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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. 268 –  11th May 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


UN-backed programme logs record high cocaine seizures at seaports in Latin America and the Caribbean- Law and Crime Prevention

25 April 2018- The joint customs and police Port Control Units, work at some of the world’s busiest ports and are trained to combat smuggling of drugs, precursor chemicals, as well as merchandise breaching intellectual property rights and protected wildlife. Recently, the Unit in Ecuador has seized two contaminated containers with over a tonne of cocaine. Similarly, the Unit in the Port of Callao in Brazil, interdicted a container with 1.5 tons of cocaine hidden inside.These units are at the heart of a joint programme launched in 2003 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization. The aim is to train customs and law enforcement officials in Latin America and the Caribbean, and elsewhere, to detect and disrupt the flow traffic of illicit goods, while facilitating legitimate trade and raising State revenues. Every year, more than 720 million containers move around the globe by sea, transporting 90 per cent of the world,s cargo. Most carry licit goods, but some are being used to smuggle drugs, weapons, and other illicit goods. The Programme also helps Member States build capacities and expertise to identify and seize suspicious container shipments of drugs, firearms, precursors, counterfeit medicines, wildlife species, smuggled goods and many others.



United Kingdom: 74th state to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration

20April 2018 – Education International welcomes the move by the United Kingdom to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, committing itself to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of violent conflict. On 19 April, the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, announced his government’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration, according to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). Johnson made the announcement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. The UK has become the latest country to endorse the Declaration, joining two-thirds of the Council of Europe and three-quarters of European Union members in committing to protect education in armed conflict. By endorsing the Declaration, states agree to take specific steps to reduce the risk of attacks on education, including by using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict as a practical tool to guide their behaviour during military operations.The Safe Schools Declaration is a political commitment originally championed by Argentina and Norway. It was first opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools in May 2015.



Croatia ratifies European treaty

13 April 2018 - ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Croatian parliament ratified on Friday a European treaty (…) In the vote, 110 deputies in the 151-member parliament supported the treaty, drawn up by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe which promotes human rights and democracy. (…) The goal of this convention is to prevent violence against women and within families.




Human rights


AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - More than 200 child soldiers released: the government's commitment to peace and development

4 May 2018 - Yambio (Agenzia Fides) - More than two hundred child soldiers (including 95 girls) were released to the community on 28, April, in Yambio Gbudue State. As Fides learns, this is the second time child soldiers are released in Gbudue State, in fact about 300 children including 75 girls had already been released in Yambio in February 2018. Some of the released children said they were engaged in various criminal activities while in the bush. The little ones were kidnapped at schools and promised to be given huge ransom of money but were not even paid.



Physicians for Human Rights Honors Heroes of Health Care and Human Rights

3 May 2018 - At PHR 2018 Gala, Four Female Health Professionals Awarded for Standing Up for Human Rights. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) held its annual gala dinner on Wednesday night (May 2) at the Mandarin Oriental in New York, attended by some 250 human rights advocates and activists across industries and sectors, including physicians, philanthropists, journalists, and others who support the important work done by PHR. PHR’s gala was dedicated to honoring Heroes of Health Care and Human Rights, including Yazidi activist and gynecologist Nagham Nawzat Hasan, MD, whose work to promote gender equality, combat gender-based violence, and provide care to Yazidi women has been internationally recognized. Other honorees included Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, who exposed the Flint water crisis and led a movement to ensure action was taken, Norma Price, MD, renowned for her humanitarian work with migrants at the Arizona border crossing, and Alex Wubbels, RN, praised for her brave defense of “do no harm” when she refused a police order to draw blood from an unconscious patient.



World Press Freedom Day

3 May 2018, Every year, 3 May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence. It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered. It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide. 3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.



Angola: UN recognises advances in Angola in fight against Trafficking of people

17 April 2018 - Angola has been making considerable advances in protecting victims of human beings traffickers, said last Monday, in Luanda, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)'s regional director for Southern Africa, Charles Kwenin. Charles Kwenin was speaking at a workshop on "Trafficking of People" co-organised by the IOM and the Angolan Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. He congratulated the Angolan authorities for taking several measures in this area, such as the creation of the Inter-ministerial Commission for Fight against Trafficking of Human Beings. He guaranteed the United Nations (UN)'s technical support in the elaboration of a broad programme with a view to giving more integrated response to the fight against trafficking of human beings. To Charles Kwenin, the response to this phenomenon demands a strong co-operation and co-ordination of efforts among the police, judicial sector, social and medical services, with a view to better assist the victims.



Africa: Amnesty sees progress against death penalty in Africa

13 April 2018 - By Chika Oduah - A new report, released early Thursday in London, from rights group Amnesty International spotlights sub-Saharan Africa as a "beacon of hope" in the fight to abolish the death penalty as the number of state-sanctioned executions and death sentences dropped around the globe in 2017. "I feel like there's a momentum in sub-Saharan Africa and that's partly because of public pressure around that, and it's partly because judges in some cases can use more discretion," said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International's Deputy West and Central Africa Regional Director for Research. In 2017, Guinea became the 20th country in sub-Saharan Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and Kenya's Supreme Court abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder, a remnant of a colonial-era penal code. Kenya's judiciary must now re-sentence death row inmates convicted of murder. "For the first time as a country, we are beginning to really confront what death penalty means to us as a nation," Jedida Waruhiu, an official for the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, told VOA. Amnesty proposes that death sentences be commuted to life imprisonment.



Ethiopia: U.S Congress set to vote on Resolution supporting Human Rights in Ethiopia

10 April 2018 - By Etenesh Abera - The U.S. House of Representative is set to vote today on critical Ethiopia resolution 128 (HRes128), as per earlier announcement made by Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado's 6th district who has been at the forefront of introducing the resolution.Sponsored by Rep. Christopher H. Smith HRes128 was first introduced on Feb 15/2017; it has 71 cosponsors and has received a strong bipartisan support. The resolution passed the vote at the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July 2017. HRes128 calls for respect for human rights and encourages inclusive governance in Ethiopia. But it also contains sections that condemn "the killing of peaceful protesters and excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces; the detention of journalists, students, activists and political leaders who exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression through peaceful protests; and the abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to stifle political and civil dissent and journalistic freedoms."




Economy and development


CHICAGO: Professional Online Education takes the lead to improve sustainability performance of organizations

3 May 2018 - US and multinational corporations and organizations alike need a critical mass who understand sustainability and all its components.  More and more companies are managing sustainability to improve processes, pursue growth, and add value to their companies rather than focusing on reputation alone. To achieve this in a cost-effective way, companies are looking for options to educate their employees and other stakeholders, not only as part of their social commitment, but also to establish a ‘common language’ across departments which will lead to increased productivity, increased morale and improved carbon footprint. Flexible, affordable, certified sustainability practitioner training is the rationale behind the advanced group online courses offered by CSE’s Sustainability Academy, recently awarded by Silicon Valley Community Foundation  as Gold Standard in Corporate Responsibility. These group courses, already trusted by hundreds of Fortune 500 organizations, such as Coca-Cola, Workday, United Nations Federal Credit Union, Elanco, Dematic, Pepsico, Timberland, offer updated and practical information on the business case for sustainability, sustainability reporting, stakeholder engagement, carbon reduction, ESG performance and the use of standards and guidelines to implement successful sustainability strategies organization-wide.



Kyrgyz government and WFP team up to improve food security and nutrition

3 May 2018, Bishkek - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to scale up their collaboration over the next five years and re-affirm their commitment to achieving food security for all in the country. Under the MoU, WFP’s Country Strategic Plan (CSP) will be jointly implemented with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. It prioritizes school meals, food security and nutrition, as well as the improvement of rural livelihoods and food productivity in the face of climate change. This five-year strategy aims to improve access to nutritious food for all primary schoolchildren in Kyrgyzstan and to support over 100,000 poor families – particularly women – in selected underdeveloped communities with a view to improving people’s livelihoods and their ability to cope with natural disasters and climate change. The CSP focuses on supporting national institutions and local authorities to strengthen their capacity for comprehensive food security and nutrition management. The CSP has been developed through a participatory process in close collaboration with the government, development partners, national institutions and communities. Activities outlined in the CSP require funds totaling some US$60 million to rehabilitate and equip rural schools, and create key agricultural and disaster mitigation assets. Emphasis is placed on supporting irrigation infrastructure, vegetable production and food processing, prevention of floods and mudslides, and income generation through skills training.



Racine(Wisconsin) - SC Johnson Canada recognized for workplace excellence

27 April 2018 -  SC Johnson Canada has been recognized as a 2018 Best Workplace by the Great Place to Work® Institute. The organization, which has been included on the list of Best Workplaces 11 times since 2006, ranked No. 45 on this year’s list of companies. SC Johnson Canada’s success can be attributed to its commitment to being a fair employer with progressive policies that create an environment of respect and camaraderie. The Best Workplaces list is the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence. The ranking is determined by the results of an employee opinion survey and information provided about company culture, programs and policies.The Canada team joins SC Johnson Italy, Venezuela, Germany, Greece, Mexico and United Kingdom on the 2018 list of Best Workplaces.In the United States, SC Johnson has been included 29 times in Working Mother magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” for its programs and benefits that support working parents including paid family leave, schedule flexibility and advancement of women.



Germany supports smallholder farmers to restore their livelihoods and strengthen stabilization in post-conflict areas of eastern DR Congo

19 April 2018, Bukavu - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are launching an innovative joint project to rebuild livelihoods shattered by conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), by empowering women, supporting farmers and helping build peace between communities – all thanks to a €35 million contribution from the German people. Working hand-in-hand and using their collective expertise, WFP and FAO will offer a suite of assistance to rural farming communities returning home after they were forced to flee by fighting that has swept the region. The support will provide both a short-term safety net for people who have lost almost everything, as well as micro-financing, numeracy and literacy training, economic empowerment training for women and conflict prevention tools to offer a brighter future in one of the most troubled regions on earth. Germany's contribution will mean that 180,000 people in the provinces of North and South Kivu receive help over three years.  Families will benefit from better access to markets, training in sustainable agricultural production, including food storage and food quality management, basic food processing and marketing of their produce to boost their income and improve their food and nutrition security.



IFAD and Ant Financial sign Declaration of Intent, exploring ways to develop rural economies

18 April 2018, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Ant Financial Services Group today signed a Joint Declaration of Intent to explore ways to contribute to economic development in rural areas and the reduction of rural poverty in China and other developing countries. IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries, and Ant Financial, a leading technology company which provides digital inclusive financial services, share a common vision to develop rural areas and improve the living standards of rural people.  Areas of proposed collaboration include improving market access for rural producers through e-commerce platforms and value-chain financing for promising rural agribusinesses. Since 1981, IFAD has supported 29 rural development projects in China, investing over US$862 million and reaching approximately 4.4 million rural households.






Red Cross responds as floods displace more than 210,000 people across Kenya

25 April 2018, Nairobi/Geneva– The Kenya Red Cross Society is providing emergency relief to thousands of people impacted by rising flood waters that continue to wreak havoc in many parts of Kenya. Since torrential rains started last month, homes and farms have been destroyed, livestock has been lost and roads and other infrastructure have been washed away. More than 210,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. Kenya Red Cross Society is conducting search and rescue efforts, evacuating families in high-risk areas, providing basic health services and emergency shelter while delivering essential supplies like household items and water and sanitation in evacuation centres. “The floods have been unforgiving. Many people have already lost their lives, homes and livelihoods,” says Gullet. “The situation remains dire – Red Cross is doing what it can but there is much more to be done.” Kenya Red Cross Society has supported a total of 5,000 families with emergency shelter and household items. 



FAO and EL PAÍS join forces to explain the tasks ahead for humanity

20 April 2018, Rome – Do we still have time to save our planet? That’s the question asked inThe State of the Planet, a joint collection of publications presented today by FAO and Spanish daily EL PAÍS to explain, in a pedagogic fashion, the great challenges that humanity faces in the coming decades. The books will be distributed starting this Sunday in news stands around Spain. They address some of the more acute challenges that the international community must tackle, such as climate change, increasing hunger, nutrition problems, water scarcity and the state of the world’s forests and oceans. Richly illustrated with graphics and photographs, the books are based on the latest findings of key experts at FAO and other United Nations agencies in each of the thematic areas. They aim to make complex themes that affect everyone understandable to all. It is FAO’s first such venture, and aims to raise awareness of some of the most important issues underlying the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The launch of this series is the latest step forward in the fruitful collaboration that FAO and EL PAÍS embarked on in 2016 with an eye to improving public knowledge about matters related to hunger, agricultural and food systems. The initiative is part of FAO’s broader strategy to engage in partnerships with the private sector, with civil society and with researchers in the academic sector to join forces in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.



Spanish Foreign Minister sees how WFP Logistics Hub in Las Palmas helps swifter emergency response

19 April 2018, Las Palmas - The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis, visited the logistics base of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Las Palmas of Gran Canaria this morning. The logistics base, located in the port of Las Palmas, is a key hub for responding to humanitarian needs in West Africa. During the visit, Minister Dastis toured the 9,000 square metre warehouse used for storing emergency food stocks and commended the innovative manner in which WFP manages resources to increase efficiency.The WFP logistics base in Las Palmas operates within WFP’s Global Commodity Management Facility (GCMF), which anticipates the demand for food in countries prone to humanitarian emergencies, and allows the purchase of food when market prices are more favourable. As a result, food is readily available when needed and donated funds can buy larger quantities of food in the international markets. The GCMF mechanism, in place since 2010, has reduced from 120 to 38 the number of days to deliver food. In 2017 Las Palmas base served over 36,000 mt of food, a third of which were directed to populations affected by large-scale emergency and displacement caused by conflict in North East Nigeria. Basic staples such as rice, beans, vegetable oil or sorghum arrive in bulk to Las Palmas in large vessels for which most West Africa ports lack capacity.



Fiji partners with FAO and the European Union to build resilient and food secure communities

18 April 2018, Nadi, Fiji - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Fiji have agreed to collaborate on a project to strengthen the resilience of communities vulnerable to extreme weather events and climate change. The agreement on ‘Strengthening climate resilience of communities for food and nutrition security' was signed on the side lines of last week's FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, by the Fiji Minister for Agriculture, Inia Seruiratu, and FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, in the presence of Sujiro Seam, Ambassador of France to Fiji.
The Director-General noted that the European Union is one of FAO's main partners and both organizations have a long-standing collaboration for improving food security and nutrition in the Asia-Pacific region.  FAO and the European Union have been providing policy and technical assistance support to Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu through the FAO-EU Partnership Programme; FIRST policy assistance facility. FAO's Fiji Country Office will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that farmers and communities will benefit from climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agriculture programmes such as training in water harvesting, irrigation and food processing.




Peace and security


Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network meets in Berlin to promote women’s role in peace processes

4 May 2018 - About 150 representatives from UN Member States, regional and international organizations and civil society from around the world met in Berlin, Germany, for the annual capital-level Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network (WPS-FPN) meeting on April 9-10, 2018. The Network, initiated by Spain in 2015 during the high-level review of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 and launched in 2016, serves as a cross-regional forum to exchange experiences and best practices to advance the implementation of the UN agenda on women, peace and security, and to improve coordination of funding and assistance to programmes.



Physician leaders urge all States to sign Nuclear Weapons Treaty

30 April 2018 - Deep concern about nuclear armed states who have decided to modernise their nuclear weapons and retain them indefinitely, has been expressed by the World Medical Association. At their Council meeting in Riga, Latvia, delegates from the WMA called for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide and urged all states to promptly sign and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.Delegates from almost 40 national medical associations expressed their strong concern about the growing threat of nuclear war and spoke about the catastrophic consequences of these weapons on human health and the environment. WMA President Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura said: “It is our duty as physicians to preserve life, to safeguard the health of patients and to dedicate ourselves to the service of humanity. Members of the WMA have a responsibility to remind their governments of the devastating and long-term health consequences of using nuclear weapons and to urge them in the strongest possible terms to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.We join with others in the international community in urging all states to sign, ratify and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”.



Three-year partnership agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rescues lives

by Betzy Alexandra Kjelsberg Thangstad

27April 2018 – Norwegian People's Aid has signed a three-year agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the protection of civilians against explosive weapons. The NOK 460 million grant runs from 2018 and applies to NPA's work in 18 countries.“This partnership agreement will give us long-term flexibility. Last year we cleared 300,000 explosive devices. We will continue to work strategically with the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions ​and the protection of civilians in populated areas," says Secretary General Henriette K. Westhrin(…) Since 1992, Norwegian People's Aid has cleared more than 900 square kilometres of land, which corresponds to more than 125,000 football pitches.



Norwegian People’s Aid establishes Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor

27April 2018 – In support of ICAN, Norwegian People’s Aid is now establishing the Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor, which will be a de facto monitoring regime for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The research programme will monitor and advance universalization and faithful implementation of the TPNW and progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons. The Monitor will reinforce the legitimacy of the TPNW as a legal and political tool and end-point in nuclear disarmament efforts, towards which all states must move. It will strengthen the efforts of the majority of states that reject nuclear weapons, and contribute to the stigmatization of continued reliance on nuclear deterrence and actions that prevent progress in nuclear disarmament. The programme will be managed by Norwegian People’s Aid, which is a central organization in ICAN’s International Steering Group, in support of ICAN and its objectives. The Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor will measure progress related to signature, ratification, entry into force and universalization of the TPNW. It will also assess the performance of all states (signatories, States party and States not party) in relation to the provisions and norms of the TPNW, including each of the specific prohibitions contained in Article 1, the positive obligations on victim assistance and environmental remediation in Article 6, and the reporting obligations.The Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor will provide governments, parliamentarians, the media, think-tanks, the academic community and civil society with an accessible and trusted long-term source of well-documented information on progress made and analysis of the key challenges.



UN delivers explosive ordnance disposal equipment to support Libyan Authorities in dealing with explosive hazards

24April 2018 – Explosive remnants of war lead to devastating humanitarian consequences, causing injury, death and massive displacement of civilians across Libya. With limited resources, Libyan Security Institutions such as the National Safety Authority and Military Engineers carry out the critical and risky clearance work to reduce the impact of explosive remnants of war on civilians’ lives. In a bid to enhance the Libyan capacity in ridding the country of explosive remnants of war, UNMAS, thanks to a EUR 500,000 contribution from the Government of Austria, delivered 12 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) kits to the Libyan Military Engineers and the National Safety Authority (NSA). This donation is part of a ‘capacity enhancement’ programme, supported by the Governments of Austria and the United Kingdom (UK) and coordinated by UNMAS.



Returning home, Afghans continue to face challenges in rebuilding their lives

12 April 2018 - In 2017, about 58,000 Afghan refugees voluntarily returned to their country after decades aboard only to be met with protection risks and “significant” barriers to long-term reintegration into society, two United Nations agencies working in the Asian country reported on Thursday. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that despite efforts to support those coming back, the greatest challenge lies in a comprehensive, community-wide response that leaves no one behind.






Addiction resource hub: new platform helps individuals find local resources

30 April 2018 – It can be challenging to identify resources for substance use disorders, as this information can be highly fragmented, difficult to verify and overwhelming to process. This is counterproductive for those seeking support, who often need to make immediate choices about their health and well-being. In an effort to make resources more readily available, Facing Addiction with National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence partnered with Transforming Youth Recovery to launch the Addiction Resource Hub, an independent online tool for individuals, families and professionals in the field. The Addiction Resource Hub makes resources available and shareable through an interactive map, which features prevention services, support groups and even treatment centers. Visitors can find local resources and add those not already identified on the platform, which are then collected and verified by leading nonprofits. This ensures that local and national resources are not only vetted, but organically shared within the community. We are proud to support this work through our Substance Use Prevention Strategic Initiative, focused on prevention and early intervention for youth and young adults.



World Day for Safety and Health at Work - 28 April

2018 Theme: Occupational safety health (OSH) vulnerability of young workers

This year, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the World Day Against Child Labour are coming together in a joint campaign to improve the safety and health of young workers and end child labour.The campaign aims to accelerate action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.8 of safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030 and SDG target 8.7 of ending all forms of child labour by 2025. The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work. It is held on 28 April and has been observed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 2003.



Protecting displaced children in Iraq

In Iraq, polio vaccinators work to protect conflict-affected children.

25April 2018 – Efforts to protect children from polio take place all over the world, in cities, in villages, at border checkpoints, and amongst some of the most difficult-to-access communities on earth. Vaccinators make it their job to immunize every child, everywhere. In places where families are displaced and on the move due to conflict, it is especially important to ensure high population immunity, to protect all children and to prevent virus spread. In Iraq last month, vaccinators undertook a five-day campaign in five camps for internally displaced people around Erbil, in the north of the country, as part of the first spring Subnational Polio campaign targeting 1.6 million children in the high risk areas of Iraq (mainly in internally displaced person camps, and newly accessible areas).



EU Agency for Safety and Health at Work launches Europe-wide awareness-raising campaign on dangerous substances

24April 2018 – The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has launched its 2018-19 EU-wide campaign, Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances. The launch marks the start of two years of events and activities aimed at drawing attention to the issue and promoting the best ways of tackling the risks that dangerous substances pose to workers. Contrary to widespread belief, the use of dangerous substances is not decreasing in the EU, and the need to manage the risks they pose is as pressing as ever. Some of the substances that workers are most commonly exposed to include carcinogens. The European Commission has recently proposed to limit workers' exposure to five cancer-causing chemicals, in addition to the 21 substances that have already been limited or proposed to be limited.The new campaign aims to promote techniques for the proper management of dangerous substances in the workplace, such as risk assessment, elimination and substitution, by disseminating practical tools and case studies. The campaign brings together a wide range of partners, including EU-OSHA’s network of national focal points, official campaign partners, media partners and the Enterprise Europe Network, which help to spread the campaign’s messages to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.



Government of Japan contributes US$ 1 million to UNICEF and WFP for a comprehensive set of life-saving health, nutrition, food security and WASH interventions

20 April 2018, Harare - The Government of Japan has announced a contribution of US$ 1 million to enhance the resilience of communities in Zimbabwe through a comprehensive set of life-saving health, nutrition, food security and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) interventions. The project will be implemented jointly by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). It will particularly help to safeguard the resilience of the most vulnerable, especially women and children, through timely and efficient action to ensure that no one is left behind. The project is set to benefit 129,581 people across 11 drought- and flood-affected districts in Zimbabwe. It will initiate preventive health, WASH and nutrition care in Tsholotsho, Mutoko, Centenary, Mbire and Mt Darwin districts, supplemented and supported by Productive Asset Creation (PAC) programmes in selected communities in Mt Darwin, which will help households to generate income and reduce reliance on food assistance. The proposed activities will directly contribute to strengthening the capacity and reaching the aims of the Government of Zimbabwe towards achieving progress under the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 2 (Zero Hunger) and 3 (Good Health and Well Being). They will not only deliver critical immediate assistance, but will also provide long-term solutions for resilience, food security, and improved health.



South Sudan: UN migration agency and partners reach more than 140,000 people with vaccination campaigns

12 April 2018 - The United Nations migration agency and its partners are set to begin a second round of an oral cholera vaccination campaign in Malakal and Wau, South Sudan, after the initial round reached more than 60,400 people in March of this year. Following an outbreak in February, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also been leading a reactive measles vaccination campaign in Aweil East, which reached more than 83,700 children last month.




Energy and safety



Pact launches Energy for Prosperity, a new global initiative to improve energy access in developing communities

2 May 2018, Washington, D.C. /CSRwire/ - Today, Pact announced the launch of a new global initiative called Energy for Prosperity (E4P) to improve energy access in low- and middle-income communities as part of the organization’s integrated approach to development. Globally, more than 1 billion people lack access to energy. For these communities, energy poverty presents a major roadblock to progress, in areas from education and livelihoods to health and food security. With a focus on innovation and social enterprise, Pact helps people gain access to affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity. Pact collaborates with governments, companies, investors and other civil society organizations to work toward a future in which all people have the skills and resources they need to enjoy the many benefits of modern energy. Energy for Prosperity began in Myanmar, with the Ahlin Yaung project, which has established renewable energy committees in 76 villages to train people to install and maintain solar home systems and manage a revolving fund, which provides the initial capital to purchase the solar home systems (…) Energy for Prosperity includes both donor-funded and private sector initiatives to increase energy access. (…)With financial support from The Rockefeller Foundation, Pact will accelerate access to renewable energy for poor and vulnerable people in Myanmar by bringing together key players in the public and private sectors, spurring economic growth and transforming lives in rural communities.(…)



Solar Walls, Trombe Walls, & Passive Solar Heating 101

28 April 2018 - Solar walls, glazed solar collectors, and so-called Trombe walls are all different types of passive solar heating technologies based around the use of materials meant to absorb solar radiation (generally, dark-coloured materials since dark colours absorb the heat better) and thermal mass. The end goal is to provide space-heating, and often ventilation as well. (…) The potential value in using a passive solar wall heater of some kind largely lies with the fact that they are relatively easy modifications/additions to existing structures. In other words, you don’t have to remodel your home, as you would if you were to design an in-space passive solar heating home.



Belgium throws support behind WFP's life-changing innovations

19 April 2018, Rome - In a sign of growing confidence in technology’s potential to transform humanitarian assistance, Belgium is contributing €2 million worth of funding to promote innovative projects by the World Food Programme (WFP). The money will allow the UN agency to scale up research and trials into the use of drone and blockchain solutions to fight hunger around the world. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project seeks to enhance the ability of WFP and partners to prepare for, and respond to, emergencies in multiple ways – rapid damage analysis, topographical data collection and interpretation through machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, high-resolution imagery for the mapping of vulnerabilities, and connectivity in disasters. Separately, a blockchain pilot in refugee camps in Jordan is making WFP’s cash transfers to 100,000 vulnerable Syrians more efficient and transparent. Piloted in collaboration with other agencies, the ‘Building Blocks’ project is delivering more for less, offering donors better value for money. Both projects – part of a wider innovation agenda – are being showcased at the UN in New York today. Entitled Leveraging Innovation for Humanitarian Action, the event will feature addresses by Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, and the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock.



Green investments needed to help Africa 'Leapfrog' to Clean-Tech

16 April 2018 - About 800 delegates from 59 countries gathered at Africa Climate Week in Nairobi, Kenya, last week to discuss challenges and responses to climate change for inclusion in the international climate negotiation process. (…) Among the key messages from delegates at the talks was the importance of energy in the climate change discussion, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat (UN Climate Change). The talks emphasized the need for financial instruments to de-risk investment in energy infrastructure and enhance involvement in smaller and medium-sized enterprises.



Solar leads record renewables investment

5 April 2018 - Solar investments eclipsed all other forms of electricity generation in 2017 as China’s green boom accelerated. Investors worldwide ploughed a record $161 billion into solar energy last year, more than half the investment in all renewables apart from large hydroelectric projects, according to a report jointly published by the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Total investment in renewables rose 2 percent to $280 billion.




Environment and wildlife


EcoRise, Green Mountain Energy Sun Club® Team up to Educate Students about Sustainability

Partnership providing educators with resources, funding for innovative student projects at no cost to teachers, schools

3 May 2018 Houston /CSRwire/ - EcoRise, the school-based nonprofit organization inspiring a new generation of leaders to design a sustainable future for all, and Green Mountain Energy Sun Club are joining forces to deliver a new program of leading-edge, student-driven sustainability curriculum, project mini-grants, and training to educators at no cost to teachers, schools, or school districts.The three-year pilot, funded by Sun Club, will provide an estimated 50 K–12 teachers with professional development, curriculum, and resources focused on sustainability, innovation, and social entrepreneurship. Participating teachers will learn how to develop authentic learning experiences while fostering students’ leadership skills, critical thinking, and environmental literacy. They will also have access to a Student Innovation Program, which awards mini-grants to support student-led sustainability projects beginning in the 2018-19 academic year. (…) The collaboration between EcoRise and Sun Club is expected to directly impact an estimated 2,800 students and indirectly reach as many as 22,000 students and community members through the extended reach of student-led sustainability projects (…)



Hawai‘i Legislature approves first-of-its-kind chlorpyrifos state ban

Governor could sign bill into law in the coming days

2 May 2018, Honolulu, HI— Today, Hawai‘i’s legislature approved a state ban on chlorpyrifos, a highly dangerous restricted use pesticide (RUP) widely used in industrial farming. Besides phasing out all chlorpyrifos uses by 2023, this comprehensive bill puts in place robust pesticide reporting, prohibits the use of the most toxic pesticides within 100 feet of schools during normal school hours, requires a pesticide drift monitoring pilot study, and beefs up funding for the state’s pesticide enforcement. Governor David Ige could sign the bill into law in the coming days. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to reduced IQ and attention deficit disorder in children, and is highly toxic to farmworkers, some of whom have been poisoned by it on multiple occasions on Hawai‘i farms in recent years.  Last year, the EPA refused to ban chlorpyrifos, claiming the science is “unresolved” and decided it would study the issue until 2022.



Hope for critically endangered Mekong river dolphins as population increases for first time

23 April 2018 Phnom Penh, Cambodia– After decades of seemingly irreversible decline, results from a WWF and Government of Cambodia census released today show that the population of critically endangered river dolphins in the Mekong has risen from 80 to 92 in the past two years – the first increase since records began more than twenty years ago.  Effective river patrolling by teams of river guards and the strict confiscation of illegal gillnets, which accidentally trap and drown dolphins, are the main reasons for this historic increase. Over the past two years 358 km of illegal gillnets – almost double the length of the dolphins’ remaining home range – have been confiscated from core dolphin habitat.  The first official census in 1997 estimated that there were 200 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong, a figure that fell steadily due to bycatch and habitat loss until there were only 80 left in 2015. But now the decline appears to be on the mend. Along with the 10 per cent increase in dolphins, the surveys also point toward encouraging signs for the long-term health of the population, with an improvement in the survival rate of dolphins into adulthood, an increase in the number of calves and a drop in overall deaths. http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?326550/Hope-for-critically-endangered-Mekong-river-dolphins-as-population-increases-for-first-time


Global body adopts new measures to stop the spread of plant pests

18 April 2018, Rome - The body charged with keeping global trade in plants and plant products safe has adopted several new phytosanitary standards aimed at preventing destructive agricultural and environmental pests from jumping borders and spreading internationally. The standardized norms developed by the International  Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) cover a range of strategies and techniques used to prevent the introduction and spread of plant diseases and pests to new environments, thereby avoiding their often-devastating impacts on biodiversity, food security and trade.
The need to contain threats such as these are why the IPPC was established in 1952. Since then, it has promulgated some 100 standards covering a broad range of phytosanitary issues. It also runs a number of programs that work to share information on best-practices and build the capacity of developing countries to manage plant diseases and pests, both at home and in trade flows.




Religion and spirituality


Thousand years of Tibetan masterpieces revealed for first time

6 May 2018 - Writer and photographer Thomas Laird’s 10-year project records crumbling Buddhist murals before they are lost. They are some of the greatest treasures of Tibetan Buddhist culture: ancient murals showing the life of the Buddha and the secrets of meditation. Many are hidden in remote monasteries or temples whose walls are crumbling, but a remarkable project has recorded the paintings before they disappear for ever. The American photographer and writer Thomas Laird spent a decade living among yak herders, farmers and monks while travelling across the Tibetan plateau in search of masterpieces that few have been able to see, let alone photograph. The result is 998 copies of Murals of Tibet, an enormous – more than 2ft-long – publication. All copies have been signed and blessed by the Dalai Lama, whose first lessons in Buddhism came from some of the murals before he could even read. Many of the paintings have become visible for the first time through Laird’s work. Some were created in windowless areas so high up that only fragments of the vast paintings have been glimpsed with torches and binoculars.



New film examines founding of Bahá’í 

5 May 2018 - THE GATE documents the strength of the bahá’í community in overcoming hatred and persecution to spread a message of peace and quality. A new documentary film, The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith, is giving the silver screen treatment to the founding of the Bahá’í faith. Directed by Bob Hercules, the movie delves into the historical and religious elements of the Bahá’í. The Bahá’í faithful are not often depicted in major motion films, making The Gate a cinematic treat for those who are interested in seeing their faith portrayed on the big screen and for people who want to learn more about the Bahá’í.

The film’s Executive Producer Steve Sarowitz believes that the impetus for the film stems from the mysterious nature of the Bahá’í to many in the west. The Bahá’í are a religious group that was founded in Persia during the mid-19th century. One of the central religious figures is known as The Báb, which translates to “The Gate.” The Báb was a prophet that is said to be the latest divine messenger of God. The Báb claimed that the religions preceding Bahá’í are part of an ongoing evolution of faith. In this faith, the Christians, Muslims, and Jews are all part of a cycle of revelations from God’s messengers. As a result, the Bahá’í believe that all people and all religions stem from one God and that the Báb was sent to guide the faithful towards a singular purpose and religion that would unite all people.



BUDAPEST - Europe’s Religious Leaders to discuss the role of multi-religious cooperation in social cohesion

4 May 2018 - On the 7 and 8 May 2018, Senior Religious Leaders from many different countries and Religious traditions across Europe will be meeting together in Budapest, Hungary. The European Council of Religious Leaders is the most representative interreligious council in Europe and is part of the global Religions for Peace network. Though the European Council of Religious Leaders was established in 2002, this will be the first time they will meet in Hungary. The council draws on the spiritual, ethical and moral wisdom and resources of the world’s great religious traditions and leaders in order to support the building of peace, social harmony and security throughout Europe and the wider world. In Hungary the council will be discussing the role of multi-religious cooperation in social cohesion and human security. The council will be meeting with a number of religious representatives from Hungary during their visit. The delegation will include the renowned theologian and former politician Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, the distinguished Sikh spiritual leader, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, the award-winning human rights advocate, lecturer, writer and environmental activist Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, and His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, European Orthodoxy’s most prominent advocate for peace and dialogue.



Dialogue between Russian and Buddhist Scholars - Understanding the World

3 May 2018 - Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India - This morning, under stormy skies, His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked from his residence to the Tsuglagkhang, to take part in a second Dialogue between Russian and Buddhist Scholars - Understanding the World. The event was organized by the Center of Tibetan Culture and Information (Moscow), Save Tibet Foundation (Moscow), and the Dalai Lama Trust, with the support of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences. In the temple, he paid his respects before the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni and saluted the monks sitting nearby. He then turned to greet old friends among the nine Russian scientists gathered round a table in the main body of the temple. The remaining space was filled by about 150 observers including 75 Russians, 18 Tibetan monks who have experience of studying science, 17 students from the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Sarah, 25 from the Men-tsee-khang, 50 students from the Tibetan Children’s Village, three from Tong-len and two teachers from the Dharamsala Government College, in addition to 18 guests of the Ganden Phodrang.



Ancient document shows mix of Islam and Crhistianity

27 April 2018 - Dr. Eleonore Cellard, a French scholar, has made an “extraordinary” discovery when she searched for images concerning a palimpsest page sold by Christie’s about ten years back. She found shadowy outlines of some Bible passages behind an 8th century Qur’an manuscript. The historical artifact is right now the only one in existence where Christian texts have been erased so that Islamic holy text can be put in. Christie’s has dated this manuscript to Islam’s second century or 8th century AD as per the Gregorian calendar. The academician noticed Coptic letters faintly appear behind the existing Arabic text.

She said the document witnessed cultural interactions between the different religious communities present at that time. 




Culture and education


Registration to the European Cultural Heritage Summit has Opened

5 May 2018 - The European Cultural Heritage Summit "Sharing Heritage – Sharing Values” brings more than 1000 participants, among them high-level policy makers from national and European level, to Berlin, Germany, from 18-24 June 2018. Join NEMO on 19 June for the event A Museum Night Out - Dance at the Museum. The European Cultural Heritage Summit has been recognized as one of the key events during the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) by the European Union. The Summit engages and mobilises public and private stakeholders to a week full of events dedicated to European cultural heritage.

Most of the events are open to the public and some of them are free of charge. Registration closes on 1 June 2018.



UNESCO supported national consultations on Media and Information Literacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina

4 May 2018 - Over 80 stakeholders gathered in Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo, giving MIL a strong impulse for progress. These actors reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating the development of media and information literacy (MIL) policies and strategies in the country. This dedication was demonstrated at UNESCO and European Commission-supported National Consultations on MIL Policies and Strategies, which was held on 23 April 2018.  The event gathered policymakers, media experts, professors, educators, librarians and other information intermediaries, youth, civil society and international development community stakeholders. The Faculty of Political Sciences of Sarajevo University, with the cooperation of Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) for UNESCO, is leading the process.



Protect media freedom for transparency and accountability in education

3 May 2018 - 3 May marks World Press Freedom Day, a date that celebrates the fundamental principle of freedom of expression and offers an opportunity to evaluate the situation of journalists around the world. It reminds us that the defence of those striving to report in an objective, accurate and timely manner is of paramount importance; threats and attacks on them are unacceptable.The GEM 2017/8 Report, which focused on accountability in education, paid special attention to the role of the media. Every country has assorted formal institutional checks and balances to ensure governments exercise their authority in a way compatible with their commitments, ranging from auditors to parliamentarians. But within a broader political process, informal efforts also serve to hold governments accountable for their commitments, policies and results.



UNESCO World Book Capitals unite to reinforce literacy in Guinea

30 April 2018 –  Conakry, Guinea – What do Wroclaw, Poland and Sharjah, UAE have in common? Aside from being UNESCO World Book Capitals, the two cities joined forces recently to reduce illiteracy in Guinea, where the capital, Conakry, was last year’s World Book Capital. As part of the World Book Capital programme, the distribution of 100,000 school textbooks began last week in public schools throughout Guinea, creating opportunities for the youngest and poorest citizens in Guinea to learn to read and write. The project has the potential to change the lives of up to 500,000 children in Guinea.

The World Book Capital 2016, Wrocław, (and more than 500 Polish private and institutional donors) and Sharjah, the future World Book Capital for 2019, financed the textbooks. The Polish foundation ART TRANSPARENT is coordinating the effort, with some of the first books going to students at a primary school in Conakry’s Coleah neighborhood.



PRESS RELEASE: Pan African High Level Conference on Education

18 April 2018 - UNESCO, in collaboration with the African Union and the Government of Kenya, is convening a Pan Africa High level conference on Education, from 25 to 27 April 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The event will gather Ministers of Education from the 54 African countries, as well as UN agencies, NGOs, and high level representatives in the Education sector of African countries, to further discuss, understand and exchange on how the alignment between SDG4 and the Continental Strategy for Education in Africa (CESA) is influencing current agendas, education legislation, policy, plans, financing and monitoring and information systems, as well as devised mechanisms for consultation, coordination, collaboration and reporting.

Nearly three years after the endorsement of the SDGs, and two years after the adoption of CESA 2016-2025, African countries are at different stages of progress toward integrating/mainstreaming the international and regional targets and commitments into their national education policies, plans and practices. It is therefore important, in the pursuit of SDG4 Education 2030 and CESA 2016-2025, to take stock of the progress made and to identify both the challenges and the opportunities in the further alignment of national education systems in view of ensuring a transformative education for Africa, in a meaningful and significant way.



Recipe for Disaster: The United Nations World Food Programme launches a global challenge to reduce food waste

11 April 2018, London -  Open your fridge, grab the ingredients closest to their use-by date and create a recipe from food that would otherwise go to waste. This is the challenge set by The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and creative agency Anomaly. The campaign, Recipe for Disaster, developed by Adam Burns and Paco Lopez at Anomaly, aims to raise awareness and money for hungry people by asking the general public to be more conscious of their food waste – one of the fundamental steps towards eradicating global hunger. Whilst there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, one third of the 4 billion metric tonnes of food we produce each year is wasted, costing the global economy nearly US$750 billion annually. At the same time, ongoing conflicts are forcing more people to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War, making it difficult for affected people to grow their own food or buy food at a reasonable price.In the UK, professional chef Arthur Potts Dawson will be hosting a launch dinner for the campaign at Omved Gardens, using food that would ordinarily go to waste. The Recipe for Disaster launch also coincides with the premiere of a new FUSION documentary series “Food Exposed” (#FoodExposed) hosted by Nelufar Hedayat. A recent UK study revealed that social media is fuelling food waste. Findings suggest that time-poor millennials do not understand the value of the food on their plate and are often more preoccupied by the visual presentation of food for social media, meaning they are less likely to plan meals and more likely to buy too much food, which then gets thrown away.




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Next issue: 15th June 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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