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. 246 – 13 May  2016


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


Dutch Parliament favors a treaty banning nuclear weapons

(Source: The Sunflower, May) - On April 28, the Dutch Parliament held a debate on a national ban on nuclear weapons. The debate came about through a citizens' initiative by PAX, ASN Bank and the Dutch Red Cross. The result of the debate was that a vast majority of the House wants the Netherlands to start working internationally for a nuclear weapons ban. Bert Koenders, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, agreed to adhere to the wishes of the House at the UN's Open Ended Working Group meeting on nuclear disarmament. This is particularly significant, as the Netherlands is one of five European nations where U.S. nuclear weapons are stationed under the auspices of NATO.

Krista van Velzen, a campaigner with PAX, said, "Up until now the Government didn’t think the time was right to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons. Today the Minister stated he would now actively pursue this. From now on the Netherlands will plead for start of these negotiations. This is a big step forward."

Selma van Oostwaard, "Dutch Parliament: The Netherlands Needs to Negotiate an International Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty," PAX, April 28, 2016.


Mobilizing citizens of the world to achieve the 2030 Agenda

“We have to remember that we are citizens of a country but also citizens of the world. […] What affects other people in the world also affects us,” said SDG Advocate and Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, during a discussion with Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in UN DESA, which took place in the Digital Media Zone at the High-Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on 21 April.

Seeking to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft convened this event, bringing together global political leaders as well as high-level representatives from the business sector and from civil society organizations. Forest Whitaker was also one of the keynote speakers addressing the opening of this high-level event in the General Assembly Hall.

The event also offered an opportunity to underscore the strong interlinkages between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was signed the following day by 175 world leaders.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted last September, aim at leaving no one behind and to provide economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.




Human rights


Five global companies join forces to fight migrant worker exploitation

6 May, Palo Alto, California - The Coca-Cola Company, HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IKEA and Unilever launched a new collaboration, the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, focused on promoting ethical recruitment and combating the exploitation of migrant workers in global supply chains across industries. The five founding companies have committed to the ‘Employer Pays Principle’, which states that no worker should pay for a job - the costs of recruitment should be borne not by the worker but by the employer. The promise of higher wages abroad can in some cases result in exploitation, with many low-skilled workers in particular paying high recruitment fees, incurring large debts, and potentially finding themselves in situations of forced labour. The Leadership Group will be championing the ‘Employer Pays Principle’ within their own industries and beyond, calling for similar commitments from other companies to drive positive change across all sectors. The Leadership Group will also work to develop a practical roadmap to underpin this call to action.



Gaza teacher training embraces creativity, child rights

25 April, Gaza – At ANERA’s recent Gaza teacher training, 34 teachers at five preschools across Gaza took part in an early childhood development (ECD) training on child rights and developmental psychology. An integrated and holistic approach to ECD includes using expressive arts and play to engage children in learning and help them maintain a positive outlook. This is vital for children who often undergo trauma at a very early age due to occupation, siege, poverty, and periods of bombing and violence. According to the World Health Organization, many challenges faced by adults – such as mental health issues, obesity, heart diseases, and poor literacy and numeracy – can be linked back to early childhood. Yet, early childhood development is underfunded and often ignored in places like Gaza. Donors and Islamic Relief USA are supporting this program.




Economy and development


17 May: World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

2016, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD-2016) will focus on the theme: “ICT entrepreneurship for social impact”.

ICT entrepreneurs and start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a particularly relevant role in ensuring economic growth in a sustainable and inclusive manner. They are involved in the development of innovative ICT-enabled solutions with a unique potential to make a long-lasting impact in global, regional and national economies and as an important source of new jobs, especially for youth, in the current knowledge economy.

The theme for WTISD-16 is in line with ITU’s work in unlocking the potential of ICTs for young innovators and entrepreneurs, innovative SMEs, start-ups and technology hubs as drivers of innovative and practical solutions for catalysing progress in achieving international sustainable development goals, with a focus on SMEs from developing countries.



300 economists tell world leaders tax havens ‘serve no useful economic purpose’

by Oxfam UK

9 May, London, UK - Pressenza Budapest - More than 300 leading economists from 30 countries have today written to world leaders warning there is no economic justification for allowing tax havens and urging them to lift the veil on offshore secrecy. The letter comes ahead of the Government’s anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday, which politicians from 40 countries as well as World Bank and IMF representatives are expected to attend. (...)

Despite having different views on desirable levels of taxation, the economists all agree that “territories allowing assets to be hidden in shell companies or which encourage profits to be booked by companies that do no business there are distorting the working of the global economy.” To counter this, they are urging governments to agree new global rules requiring companies to publicly report taxable activities in every country they operate, and to ensure all territories publicly disclose information about the real owners of companies and trusts.



New IFAD-supported project tackles malnutrition and stunting in northern Laos

29 April - The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic signed an agreement yesterday to finance and implement a project that will reduce extreme poverty and malnutrition for 34,000 poor rural households in northern Laos. The US$38.8 million Strategic Support for Food Security and Nutrition project will ensure increased quality of health and life for poor rural people in 12 districts and approximately 400 villages in Oudomxai, Phongsaly, Xieng Khouang and Houaphan provinces.


Colombia ACIP Public–Private partnerships empower ethnic minorities

27 April, Colombia – In the course of building the financial, operational, and advocacy capacity of community-based organizations (CBOs), the Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program (ACIP) has secured a donation from Microsoft. The Office 365 licenses include the business email platform, cloud computing, and the MS Office suite. Three CBOs—the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the National Conference of Afro-Colombian Organizations (CNOA), the Colombia chapter of Afro-America XXI—will receive the licenses and direct technical assistance.

This private-sector partnership will ensure the sustainability and strengthened capacity of ethnic CBOs. Afro TV, the first online multimedia news hub dedicated to Colombia’s ethnic minorities, raises awareness of current events and disseminates positive messaging related to Afro-Colombian communities. Its website receives 25,000 daily visits.



Google and FAO aim to usher in new era of environmental literacy for all

April 15, Rome--FAO and Google are working together to make high-resolution satellite data an everyday tool in managing the world's natural resources in a joint effort that is changing the way the world goes about pursuing sustainable development. The collaboration already allows resource managers and researchers in many countries to gauge changing land uses of individual field-sized plots seen by eye-in-the-sky satellites.

The combination - in which Google makes data and processing power easily accessible while FAO devises ways to extract useful information - has already moved into innovative territory, notably with a Global Dryland Assessment, in which national experts, university researchers, partner institutions and FAO combined forces in an open-sourced exercise. Results will be published later this year.

Besides the land-use focus, Google is making a parallel effort to allow data from remote sensors to track global water trends, including availability and reserves.



Nutrition-sensitive agriculture increases food consumption and dietary diversity

14April, Ethiopia – The “Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Farmer Training” manual developed for and piloted in Ethiopia by Agricultural Growth Program-Agribusiness and Market Development (AGP-AMDe) project was released to the public today at ACDI/VOCA’s Headquarters. Its cascade training model targeted farmer members of cooperative unions to move them along the agriculture-to-nutrition pathway to improved food consumption and dietary diversity. The five-year USAID Feed the Future AGP-AMDe project was tasked with reaching 1.2 million farmers. Its nutrition-sensitive agricultural training included workshops to increase participants’ nutrition knowledge via social and behavioral change messaging through the use of appropriate agricultural analogies. The trained lead farmers were expected to, in turn, train 20-40 other farmer co-op union members.


Smallholder farmers to benefit from $65 million tea and rubber revitalization project in Sri Lanka

April 12, Rome – The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of Sri Lanka signed a financial agreement recently that will improve food security and increase incomes for 32,000 rural households in the country’s central and southern region.

The US$65.4 million Smallholder Tea and Rubber Revitalization Project, which includes a $25.8 million loan from IFAD, will ensure that smallholders' economic activities in tea and rubber become more productive, profitable and resilient to market volatility.

The project will help small farmers who grow tea or rubber improve production and processing, and align their products to take advantage of market opportunities. It will also make rural finance more accessible in order to help farmers develop their rubber or tea business.

The project area will cover eight districts in central and southern Sri Lanka.






United States supports World Food Programme operations in Sudan

May 6, Port Sudan - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the arrival of a U.S. vessel carrying a food contribution worth approximately US$37 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

WFP will use the shipment of 47,500 metric tons of sorghum, a Sudanese staple, to cover the needs of nearly 200,000 South Sudanese refugees for five months and more than a million displaced people in Darfur for four months.

As a leader in relief efforts, the United States continues to be WFP's long-standing partner and largest single donor to Sudan over the years, contributing almost half of WFP's yearly requirements for its operations in the country.  Through its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations, WFP will continue providing life-saving food assistance where required while at the same time vigorously supporting communities' resilience and recovery.



WFP and OCHA boost partnership to share and visualize food security data

May 4, Rome - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are boosting wider understanding of how families in conflict-torn Yemen struggle with persistent food insecurity, through a new interactive visualization of data captured by mobile technology and shared on an open source platform.

Collected by WFP’s mobile food security monitoring service (mVAM), the data tracks a household’s food consumption. The visualization shows how families are coping in the face of hunger and food shortages as the months pass. WFP and OCHA plan to extend the visualization to show data from other countries. The data is available on OCHA’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), an open platform for sharing crisis data. HDX includes some 4,000 datasets from humanitarian partners, allowing a range of users --from journalists to policy makers and data scientists -- to explore the data and gain insight.

With funding from Google, WFP has released the Application Programme Interface (API)which provides open access to large amounts of food security data that it collects in real-time through mobile technology.



Humanitarian action: responding to new challenges

4 May – In recent months, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) together with the London-based Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) organized a series of conferences bringing together policymakers with international and national humanitarian actors. The conferences covered a range of issues, including: what humanitarian models work best, what degree of proximity humanitarian actors need and how those outside the formal system can best influence the debate on the future of humanitarian action. The first conference took place in Beijing. China in October 2015, the second took place in Jakarta, Indonesia in February 2016.The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) taking place on 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul, will bring together for the first time all international humanitarian stakeholders to discuss and reshape humanitarian aid for the years to come. Read the 'Refreshing Humanitarian Action' Report in full here:




Restoring resilience and dignity – Philippine Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan shelter recovery programme nears completion

By MJ Evalarosa, IFRC

4 May – As it nears the end of its three-year operation to help communities to recover from Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Visayas region of central Philippines, the Red Cross has helped build or repair more than 72,000 homes. In April ceremonies attended by representatives from the Philippine Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Committee of the Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, Qatar Red Crescent Society, and American Red Cross were held in three (…) venues in the province of Leyte to mark the handover of more than 5,600 homes, three health centres and seven educational facilities. Various approaches have been used by Red Cross partners to help families rebuild. The IFRC’s shelter program consists of shelter repair assistance, which provides people with the equivalent of 220.00 US dollars or 195.00 Euros in cash and building materials. In some ‘core shelters’ have been constructed for some families who lost their houses and training has been provided which has allowed families to complete the construction process themselves.(…)



UN Agencies welcome Japan’s generous contributions to development and humanitarian activities in Myanmar

3 May, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar – United Nations agencies today welcomed the generous contributions made by the Government of Japan to their operations in Myanmar. The four agencies – the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – received a total of JPY 3.76 billion (approximately USD 31.7 million) in contributions. This timely injection of funding will enable the agencies to continue and advance their development and humanitarian activities in Myanmar.



Saudi Arabia donates dates for thousands of Bangladesh schoolchildren

May 1, Dhaka - Many of Bangladesh’s poorest students and their families are receiving dates, thanks to a contribution from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, or KSrelief, to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The 792 tons of dates will be distributed to 396,000 children in the poorest areas of the disaster-prone districts of Gaibandha, Kurigram, Satkhira and Bagerhat, through take-home rations in WFP’s school feeding programme.

WFP supports the Government-led school feeding scheme which has grown to cover more than 3 million children nationally. In parallel, WFP’s own programme focuses on other extremely poor rural and urban areas to provide more than 500,000 pre- and primary schoolchildren with a packet of nutritious biscuits each day they attend school.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a long history of supporting WFP in Bangladesh and worldwide, including through relief operations in the aftermath of disasters.



WFP launches Cash Cards for displaced families and Syrian refugees in Iraq

April 28, Baghdad - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a digital cash card programme to provide food assistance to thousands of displaced Iraqi families and Syrian refugees across Iraq. Through electronic cards, known as SCOPE cards, WFP is providing both cash and voucher assistance to people in need.

So far, WFP has distributed over 12,000 SCOPE cards to displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees in Iraq. By the end of 2016, WFP aims to reach over one million displaced Iraqis and over 72,000 Syrian refugees with SCOPE cards across the country.

The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) funded the roll out of WFP’s SCOPE system as well as the pilot project in Akre, in the northern Kurdish region’s Duhok governorate, where thousands of displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees are sheltering.



Russian Federation: ICRC helps Ukrainian families

28 April – The ICRC has distributed 16,000 food parcels and hygiene kits in southern Russia so far this year to people who fled the fighting in neighboring Ukraine. These operations are carried out with the local authorities and the Russian Red Cross. Many people who fled from south-eastern Ukraine in 2014 have returned home over the last year, but thousands are still far from their home towns and villages. Some are living in southern Russia, either because of the ongoing hostilities or because their homes have been destroyed.The ICRC is planning to provide humanitarian aid in the Rostov region, Krasnodar Krai and the Republic of Adygea throughout 2016.



U.S. and WFP support School Meals Programme in Lao PDR

April 28, Vientiane - Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Lao PDR Ministry of Education and Sports have concluded a visit to schools supported by the McGovern–Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The US Government has been supporting WFP school meals in Laos through the USDA since 2008, with a contribution of US$47 million that will provide for mid-morning snacks and lunches for 150,000 children in 1,500 schools until 2017. WFP is working with the Government of Lao PDR on a strategy for national ownership of the school meals programmes over the coming years.

“The McGovern-Dole program enables WFP to continue the provision of nutritious meals to school children in 2016, expanding the project to set up vegetable gardens in schools, develop water schemes and build the capacity of government counterparts and communities to ensure the quality, ownership, and sustainability of the activities,”  said Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP Country Director in Lao PDR..



Bulgari unveils a new silver and ceramic Save the Children bracelet

28 April, Fairfield, Conn., USA - To honor its on-going philanthropic partnership with Save the Children, Bulgari has created a beautiful new sterling silver and black ceramic bracelet for its Save the Children jewelry collection. By adding a bracelet to the collection, the jeweler wishes to increase the positive impact its Save the Children partnership has had on vulnerable young lives.

In 2016 the partnership is strengthened by a new bespoke initiative, one that empowers youth to enhance their “soft skills,” build upon their capacities, and improve their economic conditions as they pursue their own journeys from deprivation to success. To date, the wildly successful sales of the custom-designed Bulgari collection has helped to raise $42 million for Save the Children. In 2009, Bulgari decided to take action on behalf of disadvantaged children around the world by partnering with Save the Children. It launched a campaign of unprecedented ambition and scope, from which a considerable portion of the proceeds from the sale of Save the Children jewelry – custom-designed by Bulgari – are donated to the charity.



DSWD, WFP launch disaster response centre in Visayas

April 26, Cebu - In preparation for emergencies, the Visayas Disaster Response Centre (DRC) was inaugurated today in Mandaue City in Cebu Province by the Philippine government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The Visayas disaster response centre is a continuation of the strategic partnership between DSWD and WFP to enhance emergency response capacity in the Philippines. It is funded by the governments of Australia and the United Kingdom.

Inside the 5,000-square meter centre is a custom-built mechanized system designed to rapidly produce 50,000 family food packs in a day, which is enough to feed 250,000 people for three days.

The DRC was conceived as a result of the lessons learned from the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Typhoon Yolanda. ‘Yolanda’ badly hit the Visayas region and challenged the government in responding to large-scale humanitarian relief requirements.



US support vital as vulnerable communities in Cameroon brace for harsh lean season

April 22, Yaounde – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of nearly 15,000 metric tons of food, worth US$21 million, from USAID’s Food for Peace Program to Cameroon. This food will bring vital support to 300,000 people−refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and vulnerable food insecure populations−over the next three months, just when they need it most, at the onset of the lean season.

In addition to some 260,000 refugees from C.A.R. who have been taking shelter for the past few years in Cameroon’s eastern regions, the Boko Haram violence continues to uproot families from their homes, disrupt the economy, agriculture and cross-border trade in the north of the country. In the worst-affected areas along the border with Nigeria, 1.4 million people face hunger.

USAID is the largest single donor to WFP’s emergency programmes in Cameroon, covering up to 25% of the food assistance costs in 2016, and has been one of WFP’s key supporters over the years. While this substantial contribution enables WFP to continue its support for another three months, an additional US$36 million is needed to sustain assistance to vulnerable communities until the end of the year.



Italy contributes €1 million to help WFP support conflict-affected people in Libya

April18, Cairo - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of €1 million from the Government of Italy to provide much-needed food assistance for vulnerable people affected by the ongoing conflict in Libya. This timely contribution will allow WFP to provide family food rations for more than 80,000 people in Libya for one month. Each ration is large enough to feed a family of five people for one month. In 2016, WFP plans to assist up to 210,000 of the most vulnerable people in Libya with life-saving food assistance, including displaced Libyans, host communities, and registered refugees and asylum seekers.

Alongside Italy’s support, WFP is grateful to other donors including the UN CERF, Canada and all those who contribute flexible funds. However, to continue its life-saving food assistance to tens of thousands of Libyans in desperate need until the end of the year, WFP immediately requires US$15.4 million.


USAID's Food For Peace provides $41 million to help WFP support displaced families in Iraq

April 13, Baghdad -  The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Iraq has welcomed a contribution of US$41 million from the Government of the United States to provide vital food assistance for over 1.3 million displaced Iraqis.

The contribution from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Food for Peace (FFP) will allow WFP to provide family food rations for more than one million people for two and a half months, in addition to food vouchers for 370,000 people for one month. Immediate response rations will be provided to as many as 140,000 people for three months. The rations contain wheat flour, rice, cooking oil and sugar, while food vouchers are given to those living in areas with access to functioning food markets.

Since January 2014, the conflict in Iraq has triggered mass waves of displacement of more than 3.4 million Iraqis. WFP is currently reaching 1.5 million displaced people each month with food assistance.




Peace and security


First Women Higher Education for Peace Vienna Forum - 5-6 July

The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs at Vienna is organizing the first Women Higher Education for Peace Vienna Forum on 5 and 6 July 2016. The Forum will bring together professionals working in disarmament, non-proliferation and development at various international organizations, the private sector and in the NGO community.The aim of the event is to support the participation of women in decision-making processes on peace-related issues. A unique feature of the Forum will be a Job Fair, showcasing career opportunities of key stakeholders in peace-related fields, building bridges between young professionals and potential employers.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the event, however, full scholarships are available for early career female professionals from the Global South to cover travel costs to Vienna, accommodation and living expenses. The deadline for application for the scholarships is12 pm (CET) on 22 May 2016. Registration and application is now open at www.dnpeducation.org  For further information: dnpe@unvienna.org



Japan donates USD 1.8 million to strengthen Uganda border security

3 May - Japan is providing USD 1.8 million to IOM to help the Ugandan government to improve its border security through an integrated border management approach.  Uganda’s porous borders make it extremely challenging to counter transnational organized crime, including terrorism, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. As a country fully engaged in regional integration, Uganda must also ensure the legitimate cross-border flow of people and goods. (…)The project “Strengthening Border Security in Uganda” will improve infrastructure, equipment and border management information systems which will allow the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) to improve border control. DCIC will have access to more border patrol vehicles, as well as equipment to detect forged travel documents.



Learning to stay alive can be fun

23 April - MAG and Clowns Without Borders have created lessons that could be the most important of children’s lives. The performance was shown in schools across Lebanon, teaching vulnerable Syrian refugees and Lebanese children about the dangers of landmines, cluster bombs and other explosive items. The children were also given specially designed games and leaflets to share with siblings and family members to spread awareness across the community.



Palau ratifies the Convention on Cluster Munitions

20 April - Palau deposited its instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 19 April at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York, as  the 100th State Party! Palau does not possess a stockpile of cluster munitions, does not have production facilities, and has not retained any cluster munitions for training and research purposes. It is not known to what extent Palau is contaminated with cluster munition remnants. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from World War II is still found on many of Palau’s 200 islands. In the Pacific region, seven states (Australia, Palau, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand and Samoa) have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, while nine states (Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Salomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) remain outside the Convention. The Convention will enter into force for Palau on 1 October.



Cuba bans cluster munitions

6 April – Cuba is the 99th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The instrument of accession was submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the UN Headquarters in New York, on 6 April 2016. The Cluster Munition Coalition congratulates Cuba on its accession and encourages it to actively promote the universalization of the Convention by inviting all states not party to join the Convention, in particular Latin American and Caribbean countries that have not yet renounced cluster munitions. Cuba is not known to have used, produced, or exported cluster munitions. According to the Cluster Munition Monitor Cuba has a stockpile of cluster munitions, although Cuba has never confirmed it. The CMC hopes that Cuba will report on its stockpile in its initial transparency report due in 2017, and subsequently undertake the destruction of any remaining stocks.



2016 Peace Day Party: work in progress for September 21!

Good News….we requested Times Square for September 21, 2016 for our PeaceDayParty.org press event. We are throwing a Peace Day Party for the whole world once again. We already have the support of 193 UN countries who agreed to The International Day of Peace, now “ ALL TOGETHER” we will try by reaching out to organizations, schools/universities, religious institutions, social services and more in their countries who work for Peace, i.e. military, domestic violence, street gangs, cyber bullying, feeding and clothing the needy to join the party.

We are also looking into major concert venues, celebrities, entertainers and peace heros (young and old) for a historic event. Our media supports and broadcasts 100’s of organizations whose mission is to help the people in the world to live more peacefully, i.e., David Lynch Foundation, Harlem Globetrotters, Ronald McDonald House, Rotary, Hospitals … go to our site and see a partial list.

So this is a BIG JOB and we can use your volunteer help to accomplish our peace mission. As well as much needed year end tax free donations to our 501c3 nonprofit. McKinsey and Company states that 1.6 Billion people will be aware of the International Day of Peace in 2016.






Niger: MSF responds to a meningitis epidemic

4 May – Since the beginning of 2016, an outbreak of meningitis C has been affecting every region of Niger. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has deployed emergency teams and has been supporting  the Ministry of Health to contain the epidemic since January. The number of weekly cases is now decreasing but there are insufficient stocks of vaccine available to protect those at risk in the event of another outbreak of the disease. There was a continual rise in cases between January and mid-March, after which the number of new infections started to fall. Since the beginning of the epidemic, MSF has been supporting the Ministry of Health to monitor the affected areas, vaccinate people and provide free treatment to patients. More than 254,000 people have been vaccinated in the health districts of Tillabery, Dosso and Tahoua regions. 126,000 additional vaccine doses are expected to arrive at the end of April.MSF has trained 80 laboratory technicians in 32 medical facilities and donated equipment to boost testing capacity in laboratories across all eight regions of the country.



ACTED organizes water forums in Beirut to support vulnerable families

4 May - ACTED Lebanon celebrated World Water Day by organizing water forums in Beirut with the Lebanese community as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees. ACTED’s hygiene promotion team organized a water forum in St. Simon for 100 people, to teach children and adults on the importance of freshwater and how it should be preserved. Several trainings sessions were held on hand washing practices, water saving (effective and efficient utilization of water), solid waste management, safe and clean water use and storage and water related diseases like lice, scabies and diarrhea.

ACTED is operating in vulnerable communities in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the North of Lebanon. These activities were made available by the generous contribution of the European Union.



QRCS delivers medical aid to hospitals in Aleppo, Idlib

3 May, Doha - Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) is proceeding with its support of the medical sector in Syria, by providing medications, medical equipment, and fuel to help health facilities absorb the increasing numbers of injuries, amid deteriorating health conditions country­wide due to the conflict.
Lately, QRCS personnel in Syria procured 30,960 liters of fuel to operate power generators at the surgical hospital in Aqrabat, Idlib countryside. These $17,956 supplies will serve the town's 100,000 population and 70,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).
In coordination with the Health Directorate in Idlib, QRCS is operating and supporting the hospital with fuel, medications, medical consumables, and operational costs.



Burundi - "Kira Mama Plus!" A project to reduce infant mortality

28 April, Cibitoke - In recent years Burundi has made great strides in reducing maternal and infant mortality. The same is not true for neonatal mortality: according to UNICEF still 36 children out of 1000 die in the first 28 days of life, especially in the first hours after birth, because are premature, underweight or because of complications during birth or infection. To deal with this unfortunate phenomenon, the Partnership Committee Medica (CCM) has initiated, in Cibitoke district, in northern Burundi, the project Kira Mama Plus! which aims to reduce infant mortality through the training of nurses and midwives in all maternity facilities in the district.

To ensure that every newborn is followed during the first month after birth, the training is also aimed at community health workers and traditional midwives who, through home visits, provide treatment and care, out of the health centers. Kira Mama is named after the Burundian song that welcomes the mother and her baby. (AP)



Improving health and preventing violence in Palestine with support from the people of Japan

By Stephen Ryan (@stiofanoriain), IFRC

28 April – Since April 2015, Palestine Red Crescent Society has been providing focused assistance to women in Gaza and the West Bank on reproductive health, while also working to prevent violence in homes and communities through a project made possible with support from the Japanese Government.

Ongoing challenges in accessing basic health and social services, as well as severe constraints in the provision of adequate water and sanitation have a growing impact on the health of Palestinians, particularly women in Gaza.

Through its network of primary health centers and clinics, Red Crescent gynecologists and pediatricians has been addressing the reproductive health needs of women, and outreach activities such as first aid, volunteers reinforce the same messages through home visits and community programs.(…). Over 12,000 women have directly benefited from this program. (…) The violence prevention aspect of the project focuses on women and children in Gaza through community outreach activities delivered by specially trained volunteers.(…)

The Japanese Government has agreed to support Palestine Red Crescent Society into 2017, as they expand their existing project into a program focused on building communities capacities to address health needs and violence prevention and mitigate risks caused by natural and/or man-made disasters (…)



Protecting children against polio in Jordan

21 April - Keeping levels of immunity high by strengthening routine immunization, carrying out polio vaccination campaigns and keeping vigilant surveillance systems for early warning should the virus return is a top priority for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In Jordan, which was made vulnerable to poliovirus following an outbreak in Syria and Iraq in 2013 and 2014, the Ministry of Health of Jordan with the support of WHO, UNICEF and partners, recently completed a mass immunization campaign against polio, reaching more than one million children under 5 across the country with oral polio vaccine (OPV). The nationwide immunization drive was the country’s sixth since polio’s return to the Middle East in 2013, and comes as part of efforts to maintain and strengthen population immunity, until the poliovirus is eradicated globally.



Zambia: Largest ever oral cholera vaccination campaign underway in Lusaka

9 April - The largest cholera vaccination campaign ever undertaken has just commenced in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. Over half a million people are planned to receive the oral cholera vaccine in an effort to curb an outbreak that began in February in the city’s overcrowded township areas. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working in close collaboration with the Zambian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to carry out the vaccination campaign,




Energy and safety



The waves of the Pacific are on Chile’s energy horizon

By Marianela Jarroud and Orlando Milesi

Santiago, May 4 - Chile, a country with 6,435 km of Pacific Ocean coast line, could find in wave and tidal power a solution to its need to diversify its energy mix. According to a study commissioned by theInter-American Development Bank (IDB), this South American country has 164 MW in wave energy potential, which makes it unique in the world. The study stated that even if only 10 percent of the country’s tidal and wave energy were harnessed, it would surpass the existing installed capacity of Chile’s central power grid, SIC, which totals 15,500 MW.

“Energy from the sea, in both coastal areas and around the island of Chiloé (in the south), has been studied extensively, and the potential is enormous,” ecologist Sara Larraín, director of the local environmental organisation Sustainable Chile, told IPS.

Studies explain that the Pacific Ocean gets deeper the closer one gets to the South Pole, which generates greater wave and tidal power potential and puts Chile in a privileged position to harness this kind of energy. Larraín added that these technologies are still at the level of prototypes, from countries like Italy and Scotland, and the progress made depends on international research centres, “because Chile has neither the scientific, technological nor financial capacity to make this technological leap on its own.”

“The pilot projects have gone well, but we’re still a long way from making the leap to industrial-level production,” the environmentalist said. (...)



USA - Energy department announces $25 million to accelerate integration of solar energy into nation’s electrical grid

May 2, Washington, D.C. — As part of the Energy Department’s ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s grid through the Grid Modernization Initiative, the Energy Department today announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) to help software developers, solar companies, and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.

Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation. One of the key challenges to further solar deployment is the ability to integrate distributed generation sources like rooftop solar panels into the grid while balancing that generation with traditional utility generation to keep reliable and cost-effective power flowing to homes and businesses. Today’s funding opportunity announcement will help support companies working to meet that challenge.



Nine companies join CEC trilateral energy efficiency initiative

27 April,Montreal - Nine North American companies have joined a Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) pilot program to accelerate their adoption of international energy performance standards that will help them reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. 3M, ArcelorMittal, BMW, Cargill, Cummins, Ingersoll Rand, Intertape Polymer Group, New Gold, and Titan America have committed to the CEC’s North American Energy Management Pilot Program, which was developed in partnership with Natural Resources Canada, Mexico’s Comisión Nacional para el Uso Eficiente de la Energía (Conuee), and the US Department of Energy. The program is assisting companies with the implementation of the ISO 50001 standard and Superior Energy Performance® certification. It is an example of trinational collaboration on climate change, energy, and innovation that was affirmed at the most recent meeting of energy ministers from Canada, Mexico and the United States.



Green Transition Scoreboard global total now $7.13 trillion

22 April, St. Augustine, Fla., USA - Ethical Markets Media welcomes Earth Day with a stunning new total for its Green Transition Scoreboard (GTS).  As of Q4 2015, the GTS totals $7.13 TRILLION cumulative in non-government investments and commitments tracked since 2007 in the global green transition now underway. The priority is ending “externalities” which the IMF estimates at $5.3 trillion annually worldwide.  Companies tracked since 2007 by the GTS are those avoiding negative externalities and focusing on transition management to low-carbon economies agreed by 195 member countries of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the COP21 climate agreements in Paris in 2015.The GTS tracks Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Life Systems, Green Construction and Corporate Green R&D, representing broad areas of investment in green technologies.  Life Systems gained a new category: Fintech for sustainability, including peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, in addition to other subsectors tracking the system-wide interconnections among information and digitization, water, food, education and health.



Environment and wildlife


No rhinos poached in Nepal for past two years

2 May – While Africa struggles to stem record-breaking rhino poaching, Nepal today marked two years since its last rhino was poached on May 2nd 2014 – as well as its 4th year of zero poaching of rhinos since 2011. This is the first time that Nepal has achieved two consecutive years of zero poaching, which has helped to increase its population of greater one-horned rhinos to 645, the highest recorded number in the country so far. Nepal’s zero poaching success is rooted in a coordinated national response, which is driven from the centre and implemented at grassroots level, including enhanced protection efforts within national parks and surrounding buffer zones, involving the use of new approaches, such as the highly effective Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) patrolling. (…) Nepal has also been a driving force behind the Zero Poaching framework, which outlines the six key pillars (assessment, capacity, community, cooperation, prosecution, technology) that countries need to address. But Nepal has also scaled up its work beyond anti-poaching to boost its rhino population. Three times since then it has not lost a single rhino to poachers over the course of 365 days. During one of those periods, Nepal did not lose any tigers or elephants to poachers either.



FAO and partners ramp up efforts to track and prevent spread of damaging wheat  rusts

April 14, Rome – The ongoing spread of wheat rusts, a group of fungal plant diseases that stimy the production of the staple grain and other crops, is raising concern in Central Asia and the middle East and sprking closer international collaboration to study, detect and prevent the threat from advancing further.

As part of this effort, FAO is expanding its partnership with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the University of Aarhus 'Global Rust Reference Centre'  to provide training on surveillance, resistance and management.

FAO, ICARDA and Turkey's General Directorate of Agricultural Research (GDAR), are collaborating with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the University of Aarhus and the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), to train plant protection officers at a 10-day workshop starting this week in Izmir, Turkey. Once back in their countries, the officers will survey fields and send samples to University of Aarhus in Denmark where they will be analyzed to determine how far and how quickly various strains of the disease are spreading.




Religion and spirituality


France: conference on interreligious dialogue

From 17-19 May, an international conference entitled “The search for peace: interreligious dialogue?” will take place at the Catholic University of the West in Angers (France). Pax Christi France is among the organisers of the event. The conference, which was convened as a result of the attacks in Paris last year, will discuss interreligious dialogue and its theoretical and practical influence today – also in reference to the conflicts in the Middle East. The conference will focus on religions calling themselves ‘religions of peace’ despite instances of violent in their history.



Pope welcomes Rotary to Jubilee audience

By Ryan Hyland, Rotary News

May 2 - Thousands of Rotary members, motivated by a special invitation from Pope Francis, gathered at the Vatican in Rome on Saturday to celebrate a message of compassion, inclusiveness, and service to humanity. At midmorning, the group -- numbering some 9,000 members from 80 countries -- made its way through the congested streets of Rome, past the tight security surrounding St. Peter's Square, and settled into the area reserved for Rotary in front of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee audience.

Francis, a 79-year-old Argentine, urged the crowd of more than 100,000, which included members of the police and armed forces from around the world, "to build a culture of peace, security, and solidarity around the world."His message of peace resonated with Rotary members, including R. Asokan from Tamil Nadu, India. "His message about peace is about accepting. Rotary, which accepts all walks of life, can carry his message to all our clubs, therefore carrying his message to all our communities," says Asokan.

Though Francis is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, his words often reach a wider audience. A poll published earlier this year found him to be one of the most liked and trusted world leaders. (...)

After the Jubilee audience, Francis met with a small delegation of Rotary members led by RI President K.R. Ravindran. The pope spoke to Ravindran about the importance of vaccinating children against polio and encouraged Rotary to continue its efforts against this disease. (...)



USA - Dismantling islamophobia through love

A "Love Your Muslim Neighbor" event hosted by the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County CC

Rev. Will McGarvey and the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County Cooperation Circle hosted a series of nine "Love Your Muslim Neighbor" events to introduce Christian congregations to the Muslims sharing their communities. The personal connection cut through the fear of the unknown and drew community members closer, making it harder for harmful stereotypes to flourish.

Over the course of nine “Love Your Muslim Neighbor” events held at a variety of different Christian congregations, the ICCCC has initiated and facilitated crucial discussions on some of the major misconceptions regarding Muslims, with up to 200 participants. The interreligious exchanges vary from panel discussions hosted by American Muslims of different ethnicities, religious sects, gender identities, and so on, to more intimate and informal conversations where non-Muslim community members voice curiosities they have always had but have never known how or whom to ask.




Culture and education


May 15: International Day of Families

Theme: families, healthy lives and sustainable future

Families remain at the centre of social life ensuring the well-being of their members, educating and socializing children and youth and caring for young and old. From a policy perspective, taking families into account in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals has a potential to speed up the achievements of many targets relating to individuals’ well-being.

A number of family policies, such as those supporting the caregiving role of families, work-family balance for parents, empowering families to support their individual members’ health, education and well-being, have been found to contribute to overall development goals. Still, a broad range of family policies enacted at national levels and relating to different facets of family life have an often untapped potential to further contribute to the achievement of many national development goals.

In particular, family-oriented policies can contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 5 relating to doing away with poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages; ensuring educational opportunities throughout the lifespan and achieving gender equality. The theme of this year’s observance of the International Day of Families focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.



GEMUN (Global Elementary Model United Nations) - May 13 & 14, Dallas, TX, USA

Every year since 1990 Elementary and Middle School children from several countries participate in this unique Model United Nations, role playing different governments in response to various issues before the UN General Assembly and the governing bodies of different UN Agencies. Over the years more than 6,000 children have taken part. Model United Nations are common around the world at high school level - elementary and middle or intermediate school programs are not so common.

Our challenge is one which has been with humanity for aeons. It is the difficult challenge to live in freedom, harmony and cooperation, sharing resources. It is not impossible to bring about a human mindset where the long sought manifestation of a world without violence will exist. The populace of the world must be educated to realize that the possibility is more than a dream. It will happen as the people of goodwill begin to mobilize a will-to-good, and refute any lesser attitudes.

In GEMUN, it is intended that the old ways of dealing with world problems through conflict and argumentative debate shall be abandoned in deference to understanding compromise, cooperation and dialogue among individuals and nations.



UNESCO outstanding performance in defending freedom of expression and freedom of information

On 2 May, in Helsinki, Finland, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, received the Chydenius Medal, awarded by the Anders Chydenius Foundation and the Association for Chydenius Institute. This Award ‎recognises the outstanding performance of UNESCO at the international level in promoting the principles of openness, cherished by Anders Chydenius, the initiator of the world’s first Freedom of Information Act (1766).

The Award was presented by Mr Gustav Björkstrand (Chairperson of Anders Chydenius Foundation), along with the 250 Delegation, in a ceremony held at the newly-renovated Päivälehti Museum of Finland’s Helsingen Sanomat newspaper. Issuing the award were the Anders Chydenius Foundation and the Association for Chydenius Institute.

The C‎hair of the board of the Foundation, Mr Gustav Björkstrand, explained that UNESCO, led by Ms Bokova, has significantly contributed to free flow of information legislation. The Director-General singled out the Government of Finland for praise, thanking it for its leadership in defending freedom of expression and enhancing the safety of journalists, notably in support of UNESCO’s action.



XPRIZE and UN announce global partnership to empower children's learning through technology

April 29, Dodoma, Tanzania – The XPRIZE Foundation with the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a new partnership for the US$15 Million Global Learning XPRIZE – a five-year competition challenging teams to develop open-source software that will enable children with limited access to schooling to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic. XPRIZE, a non-profit organization, is the world’s leader in designing and managing incentive prize competitions for the benefit of humanity.

Currently, there are 136 teams from 33 countries developing education technology solutions.

The top five finalist teams will each receive US$1 million and their software will be field tested in Tanga and Arusha regions. An estimated  4,000 children across 200 villages will participate in the 18-month field test, each of whom will receive a donated tablet.

The team whose solution enables the greatest proficiency gains in reading, writing and arithmetic will receive the grand prize of US$10 million. At the end of the competition, all five solutions will be released as open source, free for anyone to use and adapt.




* * * * * * *



Next issue: 17 June 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, Community of Living Ethics, 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 26,000 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