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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 19th, no. 275 – 11January 2019


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


Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources

21 December 2018 - This Directive establishes a common framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources. It sets a binding Union target for the overall share of energy from renewable sources in the Union's gross final consumption of energy in 2030. It also lays down rules on financial support for electricity from renewable sources, on self-consumption of such electricity, on the use of energy from renewable sources in the heating and cooling sector and in the transport sector, on regional cooperation between Member States, and between Member States and third countries, on guarantees of origin, on administrative procedures and on information and training. It also establishes sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels.


News related with SDGs number 13-Climate Action


UN Global Compact Mandate renewed by Member States

21 December 2018 –New York /CSRwire/ - The United Nations Global Compact was today encouraged to continue engaging the private sector in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals with a renewed resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly. The resolution, under General Assembly agenda item 27 — Towards global partnerships: A principle-based approach to enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners — reiterates the broad mandate of the UN Global Compact, which is “to advance United Nations values and responsible business practices within the United Nations system and among the global business community.” UN Member States also encouraged the private sector to enhance its involvement in combating climate change and welcomed the commitments to leadership on climate action already made by relevant stakeholders. Recognizing that the private sector has an important role to play in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States also called attention to the Global Compact Local Networks as helping to provide an avenue for diffusing United Nations values and principles and facilitating partnerships with business on a broad scale (…) The resolution expressed support for the work of the UN Global Compact to encourage all businesses to adopt principles for responsible business and investing and to take account of the environmental, social and governance impacts of their activities (…)


News related with SDGs number 17-Partnerships for the Goals


Portugal ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health

18 December 2018 - The "Medicrime Convention" is the first international criminal law instrument to oblige States Parties to criminalise:

The Convention provides a framework for national and international co-operation across the different sectors of the public administration, measures for coordination at national level, preventive measures for use by public and private sectors and protection of victims and witnesses. Furthermore, it foresees the establishment of a monitoring body to oversee the implementation of the Convention by the States Parties.


News related with SDGs number 3-Good Health and Well-Being


Swiss cabinet approves text of trade deal with Britain after Brexit

14 December 2018 - Zurich (Reuters) - The Swiss government approved on Friday the text of a trade deal with Britain that aims to maintain economic and commercial relations with its sixth-biggest export market after Brexit. The deal reflects neutral Switzerland’s “mind the gap” strategy of ensuring seamless trade ties with Britain that are now largely based on the UK’s membership in the European Union, which is due to end on March 29. The Swiss cabinet signed off on a text that serves as a basis for future trade links and guarantees as far as possible continuation of the current regime. It also foresees more talks on developing future bilateral ties.



Spain signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society

12 December 2018 - This Convention is based on the idea that knowledge and use of heritage form part of the citizen’s right to participate in cultural life as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The text presents heritage both as a resource for human development, the enhancement of cultural diversity and the promotion of intercultural dialogue, and as part of an economic development model based on the principles of sustainable resource use.


News related with SDGs number 4-Quality Education


The United Kingdom signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions

6 December 2018 - The purpose of this Convention is to prevent, detect, punish and discipline the manipulation of sports competitions, as well as enhance the exchange of information and national and international cooperation between the public authorities concerned, and with sports organisations and sports betting operators. The Convention calls on governments to adopt measures, including legislation, notably:

Sports organisations and competition organisers are also required to adopt and implement stricter rules to combat corruption, sanctions and proportionate disciplinary and dissuasive measures in the event of offences, as well as good governance principles. The Convention also provides safeguards for informants and witnesses.


News related with SDGs number 3-Good Health and Well-Being



Human rights


Canada grants asylum for Saudi teen who fled family: UNHCR

11 January 2019 - In a statement, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said Canada had agreed to give asylum to the 18-year-old Saudi national who fled her family in Kuwait before her passport was taken away at the Bangkok airport on Sunday. She was offered protection by UNHCR, and taken to a place of safety, while her claim was assessed by the UN Agency, which decided that her claim was valid. Thai officials blocked Saudi requests for her to be sent back to Kuwait. The agency welcomed the decision of the Canadian Government to provide international protection and a new home for the Saudi national there as a resettled refugee.



THE COMMITTEES: General Assembly Third Committee ‘anchored’ in human rights protection

26 December 2018 - From drugs control, to indigenous people’s rights and counter-terrorism, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee is officially known as the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee, with the full array of complex issues and challenges to mull over that its title would imply. Here’s the latest in our series of explainers on how the ideas and pledges of world leaders each September, are turned into action by Member States in the weeks after they go home. This year’s busy session homed in on the advancement of women; promotion of fundamental freedoms through elimination of racism and discrimination; and also addressed social development questions related to youth, aging, and persons with disabilities.



Asian women union leaders join forces to combat bullying and sexual harassment in schools

21December 2018 – Top women education unionists from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have taken stock of their 2018 activities focusing on anti-bullying and research on sexual harassment, and adopted a 2019 action plan to push forward action. Thirteen women union leaders from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines came together in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 13-14 December, for the Education International (EI)/Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF)/Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Women’s Network (AWN) workshop, to reviewing their activities in 2018 and planning the upcoming year. After the performance audit of the activities on anti-bullying and sexual harassment, the union leaders debated and came up with doable objectives and plans for 2019. They proposed the following actions for EI/CTF financial support for 2019:


News related with SDGs number 5-Gender Equality


Human rights champions from across the world receive top UN prize

18 December 2018 - As part of the UN’s activities in observance of Human Rights Day, which coincided with the Declaration’s anniversary, champions in the field from across the world, convened at the General Assembly Hall to be recognized for their outstanding contributions. Every five years, The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is awarded to organizations and individuals which embody excellent activism in defending human rights.




Economy and development


MICHIGAN - Consumers Energy Provides $10 Million to help families in Michigan with Winter Heating Bills

9 January 2019 -  Consumers Energy announced today that it has now contributed $10 million to help customers in need to pay their energy bills -- part of the energy provider’s ongoing efforts this winter to help Michigan residents stay safe and warm.  Consumers Energy provided $8 million to help eligible customers with energy bills in December, in addition to a $2 million contribution in October. Together, the money will help up to 7,000 households enter Consumers Energy’s CARE program or facilitate them receiving additional aid to pay energy bills. The CARE program allows customers to get on a path to self-sufficiency by providing an affordable payment plan with monthly credits and gradual forgiveness of past-due balances to reward on-time payments. Participants also qualify for energy-saving tools, including free in-home energy efficiency upgrades. The company has been sharing information with customers this winter about how to reduce energy use and find available assistance in their communities to help with bills. Natural gas use for Consumers Energy’s residential customers was more than 20 percent higher in November 2018, compared to the previous year, due to colder-than-normal temperatures. Consumers Energy encourages people who are facing hardship with energy bills or other needs to call 2-1-1, a free service in all Michigan counties that connects people with resources to help in their community.


News related with SDGs number 12-Responsible Consumption and Production 


COLUMBUS - Black Enterprise names Aflac to Prestigious Diversity List

4 January 2019 - Aflac, the leader in voluntary insurance sales at U.S. worksites, is once again listed on Black Enterprise’s 2018 prestigious list of the 50 Best Companies for Diversity. This marks the 12th time that Aflac has appeared on this annual list.on in the death rate of children under the age of five dying due to hygiene-related illnesses. Aflac’s workforce is comprised of 34 percent African-Americans and 45 percent ethnic minorities, while African-Americans make up 12 percent of Aflac’s officers, with 27 percent of officers being ethnic minorities. Of Aflac’s entire workforce, 67 percent are women.To compile the list, Black Enterprise’s editorial research team sends surveys to the nation’s top 1,000 publicly traded companies to get an in-depth look at the ethnic and gender composition, as well as their programs designed to foster an inclusive working environment. The annual survey focuses on African-Americans but includes other ethnic minority groups as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. About Aflac: when a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For more than six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leader in voluntary insurance sales at the worksite. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative, for eligible claims, Aflac U.S. can process, approve and electronically send funds to claimants for quick access to cash in just one business day. Aflac insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For 12 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. Visit aflac.com or aflac.com/espanol.


News related with SDGs number 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth


IFAD welcomes the European Union’s commitment to a new impact fund targeting small agribusinesses across emerging markets

18 December 2018, Rome- The European Union has committed €45 million to the establishment of a new impact fund that will boost investments in small rural agribusinesses across emerging markets. Luxembourg and the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have already committed €5 million and €4.3 million respectively to the new fund. With a special focus on Africa and young people, the Agribusiness Capital Fund (ABC Fund) will target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), farmers' organizations and 'agripreneurs' across emerging markets, to spur economic and social development in rural areas and create jobs. The ABC Fund will provide loans to owners of rural, agricultural SMEs that fall into the “missing middle” between large-scale farmers served by commercial banks and subsistence farmers relying on micro-credit. The demand for loans of this size is estimated at US$200 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia, and Latin America alone. The ABC Fund will place a particular focus on incubating new enterprises led by young people. This will not only improve the income of this vulnerable group, but will also create broader employment opportunities in rural communities to offer an alternative to migration. An estimated 440 million young people will enter the rural labor market by 2030 in Africa alone.


News related with SDGs number 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth


IFAD to invest $13 million in Myanmar to reduce poverty and improve food security and nutrition in rural areas

18 December 2018, Rome - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has signed a financing agreement with the Government of Myanmar to reduce poverty, and improve food security and nutrition for over 390,000 rural people in the northern Magway region and southern Chin state. While Myanmar produces enough rice to meet its consumption needs as a whole, the rural poor are often food insecure and do not have access to adequate food to meet their caloric and nutritional needs, or enough income to buy essential items. The project aims to increase household incomes, food security and nutrition quality by helping rural communities to develop agricultural commodities and agribusinesses that can generate a profit and respond to market demand. Training will be made available so that farmers can improve their skills and knowledge in order to modernize production techniques. The project will also invest in infrastructure, including improved irrigation to ensure a reliable supply of water to farms and household gardens, and rural access roads to facilitate farm to market mobility. Due to its past isolation, Myanmar's agriculture sector has not benefited fully from global advances in agricultural technology. IFAD's strategy in the country is to focus on modernizing agriculture, upgrading value chains, fostering links between smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, diversifying livelihoods, promoting rural enterprises and generating employment off the farm.


News related with SDGs number 1-No Poverty and  SDGs number 2-Zero Hunger


WFP celebrates 50 years of Egypt with launch of knowledge-sharing partnership with government

17 December 2018, Cairo – Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Egypt, the Egyptian Government and WFP yesterday signed an agreement to benefit neighbouring and African countries through the exchange of knowledge and expertise in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the goal of Zero Hunger. The agreement allows for WFP and the Government to share and expand its expertise on interventions in areas such as water management, nutrition, diversification of livelihoods and increased agricultural productivity. The agreement will be supported by the Luxor Coordination Center for Knowledge Sharing and Innovation to Promote Resilience in Upper Egypt. The centre developed by WFP in partnership with the Government, will facilitate knowledge-exchange activities, providing diverse and proven national expertise on development interventions. WFP has been in Egypt since 1968, working with the Government to respond to humanitarian needs and tackle the underlying causes of vulnerability to food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.


News related with SDGs number 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth





European Commission and United Kingdom helped WFP reach the most vulnerbale with food assistance in Niger

24 December 2018, Niamey – A contribution of €4 million from the European Commission (ECHO) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) allowed the United Nations World Food Programme to provide food assistance and nutrition support to displaced and vulnerable people in the Diffa, Tahoua and Tillabery regions of Niger in 2018. In Niger, more than 2 million people are chronically food insecure. These populations live in fragile and degraded environments, subject to recurring natural disasters. Conflicts on the country's borders are also a destabilizing factor in the affected regions. Niger currently hosts 57,000 Malian refugees in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions - most of whom have been in the country since 2012. Since 2014 about 250,000 people have been displaced by the Boko Haram crisis in the Diffa region. Insecurity along the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso, combined with inter-communal violence, has led to the displacement of about 50,000 people in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions since the beginning of 2018. Thanks to ECHO and UK support, WFP was able to provide crucial food and nutrition support to 201,041 people affected by crisis . Another 53,557 newly displaced people were assisted through the Rapid Response Mechanism, which is implemented jointly with partners. These populations were also supported during the lean season - when food stocks are low and fields are not yet producing crops.


News related with SDGs number 1-No Poverty and  SDGs number 2-Zero Hunger


Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awards more than $38 million in grants in the fourth quarter of 2018

24 December 2018 (Los Angeles) - The board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that 24 grants and two program related investments were approved, totaling more than $38 million during the fourth quarter of 2018. These grants and program related investments were awarded to 26 organizations spanning across the Hilton Foundation’s priority areas, both in the U.S. and internationally.

“As 2018 comes to a close, we are thrilled to announce more than $38 million in grants this quarter to exceptional nonprofits,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “Together with our partners, we can fulfill our mission of improving the lives of the disadvantaged and vulnerable throughout the world.”



In a year of deepening hunger, WFP reaches a record 5 million people in Democratic Republic of Congo

20 December 2018, Kinshasa - With widening violence, largescale displacement, poor harvests and endemic poverty nearly doubling the number of acutely food insecure people in DRC this year to 13.1 million, the World Food Programme (WFP) significantly expanded its operations, reaching a record 5 million, a twofold increase from 2017. Assistance was provided in the form of commodities and cash, and specially fortified foods for the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition, which affects 4.6 million children countrywide. Improved funding* is allowing the restoration of full food rations to some WFP recipients who had had to make do with half the programmed quantities for many months.Two deadly outbreaks of Ebola complicated DRC’s humanitarian landscape in 2018. WFP food assistance for confirmed and suspected sufferers, discharged patients and their families, and “contacts” of victims helped limit risky population movements and was fundamental. Humanitarian response in DRC has been further complicated by the recent expulsion of some 380,000 of its nationals from northern Angola to the already severely food insecure Kasai region. WFP provides cash and nutrition products at border arrival points, and food rations for transiting and host families.


News related with SDGs number 1-No Poverty and  SDGs number 2-Zero Hunger


Delivering food to save lives in South Sudan

Written by Tamama Norbert

20 December 2018 – It’s early-morning as dozens of internally displaced people has started to turn up in the modest township of New Fangak in Jonglei. They are assembling here to receive food assistance delivered to them by the World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).For four days scores of men and women has worked arduously, to offload the food from a towering WFP-hired barge, which had arrived from Bor town, and docked at the riverbank, less than a kilometer away from the confluence, where the Phow River merged with the main water body-the White Nile River.  Finally the distribution kicked-off with a large number of beneficiaries turning up on the first day. Over 90% of them were women, occasionally accompanied by teenage children.The men were rarely seen at the scene. Some did come but stood at a distance, watching the exercise in silence. The women did the talking as they had their food cards certified by the NPA field staff conducting the distribution(…) On the third day, people were everywhere and the banks of the Phow River, a stone throw away, teemed with motorboats and canoes, parked, docked and ready to ship food home. (…)


News related with SDGs number 1-No Poverty and  SDGs number 2-Zero Hunger


The Russian Federation donates $3million to boost food security and nutrition in Syria

19 December 2018 - The Russian Federation has donated $3 million to help FAO provide conflict-affected farmers and herders in Syria with critical livelihood and nutrition support. This is the first FAO emergency project funded by Russia. The donation will enable FAO to support 60,000 vulnerable households (or 360 000 farmers and herders) in the area of Aleppo, who were severely impacted by the crisis, to restore their production capacity and improve their food security and nutrition.


News related with SDGs number 1-No Poverty and  SDGs number 2-Zero Hunger


Germany supports WFP's humanitarian assistance for refugees in Tanzania

17 December 2018, Dar Ed Salaam – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a €3.25 million contribution from the Federal Republic of Germany to support its work in favour of refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania in 2018-19. WFP distributes monthly rations consisting of cereal, pulses, vegetable oil and salt as well as fortified supplementary foods for vulnerable pregnant and lactating women, children under five, malnourished persons with HIV/AIDS and hospital in-patients. In addition, high energy biscuits are provided to refugees in transit. Tanzania hosts some 290,000 refugees, most of them women and children, in Nduta, Nyarugusu and Mtendeli refugee camps in Kigoma region in northwest Tanzania. More than 70% are from Burundi, and the remainder primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo. While limited funding forced reductions in rations between February 2017 and October this year, increased support from donors, including Germany, has enabled the restoration of full rations. WFP continues to raise funds so that food rations do not need to be reduced in coming months.




Peace and security


The Islamabad Declaration: "a step to defeat extremism"

8 January 2019 - The "Islamabad Declaration", in which over 500 Muslim religious leaders publicly condemn terrorism, violence committed in the name of religion and fatwa (sacred edicts) widespread by radical ulemas. The declaration was signed in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, during a gathering organized by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC). The initiative, according to observers, represents a turning point especially in the attitude towards religious minorities and Islamic sects the "Ahmadi". In fact, the Declaration recognizes that Pakistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, and notes that "it is the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of the life of non-Muslim citizens in Pakistan".


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


WFP and the South Sudan Council of Churches agree to work together for peace

19 December 2018, Juba -  The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) have agreed to work together towards peace in the country by using their stronger partnership to address peacekeeping as key to reach food and nutrition security.  They signed an agreement this month to leverage opportunities brought about by their enhanced partnership, which follows a dialogue to explore areas of collaboration toward ending hunger and building peace, justice and strong institutions and global partnerships. In creating spaces and processes beneficial to the people of South Sudan, the SSCC and its leadership will compound WFP’s operational reach and presence and enhance the transformative impact of WFP food assistance. The SSCC is an ecumenical body consisting of seven member churches and associate churches with a strong legacy of peace building, reconciliation and advocacy. The SSCC provides a platform to enhance the spirit of ecumenical cooperation towards collective action for peace. It has a constituency of millions of people at national and local levels and frames its peace and reconciliation work through an Action Plan for Peace.


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Iraq: two armed actors sign a humanitarian declaration to protect civilians, children and displaced people

17 December 2018 – On 12 December 2018, the Ninewa Guards – an armed actor from Mosul – and the Ezidkhan Protection Forces – a Yezidi armed actor from Sinjar – each signed a “Unilateral Humanitarian Declaration to Respect Humanitarian Norms during and in the aftermath of Armed Conflict or Military Operations” in the presence of Geneva Call’s Director General, Alain Délétroz. In the declaration they “commit not to deport or forcibly move civilians against their own will” or “to the ban of the recruitment and use of children under 18 years old”. By signing it, they pledge to respect the relevant international laws protecting civilians, children, displaced people and humanitarian access. While major armed operations in Iraq have now mostly come to an end, some pockets of violence do remain. According to the United Nations, 8.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the country, mostly in the Ninewa, Kirkuk and Anbar governorates. There remain 1.9 million displaced people in the country whereas millions of returnees are facing insecurity or a lack of basic services in areas that have been dramatically affected by the conflict. This year, Geneva Call had already trained 90 senior commanders of the Ninewa Guards as well as some officers from the Ezidkhan Protection Forces on the law of armed conflict. More training sessions are planned for next year, including for 15 trainers of the Ninewa Guards. https://genevacall.org/iraq-two-armed-actors-sign-a-humanitarian-declaration-to-protect-civilians-children-and-displaced-people/

News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Gambia ratifies the Convention on Cluster Munitions to become 105th State Party!

13December 2018 – Gambia deposited its instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 11 December at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. Congratulations to Gambia on becoming the 105th State Party! A signatory of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since 2008, Gambia does not produce or stockpile cluster munitions. Gambia is not known to have used cluster munitions. It has voted in favour of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2015. With Gambia's ratification, 43 of 54 African countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Thirteen states - Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, DRC, Djibouti, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tomé and Principe, Tanzania and Uganda - have signed but not yet ratified the Convention. Only 11 African states - Algeria, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe - remain outside the Convention. The Convention will enter into force for Gambia on 1 June 2019.


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


The Syrian Democratic Forces release 56 children under the age of 18

3rd December 2018 - The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recently announced that 56 boys under the age of 18 had left their organisation and were returned to their families. This decision came following a military order on child protection, issued by the SDF on 5 September 2018. This order included the prohibition to recruit and use children for combat but also for spying, to act as guards or to deliver supplies to combatants.


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions





Robots and AI: Papal academy decodes newest pro-life challenges

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

3 January 2019 Vatican City (CNS) - Even though today's modern tools and technologies are hardly human, the Pontifical Academy for Life is zeroing in on the world of robots and machines powered by artificial intelligence. While the academy's focus is on the protection of human life and dignity, the rapidly shifting and radical capabilities of robotics are having an ever-increasing impact on human lives, people's relationships, communities and creation, said Jesuit Father Carlo Casalone, an academy member and consultant. The need to reflect on the effects, opportunities and risks posed by artificial intelligence and robotics has led the pro-life academy to launch a special look at this complex field, adding robotics to its list of specialized projects, which already include palliative care, neuroscience, bioethics and human genome editing. A major workshop on "Robo-ethics: Humans, Machines and Health" will be held at the Vatican Feb. 25-26 as part of this increased study; the workshop will focus on the use of robots and artificial intelligence, specifically in medicine and health care. The use of industrial and personal-service robots is on the rise, according to industry reports. They are being used in manufacturing, housekeeping, assisting with surgery and even caring for the elderly. People with reduced mobility can be assisted with brain control technology, which converts brain waves into digital signals that can command or control external devices, such as artificial limbs or machines (…)


News related with SDGs number 3-Good Health and Well-Being


MSF supports health centres tending to Sunda Strait tsunami victims in Indonesia

24 December 2018 – MSF teams responded to the influx of patients as injured people were brought to the health centres in Pandeglang district on the morning of 23 December.  Our teams were already working in this region before it was severely hit by a tsunami following the eruption of Anak Karakatoa volcano on the late evening of 22 December 2018. On 24 December, the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency had reported more than 281 deaths, 1,061 injured and 11,690 displaced. While the affected areas are slowly showing signs of recovery, with the reopening of restaurants and shops, the streets remain blocked, making it difficult to access the health post and health centers. With support from the MSF country coordination team which arrived a few hours later, MSF liaised with the health centre teams, prioritising immediate needs. The most severe patients are being referred to bigger hospitals in the area and the deceased are being managed by local authorities. Our teams are supporting the exhausted health workers in health centres by ensuring proper case management, infection control and hygiene standards, as well as material support. MSF has mobilised three teams: one team is currently supporting the Carita Health Center, which is now clean and running; and the second team is supporting the Labuan Health Center. The third team is mobile, visiting the various communities to treat injured patients who could not go to the hospitals or health centres.


News related with SDGs number 3-Good Health and Well-Being


Djibouti carries out mass immunization activity to protect children against polio amid outbreaks

12December 2018 – In the last week of October, Djibouti’s Ministry of Health, working with WHO, UNICEF and other partners, successfully carried out the country’s first polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) since 2015. While Djibouti has not had a case of polio since 1999, the recent outbreaks of polio in neighbouring countries in the Horn of Africa, and the low levels of routine immunization coverage in some areas in the country, are indications that Djibouti is still at risk if poliovirus spreads through population movements. Other countries in the Horn of Africa are already cooperating to stop the ongoing outbreak and to reduce the risk of spread, and especially considering that Djibouti is on a major migration route in the Horn of Africa, it makes a lot of sense for Djibouti to join in this coordinated response. An NID planned for 2019 was brought forward and carried out over 23-26 October. The target was 120 000 children under five years of age, a number suggested by Djibouti’s last census. Two strategies were proposed: one approach, where children would be vaccinated at fixed points (health facilities) and a complementary door-to-door approach using two-person teams (a vaccinator and a registration person). In the days and weeks before the NID, all partners, including the government, WHO and UNICEF, used a variety of communication channels – from outdoor signage to radio spots – to ensure that communities were informed not just of the risks of polio, but also of the importance of protecting children from vaccine preventable diseases(…)


News related with SDGs number 3-Good Health and Well-Being



Energy and safety



DC & 9 States Collaborating on Carbon Emissions Reduction Policy

7 January 2019 - Washington, D.C., Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont are working together to formulate a policy proposal to reduce transportation carbon emissions. The point of the collective effort is to reduce air pollution, improve transportation to underserved people and develop economic opportunities. The collaborators have a goal to generate the low-carbon regional policy in one year, after which they can decide if they are going to adopt it.


News related with SDGs number 12-Responsible Consumption and Production


Renewables beat coal in Germany Power Mix for first time

7 January 2019 - Renewable energy muscled out coal to become Germany’s biggest source of electricity for the first time last year, helped by a surge in solar panel installations and coal-plant closures. Wind, solar, hydro and biomass produced just over 40 percent of Germany’s electricity in 2018, overtaking coal’s 39 percent share, according to the Fraunhofer Institute. An almost 20 percent increase in solar capacity, the shuttering of older coal plants and favorable weather conditions conspired to help green sources edge ahead.


News related with SDGs number 13-Climate Action


Turning Solar Energy Into Liquid Fuel

6 January 2019 – (…) We need to get rid of inefficiency for more effective solar thermal energy storage systems. So, How About Turning Sunshine Into Liquid Fuel For Solar Thermal Energy Storage? The thought of turning sunshine into liquid fuel might sound like a step back, but (...) The solar thermal energy storage system I’m referencing uses a liquid isomer to store and release solar energy. The discovery could lead to more widespread use of solar energy throughout the world, according to the researchers behind it. (…) One of the biggest energy problems for northern and southern countries is with the harvesting and storing of their vast solar energy. (…) By using a cobalt-based catalyst, the energy is released as heat, much like how concentrated solar molten salt tanks work. This makes solar energy transportable and a contender for on-demand energy needs.


News related with SDGs number 13-Climate Action


How to make Australia a Superpower in Renewable Energy Exports

6 January 2019 - Politicians around Australia are proposing ambitious plans to export renewable energy from Australia, using high-voltage power lines laid under the oceans. But will this work? Our research is investigating the economic and environmental case for Australia to become an Asian energy superpower. Our recent study, which will be presented on December 11 at the UN Climate Change Conference, models electricity generation and demand – as well as the cost of augmenting and extending transmission infrastructure. We found a transmission network connecting Australia to Indonesia could help both nations achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2050. This is in line with a UN push for more global power connections. Exporting clean power from countries with strong infrastructure to burgeoning global populations may be key to reaching the Paris Agreement climate targets.


News related with SDGs number 12-Responsible Consumption and Production


2018 Was A “Fulcrum Year” For Renewable Energy In The US

5 January 2019 – experts in the field of renewable energy tell Inside Climate News that 2018 was a “fulcrum year” for energy generation in the United States. The old paradigm that has been in place for 100 years was ushered out and replaced with a new paradigm that will prevail into the foreseeable future. (…) 2018 was a fulcrum year for renewables because when people look back and try to determine when the shift to renewables in the US began in earnest, they will pick it as the year when a sea change occurred in the utility industry. Change never seems to happen. Then one day you look around and realize it is already here. The turn by utilities away from fossil fuels has begun and nothing will stop the transition until it is complete.


News related with SDGs number 13-Climate Action


Costa Rica is on the brink of an evolution

31  December 2018 - Many readers of CleanTechnica are aware of the tremendous sustainability success story of the small Central American country of Costa Rica. Over the past 4 years, less than 2% of the electricity consumed by the 5 million inhabitants of the country — who call themselves Ticos — was generated by burning fossil fuels. During that time, the country has added 14 new electrical generating plants — six hydro, seven wind, and one solar.


News related with SDGs number 13-Climate Action



Environment and wildlife


NASA and FAO launch next-generation geospatial tool

12 December 2018, Katowice, Poland - Seeing both forests and trees is about to get easier, thanks to a new open-access tool developed by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with support from the Google Earth Engine Team and the US Government's SilvaCarbon Program - allowing anyone to track land-use and landscape changes anywhere. Collect Earth Online (CEO) amplifies the power of FAO's Open Foris Collect Earth tool, which for the past few years has enabled the collection of data on land use, deforestation and for other purposes with the help of satellite imagery. The new platform is web-based, free of charge, open to all, requires no downloads or installation, and allows users to systematically inspect any location on the Earth with satellite data. The next generation tool makes it easier to conduct surveys, collect samples and use crowdsourcing techniques. CEO can be accessed by simply clicking on a link http://collect.earth/ and registering on the platform. CEO, which provides access to high-resolution satellite imagery from multiple sources as well as historical imagery and mosaics from NASA's Landsat network and the European Union's Sentinel system, can be used by anyone as a stand-alone application. Both FAO and NASA expect further innovative uses - in disaster management and glacier monitoring, for example  - will emerge as more people use the tool. Its open-source and cloud-based nature not only broadens access but is a buffer against data loss, a significant value when digital and computing resources are limited. That opens promising prospects for ventures ranging from trying to protect natural wildlife habitat to broader projects measure links between biomass and poverty.


News related with SDGs number 15-Life on Land


New report raises hopes for Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries

11 December 2018, Rome- Although the main commercial fish species in the Mediterranean and Black Sea are still over-fished, pressure has reduced over the past years, raising hopes - for the first time - for the recovery of fish stocks, according to new FAO-GFCM report launched today. The percentage of overexploited fish stocks decreased by 10% - from 88% in 2014 to 78% in 2016. More efforts are needed, however, to ensure long-term fish stock sustainability, warns The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries. This means more support for the small-scale fishing sector, which employs most fishers and causes least environmental damage; reducing bycatch and discards; and introducing more drastic measures such as significantly reducing fishing or establishing fisheries restricted areas (areas where fishing activities are regulated). The latter is particularly needed to safeguard the most heavily fished species, such as  European hake, which is fished nearly six times beyond its sustainable level. Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries are under threat in the long run because of the effects of increased pollution from human activities, habitat degradation, the introduction of non-indigenous species, overfishing and the impacts of climate-driven changes. The European hake remains the species subject to the highest fishing pressure in the whole Mediterranean, followed by turbot in the Black Sea and horse mackerel in the Mediterranean. Discards and incidental catches of vulnerable species still of concern - 275 000 tonnes of fish discarded every year.According to the report, incidental catches of vulnerable species are relatively rare events but are important because the species caught are of conservation concern.


News related with SDGs number 14- Life below Water



Religion and spirituality


ASIA/SINGAPORE - The youth of Singapore: the next WYD is an opportunity to share faith and culture

11 January 2019 - Singapore (Agenzia Fides) - The upcoming World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama will be an opportunity for the young people of Singapore to share faith and culture. As Agenzia Fides learns, a delegation from Singapore will attend WYD, scheduled from January 22 to 27. Young people are eagerly waiting to discover for themselves the characteristic values of youth and the richness of the Catholic faith.

The worldwide gathering of young Catholic people is characterized by cultural exchange, which is an important aspect among the young people of Singapore who will travel to Panama.


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


ASIA/TURKEY - The beginning of the construction of the first church in Turkish territory since 1923 has been announced

9 January 2019 - Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - The works for the construction of what will become the first newly built church in the Republic of Turkey will begin by next February. This was announced on Tuesday, January 8th, by Bulent Kerimoglu, mayor of Bakirkoy, the district of Istanbul where the new church will be built. The construction works should last for a maximum of two years. The church will be built in the Yesilkoy district of Bakirkoy, in an area not far from the Ataturk International Airport, and will accommodate more than 700 faithful.



The Weekly Shot: Interfaith Christmas Celebration in Kerala

7 January 2019 - On December 22, 2018 in Kollam, Kerala, India, members of Zero Limits Cooperation Circle (a URI member group) held an interfaith Christmas celebration with students from LISS college. Youth participants sang Christmas songs and performed traditional Christmas scenes, as well as sharing prayers and songs from other religious traditions.



IRAQ -  Thousands of students walk out of school to demand politicians stop dangerous climate change

2 January 2019 Dozens of inhabitants of Baghdad, Christians and Muslims, have given rise to public mobilizations to stop the realization of a project of urban restructuring that would also imply the demolition of the Chaldean church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom, in the district of Adhamiya. In the signs and banners displayed during the demonstrations, also documented by the news services of al Sharqiya TV (satellite channel of the media entrepreneur Saad al Bazzaz, a native of Mosul), the participants in the demonstrations call into question political forces and national and local institutions, giving them the responsibility of supporting an urban project in the name of interests and commercial calculations that jeopardizes a church recognized by all as a symbol-place of the combated but necessary coexistence between different religious components of the Iraqi population (see http://www.ankawa.org/vshare/ view/11336/hikma/. The church of the Divine Wisdom was built in 1929 by British architect James Mollison Wilson during the British Mandate on Mesopotamia, and is located on the border of two inhabited urban areas respectively by Shiites and Sunnis.



Happy New Year - By Parliament of Religions

31 December 2018 - We welcome in the New Year with hopes and aspirations for a future filled with peace, harmony and goodwill among all of the people of the world and an end to the deepening environmental crises. Since more than 80 percent of the world’s population adheres to some faith tradition, these communities are crucial agents of transformation for global, family and individual peace-and peace and healing of the whole Earth community. The Parliament of the World’s Religions provides an inclusive, dialogic platform for people from all over the world representing a broad spectrum of religious and spiritual traditions who answer a call to harmoniously and respectfully come together to share their voices, hear the voices of others, and partake of as well as contribute to the collective wisdom of our stories that affirm our common humanity. We look forward with excitement to the many opportunities that will reveal our growing partnerships with diverse communities of faith, spiritual paths, and ethical convictions, guiding institutions, and diverse constituencies that will speak of the Parliament’s commitment to bring cooperation and collaboration as essential paradigms for global engagement. We will broaden our outreach and participation with greater numbers of countries in regions where we have not previously established a presence. The Parliament’s Global Ethic, whose principles are foundational to our work, will have prominence in programs that seek to establish values and the development of a moral compass to guide our actions for the betterment of ourselves and the world in which we live.


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christmas, an opportunity to share the love of God and promote peace and interreligious harmony

21 December 2018 - Hyderabad (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian faithful in Pakistan take the opportunity of Christmas to share the feelings of joy and peace with the Muslim communities. The Church in Pakistan is fully committed to promoting social and interreligious harmony.  At Christmas, faithful Muslims and Hindus actively participate in the Christian celebrations and welcome invitations addressed to them. This is a positive sign of the promotion of humanity, peace and brotherhood. The National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism (NCIDE) of Catholic Bishops organized a sports festival on the occasion of Christmas and adolescents belonging to various religious communities actively participated. The Commission organized, in collaboration with some Islamic leaders, a meeting for students of Catholic and Islamic schools to promote harmony and unity among children of different religions. Archbishop Shaw participated in a Christmas feast organized by the Muslim organization "Bait-ul-Quran" in Lahore. Over the past few days, over 150 Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders gathered in the "Peace Center" in Lahore for an interreligious meeting organized by the Dominican, Fr. James Channan, who declared: "Peace is the gift of God-with us who comes into the world, we Christians are called to be the hands, the arms, the eyes of Christ here in Pakistan and in the whole world. We are in Pakistan to build peace and harmony".


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions



Culture and education


UNESCO celebrates SIDS Knowledge Day 2018

10 January 2019 - The SIDS Knowledge Day, entitled ‘Mobilisation of knowledge systems for sustainable development: new challenges for local knowledge of the SIDS’ was successfully held in UNESCO Paris Headquarters on November 19th, 2018. Following the success of the first seminar in September 2017 under the theme ‘Creative activities and regeneration of territories: which potentials for cultural and environmental activities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)’, this second seminar focused on local knowledge and practices which may facilitate policy-making in SIDS and their achievement of 2030 agenda and SDG targets. As the world is changing fast, new challenges emerge in aspects of economy, environment and social transformation for SIDS. With limited resources, how can SIDS effectively mobilise local knowledge to meet these challenges to advance their development while sustaining their livelihoods? This special event aimed to provide an opportunity for practitioners in various fields to debate on this issue and share their knowledge and experiences.


News related with SDGs number 15-Life on Land


2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages to be launched this month at UNESCO

8 January 2019 - UNESCO, in its capacity of the leading UN agency of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, will organize the Official Global Launch event of the 2019 International Year on Monday, 28 January 2019 from 15.00 p.m. to 18.00 p.m., in its Headquarters in Paris (Room II). This official launch event is co-organized by UNESCO, UNDESA, and the members of Steering Committee for the organization of the International Year, as well as with the participation of other relevant stakeholders.To be held under the theme “Indigenous languages matter for sustainable development, peace building and reconciliation”, the official launch will gather high-level governmental officials, indigenous peoples, civil society, academia, media, information and memory organizations, United Nations agencies, public language harmonization and documentation institutions and private sector bodies. This event aims at providing a global forum for a constructive debate in which high-level speakers and prominent experts will address new paradigms for safeguarding, promoting and providing access to knowledge and information for the indigenous languages’ users.


News related with SDGs number 4-Quality Education


Back to the Future: Restore children’s hope through education

8 January 2019 - EWTN broadcasted a special on the project that promotes enrolment and the creation of a suitable school environment for refugees and vulnerable children, in Lebanon and Jordan.

Funded by the EU Regional Trust Fund ‘Madad’, the project ‘Back to the Future’ is operated by a consortium of NGOs: AVSI Foundation, Terre des Hommes Italy, Terre des Hommes Netherlands and War Child Holland. Over a three-year period (2016-2019), it will enable more than 21,700 Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian children to go to school. The aim of this project is to restore children’s hope in the future, by reaching out to them and helping them attend school, providing assistance. The activities vary from early childhood education to basic literacy and accounting, foreign language support, homework support and remedial classes. Rebuilding or renovating schools is another way to help these children, in order to create a suitable school environment, where they can grow together: a message of peaceful coexistence among different religions and ethnic groups.


News related with SDGs number 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


51 teams of young innovators selected for round two of Fly Your Ideas global challenge

3 January 2019 - Fifty-one international student teams are still in the competition for Round 2 of Airbus’ sixth Fly Your Ideas global challenge. The biennal competition is a celebration of creativity and innovation to solve real industry challenges, organized in partnership with UNESCO. Students were invited to innovate in six key areas covering electrification, data services, cyber security, internet of things, artificial intelligence and mixed reality.  The teams involving 179 students representing 47 nationalities from 66 universities developed ideas which included solutions for surveillance drones, alternative power generation, ground-breaking in-flight entertainment systems and many others. The shortlisted teams have three months to mature their ideas with the support of Airbus mentors and aerospace experts before up to six finalists are chosen. Finalist teams will compete for a share of the €45,000 prize and the chance to take their idea forward within the aerospace industry. Teams will share project updates, photos, sketches and stories using #flyyourideas and will be captured on the social wall on the Fly Your Ideas (link is external) website. Open to university teams from across the world, including all disciplines from engineering and information technology to marketing and design, the competition is an opportunity for students to unleash their pioneering spirit, working at the cutting edge of digital technology alongside industry experts.


News related with SDGs number 15-Life on Land


Malaysia: Preparing future educators for teaching humanitarian law

3 January 2019 – On 15 and 16 November 2018, 27 students from the Faculty of Education at University of Malaya (UM) participated in a workshop on humanitarian principles and law. As future teachers, they wanted to prepare themselves for the task of teaching 15-year-olds about international humanitarian law as per the national curriculum's requirements. The goal was to help participants deepen their knowledge of humanitarian law and incorporate humanitarian principles into their daily lives. The student teachers prepared for the task ahead by participating in six interactive sessions that were based on Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) – a resource pack for teachers to introduce students aged 13 to 18 to the basic rules of humanitarian law. Combining photos and videos from real-life conflict situations and case studies with interactive methods such as brainstorming and group discussions, the workshop's facilitator encouraged participants to consider the ethical and humanitarian issues that emerge during times of conflict. The participants also got to put their new knowledge into practice by coming up with their own exploratory teaching modules. They facilitated sessions on various topics including child soldiers, the use of weapons that cause indiscriminate damage and the protection of humanitarian workers.


News related with SDGs number 4-Quality Education


From Me to We. My New Year’s Resolution

31 December 2018 – (David Korten) In 2019, we must move beyond the myth of the lone individual to recognize our deep interdependence and responsibilities for one another and nature.

It’s not likely that many of us will mourn the passing of 2018. It’s been a deeply troubled year defined by wildfires, floods, earthquakes, water shortages, financial chaos, political gridlock, flows of displaced persons, growth in the gap between rich and poor, the rise of dictatorial leaders, and a dire consensus warning from scientists on the impact of climate change. I’ve been pondering my New Year’s resolution for 2019. Deep change is clearly needed. But what can I do that might measure up to the magnitude of the problem? A promise to turn down my thermostat? Buy an electric car? Give to a charity? Take in a refugee? The possibilities that come to mind—even those that might involve serious commitment—seem trivial, given the scale of the problem.The problem isn’t me. It isn’t you. Nor is it those folks over there. The problem is we. The big we, humanity: What we believe, how we live, how we relate to one another and Earth. We have gotten something terribly wrong that we must now get right. But what? Do we even agree on the problem?


News related with SDGs number 4-Quality Education



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Next issue: 15 February 2019.


Good News Agency is published monthly (except August) in English, Italian and Portuguese. Past issues are available at www.goodnewsagency.org . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000. Managing Editor: Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli, Salvatore Caruso Motta, Chiara Damilano, Francesco Viglienghi, Carlo Toraldo, Andrea Landriscina, Nazzarella Franco. Webmaster, media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations, NGOs, service associations, high schools and colleges as well as over 26,000 Rotarians around the world.


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


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

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