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Good News Agency

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

monthly, year 16th, no. 240 –  13 November 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

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Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation


UN chief congratulates people of Myanmar on participating in ‘momentous’ polls

9 November – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated the people of Myanmar for “their patience, dignity and enthusiasm” in historic elections and has encouraged all stakeholders “to maintain the dignified spirit, calm and respect throughout the completion of the electoral process.”

Prefacing his remarks by saying “more considered comments on the election results will follow during the coming days,” Mr. Ban’s Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, told correspondents at the regular daily briefing at UN Headquarters that Mr. Ban congratulated the broad masses of the people from various walks of life in Myanmar for their patience, dignity and enthusiasm as they participated in Sunday’s “epochal” national polls. He said that the UN chief also commended Myanmar’s Union Election Commission, as well as its various state, regional and local institutions for their important work.

Noting that results of the “momentous event” have started to come in, he said the Secretary-General encouraged “all stakeholders in Myanmar to maintain the dignified spirit, calm and respect throughout the completion of the electoral process.”



Myanmar: election result a clear demand for democracy

International Trade Union Confederation

9 November - The election result in Myanmar, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s Aung San Suu Kyi has claimed the party won around 75% of the vote, underlines the strength of commitment of the people of Myanmar to a democratic future. Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “The people have spoken loud and clear, with an overwhelming result for the NLD. (...) Genuine democracy is the only acceptable future for Myanmar, and the new government must move the country irrevocably on that path. We salute all those who have struggled for decades to bring the country to this point, including the trade union centre CTUM and will continue to stand with them in the quest for genuine democracy, with fundamental workers’ rights as a cornerstone.”



UNICEF urges future leaders to commit to children ahead of historic elections in Myanmar

4 November – As the historic elections in Myanmar draws closer, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children urged potential leaders of the country to prioritize children and commit to providing them with a fair start in life.

“In the months leading up to this election, UNICEF and Save the Children have been campaigning with children and other child-focused agencies in a call to political parties to commit to improving the lives of children should they get elected,” explains Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar in a press release.

UNICEF said that ahead of the elections on November 8, the two organizations engaged with over 80 political parties in the country, urging them to prioritize children in their manifestos, which led to 37 parties including children in their campaigns, particularly by highlighting education, health, nutrition, social welfare and protection.  “We hope that this will help put children at the centre of voters’ choices and that the elections results will have a clear winner – children,” said Mr. Bainvel.




Human rights


UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham’s Fund helps children in Papua New Guinea

6 November  – International football icon and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham met children receiving treatment for malnutrition at a UNICEF-supported hospital in Papua New Guinea.

Earlier this year Mr. Beckham launched his fundraising initiative 7: The David Beckham' UNICEF Fund, making a personal commitment to use his voice, influence and connections to raise vital funds and rally for lasting change for children.



‘I will never stop calling for an end to the death penalty,’ Ban vows at launch of new UN publication

5 November  – Vowing to never stop calling for an end to the death penalty, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said studies have proven that those who are poor, mentally disabled, and/or are minorities are at higher risk of receiving the death sentence, regardless of guilt or innocence.

“That is simply wrong,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks at the launch of a book, Moving Away from the Death Penalty: Arguments, Trends and Perspectives, by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the UN Bookstore in New York.

The book documents injustices that are “sickening,” Mr. Ban noted, “but the arguments for change are compelling” and cited that “more and more countries and States are abolishing the death penalty” in all regions of the world. “But there is also a backlash,” he warned, and expressed his deep concern that “some States are sentencing more people to death and others are resuming executions.”

Attending the launch was Kirk Bloodsworth of the United States, who is the first person exonerated from death row by post-conviction DNA evidence.



UN envoy welcomes commitment by rebel group in Colombia to end child recruitment

5 November – The United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui today welcomed as “an important step” the commitment by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) to stop the recruitment and use of children. The group also declared their willingness to release children under 15 present in their ranks, according to a press release issued by her Office.



Eleven major firms agree to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities

28 October – Eleven major international companies today agreed to promote and include persons with disabilities throughout their operations worldwide in a move the International Labour Organization (ILO) hailed as “not only just a good moral cause” but also “good for business.”

In an announcement, ILO said that Accenture, AccorHotels, Adecco Group, AXA Group, Carrefour Group, Dow Chemical, Groupe Casino, L’Oréal, Orange, the Standard Bank Group, and Michelin have become the first signatories of the newly-created ILO Global Business & Disability Network Charter, in a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the Charter, “promoting and including persons with disabilities in the workplace is important for companies seeking the best talent and a diverse workforce.”

By signing the Charter, the companies commit to promoting and including persons with disabilities throughout their operations worldwide, protecting staff with disabilities from any kind of discrimination and making the company premises and communication to staff progressively accessible to all employees with disabilities.



Top UN official on refugees welcomes EU agreement on plan for Western Balkans migration route

26 October  – As European leaders met this week to hammer out a 17-point plan of action on the Western Balkans migration route for refugees and migrants fleeing Syria and other strife-torn regions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees commended the fact that a consensus had been reached. “It is absolutely vital for me that Europe, the European Union (EU) remain a continent of asylum; that the sustainability of Europe’s protection of refugees is guaranteed,” said António Guterres, speaking at a press conference on the Western Balkans Migration Route agreement in Brussels yesterday.

Referring to the 17-point plan of action on the Western Balkans route, he said that there was also a consensus about a clear distinction between refugees and migrants, noting that “there are people in need of protection – those that are considered refugees. It is not an option to receive them or not. Europe has the obligation to receive them, to grant them protection and assistance and to guarantee their future.” He also noted that “people that move for other reasons” should have their “dignity and human rights fully respected.”



Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announces recipient of world’s largest humanitarian prize

14 October, New York – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced that its distinguished panel of independent international jurors has selected Landesa, a Seattle-based land rights organization, as the recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize: Landesa will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding and join the Hilton Prize Coalition.

More than one third of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day. The majority of these people are poor rural farmers who depend on the land to survive, but many have no legal control over that land. By partnering with governments in more than 50 countries, Landesa has promoted land-related laws, policies and programs that free women and men to climb out of poverty, feed their families, and send their children to school. Since its founding in 1967, Landesa has partnered with governments on reforms that have provided secure land rights for an estimated 115 million rural families across the globe.




Economy and development


Economic and Social Council President urges stronger cooperation to thwart tax evasion and avoidance

11 November  – Citing an enormous loss of $100 to $240 billion dollars in uncollected global corporate income tax revenues each year, Oh Joon, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today stressed the need to curb tax evasion and avoidance and called for stronger international tax cooperation.

“Taxation represents a stable and predictable source of finance. Complemented by other sources, it is central to financing development needs and providing public goods and services,” said Mr. Oh in his remarks to the joint meeting of ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee, the world body’s main forum for discussions on economic and financial issues.

Mr. Oh said that as per the recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates, between four to ten per cent of global corporate income tax revenues are lost annually, totalling to the amount of $100 to $240 billion. He added that the loss is felt stronger in developing countries with greater needs for investment in development.

Mr. Oh announced that the Tax Committee will meet twice a year and will also increase its engagement with ECOSOC through the Special Meeting on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.



UN agency to reduce poverty and increase incomes in rural China

4 November– The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has signed a US$43.5 million financing agreement with the People’s Republic of China in efforts to sustainably reduce rural poverty and improve the livelihoods of rural households in the Liupan Mountain Area of China. The government of China has committed to providing $42.5 million to support the project. The total project cost will be $125.3 million. National financial institutions, cooperatives, enterprises and beneficiaries will also contribute.

It is expected the IFAD-funded project will increase incomes for approximately 128,000 poor and vulnerable rural households in seven counties in the Liupan mountain area. The main goal of the project is to reduce poverty by improving agriculture and livestock productivity, increasing opportunities for farmers to access markets, improving land management and addressing the needs of ethnic minorities.



GSSB to issue GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards in 2016

4 November, Amsterdam - Today there is increasing demand for globally accepted sustainability reporting standards to further accelerate progress and create a common language by which impacts of organizations can be understood and communicated.

The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), an independent standard-setting body created by GRI, approved plans to transition the GRI G4 Guidelines to GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards), that will be updated on an ongoing basis following public input into the GSSB work program.

GRI is an international independent organization that has pioneered corporate sustainability reporting since 1997. GRI helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate the impact of business on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption and many others.



Burundi and IFAD to combat local food insecurity and malnutrition, and add value to smallholder farmers’ products

3 November, Rome – The Republic of Burundi and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement today to finance the second phase of the Value Chain Development Programme (PRODEFI-II). The total cost of the PRODEFI-II is US$44.8 million.

The new programme will intensify crops and livestock production to improve food security and beneficiaries’ nutritional status. The IFAD’s ASAP funding will be used to increase rural households’ resilience to climate change.

The programme will develop milk and rice production, processing and marketing as well as promote youth employment. To ensure the sustainability and impact, PRODEFI-II will build the capacity of local farmers’ organizations through training, particularly in natural resource management. The programme will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and will reach 33,534 rural households.



Young Africa Works

The MasterCard Foundation is hosting our inaugural Young Africa Works Summit focused on finding practical solutions for youth employment and entrepreneurship within the agricultural sector.

On October 29-30, we are bringing together approximately 300 key influencers, including youth and representatives from government, development organizations and the private sector to share perspectives and insights on effective approaches for creating economic opportunities for young men and women in agriculture.

The Summit will illustrate that agriculture is an economic activity in which young people can earn a sustainable livelihood rather than just a subsistence income. Enhancing the productivity of agriculture through improved inputs, livestock vaccinations, the use of processing or refrigeration technology and access to market pricing information is also important for increased income generation.



Ghana ADVANCE helps farmers counter climate change

26 October, Ghana – Smallholder farmers in northern Ghana, like farmers around the world, are under threat from climate change. To deal with this risk, the ACDI/VOCA-implemented USAID/ADVANCE project promotes climate-smart agriculture practices among smallholder farmers in the region. Climate-smart agriculture involves a range of practices aimed at helping farmers adjust to climate change and increase food production while reducing greenhouse emissions from farming activities. To achieve this, the project promotes minimum tillage, use of cover crops, and early-maturing seed varieties.



Madagascar signs new financing agreement to boost food security, nutrition and incomes of smallholder farmers           

October 21, Rome – The Republic of Madagascar and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement today to finance the Project to Support Development in the Menabe and Melaky Regions – Phase II (AD2M-II). The total cost of the project is US$56.7 million.

AD2M-II aims to improve the incomes and the food security of smallholders and will build on the achievements of the first phase of the project. The ASAP funding will be used to strengthen and build smallholder resilience to the effects of climate change by improving and further developing irrigated agriculture, including spate-irrigation and natural resource management approaches. It will reach 57,000 households, among which 22,000 households are already benefiting from the first phase of the project. There will be particular emphasis on women and young people from vulnerable groups.



Two livestock markets inaugurated in northern Kenya’s arid lands

21 October,  Kenya - Two livestock markets opened on October 13 in Kenya’s Isiolo and Marsabit counties as part of the Feed the Future-funded Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands—Accelerated Growth (Regal-AG) project. By spurring economic growth and generating revenue, the markets improve the lives of local pastoralists and reduce poverty through livestock farming and trade. The markets feature stalls that separate the different types of livestock: cows, goats, camels. USAID Head of Mission Karen Freeman and U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec were on hand for the markets’ inauguration. The U.S. has partnered with nine counties in Kenya since 2012 to foster resilience and grow the economy



Quinoa performing well in Ethiopia

The newly introduced nutritious and stress tolerant crop, quinoa, is doing well in Ethiopia.(…) Dan Church Aid Ethiopia is working with Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EIAR) to release the variety in the country.

by Tinbit Amare Dejene

16 October - (…)Ethiopia remains one of the world’s most food-insecure countries, where approximately one in three people live below the poverty line.(…) In order to solve the soring problem of the country Dan Church Aid Ethiopia has been working with Copenhagen University, partners and research institutes in Ethiopia for the introduction of this newly crop to the country. DCA Ethiopia has been working on quinoa for the past four years and currently there is enough data from the research done which enables to proceed to the next step, variety release process. Farmers who planted quinoa under DCA’s supervision has seen the potential of the crop.(…) Quinoa has a high yield potential and can adapt to a harsh drought (…) Above all Ethiopian farming is entirely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, which frequently creates difficulties due to absence of rain. Quinoa, climate-resistant crop, will be able to solve this problem(…)



FAO and Xinhua News Agency sign global communication partnership

New agreement to highlight food issues to audiences in China and beyond

October 14, Rome China's national news agency Xinhua is the latest news outlet to partner with FAO to raise awareness on hunger and food-related issues.

As part of the new agreement, Xinhua will expand its coverage on hunger, nutrition and the challenges food producers and consumers are facing. These include issues such as land use, food security, food safety, malnutrition, and food waste. FAO, in turn, will make its knowledge and data resources available to journalists.

Xinhua works from more than 30domestic bureaus and 180 overseas branches. It provides daily news to newspapers, radio and TV stations across China, along with content for overseas news outlets in 8 languages: Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabian, Portuguese and Japanese.



Final Declaration of the Third World Forum of Local Economic Development

A means to address post-2015 development agenda challenges

The final declaration of the Third World Forum of Local Economic Development, that took place in Turin (Italy) from 13 to 16 October, has been finalized after a very intense gathering which involved almost 2000 participants coming from 130 different countries.

This document reflects the debates, exchange of experiences and the sharing of good practices which have been characterizing the works of the Forum, with the aim of reaffirming a shared vision of local economic development at the global level and promoting LED as an effective means to achieve sustainable development as well as the new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially launched last September. Download the declaration 






San Ramon Rotary Club donates record-setting $80,000 to education foundation

2015 Online Auction for Education raises more funds than ever

by Jeremy Walsh 

November 1 - The San Ramon Rotary Club donated $80,000 to the San Ramon Valley Education Foundation in Danville on Thursday -- all the funds coming from the service organization's 2015 Online Auction for Education, which raised more money than any other installment of the annual fundraising effort, according to Rotary officials. The $80,000 check, presented during the club's weekly luncheon, also represented the largest single donation by the San Ramon Rotarians, according to club officials. (...)

San Ramon Rotary has 64 members, comprised of community leaders who support efforts through direct service projects, fundraising, scholarships, and community and international grants, according to Sloan, who is the CEO of San Ramon Regional Medical Center. (...)



IKEA latest soft toys collection designed by children

Soft Toy for Education Campaign returns to help children have a brighter future through education

Fairfield, Conn., USA, October 28 -  The IKEA Soft Toys for Education Campaign returns. In its 13th year, this good cause partnership between the IKEA Foundation, UNICEF and Save the Children aims to provide quality education to children living in poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries. For every soft toy or children’s book sold from Nov. 1, 2015, until Dec. 26, 2015, the IKEA Foundation donates approximately $1.11 (1 euro)* to Save the Children and UNICEF.

This year, children from around the world have designed a special limited collection for the campaign; it’s a way for children to help other children get a better start in life through education. Last year, IKEA Family invited all their customers’ children to design their dream soft toy. After receiving thousands of wonderful contributions, 10 winners were chosen. The winning soft toys in the competition became patterns for the new collection named SAGOSKATT. This year, the drawing competition returns, giving even more children the opportunity to design their dream soft toy for a good cause.



Jordan: ICRC continues to assist Syrians at the northeastern border

26 October – With the Syrian crisis showing no signs of abating, people continue to cross into Jordan through the northeastern border seeking safety and international protection. The vast majority are children, women and the elderly who initially live in makeshift shelters in difficult conditions at the border.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to provide them with food, water, hygienic items and basic medical supplies. It also helps them restore family contact with their relatives in Jordan and elsewhere. Once they are allowed to proceed further into Jordan, people are accommodated temporarily at four ICRC-supported transit sites where their basic needs are attended to before they proceed to the Raba’a Al Sarhan Registration Centre.

During the past three months, the ICRC has distributed more than 360,000 meals and trucked 6,600 cubic metres of potable water to the people in the northeastern border area.



UN and partners deliver critical relief supplies to besieged areas of Syria

19 October  – A joint United Nations, International Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Arab Red Crescent operation delivered on Sunday essential medical and humanitarian supplies to 30,000 people in the Fouah and Kefrayah in Idlib governorate and Zabadani and Madaya in the Rural Damascus governorate, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The number of people reached is expected to rise to 40,000 in the next 48 hours. The joint operation was made possible by the framework of the Zabadani/Fouah and Kefrayah ceasefire agreement, which was reached in Istanbul in September, with the facilitation of the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria.

The humanitarian and medical supplies to Zabadani and surrounding towns were delivered from Damascus, while deliveries to Foah and Kefrayah were made from UN stocks in Southern Turkey in line with Security Council resolutions 2165 and 2191, which authorized UN agencies and their partners to deliver cross-border humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria.



As hunger grips Syrian families, European Commission boosts support for WFP

October 16, Brussels - As half the population of Syria struggle to meet their food needs, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a contribution of €30 million from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) to its emergency food assistance in Syria. WFP was forced to reduce the size of the food rations it provides to families inside Syria by up to 25% this year. Some 10 million people in the country face food insecurity. WFP depends entirely on voluntary contributions. It has to raise US$25 million every week to meet the basic food needs of people affected by the Syrian conflict.

New donor contributions in recent weeks mean that WFP has been able to increase the value of assistance it provides to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugees in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon to an average of US$21 per person per month. This is 80% of what WFP estimates people need.

At current levels of support, WFP can assist Syrian refugees until January 2016. Beyond that, WFP will not be able to continue to provide regular food assistance to the most vulnerable Syrians without additional funding.



Refugee youth in Lebanon come together for sports

15 October - On a Sunday afternoon in October, refugee youth in Lebanon gather in Ein El Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp for an Open Sports Day hosted by ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid). As part of ANERA’s youth development project for refugee teens with UNICEF, the sports day brought together local partners in Ein El Hilweh that provide youth between the ages of 14 and 18 with transferable skills courses and vocational training. Sports activities are a major component of the program that provide opportunities for personal development and real-life conflict resolution scenarios, on and off the field. Refugee youth participated in all kinds of sporting activities, including Sahaja yoga, dancing, theatrical performances and mini-marathon races.



Japan’s new contribution boosts WFP’s assistance in Gaza

October 7, Ramallah - The Government of Japan has announced a US$4 million donation to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to support the most vulnerable Palestinian families living in Gaza. Japan’s contribution will enable WFP to provide fortified wheat flour to 92,000 of the poorest Palestinians for three months. Moreover, WFP will be able to purchase Japanese-produced, high-quality canned tuna. This is a very good source of protein and micronutrients, such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron and is a key commodity for WFP’s nutritious food rations. The canned tuna also has a long shelf-life, which allows WFP to store part of the purchase as a contingency stock in case of an emergency.

In the last ten years, Japan has donated more than US$40 million to WFP’s programmes in Palestine, making Japan one of the top three donors here as well as one of the largest donors to WFP globally. The generosity from the Government of Japan has allowed WFP to continue investing in the local economy. Since 2011, more than US$170 million has been injected into the Palestinian economy through WFP’s local food purchases and electronic vouchers.




Peace and security


Spain to contribute $2.7 million in 2016 to OAS programs on peace, democracy, human rights, security, and development

29 October - The Spanish government will contribute 2.45 million euros (about 2.7 million dollars) to the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2016 for programs on peace, democracy, human rights, security, and development, according to the agreement signed today at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.



Philippines: improving lives in conflict-affected communities

29 October – In parts of Luzon and the Visayas, communities suffer from the effects of a protracted armed conflict between government security forces and the New People’s Army. Often living in remote and far-flung areas, these communities also struggle with poverty, making everyday life a challenge for them. As support to people suffering from the chronic effects of conflict and poverty, the International Committee of the Red Cross  (ICRC) carries out programs that aim to help the most vulnerable barangays (villages) and communities stand on their own feet and become more resilient.

These programs employ a participatory approach wherein the beneficiaries identify their own needs. A series of consultations and discussions with the ICRC is therefore held to determine what kind projects are suitable, and how to effectively implement and sustain them.

All projects are monitored and evaluated through field visits by ICRC staff with the support of volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC’s primary partner in the country.



The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) supports DCA project in Myanmar

SDC has granted 288.074 CHF to DCA’s programme in Myanmar. The grant supports DCA’s work improving the safety of people affected by the danger of landmines/ERW and the living conditions of the victims in South-East Myanmar (Kayin and Kayah States).

by Sebastián Rodas Medeiros

20 October - Multiple decades of armed conflict have affected Myanmar and created a legacy of contamination from landmines, improvised explosive devices (IED), and other explosive remnants of war (ERW).(…) The grant from SDC allows DCA to provide the much-needed support to the affected people(…). DCA´s support will not only improve the safety and life quality of people living in this region, but will also positively fight poverty, as the relationship between disability and poverty has been well documented. These objectives will be achieved through Mine Risk Education and Victim Assistance initiatives. Mine Risk Education will primarily target children and secondarily adults(…) Victim Assistance will focus around the provision of prosthetics to survivors and the provision of small animals and complementary training in livestock generation and health for improving the livelihood of victims(…) The project started on the 7th of October 2015 and has a duration of 16 months.



World Without Mines supports risk education in South Sudan

by Tobias Juhler Maureschat

14 October – World Without Mines (Welt ohne Minen) has granted USD 55,212 to DCA’s Risk Education (RE) work in South Sudan. This allows DCA to give internally displaced people (IDPs), host communities and humanitarian workers a better understanding of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in order to protect themselves from death and injury.  (...) Despite the signing of a Peace Agreement in August 2015, armed clashes have continued and there remains an urgent need for emergency RE in South Sudan.

With the grant from World Without Mines, DCA is able to provide RE to some of the most vulnerable populations affected by the conflict, and to educate community focal points in order to spread important RE messages and to ensure sustainability when the RE team has left the area. DCA staff are also able to report on hazardous areas and notify the DCA technical team and relevant authorities in case the RE teams find any dangerous items (…) The project has a duration of four months.



Mauritius accedes to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

2 October – The Republic of Mauritius deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 October 2015 at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York, so becoming the 98th State Party.  The Convention will enter into force for Mauritius on 1 April 2016. Mauritius has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. In 2012, the country had expressed its strong commitment to the “ideals and principles” of the convention.The vast majority of sub-Saharan African states have joined the Convention, but 13 still need to ratify it to become full States Parties. A small number are still outside the Convention: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe.



Somalia ratifies the Convention on Cluster Munitions

1 October  – Somalia is the 97th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. An instrument of ratification was deposited at the UN headquarters in New York on 30 September 2015. In a 2014 statement, Somalia recognized that the needs of cluster munition survivors in the country are mostly unmet. The Convention calls on states to provide assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, and to provide for the economic and social inclusion of survivors, their families, and communities. Other States Parties in a position to do so have a legal obligation to provide resources and to support victim assistance in affected states. Somalia is not known to have used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions






Manyara Masai village changes traditional ways for better nutrition

29 October, Tanzania - Fresh animal blood, raw meat, and raw milk: this is the diet the Masai people rely on for their nutritional needs dating back several centuries: changing these strong cultural practices often is rejected by the Masai because of their grounded beliefs and customs. However, since the inception of the Africare Tanzania’s Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program in 2011, the Masai residing in the Mesera Village in the Manyara region are now adopting healthier nutrition practices, particularly for the well-being of their pregnant women and children in their tribe. Mwanzo Bora seeks to reduce maternal anemia and childhood stunting across the country through providing education on pro-nutrition behaviors, such as visiting the clinic during pregnancy, eating a diversified diet, exclusively breastfeeding a child for the first six months and adopting small home gardens. Mwanzo Bora, with the assistance of KINNAPA, a local civil society organization, has successfully educated one group of Masai birth attendants – respected leaders in their tribes- in the Kiketo District.



The Middle East celebrates progress on World Polio Day

23 October – Despite continuing conflict, declining immunization rates in conflict-affected areas and mass population displacement, no new polio cases have been reported in the Middle East for over 18 months, and experts believe the extensive multi-country outbreak response has been effective in stopping the outbreakIn what has become the largest ever immunization response in the history of the Middle East, more than 70 mass immunization campaigns were implemented in 8 countries, aimed at reaching 27 million children with vaccine multiple times, and more than 200 million doses of vaccine were given.

The swift and collaborative intervention and effective partnerships between the governments of countries dealing with the outbreak, World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, other global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations has been given credit for the successes of the response and the lessons learned have been shared globally.

This World Polio Day, we celebrate the gains made and say “thank you” to the countless people have been working tirelessly to stop the polio outbreak in the Middle East.



Polio outbreak in Somalia officially over

23 October – The 2013-2014 polio outbreak in Somalia, which affected nearly 200 people, most of them children, has officially been declared over, 14 months after the last polio case was identified.

Experts say this remarkable achievement is the result of the enormous efforts and commitment shown by governments, health workers, and parents to ensure that their children receive the vaccine.

More than 2.1 million children under the age of five were targeted in multiple mass immunization campaigns run by the Somali health authorities, with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) and the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Due to the nature of the outbreak, in some areas children aged from five to 10 and adults were also vaccinated to ensure circulation of poliovirus was stopped.

The official announcement that the outbreak was over was made after an Outbreak Assessment Team (comprised of experts from WHO, UNICEF, the Centres for Disease Control, CORE group and Rotary) conducted an in-depth review of the polio outbreak response in Somalia in October 2015. (...)



Rotary gives US$40.4 million to end polio worldwide

23 October, New York - On the heels of historic success against polio in Nigeria and across the continent of Africa, the global effort to end polio is receiving an additional US$40.4 million boost from Rotary to support immunization activities and surveillance spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Polio is on track to become the second human disease ever to be eliminated from the world (smallpox is the first). Rotary’s new funding commitment, announced in advance of the Oct. 24 observance of World Polio Day 2015, targets countries where children remain at risk of contracting this incurable, but vaccine-preventable, disease.

Rotary provides grant funding to polio eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with the governments and Rotary members in polio-affected and high-risk countries to plan and carry out immunization activities.To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.5 billion to fight polio. Through 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match two-to-one every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication (up to $35 million a year). Currently, there have been only 51 cases of polio reported in the world in 2015, down from about 350,000 a year when the initiative launched in 1988.



Nigeria: MSF transforms faces and lives of patients suffering from noma

22 October – MSF has held its first surgical intervention in Nigeria for people with noma, a disfiguring and often deadly infection which mainly affects young children. In late August, 19 patients at the Noma Children’s Hospital in Sokoto, northwestern Nigeria, underwent reconstructive surgery which will improve their health and their chances of re-entering society and living a normal life.

Most patients suffering from noma are children under the age of six, whose immune systems have been weakened by malnutrition, often in conjunction with measles. The disease begins as an ulcer inside the mouth. The ulcer becomes gangrenous, and as it grows, it destroys facial bones and soft tissue. Left untreated, the disease is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

MSF’s surgical team arrived to find more than 30 prospective patients waiting in Sokoto. The team selected 19 people for reconstructive surgery, based on the complexity of their condition, their overall health and the time available. Nine underwent two rounds of surgery.MSF’s team was made up of a plastic surgeon, a maxillo-facial surgeon, an anaesthetist, an anaesthetic advisor, an anaesthetic nurse and an operating room nurse, who travelled to Nigeria from Germany, the Netherlands and Zimbabwe. They worked in conjunction with MSF’s Noma project team in Sokoto and staff at the Noma hospital.



U.S. backs FAO efforts to combat global animal disease threats with $87 million

October 20, Rome- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is backing FAO's efforts to combat pandemic animal disease threats in Asia, Africa and the Middle East with an additional $87 million in funding covering the 2015-19 period.

USAID and FAO have worked in partnership on controlling animal diseases and managing related human health threats for over a decade. USAID financial backing for this work now amounts to $320 million since 2004. The new funds will support monitoring and surveillance, epidemiological studies, prevention and control activities as well as improving veterinary capacities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and promoting links between animal health specialists and the public health sector.

FAO is also leveraging the USAID support to launch a new "Africa Livestock Futures" programme spanning the entire sub-Saharan region that will analyse trends in the livestock sector and help countries pre-empt associated health threats and environmental impacts.




Energy and safety



Small group of countries driving innovation in breakthrough technologies – UN agency report

11 November  – Japan and the United States lead a small group of nations that are driving innovation in 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics, three frontier technologies that hold the potential to boost future economic growth, according to a new report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Amid lacklustre worldwide economic growth, the report, World Intellectual Property Report 2015: Breakthrough Innovation and Economic Growth, shows how previous game-changing advancements – such as airplanes, antibiotics and semiconductors – sparked new business activity. It also probes today’s promising breakthrough innovations, while urging governments and business to step up innovation-related investment.

Relying on an original mapping of patents to fields of innovation, the report finds that Japan, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea accounted for 75 per cent or more of all-time patent filings in the areas of 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics. Furthermore, the report underlines the elements of successful innovation ecosystems: government funding for scientific research and support in moving promising technology from the laboratory to the production stage; competitive market forces that encourage firms to innovate, supported by vibrant financial markets and sound regulation; and fluid linkages between public and private innovation actors. The report also documents how innovation is increasingly linked to research at universities and public research organizations.



Caribbean region becomes free of highly enriched uranium – UN atomic watchdog

30 October–The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today announced that Jamaica completed the conversion of its research reactor to low enriched uranium this month, decreasing proliferation risks and making the Caribbean region completely free of highly enriched uranium.

In the announcement, IAEA said the conversion of the so-called SLOWPOKE reactor was part of a joint effort between Jamaica and the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration with support from the UN atomic watchdog.

The research reactor, the only one in the Caribbean, has operated at the University of West Indies for over 30 years, according to IAEA. The conversion of this reactor is part of global efforts, supported by the IAEA, to minimize the risks associated with the civilian use of highly enriched uranium, while maintaining scientific research capabilities and the operating performance of research reactor facilities.



Historic forum in Peru on energy development and participation of indigenous peoples convenes diverse stakeholders for dialogue and positive change

20 October, Lima and New York -. Co-hosted by Equitable Origin and the indigenous confederation Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (known as AIDESEP), the forum brought indigenous leaders, government ministries, and energy companies together with international governmental and non-governmental organizations for an unprecedented exchange of ideas to pursue shared benefits of responsible oil and gas development on indigenous lands.

The forum, titled “Indigenous Communities and Extractive Industries: Standards for Quality and Creation of Opportunities Under Equitable Conditions,” took place in Lima on October 22 and 23. The event was funded and attended by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), under its Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon. Through USAID, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) International Technical Assistance Program also contributed by organizing the participation of experts from the U.S. and providing workshop facilitation and logistical support.



Creativity for solidarity -  scientific solutions for the future of humanity

Billions in Change is a movement to create and implement solutions to the most basic global problems. The man behind all this, Manoj Bhargava, has pledged 99% of his wealth to fight against poverty.

Water - The availability of fresh water affects rich and poor alike. Solving water shortages will impact humanity in the most significant way. We’ve created a machine called Rain Maker. It mimics nature, turning seawater or polluted water into fresh water suitable for drinking and agriculture. Rain Maker makes more than just a little water. One machine the size of small car can make a thousand gallons per hour. Rain Maker recycles its heat energy making it incredibly clean and efficient.

Electricity - The availability of electricity affects both rich and poor as well. For the rich, pollution from fossil fuel sources has created huge health problems for people and the planet. For the poor, lack of electricity has kept them in poverty by putting education, livelihood and basic necessities out of reach.

The Free Electric machine gives people the power to generate electricity themselves – pollution free. The machine is small, light and simple. Here’s how it works: A person pedals a hybrid bicycle. The bicycle wheel drives a flywheel, which turns a generator, which charges a battery. Pedaling for one hour yields electricity for 24 hours with no utility bill, and no exhaust, no waste.




Environment and wildlife


The UPS Foundation sets global goal to plant 15 million trees by the end of 2020

28 October,  Atlanta, USA - The UPS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UPS (NYSE: UPS) which leads the company’s global citizenship programs, today announced  it will fund the planting of 15 million trees by the end of 2020. Since 2012, The UPS Foundation and its environmental partners have planted more than 5 million trees in 46 countries. The UPS Foundation also awarded more than $2.5 million in grants to 12 non-profit organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability. These awards will support programs that advance environmental research and education, carbon reduction and energy conservation .For the second consecutive year, The UPS Foundation’s largest environmental grant recipient is The Nature Conservancy, an organization that works to preserve ecologically important land and water resources through conservation. This award will enable The Nature Conservancy to plant more than 800,000 trees in at-risk or eroded ecosystems throughout the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, China and Guatemala.



Hundreds of new species discovered in the fragile Eastern Himalayan region

Thimphu, Bhutan, October 5 – A sneezing monkey, a walking fish and a jewel-like snake are just some of a biological treasure trove of over 200 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas in recent years, according to a new report by WWF.  The report, Hidden Himalayas: Asia’s Wonderland released on World Habitat Day maps out scores of new species found by scientists from various organizations including 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal.

The volume and diversity of discoveries, 211 in total between 2009 and 2014, highlight the region as one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth; the discoveries listed equating to an average of 34 new species discovered annually for the past six years.

The report also underscores the dire threats facing the vibrant ecosystems across a region spanning Bhutan, north-east India, Nepal, north Myanmar and the southern parts of Tibet. In a bid to protect the region’s rich diversity of flora and fauna, WWF is actively involved in supporting the countries of the Eastern Himalayas’ progress towards green economies that value ecosystems and the services they provide to the millions of people in the region.



Top Buddhists sign landmark statement on climate change to global leaders

 Fifteen of the world´s most senior Buddhists have issued a landmark call to political leaders to adopt an effective climate change agreement at the UN negotiations in Paris starting 30 November. This urgent call for action on climate change, from leaders representing over a billion Buddhists worldwide, is unprecedented. This is the first time so many Buddhist luminaries have come together on a global issue to speak with one voice. The Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders urges the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to act with wisdom and compassion, and agree to phase out fossil fuels and move towards 100 percent renewable and clean energy.

The Statement also calls on world leaders to find the political will to close the emissions gap left by national climate pledges tabled with the UNFCCC Secretariat, to ensure that the global temperature increase remains below 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels. To help vulnerable, developing countries address the cost of mitigating climate change (reducing emissions) and adapting to its devastating impacts, Buddhist leaders have asked for finance to be increased above the currently promised US$100 billion per year as from 2020 through the Green Climate Fund amongst other instruments.




Religion and spirituality


154 Religious leaders from al world regions call for a zero carbon, climate resilient and equitable future

21 October - A statement signed by 154 religious leaders from different faith groups has been handed over to the Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While negotiators representing 194 countries gather in Bonn this week to work on a draft text for December’s climate conference in Paris, religious leaders are issuing this call for an ambitious climate agreement, remind all governments to commit to emission cuts and climate risk reduction, and pledge important contributions from their own faith communities, including divestment from fossil energy.

This call builds on a growing number of calls from faith groups made throughout the last 12 months, such as the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’, the declaration of the New York Interfaith Summit, the Lambeth Declaration, and the Islamic declaration on climate change. Such calls also mark the engagement of different faith groups working together towards the same goals. The message from faith groups is now unequivocal.



Celebrating the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions

15-19 October, Salt Lake, USA - It was a milestone: 9,806 participants including performers, & volunteers; 73 countries represented; 30 Major Religions; 548 Sub-Traditions; 1000+ Programs. The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable converted a Parliament venue, for the first time, into a sacred space and organized a beautiful night of Sacred Music in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

The 2015 Parliament of World’s Religions acknowledged several outstanding leaders who have contributed to society in environmental, religious and social causes: The Faith Against Hate Award, a program that encourages young student leaders to build compassionate, inclusive, nonviolent environments in their schools and communities; The Outstanding Journalism Award to promote stronger communities against hate through films documenting the response to tragedies; The Paul Carus Award on the history of religions and for identifying commonalities between the major religions such as compassion; The Ahimsa Award,  to promote nonviolence; The Cultivation of Harmony Award to promote human rights; The Golden Rule Award to bring respect to all the major religions of the world.

The Parliament's action is officially launched on climate change, war, violence, and hate speech, income inequality, women's rights, indigenous solidarity, and youth empowerment.




Culture and education


‘Turn digital divides into digital opportunities,’ Ban tells annual UN forum on Internet governance

10 November – To cover the “breadth and depth” of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, the potential of the data revolution must be explored through the use of new and non-traditional sources of data, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed at the 10th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which opened today in João Pessoa, Brazil.

“Less than two months ago, world leaders adopted the visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our challenge now is to implement this blueprint for a better future. Information and communications technologies and the Internet can empower this global undertaking,” said Mr. Ban in his remarks at the Forum, delivered by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs Lenni Montiel. He urged all stakeholders to “intensify efforts to promote accessibility, affordability, education and multilingualism by investing in critical infrastructure and capacity building and by building an open, reliable, safe, secure, stable and inclusive Internet through multilateral and multi-stakeholder global partnerships.”



Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, UN Headquarters, New York

October 23-28 - Organised by the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns - NY, this annual week of events honors the anniversary of the founding of the UN. It seeks to foster the growth of a culture of peace in which "we, the peoples of the world", can address together our common challenges in a holistic, positive and transformative way.



Taking the promotion of a culture of peace and intercultural dialogue forward in the United Nations system

16 October - The UN Secretary-General’s Report on UN-wide actions for promoting a culture of peace and interreligious and intercultural dialogue for understanding, cooperation and peace has just been released.

The Report provides an overview of activities that have been carried out by the main United Nations entities working in this domain, outlining also UNESCO’s lead role in the implementation of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022). 

In the conclusions and recommendations, the Report emphasizes that: “(…) the United Nations system needs to adequately respond to the increasingly complex challenges that the world is facing by recognizing that people are being brought together in ways that were unimaginable when the United Nations was created. Adapting to current trends, aligning strategies and supporting the work adequately will prove crucial for the effectiveness and credibility of the United Nations work in this area. In the context of the upcoming agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which will guide the global development agenda beyond 2015, achieving a culture of peace and strengthening intercultural and interreligious dialogue has never been as important as it is today.”

The Report and its follow-up resolutions will be discussed during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in December 2015.




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Next issue: 11 December 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.


* 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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