Good News Agency – n° 6
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. Good News Agency is distributed through internet to editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address and is available in its web site: http://www.goodnewsagency.org
Good News Agency is a service activity of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979. The Association operates in support to the Lucis Trust activities, the U.N. University for Peace, Radio For Peace International and other organizations engaged in the spreading of a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective.
The second meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction concluded its session (15th September) by adopting a Declaration which expressed deep concern that anti-personnel mines continued to kill, maim and threaten the lives of countless innocent people each day.
The Declaration deplored the continued use of anti-personnel mines and called upon all those who used them to cease now and to join in the task of eradicating those weapons. States that had not formally accepted the obligations of the Convention were called upon to ratify or accede to it promptly. And States in the process of formally accepting the obligations of the Convention were called upon to apply its terms provisionally.
Graça Machel, the former first lady of Mozambique and South Africa, on 13th September called on the international community to develop a new sense of urgency in protecting children affected by armed conflict.
Releasing the first major review of global progress since her groundbreaking 1996 study, The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, Machel said that despite laudable efforts by various governments, national and international groups and UN agencies, no one has done enough or moved quickly enough to safeguard the millions of children suffering through wars.
"Power and greed can never be an excuse for sacrificing children," Machel said as she released her report today in Winnipeg, Canada. "In tolerating this scourge of war against children, every one of us becomes complicit in the violence and harm inflicted upon them," she said.
Last year investors put nearly $3 trillion into investment portfolios and funds that are screened for social responsibility, up from $639 billion in 1995, according to the Social Investment Forum. And 79 percent of those portfolios focus on companies' environmental records, up from 37 percent in 1997. Advocates of eco-friendly investing argue that companies with bad environmental records can turn out to be bad investments because they can be subject to government fines and liable for expensive cleanups. On the other hand, companies with good green records can often turn out to be good financial bets; hot growth industries right now include organic foods and alternative energy sources like fuel cells.
The Dubai International Award for Best Practices in Improving the Living Environment (DIABP) recognizes initiatives which have made outstanding contributions to improving the quality of life in cities, communities, eco-systems and eco-regions around the world. Each of the ten Awards consists of a US$30,000 cash prize, a trophy and certificate. The Award is open to all organizations from the public, private and civil society sectors.
Organised by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) and the Municipality of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in partnership with the MOST Clearing House.
IUCN's World Conservation Congress, expected to be the biggest environmental gathering ever to be held in the Middle East, will be held in Amman, Jordan from 4-11 October 2000. This important event will bring together our State and non-governmental members, Commission networks and partners in order to set the Union's focus for the first years of the new millennium.
The theme of the Amman Congress is "ecospace", a term indicating that environmental protection at various geographical scales is a prerequisite for the social, economic, and even political security of people.
Nearly half the world’s population now lives in cities, up from less than one-third half a century ago. In the more developed regions of the world, the urban population now outstrips the rural population by three to one.
At a time when many cities are struggling to cope with a lack of social housing, high unemployment, etc. as a result of globalization, migration and other demographic changes, the Ministers of housing and spatial planning have been meeting in Geneva under the auspices of the Committee on Human Settlements of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE).
The Ministers outlined their vision of the city in the 21st century. They also adopted a Declaration and a Strategy to improve the quality of life in human settlements in the 21st century.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has invited a group of high-level decision-makers from both the public and private sector from around the world to round-table discussions on how to help developing countries integrate in the economic and social growth.
Despite successful reform programmes and economic growth in developing countries and economies in transition, popular support is dwindling and the Development Agenda is losing its credibility. New mechanisms are required to address the issue of "connectivity" between populations at large and the global economy. Industry, thus, plays an important role in this respect. The UNIDO's objective, as a specialized agency of the United Nations, is to speed up the process of sustainable industrialization and to create environment that avoids marginalization among countries and spreads the benefits of growth among people.
The impact of globalization on the lives and livelihoods of millions of agricultural workers was examined by tripartite delegates from 26 countries at a meeting held at the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva from 18-22 September 2000.
At the meeting, that was organized under the auspices of the ILO's Sectoral Activities Programme, delegates debated such questions as: "How is the agriculture sector - the largest employer of the world labour force - affected by globalization? What role does it play and how can this role be enhanced in a sustainable manner to improve the living standards of farmers and farm workers?"
This two-day international conference in Bonn is targeted at giving developing country representatives the chance to present their proposals for WTO-reform one year after Seattle. Themes: October 30: From Green Room to Glass Room - internal transparency; October 31: Special and Differential Treatment of Developing Countries in the WTO.
Rome, 14 September 2000 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide loans for 5 development projects worth USD 67.9 million. The Fund’s Executive Board that met at the Headquarters in Rome approved loans for Azerbaijan and Georgia, Bolivia, Sudan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Venezuela.
The U.S. is cancelling part of Bangladesh's debt and allowing future interest payments to go toward paying for forest protection in the tropical country, the first such agreement under a U.S. debt-for-nature law passed in 1998. The shift will free up about $8.5 million over 18 years for conservation of Bangladeshi forests.
U.S. Treasury Deputy Secretary Stuart Eizenstat said the agreement reflects a "commitment to protect biodiversity and tropical forests around the world." The Clinton administration is discussing similar deals with Belize and El Salvador.
Saharawi Refugee: financing was approved for the project of restoration of the Dakla hospital, that includes first aid areas and a delivery room. The present conditions of the hospital, that covers about 38,000 people, are disastrous, the medical equipment is very scarce and the building structure is crumbling. The projects aims at ensuring health assistance to the population, particularly to pregnant women, mothers, children and elderly people.
Nicaragua: it has started the project of post-emergency assistance for the population hit by the earthquake in the area of Masaya. The project will ensure a temporary dwelling for about 200 families without a shelter as well as an emergency restructuring for the seriously damaged homes of 370 families.
Activity in Italy: the Project Schools, a course for teachers and didactic directors, is about to start in 10 schools in Milan. The course – “The Teacher’s Role in Abuse Prevention” – offers theoretic search, modes of observation and inter-disciplinary presentations on the themes relevant to child abuse and to the administrative, civil and penal policies related to such a difficult and most delicate subject.
UN Resolutions Demand Nuclear Disarmament
The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which deals with nuclear disarma-ment, will begin meeting on 3 October. Preparatory meetings are already taking place, and the First Committee agenda is available on the UN website: www.un.org/News/Press/7days.html
A number of constructive resolutions concerning nuclear disarmament are on the agenda. Among those is a resolution sponsored by the New Agenda Coalition (New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Egypt), calling upon the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and their commitments undertaken at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The full version of the NAC resolution is available on the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation website at http://www.wagingpeace.org. Other resolutions include one calling for a nuclear weapons convention, one calling for the entire south-ern hemisphere to be a nuclear weapons free zone, one calling for a convention to prevent an arms race in Outer Space and one calling for all nuclear weapons to be taken off hair-trigger alert.
The Sunflower Newsletter No. 41 October 2000, http://www.abolition2000.org
Minister of the Russian Federation on Atomic Energy, Evgueny Adamov, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration of the United States, General John Gordon, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, met in Vienna on 18 September 2000 to review progress on the Trilateral Initiative which was launched in 1996 to develop a new IAEA verification system for weapon-origin material designated as released from defense programs by the United States or the Russian Federation. The removal of weapon-origin fissile material from the defense programmes of the Russian Federation and the United States is in furtherance of the obligations of the two States under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
A prosperous, equitable and environmentally sustainable world is within our reach, but only if governments adopt new policies to encourage the delivery of energy services in cleaner and more efficient ways.
This is the main conclusion of the World Energy Assessment: Energy and the Challenge of Sustainability, a major new report produced jointly by the United Nations Development Programme, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Energy Council, an organization representing major energy suppliers. The report draws on the findings of nearly one hundred scientists, energy experts, social researchers and development practitioners from around the world.
The U.S. EPA is expected to announce as early as next week a plan to begin regulating dangerous mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Mercury contamination is believed to cause neurological damage in some 60,000 babies born each year in the U.S., and the damage may affect kids' performance in school, according to a report released in July by the National Academy of Sciences. The EPA's plan to require new emissions-scrubbing and coal-cleaning technologies at power plants could help lower mercury levels in fish, the most common source for humans of the dangerous contaminant. Mercury pollution from power plants makes its way into streams, lakes, and oceans and accumulates in fish. An EPA proposal for regulating mercury emissions is now under review at the White House. Two environmental groups have sued the EPA for not acting more quickly on this issue.
The first major wind turbine project in the Southeast is now underway, with three turbines operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority expected to go online next month in Oliver Springs.
To mark Earth Day 2000, the TVA on April 22 began offering a pilot green energy package to customers of a dozen of its 158 local distributors; residential users will pay about $4 extra per month to get power from renewable sources. So far, almost 2,000 homes and 115 businesses have signed up for the green power option, and TVA hopes to boost that to 8,000 homes by next spring. In addition to its wind power project, TVA already operates four solar collectors.
More than 60 million signatures for a culture of peace presented to the United Nations
More than 60 million signatures in support of a culture of peace were symbolically delivered to the United Nations on 19 September by children and youth representing all regions of the world.
The signatures to the Manifesto 2000 for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence, launched by UNESCO and several Nobel Peace Laureates in March 1999, were presented to the President of the UN General Assembly, Harri Holkeri, as part of the celebration of Millennium Peace Day.
The signature campaign for the Manifesto 2000 will continue at least until the end of the year 2000, which the United Nations has declared the International Year for the Culture of Peace.
The Manifesto 2000 is not a petition, but a commitment by each person who signs it to follow the six principles of a culture of peace in his or her daily life, family, work and community: respect all life, reject violence, share with others, listen to understand, preserve the planet and rediscover solidarity. These principles correspond closely to the six values adopted recently in the final Declaration at the Millennium Summit: freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.
Planetary Vision Festival 2001
Planetary Vision Festival 2001 is the first in an annual series of events and programs promoting a new ‘planetary consciousness’ and the related ethics and actions. The Festival will unite people worldwide in raising awareness of the great opportunities that exist at the
turn-of-the-millennium “to shape a peaceful and sustainable future for all" and help spur humanity to new actions and new heights. PVF2001 will be launched on “World Day One” (January 1, 2001) with two worldwide events: First Steps – A Walk for the Future and the First Global Singalong, and continue with special events and programs including Sunrise Festivities on the “World Day of Planetary Consciousness” (March 20, 2001), the “World Month of Global Understanding” (March 21 to April 21, 2001) and the “World Day of Planetary Ethics” (September 20, 2001).
The Planetary Vision Festival is initiated by The Club of Budapest in partnership with the Founding Alliance Members including: Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, First Steps International, Global Foundation for Understanding, Pathways to Peace, Sister Cities International–Pause for Peace Project and The Club of Budapest USA. The Club of Budapest is an international association dedicated to developing new thinking and ethics that will help address the social, political, economic and ecological challenges of the 21st Century. Honorary Members include: The Dalai Lama, Arthur Clarke, Peter Ustinov, Vaclav Havel, Mikhail Gorbachev, Riane Eisler, Desmond Tutu & Peter Gabriel.
To participate as a PVF2001 Founding Alliance Member, Event Organizer or Sponsor, contact Project Director David Woolfson at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 1-905-881-0735 or Fax: 1-905-881-8731.
In order to prepare Europe to the coming
two decades, 2.500 Euro-Citizens and Decision-Makers will gather in Paris for
an event that will include more than 20 different workshops, 300 prestigious speakers from politics,
business, science, among whom more than 20 European ministers and
commissioners, 1,000 students from all over Europe, and 1,000 young European
professionals from all sectors of society (institutions, enterprises, civil
Visits bring Africa focus to UNESCO
These weeks at UNESCO had a strong African emphasis, as the leaders of three African regional and sub-regional groups paid important official visits to Organization Headquarters. The Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Lansana Kouyate, visited UNESCO from September 18 to 20, followed by the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Prega Ramsamy (September 27 to 29). The Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Salim Ahmed Salim will visit UBESCO from October 23 to 25.
The high-level visits provide the opportunity for an evaluation - through joint commissions in particular - of cooperation between UNESCO and the three African organizations. They also help formulate action proposals liable to fit into the Organization's future strategy, which is due to focus on multinational programmes. A continent's hopes for the coming century is being set forth during the visits to UNESCO, which considers Africa a priority.
Sales of organic food in Britain could increase tenfold within the next 10 years, from 1 percent of all food eaten in the country to 10 percent, Carlo Leifert, director of the Organic Support Centre at Aberdeen University, said yesterday. His prediction comes as British supermarkets are starting a price war aimed at lowering the prices of some organic foods almost to the level of foods grown using pesticides. The Iceland supermarket chain was the first to pledge lower prices on organics, and Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket company, announced this week that it will follow suit. The Sainsbury's chain, meanwhile, has encouraged the entire Caribbean island of Grenada to convert to organic farming and has promised to buy as much organic food as it can produce. Tesco Marketing Director Tim Mason: "Demand is going through the roof, and this year will be remembered as the time when organic became mainstream."
About 60,000 Liberians have received vaccinations for yellow fever, following an outbreak in the west of the country last month. Some 150,000 people are targeted for vaccination. There have been 102 cases of yellow fever reported in Liberia and four people have died, Dr. Mamadou Kone of the World Health Organization told IRIN on Thursday.
Tajik and Russian agencies, with help from the United Nations, are making it much more difficult for traffickers to smuggle heroin from Afghanistan to Europe via Central Asia. With aid from the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), drug and border control services in Tajikistan have already quadrupled seizures of heroin over last year.
Through the combined efforts of the newly established Tajik Drug Control Agency and the Russian Federal Border Service (RFBS) operating at the Tajik-Afghan border, a total of almost 600 kilogrammes of heroin were seized at in the first eight months of this year , an increase of 400 per cent over the same period in 1999. About 2,000 kilogrammes of narcotics of various kinds were seized by the two agencies since the start of the year, doubling the amount confiscated in the same part of 1999.