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 17th, no. 263 –  17th December 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


Austria: Court Allows Marriage Equality

6 December  2017 - The Austrian Constitutional Court’s ruling on December 4, 2017, that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional is a powerful victory for equal marriage rights, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the first time a Constitutional Court in Europe has held that the exclusion of gay people from civil marriage is unconstitutional. The Austrian government and parliament should quickly adopt marriage equality legislation.



Despite Some Major Bumps, Bonn Climate Summit Got the Job Done

30 November 2017 – By the time the last gavel came down early in the morning of November 18, international climate negotiators in Bonn paved the way to the next climate summit in Katowice, Poland in 2018. There, the rules underpinning the Paris Agreement will be finalized and countries can signal their commitments to enhance national climate plans by 2020. Encouraging news on the sidelines of the negotiations added helpful momentum. New WRI research found that 49 countries have already peaked their emissions. A new coalition of countries pledged to phase out the burning of coal by 2030, or never start in the first place. The world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, based in Norway, offered a proposal to divest from oil and gas holdings, which could have significant ripple effects. The Kigali Amendment crossed the 20-country threshold for entry into force, under which all countries have agreed to replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases, with climate-safe alternatives. Despite the Trump administration's stated intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, American businesses, cities, states and others showed up to give a full-throated endorsement of climate action. And there was a vast array of initiatives showcasing climate solutions for all levels and sectors.



EU delivering on climate commitments through enhanced global partnerships

30 November 2017 – The European Union has launched new strategic partnerships for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, a programme co-financed by the EU's Partnership Instrument (20 million) and the German International Climate Initiative (5 million) to scale up European climate policy collaborations with other major economies. Partnerships will be undertaken to facilitate the exchange of climate policy options, to advance bilateral cooperation on investment and to contribute to improving public awareness. They will cover small projects at the national level, study visits, workshops and business forums. These new partnerships are a reflection that cooperation between major economies is necessary to achieve the objectives that have been agreed. Climate change requires a decisive and confident response from all major economies, as they represent a large share of global population, economic output and greenhouse gas emissions.



Vattenfall Welcomes EU Agreement on Emissions Trading

24 November 2017 - A stronger CO2 price signal will support Vattenfall in implementing its fossil fuel free strategy. It took another long night of intensive talks between the EU-institutions, but finally, a political agreement on the new European emissions trading directive, EU ETS, was successfully concluded,  early Thursday morning. The agreement on the EU ETS directive for Phase 4 (2021-2030) means that there is now a process to gradually reduce the number of emissions allowances supplied to the market by 2.2 percent per year from 2021. Another important part of the new agreement is that a significant amount of surplus ETS allowances will be taken out from the market, which will trigger further CO2 emission reductions in the covered sectors. (…) The decision on the EU ETS reform comes timely as a message to the ongoing COP23 summit in Bonn on that the EU is determined to deliver on its climate target for 2030. However, to fully align with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including the aim to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, the EU will have to introduce a steeper annual reduction of the ETS allowance cap than 2.2 percent per year. The directive needs to be formally confirmed by the EU-Council and the EU-Parliament before it comes into power.




Human rights


UNESCO Commemorates 70th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a focus on freedom of expression

8 December 2017 - Events at UNESCO Headquarters focusing on the safety of journalists and human rights in the modern world on 12 December will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which informs all of the Organization’s work all year, every year.

The event is organized with the Group of Friends on the Protection of Journalists (a group of Member States of UNESCO committed to strengthening the protection of media workers and the accountability for the crimes committed against them, with counterpart groups in New York and Geneva). The human rights focus in this area reflects UNESCO’s longstanding advocacy and work on freedom of expression, freedom of information, and media development.



El Salvador: 71st country to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration

30November 2017– Education International welcomes the move by El Salvador to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, committing itself to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of violent conflict. El Salvador has become the latest country to endorse the international political commitment known as the Safe Schools Declaration. The commendation was issued on 15 November by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the issue of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict. GCPEA reports that a series of attacks on schools and universities has occurred in 28 countries experiencing armed conflict and insecurity since 2013. The use of schools and universities by armed forces and armed groups is also widespread. The 71 endorsing countries are from all regions of the world, and include countries that are at war and at peace. Governments that endorse the Declaration commit to using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict as a practical tool to guide their behavior during military operations. Avoiding military use of schools and universities is a key way in which armed forces and armed groups can reduce the risks faced by children and young people in armed conflict, including death, severe injury, child recruitment, sexual exploitation and abuse, and psychological trauma.



Amnesty launches world’s biggest human rights campaign

29 November 2017 - The family of an LGBTI activist hacked to death in Bangladesh, the sister of a young man gunned down by Jamaican police, and 11 human rights defenders in Turkey are among those who will be receiving letters of support from Amnesty International supporters this December, as the organization launches its fifteenth global letter writing campaign, Write for Rights.  Every December, Amnesty International supporters across the globe write millions of letters and take actions for people whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights campaign. Last year at least 4.6 million actions were taken.



Nine women from MENA remembered on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

29 November 2017 - On International Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Day, marked every year on 29 November, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls upon governments and armed groups in the MENA region to free all detained WHRDs. Women across the region face many obstacles to their work, including threats, harassment, torture, jail, travel bans and other violations that prevent them from carrying out their work freely.



UN Women and the International Olympic Committee renew partnership on sport for gender equality

14 November 2017 - After five years of successful collaboration on women and sport, UN Women and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have renewed their commitment through a second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU lays out the vision for the next five years of partnership, which will empower women and girls through sport and increase women’s leadership and gender equality in the sport industry.




Economy and development


SOMALIA - Somalia Partnership Forum stresses job creation and poverty reduction to promote stability

5 December 2017 – A gathering of senior representatives of the Somali Government, the United Nations and the international community concluded in Mogadishu today with a call for greater investment in the country’s economic development to create more job opportunities, rehabilitate essential infrastructure, and improve the living conditions of the Somali people.For the second consecutive day, the Federal and state-level leaders of the country met with senior representatives of the international community in the so-called Somalia Partnership Forum to assess the various challenges facing Somalia, with today’s high-level conference focusing on humanitarian and development issues. Participants commended the Government of Federal President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” for its leadership in the country’s drought response effort that averted a devastating famine in 2017. But several speakers also warned that the threat of a major humanitarian disaster still loomed over millions of Somalis, and continued support from international partners would be needed for the foreseeable future.



WFP introduces its first cash assistance in Tajikistan

4 December 2017, Dushanbe - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has joined forces with microfinance provider IMON International (MDO IMON) and the local cooperating partners to launch its first cash assistance project in Tajikistan. The project is designed to benefit 500 vulnerable families in Shahritus and Balkhi districts in the south of the country. The aim is to build the resilience of communities exposed to frequent natural shocks while providing better assistance to vulnerable and food-insecure families.Participants will receive cash incentives in return for community work planned for the coming six months. The work includes rehabilitating drainage canals and feeder roads in addition to constructing irrigation pump stations in both districts. The project will help irrigate some 340 hectares of additional land and rehabilitate 3200 metres of irrigation canals.Each of the 500 participants will receive 440 TJS (equivalent to US$50) for 25 daily work norms. WFP will assist project participants with opening card accounts with MDO IMON which will be used for to transfer the funds.WFP is working with its partners and the government to expand the project to 20 districts.



DENVER - Conscious Business Movement to Unite in World-First Virtual Summit

4 December 2017 The broader conscious business movement will come together online in a world-first virtual event from January 8 - 12, 2018. More than 25 best practice sessions, thought leader interviews, and world changer roundtables will be live-cast over five days in this first-ever gathering featuring the diverse array of leaders working on various aspects of the future of business.  Though the approaches vary, this group is united by the belief that business and the workplace will be the source of the next great leap forward for humanity. World changing results are the result of highly functioning teams, which are composed of highly conscious leaders.  Recognizing this, the Summit agenda is organized into 3 main categories of content in alignment with this Me, We, World process for sustainable impact. Each day of the summit focuses on one of the five unique and essential areas of a conscious business program: Conscious Leadership, Mission and Purpose, Workplace Culture, CSR and Sustainability, and Personal Development.  The organizers have bookended the event to start with the “Me” on leadership and end on the “Me” of self-development. In the heart of the week is our “We” focus on workplace culture and every day ends with a session focusing on “WORLD” impact.  By structuring our program in this way attendees will learn how make the link between the individual, the team and the wider stakeholders in the community and the environment.



Boosting India’s mint supply with Mars Wrigley

20 November 2017 – Mint oil and natural menthol show up in our chewing gums, desserts, toothpastes, pharmaceuticals, and countless products worldwide. In India, mint is the livelihood of many smallholder farmers. India produces 80 percent of the world’s mint supply, which is grown by more than 750,000 smallholder farmers. In India’s Uttar Pradesh state, Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, is partnering with Mars Wrigley Confectionery to help farmers improve their mint crops. Through the Shubh Mint initiative ASI is training mint farmers in good agricultural practices. During the first-year testing period, ASI trained 2,645 mint farmers across 68 villages. ASI gave farmers better access to planting materials and supported their communities through women’s empowerment programs. Farmers received pest- and disease-resistant mint root stock to plant and conducted soil testing to determine proper fertilizer use. A year later, these farmers have increased their mint yields by an average of 68 percent. Through the partnership, India’s mint farmers will gain sustainable and reliable earnings, making them and their communities more resilient to future economic or environmental stresses.



ACDI/VOCA’s data platform streamlines project management

7 November 2017 – Data science is changing business around the world. Can it also transform development? ACDI/VOCA is developing a technology stack, or set of software, to do just that. The Learning, Evaluation, and Analysis Platform (LEAP) integrates raw data, performance indicator tables, real-time visualizations, and intuitive dashboards into a streamlined system transforming how teams monitor their projects. LEAP is designed, customized, and managed by ACDI/VOCA, with ownership decentralized to each project’s monitoring and evaluation team. With efficiency and traceability, project teams can make data-driven decisions about how to manage activities in near real time. The platform standardizes reporting and reduces the burden on project teams to provide timely information. Using a relational web database, LEAP automatically captures and reports raw data. Project teams can compare projects using standardized queries and show processed data to top management.






Aid reaches thousands displaced by clashes in Maguindanao

4 December 2017, Manila (ICRC) – Thousands of displaced families in central Mindanao’s Maguindanao province have been deprived of basic everyday necessities as intense fighting persists in the area. To help around 11,600 people in Shariff Saydona Mustapha municipality, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided them with half-month food and other supplies along with household items in cooperation with the Philippine Red Cross. (…) During the three-day distribution completed on December 2, each family from four barangays (villages)—who include those who have returned and those who remained—received 25 kg of rice, one litre of soy sauce, one litre of oil, 12 tins of 425 g of sardine each, 1 kg of sugar, ½ kg of salt, two jerry cans of 20 litre each and hygiene items for the household. The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.



UN Humanitarian Air Services: the Backbone of Humanitarian Assistance in Mauritania

29 November 2017, Nouakchott - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes contributions from Denmark, the European Union (ECHO), Spain, and the United States of America (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration) that have supported United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) operations in Mauritania this year. The US$2.8 million in contributions made by these donors have been instrumental in keeping the life-saving service in operation in 2017.UNHAS is the sole provider of humanitarian air services in Mauritania, and has played a crucial role for the implementation and monitoring of humanitarian projects in the country since 2012. Long distances, insecurity and poor road infrastructure pose challenges to travel within Mauritania, making UNHAS the backbone of 40 humanitarian organizations’ activities. The service provides access to otherwise hard-to-reach locations and vulnerable Mauritanians in need of assistance. To continue UNHAS operations in Mauritania through the first quarter of 2018, US$900,000 is urgently needed. Should new funding not be secured, UNHAS will be forced to shut down its services on 31 December 2017. UNHAS requires US$3.4 million to maintain its operations in 2018.



BVLGARI renews its commitment to Save the Children for three more years and launches its #SeeMyWish Campaign

BVLGARI donation to the global charity reaches $70 million

20 November 2017 Fairfield, Connecticut— BVLGARI is proud to announce for the holiday season 2017, a dedicated #SeeMyWish campaign and video to share on social media. Launched worldwide on Universal Children’s Day (November 20th) and initiated by celebrities, Bulgari will donate $1 to Save the Children every time someone shares the film or a closed-eyes wish selfie on social media. Learn more at www.bulgari.com/int/seemywish. The contribution to Save the Children – the leading charity for children in need – has reached $70 million. Since 2009, Bulgari and Save the Children have partnered to help the world’s most marginalized children by investing in education, emergency response, poverty reduction and youth empowerment programs. Funds raised through this unprecedented partnership have been invested in 100 projects in 33 countries, reaching more than one million at-risk children and youth across the globe. Bulgari custom-designed a collection of rings, pendants and bracelets for Save the Children with its bold, Italian style. Every piece sold allots a significant portion of its proceeds to saving or bettering the lives of at-risk children through the work of the important charity. Since the beginning of this partnership, more than half a million people have purchased the signature Bulgari pieces, helping Save the Children across 5 continents (…)



HNA Group launches Global Partnership with the World Food Programme to support Syrians in need

20 Novemeber 2017, Beijing - A US$5 million global partnership to provide life-saving food assistance to Syrians in need has been announced by HNA Group and the World Food Programme (WFP). The contribution from the Chinese conglomerate will enable WFP to support vulnerable Syrians in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan over a three-year period. An agreement confirming the partnership between HNA Group and WFP was signed today in Beijing.WFP will use the funds from HNA Group to provide school meals and take-home rations for displaced children in Syria, as well as electronic food vouchers to Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. HNA subsidiary companies aim to raise awareness about WFP and HNA’s hunger partnership among the people of China and those who visit the country. HNA Catering and Gategroup will print and distribute custom-made meal boxes on domestic and international flights within HNA Group's route network, which includes Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, and Fuzhou Airlines.



Government of Japan donates US$15 million to WFP response to refugee crisis in Bangladesh

19 November 2017, Dhaka - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a US$15 million emergency contribution from the Government of Japan to support WFP’s response to the refugee crisis in Bangladesh. Japan’s contribution will support WFP’s general food distributions, electronic vouchers for food assistance, a cash for work programme, and WFP’s logistics sector and emergency telecommunications sector work.

WFP thanks the Government of Japan for its generous support of the response to this emergency.



WFP welcomes France’s renewed support for vulnerable families in Gaza

13 November 2017, Jerusalem - A contribution of €900,000 from France has enabled the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide much-needed food assistance and nutrition support to more than 20,000 people in Gaza for three months. The French contribution helped WFP to provide electronic food vouchers to vulnerable families across Gaza in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and Global Communities, an international nongovernmental organization (NGO). The Sahtein e-card is used like a debit card in participating stores and is credited with fresh funds each week. The programme has had a long-term positive impact by improving participants’ nutritional and dietary knowledge while encouraging healthy cooking habits. Since April, daily electricity outages that last up to 20 hours have severely affected the availability of essential services such as health, water and sanitation, and have undermined Gaza’s fragile economy. The outages have also had a negative impact on the employment and livelihoods of Gaza’s two million people.  Since the beginning of the year, WFP provided essential food assistance to nearly 250,000 poor Palestinians in Gaza, including 90,000 through food vouchers. All people receiving this support live below the national deep poverty line and live on less than US$3.20 per person per day.




Peace and security


UNAMID supports victims of explosive remnants of war accidents in Darfur

By Emeka Nwadike

4December 2017  – In support of the disabled community, specially the victims of explosive remnants of war (ERW) accidents, UNAMID’s Ordnance Disposal Office (ODO) constructed and equipped five vocational centers across all Darfur states. The project is aimed at developing the capacities of persons with disabilities and providing them with income-generating activities. To mark the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, UNAMID ODO, in collaboration with the Community Stabilization Section is facilitating the training of 23 beneficiaries in welding, carpentry and tailoring. “Acquiring skills on fabricating and assembling of mobility facilities for the disabled has boosted my morale and increased my self-esteem,” says Ahmed Ali El-Bushiri, a member of the Disabled Union in El Geneina, West Darfur. The conflict in Darfur has left a legacy of ERW which have caused the death of many and injuries to several. Since 2005, more than 220 ERW-related accidents have resulted in death or severe injury of some 450 civilians, including women and children.  Furthermore, the presence of ERW pose a significant threat to civilians and UNAMID peacekeepers; it also impedes the delivery of humanitarian aid. Since 2007, UNAMID ODO has conducted general explosives hazard assessment in 2,490 villages covering 3,871 square kilometers in terms of area and assessed 24,980 kilometers of pedestrian and vehicular routes. In conducting these activities, a total of 16, 976 unexploded ordnance have been located and destroyed.



Yemen: first workshop for women from civil society on the law of armed conflict

1 December 2017 – From 8 to 12 October 2017, Geneva Call organized a three-day training session on the law of armed conflict and a two-day thematic workshop on child protection, the ban on anti-personnel mines and the prohibition of sexual violence in armed conflict. The event took place in Amman, in Jordan, and gathered 17 women representing 16 Yemeni women’s organizations working on peacebuilding, human rights and youth empowerment. The conflict in Yemen opposing the Houthis / Saleh forces to the Hadi Government, is now in its third year; it has caused more than 5,000 deaths, and around two million people have been displaced. “To increase respect for the law of armed conflict, it is necessary to disseminate these norms, not only among armed actors but also throughout society. These 16 civil society organizations are influential and will disseminate these norms among their communities,” said Mehmet Balci from Geneva Call. (…) Geneva Call presented several topics, including the rules related to gender issues and the prohibition of sexual violence. (…) Participants were keen to understand how they could use different international mechanisms to reinforce the respect and implementation of the law of armed conflict on the ground. At the end of the workshop, participants and Geneva Call together prepared action plans and activities to raise awareness of humanitarian norms on the ground.



Central African Republic: ‘Restoring hope,’ UN agriculture agency helps ex-fighters start anew

1 December 2017 - Over 1,000 ex-fighters in the conflict-riddled Central African Republic (CAR) have traded their weapons for farming equipment, as part of a United Nations initiative, according to the UN agriculture agency. The FAO-supported UN programme’s message is simple: stop partaking in violence, put down your weapons and, in exchange, you’ll get help to start a new life. Participants get certified training in gardening, horticulture, rearing chickens and pigs as well as tools, seeds or baby animals.



Spanish action to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

10 November 2017 On 7 July 2017, at the initiative of the United Nations, 122 countries concluded negotiations and elaboration of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Subsequently, on 20 September 2017, the process of signing the treaty was opened, with the well-founded expectation that more than 50 countries would ratify it as a condition for the treaty to enter into force. On 15 November, in the Spanish Congress of Deputies, an event will be held to address the global context of the deterioration of global security and the increasing risk of the use of nuclear weapons and to review the main international initiatives that are under way to prevent it.






Outbreak response continues in Syria

6 December 2017 – Amidst conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria, health workers are battling to end the current polio outbreak. Since the World Health Organization announced the outbreak on 8 June 2017, 70 cases have been confirmed, with 67 in Deir Ez-Zor governorate, two in Raqqa and one in Homs. Vaccinating children WHO and UNICEF are supporting the Government of Syria and local authorities to end the outbreak. Two mass vaccination campaigns have taken place, thanks to dedicated health care workers on the ground, striving to reach resident, refugee and internally displaced children. Despite the challenges of holding vaccination campaigns in a conflict zone and effectively reaching displaced populations from infected areas, more than 255,000 have been vaccinated in Deir Ez-Zor, and more than 140,000 in Raqqa. Contingency plans for an additional vaccination campaign are being put in place to reach children under the age of five with monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 in the infected zones and areas hosting high risk populations, particularly recently displaced families from Deir Ez-Zor. (…)



Serosurveys map child immunity in Afghanistan

22 November 2017-In Afghanistan this year, staff from the non-governmental organization Care of Afghan Families collected 420 blood samples from children under 4 at the Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar province. The aim? To find out whether polio vaccination campaigns have been reaching enough children, and whether the vaccines have been generating full protection against this paralysing disease. These ‘serosurveys’ showed that immunity in Afghanistan is high – and also identified where vaccination campaigns need to reach out further. Whenever a polio vaccination campaign takes place, a purple dot of ink is painted onto the little finger nail of every immunised child to show that they have received the lifesaving vaccine. This data is collected and allows people to monitor the campaign and know exactly where children have been reached. Now, with more children being vaccinated than ever before, the polio eradication programme needs to know more than how many children are being reached: we need specific data on where children are being missed. Serosurveys are simple tests of the serum in a child’s blood, which measures their immunity (or seroprevalence) to different diseases. The polio eradication programme uses this test to see what level of protection a child has against wild poliovirus types 1, 2 and 3, allowing them to assess whether the vaccination campaigns are reaching enough children, enough times, to give them immunity. (…)



WFP and UNFPA join forces to advocate for adolescent girls in Lao PDR

20 November 2017, Vientiane - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today joined forces to work on an advocacy initiative to promote discussion and increase investment in adolescents in Lao PDR. The two organisations signed a joint letter of collaboration, formalizing a partnership around the “Noi 2030 Framework”.‘Noi’ is a fictitious adolescent girl, created by UNFPA as an entry-point for dialogue on issues adolescent girls are facing in Lao PDR. Like all of us, ‘Noi’ dreams of getting a quality education, easy access to reproductive health services, employment and to take part in decision-making. ‘Noi’ represents all the 700,230 girls in the country aged 10-19 years old, and the initiative is supported by the Government and key development partners. The framework focuses on bringing attention to empowering adolescents, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.Lao PDR has the highest proportion of early marriage and the highest adolescent birth rates in the region, and one in five adolescent girls drops out of school. This shows that adolescent girls are not yet receiving the necessary attention and investment to develop to their full potential, and have limited access to quality health, education and employment opportunities.UNFPA and WFP will work together to advocate and programme for improved access to nutrition, food security, education as well as reproductive health information and services for adolescent girls and boys.The signing of the joint letter marked the first successful inter-UN agency partnership for ‘Noi’, and aims to strengthen the partnership between the two UN agencies across various sectors, to highlight - and contribute to meeting - the multifaceted needs of adolescent girls in Lao PDR.




Energy and safety


Cargill Takes Steps to Modernize Renewable Energy Infrastructure in Ghana

1 December 2017 – Today (11/30) marks the inauguration of Cargill's new solar power facility at its Cocoa & Chocolate site in Tema, Ghana. This energy project contributes to Cargill's global strategy of investing in environmentally friendly, renewable ways of generating power for industrial production. By investing in renewable energy, Cargill is living up to its responsibility to find ways to continuously decrease the environmental impact of its businesses. (…) The new solar plant, which opened its doors today (11/30) during an event at the Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate site in Tema, is a fully automated, digital photovoltaic solar system. It augments energy needs at the site and boosts Ghana's renewable energy portfolio by producing 764MWh of electricity annually. The solar energy produced at the plant is equivalent to powering nearly 400 homes with electricity for a year.



Europe's transition to a low-carbon society is becoming the new reality

29 November 2017 – The European Commission adopted today (11/24) the third Report on the State of the Energy Union which shows that Europe's transition to a low-carbon society is becoming the new reality on EU's ground. A key finding of the report is that thanks to progress in 2017, the EU is on track to implement the Energy Union project and deliver jobs, growth and investments. Enabling actions are being put in place to support a socially fair clean energy transition. According to the Commission, the time has come now to mobilise the society - citizens, cities, rural areas, companies, academia, social partners - to take full ownership of the Energy Union, take it even forward and engage actively in developing the solutions of the future.



NREL Develops Switchable Solar Window

28 November 2017 – Demonstration device dynamically responds to sunlight by transforming from transparent to tinted while converting sunlight into electricity. Thermochromic windows capable of converting sunlight into electricity at a high efficiency have been developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Relying on such advanced materials as perovskites and single-walled carbon nanotubes, the new technology responds to heat by transforming from transparent to tinted. As the window darkens, it generates electricity. The color change is driven by molecules (methylamine) that are reversibly absorbed into the device. When solar energy heats up the device, the molecules are driven out, and the device is darkened. When the sun is not shining, the device is cooled back down, and the molecules re-absorb into the window device, which then appears transparent.



New green investment initiative in Ukraine

27 November 2017 – Today (11/23) the Danish-Ukrainian cooperation on energy presented an investment website for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Ukraine. This occurred on a high-level event arranged by the State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving of Ukraine with participation from e.g. the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and the Danish ambassador Ruben Madsen. Ukraine has a great focus on attracting investments to projects related to renewable energy and energy efficiency both on a national and regional level. (…) Through the past few months, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) has contributed to the development of an investment website that allows the high number of profitable energy projects in Ukraine to be more visible. (…) The goal of the website is to gather projects and cases within wind energy, district heating and energy efficiency on a united IT-platform with a presentation of relevant technical and economic data. It is meant to be used as a display window to attract especially international investors.



Organic agriculture and power production on the roofs of 148 townhouses in Candiac, a first in Quebec

30 November 2017 – The City of Candiac is proud to become a partner of the ambitious Jardins Solaire project, which aims to install urban agriculture and solar panels on the roofs of 148 new townhouses, a first in Quebec for the real estate sector. In short, 74 homes will accommodate organic vegetable gardens whose three annual crops will be sold locally, while the other 74 homes will have six solar panels each producing green energy. (…) La Shop Agricole, a local company specializing in intensive urban agricultural production, will manage the roofs by growing eggplants, carrots, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, cabbages, Chinese cabbage, spinach, peppers, radishes and tomatoes. (…) Every week between May and November, specialized staff will come to take care of the vegetable gardens. The vegetables gathered will then be sold to local restaurants, in public markets or directly to citizens, with the aim of redistribution to the community. Profits from sales will be returned directly as working capital from the administration of condominiums, thus making a part of a building that is usually uneconomic, profitable.




Environment and wildlife


Japan to Support Efforts Targeting Crop-Destroying Fall Armyworm in South Sudan

7 December 2017, Juba/Rome - Efforts in South Sudan to fight Fall armyworm, an insect that destroys crops, have received a boost thanks to the Government of Japan’s decision to provide $3 million to support a project run by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) together with South Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. The project seeks to train farmers to combat the spread of Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), strengthen food security and build the resilience of local communities in affected areas. FAO and WFP will work together to give local authorities and farmers in affected areas training to address Fall armyworm. WFP will capitalize on its extensive field presence and access to communities to protect their assets such as crops and enhance capacities to manage Fall armyworm infestation. FAO will coordinate and lead the implementation of its global Fall armyworm strategy in South Sudan, where farmer education and community action are critical elements to manage insect populations sustainably and cost effectively. Beyond promoting specific immediate, easy to implement and simple control practices, the purpose is to enable farmers to manage the Fall Armyworm using appropriate control techniques that help secure their harvests on the longer term. Japan’s strong support for FAO and WFP in South Sudan comes at a time when needs in the country are rising and donor resources are stretched by crises across the world. Earlier this year parts of South Sudan experienced famine and while conditions have eased, some 4.8 million people across the country are experiencing severe food insecurity - 1.4 million more than at the same time last year. With this pledge, Japan has joined FAO and its other donors in the fight against hunger in South Sudan.



UN Honors global competition winners for ideas on protecting the environment - Inaugural Young Champions of the Earth celebrated

6 December 2017, Pittsburgh, /CSRwire/ - During this week’s United Nations Environment General Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, six young people from across the globe were honored as the first-ever Young Champions of the Earth by UN Environment for their outstanding ideas on environmental protection. The new award is sponsored by Covestro, a leading manufacturer of materials for sustainable development. The Young Champions of the Earth awards are given to individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 who offer novel solutions to today’s pressing environmental challenges. Each winner (…) receives $15,000 in seed funding, expert mentoring, needs-based training and access to powerful networks to help them implement their plans over the coming year. Twenty-nine-year-old Kaya Dorey was selected as the Young Champion for North America, in recognition of her sustainable apparel business, called NOVEL SUPPLY CO. Dorey and the other winners received their prizes at a gala event December 5,  where they were addressed by UN Environment Head Erik Solheim and singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding, who was appointed by UN Environment as a Global Goodwill Ambassador for her environmental and social justice activism. (…)



First ever tagging of Amazon dolphins to boost conservation efforts

5 December 2017 – For the first time ever, WWF and research partners are now tracking river dolphins in the Amazon using satellite technology after scientists successfully tagged dolphins in Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia, attaching small transmitters that will provide new insights into the animals’ movements and behaviour and the growing threats they face. As of today, 11 dolphins, including both Amazonian and Bolivian river dolphins – two of the four species of freshwater dolphin found in the world’s largest river system – have safely been tagged and researchers are already studying the incoming data. Despite their iconic status, little is known about the populations, habits or key habitats of river dolphins in the Amazon. While there are estimated to be tens of thousands of river dolphins, the species are currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The tags will enable WWF and its partners to study where the dolphins go, where they feed, and how far they migrate. The tracking data will also guide efforts to tackle some of the major threats facing river dolphins, including hundreds of planned dams that would fragment many of the Amazon’s remaining free flowing rivers, worsening mercury contamination from small-scale gold mining, and illegal fishing. (…)



New study links living near forests to healthier brains

Evidence keeps mounting that, in stressful times, there is much to gain by surrounding yourself with plants and trees.

by Tom Jacobs

30 November 2017 (…)new research from Germany suggests proximity to a wooded landscape may  have a huge benefit. In a study of older urban dwellers, it found living in close proximity to forest land is linked with strong, healthy functioning of a key part of the brain. This indicates that, compared with those who live in a mostly man-made environment, people who dwell on the border between city and forest may be better able to cope with stress. The findings suggest “forests in and around cities are a valuable resource that should be promoted,” writes a research team led by Simone Kuehn of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Its research is published in the journal Scientific Reports. The researchers analyzed data on 341 participants in the Berlin Aging Study II, all of whom lived in the city and were between the ages of 61 and 82. They specifically looked at “three different indicators of brain structural integrity,” each of which provided “distinct information” on several key brain regions. They also noted the amount of forest land within a 1-kilometer radius of each participant’s home address. (Many lived on the outskirts of the city, close to wooded areas.) “Our results reveal a significant positive association between the coverage of forest and amygdala integrity,” the researchers report. The amygdala is the almond-shaped set of neurons that plays a key role in the processing of emotions, including fear and anxiety. (…)




Religion and spirituality


ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christians, Hindus and Muslims last farewell to priest, first Pakistani minor friar

7 December 2017 - Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – An emotional crowd of priests, religious and faithful, hundreds of former students, many of whom Hindus and Muslims, attended the funeral mass held yesterday, December 6, in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Karachi, to accompany and pay the last respects to Fr. John Baptist Todd OFM, a well-known Pakistani priest and Franciscan educator of Karachi. Fr. Todd died at the Hospital of the Holy Family on December 4, at the age of 96, after seventy years of priesthood. 



USA - Nike Just Came Out With Its First Sports Hijab

5 December 2017 - Nike just launched a lightweight and breathable hijab for Muslim athletes to wear while competing. The Nike Pro Hijabwent on sale globally this past weekendwith the tag line “sports is for everyone.” The ad campaign features American Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari and German boxer Zeina Nassar. Nike revealed the hijab last winter when it was rolled out in stores in the Middle East. Now, athletes can purchase the Nike Pro Hijab around the world. While Nike is not the first company to create hijabs for athletes, it is the first large-scale global corporation to prioritize the needs of Muslim athletes. Muhammad, who recently launched her very own hijab-wearing Barbie, told Nike she hopes this step can make sports more inclusive to people of all backgrounds.



Moscow - ASIA/MIDDLE EAST - Heads of Churches meet "global" leaders: Orthodox Patriarchs meet Putin, Archbishop Warda meets Pence in the USA

5 December 2017 - Nike just launched a lightweight and breathable hijab for Muslim athletes to wear while competing. The contribution of the Russian military allowed the Syrian army to "free" even the areas of Syria most dear to Christians "from terrorists". The collaboration between the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Catholic Church may have a "decisive role" in encouraging the return of Christian refugees to their homes, in the regions freed from the control of the jihadists. The was emphasized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on Monday December 4 received the Patriarchs and Heads of Delegation of the Orthodox Churches who arrived in Moscow to participate in the celebrations scheduled for the 100th anniversary of the Restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Orthodox Church. According to Putin, the return of Christian refugees, together with those of other religious communities, could be an important factor in favoring the restoration of peaceful coexistence in the Middle Eastern country devastated by the war. Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus III, and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Yohanna X, who lives in Damascus were also present at the meeting with President Putin.



Women's Task Force Calls for Religious and Spiritual Communities to Stand With Survivors and Stop Sexual Violence

01 December 2017 – The Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions calls upon religious traditions and spiritual communities to stand up and address sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment that is occurring within religious contexts and throughout mainstream society.We as people of faith and conscience are called upon to hear and believe the experiences of victim-survivors who are speaking up in every sector of society, and across all cultures, and to do our utmost to challenge and confront the cultures and systems that promote and enable this abuse of power.Our commitments to stopping sexualized and gender-based violence are outlined in the Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women, delivered at the historic Inaugural Women’s Assembly at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.



ASIA/MYANMAR - Religions give a valuable contribution to peace: with the prayer of the cloistered nuns

29 November 2017 - Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - Interreligious dialogue is a launched and functional reality in Myanmar and there are good relations among leaders of different communities of faith. "These factors actively promote social harmony and peace, with a concrete impact on the social dynamics of reconciliation among different ethnic and religious groups", explains to Agenzia Fides Luigi De Salvia, Secretary General of “Religions for Peace” (RfP), an international organization that is deeply rooted and developed in Myanmar, promoter of interreligious dialogue as a tool for defeating conflict and building justice and peace in the world.



ASIA/PAKISTAN - Good relations among religions to build peace and social harmony

23 November 2017 - Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church in Pakistan strongly promotes inter-religious dialogue and good relations among believers of different communities, in the certainty that this approach contributes to harmony, social well-being and peace.

The various and diverse dialogue initiatives take into consideration the Islamic community and other religions.




Culture and education


Government and UN team up with Global Learning XPRIZE to provide 2,400 children with Education Software

11 December 2017, Muheza District/Tanzania - At a ceremony today in a remote village in Tanga, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) distributed tablets to children loaded with education software. As part of the test, more than 2,400 children from 167 villages in the districts of Handeni, Korogwe, Lushoto, Mkinga, Muheza, and Pangani will receive new Google Pixel C tablets, donated by Google. The tablets were pre-loaded with the Global Learning XPRIZE’s five finalists’ educational software.The tablets were distributed by WFP, which is managing the logistics and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) component of the field test. This includes uploading the software to the tablets, installing solar power charging stations in the villages and managing the maintenance, repair and replacement of the tablets throughout the field test. The educational components of the field test are being led by UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the President’s Office Regional Authority and Local Government (PO-RALG). UNESCO is also responsible for monitoring the children’s progress in reading, writing and arithmetic in order to be able to determine which of the finalist software will produce the most learning gains. At the end of the field testing phase, the finalist team whose solution enables the greatest proficiency gains will receive the grand prize of US$10 million. The winner will be announced in April 2019.



Launch of Global Culture Report at Meeting of UNESCO’s Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

08 December 2017 - UNESCO will launch its 2018 Global Report, Re| Shaping Cultural Policies, in Paris on 14 December during the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which will also feature two round table debates and a film screening. The Report highlights the growth and imbalances in cultural trade and analyses the inequalities women face in accessing decision-making positions in the cultural sector, the threats to artistic freedom, as well as the challenges that prevent societies from fully benefitting from the sector’s potential contribution to sustainable development.



Young students getting better at reading, finds international study

5 December 2017 -  Reading literacy levels are on the rise across the globe, giving young students a set of strong skills to serve them in their futures as well as contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular those related to inclusive and quality education. According to the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PRILS), launched tuesday by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement at the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters, in Paris, 96 per cent of fourth graders from over 60 education systems achieved above the international benchmark. “An early start in reading literacy has lasting benefits, with students who had attended pre-primary school for three years or more reporting higher average scores,” said UNESCO in a news release announcing the findings. It also highlighted the impact of supportive home environments – with parents engaging their children in early literacy activities – and safe and well-resources learning environments with qualified teachers associated with higher achievement scores.



Finland: role of quality education system acknowledged during celebrations of country’s centenary

4 December 2017– As the centenary of Finland’s independence is celebrated, teacher unionists reiterate that education is a crucial part of the glue holding the country together. On 6 December, there will be a strong reminder that “the story of the 100-year old Finland is extraordinary and rests on the values cherished by the Finns: democracy, education, equality and freedom of speech,” explains the official media release for the Suomi/Finland 100 celebrations. The Finnish flag will fly for two consecutive days, and the whole country will be illuminated with blue and white lights, the colours of Finland. “Hundred years ago, Finland was a poor country, and over these years Finland has become a success story, very much due to its education system,” underlined Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ) President Olli Luukkainen. Finland, he added, went for ‘no one left behind’ long before this idea was written into the Education 2030 Agenda. Acknowledging that “we have educated the whole nation and offered equal opportunities for all”, he welcomed the fact that, “in Finland, it is possible also for a poor student from poor family background to make it the doctor degree”.



Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage opens its session in Jeju

3 December 2017 - The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage opened its 12th session in Jeju today with a ceremony featuring Korean performances like the traditional Arirang song. During its session, which will end on 9 December, the Committee will examine the periodic reports submitted by 11 States Parties to the Convention regarding legal, regulatory or other measures taken to safeguard intangible cultural heritage in their countries.  Other topics to be discussed include intangible cultural heritage in situations of emergency, the impact of the Convention and the allocation of resources from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. The Committee will consider six nominations for inclusion on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding designed to rally international cooperation and assistance for threatened cultural expressions.  Thirty-four nominations for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will also be examined alongside two proposals for the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices and two International Assistance Requests for safeguarding plans or inventories.



Australian contribution provides WFP School Meals for children in Bhutan

22 November 2017, Thimpu - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a donation of AUD 120,000 from the Government of Australia, which will enable WFP to continue its support to Bhutan’s National School Feeding Programme. The funds will allow WFP to feed 12,000 students for a full month during the 2018 school year. Alongside the Government of Australia and other dependable partners, WFP has supported the education of generations of Bhutanese children by ensuring that a nutritious meal was waiting for them at school after a long walk in the early morning and for those boarding at school. WFP supports the Government of Bhutan to become self-reliant in the management, coordination and implementation of a cost-effective, equitable and quality national school feeding programme. WFP has been working with the Government of Bhutan for 43 years, and helped to set up the school meals programme. An important part of the food used for school meals is grown by the students themselves, through the government-sponsored School Agricultural Programme. WFP is gradually phasing out support as the government takes over management, with the aim of complete government ownership by the start of the 2019 school year.



New project to improve the education of indigenous girls and women in Guatemala

15 November 2017 - Indigenous girls, adolescents and young women in Totonicapán, Guatemala, will assert their right to education in two UNESCO Malala Centers, which will be created as part of a new project supported by the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, set to start in 2018. As of 2018, the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education will support the creation of an educational model for the girls, adolescents and young women of Totonicapán in Guatemala, through the establishment of two UNESCO Malala Centers. The new project, led by the UNESCO Guatemala Office, aims to facilitate the right to education for adolescent girls and indigenous young women, especially those marginalized from education because of gender, ethnicity, rurality and poverty.




* * * * * * *



Next issue: 12th January 2018.




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: Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli, Salvatore Caruso Motta, Chiara Damilano, Francesco Viglienghi, Carlo Toraldo, Andrea Landriscina, Nazzarella Franco. 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.”

Go to the Home Page