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Good News Agency

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

monthly, year 18th, no. 264 –  12th January 2018


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


Secretary-General extends mandate of UN-backed Lebanon tribunal for three more years

22 December 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres extended for another three years the mandate of the tribunal set up to try those accused of carrying out the February 2005 attack in Beirut, which killed 22 people, including the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and injured many others. The trial in absentia of four individuals indicted over the killing began in January 2014 at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is based near The Hague in the Netherlands, and is currently ongoing. The Tribunal’s mandate has been extended from 1 March 2018 for a period of three years, or upon the completion of the cases before it if sooner. “The United Nations looks forward to the completion of the mandate of the Special Tribunal in a timely manner,” spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement. The Tribunal also has jurisdiction over attacks carried out in Lebanon between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005 if they are connected to the attack of 14 February 2005.



UN tribunal for former Yugoslavia leaves behind culture of accountability, says Guterres

21 December 2017 – The United Nations tribunal dealing with atrocities committed during the Balkans wars of 1990s has been a pioneer in creating the contemporary architecture of international criminal justice, and “gave a voice to victims,” Secretary-General António Guterres said Thursday. “The creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993 was a ground-breaking moment (…); demonstrated a newfound and serious commitment by the international community that those responsible for perpetrating the most serious crimes of international concern should be held accountable for their actions (…); the Tribunal gave a voice to victims,” the Secretary-General said, noting that people who had experienced atrocious violence and tragic losses were given the opportunity to tell their stories in court, to place their experiences on the record, and to see the perpetrators of crimes against them held accountable. The Tribunal leaves behind one of its most important legacies: the immense archives documenting what happened in Sarajevo, Foca, Vukovar, Suva Reka, Srebrenica and elsewhere. “Accountability has taken root in our collective consciousness,” he said, explaining that it is common practice for the UN Security Council to call for the perpetrators of atrocities to be held accountable, and similarly this is reflected on the statements of heads of state; in the work of journalists; in the efforts of national courts; and in public opinion. The Tribunal also inspired the establishment of entities for ensuring accountability both at the international and national levels. But the future is not only the fight against impunity, it is also the pursuit of truth and reconciliation.



EU decision-making: new register of delegated acts

More transparency on EU decision-making: new register of delegated acts

13 December 2017 -   A new online register, launched on Tuesday 12 December, will make it easier to find and track EU decisions taken in the form of delegated acts.  To help the public and interested parties to follow this part of the EU decision-making process, a new common online register is being launched by the three Institutions, so that anyone can easily search and find delegated acts linked to a certain topic or piece of legislation.




Human rights


Microsoft encryption announcement a first step towards protecting privacy

11 January 2018 - Responding to Microsoft’s announcement that it is rolling out a preview of end-to-end encryption for some Skype users, Joshua Franco, Head of Technology and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said: “Today Microsoft has taken an important first step towards upholding its human rights responsibilities. Encryption is a vital tool for protecting internet users’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression, but Amnesty’s research has shown that an alarming number of companies are leaving users exposed.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/01/microsoft-encryption protecting-privacy/...


FIFA and the Council of Europe to promote human rights

10 January 2018 - Earlier today, international football boss President Gianni Infantino (FIFA) and Secre-tary General Thorbjørn Jagland met in Strasbourg to discuss how to better promote human rights in sport. The leaders of both organisations underlined the importance of the Council of Europe’s sports conventions in protecting human rights in sport, in particular the anti-doping convention, the match-fixing convention and the recent convention on safety, security and service at football matches.



District Court ruling blocks refugee ban

24 December 2017, Washington, D.C.-- Human Rights First welcomes yesterday's ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington blocking the implementation of the administration's restrictions on admission of refugees from 11 countries for a minimum of 90 days. The ruling will halt the ban on admission of refugees with bona fide relationships in the United States, including family members of refugees currently in the United States who are part of the U.S. refugee resettlement follow-to-join program." Once again the courts see straight through the Trump Administration's veiled attempts to discriminate against vulnerable refugees and tear apart families. We welcome Judge Robart's decision, which will continue to allow those fleeing violence and persecution to find safety in the United States," said Human Rights First's Hary Vieux. "Welcoming refugees and keeping families together is not only a moral imperative but is good for our country's national security-- supporting allies strained by the challenges of the global refugee crisis."



Nigeria: Health as human right

By Femi Falana

20 December 2017 -The non-justiciability and non-observance of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of State policy contained in Chapter two of the Constitution has severe socio-economic consequences for Nigeria. The right to health which is part of socioeconomic rights is connected to political, economic and social welfare and security for all citizens. Its enforceability is crucial for the sustenance of Nigeria, the lack of which may result in human insecurity, widespread diseases and endemic infections and lack of access to health care, all resulting in deprivation, as well as a retarded economic development and poor standards of living. The right to health necessitates that the Nigerian government and judiciary take positive action to ensure the right to health for Nigerians. The Nigerian executive and judicial arms of government are obliged to take proactive steps in safeguarding that Nigerians have acceptable socio-economic infrastructures to live a purposeful life. When Nigeria lives up to its duty to safeguard its citizens these rights, they would have developed a knowledge based economy and a future generation. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."



A victory for justice in Congo

19 December 2017-  Last week, in a stunning victory for justice, a military court proved Dr. Alumeti right: eleven men responsible for these appalling crimes, including a powerful regional lawmaker, were sentenced to life in prison–guilty of crimes against humanity for the rapes of 40 girls and the murders of two men. The landmark case was buttressed by crucial forensic evidence provided by local medical and legal professionals trained by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has assisted the investigation since the attacks began in 2013. “This verdict is an historic win for accountability for the perpetrators of sexual violence and for access to justice for survivors and their families. It was an extraordinarily complex and challenging case and there were enormous hurdles along the way because very powerful people were presumed to be involved,” said Karen Naimer, director of PHR’s Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones.



Iraq: Parliament rejects marriage for 8-year-old girls

17 December 2017 - Iraq’s parliament has rejected proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law (PSL) that would allow religious judges to impose discriminatory law on family matters, Human Rights Watch said today. The amendments would have covered areas including inheritance and divorce, and, by giving powers to impose family laws to certain religious communities, would have allowed girls to be married as young as age 8 under some of these laws. The head of the women’s rights committee in parliament rejected the initiative in mid-November, blocking the bill. However, two leading women’s rights organizations say that some parliament members have threatened to continue to push for the amendments to secure votes in some parts of the country in the May 2018 parliamentary elections. “Parliament’s women’s rights committee has made a great contribution to Iraqi society in rejecting this effort to scuttle Iraq’s family law protections,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Threats by lawmakers to dismantle protections under the current law and restore discriminatory laws would be devastating to women’s rights.”




Economy and development


BEIJING- Schwarzman College awarded LEED Gold certification

8 January 2018 -  Schwarzman College is pleased to announce the award of LEED Gold certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) under the LEED-New Construction system, a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement. The system provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. Set on the campus of Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious universities, Schwarzman College opened its doors with the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars in 2016. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the 200,000 square foot campus houses one of the most advanced higher-education facilities in the world and is one of the first LEED Gold–certified academic buildings in China. With support of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council), a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in building design, construction and operation, Schwarzman College joins the more than 1,000 LEED-certified buildings in Greater China.



CALIFORNIA - 2018 World Changing Women’s Summit

5 January 2018 - Conscious Company Media’s inaugural World-Changing Women’s Summit will be a powerful gathering of female professionals who are passionate about using business as a force for good in the world. This first-of-its-kind gathering will bring together female CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, executives, investors, thought leaders, and more to move the needle on how we as a society can encourage more women in positions of power to have a positive impact. The event will be designed to facilitate intimate peer-to-peer connection, deep-dive discussions, and raw, intergenerational conversations that will educate and inspire attendees to do more through their work.



MICHIGAN US - Consumers Energy starts operations of Cross Winds® Energy Park II in Michigan’s thumb.

4 January 2018 - Consumers Energy announced today that Cross Winds® Energy Park II in Tuscola County’s Columbia Township began serving customers and contributing 44 megawatts of renewable energy in Michigan. The $90 million Cross Winds Phase II employed 250 workers during construction. Its 44-megawatt capacity is enough to serve about 17,000 residents.  The project went operational on schedule six months after its groundbreaking and three weeks after Newsweek gave Consumers Energy the top score for Michigan companies in its annual “Green Rankings.”



Generation 2030 makes a stand at UN Youth Forum

January 2018- They have been described both as self-absorbed and altruistic; consumeristic and environmentally conscious; apathetic and socially engaged. The current youth generation, often referred to as Generation Y or Millennials, seems to evade a single definition or label, but one thing is certain – they are building a future that will be radically different than anything we have seen before. At the end of January, young activists and leaders from every corner of the world will descend on New York for the annual Youth Forum of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Here, they will meet ministers and high-level officials of governments, UN agencies and other international organizations. The key difference is, at this Forum, it is the youth who does the talking. The Forum started in the year 2012 as a primary platform to give young people a say on global problems discussed by the United Nations. This year, ministers and other officials will hear the concerns, hopes and ideas of hundreds of young participants from around the world.



UN to recognize public services’ innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

January 2018- To recognize innovation and excellence in public service that supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations is calling for nominations for the 2018 UN Public Service Awards. Established in 2003, the UN Public Service Awards are a prestigious international programme that recognizes exceptional public service innovation. Since 2003, the UN has received over 3000 nominations from around the globe in such areas as health, education, accountability, and gender equality. The 2018 Award recognizes achievements and contributions by public service institutions in:

The 2018 Award aims to discover innovations to make public service delivery effective and responsive as a path towards achieving the SDGs, stressing the key principle of leaving no one behind.



UN Initiative to boost resilience of women and youth in the Sahel through climate-smart agriculture launched at One Planet Summit

13 December 2017, Paris/New York – A new United Nations initiative, aimed at building the resilience of a million women and youth in the Sahel to climate impacts through smart agriculture, was launched today at the One Planet Summit in the French capital. The climate smart agriculture programme will leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide access to agriculture assets. Using a digital platform, known as ‘Buy-From-Farmers’ or AgriFed, small-scale women and youth farmers will be connected to customers, suppliers, information, markets and finance to help build their economic identity and make them valued entrepreneurs, able to end food insecurity in the Sahel. The Summit aims showcasing and launching innovative projects and initiatives that boost financial flows to support developing countries’ national climate action plans in areas ranging from agriculture to renewable energy. It also looks at measures needed to reform, redirect and reset the global financial system so that eventually trillions of dollars of finance flows into climate action under the Paris Agreement and the wider Sustainable Development Goals. Building upon climate-smart programmes currently being implemented by the UN agencies participating in the joint initiative, it will contribute to the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture: increasing productivity and incomes without damaging the environment, enhancing adaptation by strengthening local communities’ resilience and capacities and mitigation, by reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions through responsible farming, soil management and afforestation.



Helping Latin America’s rural smallholders sell to the rest of the World

FAO helps small-scale beekeepers, quinoa growers and coffee producers develop export opportunities

12 December 2017, Santiago - Bolstering the export potential of family farmers and small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises is key to promoting inclusive trade and rural development in Latin America and the Caribbean. FAO and ALADI, an association promoting regional economic integration, have rolled out a programme that shows this can be done and has trained more than 50 small firms and family farming organizations in 13 countries how to improve their access to international markets. The joint FAO-ALADI programme offers training, followed by technical assistance and support through tailored individual consultations so that participants can develop commercial skills and appropriate strategies for products such as coffee, quinoa and honey. To foster and spread the process, FAO and ALADI have produced a practical guide for small-scale enterprises and family famers interested in exporting their products. The guide aims to provide basic operational blueprints on the goods trade, tips on how to take it across borders and ways to generate sustainable international sales, and tools for selecting appropriate export market targets. It also highlights the useful role played by ruedas de negocios- an innovative form of business-to-business meetings - in promoting international trade.






European Commission provides vital support to WFP humanitarian effort in Northeast Nigeria

8 January 2018, Abuja - In 2017, famine was averted in Northeast Nigeria. Through its civil protection and humanitarian arm, ECHO, the European Commission contributed significantly to this achievement by contributing a total of €20.3 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Of this sum, more than a third directly allowed the UN agency to save lives threatened by hunger. The contribution enabled WFP to purchase enough key staples – white beans, iodized salt, sorghum and millet – to feed over 500,000 people. WFP and its partners distributed food in areas where the ongoing conflict has disrupted supplies, wrecked farming and put markets out of people’s reach. Where markets are functioning, WFP provides cash assistance, often in the form of e-money, which meets immediate needs and strengthens local economies. This combination of in-kind and cash assistance is complemented by nutritional support for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five. In close collaboration with the Nigerian Government and local and international partners, WFP has been reaching over 1.1 million people per month across the three States most affected by conflict – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.



DFID and WFP sign multi-year agreement to change lives in Sudan

27 December 2017, Khartoum - The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) will contribute £32.5 million in support of United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) operations in Sudan over the next two years. WFP and DFID have signed a multi-year funding arrangement that will enable WFP to continue to support internally displaced people in Darfur who have not had regular access to food for many years. While WFP continues to provide life-saving food assistance in Sudan, the UK contribution will also enhance WFP activities that promote longer-term resilience. More than 1.7 million people will benefit from UK aid through innovative programmes such as Food for Assets, which provides food and vouchers to people as incentives for their participation in capacity-building activities such as water harvesting, infrastructure development and handicrafts. The DFID contribution will also empower WFP to expand its capacity to provide cash or vouchers so people can buy essential food items and other necessities. Providing cash or vouchers empowers people with the freedom to choose what is most needed and can generate income for local businesses and markets.  This UK aid will also benefit the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), a WFP-operated service for the humanitarian, donor and diplomatic community. UNHAS allows these people to reach project sites in remote and difficult to reach areas across Sudan.



FAO and WFP step up efforts to alleviate hunger in Greater Kasai

20 December 2017, Kinshasa – Against a backdrop of intense human suffering, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are joining forces to mitigate some of the effects of conflict in Greater Kasai. Under the project, WFP will distribute fortified maize meal, legumes, fortified vegetable oil and iodized salt – as well as cash. Children aged 6 to 59 months, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, will be treated for three months with special nutritious supplements. For its part, FAO will supply vegetable-growing kits – hoe, rake, spade, watering can, and vegetable and fruit seeds – that will allow each family to eat for two months and sell what they don’t eat. There will be training in raising guinea pigs as a source of protein; and in processing and marketing bamboo to use as firewood, kitchen utensils, baskets, canoes, fishing equipment and fences. Vegetable gardens near health centres and women's associations will meanwhile provide malnourished children, and pregnant and nursing women, with micronutrients such as iron and zinc. The joint initiative will be rolled out in partnership with the DRC Ministry of Agriculture and local NGOs. The conflict in Kasai, formerly a maize-producing region, has forced a million people out of their homes and off their land. Some 3.2 million are now severely hungry. Child malnutrition is widespread. The tragedy experienced by the Congolese people demands greater solidarity.



Conrad N. Hilton awards more than $29 million in grants in the fourth quarter of 2017

13 December 2017, Los Angeles– The board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that 23 grants and one program related investment totaling more than $29 million were approved in the fourth quarter of 2017, bringing the total amount of grants awarded in 2017 to more than $121 million. This surpasses the dollar amount of grants awarded in 2016 by more than $10 million. “We are pleased to end the year announcing more than $29 million in new grants to organizations doing incredible work locally, nationally and globally,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “As 2017 draws to a close, the Foundation is grateful to have the privilege of supporting partners working to improve the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people throughout the world.”



WFP welcomes support from Kuwait Red Crescent Society for Rohingya refugees

13 December 2017, Kuwait City - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a US$500,000 contribution from the Kuwait Red Crescent Society for urgent food assistance to Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for safety in Bangladesh. The contribution from the Kuwait Red Crescent Society will help WFP to provide food and nutrition assistance to more than 14,000 refugees in the Cox’s Bazar region. Families will be provided with a nutritious food ration of rice, lentils and vegetable oil for a period of three months. WFP is providing food assistance to people who have been arriving in Bangladesh since late August, and has so far assisted more than 760,000 people. Upon arrival, people receive high energy biscuits. Once settled, they receive fortnightly rations of rice, lentils and oil. WFP has also been providing specialized nutritious foods to families with young children, and to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who are particularly at risk of malnutrition.



EU and UK support WFP to save lives among most vulnerable in Niger

13 December 2017, Niamey - The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) have contributed EUR 10.7 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in order to provide vital food assistance for some 755,000 people in Niger. Refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and the most vulnerable women, men and children at the heart of WFP emergency operations in Niger benefit from this lifeline thrown by the EU and the UK. In the Diffa region – which has been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad basin – more than 210,000 people are receiving assistance thanks to EU and UK support. At Niger’s border with Mali – an area also facing great instability – this contribution is supporting more than 60,000 Malian refugees with food assistance. In addition, thanks to ECHO and UK support, WFP has provided food assistance to some 290.000 vulnerable people during the lean season, when food stocks are low and fields are not yet producing crops. During this season, the most vulnerable people are more likely to leave their homes in search of a way to feed themselves.




Peace and security


Missing persons: ICRC organizes two-day study tour to Cyprus

4 January 2018, Nicosie (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently organized a two-day study tour to Cyprus for the Georgian and Abkhaz participants of the coordination mechanism it chairs in relation to people unaccounted for in connection with the 1992-93 armed conflict in Abkhazia and its aftermath. The visit was carried out in association with the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP). It offered the two well-established forums a platform to share their respective experiences about the humanitarian work being carried out in the context of those missing in relation to past conflicts. On the sidelines of the study tour, the Georgian and Abkhaz participants also held their biannual working meeting on 18 December under the aegis of the ICRC. The meeting was held to review the results of the mechanism's activities during the year and discuss the way forward. It's been a year since the implementation of the 2017-2021 work plan for the acceleration of the process of search for missing persons and the development of local capacities. And, the results have been encouraging, particularly the recovery and dignified management of the remains of 90 people. 26 families finally got closure when they received the remains of their missing relatives after a 25-year-long wait, giving them an opportunity to give their loved ones a proper burial. During the year, over 50 families of missing persons also received psycho-social support, thus helping them cope with the anxiety of not knowing.




Palestine accedes to the Mine Ban Treaty

Ten of the Middle East & North African countries still remain outside of the treaty

3January 2018 – Palestine has become the 164th State Party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, having deposited its instrument of accession at the United Nations’ headquarters on 29 December 2017. The Mine Ban Treaty will enter into force for Palestine on 1 June 2018. “Palestine’s accession to the Mine Ban Treaty is crucial for the Palestinian people. We look forward to seeing the country free from the plague of landmines soon,” said Ayman Sorour, Director of Protection. Palestine is affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. The Landmine Monitor has recorded 3,625 casualties to date, with 15 landmines and explosive remnants of war casualties reported in 2016, of which almost half were children.

Some 20km2 of the land of the State of Palestine is contaminated by landmines, antivehicle mines, and other explosive remnants of war. With Palestine on board, nine (Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen) of the 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa have joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates in the region still remain outside of the treaty.



Welcome on board, Sri Lanka!

14December 2017 – Sri Lanka has become the 163rd State Party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, having deposited its instrument of accession at the United Nations’ headquarters on 13 December 2017. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines congratulates Sri Lanka for joining the international community to achieve a mine-free world. Sri Lanka is heavily affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. According to the Landmine Monitor over 22,100 people have been killed or injured by landmines or explosive remnants of war over time in the country.  Sri Lanka has developed a plan for 2016-2020 aiming to make the country ‘mine-threat free’ by 2020. The Mine Ban Treaty requires the clearance of all contaminated areas, including those that do not pose an immediate threat to populations.

With Sri Lanka’s accession to the Mine Ban Treaty, India, Nepal and Pakistan are the only countries in South Asia that remain outside of the Mine Ban Treaty. All three are affected by landmine contamination.

The Mine Ban Treaty will enter into force for Sri Lanka on 1 June 2018.



The Trust Fund for Africa: EUR 274.2 million to support stability in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin

13 December 2017, Brussels - The European Commission today announced the launch of 13 new measures in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin amounting to EUR 274.2 million. The measures were adopted under the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and supplement the 68 measures approved since December 2015 for a total of EUR 1 billion. All the measures are designed to address the urgent and multiple crises in Africa by providing a flexible, rapid and integrated response.



New Palestine agreement between NUMGE and NPA

by Betzy Alexandra Kjelsberg Thangstad

11December 2017 – From 2018 to 2021, the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (NUMGE) will be investing NOK 20 million in joint political lobbying in Norway, support to Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) programmes in Palestine and Lebanon, and cluster-bomb clearance in Laos. Cooperation between the two organizations began in 2009 and has since maintained particular focus on Norwegian economic links to the Israeli occupation and spreading information to members through the union’s ambassador corps for Palestine.(…)Gaza suffered two brutal wars with significant civil and material losses. The wars and the ongoing blockade have led the UN into warning that the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by 2020. There has been a huge increase in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and attempts at peace negotiations have not made any progress. The presence of Norwegian People’s Aid in Palestine is now more important than ever and NUMGE’s financial support helps keep NPA projects up and running. “The cooperation agreement is very important because we are able to combine political activity and financial support in such a beneficial way. We get the opportunity to follow up our partners in Palestine, Lebanon and Laos and to work with one of the greatest political challenges of our time: the occupation of Palestine (...)” says NPA Secretary-General Henriette Killi Westhrin.






SOMALIA - Millions of children across Somalia vaccinated against measles in UN-backed campaign.

8 January 2018 - One million children aged six months to 10 years in Puntland and 4.2 million across Somalia were reached during the campaign conducted in partnership with WHO, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Somalia's Ministry of Health. In 2017, amidst a drought emergency, a total of 23,002 suspected measles cases were reported – alarmingly high compared to previous years. Among those cases, 83 per cent were in children under age 10. In response to the outbreak, two rounds of vaccination campaigns were conducted in March and April of 2017, reaching 516,934 children aged nine months to five years. During a five-day measles campaign that wrapped up on Sunday, the United Nations has reported. During the campaign, a support dose of Vitamin A will be administered to eligible children alongside the measles vaccine. Social mobilizers and health workers supported by WHO and UNICEF are also encouraging adults who are not fully immunized, or not sure of their immunity status, to get vaccinated as well.



Ukraine: Caring for villagers trapped near frontlines in Opytne

5January 2018 – Opytne is a frontline village that lies in government-controlled territory in Ukraine, opposite the destroyed Donetsk Airport, which is now in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Without transportation and isolated by poor weather, the villagers, mostly elderly people, have no choice but to live with the constant stress of the conflict in the region. Nearby shelling engenders acute anxiety and depression, in addition to cutting off access to regular care for chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. In response, a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile clinic team, comprising a doctor, a nurse, and a psychologist, is providing primary health care and psychological consultations to villagers. The team started on 14 December, using a resident’s home as a base of operations. “Without access to a regular doctor, the villagers in Opytne practice self-care, measure each other’s blood pressure, and self-medicate,” said Myriam Berry, MSF field coordinator for Donetsk oblast (province). MSF runs mobile clinics for those most in need of healthcare and psychological support in 28 locations in Donetsk oblast, with four teams based out of Mariupol and Kurakhove. Most patients supported by our mobile clinics are women over the age of 50 suffering from chronic illnesses.



Capturing lessons from polio eradication

29 December 2017 – Reducing polio cases by 99.9% globally is an incredible feat, achieved through innovative strategies and years of trial and error: the polio eradication programme is focused on getting to zero. Just as the polio eradication effort applied lessons learned from the successful smallpox campaign to its own work, the goal is for future health programmes to understand and build on the knowledge of the polio effort. Under a new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) will be working to do exactly this. JHSPH will partner with academic institutions from around the world to document lessons and develop graduate-level courses and hands-on training clinics for public health students and professionals, including an online open course available to the public and implementation courses for managers from other health programmes. Under the leadership of Dr Olakunle Alonge, the team at JHSPH will collaborate with a global team from public health institutions in seven countries: Nigeria, India, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh and Indonesia. To develop the content of each course, JHSPH will be identifying “change agents” at the local, national and global levels who have expertise in polio eradication that may not otherwise be captured. This unique global strategy promises to yield coursework that speaks to the issues faced by a broad range of global health programmes and actors.



Sharing best practices in school feeding programs in Senegal

21December 2017 – Since 2016, Counterpart’s Food for Education Program in the Saint Louis region of Senegal has been serving nutritional breakfasts and lunches to children, helping to increase school enrollment and improve attendance. Key to the program’s success is the active engagement of the community of Saint Louis, including teachers, parents and the Government of Senegal. Every year since 2007, the National Agency for Early Childhood Development (ANPECTP) has hosted a week-long conference, bringing together hundreds of actors involved in early childhood development, from nutrition counselors to school directors and nurses. This year’s annual forum, which took place from December 11-17, 2017, was planned with the support of partners including Counterpart International. The theme for this year’s annual forum was: “Adequate Nutrition: A Quality Input for Early Childhood Development.” Among the most popular sessions this year was the school feeding forum held on December 13, attended by more than 300 national and regional leaders from the Government of Senegal, NGO partners and representatives from the United Nations. Together, attendees and speakers (including Counterpart, UNICEF, World Vision, World Bank, UNESCO and Malnutrition Control Unit) had the opportunity to discuss strategies and best practices that promote children’s nutrition in integrated early childhood development.

McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Project in Senegal is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The project targets 270 schools, including 66 preschools.



Germany provides additional critically-needed funds to Pakistan

18December 2017 – With polio at the lowest levels in history in Pakistan, the country is about to launch an all-out and hopefully final assault on the disease in 2018. To help these emergency efforts, the Government of Germany announced today an additional € 2 million in financial support, to Pakistan’s national emergency action plan. Germany is a longtime supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with contributions totaling more than US$ 550 million to the effort, not including a recently announced additional pledge of € 19.9 million to Nigeria’s polio eradication effort for 2018. For its engagement in polio eradication Germany has on numerous occasions been internationally recognized at the highest levels. Chancellor Angela Merkel is a past recipient of Rotary International’s prestigious Polio Champion Award. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners would like to extend their profound gratitude to both the Government of Pakistan and Germany for their collaboration and for their tremendous support and engagement in the effort to eradicate polio globally.



Polio survivors live a life of mobility

Polio survivors in Burkina Faso are reaching their full potential thanks to Rotary support

12December 2017 –Countries around the world are united in their efforts to eradicate polio so that it will never again cause a child to be paralysed. For polio survivors in Burkina Faso, the opportunity to be independently mobile in their own communities can be life changing. For children living in poor communities whose limbs are paralyzed by polio, there is often very little support available to make them independently mobile. Giving a child a wheelchair puts previously inaccessible opportunities within reach so that children can reach their potential; such as going to school, playing outside with friends and learning new skills. Rotary International, along with partners such as Sahel, are providing support to the AMPO Association in Ouagadougou to provide services and facilities for children, teenagers, young mothers and people with disabilities often caused by polio. The tricycles are hand-crank operated by the individual to navigate the difficult roads of Burkina Faso. A wider version is also available for adults riding with children and the chairs can be personalized in a variety of colours. For many of those coming to the workshop, it is the first time they have had a custom-built mobility aid. They enter the workshop with assistance, but leave under their own steam. The five wheelchair makers at AMPO are all people with disabilities. Trained on the job, the workshop offers employment to people who often face discrimination on the labour market. Spreading their expertise beyond the city, staff from the workshop travel further afield to reach up to 1600 people in rural areas. With the support of Rotary Germany the project receives funds and wheelchair parts, helping more and more polio survivors live a mobile life every year.



Energy and safety



Ukraine to launch its first solar plant at Chernobyl

10 January 2018 - At ground zero of Ukraine's Chernobyl tragedy, workers in orange vests are busy erecting hundreds of dark-coloured panels as the country gets ready to launch its first solar plant to revive the abandoned territory. The new one-megawatt power plant is located just a hundred metres from the new "sarcophagus", a giant metal dome sealing the remains of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the worst nuclear disaster in the world.



Rice U.'s one-step catalyst turns nitrates into water and air

9 January 2018 - Engineers at Rice University's Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) Center have found a catalyst that cleans toxic nitrates from drinking water by converting them into air and water. The research is available online in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis. (…) Nitrates are both an environmental problem and health problem because they're toxic. (…)



British scientists transform cyanobacteria into iPad-size bio-solar cells

9 January 2018 - Cyanobacteria, which changed the Earth's atmosphere from one that is oxygen-deprived to oxygen-rich, have recently been copied and produced as a micro-scale biological solar cell by British scientists. The size of the cell is similar to the iPad. The team believes that due to biodegradation, the cell can be used in developing countries which have lower budget for medical care. It can also function as a health tracker or wallpaper to monitor indoor air quality. (…) Although their lifespan is largely shorter compared with traditional solar cell, the purpose of this bio-solar cell isn't to replace traditional technology or to be used in large-scale electricity production, according to Imperial College London researcher Andrea Fantuzzi. The advantage is that owing to biodegradation, the cell serves as a disposable solar panel and battery that can decompose in composts or gardens.



Project SHARE makes helping neighbours easy this winter

8 January 2018 - Georgia Power is inviting customers to join the company and The Salvation Army to help neighbours and local Georgia communities this winter through the Project SHARE initiative. Project SHARE, established in partnership with The Salvation Army in 1985, was one of the first fuel funds in America and provides assistance for expenses, such as utility bills, housing, food and medical necessities. Since Project SHARE's inception, approximately 369,000 households throughout the state have received assistance with more than $69 million contributed to the program by Georgia Power and its customers. Last year, more than 34,000 Georgia Power customers donated to the program leading to a total contribution, including Georgia Power's match, of more than $2.2 million. By donating one to ten dollars through their Georgia Power bill payment, customers can provide assistance to residents in the same community, the unique program is highly localized with more than one million Georgians benefiting from the program over the past three decades.



More than half of Norway's new cars electrified: data

3 January 2018 - Electric or hybrid vehicles accounted for more than half of all new cars sold in Norway last year, official data showed on Wednesday, confirming the country's pioneering role in carbon-free transport. Zero-emission, mainly all-electric as well as a few hydrogen-powered cars, accounted for 20.9 percent of total sales in 2017, while hybrid vehicles accounted for 31.3 percent, including 18.4 percent for plug-in hybrids, the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) calculated. This represents an increase over the previous year…



Laser evaporation technology to create new solar materials

3 January 2018 - Materials scientists at Duke University have developed a method to create hybrid thin-film materials that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to make. The technique could be the gateway to new generations of solar cells, light-emitting diodes and photodetectors. (…) The most common perovskite used in solar energy today, methylammonium lead iodide (MAPbI3), can convert light to energy just as well as today's best commercially available solar panels. And it can do it using a fraction of the material - a sliver 100 times thinner than a typical silicon-based solar cell.




Environment and wildlife


Brazil vows to end Amazonian mega-dam construction; moves toward wind and solar energy

InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute praises the move.

By Jennifer Runyon

5 January 2018 – After years of criticism, the government of Brazil announced in January that it will end the era of building big hydropower dams in the Amazon. In an article in the O Globo newspaper, Paulo Pedrosa, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said that the government has no prejudice against big hydro but that the costs and risks now outweigh the benefits. In a press release about the news, the InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute said that for years, mega-dams in the Amazon have drawn opposition from Indigenous peoples, energy and economic experts, social and environmental organizations, and citizens in Brazil and globally. In particular, campaigns against the Belo Monte and São Luiz do Tapajós mega-dams mobilized a broad coalition of Indigenous communities and civil society organizations, who urged the Brazilian government to develop the country's wind and solar resources and invest in energy efficiency instead of funding mega-dams in the Amazon. Paulo Pedrosa, Brazil's Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, acknowledged the impact of this societal resistance, as well as the high costs and risks of mega-dams, in statements to O Globo. The InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute said that Brazil's world-class wind and solar resources, the falling costs of wind and solar technologies, and advances in integrating renewable energy make a compelling economic case for a transition away from new mega-dams toward other sources of energy(…)



Belize becomes a world leader in ocean protection by ending oil activity in its waters

5 January 2018 – Belize, home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, has become a world leader in ocean sustainability, following the Belizean government’s adoption of a permanent moratorium on oil activities in its waters. The legislation, which was signed into law on 29 December 2017, marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans from oil exploration and extraction, and places Belize in a tiny minority of countries with similar laws. This legislation follows the Belize government's commitment in August 2017 to establish a permanent moratorium on offshore oil activity in its waters, after national and global pressure to preserve the fragile Belize Barrier Reef and its World Heritage site. This huge step by the Belize Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, comes a year after an international outcry by WWF, Oceana and supporters led to the suspension of seismic oil exploration close to the UNESCO-recognised reef. In 2016, WWF and Oceana led a coalition that successfully campaigned against seismic testing close to the reef.  WWF’s campaign to put an end to oil exploration and other harmful activities in the World Heritage site has gained support from 450,000 people around the world.




Religion and spirituality


Building peace while empowering women on Indonesia's Java Island

11 January 2018 - In Klaten, Central Java, a group of 20 women from this farming community gathered and pledged before their neighbors and friends: "We, Indonesian women, are determined to live in love and peace with all elements of society regardless of one's ethnicity, religion, and faith." With this pledge on 1 November, and the signing of a peaceful village inscription by the Regent of Klaten, Nglinggi became the first community in Indonesia to be declared a model Kampung Damai, or "peace village." The Wahid Foundation, an NGO, is working to create peaceful communities is 30 multi-religious villages of Java. The project, w hich facilitates group discussions within the community on what it takes to become a peaceful village and encourages resolutions of conflicts that arise is funded by UN Women.



Parliament of the World’s Religions opens bidding for global cities to host future meetings of Workd’s Premier Interfaith Convention

3 January 2018, CHICAGO, USA - The Parliament of the World’s Religions — the world’s premier convener of the global interfaith movement  — is today announcing the opening of a bid process for global cities to pursue hosting future global Parliament conferences that will bring thousands of the world’s most dedicated advocates of peace, justice and sustainability to their city. Hosts of the 8th, 9th and subsequent Parliaments of the World’s Religions international events will welcome globally-recognized figures in spiritual and civic institutions, up to 10,000 visitors, and experience an inflow of millions of dollars in revenue for the local economy, over the span of a week of activities in their city.  With a 125-year history, the Parliament of the World’s Religions creates the opportunity for people of faith and conscience from around the world to assemble and to hear from wisdom leaders, which in the past have included His Holiness the Dalai Lama, President Nelson Mandela, President Jimmy Carter, and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall. More than 50,000 participants of 200 unique spiritual backgrounds have traveled from more than 80 nations around the world to past Parliament conferences, bringing their attention and action together to dialogue, forge solutions and build networks of action.



Christians celebrate Christmas in Mosul for first time since ISIS liberation, vow to rebuild city

26 December 2017 - For the first time in four years, Christians celebrated Christmas in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, and vowed to "rebuild the city's churches" that were destroyed by ISIS to encourage more believers to return. On Christmas Eve, carols were sung in Saint Paul cathedral -- the only functioning church in Mosul -- for the first time since Islamic State militants took over the city in 2014, forcing the entire Christian population to flee. The service, attended by Muslim and Christian worshippers, was led by the Patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Raphael Sako, who issued a message of unity, ABC News reports.




Culture and education


Morocco / Education 2030: Funding sustainable lifelong learning systems in Francophone countries

10 January 2018 - UNESCO Office in Dakar - Organized by the Conference of Education Ministers of Francophonie member states and governments (CONFEMEN) and hosted by the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research of Morocco, an international seminar on education financing took place from 5-7 December 2017 in Rabat, Morocco. The meeting brought together close to 200 participants including Education Ministers, development partners, the private sector, civil society representatives and international organizations to reflect on education financing and propose relevant solutions in view of strengthening and improving education funding mechanisms towards national implementation of SDG4-Education 2030.



Marginalized girls and young women in Nepal realize their right to education

4 January 2018 - UNESCO believes in the power of education to achieve gender equality and to empower adolescent girls and young women. Through targetted interventions supported by the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, Nepalese girls and women like Bhawana have access to formal and non-formal education programmes that build knowledge and skills on sexual and reproductive health, income generation, and how to stand up for their rights in their communities and to elevate their status in society. UNESCO has implemented eight series of three-day trainings, empowering 236 young women with understanding and life-skills related to menstruation, family planning, safe motherhood, immunization, and nutrition. An independent evaluation of the project reveals how these initiatives are changing lives. “Initially, I was ignorant about my health; but through the training, I learned about various things impacting a healthy life. This knowledge not only improved my and my family’s behaviours, but also opened our minds to discuss sexual problems and not to hide them. I want to continue my education and I and my husband, together, have decided not to have another child”, says Bhawana. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu will continue to engage in nationwide efforts to improve the relevancy and quality of education for adolescent girls and young women.



Stories from 2017: The transformative power of education

20 December 2017 - From Somalia to Guatemala, Jordan to Thailand, UNESCO’s work and efforts are fuelled by inspiring stories from around the world on the transformative power of education. Behind all the facts and figures on education and the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, there are real people around the world whose fates are being altered every day by learning opportunities.




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Next issue: 16th February 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.”

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