the IAEA's technical cooperation activities, among other topics.



USAID announces $10 million in new global research collaboration

28 August Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) U.S. Global Development Lab today announced $10 million for 45 new research projects that will address evidence gaps and advance technical capacity in critical areas of development. Spanning 23 USAID partner countries, the 45 new projects are funded through the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program, an initiative designed to foster collaborative global research. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine implements the program.

The latest cohort of PEER projects were selected from over 500 high-quality proposals and represent close to $50 million dollars of leveraged funds through collaborations with U.S.-funded counterparts. Through the PEER program, USAID supports researchers in developing countries working in partnership with U.S. government-funded researchers. These new awards will allow scientists and engineers to collaborate on a variety of crucial research areas, such as wildlife protection, biodiversity conservation, water resource sustainability, satellite monitoring of natural resources, fisheries management, food security, disaster mitigation, and others. The PEER program is a collaboration between USAID and eight federal science agencies. To learn more visit the PEER website.



Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

August 27, Boone, NC, USA– The project was funded by a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation of Winston-Salem. The ZSR Foundation and the Appalachian Energy Center share the goals of protecting the environment while spurring community development throughout North Carolina.

Because of this recent grant, and previous funding from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Golden LEAF Foundation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and the work of the Appalachian Energy Center, there are eight new landfill gas projects in North Carolina producing an average of over 1,700 kilowatt watt hours of electricity per month. With all of the concern about climate change, methane emissions have often been a subject of conversation. Methane is a serious greenhouse gas, 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide at storing heat in the atmosphere. Landfills are a major source of methane emissions. The methane gas is created as buried organic waste decomposes underground. These landfill gas projects capture methane before it is emitted into the atmosphere and pipe it to engines which burn the methane as fuel to generate electricity. To date over 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent have been reduced.

The Appalachian Energy Center has worked primarily with limited resource counties with smaller landfills to develop community-based landfill gas projects through a program called Community TIES.



PCID builds much-needed water network in a West Bank village

August 11 – Like many other villagers in Khalet El Mai, Hajja Sabha and Ismail Barawee relied on rainwater and tankered water to survive. With no network, running water did not reach their homes.

The Palestinian Community Infrastructure Development (PCID) Program, funded by USAID and implemented by ANERA, quickly responded to the water infrastructure needs in Khalet El Mai and 4 other nearby villages. Within weeks of installing 11,000 meters of pipes, water was reaching homes and there was enough water for the people, livestock and land combined. The residents of Khalet El Mai no longer have to worry about whether tomorrow’s sunrise will bring rainwater.




Environment and wildlife


International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer - September 16

2015 theme: 30 Years of Healing the Ozone Together

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, an important milestone in the protection of the ozone layer.The Convention and the associated Montreal Protocol on Preservation of the Ozone Layer is one of the great successes of modern international action to protect the environment. Following the Protocol treaty nations and companies acted with determination to replace ozone destroying gases from commercial products such as spray cans.

This is a Day to celebrate humanity’s ability to work together for a common cause and is a model for climate change agreements.



World deforestation slows down as more forests are better managed

7 September, Durban/Rome - The world's forests continue to shrink as populations increase and forest land is converted to agriculture and other uses, but over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50% , FAO said in a report published today.

Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990, according to FAO's most comprehensive forest review to date, The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015. It noted however, that an increasing amount of forest areas have come under protection while more countries are improving forest management. The FAO study covers 234 countries and territories and was presented at this week's World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva noted an "encouraging tendency towards a reduction in rates of deforestation and carbon emissions from forests," as well as improved information that can inform good policy. The net annual rate of forest loss has slowed from 0.18% in the early 1990s to 0.08% during the period 2010-2015.



Raytheon recognized for responsible waste management

31 August, Seattle, WA, USA - Raytheon Company has been designated as an e-Stewards® enterprise for helping protect developing nations and local communities from the effects of hazardous electronic waste. The designation recognizes Raytheon's dedicated use of certified recyclers. The e-Stewards designation, known as the gold standard within the materials recovery industry, is managed by the Seattle-based non-profit Basel Action Network.

e-Stewards recyclers undergo rigorous third-party audits annually, to ensure they do not export hazardous by-products to developing nations or dump in municipal landfills. e-Stewards recyclers ensure confidential data is secure and that operations protect workers and the environment by following the highest international standard in the industry. This designation recognizes the strong effort Raytheon has made to manage waste responsibly, in keeping with its mission to help make the world a safer place.



Thailand destroys stockpile of illegal ivory

26 August – At a solemn ceremony in Bangkok, the Thai Government today destroyed over two tonnes of illegal elephant ivory, highlighting its determination to crack down on wildlife criminals and the illegal ivory trade.

Led by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the public ceremony involved Buddhist and Brahman faith leaders praying for the elephants that had been slaughtered for their ivory as government representatives, international diplomats and conservationists witnessed entire tusks, carved ivory and trinkets being crushed into small pieces by a hammer mill. The crushed ivory was then taken to a second site where it was mixed with industrial waste and incinerated to ensure its complete destruction.

Following global best practice, the ivory stockpile from the Departments of Customs and National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation was independently audited before it was destroyed, with WWF-Thailand and Freeland acting as auditors.

Around 30,000 African elephants are poached every year, their ivory destined for countries like Thailand.



Musician nurse cycling across Canada to support David Suzuki Blue Dot Plan

19 August  – This very minute musician Derek Olive is cycling across Canada in the hopes that his efforts will eventually help Canadian citizens and the environment. Olive, who spends his working days as an emergency room nurse, wanted to do something to make a difference. The result? A 10-city, 3000km music cycling tour to support the David Suzuki Foundation's Blue Dot movement. The Blue Dot movement is an ambitious multi-year legal campaign from the David Suzuki Foundation whose long-term goal is to have environmental protections enshrined in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms via amendment. These rights Blue Dot would like to see guaranteed for citizens include breathing clean air, drinking clean water, consuming safe food, accessing nature, knowing about pollutants released into the local environment, participating in government decisions that will affect the environment.



Bold move to conserve Sumatran forest

12 August – One of the last places on Earth where Sumatran elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild has received long-term protection. The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry approved a conservation concession – a lease of the land – covering 40,000 hectares of forest on the island of Sumatra.

Through an ambitious project combining innovative financing approaches with traditional conservation, WWF, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and The Orangutan Project (TOP) will join forces with local communities to actively manage the former logging forest, known as Bukit Tigapuluh (or Thirty Hills), to protect rather than exploit the land’s natural resources.

The joint initiative in Thirty Hills ensures that some of the last unprotected lowland tropical forest in central Sumatra is formally zoned for restoration rather than clearing, and provides the conservation groups with a 60-year license to manage the area. WWF-Indonesia and Michelin are partnering in Thirty Hills on sustainable rubber production and reducing human-elephant conflict on a Michelin rubber plantation. FZS is working with local communities to enlist them as partners, and one of the early champions of the project, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, has provided funding and advocacy support since 2010 to WWF and its partners.



New EU fund aims to help Africa prepare for natural disasters

The European Union has teamed up with African governments to fund local climate research centres and help the continent prepare for natural disasters

24 July - Funding for climate monitoring and data collection is on offer from the EU as part of an €88m (£62m) pot over the next five years to implement a programme called Building Disaster Resilience to Natural Hazards in Sub-Saharan African Regions, Countries and Communities.

“Over the last decade, Africa lost about 700,000 lives to natural disasters such as floods and droughts,” said Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the African Union’s commissioner for rural economy and agriculture. “Addressing this requires predictable financial resources,” she said, adding that the EU programme could help make countries in the region more resilient.

Launched at the third Financing for Development conference in Ethiopia last week, the programme focuses on five priority areas, including climate research and data centres, in which Africa needs to make progress to reduce the impact of natural disasters, say the programme’s developers.




Religion and spirituality


India: Interreligious prayer on the Day of Creation

1 September, Hyderabad  - The first World Day of Prayer for the protection of creation, which is held today, September 1, will be celebrated in India with interreligious meetings by the Federation of Churches of Andhra Pradesh. The communities of the local faithful have organized several initiatives and celebrations involving the communities of other religions enthusiastically joined in the activities proposed. The Day will be a significant opportunity for prayer, reflection, conversion and adoption of appropriate lifestyles. Religious leaders and devout Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and indigenous cults take part in the meetings promoted by Christians. They all share the desire to become "guardians of the Creation that God has entrusted to humanity".



Bringing education to rural Mexican area, one school at a time

By Daniela Garcia, Rotary News

August 26 - (...) The Rotary Club of Berkeley, in California, USA, along with the Bahia de Jaltemba-La Peñita club and other North American clubs, recently tackled their largest project to date: a monthlong renovation of La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre , a high school in the village of Las Varas. Funding came from a Rotary Foundation global grant and the financial contributions of six Rotary districts covering the 25 Rotary clubs that participated.

Eduardo Dominguez, a member of the Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita club, says one of the biggest rewards of these efforts is the fact that a college education is now a real possibility for local students. “There are many young people in Mexico with huge potential and with much to give, as long as they are given an opportunity,” Dominguez says. “Rotarians are helping those opportunities to occur, for [these young people] to become contributors to their communities.”



Religious leaders in CAR awarded for peace efforts

20 August - Christian and Muslim religious leaders from the Central African Republic received an international award for their role in preventing sectarian war in their country. They received the prize as founders of the Interfaith Peace Platform. The award is given every two years.

The Interfaith Peace Platform shows what it takes during a crisis to bring a country together across the social, cultural and religious divides. The Interfaith Peace Platform worked to stop armed groups from exploiting religion to create chaos in the Central African Republic.  The platform travelled to trouble spots to preach messages of peace and religious understanding to communities. They also travelled internationally to call for an increase in peacekeeping efforts. They were support by Caritas and other Faith Based Organisations.



Central Africa interfaith group receives UN peace prize

19 August - Members of the Central African Republic's Interfaith Peace Platform on Wednesday received an international peace award for their work to reconcile Muslims and Christians in the war-ravaged country. The prize, in honour of United Nations envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello who was killed when a suicide bomber attacked the UN offices in Baghdad 12 years ago, was handed over to three of Central Africa's top religious leaders at a ceremony in Geneva.

The Catholic Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonne Nzapalainga, the head of the Central Africa's Islamic Council Imam Oumar Kobine Layama and the head of the country's Evangelical Alliance, Pastor Nicolas Guerekoyamene-Gbangou received their golden plaques from Vieira de Mello's widow and two sons in the UN's European headquarters.

The three founders were hailed for creating their Interfaith Peace Platform as violence began exploding across their landlocked nation two years ago in a bid to promote dialogue and prevent religious violence.




Culture and education



Solutions Summit at UN Headquarters, 27 September

The Solutions Summit is a catalytic gathering that will take place on Sunday, September 27th, 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York City. The event is timed to follow the conclusion of the 3-day high-level UN General Assembly Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The purpose of the Solutions Summit is two-fold 1) to make visible, and lift-up exceptional innovators -- technologists, engineers, scientists, and others -- who are developing solutions that address one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 2) to catalyze a grassroots effort, where communities scout and convene resources around solution-makers.

During the inaugural Solutions Summit on the 27th of September, a group of 17-20 global innovators will be invited to give a well-rehearsed 'lightning talk' outlining their breakthrough efforts to a juxtaposed audience of senior policymakers who have the means to pave solid regulatory foundations, investors who care deeply about long-term change and impact, and industry leaders who are able to deploy quickly and at scale. The gathering will serve as a catalyst for a longer-term, locally-led and globally-supported effort to activate the world's most forward thinking technologists, scientists, and engineers and to convene the resources and talent to apply their work in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals.



UN Sustainable Development Summit, UN Headquarters, New York September 25 - 27

This historic UN Summit,attended by Heads of State, will mark the adoption of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting will include an address by His Holiness Pope francis on September 25th.



UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, UN Headquarters, New York, Sept. 9

Organized by the President of the General Assembly, this fourth High Level Forum provides an opportunity for UN member states, UN agencies, media and civil society to consider ways and means of implementing the UN Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace and its importance to the Sustainable Development Goals. The Forum can be watched live at webtv.un.org



International Youth Day: With UNESCO’s support, 64 Young Artists came together in Gaza and created the longest Mural in Palestine

Gaza, 9 September - Within the framework of UNESCO's Networks of Mediterranean Youth project (NET-MED Youth) and the UN Joint campaign to celebrate the International Youth Day 2015, and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. UNESCO Office in Ramallah organized a mural painting activity in Gaza, in cooperation with UNRWA and in partnership with the General Union of Cultural Centres (GUCC), an NGO member of the NET-MED Youth network.

64 young women and men artists colored UNRWA compound's northern wall with various paintings on "Youth Civic Engagement" this year's Global theme for the International Youth Day. The paintings reflected on themes around Gazan youth, their aspirations, their future, their ambitions and their dreams.



ADRA provides education to displaced Iraqis in Kurdistan

11 August, Kurdistan, Iraq – Violence in Iraq has displaced at least 3 million people, 50 percent of which have fled to the Kurdish-controlled governorates in the north of Iraq where the Adventist  Baharka Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp providing services to families who have fled fighting in Iraq. ADRA’s programs focus on informal education, protection, and restoring livelihoods for the most vulnerable families in the camp. Through ADRA’s programs, volunteer teachers are providing informal education to small children with materials from UNICEF and while following guiding principles set by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.

ADRA programs in Kurdistan also include awareness campaigns to both displaced Iraqis and the host Kurdish community about hygiene, the dangers of child marriage, children’s education, good community relations and cooperation, and inclusion of persons with disabilities among other things.




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NGO Conference in New York City, August 25-27:

Honoring the Past, Recognizing the Present, Imagining the Future

Celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the UN, and its Special Seven-Decade Relationship with Civil Society

by Lesley Vann

Good News Agency’s Publisher Representative to the UNDPI


The 2015 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Conference at the United Nations celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, and brought together the vast diversity of international civil society constituencies, NGO stakeholders, and campaigns to the United Nations. It provided an important opportunity to build civil society’s capacity to implement the UN’s post-2015 agenda: the Sustainable Development Goals, (the SDGs).

The 2015 NGO Conference at the United Nations honored the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations with the theme: Honoring the Past, Recognizing the Present, and Imagining the Future. Further, the Conference made possible a formal celebration of a 70-year relationship between the United Nations and civil society. This programme was conceived and endorsed by five Permanent Missions to the United Nations, with events management led by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation. While the event was not the regular UN Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organization Conference, it perhaps differentiated itself by its focus on NGOs and civil society. This was a Conference by NGOs, for NGOs, geared toward civil society and enriching its universal tapestry. The organizers aspired to incorporate the best aspects from past UN NGO Conferences, while adding elements of celebration and renewal to this new event.

The idea for the 2015 NGO Conference evolved from the need to celebrate the relationship between NGOs around the world and the United Nations on the historic occasion of this great institution's 70th anniversary. The event also recognized the ongoing need among global NGOs to connect, network face-to-face, and share information among themselves as well as with the United Nations. Most of the NGOs who traditionally attend the UN DPI NGO Conference are associated with the Department of Public Information, and share information, best practices, challenges, and opportunities related to that valuable association.

The venue in New York City provided an added bonus – global networking, writ large.NGOs whose representatives arrived early were able to network with some of the most active and vibrant forces of social change and innovation at the UN and throughout New York City. This special gathering enabled NGOs to interact with a vast network of non-profit organizations, stakeholders, and actors inside and outside of the United Nations, prior to and during this celebratory summit. While the results of this networking tapestry would be hard to measure, certainly the cross-pollination, the opportunities for mutual exchange and enrichment, were palpable – across borders, genres and organizational missions.

In addition to this networking the Conference offered three full days at the United Nations Headquarters; Plenary sessions; Workshops; Roundtable Discussions; Exhibitions; Networking; Capacity Building; Special Events; and more. This is a similar format to the UN NGO DPI Conferences of years past. However this event, organized by NGOs and intended for NGOs and civil society, also became a celebratory event at UN Headquarters in New York, presented by UN Missions, NGOs, and many others, this Conference aimed to ensure civic engagement and networking at a special time for the UN family.

The UN's 70th anniversary marked a very special time to gather NGOs, celebrate their successes and their leaders over many years, focus on the post-2015 agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals, and cast an eye to the future with a special highlight on Youth in NGOs.

Speakers, workshops and events during the Conference addressed Honoring the Past - recognizing individuals and NGOs who helped make the UN-NGO relationship what it is today; Recognizing the Present - providing an important opportunity to build civil society’s capacity to implement the UN’s post–2015 agenda: the SDGs; Imagining the Future – looking ahead to promote youth from interns and lower administrative staff into managerial and directorial roles in the future.

The Speakers at this international three-day conference addressed the collective experience of civil society in relation to the United Nations by:

The entire Conference emanated from NGO interests, recognition, and thought leadership in relation to past, present, and future collaborations with the United Nations. While it was not produced (as previously) by one UN agency, this was an expression of the strong support from many Permanent Missions to the United Nations and dedicated NGO leaders, seeking to provide a platform and a timely and enjoyable opportunity for increased NGO relations in and around UN goals, at a time for communal celebration, reflection, and imagination.


In Summary, the international event emphasized:

Day 1: Honoring the Past. The Conference producers highlighted the work of NGOs and individuals who have forged the ongoing positive relationship between civil society and the UN and who recognized the individuals and organizations that make NGOs’ daily interactions with the UN meaningful and rewarding for those these Organizations all hope to serve.

Day 2: Recognizing the Present. The Millennium Development Goals are moving into the past and the Sustainable Development Goals are ascending. The Conference probed attendees to consider, “What from the MDGs was successful in your NGO? What is sustainable and should be carried forward into the SDGs?” Day Two provided an opportunity for NGOs, especially those without Consultative Status, to remind the UN and Conference delegates what worked from the MDGs and how the successes and failures of the past fifteen years ought to be recognized and highlighted as lessons learned when shaping the next great development goals for our planet.

Day 3: Imagining the Future. The UN Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, once said that nothing should be done by the UN for youth, without youth involvement. Day Three posed the following: “How do NGOs also accept this challenge: how do civil society ventures move youth from internships and low-level positions up to middle- and upper management of NGOs? How do we ensure that succession is an issue we confront and nurture, rather than, as it sometimes appears, we forget or relegate to never? Healthy, intergenerational, and youth-led NGOs are the strongest opportunity and most difficult challenge faced in dealing with new and emerging collaborations, at the United Nations and elsewhere.”

NGO leaders, practitioners, changemakers, interns, and those who care about the role of civil society in international discourse were able to participate, to join forces and to share their voices on behalf of creative change and the shaping of public opinion in their own spheres. Attendees embraced the collective experience of civil society in relation to the United Nations. Attendees and those who did not attend, are able to access the following for more information: http://2015ngoconference.org/index.html  and www.faf.org

Surely this is evidence that Civil Society is on the march, and its contribution to the shaping of a culture of peace is increasingly meaningful and valuable. The growing impact and visibility of grassroots organizations is seen. The far-reaching momentum of non-elected volunteer leaders and servants of the common good – also is seen.

Special recognition:

This Conference garnered the support of many Permanent Missions to the United Nations and dedicated NGO leaders, seeking to provide a platform and a timely and enjoyable opportunity for increased NGO relations in and around UN goals, at a time for communal celebration, reflection, and imagination.

This special event would not have been possible without the endorsement and support of the Permanent Missions of Canada, Denmark, Republic of Korea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Suriname, and Ukraine to the United Nations, as well as members of civil society. The event is organized by Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Inc., a longstanding NGO at the UN and a Conference planner and events manager for NGO events worldwide. The Foundation is the producer of the Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations, The Rhythms of One World Concert Festival, and other international cultural exchange program.

For more information:

Media: For members of the press/media interested, please contact media@2015NGOconference.org.

NGO Co-Sponsorships were welcomed

Non-monetary, NGO co-sponsorships were prominently displayed in the 2015 NGO Conference at the UN Program.  


To learn more, email: info@2015ngoconference.org 


2015 NGO Conference at the United Nations

c/o FAF

299 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich CT, 06830


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Next issue: 9 October 2015.


Good News Agency is 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), Community of Living Ethics, Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli.

Webmaster, media and 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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