Go to the Home Page

Good News Agency

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

monthly, year 16th, no. 241 –  11 December 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


International legislation


EU signs program worth €3.6 billion with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States

26 November - EU signs program to provide support in the areas of human and social development, environment and climate change, private sector development and peace and security across African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica and the President of the Committee of Ambassadors of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, Mrs. Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa, signed off on €3.6 billion to finance the intra-ACP program, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) (the EU's financial instrument for ACP countries).



With new ratification, UN protocol on ending modern slavery edges closer to entry into force

19 November  – With the ratification by Norway, following a similar action by Niger, of the International Labour Organization (ILO) protocol on forced labour, a significant step has been taken towards ending the scourge, as the agency’s binding instruments generally provide that an adopted protocol only comes into force 12 months after being ratified by two member States. Following the Norwegian Government’s action, the new framework will come into force on 9 November 2016, the news release said.

Approximately 21 million people are victims of forced labour around the world, generating approximately $150 billion a year in illicit profits, according to ILO evaluations. According ILO research, forced labour is not an issue only in developing countries as profits from the forced labour industry are higher in developed economies and the European Union than they are anywhere else in the world.



Latin American legislators find new paths to fight hunger

By Aramis Castro and Milagros Salazar

19 November, Lima - With eight specific commitments aimed at pushing through laws and policies on food security and sovereignty, family farming and school feeding programmes, legislators from 17 countries closed the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. During the Nov. 15-17 Forum in the Peruvian capital, the delegates of the national chapters of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger (PFH) reasserted their determination to promote laws to “break the circle of poverty and enforce the right to food” in the region(…), in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (…)

 The final declaration emphasised that it is essential that the PFH work together with the governments of each country to create programmes and pass laws aimed at eradicating hunger, and to promote the three main areas for doing so: food security and sovereignty, family farming, and school feeding. To advance in these three complementary areas, eight specific accords were reached, including the need for PFH legislators to participate in the debate on public budget funds, in order to guarantee that governments finance programmes against hunger.




Human rights


December 18, International Migrants Day

International Migrants Day is observed on December 18 to mark the anniversary of the adoption by the UN General Assembly, in 1990, of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. During the last decade migrants have made up around 3% of the global population — 214 million people are today classified as migrants.

Migrants contribute greatly to the sense of cultural diversity in modern societies, and to our appreciation of the oneness of the human spirit. They give us the experience of living in a global neighborhood. Yet migrants are often subject to discrimination and exploitation. In a world of unity in diversity all communities are challenged to ensure that migrants are treated with humanity and their rights respected.

The Day will be observed by Migrants groups as The Global Day of Action for the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People.

www.un.org/en/events/    www.globalmigrantsaction.org/    www.gfmd.org/


December 10, Human Rights Day -

2015 theme: Our Rights.Our Freedoms. Always

On 10 December every year, Human Rights Day commemorates the date on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming its principles as the "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations."

This year’s slogan, Our Rights.Our Freedoms. Always,aims to raise awareness of the two international Covenants on Human Rights, which mark their 50th anniversary: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.




African educators united for diversity in education

26 November, Lomè,Togo -Leaders of education unions in francophone West Africa discussed a rights-based approach to inclusive education, particularly of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people. Under the auspices of the Education International (EI) Africa Region, 19 union leaders and members of the Fédération des Syndicats de l'Education Nationale and the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats de l’Education du Togo gathered on 11-13 November in Lomé, Togo, for a sub-regional workshop on inclusive education, entitled “United for a quality education in diversity”.

After reviewing cases of exclusion suffered by certain groups, particularly those affected by discrimination, homophobia and  stigmatisation in relation to education at national level, participants exchanged information on the status and rights of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) peoples, and shared testimonies about the common realities in their countries. At the end of the three-day workshop, the participants made recommendations and developed action plans for training, information and advocacy on the right to inclusive education for all, without exclusions.



Burma/Myanmar: 40 high-ranking officers from the Karen National Liberation Army are trained on child protection

25 November, Myanmar – Geneva Call continues to push for compliance with international humanitarian norms in Burma/Myanmar. At a three-day workshop held in the jungle on the Thai-Burmese border, Geneva Call presented and explained the international norms pertaining to children affected by armed conflict and to sexual and gender-based violence and gender discrimination. The audience was made up of nearly 40 officers from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), from six of the seven Karen National Union (KNU) Brigade Areas, as well as the associated Karen National Defense Organization and the Karen National Police Force. Geneva Call demonstrated how these norms were refined and condensed into its Deeds of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict and prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination. Both of these were signed by the KNU in 2013.



Seattle International Foundation, Tableau Foundation, & The Annie E. Casey Foundation announce collaborative grant to support data-driven advocacy in Latin America

18 November, San Salvador, El Salvador - Seattle International Foundation (SIF) and REDIM, Red de Derechos de la Infancia en Mexico announce a new coalition to bring data-driven advocacy efforts for key children’s rights groups in Latin America. In partnership with Tableau Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Casey Foundation, Baltimore, U.S.A.), the coalition is creating Latin America’s first-ever Tableau Data Fellowship to improve the ability of organizations that advocate for children’s rights to analyze data with the aim of developing public policies that positively affect children's and adolescent’s lives in the region.

This joint project among SIF, Tableau Foundation, the Casey Foundation and REDIM aims to expand the reach and impact of the KIDS COUNT methodology in Latin America, in order to present more compelling data to government officials and key decision-makers deciding on policies affecting children's lives.




Economy and development


FAO and EU Naval Force deploy 25 Fish-Aggregating Devices in a bid to boost local fisheries, improve nutrition, reduce piracy

December 7, Bosasso, Somalia -  FAO, working with the European Union, has just completed the deployment of 25 "fish magnets" along Somalia's 3,300-km coastline, a move that will boost the nation's small-scale artisanal fisheries. The Fish-Aggregating Devices (FADs) consist of a floating buoy and "habitat mat" a few metres across. Plant life quickly grows under the mat, attracting large numbers of fish -- in essence creating new high-density fishing grounds where none existed before.

The effort has been funded by the governments of Japan and Switzerland, while the European Union Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR) - which has a regional role in combatting piracy and monitoring fisheries - has provided critical protection and logistical support for the vessel that deployed the FADs. FAO worked with 20 communities as well as federal and regional ministries in Somalia to identify the deployment locations and ensure that the FADs would be accepted and well used.



UN Agency promotes “farming as a business” in Fiji

December 3, Rome – A rural development project was launched today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of Fiji that promises to reduce poverty and increase incomes for 2,225 rural households in the highlands of Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s 330 islands. IFAD is co-financing the project by providing a US$3.52 million loan. The total cost of the project will be $6.1 million, disbursed over a five year period.

In Fiji there is a strong demand for domestically produced agricultural products, however, agricultural value chains are underdeveloped and commercial relationships are weak. Though agriculture employs 70% of the labour force, it accounts for only 8% of the nation’s GDP. Over one third of Fiji’s population lives in poverty. The project will promote effective policies to strengthen the private-agribusiness sector and increase income and rural employment opportunities.

Since 1982, IFAD has invested $28 million in 29 projects in 13 countries in the Pacific Islands, benefitting over one million people.



Google and FAO partner to make remote sensing data more efficient and accessible

December 1, Paris -Google Maps and FAO have agreed to work closely together to make geospatial tracking and mapping products more accessible, providing a high-technology assist to countries tackling climate change and much greater capacity to experts developing forest and land-use policies. The three-year partnership between Google Maps and FAO is designed to foster innovation and expertise and sharply broaden access to easy-to-use digital tools.

Concretely, Google Maps will provide 1,200 trusted tester credentials on Google Earth Engine to FAO staff and partners, while also providing training and receiving feedback on users' needs and experiences. FAO will train its own staff and technical experts in member countries, upon their requests,, to use free and open source software tools developed within its Open Foris Initiative and using Google technology, for example Earth Engine. Monitoring forest cover and land-use change is destined to become increasingly important as countries around the world adopt measures to adapt to and mitigate climate change.



Netherlands donates $7 million to improve water management in Near East and Africa

November 27, Rome- The Netherlands and FAO are expanding their collaboration in the area of water management with a $7 million donation by the Dutch government to support the use of remote sensing technology in helping water-scarce countries in the Near East and Africa monitor and improve the way they use water for crop production. The additional donation brings the total budget up to $10 million for the Dutch-funded project that uses satellite data to find land areas where water use is not translating into optimal agricultural production, identify the source of the problem and recommend different planting and irrigation techniques.

The data tools created under the project, which will be freely available to governments and farmers alike, also aim to help policymakers in taking evidence-based policy decisions.

The project, which reflects the Netherlands’ interest in water issues in the area of agriculture, is implemented by FAO in collaboration with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and other partners.



ACDI/VOCA F2F volunteer helps Ghana farmers’ group build capacity to increase incomes

23 November, Ghana – In central Ghana’s Brong Ahafo region, the Busunya Cashew Farmers’ Group exemplifies how capacity development can positively impact farming communities. In 2010, the African Cashew Initiative formed the farmers’ group with the goal of improving the farmers’ competitiveness. The association faced challenges because it lacked a constitution and a clear strategy. Enter Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Corine Quarterman helped the association gain capacity-building skills and made recommendations for a new board of directors, a dues payment process, and committees for technical support, business, and marketing.The group now works with a key local buyer and has been able to negotiate a significant, two-fold price increase for their cashews.



Biking to improve livelihoods in Mozambique

18 November, New York - Mozambikes, an award-winning Mozambique-based social enterprise, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to improve the lives and livelihoods of 50,000 of the country’s poorest people through the sale of affordable branded bicycles by 2018. The company will also establish a national sales and distribution network to provide an additional 125,000 people with transportation by 2020.

BCtA is a global initiative that encourages companies to fight poverty through inclusive business models. Mozambikes’ inclusive business model involves importing bicycle components for local assembly, which are then branded the colors and logos of organizations. These companies distribute the bicycles to their stakeholders as transport, bonuses, incentives and social responsibility, or are allowed to sell bikes to consumers at below-market rates. With this “Made by Mozambicans, For Mozambicans” model, the company’s workers take pride in building a product that will help their neighbors.



Groups commit $100 million to program for minority women in USA

18 November 2  – A group of foundations focused on gender equity has pledged $100 million to an Obama administration effort aimed at improving economic opportunities for women and girls of color, the Christian Science Monitor writes. The five-year Prosperity Together program, backed by the Women's Funding Network, is focused on bettering the livelihoods of low-income women and will be supplemented by another $18 million from a collection of research institutions studying living conditions for minority females.

The effort was announced Friday at a White House-sponsored forum on achieving equity for minority women and girls, who suffer disproportionate arrest and teen-pregnancy rates compared to white females, and have a wider pay gap, earning 60 percent of what white males make. Since announcing his foundation-backed My Brother's Keeper effort for black and Hispanic males last year, President Obama has faced calls to apply similar energy and resources to helping females of color.



Coffee traceability system launched in Ethiopia

AGP-AMDe smallholder farmers to benefit from increased exports and enhanced market access

November 13 – Ethiopian coffee growers will now be able to meet demand for high-quality specialty coffee thanks to a new traceability system launched Monday by the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). The launch coincides with a source-of-origin tour that the Specialty Coffee Association of America has been on this week in Ethiopia.

The IBM-enabled system, which will be piloted first in the coffee sector, is expected to increase worldwide exports of high-quality Ethiopian coffee and enhance market access for specialty Ethiopian coffee. The system, known as eATTS, gives international buyers and coffee-roaster partners reliable information on the origin and journey of the Ethiopian beans to ensure their quality, consistency, and safety.

The new traceability system will be rolled out in all of Ethiopia’s coffee-growing regions and will affect some five million smallholder farmers. It encourages them to use cultivation and harvesting best practices. It will be in place for this year’s coffee harvest and may be implemented for other commodities in Ethiopia in the near future, kick-starting a new chapter in how Ethiopia does business.






Power of volunteerism can help build more sustainable world, says Ban on International Day

5 December – To celebrate the power of the volunteerism, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon is marking the International Volunteer Day by emphasizing that volunteering fosters creativity, “draws strength from our passions and connects us to those who need us most.”

“Volunteerism is a global phenomenon that transcends boundaries, religions and cultural divides,” said Mr. Ban in his message on the Day, adding that volunteers embody the fundamental values of commitment, inclusiveness, civic engagement and a sense of solidarity. The Secretary-General recalled the volunteering spirit during the Ebola crisis in West Africa, saying: “community volunteers, international volunteers and United Nations Volunteers were crucial to the response.”

“A similar spirit of volunteerism and solidarity has been on display in addressing the current refugee crisis and this year's devastating earthquake in Nepal,” added the UN chief.

The Day has been observed on 5 December every year since 1986. This year, the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer another opportunity for individuals to show solidarity through volunteerism.



UK contributions support vital WFP assistance to needy people in Sudan

November 29, Khartoum - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed today three generous contributions totalling approximately US$26.5 million from UK aid through the government of the United Kingdom to support WFP operations in Sudan. The three contributions will help WFP assist South Sudanese people who have fled to Sudan, WFP’s cash and food vouchers programme in Darfur and the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).

In July 2015, WFP launched a new two-year plan in Sudan to provide 5.2 million people by mid-2017 with life-saving food assistance, nutrition support as well as recovery and resilience-building activities to help communities become self-reliant. Included in this group are 1.8 million displaced people in Darfur.



Migration: meeting the most pressing needs at the Calais Jungle

27 November, Calais, France – MSF hadn’t expected to build wooden shelters in Calais. The refugees who ended up at the “Jungle” site didn’t expect to stay for long. Calais was to be just one phase of their journey, but it has become nearly impossible to continue on to England.  With winter approaching, MSF will provide shelters to protect them from the cold, in collaboration with a project initiated by volunteers.

In Calais, a team built modules – floor, ceiling, wooden walls and sheet metal roof – and delivered them to the camp.

The collaboration continues ongoing with the non-profit migrant support group, L’Auberge des migrants, which identifies beneficiaries, and with the volunteers who are producing the same shelter model.  MSF’s objective is to produce 400 shelters by the end of the year.  Today 4,500 people are believed to be there. MSF will continue to provide medical care to those who remain and has set up a permanent clinic to provide medical consultations, nursing care, physical therapy and psychological support.



66,000 new homes for Typhoon Haiyan survivors

By Kate Marshall, IFRC

25 November 2015, Philippines– When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013 over one million houses were flattened or badly damaged. Two years on, more than 66,000 homes have been built or repaired under the Red Cross recovery operation. Spread over nine provinces in central Philippines the shelter programme has included the construction of new typhoon-resistant homes as well as cash assistance, training and materials to help some families rebuild themselves(...) Last week 128 families moved into the Red Cross Village project, in northern Cebu. The village was funded by the French Red Cross and features a livelihood centre, a multipurpose hall with health and child care centres.(…) The IFRC has also played a lead role in, the Shelter Cluster, a coordination body involving the Philippine Government which has developed safer standards for rebuilding homes. Families have received basic training on safer building techniques and core shelters have been designed so that they can be easily adapted and expanded.(...)



MGM Resorts Employees raise food for Three Square Food Bank

25 November 2015, Las Vegas, NV/CSRwire/ - Employees of MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) donated more than 154,000 pounds of food to Three Square Food Bank in the continuous effort by MGM employees to extend the staff of life to food insecure residents this holiday season. MGM Resorts employees gave rice, flour, beans, cereal, canned meats and other food items that Three Square will use to feed the 137,000 local individuals served monthly through its approximately 1,300 community partners. Food insecurity happens when a household is forced to short its food budget in favor of paying rent or mortgage payments, healthcare costs, transportation expenses and utility bills. Three Square is a member of Feeding America, the largest hunger relief agency in the United States.

http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/38509-MGM-Resorts-Employees-Raise-Food-for-Three-Square Food-Bank


China contributes US$5 million to WFP for people affected by conflict in South Sudan

November 23, Juba - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a US$5 million contribution from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to support its emergency response to the deteriorating food security situation in South Sudan. The contribution will be used to assist people in the conflict-affected states – Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei – where people rely heavily on humanitarian assistance.

WFP will use the funds provided by the Chinese government to purchase cereals, pulses, oil and salt that will help meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable people in the states that have been most ravaged by fighting. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis estimates that 3.9 million people face acute hunger in South Sudan, including about 30,000 people who are facing starvation in parts of Unity State that humanitarian agencies have struggled to reach for months. WFP and its partners have assisted about 2.6 million people in South Sudan since the start of this year.



Cyclists raise over $4 million in miles to end Polio ride

by Maureen Vaught , Rotary News

November 23 - The fight to eradicate polio got a major financial boost from the annual Miles to End Polio bike ride that took place 21 November in Arizona, USA. Rotary General Secretary John Hewko and a team of eight RI staff members helped raise $4.4 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match the funds 2-to-1, bringing the total contribution to PolioPlus to more than $13 million.

This is the fourth year in a row that Hewko has biked in the 104-mile (167 km) El Tour de Tucson ride, one of the country’s top cycling events. More than 100 Rotary members from Arizona and around the world hit the pavement with the Evanston team. (...)

Rotary members have taken part in the ride since 2009, when the End Polio Now campaign was designated an official beneficiary of the race, allowing Rotary cyclists to gather pledges for the campaign. In the first year, 27 cyclists raised $35,000. The number has grown exponentially ever since.



Crucial funding to WFP avoids suspension of food assistance to drought-affected people in Ethiopia

November 18, Addis Ababa -Thanks to timely contributions from key donors, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is able to continue food distributions later this month for more than 1.5 million people in the Somali region of Ethiopia, and can scale up nutrition help to more than 700,000 children and nursing mothers in the most drought-affected areas. However, even with the new contributions, WFP has only 7% of the US$228 million budget required for food and nutrition interventions until June 2016. A dramatic increase in the number of people in need of relief assistance, from 2.5 million at the beginning of the year to 8.2 million in October, led to a serious funding gap, and WFP was concerned that it would have to entirely stop distributions at the end of November. Such a situation was avoided, thanks to contributions from - in alphabetical order - Canada,Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund. The United States Agency for International Development has also confirmed an in-kind contribution equivalent to US$17 million to WFP.



WFP in partnership with ADRA Ukraine launches food assistance for about 7,000 people in hospitals and schools in Eastern Ukraine

November 18, Kiev - The United Nations World Food Programme said today it started distributing food to patients in hospitals and schools students in conflict-affected areas in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The food assistance will be distributed by ADRA Ukraine, which is a part of worldwide network of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), to about 7,000 people.

On 28 October 2015, WFP received official accreditation from the Government of Ukraine.

Under its ongoing Emergency operation launched in November 2014, WFP plans to provide assistance to 575,000 people by the end of 2015. In partnership with several NGOs, including ADRA Ukraine, WFP has already provided food assistance to more than 250,000 people among the most venerable population affected by the conflict in Lugansk and Donetsk regions.



Lokai announces partnership with Save the Children, launches limited-edition red bracelet to brighten the future for children

Fairfield, Conn., USA, November 17 - Lokai has created a limited-edition red bracelet to benefit Save the Children. The #livelokai campaign officially kicks off Dec. 1, just in time for holiday giving. Through Dec. 31, 2015, lokai will donate $1 to Save the Children for every red lokai sold, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $300,000.  “As an official partner of Save the Children, lokai is excited to release a special limited-edition red lokai,”said Steven Izen, Founder and CEO of lokai, a socially responsible lifestyle brand that represents the importance of finding balance and staying centered along life's journey. “We are proud to say that we have committed $300,000 to Save the Children. lokai is honored to support this valuable initiative to help save the lives of children across the globe.”

To further raise awareness for Save the Children, lokai encourages supporters to post Instagram photos wearing a red lokai to “Embrace Your Inner Child,” tagging @livelokai and @SavetheChildren, and by using the hashtag #livelokai.

The limited-edition red bracelets will officially be sold online at www.mylokai.com.



Nepal: Humanitarian airlifts to continue after US$ 2.58 million donation

November 16, Kathmandu - Airlifts of food and other humanitarian items will continue to reach earthquake-affected people in Nepal, after Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom agreed to donate more than US$ 2.58 million to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). The funds will allow helicopters to continue flying vital supplies to remote earthquake-affected mountain communities until the end of the year. Many mountain communities in Nepal remain cut-off from the rest of the country after the 25 April quake and aftershocks caused landslides that destroyed access trails.

Since 29 April, UNHAS has delivered urgently needed relief to remote communities on behalf of 156 humanitarian agencies. To date, its helicopters have moved more than 3,400 humanitarian workers and 2,300 metric tons of humanitarian supplies to mountainous areas.




Peace and security


Tony de Brum and People of the Marshall Islands win the Right Livelihood Award

On November 30, Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, received the Right Livelihood Award in a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament. De Brum and the people of the Marshall Islands were given the award, commonly called the Alternative Nobel Prize, "in recognition of their vision and courage to take legal action against the nuclear powers for failing to honor their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law."

To watch a video of de Brum's award acceptance speech, click here.



Ban welcomes peaceful elections in Burkina Faso, salutes strong participation of women at polls

30 November – The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the peaceful conduct of the presidential and legislative elections in Burkina Faso over the weekend and congratulated the people of Burkina Faso for their enthusiastic participation, “which shows their strong commitment to the democratic process.”



Germany destroys all its cluster munitions

25 November - Germany completed the destruction of its entire stockpile of cluster munitions on 25 November 2015, almost three years ahead of its mandatory deadline. The German Federal Foreign Office, jointly with the Federal Ministry of Defense, reported that 50,000 tonnes of cluster bombs were destroyed in recent years. Germany never used cluster munitions, but produced, exported, and imported them in the past. By the end of 2014, Germany had destroyed 99% of a stockpile that once consisted of 573,700 cluster munitions and 58 million submunitions.



Niger: Seminar on Islamic law and humanitarianism

25 November, Niamey - A seminar on Islam, humanitarian action and protecting victims of armed conflict is bringing together 30 intellectuals and academics from Islamic and Arabic-speaking universities from across Africa. The event is being held on 25 and 26 November in Niamey and organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Islamic University of Niger. The seminar will enable teachers and intellectuals from 14 countries – Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia – to discuss issues relating to humanitarian action and law, and protecting and helping people affected by armed conflict. The Islamic University of Niger, which is affiliated to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, believes that universities are an ideal environment for this kind of seminar, given their status as places of learning and sharing, and their role in promoting humane values



Amid Lebanon refugee crisis, reaching youth through sports

16 November, Lebanon – At the Lebanese International University campus in northern Lebanon, a group of 400 teenage boys and girls – Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese – are gathered on a field, smiling and joking with one another. Most refugee children in Lebanon have been out of school for several years. It’s currently estimated that some 80 percent of Syrian children in the country are unable to attend school:they want to learn and play, but they can’t afford the bus to school or have to work when classes are typically held. But today is different:it’s ANERA’s Open Sports Day event for the youth of Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp and their peers in surrounding communities. Children and teens are running around the field, passing soccer balls. They wear brand new blue, gray and red sports jerseys, delivered thanks to a donation from Reach Out to Asia (ROTA).



NPA clears 1000th landmine in Zimbabwe

16 November, Zimbabwe,– On 9 November 2015 the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) Humanitarian Disarmament Programme in Zimbabwe reached a milestone with the disposal of landmine number 1000.

NPA is involved in the clearance of landmines, in Manicaland Province, along the eastern border with Mozambique. The program has been tasked by the national authorities to support with the clearance of a total of 129 kilometers of minefields within Manicaland Province. Since commencement of clearance operations NPA has released a total of 909,042 square meters of contaminated land, directly benefitting 4,506 people. NPA’s mine clearance opertions in Zimbabwe are possible thanks to funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States Department of State.






International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December

Theme for 2015: Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities

The Day works to promote action to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all. Governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are encouraged to partner with organizations of persons with disabilities to arrange events and activities to commemorate the Day.

By promoting empowerment, real opportunities for people are created. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities. Empowerment involves investing in people - in jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection. When people are empowered they are better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, they become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities.

The International Day will be used to highlight measures to strengthen national capacities to improve and mainstream disability data collection, based on existing good practices. The Day will also be used to highlight challenges and map out strategies to involve persons with disabilities and their organizations in disability data and statistics collection and dissemination.



Improving eye care and transforming lives in Mexico

20 November, New York - salauno, a provider of low-cost, high-quality ophthalmic care to Mexico’s mid- and low-income populations, has joined the Business Call to Action with a plan to increase the number of patients it treats each year and expand its reach in Latin America by 2020. BCtA is a global initiative that encourages companies to fight poverty through inclusive business models. It is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). By leveraging the cost efficiencies of its ‘hub-and-spoke’ model, salauno aims to become Mexico’s leading provider of eye care by 2020 – serving 500,000 low-income patients with a full range of ophthalmic services – and perform 25,000 surgeries annually; this will require expanding the number of clinics and hospitals ten times. By 2020, the company expects to replicate its model in five different cities in Mexico.



UN marks achievement in global malaria reduction

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

November 19, United Nations - “Today, we celebrate major advances in our fight against malaria,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in a message marking the achievement of malaria reduction, as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

With just six weeks left for the MDGs deadline, the UN has announced that the MDG six targets to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015 have been met and surpassed.

Since 2000, malaria interventions have contributed to a 60 percent decline in malaria mortality rates around the world, averting approximately 6.2 million deaths primarily in young children. In Africa alone, where 90 percent of all malaria-related deaths occur, there has been a 69 percent reduction in malaria mortality among children under the age of five. This is in large part due to the global community’s focused and renewed elimination targets, making it the first time in history that fewer people are contracting malaria. Over 100 countries are already free of malaria. (...)

Malaria, a major cause and consequence of poverty and inequity, hinders economic development, damages food security, inhibits participation in education, and weakens national health systems.



Project HOPE teams up with Boston Scientific to support South Africa’s bid to screen 8 million people for diabetes and hypertension

November17,Millwood, VA, USA – Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian assistance organization, today announced a partnership with Boston Scientific International Corporation to support an initiative by South Africa’s National Department of Health to screen eight million people at risk of diabetes and hypertension.

Boston Scientific has supported Project HOPE and its health policy journal Health Affairs since 2005, to highlight the most pressing health issues of the day and to enable the medical NGO to deliver health services and education from Iraq to Sierra Leone.

.  Project HOPE has a decades-long legacy of success fighting chronic diseases in China, India, Mexico, Honduras and South Africa, where it established the HOPE Center, training 119 community health workers and screening more than 10,387 individuals for diabetes and hypertension since 2012.



Three years with no wild poliovirus type 3

November 10 – The 10th of November is an opportunity to mark three years with no child paralysed by wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3), a reminder of  the role of surveillance in ensuring the world is polio free, and of innovations in driving the programme forward. While three years without the virus is not a sure sign that it has been eradicated, it is extremely encouraging news for the global effort to eradicate all strains of this disease. This year we have already seen remarkable progress, with type 2 WPV being declared eradicated by the Global Certification Commission in September. They declared the virus stopped, with no reported case since 1999.

The only wild poliovirus type which has been reported since the last case in Nigeria in 2012 is WPV1. This demonstrates significant progress and enables the polio eradication programme to zero in on this last remaining serotype, committing all resources to fighting type 1.

The GCC gathered to declare the eradication of WPV2 because it was a precondition for the switch from trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine which will take place in April 2016. It is the first phase of the removal of all oral polio vaccines, needed to eliminate the small risks of vaccine-derived polioviruses. (...)



Rotary raises US$ 300 000 at prestigious concert

November 4 – On 1 November 2015, Rotary International raised US$300,000 for the global polio eradication effort, at a concert held at the world-famous KKL (Culture and Convention Center) in Lucerne, Switzerland. The event saw internationally-renowned conductor Giovanni Antonini conduct the Chamber Orchestra of Basel, with a special appearance by South African classical pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout.

Entitled ‘Music for Life’, the event was attended by more than 1,400 music lovers and dignitaries from around the world, including Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran, Rotary International PolioPlus Committee Chair Michael K. McGovern and Global Polio Eradication Initiative Director Dr Hamid Jafari, as well as political, business and community leaders from around the world. The event was organized by Dr Urs Herzog, National Advocacy Advisor for Rotary Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and himself a polio survivor.

To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$1.5 billion to fight polio. Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges.




Energy and safety



Media guide to corporate climate lobbying for COP21

December 2, London – UK non-profit group  InfluenceMap has conducted a detailed and systematic analysis of corporate influence over climate policy globally and has prepared a briefing for the media, containing key facts, findings and some brand new statistics we have drawn from our database of over 20,000 evidence pieces on the subject. The guide and associated spreadsheet of information can be  found here. This release is designed as a resource to allow easy access to our data, analysis and metrics.

New statistics based on our study of the 100 leading industrial companies in the world, illustrate the state of corporate attitudes towards climate policy.  Climate policy support by the top 100 industrial corporations, 2015: ◾ 51% clearly calling for the decarbonization of the energy mix; ◾61% actively and explicitly supporting a strong outcome at COP21; ◾53% actively advocating for emissions reductions in line with IPCC recommendations; ◾31% are actively and specifically calling for legislation that puts a price on carbon (carbon taxation/emissions trading legislation); ◾66% are fully, explicitly and publicly aligned with the IPCC position on climate change science have made ambiguous statements recently on climate science; ◾with only 2% now appearing to be in denial of the IPCC findings, but…◾95% of corporations still belong to trade associations that are obstructing climate legislation.

Read the full report here.



Multilateral development banks join forces to ramp up climate action in transport

December 2 - Eight multilateral development banks today issued a joint statement, committing to accelerate their efforts to mitigate transport emissions and recognizing the need for more action on the resilience of transport to climate change.  The sector accounts for about 60% of global oil consumption, 27% of all energy use, and 23% of world energy-related CO2 emissions.

In their statement, the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank pledged to speed up action on: - Climate Finance: MDBs have recently committed to substantially increase financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation over the next few years. Transport is expected to play a key role in that commitment. - Low-carbon Transport Solutions: The MDBs will increase their focus on low-carbon transport solutions and will continue to harmonize tools and metrics to assess transport-related GHG emissions. - Adaptation: The MDBs will jointly develop a systematic approach to mainstream climate resilience in transport policies, plans and investments.

Find the Progress Report (2014-2015) of the MDB Working Group on Sustainable Transport here:




Environment and wildlife


December 11, International Mountains Day

2015 Theme: Promoting mountain products for better livelihoods

International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands.



Historic partnership of business, NGOs, faith groups and trade unions sign commitment to just transition dialogue for a zero carbon future.

30 November, Paris - Business groups and civil society representing more than half a million people and a thousand businesses have backed the international trade union call for dialogue between workers, business, governments that will ensure a just transition to a zero carbon future. The joint declaration was signed by the ITUC, We Mean Business, The B Team and seven major international NGOs and civil society organisations including CIDSE – the international alliance of Catholic development agencies, Friends of the Earth, Action Aid, Greenpeace, Christian Aid, WWF and Oxfam International at the opening of the UN climate talks in Paris. The ITUC is leading a delegation of 400 trade union members from 100 countries at COP21 in Paris.



Increasing soil fertility by fighting erosion in Senegal

By Sarah Crozier, NCBA CLUSA

25 November, Senegal – Through NCBA CLUSA’s F2F program in Senegal, implemented in partnership with ACDI/VOCA and funded by USAID, volunteer Josephine Hegarty trained 89 farmers in six village meetings to observe, identify, and evaluate water erosion in culturally acceptable, sustainable, and purposeful ways. Her background in Peace Corps Senegal and use of the local Wolof language helped her put the recommendations into useful terms(…).

Natural Resource Management can be as far reaching as national forest and industry policies, and as personal as planting shrubs to manage erosion and promote soil fertility on local farms. Beyond the large-scale positive effects of environmental sustainability and the efficient use of resources, incorporating small natural resource management techniques such as using trees for wind shields or leaving weeds and crop stalks in the field help stem erosion.(…)



Landmark victory for the Great Barrier Reef

12 November – New laws banning the sea dumping of industrial dredge spoil have passed in the Australian state of Queensland in one of the most significant conservation victories ever for the Great Barrier Reef, said WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said that, for more than a century, dumping huge amounts of dredge spoil in reef waters was the norm. But the continuing decline of Australia’s national icon sparked an international campaign to end this outdated practice.

“For everyone around the world who cares about the reef this is a moment to savour,” said O’Gorman. “We’ve stopped up to 46 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from being dumped in reef waters in coming years. That’s enough dredge spoil to fill 4.6 million dump trucks,” he said.

AMCS and WWF want to work with the Queensland government to reduce that volume per year and minimize the impacts.



WWF & IUCN announce new partnership to expand and strengthen protected areas

1 November, Gland, Switzerland – WWF and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) have joined forces to enhance and promote the role of protected and conserved areas in achieving sustainable development over the next 10 years.

 “This partnership will help ensure that critical forests, wetlands and marine habitats are protected for future generations. Stronger efforts to create and maintain protected areas are crucial to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals and securing a climate resilient future,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

The 10-year partnership aims to make the case for direct investment in protected areas and protected area systems that demonstrate enhanced conservation outcomes. The partnership will look at how challenges faced by protected areas such as poaching, illegal logging and other destructive activities can be addressed through new financing and investment.




Religion and spirituality


In Central African Republic, Pope Francis calls for peace among Christians and Muslims – UN

30 November – The United Nations brought in 250 additional peacekeepers from Côte d’Ivoire over and above those already stationed in the Central African Republic (CAR) to help the authorities provide security for Pope Francis’s two-day visit to Bangui, the war-ravaged country’s capital.

In a statement, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) said it was pleased to see that the Pope delivered messages of peace and reconciliation to members of the Christian and Muslim communities including victims of violence in a country that has been torn apart by more than two years of fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka group and the mainly Christian anti-Balaka movement.

The Pope ended his trip this morning with a visit to the mosque in a Muslim enclave known PK5, where he called for peace between Christians and Muslims, after which crowds followed him to the Bangui Stadium where he officiated a mass.



Religion, Peace and Violence is theme for Christian-Muslim meeting days after Paris, Beirut attacks

Peter Kenny

November 20, Geneva - Mere days after terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, the theme of an interfaith meeting of Christians and Muslims at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland on "Religion, Peace and Violence" was entirely appropriate, said participants. They spent two days candidly and honestly speaking about their faiths, in a dialogue between Shia Muslims from the Islamic Republic of Iran associated with the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue and Christians involved in the World Council of Churches. "There was a profound discussion about the fact that, though the means of violence and killing have become increasingly sophisticated in our world, the means for working for peace are still very simple and straightforward, namely the meeting with and openness towards those who are different to ourselves," said a participant. (…) Dialogue is the most natural thing we should do. This should enhance our love, friendship and unity. (…)

The meeting was the continuation of the process of dialogue between the WCC and the CID which began in 1995. Participants representing the WCC came from Germany, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The last meeting of the groups took place on 15 and 16 February 2014 in Tehran, Iran. (...)



Christian and Muslim leaders in Kurdistan celebrate together the "day of tolerance"

19 November, Erbil, Iraq - A "day of tolerance" was celebrated in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, on Thursday, November 19, at the initiative of local and international organizations, starting from the UN mission in Iraq. The meeting, held in the Abdullah conference room, was marked by speeches and reports focused on the promotion of respect and dialogue between faiths and cultures as an antidote to seizures and sectarian conflicts that are tearing the Middle East apart. The meeting was attended by  a large group of parliamentarians and leaders of Islamic and Christian communities in the region.
The conference intended to reaffirm the need to protect and to ensure, through appropriate legislative measures, civil coexistence among ethnic and religious groups and full equality of all citizens before the law, fighting simultaneously sectarian drifts through the care of education given in schools to the younger generations.




Culture and education


WFP partners with Ministry of Manpower to implement EU-funded project to fight child labour in Egypt

December 7, Cairo - Within the European Union's cooperation framework in Egypt, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower, one of the WFP’s three government counterparts implementing the European Union (EU) funded project “Enhancing Access of Children to Education and Fighting Child Labour.” Through the MoU, the Ministry of Manpower will be the focal point for developing and maintaining the project’s Child Labour Monitoring System (CLMS) at the ministry level, as well as at the governorate level.

The €60-million project is targeting 16 of the most vulnerable governorates in Egypt with the aim of ending child labour through enhancing access to education, especially for girls.

Through this project, WFP will provide 100,000 children in community schools with a daily in-school snack  as well as monthly take-home food rations  for their families through its school feeding programme. Up to 400,000 family members will benefit from the take-home rations, the value of which compensates for the wage a child would earn if sent to work. Both in-school snacks and take-home rations act as incentives to encourage families to send their children – especially girls – to school and keep them there.



Jamaica: Youth project aims to reduce impact of violence

Caracas / Kingston, 20 November – The Jamaica Red Cross (JRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are working together to provide local youth with solutions to mitigate the consequences of violence. The joint JRC/ICRC project stems from an agreement signed on 22 October 2015 and is sponsored by the International Olympic Committee. Its goal is to reduce the impact of violent behaviour among at-risk children and young people through an integrated after-school sports-based programme. It will be conducted in two violence-prone inner-city communities: Central Village in St Catherine and Canaan Heights in Clarendon.

The project has a multidisciplinary approach, with four components: sports; literacy and numeracy; life skills; and psychosocial support. The overarching objective is to reduce the psychosocial impact of violence, address the special needs of young people affected by urban violence, and expand their opportunities for social integration.



Colombia ACIP project employs innovative technologies to teach children about race and ethnicity

20 November, Colombia – Because racial discrimination and negative perceptions about ethnicity are often deep-seated, Colombia’s Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program (ACIP) shares positive messaging related to ethnic minority inclusion among children in collaboration with a popular Colombian cartoon series and the country’s first social network aimed at young people. “Professor Super O” is an Afro-Colombian super hero. Since 2006, he’s been a popular positive role model for children and youth from all ethnic backgrounds. ACIP is working with Super O’s creators to design a series of mini-comic books, 60,000 copies of which will be distributed in Colombia’s Pacific municipalities to teach children and youth positive values such as tolerance, respect, and perseverance.



Zuckerberg donates $20 million to help schools get connected

20 November – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have pledged $20 million to a nonprofit working to equip schools with high-speed Internet connections, The New York Times writes. The gift was the couple's second to EducationSuperHighway, following a $3-million donation in 2013.

The nonprofit, launched in 2012 by start-up entrepreneur Evan Marwell, helps schools with slower connections tap into the billions of dollars the federal government makes available for districts to improve Internet access. The group's goals dovetail with Mr. Zuckerberg's support for developing online platforms to tailor education to the needs and interests of individual students, an approach known as personalized learning.“Fast, reliable broadband is the foundational infrastructure that is needed to bring personalized and digital learning to every child and teacher in America,” said Jen Holleran of Startup:Education, the nonprofit that oversees the couple's education giving.



WFP launches free app for Smartphone users to help feed Syrian refugee children

November 12, Rome -  Smartphone users will now be able to help feed Syrian refugee children with a tap on their mobile phone thanks to the ShareTheMeal app, developed by the United Nations World Food Programme and launched in countries around the world today. Contributions will benefit Syrian refugee children in Jordan who are part of WFP’s school meals programme. The potential of ShareTheMeal is enormous: worldwide there are 20 times as many smartphone users as there are hungry children. In a ShareTheMeal test launch in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in June 2015, more than 120,000 users provided more than 1.7 million meals for schoolchildren in the southern African country of Lesotho.

The free app will be available for iOS and Android from 12 November in app stores worldwide. It only takes 30 seconds to register .




* * * * * * *



Next issue: 15 January 2016.


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), 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.”

Go to the Home Page