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Good News Agency

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

year 17th, number 254 –17 February 2017


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 media and editorial journalists, NGOs, service associations and high schools and colleges around the world.

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


Albanian courts asked to recognize same-sex partnerships

8 February 2017 - Last week Kristi Pinderi, executive director of the Albanian group PRO LGBT, announced his organization would file a lawsuit requesting recognition of same-sex partnerships. For almost ten years Pinderi has been a staunch and dedicated human rights defender working on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.



Liberia: Promoting humanitarian principles in law enforcement

07 february 2017 - The ICRC continues to help the Liberian authorities respond to humanitarian needs while also strengthening the capacities of institutions in international humanitarian law and international rules and standards in the country. We trained militaries, law enforcement officials and visited detainees while monitoring conditions in places of detention. 



Syria: UN chief Guterres clarifies tasks of panel laying groundwork for possible war crimes probe

‘International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011,’

26 January 2017 - Following the approval late last year of an independent panel to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria, the United Nations today announced that the mechanism will be headed by a senior judge or prosecutor with extensive criminal investigations and prosecutions experience. The head of the mechanism will be assisted by a deputy and a secretariat. The two primary tasks assigned to the mechanism include:



New UN manual aims to address management of violent extremists in prison settings

16 January 2017 – Highlighting the challenges brought on by and the need to address violent extremism and radicalization in prisons, the United Nations agency mandated to prevent international crime and assist criminal justice reform unveiled a new manual that offers practical advice on managing violent extremist prisoners, disengaging them from violence and facilitating their social reintegration upon release. The Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons, launched today by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) aims to strengthen key components of prison management, including training of prison staff, risk management and rehabilitation efforts. “It also cautions against generalized assumptions regarding a very complex topic, as well as against 'quick fix solutions' when it comes to the management of violent extremist prisoners,” said UNODC in a news release announcing the manual. In addition to loss of life and economic damage, violent extremism – a challenge confronting many countries around the world – can divide communities and give rise to increasingly reactionary and extremist views. On top of these challenges, management of such violent elements who end up in custody of the State is equally important and urgent.




Human rights


DR Congo: child soldiers leave armed groups following Geneva Call’s awareness-raising efforts

1February 2017 – More than 40 children have recently left armed non-State actors operating in North Kivu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of them come from three armed non-State actors that Geneva Call has been engaging on the ban of child soldiers for more than a year. After their release, the children sought protection from a Congolese organization specializing in the protection and demobilization of children. MONUSCO, the United Nations force in DRC, has since evacuated those kids who wished to participate in the government’s demobilization programme to Goma. Over the next three months they will follow a professional course to prepare for their reintegration into society. Geneva Call is in dialogue on the same topics with other armed groups in the region “We hope that this small step will pave the way to a North Kivu free of child soldiers. Children are the future of DRC and this future has to be protected. Geneva Call will continue its work with armed groups not only on the ban of child recruitment but also on the law of war and the protection of civilians in general” declared Marie Coutin Lequin.



Female-only driving school aims to challenge gender stereotypes in Egypt

31 January 2017- A female-only driving school is hoping to motivate more women to get behind the wheel and even under the car bonnet, if not learn the basics of car maintenance.  At Nairouz Talaat’s driving school, Direxiona, meaning steering wheel in Arabic, all its driving instructors are women and lessons are given to women only. The school also provides lessons in car maintenance – from how to check water levels and change oil to road safety and changing a tyre.



Latin America and the Caribbean could be first developing region to eradicate hunger

25 January 2017, Dominican Republic - Latin America and the Caribbean could be the first developing region to completely eradicate hunger if its governments further strengthen their implementation of a food security plan developed by the CELAC bloc, FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today. Approved by CELAC in 2015, the plan promotes comprehensive public policies to reduce poverty, improve rural conditions, adapt agriculture to climate change, end food waste and face disaster risks.




Economy and development


‘Riskiest ideas’ win $50 million from Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

Initiative’s first grants will fund a medley of wild ideas from top San Francisco Bay Area biologists, engineers and programmers.

by Amy Maxmen

8 February 2017 – The biomedical research initiative created by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, physician Priscilla Chan, has awarded its first grants to scientists, on topics ranging from the genomics of obscure microbes to a memory-retrieval device. Forty-seven investigators will receive up to US$1.5 million each in the next five years from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a partnership between the couple’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and three universities: Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. Together, the biohub grants announced on 8 February total more than $50 million. “We told researchers, give us your riskiest ideas,” says biohub co-leader Stephen Quake, a bioengineer at Stanford. More than 750 investigators from the three schools answered the call to submit proposals that elucidate fundamental biological processes and lead to disease-related technologies (…)



U.S. Ambassador visits RWANU project participants in Southern Karamoja

7 February 2017 – On January 31, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac and USAID/Uganda Mission Director Mark Meassick visited southern Karamoja to meet with community members supported by the USAID-funded, ACDI/VOCA-implemented Resilience through Wealth, Agriculture, and Nutrition (RWANU) project. Through distribution of honey processing equipment and training, RWANU is helping beekeepers improve the quality of honey and linking producers to private-sector buyers. Ambassador Malac also met with government officials, women, and youth leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities for development in southern Karamoja. Local government officials acknowledged how RWANU’s contributions to health care, agriculture, and livelihoods have helped maintain regional peace and reduce malnutrition. Since 2013, the RWANU project has worked with over 200,000 beneficiaries in southern Karamoja to promote diversified livelihood strategies, improve linkages to market opportunities and private sector services, reduce dependency, and build long-term food security through increased household resiliency to shocks.



US$13.3 million IFAD grant gives boost to food security, drought resilience and poverty reduction in Sudan

26 January 2017, Rome –  Some 128,000 people, including pastoralists, women and youth, will benefit from a new financial agreement between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Sudan aimed at intensifying an existing project’s efforts to improve livelihoods and resilience in the drought-prone Butana region. The agreement to provide additional financing for the Butana Integrated Rural Development Project (BIRDP) was signed in Rome. This financing, which will allow for the expansion of ongoing project activities, totals US$16.47 million and includes a $10.3 IFAD grant, $3 million from IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) and $3.15 million from the Government. The original eight-year project was designed in partnership with the Government in 2008 and, over the years, made considerable progress in terms of food security, drought resilience and poverty reduction.  At community level, dispute cases over natural resources decreased by 50%, and there has been a 77% increase in access to markets. At the individual level, households have increased their resilience to drought and developed innovative coping mechanisms such as establishing 291 irrigation systems to develop home vegetable gardens, and strengthening indigenous village poultry systems which included training 878 people in livestock production technology.



New €12 million Agro Equity Impact Fund for Uganda launched

24 January 2017, Kampala - The European Union (EU), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) are working together to catalyse investment in the agriculture value chain with the launch today of the Yield Uganda Investment Fund. An initial €12 million  has been made available to provide much needed access to capital for small and medium agri-businesses in Uganda. Yield is a partnership between public and private investors that will offer innovative and tailored financial solutions, using equity, semi-equity and debt, to about 20 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) having the potential to generate both strong financial returns and significant social impact.  The Fund targets agriculture-related businesses across all value chains including supply of agricultural inputs, production and agro-processing within all sub-sectors, post-harvest storage and distribution, but also peripheral activities such as transportation, communications and certification.The Fund will benefit the economy by improving an estimated 100,000 rural household livelihoods, improve access to markets for an estimated 26,000 farmers, creating jobs and employment opportunities, ensuring food security while generating income, foreign exchange and new export opportunities, all fundamentally contributing to Uganda's economic growth and goal to eradicate poverty.



Belgium contributes €14 million to support response and resilience to disasters and crises

19 January 2017, Rome - Belgium, a long-time supporter of FAO's work in emergencies, has deepened its commitment to protecting agriculture in countries struck by disaster with a €14-million contribution. This boosts FAO and its member countries' capacity to respond immediately to disasters and crises, and to strengthen the long-term resilience of vulnerable farmers and herders. The lion's share of the contribution is aimed at building farmers' ability to withstand shocks through multi-year programmes - an innovative approach to funding humanitarian responses. Commonly, humanitarian projects are funded in six-months or one-year cycles, leaving limited time to rehabilitate agriculture production and to improve risk-sensitive practices. These longer-term project cycles are particularly important for agriculture, as they allow support through multiple seasons and harvests. They were among the recommendations of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, which focused on reducing human suffering and delivering better aid for people facing crises around the world. Protecting valuable livestock with emergency feed and vaccinations is another important early action in many crises, so animals continue to provide protein, milk and income to pastoralist communities.



Mauritania to benefit from US$21 million IFAD grant to boost food security, nutrition and reduce rural poverty

12 January 2017, Rome– A total of 285,600 farmers, particularly women and young people in six regions in southern Mauritania will benefit from a financial agreement signed today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Mauritania to improve their incomes, nutrition and food security. The agreement for the Inclusive Value Chain Development Project (PRODEFI) was signed in Rome. The total cost of the project is US$45.2 million of which IFAD is providing a US$21 million grant including $6 million grant from the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) Trust Fund. The first phase of PRODEFI will focus on horticulture, poultry farming, goat milk and non-timber forest products. Inland fishing will be tested around Lake Foum Gleita at the beginning of the project. Following market studies, new income generating crops or activities will be defined for the second phase of the project. In addition, the project will support the competitive production systems to respond to market demand. The farmers will receive training and advisory services associated with the production models. To address the issue of climate change, the project will facilitate the use of solar energy and promote sustainable management techniques for natural resources such as water, pasturelands and plant resources. PRODEFI will also promote a better match between supply and demand. It will develop the public-private-producers partnerships in the interest of smallholder farmers and facilitate their access to markets.






WFP welcomes Denmark’s support to drought-affected Somalis

3 February 2017, Copenhagen - A well-timed contribution from Denmark of US$ 2.1 million will help the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provide life-saving emergency assistance to people affected by drought in Somalia. Somalia is in a state of emergency. The drought is worsening in the north – where Puntland and Somaliland have experienced consecutive seasons of failed rains since 2015 – and has now spread to the southern and central regions of the country. Nearly three million people are acutely food insecure –more than double the number six months ago. Years of insufficient rains, combined with factors such as land degradation, lack of seasonal jobs and volatile food prices have pushed many Somalis deeper into food and nutrition insecurity.  In 2016, WFP provided food assistance to 1.2 million vulnerable Somalis. Depending on the season and local circumstances, WFP provides emergency relief through in-kind food assistance or through cash-based transfers to buy food from approved retailers. WFP also supports communities in creating assets to improve livelihoods, address localized food insecurity and expand their ability to withstand shocks. WFP works with local authorities to provide daily school meals for primary school students and nutrition support for pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children.



Funding from Canada provides cash assistance to thousands of refugees in Tanzania

31 January 2017, Kasulu - Selected refugees at Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in western Tanzania have received a cash transfer from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), replacing part of their monthly food rations. These refugees now receiving cash in addition to food are part of a three-month pilot programme covering 10,000 refugees. Cash is delivered in the form of mobile money. For the duration of the new programme, refugees will continue receiving fortified vegetable oil and porridge blend while rations of maize meal, pulses and salt are replaced with cash. Providing cash allows refugees freedom of choice in what to purchase while also injecting money into the local economy.  Before the launch of the cash programme, refugees were receiving only food assistance from WFP. Implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Tanzania, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and partners, the programme is assisting some of the most vulnerable refugee households in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp. WFP aims to increase the number of refugees receiving cash in lieu of food assistance throughout 2017.



USAID helps boost nutrition, relief and livelihood activities in Pakistan

27 January 2017, Islamabad - Nutrition programmes throughout Pakistan as well as relief and livelihood activities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), run by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), have received a welcome boost from USAID's Office of Food for Peace. The contribution of US$10 million from USAID will be used to buy much-needed locally- produced goods, such as yellow split peas, iodized salt and nutritional supplements such as Acha Mum and Maamta for WFP nutrition, relief and livelihood programmes. Through this contribution, children under five, who are at a crucial stage of their development, will benefit, as will malnourished pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, especially when their condition might adversely affect births or the physical and cognitive growth and development of their children, if not addressed in time. Acha Mum and Maamta are nutrient supplements developed by WFP Pakistan to help address malnutrition in children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Funding from USAID will greatly enhance the impact of WFP nutrition activities throughout the country, including 38,000 children aged 6-24 months and 81,200 children aged 24-59 months who will receive Acha Mum. While Maamta will improve the nutritional status of 32,100 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.



Record German funding to WFP delivers lifeline to Syrians, boosts Global Zero Hunger efforts

23 January 2017, Berlin - Germany’s support for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reached an all-time record in 2016 of €791.5 million. Of this amount, the largest single contribution ever to a WFP operation – €570 million – went to Syria and neighbouring countries, helping to restore food assistance to nearly six million of the most vulnerable people in this region last year. In addition, the German Government boosted WFP preparedness, resilience, nutrition and innovation programmes through increased multi-year investments. In addition, funding from the German Foreign Office helped WFP to deliver food via airdrops, airlifts and cross-border deliveries to hundreds of thousands of people besieged in cities and communities across Syria. In 2016, innovation became another key facet of this partnership, with the launch in Munich of the WFP Innovation Accelerator, funded by the German Foreign Office, BMZ and the Federal State of Bavaria. The Innovation Accelerator enables WFP and partners to develop innovative and efficient solutions to new challenges in humanitarian assistance.



Spain supports mothers and children in Syria through WFP

23 January 2017, Madrid - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a €700,000 contribution from the Government of Spain to support the health and nutritional status of pregnant and breastfeeding women in warn-torn Syria. WFP will use the Spanish contribution to improve women’s access to fresh food items in order to improve their diet. As the conflict in Syria nears its sixth anniversary, many families across the country have lost their livelihoods, and cannot afford to buy the food they need to keep a healthy, balanced diet. WFP provides cash transfers to expectant and nursing mothers, enabling them to buy fresh products such as eggs, fruits, dairy, vegetables and meat that they cannot otherwise afford. WFP provides food assistance to more than four million vulnerable Syrians every month inside the country, using different modalities according to specific needs. Seven million people are classified as food insecure across the country as they have lost their livelihoods and exhausted their life-savings, often due to internal displacement. Rising inflation and depreciation of the Syrian pound further limits their ability to purchase essential items.



United Kingdom helps WFP fight malnutrition in Mozambique

16 January 2017, Maputo - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a GBP 3.6 million contribution from the United Kingdom to help fight malnutrition in Mozambique. The contribution from UKaid will provide nutritional support over the next six months to approximately 60,000 people in the worst-affected provinces. The majority of those who will receive nutritional support are malnourished children under five years of age, and pregnant and nursing women. In Mozambique, 43% of children under the age of five are stunted (short for their age). Those worst affected are living in the north of the country where they face a combination of factors including food insecurity, limited access to clean water and sanitation, and deep-rooted poverty in rural areas. WFP is supporting the government on the implementation of its Nutritional Rehabilitation Programme (PRN I & II) for the treatment of moderate and severe acute malnutrition, and providing technical assistance with national nutrition surveys.



Star Chef cooks for Sahel’s children as fresh milk fuels the hopes of thousands

13 January 2017, Ougadougou -In a region where school enrolment rates are very low, and early marriages a major cause of dropout among young girls, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has set up school canteens to help reduce malnutrition rates and to keep children in school. For better results, the organization has partnered with a women’s group that specializes in milk processing. The “milk project” – known here as the “white gold of the Sahel” – started in 2015 in Dori, one of Burkina Faso’s poorest and most malnutrition-prone areas. It involves the use of local products in school snacks: every day, a total of 3460 children, from more than 20 schools across the region, are receiving locally made yogurt. To raise awareness of the milk project and of WFP’s wider work towards Zero Hunger, the internationally renowned chef Christian Abegan has cooked a special menu, using locally produced foods, for the children of Dori on 12 January. Almost 500 people – mostly children but also government officials – were there to celebrate a symbol of hard work, dedication and partnership.



WFP welcomes Korea’s contribution to its School Meals Programme in The Gambia

13 January 2017, Banjul - The Republic of Korea has contributed more than $US 300,000 to the UN World Food Programme (WFP)’s School Meals Programme in The Gambia. This will make it possible for WFP to expand its community based cash transfer to schools and reach up to 20,000 students with daily hot meals for eight months. The programme targets communities where markets are functional, yet access is limited by resources and food insecurity, and malnutrition and poverty rates are high. About a tenth of the Gambian population is food insecure and the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) has increased to 10.3%, up from 9.9% in the 2012 survey (2015 SMART). Since the start of the pilot initiative, WFP in partnership with the Government of The Gambia and partners have been working with 24 communities and caterers to reach some 11,900 school children with daily meals, using locally available foods produced and prepared by the communities. Overall, more than 100, 000 school children in 368 schools in all six regions receive daily meals from WFP each year.




Peace and security


Algeria completes antipersonnel mine clearance

10February 2017 – Algeria confirmed today in Geneva the completion of its antipersonnel landmine clearance activities. Felicitations, mabrouk! The ICBL congratulates Algeria for this major accomplishment. Antipersonnel landmine contamination in Algeria dated back as far as World War II - a cruel reminder of the unacceptable legacy of these weapons.Algeria’s antipersonnel landmine clearance was conducted exclusively by national teams, using national funding. The ICBL noted on numerous occasions, over the years, that this demonstrated remarkable national ownership of the problem and its solutions.Algeria’s formal declaration of clearance completion under the Mine Ban Treaty should follow at the 16th Meeting of States Parties, to be held in December 2017 in Vienna.



Russia, Turkey, Iran and UN hash out details of monitoring regime for Syria ceasefire

7 February 2017 – The delegations of Russia, Turkey and Iran as well as United Nations representatives held their first meeting yesterday to discuss the establishment of a ceasefire implementation regime in Syria that was decided at the 23-24 January talks held in the Kazakh capital of Astana, a UN spokesperson in Geneva said today. This meeting was held as a follow-up on the agreement reached in Astana on a mechanism – a group of experts – to monitor the ceasefire, which had been brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey. “The participants had discussed the implementation of the cease-fire regime in Syria, and specific measures to facilitate effective mentoring and verification in order to ensure full compliance with the cease-fire, prevent any provocations, and determine all the modalities of the cease-fire,” Yara Sharif, the spokeswoman for the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, told reporters in Geneva.  The participants also discussed confidence-building measures to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and the delegations acknowledged their readiness to continue collaboration towards ensuring full implementation of the ceasefire regime in Syria, she stated. The UN experts who attended the follow-up meeting shared UN experience and best practices related to the monitoring and verification of cease-fire arrangements in other settings, the spokeswoman added.



WFP Executive Director, with Zero Hunger Agenda, attends World Economic Forum

17 January 2017, Rome - The Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, will attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos Switzerland from today. At Davos 2017, the World Food Programme will present Steps to Zero Hunger, a roadmap of concrete collective actions required to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – ending world hunger – by 2030. In partnership with UNICEF and Project Everyone, WFP will host the official launch of the year-long #HealthyNotHungry campaign that will shine a spotlight on SDGs 2 and 3 and generate momentum for hunger and health solutions. Throughout the year WFP is convening regional advocacy events featuring star chefs, policy makers, business leaders, food bloggers and individuals committed to ending hunger. As a leader in the innovative use of cash transfers, including the use of iris-scan technology, WFP is also supporting the World Economic Forum presentation of the Principles of Humanitarian Payment Systems. Cousin will also introduce the Global Impact Challenge, with Singularity University, to call for radical innovations in the fight against hunger.



Handover of cleared land

Colombia: Humanitarian demining pilot project handed over to the community with satisfactory results.

Mario Quiñones Noriega

10 January 2017 – On December 21 and 22, Norwegian People’s Aid, together with the The Mine Action Authority (DAICMA), the Humanitarian Demining Brigade (BIDES), the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, carried out the technical handover of the cleared areas in the Vereda El Orejón in the municipality of Briceño,(…)after clearing 19,849 m2 and destroying 46 anti-personnel mines. Don Bernardo, a member of the El Orejón community, states (…): “We believe that the Pilot Project has split the history of our community in two. Thanks to humanitarian demining and to the project we have begun a new life in which there is a new hope to achieve prosperity, social development, social justice and, of course, peace.” (...) In total, the Humanitarian Demining Pilot Project handed over 11 areas, from which 9 were cleared through mixed techniques (manual demining, mechanical technique and mine detection dogs)(…)






Democratic Republic of Congo: Fighting measles in South Kivu

8 February 2017 – Measles has reappeared in the remote and turbulent eastern province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recently deployed emergency teams in the region, where the difficult terrain and presence of armed groups make access to healthcare a challenge. In the middle of December, the MSF emergency team in South Kivu had been alerted that there were 10 people with measles. The sight that greeted the team at the health centre indicated that there had been a very rapid increase in cases. The team also recently faced an outbreak of measles in Mulungu, a remote area in the turbulent eastern province of DRC, and vaccinated 4,165 children. There is no antiviral treatment for measles, so the medical staff try and prevent dehydration, monitor fever and manage any complications that may arise, including eye and ear infections. The temporary isolation centres created by MSF are basic. Three centres were built in different areas in the space of a month, as six teams were deployed to begin vaccinations in villages as soon as possible.



Republic of Korea takes flight for polio

The Government of Korea gives US $4 million for polio disease surveillance and outbreak response

25 January 2017 – Polio is highly infectious, and can easily fly undetected with a child from one country to another. But when anyone flies from the Republic of Korea, they are directly supporting the effort to ensure this disease never travels again at all. An innovative financing mechanism titled the ‘‘Global Disease Eradication Fund” air-ticket solidarity levy means the Government of Korea collects 1,000 South Korean Won (about US$0.85) from each international passenger departing Korea’s airports. This week, the Government of Korea announced it was giving US $4 million of those funds to UNICEF and WHO to support disease surveillance and a rapid outbreak response wherever it occurs. This contribution has been generously matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, doubling its impact to $8 million and reducing the polio eradication funding need. This unique new funding agreement was made possible through the committed work of Korean Rotary members, who used the global stage of their Rotary International Convention in Seoul in May to highlight the opportunity for Korea to support polio eradication.



Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Joins Forces with Public and Private Partners during the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos with the Common Goal of Accelerating the End of Neglected Tropical Diseases

23 January 2017 , Los Angeles- On Jan. 20, during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation joined forces with The END Fund and other key partners committed to accelerating progress on neglected tropical diseases, including Bill Gates, co-founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Ken Frazier, chairman and CEO at Merck; and Tsitsi Masiyiwa, executive chair, Higherlife Foundation; and more. During the meeting, the Hilton Foundation announced that it recently committed $11.725 million in grants toward the elimination of trachoma in Mali and Niger by the year 2020. Three grants were awarded to organizations working towards elimination of trachoma as a public health problem in Mali and Niger: The Carter Center offsite link was granted $5.1 million, and $5.975 million was awarded to Helen Keller International offsite link for this effort. Sightsavers, Inc. offsite link was awarded $650,000 to contribute to the elimination of trachoma in Mali. For more detailed information on our Avoidable Blindness program area and additional grantmaking, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.



Rotary announces $35 million to support a polio-free world

17 January 2017 Evanston, Illinois — Rotary today announced $35 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio, bringing the humanitarian service organization’s contribution to $140 million since January 2016. Nearly half of the funds Rotary announced today ($16.15 million) will support the emergency response campaigns in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin (Chad, northern Cameroon, southern Niger and Central African Republic)(…)  While significant strides have been made against the paralyzing disease, with just 35 cases in 2016, polio remains a threat in hard-to-reach and underserved areas, and conflict zones. To sustain this progress, and protect all children from polio, experts say $1.5 billion is needed. (…) Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion, including matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio immunization program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was later joined by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 35 confirmed in 2016, and no cases in 2017 (…)




Energy and safety



Xylem Employees Volunteer More Than 21,000 Hours with Local Organizations in 2016

Activities addressed water needs in communities around the world

9 February 2017 , Rye Brook, N.Y./CSRwire/ - Employees from Xylem (NYSE:XYL), a leading global water technology company that is dedicated to solving the world’s most challenging water issues, logged more than 21,000 volunteer hours in 2016 in activities aimed at providing and protecting safe water resources and educating people about water, sanitation, and hygiene. Xylem Watermark, its corporate citizenship platform, last year launched a service-focused employee engagement program in support of this mission with a goal of logging 100,000 volunteer hours in three years. (...)Through more than 455 water-related volunteer activities, in conjunction with local community organizations and global nonprofit partners, more than 3,700 colleagues from 86 offices across 35 countries built water towers, tested water sources, maintained water sheds, and educated students and communities about water, sanitation, and hygiene issues.(…) In addition, Xylem launched its inaugural Global Month of Service in October. During this time, employees worked with local nonprofit organizations committed to water-related issues in their communities to clean and restore waterways, plant vegetation to protect shorelines from erosion and salinization, and teach students about global water issues. (...)



Joint Government and WFP Programme helps ultra-poor cope better with effects of climate change

24 January 2017, Dhaka - The study, launched Sunday, evaluates a joint programme run by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help rural populations cope with the effects of climate change. It focuses on ultra-poor people and finds that those enrolled in the programme are less likely to adopt detrimental coping strategies than those who do not. Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to natural disasters and climate change, due to low-lying coastal regions and increasingly extreme weather conditions such as cyclones, floods and droughts. The Enhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters and the Effects of Climate Change Programme started in 2011 as part of a joint initiative between the Government of Bangladesh and WFP. The package of interventions for participants includes community infrastructure work, training on disaster preparedness, capacity building, business development training and a cash grant to women for investments. The report shows that participating households recovered more quickly from the five most common types of shocks (serious illness, cyclone, death of ducks and hens, loss of livestock and flooding).



International Training Programme on Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning in Kenya, January 16-20, 2017

16 January 2017- Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India in collaboration with Kenya Water Institute (KEWI) conducted a five day international training programme on “Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning (WSUDP)”.  27 state and non-state practitioners across seven African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Somalia and Gambia) participated in the training programme to learn about WSUDP as an approach to identify rainwater, storm water and waste water as resource rather than nuisance. The training ended with a field visit to CAMESTEA an institution which does capacity building trainings in Mathematics, Science and Developmental Studies. The institute has implemented a decentralised waste water treatment approach with potential to treat 60 m3 waste water and has a provision of RWH system in the form of 30 m3 storage structure. The treated waste water is used for flushing and gardening and harvested rainwater is stored and used for domestic and laboratory purposes.




Environment and wildlife


SABIC Finds Profit in Good Practice

7 February 2017 Northampton, Massachussets /CSRwire/ - The Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) cuts carbon emissions by recycle CO2. Miranda Ingram reports.

Global petrochemical giant SABIC is celebrating its large-scale circular economy initiative whereby waste CO2 that used to vent into the atmosphere is now being converted into feedstock for the company’s manufacturing facilities. This drastically cuts carbon emissions and reduces the purchase of natural gas. The initiative is both an environmental and a financial triumph.  “SABIC has been a sustainable company since its foundation by turning excess gas into useful products,” said Corporate Sustainability Director Gretchen Govoni, “but our sustainability function began in 2008, when we started examining our energy and water usage and greenhouse-gas emissions(…).”



Winners of the Make #NotWasting Food a Way of Life video contest announced

Watch and learn from the countless ways North Americans are tackling food waste at: www.notwasting.com

1 February 2017 , Montreal —The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) and the UN Environment North America Office have recognized entrants from across North America who demonstrated innovative, impactful and effective approaches to reducing food waste and loss:

Each winner has been invited to present their initiative at the inaugural North American Workshop on Food Waste Reduction and Recovery in Toronto, Canada. The conference is being hosted by the CEC and runs from February 28 to March 2, 2017. “With over one-third of all food wasted globally, the groundswell of food waste reduction efforts underway across North America is very encouraging. Immediate action is necessary if we want to reach the Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste globally by 2030,” said Patricia Beneke, UN Environment Regional Director for North America.



Community Forest making dreams of Baka girls come true

18 January 2017 – From the heart of the Congo Basin rainforest grows a dream from two indigenous Baka girls.  Christelle Toumba Toumba and Edith Imelda Saloh, both 15 years old, are two out of five indigenous Baka children attending Government Secondary School Yenga village in eastern Cameroon. Baka are indigenous forest people living mostly in the East and South Regions of Cameroon numbering some 25,000. They depend wholly on the forest for their livelihood. At the start of the 2016/2017 school year, 20 Baka children thronged the school made up of some 120 students, but most dropped out before the end of the first term. Christelle, Edith and three others, however stayed on. (...) The Yenga forest was the first ever Baka community forest to be created in Cameroon.  According to the country’s 1994 Forestry and Wildlife law, communities can request and obtain forest portions of not more than 5,000 hectares to harvest and sell timber for a period of 25 years, renewable. They use the proceeds from the forest to finance development projects in their communities. WWF helped indigenous Baka to acquire the community forest as a way of improving the living conditions and encourage the participatory and sustainable management of the forest. Education remains their top priority. Part of the money generated is used to pay school fees and provide uniforms and books for Baka children attending school.




Religion and spirituality


World Interfaith Harmony Week - February 1-7

In November 2010, following a proposal by HM King Abdullah II and HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the United Nations General Assembly decided to observe the first week of February every year as World Interfaith Harmony Week. The resolution recognized that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding, and it reaffirmed that mutual understanding and inter religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace.

Countless events are held around the world during the week, including an annual gathering in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations.





AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Consecrated life: "light for the world, promoter of peace and reconciliation"

31 January 2017 - Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - Inspired by the theme "Let us be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20) indicated by the Colombian Episcopate, which places reconciliation as a priority commitment of the whole Church of Colombia for the year 2017, even consecrated life intends to live the next World Day on February 2, highlighting the task of consecrated people to be, once reconciled, promoters of peace and reconciliation.The World Day of Consecrated Life, which is celebrated on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, February 2, "is an opportunity to recognize the gift of consecrated life and to say that their dedication and their loving service to the Church is light for the world, and promotes peace and reconciliation"



AMERICA/VENEZUELA - New impetus for Missionary Childhood and Adolescence with new communication technologies

31 January 2017- Caracas (Agenzia Fides) - Five virtual meetings during 2017 for mutual enrichment of the national Directorates of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of the Bolivarian countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela) in the field of missionary animation for children and young people. This commitment resulted from the Meeting of the PMS of the Bolivarian regional countries, which was held in Caracas from January 23 to 28, in order to coordinate and share experiences in each country of the region. The meeting analyzed the work done with missionary childhood and adolescence, missionary activity through media and the goal towards which one wants to embark.


Awarded for Interfaith Work

27 January 2017  - Albadiya for Intercultural Dialogue Initiative (AIDI) Jordan won the "Volunteering Youth - Cohesive Nations" International Award in Tunisia, 10 January 2017. The Cooperation Circle participated in the third Arab Youth Forum for Volunteering, held in Tunisia from 6-10 January 2017 under the theme "Youth and Volunteering… Challenges and Prospects". The forum was attended by 60 participants, who attended from 20 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The forum aimed at:

Moreover, the forum provided a platform for young people themselves to inspire each other and exchange experiences and resources. Mr. Khalid Al Jazi, the president of AIDI Cooperation Circle, talked about how his group uses volunteer work as a tool to bring together people from different cultures and religious backgrounds to achieve noble goals. He added that his group was inspired by URI and introduced interfaith cooperation as an integral part of their volunteering project to combat terrorism and extremism and create peaceful and sustainable societies.



Religious leaders deserve full support in quest for peace, says UN adviser on genocide prevention

23 January 2017- Religious leaders and faith-based organizations have a responsibility to contribute to peaceful societies and the international community must support these grassroots peacemakers in their daily activities, the United Nations official mandated to fight genocide today told an international meeting on religion. Addressing the third annual symposium on ‘The Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs,’ now under way at UN Headquarters in New York, Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser for Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, said that religious leaders “have a responsibility to contribute to the building of peaceful, inclusive and cohesive societies that are resilient to conflict, violent extremism and atrocity crimes.”



ASIA/JAPAN - Takayama Ukon "Samurai of Christ" will be beatified on February 7

20 January 2017  Osaka (Agenzia Fides) - The solemn ceremony of beatification of Justo Takayama Ukon (1552-1615), the "Samurai of Christ", a person dear to the Japanese Church, will be held on February 7 in Osaka. (…) Pope Francis signed the decree of beatification in January 2016 and the Japanese Church has been preparing for the event for a long year, asking for the ceremony to be celebrated on Japanese soil. (…) Born into a family of landowners, Ukon converts to Christianity at the age of 12, coming into contact with Jesuit missionaries, following the footsteps of his father. The Gospel was introduced in Japan by the Jesuit Francis Xavier in 1549 and had quickly spread. When shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi took power and prohibits the practice of Christianity, all the great feudal lords accepted the measure, but not Ukon. He lost his properties, his position, his social status, honor and respectability. He will become a wanderer and forced into exile. With three hundred other Japanese Christians he fled to Manila where, just forty days after his arrival, he fell ill and died on February 4, 1615.The Japanese faithful proclaimed his sanctity already in the seventeenth century, but the isolationist policy of the country prevented the canonical investigators to collect evidence in order to certify his holiness. Only in 1965, his story was resumed by the Japanese Bishops who together promoted the process of beatification.




Culture and education


February 20 World Day of Social Justice

2017 Theme: Challenging Social inequalities: Pathways to a Just World

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work. The General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.



UNESCO-IHE scholarship applications now available

8 February 2017 - The Rotary Foundation and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education are offering up to 10 scholarships for graduate study at UNESCO-IHE's Delft campus in the Netherlands. The aim is to increase the number of trained professionals who can devise, plan, and implement water and sanitation solutions in developing areas. The scholarships also are designed to promote long-term relationships between Rotary members and skilled water and sanitation professionals. Scholars will receive a Master of Science degree in urban water and sanitation, water management, or water science and engineering. The application deadline is 15 June.



In Gaza Preschools, Kitchens Become Science Labs for Active Learning

6 February 2017 – In Gaza’s impoverished communities, schools rarely come equipped with necessities like libraries and science labs. So some teachers are getting creative in the classroom. Take, for example, the children of Gaza’s YMCA preschool. They have turned their kitchen into a science lab. Through fun activities, they are learning concepts like weight, volume, color, relationships between objects, and the transformation of substances. “Today we’re making fruit salad,” said teacher Ghada Hashwa. “Children are taking part in making healthy meals as part of an active learning initiative.” Recently Ghada joined ANERA’s teacher training workshop, funded by Dubai Cares. She was one of 48 other teachers from nine preschools enrolled in the active learning program. The new method of teaching breaks the rigid routine of conventional learning. Through active learning projects, children learn life skills through practice, experimentation, trial and error. (...); they develop skills like language, science, math and art. Learning is enriched with the vibrant colors of fruit, and the healthy content of their meals.



2017 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations - 1-3 February

On February 1-3, the 2017 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations will bring together approximately 1,000 young leaders and professionals from around the world, UN officials and diplomats, and representatives from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to tackle young people’s role in realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

With youth at the core of the discussions, the 19th session of the conference aims to highlight the interdependence and universality of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by exploring multifaceted global issues such as poverty, education, and sustainable consumption and production. Each topic will be viewed in depth under the lens of various SDGs and their targets. The conference also brings to the fore contemporary discussions on youth’s role in policy-making, present-day humanitarian crises, and their impacts on global development.

Interactive workshops led by notable organizations are designed to equip participants with practical skills and know-how to develop and implement fresh ideas that support the implementation of the goals. Deliberations will provide a conducive space for youth participants to contribute to a Youth Plan of Action that aims to capture and elevate youth voices in realizing the 2030 Agenda.



U.S. Citizens learning face-to-face engagement to create a culture of connection

by Libby and Len Traubman

29 January -- In post-election, divided, and anxious America, the small 24-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue in California invited its alienated community to CROSSING LINES IN SAN MATEO: Sharing stories, Creating Community.  Over 100 diverse women, men, and youth of all races, many faiths, and diverse neighborhoods streamed into Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center to fill the room in huge double-circle. The inspiring, hands-on community workshop for respectful communication across all lines introduced a new quality of face-to-face listening to one another — to everyone.  The inspired youth and adults experienced mutually humanizing and dignifying one another, and realizing the "an enemy is one whose story we have not heard."  They returned to their communities with new skills of civil engagement for their homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods to initiate a needed local and global communication renaissance and culture of connection.The day and its outcomes are fully illustrated at http://traubman.igc.org/sanmateocrossinglines.htm



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Next issue: 10 March 2017.


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 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations, NGOs, service associations, high schools and colleges as well as over 26,000 Rotarians around the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered, not-for-profit educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.


* http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf - In section A - International Organizations, page 12, the Report says: ”Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet.”

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