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

monthly, year 18th, no. 266 –  9th March 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


International momentum towards accountability

12 March 2018 - Universal jurisdiction is here to stay. In their annual report Makewayforjustice#4, FIDH and its partners TRIAL International, ECCHR, REDRESS and FIBGAR illustrate the international momentum towards accountability through 58 cases, involving 126 suspects. Rarely has the fight against impunity been so dynamic. In 2017, countries in Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America have tightened the net on war criminals by resorting to universal jurisdiction. This principle enables States to prosecute alleged authors of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity, regardless of their nationality or where the crime was committed. To overcome the specific challenges of universal jurisdiction, a wide number of States have set up specialized war crimes units (WCU). Last year alone, these units reportedly investigated, prosecuted or brought to justice 126 suspects of the gravest crimes. Many more investigations are ongoing.



Sea boundaries treaty by Australia and Timor-Leste ‘example to follow’ – UN chief

Australia and Timor-Leste on Tuesday signed a bilateral maritime boundaries treaty

6 March 2018 - The treaty establishing their maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea was signed at UN Headquarters in the presence of Mr. Guterres, putting an end to the decade-long dispute between the two sides and marking the first-ever successful recourse by States to conciliation proceedings under Annex V to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). “This ceremony demonstrates the strength of international law and the effectiveness of resolving disputes through peaceful means,” the UN chief said. “A central element in the Charter of the United Nations, the peaceful settlement of disputes is also a cornerstone of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both Australia and Timor-Leste are parties,” he added. The Secretary-General said the agreement is “a further contribution to establishing legal certainty in the world’s oceans, an essential condition for stable relations, peace and security, and the achievement of sustainable development,” and puts both countries in a better position to exercise their respective rights and obligations under the Convention.  It should also ensure that both States fully benefit from the sustainable exploitation of natural resources in the Timor Sea”. 



Paraguay passes new law to end violence against women, including femicide

5 March 2018 – Paraguay now has a new law to protect women against gender-based violence. The law criminalizes femicide, as well as other forms of violence, and will provide much-needed services to survivors, such as shelter and legal assistance. With this new law, Paraguay becomes the 18th country in Latin America and the Caribbean region to criminalize femicide—gender-based killings of women. According to the Ministry of Women, there were 49 femicides and 13,491 reported cases of domestic violence in 2017, the highest on record for the country. The new law recognizes femicide and obstetric violence (violence perpetrated against pregnant women or during childbirth) as criminal offences, and also outlaws online abuse against women and girls. It provides for comprehensive measures, such as free legal assistance, access to shelter and skills training for survivors. Furthermore, it calls for a unified standardized system to collect data on gender-based violence.



Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes new penal code, urges measures to protect women from violence

22 February 2018- “The penal Code entered into force last week, placing the country, for the first time, into compliance with international treaty obligations in criminal justice”, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said. “Together with international partners and experts from UN agencies, UNAMA supported Afghan authorities in drafting the code (…); UNAMA will continue dialogue with stakeholders so that the application of the new codedoes not result in impunity gaps and in particular that there is a robust legal framework in place to protect women from violence” . The new Penal Code reinforces Afghanistan’s compliance with international human rights and criminal justice standards and incorporates all mandatory crimes under the UN Convention against Corruption, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes (UNTOC) and its three protocols. Moreover, it incorporates the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – covering war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – and establishes command responsibility for those who fail to prevent or punish subordinates who commit these crimes. Reforming the sanctions regime, the new Penal Code introduces alternatives to imprisonment, which judges impose for imprisonment sentencing below five years, and are mandated to impose for incarcerations less than three months. The code also significantly reduces the number of crimes for which the death penalty applies.




Human rights


TORONTO -Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector

8 March 2018 -  The Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) is proud to announce that the Government of Canada is investing in funding the GCNC for a three-year project for engaging the private sector as a responsible accelerator to eliminate barriers faced by women in the workplace. Canada has made tremendous progress recently towards achieving greater equality for people of all genders, but there is still much work to do. Gender equality will have a notable impact on our economy and whether the 17 Global Goals will be achieved by 2030. Each one of us can and must take steps to break down the barriers of discrimination in our everyday lives to achieve the benefits of Gender Equality. The project, entitled Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector, will focus on engaging the corporate community in developing, testing, and implementing a set of tools leading to a blueprint for gender equality in the private sector, as well as a certification methodology. The project aims to accelerate action by working with the input of 20 participating companies in Canada who are to become gender equality mentors and leaders. 



The Catholic Sisters Empowering Women Around the World

7 March 2018 - Next week, Catholic sisters will be joining a U.N. discussion on opportunities for gender equality. It’s no secret women have had a rough year. From the revelations of the #MeToo movement in the U.S. to the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, we are being subjected to a consistent message that our needs, or even our rights, aren’t of primary importance. But at the Dominican Sisters of Hope, a community of 140 Catholic sisters where I work, one conviction prevails: Women worldwide hold the keys to our future. And we’re not alone in this belief: Next week, hundreds of women will gather from around the world to explore the challenges and opportunities for empowering women and achieving gender equality at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Joining the conversation are Catholic sisters who live among the disenfranchised globally and share the common goal of improving the lives of women and girls.



Algerian unions work towards increased gender equality

6March 2018 – Algerian education unions are working with Education International to address gender equality issues in their unions as part of a capacity development programme. Two Algerian education unions - the Syndicat National des travailleurs et de la formation (UNPEF) and the Syndicat national autonome des professeurs de l’éducation (SNAPEST) – are working together to address gender inequality. The unions are collaborating on an 18-month capacity building programme organised by Education International (EI). The initiative was formally launched on 18 February at a joint meeting with members of the national boards of both unions. This innovative programme is based on the Gender Action Learning (GAL) approach pioneered by Gender at Work, a network of associate experts working to address and transform the deep roots of inequality and discriminatory social standards within organisations. The GAL approach to organisational change is based on experimental, peer-based learning techniques to enable organisations to change gender power dynamics internally and in their programmatic work (…) and provides an opportunity for the two unions to collaborate and to learn from each other through structured peer-learning activities. This is the first time the GAL methodology is being used with EI member organisations in North Africa (…)



Human rights and environmental protection are interdependent

5 March 2018 - Today, Prof John Knox (Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment) presents a report on "The issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment" in front of the Human Right Council of the UN in Geneva. FIDH welcomes this report and joins the call made by the Special Rapporteur to the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution formally recognising the right to a healthy environment as part of international human rights law, already recognised by a great majority of countries at national and/or regional level. This report introduces 16 Framework Principles on human rights and the environment based on obligations of States under human rights law and their interpretation by human rights bodies. FIDH shares the conviction at the basis of the report that human rights and environmental protection are interdependent, “while a safe, clean and healthy environment is essential for the enjoyment of human rights, the exercise of human rights including the right to freedom of expression, education, participation and remedy is vital to the protection of the environment (…)”. FIDH’s contribution to the earlier version of the report has been largely taken into account in the final version, in particular regarding the reference to the importance of business impacts on environmental and human rights. While recognising that those principles are not exhaustive, and that many aspects of the relationship between human rights and the environment still need to be clarified, FIDH believes that this report is an important step in the understanding and implementation of human rights obligations relating to the environment.



United Nations should set example for Gender Parity, Zero Tolerance of Sexual Abuse, Secretary-General says in message for International Women’s Day

2 March 2018 – “We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. (…) The United Nations should set an example for the world. (…) We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the Organization.  I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability.  We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims (…)”



Libya: launch of a Facebook campaign to promote for the protection of civilian populations in armed conflict

27February 2018 – On 20 February, Geneva Call launched a video campaign via Facebook to raise awareness about the rules of war and humanitarian norms among the populations in Libya’s main cities, including Benghazi and Tripoli. The “Fighter not Killer” campaign is already running in several countries in the Middle East; it promotes the rules that all combatants must respect to reduce the impact of armed violence on civilian populations. Over two weeks, ten 30-second videos will be intensively promoted via the Facebook page @Muharib.La.Qatil. Using simple animation and a voice-over, they encourage respect for rules such as “don’t target civilian buildings”, “don’t attack schools” or “don’t recruit children”. Violations of humanitarian norms in the country are regularly reported, including the use and recruitment of children, the use of anti-personnel mines, sexual violence and the lack of respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality. Geneva Call recently initiated a Libya country programme. In December 2017, in Tunis, it conducted a first training session on humanitarian norms for members of civil society organizations from many different parts of the country. By developing relationships with these organizations, Geneva Call intends to establish initial contacts with armed actors via them and also train trainers who will be able to amplify the dissemination of humanitarian norms among civil society and armed actors.



WFP supports people with disabilities through school meals in LAO PDR

27 February 2018, Vientiane -  Children with disabilities will be receiving nutritious meals at school thanks to a new partnership in Lao PDR between the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Vientiane Special School for children with hearing and visual impairments. To promote inclusive development and mainstream gender and disabilities into all its programmes, WFP has extended its school meals programme to institutions in Luang Prabang and Vientiane. They will receive food for daily school meals, and non-food items to establish vegetable gardens which should further improve the dietary diversity of students. WFP has recently made a second delivery of food, including rice, lentils, canned fish and fortified vegetable oil, to the schools for the second semester of the 2017/18 academic year. WFP recently signed a partnership agreement with the Laos Disabled People’s Association (LDPA), a civil-society organisation advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Together with LDPA, WFP is building staff capacity and learning how to best support, promote and strengthen the empowerment of people with disabilities in its programmes.




Economy and development


MICHIGAN - Consumers Energy’s New Renewable Energy Program helps Switch and General Motors in Michigan

8 March 2018 - General Motors and Switch are the first participants in a new Consumers Energy program to help large businesses use large renewable energy sources. Both companies are now matching 100 percent of their electric use at key operations in Michigan with wind-generated power. The energy used at Switch’s Pyramid Campus, a 1.8 million-square-foot data center campus in Grand Rapids, and General Motors’ Flint Metal Center and Flint Engine Operations is matched entirely with energy produced by Cross Winds® Energy Park II, which went into operation this year in Tuscola County, in Michigan’s Thumb. Consumers Energy’s new renewable energy program for large businesses was approved last year by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Switch, General Motors and other businesses that choose to participate help defray the costs for new renewable energy sources. Today, Consumers Energy provides 10 percent of customers’ energy use from renewable sources. Consumers Energy recently announced that more than 40 percent of the energy it produces will come from renewable sources and energy storage by 2040. The energy provider’s new clean energy goals also include reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent and no longer using coal to generate electricity by 2040. 



Improving food security in West and East Africa

6 March 2018- Nairobi, Kenya/CSRwire/ - 20,000 farmers in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda have improved the security and quality of their food supply thanks to the FoodAfrica Programme. In addition to those farmers and their communities, it is estimated that the programme has also had an impact on the lives of over 200,000 people. (…) Funded by the Government of Finland, the FoodAfrica Programme, which works from solid research to effective action, has enhanced sustainable food production, food safety and nutrition, and market access and agricultural extension. The research component of the programme has seen the production of 300 publications and training materials targeting farmers, agricultural extension workers, academia and policy makers. The programme has also enabled 31 people from the six countries to obtain Masters and PhD degrees, highlighting the importance of building national capacity to ensure sustainability of food security. Among several other activities, the research included learning how to reduce the risk of aflatoxins in crops and milk, increase the profitability of dairy production through improved management and create new methods to improve soil properties. (…)



Sweden strengthens partnership to accelerate economic empowerment for rural women

4 March 2018, Rome - Recognizing the multiplying effects of investing in rural women, Sweden – through its development cooperation agency Sida – announced a US$5 million commitment to the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (JP RWEE). JP RWEE is an initiative implemented in partnership between the Rome-based United Nations Agencies — the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – along with UN Women. Launched in 2014, the JP RWEE is implemented in seven countries – Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda – and works to enhance the potential of rural women by improving their access to and control over resources, services and opportunities, and enables them to have a voice in their households and communities. In addition, the programme works to create a policy environment that enables support for the economic empowerment of rural women. To date, the programme has benefitted over 41,000 women and 213,000 household members, who have received training on agricultural production, nutrition, income generation, leadership, as well as agricultural tools, technologies, and credit to start or expand their activities. The additional contribution from Sweden will make it possible to reach more rural women and their families in the most vulnerable areas of the seven countries, and to extend the partnership for one year.



AgriCord and FAO join forces to enhance support to farmers’ organizations

27 February 2018, Rome - FAO and AgriCord, a global alliance of agri-agencies mandated by farmers' organizations, are joining efforts to facilitate the engagement of family and smallholder farmers in decision making and policy dialogue, increase their institutional and organizational capacities and improve their access to markets and finance. Building on years of successful partnership, AgriCord and FAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today to intensify joint efforts aimed at building the capacities of farmer's organizations to increase their vital role in reducing rural poverty. The new agreement lays out terms and conditions for joint projects over a five-year period. The agreement focuses on supporting rural and producers' organizations in providing access to markets and finance for family and smallholder farmers and developing relevant technical capacities to adapt to climate change. This will be realized through farmer-to-farmer learning and knowledge exchanges as well as South-South Cooperation, enabling the parties to expand the geographical focus of their collaboration. AgriCord and FAO have worked together since 2012 under the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) - a partnership between FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and AgriCord. It aims at promoting sustainable forest and farm management by supporting local, national, regional and international organizations to meet the needs of local people in Asia, Africa and Latin America.



IFAD and China announce creation of new South-South and Triangular Cooperation facility

16 February 2018 - The Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China and IFAD share a common development goal - to alleviate rural poverty and hunger and unleash the capacities of poor rural people by investing in smallholder agriculture. One way they work together to reach that common goal is through South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC), an approach to exchanging resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries. The scale of which has increased greatly over the last few years. To further strengthen IFAD's engagement in SSTC, China made a financial contribution of US$5 million in 2016. An additional US$10 million contribution was finalized in February 2018 and will be used to finance a new IFAD/China SSTC Facility, with the overarching goal of exchanging and mobilizing knowledge, expertise and resources from the Global South to accelerate rural poverty alleviation, enhance rural productivity, advance rural transformation and promote investments between developing countries. The Facility will be devoted exclusively to smallholder agriculture and rural development, with specific attention to poverty reduction, fighting malnutrition and promoting rural youth employment in developing countries.



USAID Kyrgyz project leverages private investment to export dried fruit

24January 2018 – The next time you buy dried fruit in the United States, you may be buying apricots or plums grown by smallholder farmers in Kyrgyzstan. In October, the USAID Agro Horizon project and an enterprise it helped create, Altyn Aimak, signed a contract with a private sector partner, Yudo Heifitz, of Heifitz Sons Corporation, to supply $1 million-worth of dried fruit to the United States. Altyn Aimak formed as a joint venture between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, allowing Kyrgyz farmers to process and export dried fruit directly from their own country. The USAID Agro Horizon project, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, supported Altyn Aimak when it built a facility for processing dried fruit in the village of Chetkyzyl in Krygyzstan’s Batken Region, making the dried fruit sector sustainable moving forward. Some of that support came in the form of $87,000, which was used to buy washing, sorting, and grading equipment and Helios dryers. The USAID Agro Horizon project is one of many economic growth initiatives funded by USAID to boost employment and strengthen business opportunities in Kyrgyzstan. The results from the new contract will benefit 400 households and create 35 full-time jobs for local Kyrgyz farmers.





Japan announces fresh support to WFP in Yemen

12 March 2018, San'a - Today the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a contribution of US$16 million from the Government of Japan, which provides a significant boost to WFP operations aimed at averting famine in Yemen.  In Yemen, nearly 18 million people – more than 60% of the population – do not know where their next meal is coming from. Tragically, the number of people facing chronic hunger has gone up, increasing by one million between March 2017 and January 2018 alone.  As famine-like conditions persist, the recent spikes of violence and insecurity in Sana’a, Hodeidah and other parts of the country may further increase the number of extremely hungry people in the country. There has also been a recent wave of displacement, with 84,000 people reported to have been forced from their homes due to escalated fighting at the end of 2017. WFP is closely monitoring the situation and responding by assisting thousands of displaced people in Hodeidah governorate. As part of its response to those in dire need of assistance, WFP provides vouchers that are redeemable for food to people in urban areas while food distributions are carried out for those residing in rural areas.



Government of Germany contributes €50 million towards strengthening resilience in southern Somalia

7 March 2018, Mogadishu - The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has committed €50 million for a joint United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF programme to tackle women and children’s nutrition in nine districts in Banadir and six districts in Gedo region in the south of Somalia. The ongoing drought and other shocks have left communities with little to no resources to fall back on- hence the importance of investing in resilience. The programme will take a multi-sectorial approach to addressing malnutrition and building resilience through health, nutrition, water and sanitation as well as hygiene interventions. This year, it targets nearly 206,000 children under the age of five, along with over 109,000 pregnant and nursing mothers who will receive health and nutrition support for the treatment and prevention of various forms of malnutrition at the facility and community levels. To ensure the long-term impact and sustainability of the programme, WFP and UNICEF are placing a significant focus on strengthening the capabilities of government, communities and families to withstand shocks and crises and to recover from them quickly. The services are being delivered through health centers run by partners together with the Federal Ministry of Health and Jubaland authorities. There is also a package of community-level interventions delivered through community workers.



Syria: First batch of essential aid reaches people trapped in Eastern Ghouta

5 March 2018 – After multiple attempts in recent weeks to gain humanitarian access to Eastern Ghouta, the ICRC finally reached the town of Douma earlier today as part of a joint aid convoy with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the United Nations. The 46-truck convoy includes 5,500 food parcels for over 27,500 people (one food parcel should last a family of five a month), along with vital medical and surgical items such as dressing materials. The last time the ICRC was able to deliver aid in Eastern Ghouta was on 12 November 2017. During the past weeks of intense fighting, many people in Eastern Ghouta have lost their lives – because of the fighting or because they had no access to medical care. Seeking shelter from continuous bombardments, families have spent days hiding in underground shelters with very little food to sustain them. Hospitals, houses and facilities belonging to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been hit and continue to be targeted. This is unacceptable. Damascus city has also not been spared. Many neighbourhoods have come under mortar attack in the past weeks, with civilians killed and wounded. The ICRC has repeatedly called for all sides in Syria to respect the laws of war, which are being ignored. Today, we again urge parties involved in the conflict to take every precaution to spare and protect civilians.



Sri Lanka bans cluster bombs

2March 2018 – Sri Lanka officially renounced cluster bombs yesterday when it joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Congratulations! The instrument of accession to the Convention was deposited at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and the Convention will enter into force for Sri Lanka on 1 September 2018. “I’m proud of this demonstration of leadership by my government,” said Vidya Abhayagunawardena, head of the Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines. “This sends a clear signal to others in South Asia: cluster bombs do not belong in the arsenals of modern armies. They are outdated, indiscriminate, unacceptable weapons.” Sri Lanka had officially announced in September 2017 that it agreed “on principle” to join the Convention. Sri Lanka has participated as an observer in every Convention’s meetings since 2011, and in December 2017 it voted in favor of United Nations General Assembly resolution 72/41 that calls on states outside the Convention to join as soon as possible. In South Asia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan must still join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.



From recipient to donor: Republic of Korea makes its largest ever contribution to WFP

28 February 2018, Rome -  Continuing its impressive progression from one-time recipient to major donor, the Government of the Republic of Korea today made a historic US$42.5 million contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), its largest contribution to date. WFP will use the funds to purchase 50,000 metric tons of Korean rice and provide life-saving food assistance in Syria, Yemen, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. The contribution arrangement was signed by David Beasley and the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Yong-Rok on the margins of the WFP Executive Board session today in Rome. Following today’s arrangement, the government will finalize local procedures for rice processing and packaging with an aim to have the rice distributed to five country recipients in the second half of 2018. From 1964 to 1984, WFP supported the Republic of Korea’s socioeconomic development through a range of projects on food assistance, nutrition, flood control and road construction. The sum of these projects represented the largest expenditure of any UN agency in the country over that time period. Today South Korea stands as a committed supporter of WFP, consistently ranking among the organization’s top 20 donors.



USA supports WFP’s longer-term efforts for the most vulnerable populations in Niger

26 February 2018, Niamey -  U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace Office just announced a generous 35 million USD in-kind donation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Niger. In Niger, 1.4 million people are likely to go hungry, with 1 on 2 children under 5 suffering from chronic malnutrition and 10,3% acutely malnourished. For years, people have been trapped by recurrent natural disasters, compounded by increasing demographic pressure, environmental degradation and insecurity. This in-kind contribution will allow WFP to help thousands to improve their livelihoods by, reducing risks and impact of shocks and increasing food security. The contribution will also allow WFP to provide food assistance on the emergency front, to Nigerian and Malian refugees, as well as displaced Nigeriens and vulnerable host communities. WFP is working with the government and partners to support the implementation of a “integrated package” of interventions for resilience building. It combines activities using food or cash-based transfers with land rehabilitation, water harvesting and agro-forestry activities and trainings, etc. These are inseparable from actions implemented to address nutrition, education and seasonal shocks.



Sweden provides critical assistance for WFP resilience operations in Ethiopia

19 February 2018, Addis Ababa - Today the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a multiyear contribution of US$10.5 million from the Government of Sweden to provide innovative solutions for building resilience of vulnerable populations in Ethiopia. This contribution will enable WFP to work with government and NGO partners to strengthen the Government of Ethiopia’s logistics capacity and improve early warning, surveillance and beneficiary feedback systems. It will also support the scale-up of the satellite index insurance for small-scale farmers and pastoralists, as well as promote livelihood and resilience-building activities among refugees and host communities. As investing in long-term resilience is essential to mitigate the effects of recurrent drought and food insecurity, WFP will collaborate with a group of diverse partners to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable. Led by the Government of Ethiopia’s entities responsible at federal, regional and district levels, WFP will work in partnership with Mercy Corps and Farm Africa to implement the project. Through this four-year resilience programme, interventions implemented will support the Government of Ethiopia in its objective to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) – Zero Hunger. Building resilience is now more important than ever, as there are ten million people in Ethiopia currently suffering from one of the worst droughts in decades.




Peace and security


Service and Sacrifice: Mongolia continues to strengthen its contribution to UN peacekeeping

9 March 2018 - In 2006, Mongolia made its first sizeable contribution to UN peacekeeping when it deployed 250 military personnel to the UN Mission in Liberia, a West African country that was recovering from a violent civil war.  Six years later, Mongolia undertook it largest deployment to date when it sent a full battalion of 850 troops to the UN Mission in South Sudan, where they continue to play an important role in protecting civilians.



Secretary-General encouraged by advances made during latest Inter-Korean Talks, calls agreement to hold summit step towards resumed dialogue

6 March 2018 - The Secretary-General is encouraged by the advances made during the latest inter-Korean talks, particularly the agreement to hold a summit meeting soon, to further reduce military tensions and to discuss denuclearization in future talks with all relevant parties.  He stresses the need to protect the momentum and seize the opportunities available to find a peaceful path forward. The latest developments are further steps forward in laying the foundation for the resumption of sincere dialogue, leading to sustainable peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.  The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to further assist in this process with the Governments concerned.



A garden for all—women and youth rebuild safe and inclusive spaces in Gaza

2 March 2018 - Green, open spaces where everyone can convene, relax and take a break may be taken for granted in some parts of the world. For women and girls in Al-Shoka, a conflict affected neighbourhood in Gaza, this was a distant dream, until now. It took three female architects and a group of young people to rebuild the only public garden in Al-Shoka, since it was destroyed during the 2014 conflict. The architects sought feedback from the community to design the inclusive space, and for the first time, women and youth feel safe and excited about using the public garden.






Ending polio in Afghanistan: a family affair

6 March 2018 – Malik Mohammad Nazir, his daughter Spogmai, and son Mashal all work together. But they are not working for themselves, they are working to eradicate polio. Zangoee is an indigent village in eastern Afghanistan with a diverse community. It is close to the border with Pakistan and many inhabitants are returnees from Pakistan, families displaced by insecurity and nomads passing through. With a population that is often on the move, it is a community with high risk of poliovirus transmission – making it extremely important to vaccinate every child. In Zangoee, the Nazir family are well-known. Each month, they knock on doors giving free vaccinations and educating their community about the virus. Known in Afghanistan as Kuchis, nomads are particularly vulnerable to polio, because they move seasonally and often miss vaccination campaigns. Historically underrepresented and often neglected, they are also isolated from health services. (…) To eradicate polio in Afghanistan, every child must be vaccinated – including the nomads. And this is exactly what the Nazir family are doing. They go to each tent, and ensure every child is protected against polio. The Nazir family are not only protecting children, they are also contributing to community cohesion and bridging divides between nomads and residents. The challenge, however, is continuing to vaccinate nomads when they are on the move. The motivation of Malik’s family is impressive, but it is not always easy. A handful of people in Zangoee reject the vaccine because they think that it is unsafe or not halal – permissible in traditional Islamic law. But watching an entire family working to eradicate polio helps break misconceptions. At the start of each vaccination campaign, Malik gives one of his own children the vaccine to prove that it is safe. The Nazir family have turned almost all the families who were refusing the polio vaccine into advocates for vaccination. (…)



Some aid arrives in Eastern Ghouta, convoys stripped of medical supplies

5 March 2018, Fairfield, Conn. — A Save the Children partner in Syria has been able to deliver blankets and warm clothing to hundreds of besieged residents in Eastern Ghouta. These winter kits, which include a large double blanket, warm socks, thermal underwear and woollen hats and scarves for children and adults, came from existing stock and not from a UN aid convoy that arrived today. Although some aid was finally allowed in, the Syrian government removed vital medical supplies from the UN convoy, including surgical kits and insulin. The World Health Organization says roughly 70 percent of medical equipment was removed in Damascus before the convoy could proceed - equipment that could save a child’s life. Save the Children partners report critical shortages of antibiotics and other medication for children. Doctors say they have to reuse bandages and needles on multiple patients as there simply aren’t enough to go round. The situation in Eastern Ghouta remains dire, with more than 600 confirmed deaths in the past two weeks. Save the Children is urgently calling on the UN Security Council to implement Resolution 2401, demanding a cessation of hostilities across Syria, as well as medical evacuations and humanitarian access.



Japan provides additional funds to support Pakistan Regional Polio Laboratory

2 March 2018 – With polio at the lowest levels in history in Pakistan, the country has launched a powerful and hopefully final assault on the disease in 2018. A crucial part of this is to further strengthen the ability of the polio programme to detect virus in stool samples, thereby giving clear indications of where and how the virus is moving in areas where populations remain under-immunized. To support this effort, the Government of Japan announced today that it will provide US$3.2 million for the procurement of equipment to the Regional Reference Laboratory for polio eradication, located in the National Institute of Health in Islamabad. The funds will help support the purchase of state-of-the-art molecular-biology equipment, allowing the laboratory to significantly enhance and speed up its ability to process and detect poliovirus in environmental and stool samples. This is critical work – in 2017, the Islamabad lab tested 30 000 stool samples and 950 environmental samples from both Pakistan and Afghanistan, helping the programme better identify where the virus is hiding. The Japanese grant will also be used to replace aging stocks of cold chain materials and other essential equipment needed to be able to accurately identify poliovirus in samples. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners would like to extend their profound gratitude to both the Government of Japan and Pakistan for their collaboration, and for their tremendous support and engagement in the effort to end polio globally.




Energy and safety



Nordic region offers valuable lessons for rapid EV deployment worldwide

8 March 2018 - The number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Nordic region is projected to reach 4 million cars by 2030, or more than 15 times the number currently in circulation, according to the International Energy Agency’s Nordic EV Outlook 2018, a swift rate of deployment that can offer valuable lessons for rapid EV adoption around the world. With almost 250,000 electric cars at the end of 2017, the five countries that make up the Nordic region – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – account for roughly 8% of the total number of electric cars around the world. Norway, Iceland and Sweden have the highest ratios of EVs per person, globally.



Blue print for Ethiopian wind power expansion

7 March 2018 - With the launch of the Wind Project Development Roadmap report Ethiopia and Denmark are joining forces for large scale expansion of wind energy in East Africa. Experts from both countries have been sharing experiences with leading international experts to produce this guideline to successful development of wind projects in Ethiopia which support further sustainable growth and development of the

energy sector both for the benefit of the country and region.



Japan car giants team up to build hydrogen stations

5 March  2018 - Toyota, Nissan and Honda formed a joint venture with major gas and energy companies, including French industrial gases company Air Liquide, to build 80 new hydrogen stations in the next four years, to add to the 101 stations currently in Japan. (…) Japan has focused on promoting fuel-cells, which combine hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical reaction, producing clean electricity to power vehicles or home generators.



A Pathway to Zero Energy Schools

5 March  2018 - Zero energy buildings are defined by the Building Technologies Office (BTO) as extremely energy efficient buildings that can meet all annual consumption needs from renewable energy produced onsite. These buildings utilize a combination of innovative design strategies, efficient technologies, and improvements in the management of building operations to keep energy needs low. (…) Schools become zero energy "ready" by providing technical resources and guidance that results in ultra-efficient school buildings with reduced operating costs.



GE Announces World’s Most Powerful Offshore Wind Turbine, The Haliade-X

2 March  2018 -  The mammoth turbine was announced on Thursday by GE Renewable Energy in France, and it represents an impressive glimpse into the future of offshore wind turbines, only a week or so after European wind energy trade body WindEurope highlighted the need for ever bigger and powerful turbines. The Haliade-X 12 MW will produce 45% more energy than any other offshore wind turbine currently available and will be capable of generating up to 67 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, enough renewable power for up to 16,000 European households.




Environment and wildlife


Conservation based on sound science, rule of law key to saving big cats from extinction, Deputy Secretary-General says in remarks for World Wildlife Day

2 March 2018 – “I am pleased to be with you today to celebrate the incredibly important, diverse and fragile world of nature.  Each year, on World Wildlife Day, we focus on the crucial role the planet’s wild animals and plants play in our cultures and in the sustainability of our societies. This is also the object of Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which highlights the importance of taking urgent action to reverse the alarming loss of biodiversity that is happening in all regions. (…) The conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biological diversity are an effective anti-poverty strategy. We simply must better maintain the natural resources on which billions of people depend, especially the world’s rural poor.  We must work resolutely to improve biodiversity conservation (…).”



In search of fresh ideas about environment

28 February 2018 - Pittsburgh /CSRwire/ - For the second year running, materials manufacturer Covestro and UN Environment are calling on young innovators across the globe to submit their creative solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Representing every global region, seven applicants with the most promising solutions will be recognized as Young Champions of the Earth. The world’s pre-eminent environmental honor for young people was awarded last year for the first time. Each winner will receive $15,000 in seed funding, customized training, participation in a high-level U.N. meeting and global publicity. In parallel, up to 50 applicants will be granted privileged access to an online mentoring program. A community of experts drawn from 16,000 Covestro employees will become mentors dedicated to strengthening the viability and impact of the mentees’ ideas. By providing such technical and financial support, Covestro and UN Environment will help young people scale up their big ideas into real workable solutions for environmental problems and, in doing so, inspire others to take action (…)




Green Climate Fund approves first FAO funding proposal, a $90 million project to combat climate change, hunger and poverty in Paraguay

27 February 2018, Rome - The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved a $90 million climate change adaptation and mitigation project jointly developed by FAO and the Government of Paraguay. The decision, the first involving a funding proposal by FAO to the GCF, was formalized during the 19th meeting of the Green Climate Fund Board. The project, "Poverty, Reforestation, Energy and Climate Change (PROEZA)" consists of three components to be implemented over five years. Funding will stem from a $25 million GCF grant and $ 65.2 million of co-financing from the Government of Paraguay. The project aims to decrease the adverse effects of climate change in the country, while reducing rural poverty, combating deforestation, and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. It will support the transition to sustainable forest management to reduce the country's loss of forest cover and improve the quality of life of around 17 000 vulnerable families, in 64 municipal districts located in eight departamentos of Eastern Paraguay. Many of the beneficiaries are from indigenous communities. The innovative and transformational aspect of PROEZA is the promotion of a holistic landscape approach to ensure climate change resilience in target areas. In this context, PROEZA's will ensure a paradigm shift from individual sector-based decisions/actions to a cohesive and coordinated inter-institutional decision-making framework. The project will provide technical support and incentives to establish sustainable agroforestry practices, strengthen land tenure and improve the efficiency of household biomass use. A key element of the project is to enable the poorest households to produce food while adopting low emission and climate resilient methods. The project is part of Paraguay's efforts to deliver its National Determined Contributions (NDC), a roadmap to achieve the Paris Agreement.



Ecuador: Cracking math (and other lessons) with a deeper understanding of biodiversity

19February 2018 – Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is one of the biggest protected areas in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Spanning more than 590,000 hectares, this complex wetland system boasts of incredible biodiversity. It is home to thousands of species such as the river dolphin, the jaguar and the giant otter, and five different indigenous ethnic groups: the Kichwas, the Cofanes, the Sionas, the Secoyas, and the Shuaras. These communities are the stewards of the protection of its resources and as their world evolves, they are increasingly keen to look at how conservation can support sustainable development for them, their children and their lands. Recently, they came to WWF-Ecuador with a strange request for a conservation organization: was there any way we could help develop education as a tool to protect biodiversity and use biodiversity to promote learning? The solution was not straightforward but after dialogue and consultation. The WWF team on the ground discovered that like the generations before, the forest was in the soul of the communities’ children. As much as they struggled to draw the picture of a school for example, the images (and pencils) were flying off the charts when asked to draw a forest. Drawings took up entire pages: trees, rivers, birds, animals, flowers, fruits, but most importantly, people. Almost each image included a person fishing, hunting, or gathering, proving, once again, that for these communities, the forest is a part of their existence. Today, WWF-Ecuador is working with the communities to develop a local curriculum, materials and schoolwork emphasizing and encouraging sustainable development. Gradually, children from the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve will be able to learn math skills by calculating how much rainfall they need for their cacao crops to thrive and understand the environment through images of jaguars captured on camera traps installed by their own parents a few hundred metres away from their homes.




Religion and spirituality


VATICAN - ROME - The Vatican is hosting a hackathon right now. But why?

9 March 2018 - The Vatican is hosting a 36-hour "hackathon". The event, called 'VHacks', brings together 120 students, who are right now in the middle of a 36-hour hackathon to solve what the Catholic Church believes are three of its primary concerns that need solving: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees. The effort was the brainchild of three people: Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, Reverend Eric Salobir, who is the founder of a technology think tank affiliated with the Vatican known as Optic, and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. Co-organizers for the event are the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Migrants and Refugee section of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Some tech partners, including Google, Microsoft, and Italian telecommunications company TIM have also signed on. Whatever comes of it might just get traction from Pope Francis himself, who has 17 million Twitter followers and 5 million Instagram fans.  One of the inspirations for the event was Pope Francis himself, who said in his 2017 TED talk, “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion”



AFRICA/ERITREA - Defense of life, promotion of dialogue and peace: the commitment of the Comboni sisters.

7 March 2018 - Dekamhare (Agenzia Fides) - Strong state of precariousness, poor access to running water, electricity, broken down sewage system, lack of essential services: these are the conditions in which thousands of Eritreans live. Many families have broken up because they are forced to emigrate from Eritrea because of the situation of extreme poverty. Those left behind do not have a sure source of sustenance or work to survive. The country is paralyzed and there is no hope of future for the young. Many families remain without the head of the household because men are sent by the government to military service that lasts 25 years. Once a year they can come back to see their family. Children live on what their mothers are able to provide. In this context of absolute need, the Pie Madri of Nigrizia nuns (or Comboni Missionaries) are carrying out a project in four different places in the country: Asmara, the most populated city in the country with about 600 thousand inhabitants, Dekemhare, Embatkalla, and Ghinda.



Cairo - The Egyptian government "legalizes" 53 churches built before the law on Christian places of worship

1 March 2018 - The Egyptian government has provided full legal certificates to 53 churches with annexed service buildings already built before the new law on the construction of Christian buildings of worship passed by the Egyptian Parliament on August 30th 2016. A meeting of the government Commission set up specifically to conduct a census and examine the legalization of church buildings built before 2016 ratified the full compatibility of the 53 "legalizied" places of worship with the parameters defined by the new legal provisions. The Egyptian Premier, Sherif Ismail, in addition to technicians and representatives of the ministries of construction, interiors and justice, took part in the meeting, which took place on Monday 26 February. The 53 legalized" churches represent only a first "block" of the more than 3 thousand Christian places of worship that must be taken into examination by the Government. The law on places of worship, approved at the end of August 2016 (see Fides 23/8/2016) represented for the Egyptian Christian communities an objective step forward with respect to the so-called "10 rules" added in 1934 to the Ottoman legislation by the Ministry of interior, which forbade inter alia to build new churches near schools, canals, government buildings, railways and residential areas. In many cases, the rigid application of those rules had prevented the construction of churches in cities and towns inhabited by Christians.

The law approved in August 2016 already prefigured the establishment of an ad hoc commission called to verify the compatibility with the new legislative provisions of the buildings of worship and of the buildings of the different Churches and Christian communities built in previous years. 



Spirituality & Sustainability Conference in Rome

1 March 2018 - From May 24 to June 1, 2018, the Rome & Assisi Spirituality & Sustainability Conference will be held in Italy. The Co-Conveners are the Center for Ethics at Saint Thomas University in Florida and FORUM 21 in New York. This Conference will bring together visionary people from a range of ecological-spiritual perspectives, centers, and movements. Participants will dialogue about transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability and will identify key recommendations for creating a spiritual and sustainable global future. The Conference’s goals are: to explore breakdown of civilization in the Anthropocene and breakthrough from the Cenozoic Era to the Ecozoic Era, explore practical tools, both spiritual and organizational, for personal, social, and ecological transformation, identify and support young leaders seeking transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability, and seek common ground for ecological sustainability across the wisdom traditions of world religions and indigenous spirituality. The conference will also focus on the Earth Charter as a key contribution to global ethics, the United Nations work on sustainable development and particularly its “Agenda 2030,”; as well as from the wisdom traditions of world religions and indigenous spiritualities.



ASIA/PAKISTAN - Young people promote interreligious peace and harmony, for a future of justice

28 February 2018 - Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "Young people are aware of their role and their contribution to strengthening communion, peace and harmony among young people of different religions in the nation": this is what Vishal Anand tells Agenzia Fides with regards to the outcome of the "Minority Youth Summit 2018", organized in recent days in Karachi, in the Pakistani Province of Sindh, by the Khadmeen Sindh Foundation and the Pakistan Hindu Youth Council. Over 400 young Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Baha'is and Muslims attended and actively participated in various activities, speeches, sessions and workshops.




Culture and education


International Women’s Day 2018: Greater Expectations in Cambodia – Transforming a life through education

8 March 2018 - Youth and women’s rights advocate, change-maker, mentor, inspiration – at only 25 years old, Phearong Sdeung is having an impact and living a life that she says is “beyond [her] dreams”. And at the centre of her story is an unwavering pursuit of education in the face of financial and gender barriers that all too often pose insurmountable for young women in her country.  Phearong Sdeung grew up the youngest of five children in a remote area of Cambodia’s Kampong Cham province. School was several kilometres away and her parents were so poor that going to school soon meant making a difficult daily choice: the intangible benefits of education or doing something to put food on her family’s table. Phearong Sdeung persevered, willing to do whatever it took to complete her education, even if it meant putting herself in dangerous situations. She recalls selling SIM cards in remote areas to help pay for her secondary studies, a job that she kept from her parents so as to not hurt their feelings or cause them worry about her safety. While balancing school and her part-time work, the young woman somehow also found time to become civically engaged for the first time. She volunteered as a youth representative for the Khmer Youth Association, and it was there that she first learned valuable lessons about public engagement and how female voices were too often missing in decision-making. 



UNESCO Music video against gender stereotypes wins Communications Award

8 March 2018 - Ngwazi Zazikazi (female champion/hero), a music video produced by UNESCO as part of the European Union (EU) funded STEP (Skills and Technical Education Programme) project in Malawi, has won the European Union Development Cooperation (DEVCO) EUROPEAID Communication Award. This prize is given to the best communication activity of an EU-funded project. As part of the International Women’s Day celebrations in 2017, STEP launched the song in Malawi. Composed by Robert Chiwamba, a well-known poet and by Sangie, an award-winning musical artist, Ngwazi Zazikazi ranked number one for eight weeks in March and April of 2017 and ended up the number five song of the year in Malawi in 2017.The awarded music video breaks negative gender norms and beliefs by portraying women in traditionally male-dominated technical trades such as auto mechanics and bricklaying, thereby encouraging more young women to enter technical training courses.



Sudan - ‘Back to Learning’ education campaign to benefit half a million children in South Sudan

6 March 2018 - The fourth phase of the ‘Back to Learning’ initiative launched Tuesday by the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, at Freedom Square in Kapoeta in the presence of more than 2,000 children and their parents, representatives of UNICEF, the Education Donor Group, Save the Children, Girls Education South Sudan, and members of the National Education Forum and Civil Society. The Back to Learning 2018 initiative will target the most under-represented communities throughout South Sudan, providing learning opportunities for children currently not attending school, either due to conflict, cultural barriers or obstacles such as distance or family finances. Building on the success of the first two years of the initiative, which provided more than 680,000 children with access to education, the next phase of Back to Learning will put an emphasis on children in conflict affected states, girls and other vulnerable children.

This year’s theme ‘Inclusive and Equitable Access to Quality Education for Peace and Sustainable Development’ aims to highlight the crucial role of education in fostering peace. Education has the potential to build the capacities of children, parents, teachers and community members to prevent, reduce and cope with conflict and to promote equality and peace. Education can also help address the inequalities that generate conflict. Inequalities can fuel conflict, just as conflict can worsen inequalities.



The European Commission Highlights Successful Cultural Heritage Projects

5 March 2018 - European Funding for Museums - In the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage has the European Commission compiled a toolkit highlighting 15 projects funded by the Creative Europe programme. Cultural heritage is one of the main sectors supported through the Creative Europe programme. The European Commission has selected 15 successful Creative Europe-funded projects to showcase the variety of cultural heritage actions as well as to offer a source of inspiration.

Projects from the museum sectors can be found in the toolkit. The CEMEC project, which brings museums and cutting-edge technology together through a network of exhibits from different countries, is for instance featured. So is the SWICH project, which is changing the way that ethnographic museums curate and exhibit stories from the past.

Download the toolkit Creative Europe: Rediscovering our cultural heritage here.



Projects from India and Morocco receive UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for Innovation in Education.

2 March 2018 - The 2017 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize will be awarded to the CLIx programme (India) and the GENIE programme (Morocco) during a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on 7 March. Founded in 2005, the Prize recognizes two outstanding projects that make innovative use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education. This year’s edition is dedicated to the “use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to increase access to quality education,” with a view to promoting innovations in leveraging ICTs for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for education, SDG 4. Both projects were designated on the recommendation of an international jury. Each winner will receive a monetary award (USD 25,000) and a diploma.




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Next issue: 13th April 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 Piazzale degli Eroi 8, 00136 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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