In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project presented to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information via the Internet.*


Good News Agency – Year XII, n° 195



Weekly – Year XII, number 195 – 2nd December 2011

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

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 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities. 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. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Millennium Development Goals


International legislation



Senior UN official lauds trilateral pact to halt drug smuggling from Afghanistan

28 November – The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today praised counter-narcotics ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran on a new agreement that will increase the exchange of information to tackle drug trafficking in the region. Afghanistan provides 90 per cent of the world’s opium, most of which is shipped through Iran and Pakistan. Since 2007, the three countries have been involved in the UNODC-sponsored Triangular Initiative to coordinate their efforts to combat trafficking.

The ministerial declaration signed today by the three countries strengthens the joint planning cell, which enhances analytical and operational capacity and coordinates joint operations. The cell has yielded results in the past, coordinating 12 joint drug control operations that led to the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrests of key drug dealers and traffickers.


Morocco: Ban welcomes peaceful conduct of legislative elections

New York, November 28 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended the peaceful staging of legislative elections in Morocco and called for the incoming government to respond to the aspirations of the North African country’s people.

Moroccans voted on Friday to elect the 395 members of the Assembly of Representatives, or the country’s lower house of Parliament, in line with constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI earlier this year and approved by a public referendum in July. The reform process was introduced after public demonstrations in Morocco in February, echoing the popular protest movement known as the Arab Spring that has swept North Africa and the Middle East this year.

In a statement issued today by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban welcomed the conduct of the polls and encouraged the government to be formed in the weeks ahead to implement the reforms outlined by the King and approved by the public. The statement also called on the incoming government “to respond concretely to the legitimate aspirations of the people of Morocco, in close consultation with all national stakeholders, including the women and the youth.”


Convention on cluster munitions take firm hold

Geneva, 16 November - The international treaty banning cluster munitions is having a powerful impact after just one year of implementation, according to Cluster Munition Monitor 2011, a global report launched today at the UN in Geneva.

Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 details progress made in implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the legally-binding treaty which 111 states have now joined, agreeing to ban this deadly, indiscriminate weapon. Of states that have used produced, exported, or stockpiled cluster munitions, 38 have now joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, thereby committing to never engage in those activities again.

- Eleven States Parties have completed destruction of their cluster munition stockpiles (Afghanistan, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain) and the other 13 States Parties with stockpiles have committed to destroy them by the convention’s eight-year deadline.

- Collectively, States Parties have destroyed nearly 600,000 cluster munitions containing more than 64.5 million submunitions.

- Two of the world’s biggest stockpilersGermany (67 million submunitions) and the United Kingdom (39 million submunitions)—have already destroyed half of their respective stocks.

Five countries that have signed but not yet ratified the treaty have already completed destruction of their stockpiles (Angola, Colombia, Honduras, Hungary, and Iraq).

- Since the treaty entered into force on 1 August 2010, an additional 28 countries have become States Parties, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lebanon, which are all contaminated by cluster munition remnants.


World’s newest country makes banning landmines first international commitment

Author(s): Site Admin <>

Geneva, 11 November - The Republic of South Sudan, where thousands live in daily fear of landmines, has become the 158th State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, just five months after declaring independence. In depositing its instrument of succession at the United Nations in New York today, South Sudan made this its first internationally-binding agreement since becoming an independent nation in July 2011.

At the end of 2010, South Sudan was home to at least 4,283 victims of mines and explosive remnants of war, with true numbers likely to be much higher due to under-reporting, according to the ICBL’s Landmine Monitor. As a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, South Sudan must destroy all of its stockpiles, clear its contaminated land and provide improved assistance to survivors and communities affected by this indiscriminate weapon.

South Sudan’s succession comes just two weeks ahead of a key global conference on the Mine Ban Treaty: the 11th Meeting of States Parties, which will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 28 November and 2 December.


Hilton Foundation funds groundbreaking study on outcomes among youth in both foster care and juvenile justice systems

Los Angeles county foster care youth study reinforces new state policy that keeps young adults in program until age 21

Los Angeles, CA, USA, November 9 – A first-ever study of youth in foster care and on probation in Los Angeles County released today shows that these individuals are faring poorly under the current system and face severe challenges in education, employment, health, mental health and earnings potential. Funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the study, “Young Adult Outcomes of Youth Exiting Dependent or Delinquent Care in Los Angeles County” will be made available to those drawing up the implementation plans for the new state policy (AB12) that extends foster care from 18 years to 21 years starting January 1, 2012. Currently benefits and services for foster youth expire at 18 years of age.

"This groundbreaking study shows that vulnerable youth who have the opportunity to go to college and get a decent job consume fewer public service resources," said Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO of the Hilton Foundation. "More importantly, by giving these youth a chance at a better future, our society also will gain contributing new members and long-term benefits."



Human rights



Rwanda: UN tribunal convicts former mayor of genocide and extermination

17 November – The United Nations tribunal trying those most responsible for the 1994 genocide that engulfed Rwanda today found a former mayor guilty of genocide and extermination and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

In its verdict, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) ruled that Grégoire Ndahimana, the former mayor of Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture, committed the crime of extermination by “aiding and abetting as well as by virtue of his command responsibility over communal police in Kivumu.” A count of complicity to genocide was dismissed.

The tribunal, which is based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, ordered that its sentence against Mr. Ndahimana supersede any other imposed on the accused by any other State or institution, and that he receives credit for time served since his arrest on 11 August 2009.


Red Cross Red Crescent movement launches Ubuntu Initiative

Published: 9 November 2011 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) – the world’s largest humanitarian and development network – and its member national Red Cross societies in the Southern Africa region launched a long-term and intra-region Ubuntu initiative on the 21st of October in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Ubuntu initiative seeks to address migration-related humanitarian challenges while promoting respect for diversity and social inclusion in five priority countries in Southern Africa.

The five year Ubuntu programme, which will be implemented by National Societies in Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, will achieve this through adapting their existing areas of work and introducing new approaches in community-based health; disaster preparedness, risk reduction and response; and tracing and family links services. In addition, it will facilitate and promote social inclusion in both migrant and host communities, especially those on major migration routes.

The Initiative is built on the core values of African culture which include respect for any human being, collectivity and sharing, humility, solidarity, caring, hospitality, and interdependence and is also in line with the Red Cross’ principles of non-discrimination to all persons with humanitarian needs, irrespective of nationality or legal status.



Economy and development



IFAD to call for enhancing effective partnerships at Busan aid effectiveness forum

Rome, 28 November – Global leaders attending the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) on 29 November–1 December in Busan, Korea, will review and assess progress made in the implementation of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and determine how global development efforts can be accelerated over the next couple of years.

In Busan, IFAD will call for a global partnership for agriculture development between civil society, governments, donors and private sector. The Fund will show how aid efficiency can be scaled up by sharing its own proven rural development solutions. A good example of a project which has been scaled up to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of millions of people, is in the highlands of Peru.

The basic principles of the projects’ demand-driven approach have been incorporated by one of Peru’s largest national development programmes. Also, some of the innovative features are being taken up by Peru’s Ministry of Transport; the World Bank in a new project in the southern Sierra; and by European Union-financed projects in Guatemala and Chile.

Country ownership is at the heart of effective aid for agriculture and rural development. It is a process that allows governments, civil society and the private sector to participate in all aspects of rural development, including the creation, implementation and monitoring of national development strategies, programmes and projects.

Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4)


North Korea harvest improves - But serious nutrition concerns persist

Rome, 25 November – An assessment conducted by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) indicates an improvement in the main annual harvest for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) compared to 2010 but highlights ongoing concerns over the nutrition situation, particularly among young children.

The joint FAO/WFP report, published today, estimates that while harvests are expected to increase by about 8.5 percent over last year, the country will still have a cereal import requirement of 739 000 metric tons. With planned Government imports for the year at 325 000 tons there remains an uncovered cereal deficit of 414 000 tons. 

The report concludes that nearly 3 million people will continue to require food assistance in 2012. Pulses and fortified blended foods are recommended specifically to address the problem of protein deficiency, to help recovery from a severe lean season and to prevent a further spike in malnutrition. 


More than 132,000 persons helped through ADRA's JENGA II project in D.R. Congo

November 22, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) was granted nearly $52 million by USAID for a five-year program, which began in July of 2011, to reduce food insecurity in the South Kivu district of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This multi-year program is directly benefiting more than 133,000 beneficiaries in areas of agriculture, health and gender-related issues. According to Agency reports, ADRA has already reduced food insecurity in South Kivu through a previous project entitled JENGA; the Kiswahili word meaning "to build." Due to the success of JENGA, the Agency is continuing and expanding their intervention through the new program, fittingly named JENGA II.

Through JENGA II, ADRA is targeting farming households and assisting them to increase and diversify agricultural productivity, in addition assisting them improve the commercialization of their crop's yield, and enhance overall community resiliency to food insecurity shocks. This is being achieved through the establishment of farmer field schools (FFS) that are training beneficiaries in various agricultural practices, while familiarizing them with improved technologies.


Western Union and USAID launch second African Diaspora Marketplace with small business workshops in seven cities

Tour kicks off second phase of successful initiative designed to create entrepreneurial solutions to economic and social challenges

Engelwood, Colo. and Washington, November 22 - The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU) a leader in global payment services, the Western Union Foundation  and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today launched the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM), an initiative which encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African diaspora entrepreneurs with ideas for start-up and established businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

ADM II is launching with a small business workshop tour kicking off November 30 in Atlanta, followed by stops in Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, before ending in Washington, DC on December 16. The second phase of ADM will incorporate key lessons from the first African Diaspora Marketplace, targeting grants toward high priority, high-impact sectors in Africa, including agribusiness, renewable energy, and information and communication technology (ICT).


ADRA successfully enhances access to reliable food sources in Ghana

November 22, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency's (ADRA) Northern Ghana Food Security Resilience Project (NGFSRP), which served to improve food security for some 10,000 poor and vulnerable small-scale rural farmer households (about 70, 000 people), has come to completion.

Implemented by ADRA Ghana, the project was funded by the European Commission (EC) with ADRA-UK providing 10 percent matching fund. This 20-month project benefitted an estimated 130 communities in the Upper West and Northern Regions of Ghana, with specific objectives to improve coping strategies for vulnerable people in the midst of soaring food prices.

ADRA Ghana provided training to farmers, who then taught organized groups of farmer's best practices in the field of agriculture. This included on site selection, land preparation methods, soil fertility improvement and management, cost-effective fertilizer and manure applications, use of mulch farming methods, composting, use of high yielding crop varieties, recommended planting methods, farm maintenance and management practices, pest and disease management, and use of Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA) methods.


Global South-South Development Expo at FAO, 5-9 December

Rome event to spotlight South-South solutions to hunger, other challenges

As northern countries tighten their economic belts, countries from the global south are, increasingly, taking the financial and technical leads to support innovative, successful solutions in food production, agricultural technology, nutrition, and other areas. While much of the world has faced difficulty in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, several countries of the South have seen major successes in reducing extreme poverty and hunger and improving access to water, healthcare, education and other benefits.

From 5-9 December 2011, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization will host the Global South-South Development Expo, the first expo dedicated solely to showcasing and sharing successful examples of Southern-led solutions to global development challenges.

The 2011 edition of the GSSD Expo – which is organized every year by the UN’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation – will put the spotlight on the food insecurity crisis in the South, where more than 925 million still go hungry every day.






Royalties from new book earmarked for Occupy Wall Street Movement

By Raymund Flandez

November 23 – The Occupy Wall Street movement and other efforts like it are getting a fund-raising boost from a book that seeks to chronicle and lend credence to the protests.

Yes! magazine, a nonprofit publication that covers environmental and political issues, released a new book last week called This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement.

The book’s aim is to analyze the movement, which protests social and economic inequality.

All royalties for the print edition of the book will be given to Occupy protests throughout the United States. The 96-page book retails for $9.95 but Yes! magazine’s online store sells it at a discount. “We just feel that there is a large number of people who are following this, and they may or may not be sympathetic, but they are curious,” says Fran Korten, the magazine’s executive director. “And they’re confused. This book will help bring a better understanding.”

Yes! magazine, an ad-free publication founded in 1996, worked with Berrett-Koehler Publishers to write and publish the book to coincide with the two-month anniversary of the first Occupy protests at New York’s Zuccotti Park. Many of the chapters were adapted from the magazine’s coverage of the Occupy movement, Ms. Korten says.

The magazine plans to give a total of 500 free copies to more than 80 Occupy sites; it has already handed out free copies to the lending libraries, information desks, and media tents of Occupy sites, including those in New York; Oakland, Calif.; San Francisco; and Washington.

The effort by Yes! comes after Occupy Wall Street has already attracted a lot of spontaneous contributions. After just one month, and no formal appeals, more than $450,000 poured into Occupy Wall Street.


Turkey: Education International and its affiliates support earthquake victims

22 November - Following devastating earthquakes in the eastern provinces of Turkey, more than 600 people have died, amongst them 75 teachers. With winter approaching fast, survivors are facing tremendous difficulties. EI and its affiliates Egitim Sen, Turkey, and Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW) of Germany are calling for donations to help the disaster's victims.

The number of houses and schools that were destroyed during the catastrophe has still to be ascertained, but is expected to be immense. Ten of thousands are without shelter and have been accommodated in makeshift tents and sheds.

Egitim Sen is engaged in emergency aid work since the first day after the earthquake. Their branch offices throughout Turkey are collecting urgent necessary materials such as clothes, blankets, tents, hygienic equipment, to be sent to the earthquake region.


ADRA receives major grant from Chinese government in response to Cambodian floods

November 22, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in China has been awarded approximately $64,000 to assist victims affected by the recent floods in Cambodia. This grant was provided by the Hong Kong SAR Government's Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee; enabling ADRA to further their intervention responding to Cambodia's worst flooding of the decade. With this grant, ADRA China is supporting its network office, ADRA Cambodia, to provide food kits to 2,300 households, or 9,200 beneficiaries, in Baray and Santuk, located in the District of Kompong Thom province. ADRA's Cambodia office has been working with trained local partners and has so far provided approximately 2,100 families with food baskets containing rice, noodles, canned fish, oil, salt, and sugar. In addition to food, tarpaulins have been provided to 520 families whose homes were damaged.


USA - “Living Gifts”: the Ten Thousand Villages program that keeps on giving

By Nick Krewen,

15 November – If you find yourself in the charitable spirit during the holidays, you can give the gift of sustainability. From now until the end of the year, Ten Thousand Villages — the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America with an online presence at and a 48-store network throughout the continent — has a number of beneficiaries that will stretch your dollar should you choose to purchase a gift or donate.

For example, a $40 gift will buy four bags of cement that will be used to construct a sand dam in Tanzania, helping to provide clean and accessible water for local communities. A $25 gift of empowerment will provide soap-making training for former Bangladesh sex workers, and an additional $6 will provide the natural oil and fresh herb soap materials. Feeling especially generous? For $350, you can provide a “farmyard” that includes the gift of small livestock and training for Kenya families, while a single goat costs $35. (...)

A member of the World Fair Trade Organization, a coalition of handicraft and agricultural producers, Ten Thousand Villages has raised over $5 million in donations since pairing with the Mennonite Central Committee in 2003. These “commerce with a conscience” items can be purchased by individuals, groups or corporations, and tax receipts are available.


Health centers and boarding school brought back to life in Tajikistan

By Jennifer O'Riordan

(...) The local healthcare centers in the villages of Duoba and Jonvarsuz held reopening ceremonies on Oct. 26, after renovations were completed with the help of Counterpart and the U.S. State Department. Both facilities provide a vital resource to village residents and to those living in the surrounding area of Javonon Jamoat. “The centers mean a lot to the communities, without them, access to healthcare in the area would be very limited. Counterpart is delighted to be able to help renovate these facilities,” says Rang Hee Kim, Director of Humanitarian Assistance at Counterpart. (...) With funding from the State Department and contributions from the Faizobod District government, Counterpart’s Community and Humanitarian Assistance Program (CHAP) organized the repairs and managed the reconstruction projects. The district government’s contributions of $6,000 made possible the installation of new roofs on both facilities. Through its commodity distribution program, Counterpart will also provide furniture and medical equipment to the Jonvarsuz and Duoba healthcare centers. (...)



Peace and security



International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people 29 November 2011

By Claudette Habesch, Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem

Since 1948, we Palestinians have experienced dispossession and exile. Our diaspora counts today more than 9 million people all over the world.

Since 1967, we Palestinians continue to live under occupation. Checkpoints, the separation wall, lack of access to farmlands and humiliation are part of our daily life. For years, we plead for justice so that peace can come to the two peoples of the Holy Land. For years, we are asking for justice and an independent Palestinian state.

After decades of fruitless negotiations and faced with a shrinking homeland, we felt compelled to go to the United Nations to ask for the full recognition of the State of Palestine. We hope the nations of the world will respond to our call for the respect and dignity of the Palestinian people at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

On this day of Solidarity, we wish no less than justice and peace. Thanking you for your prayers, your solidarity, and your courage to stand with the rights of the Palestinian people.


With Constituent Assembly extended, Ban calls on Nepal to advance peace process

New York, November 29 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today noted the decision to extend Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with drafting the new constitution, and called on all parties to fulfil their commitments to take the peace process forward.

Nepal has been trying to work out the remaining aspects of the peace process that in 2007 ended the decade-long civil war between Government forces and Maoists that claimed 13,000 lives. “The Secretary-General is encouraged by the growing consensus amongst the political parties in Nepal to take the peace process forward,” his spokesperson said in a statement. “He notes the decision taken today to extend the Constituent Assembly by six more months and calls on all concerned to fulfil their commitments.” See:

Earlier this month Mr. Ban welcomed the agreement reached among Nepal’s political parties on resolving the outstanding issues related to the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants.


Palestinian pupils at UN schools form group image as dove of peace

25 November – Hundreds of children from United Nations-run schools in the Jericho area of the occupied Palestinian territory today created a massive aerial image jointly with the renowned artist John Quigley to send out a peace message to the world.

The children, who attend schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), gathered at the foot of the Mount of Temptation, outside Jericho, to form the shape of the Peace Dove created by the artist Pablo Picasso. They were directed by Mr. Quigley, who has created mass images from groups of people for over a quarter of a century.

Meanwhile, UNRWA has entered a partnership with the Spanish football club Real Madrid under which eight Social Sport Schools will be established in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for the benefit of 10,000 Palestinian refugee children. The project is intended to give Palestinian refugee children the opportunity to practise sports and learn values such as teamwork and to increase their self-esteem.


First 12 months of EU-Funded DCA mine project celebrated in Angola

The first 12 months of a DanChurchAid (DCA) mine action project in Angola was recently celebrated in Luena together with partners, including one of the main donors, the European. In Angola, DCA is currently clearing the Alto Campo mine field in the eastern province of Moxico. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. DCA has received €2 million for this work, while the UK-based mine action organisation, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), has received another €2 million.

At the 25 October event held in the Moxico capital of Luena, DCA presented its results regarding the work in Alto Campo. So far, 710 mines and 450 explosive remnants of war have been found and destroyed. 350,000 sqm have been cleared by manual clearance and another 150,000 sqm by non-technical survey processes. Because of the difficult terrain and the spread of items, works is particularly difficult. So far, 37 people have been hurt in Alto Campo. Of these, 15 have died. (…)


Ban praises Cameroon, Nigeria for carrying out border demarcation ruling

22 November – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated Cameroon and Nigeria for progress in implementing the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on their dispute over their border, saying the process had demonstrated that preventive diplomacy can succeed.

The border had been the subject of intense and sometimes violent disputes between the West African neighbours for decades until they agreed to a United Nations-backed process to settle the matter.

The ICJ resolved the issue with a ruling in 2002. The verdict was followed by the 2006 Greentree Agreement – signed under the auspices of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan – under which Nigeria recognized Cameroonian sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula, one part of the border.The commitment of Cameroon and Nigeria to peacefully resolve their border dispute should be a source of inspiration for countries around the world that face similar challenges.


Libya: aid for 10,000 people returning to Sirte

18 November – An estimated 25 per cent of Sirte's inhabitants are now back in their homes. Others who had been displaced by the fierce fighting that ended last month are coming to the city to check on the state of their houses and belongings. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Libyan Red Crescent have delivered food and other relief items to over 10,000 people returning to the centre of the devastated city.

On 17 November, the ICRC, together with Sirte-based Libyan Red Crescent volunteers, finished the urgent aid delivery in the city centre, which was the part of the city most extensively damaged. One-month food rations consisting of rice, beans, pasta, tomato paste, salt, sugar and tea were distributed. "Baby food is available for families with infants," said Charlotte Bennborn, an ICRC delegate who participated in the distribution. "And people returning to severely damaged houses receive blankets, hygiene parcels, jerrycans and plastic sheeting."

There are also lots of dangerous unexploded devices in Sirte. The ICRC has started to clear unexploded ordnance in the city and in Bani Walid, focusing on the areas that pose the greatest threat to returning civilians. Together with the Libyan Red Crescent, it is beefing up its efforts to raise awareness of these dangers among the population.






Yemen protects its children from polio

Mass polio vaccination campaign to prevent outbreaks

November 25 - Yemen, which has been polio-free since 2009, is considered to be at high risk of reinfection with poliovirus, as recent instability has led to decreasing access to social and healthcare services, including vaccination for children.

Heeding the lessons of the past, the country launched National Immunization Days (NIDs) on 14 November at a ceremony hosted by Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. More than 40,000 health workers were mobilized, aiming to vaccinate more than four million children under five years of age over four days. Prior to the vaccination round, public service message were broadcast on television and radio, posters and banners were widely distributed, and around 3,330 Imams were brought on board to inform Yemeni parents of the importance of vaccinating their children.

While a full analysis of the round is still being compiled, initial reports tell of "unprecedented cooperation and support from communities and local authorities in most part of the country". By the third day of the campaign, more than 3.7 million children had already been immunized.

Yemen is planning to conduct another round of National Immunization Days in early December.


India presses its advantage against polio

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 23 November – With just one case of polio reported in the last 10 months, India is more determined than ever to ensure eradication of the disease. As part of that effort, Rotarians helped administer bivalent oral polio vaccine to more than 35 million children during a Subnational Immunization Day on 13 November. The vaccine is effective against the two remaining types of the virus. (...)

On 20 November, a team of Rotarians from District 3700 (Korea) served in a health camp in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, which included immunization of children against polio. The camp was organized by Indian Rotarians in cooperation with local health officials and UNICEF.

The following day, the team took part in a door-to-door mop-up campaign, administering vaccine to children who otherwise would have missed receiving it. A TV news crew from Korea accompanied the Rotarians throughout their visit, taking the End Polio Now message back to their country. And in Mumbai, Rotary leaders John Germ, chair of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge Committee; Rotary Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan; and RI General Secretary John Hewko joined Indian Rotarians in immunizing children. (...)


Somalia: MSF treats tens of thousands affected by crisis

14 November – Even for the long-suffering Somali population, the events of the past year have been challenging. The conflict that began two decades ago continues, and its consequences are exacerbated by drought, one of the worst on record in the country.

Thousands of people have been forced to flee Somalia and are seeking humanitarian aid in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. A measles epidemic is spreading. The lack of infrastructure and services is worsening the population’s vulnerability. In recent weeks, civilians have endured new military offensives launched in southern Somalia and the capital Mogadishu.

It is in this context that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has, in less than six months, provided intensive medical care to more than 10,000 severely malnourished children who were brought to the facilities. MSF has projects in:

- Northern Kenya (mainly Dadaab)

- Eastern Ethiopia (in refugee camps in Malkadida, Kobe, Bokolmayo, Hilleweyn, Dolo Ado)

- Across much of south-central Somalia (in Marere, Beletwayne, Dinsor, Daynile, Mogadishu, Jowhar, Guriel and Galcayo)

MSF has also enrolled a total of 54,000 children in outpatient feeding programmes for the severely malnourished in more than 30 locations in these three countries.


Making water pure and simple

Fluoride occurs naturally in water throughout the world, with several belts of high groundwater concentrations. One stretches from Eritrea to Malawi, and another from Turkey through Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, northern Thailand, and China. In China, fluorosis is endemic in every province, autonomous region, and municipality except Shanghai. In India, it affects about 25 million  people. According to a WHO report, “fluorosis might be one of the most widespread of endemic health problems associated with natural geochemistry.”

Earlier this year, photographer Allison Kwesell traveled to Patari and several other villages to document the children – in whom the irreversible effects of too much fluoride are only beginning to surface – and their parents and grandparents, hunched over canes, legs bowed. She also photographed the Indian Rotarians who delivered the specially designed filters. The US$40,000 global grant project also provided toilet blocks, safe drinking water, and hygiene training to eight schools serving about 2,300 students in Uttar Pradesh. The effort addressed two areas of focus under the Foundation’s Future Vision Plan: disease prevention and treatment, and water and sanitation. WHO estimates that almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and management of water resources. As the Indian villages demonstrate, the solution requires a targeted approach, including assessments of each community’s needs.



Energy and safety



Global green economy has become a reality, un official says

New York, November 28 - The global green economy has become a reality but world governments must do more to ensure its success, the head of the United Nations agency responsible for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability declared today.“One thing is clear: green industry is real. It is already here,” UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella told the opening session of the agency’s biennial conference in Vienna.  “UNIDO has been at the forefront of the industry and environment nexus for many years,” he added, spotlighting the role played by UNIDO’s Green Industry Initiative in hastening the environmentally-friendly growth of industry and fostering sustainable development in the world’s poorer nations. < >

Citing UNIDO’s “major role” in driving the UN agenda forward on green energy issues, Dr. Yumkella also pointed to progress made by developing countries in greening their industries as an example of his agency’s contribution to next year’s meeting on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Rio+20).

The General Assembly has also named 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.


The power to persevere: how one city is rebuilding itself through biomass

By Steve Leone, Associate Editor,

16 November, Berlin, N.H., USA -- (...) Stay close enough to the unforgiving Androscoggin River, and you'll soon see the sign."Welcome to Berlin, New Hampshire: The City That Trees Built.” It’s then that you’ll realize that this struggling city doesn’t take failure easily. And giving up? It’s just not the way they do business. So when the city set out on a course to rebuild itself, it once again turned to the dense forests that long ago defined this community. For the 10,000 residents of Berlin, the cornerstone of the revitalization is a 75-megawatt biomass power plant that will by 2013 sprout from the ashes of the city’s historic paper mill.

Yes, it is renewable energy. But it has always been about more than that. It’s about jobs — 400 during the two years of construction, 40 permanent positions at the plant itself once it opens and about 200 more year-round to supply the wood needed to generate power. It’s also about the tax base that will grow because of this deal. Cate Street Capital’s $275 million project will bring to the region an estimated $40 million in annual wages, fuel procurement and purchased goods. And over the life of the project, the Burgess Biopower Plant will pay Berlin $34 million in new property taxes as well as $9 to $10 million in the sale of renewable energy credits. (…)


Second Meeting of IRENA Council, 13-14 November

Abu Dhabi ,14 November - The governing Council of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has concluded its second meeting in Abu Dhabi after two days of deliberations. The meeting was attended by 142 participants from the 21 Member countries and 44 Observer countries. The Council is IRENA’s governing body who report to the Assembly, and convenes twice a year. The membership consists of 21 countries each for a term of two years.

During this meeting the Council deliberated the draft Work Programme and Budget for 2012, and discussed a draft of the Mid-term Strategy. IRENA’s Council is served by three Committees: Governance and Legal; Finance; and Policy and Strategy. Each of these Committees held meetings in the two days prior to the Council, to form views and recommendations to present to the Council. The Work Programme and Budget 2012 will be conveyed to the Second Session of the Assembly, to be held in January 2012. The Mid-term Strategy will continue to benefit from discussions by Members at the Assembly in January, where a number of high-level officials representing IRENA’s members are expected to participate.



Environment and wildlife



Penguins rescued from New Zealand oil spill released

Posted on 24 November - The first little blue penguins affected by the Rena oil spill were released back into the wild at Mount Maunganui on Tuesday, after several weeks of recovery and care by WWF staff and other members of New Zealand’s National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Team.

The container ship Rena grounded on Astrolabe Reef in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty on October 5, 2011, spilling 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil into the sea. Over two thousand dead seabirds have been found and hundreds of live oiled birds have been collected to be treated in special wildlife recovery centres, including little blue penguins, shags, fluttering shearwaters, petrels, gannets and terns.

An army of volunteers has cleaned the beaches and rocks and the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Team made the decision to release 49 of the little blue penguins in their care this week.


WWF welcomes move by Peninsula hotel chain away from shark fin

Posted on 24 November – WWF congratulates Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels group on its groundbreaking decision to stop serving shark fin at its hotel and resort properties as of 1 January, 2012.  Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels is the parent company of the Peninsula hotel chain and operates nine luxury Peninsula hotels, as well as other properties across Asia and the United States. 

Having campaigned for years to stop the over-fishing of sharks around the world, WWF fully supports the company's move. Furthermore, WWF applauds the motivation behind its announcement, to “inspire other hospitality companies to do the same and that our industry will play a role in helping to preserve the biodiversity of our oceans,” according to a company statement.

Since May 2010, WWF-Hong Kong has been actively promoting an Alternative Shark Free Menu Programme to hotels and restaurants across the city. The programme was a major step in encouraging local caterers to provide shark-free banquet options in addition to their usual menus. The number of participating companies has surged eight-fold in a single year. Now, nearly 100 hotels and Chinese restaurants are offering their own unique, shark-free banquet options. This growing support from the catering sector implies that the market trend is changing and consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious.


Entergy Charitable Foundation issues $1.25 million in grants

New Orleans, Lou. USA, November 23 - More than 65 nonprofit groups have been selected to receive $1.25 million in grants from the Entergy Charitable Foundation, bringing the total amount of grants awarded by the foundation during 2011 to $3,052,267. Among the Entergy shareholder-funded grants are a $100,000 grant to Barataria Terrebonne Estuary Foundation to stem coastal land loss by restoring small isolated bay islands and the natural resources and wildlife that rely on them. Among the other wetlands and environmental issues related grants, the foundation gave:

    * $75,000 to the national Arbor Day Foundation to help fund their The Energy-Saving Trees program, a community tree planting program that helps residents save energy by planting the right trees in the right places to effectively shade their homes.

    * $25,000 to St. Charles Parish Louisiana for continued development of Wetland Watchers Park, a park which serves not only as a recreational outlet, but as a service learning site for wetlands conservation and restoration.

The Entergy Charitable Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation wholly funded by Entergy Corporation shareholders. The goal of the foundation is to support initiatives that help create and sustain thriving communities. ECF has a special focus on low-income initiatives as well as educational and literacy programs and efforts to protect the environment.



Religion and spirituality



URI’s “Intolerance Ends With Me” campaign extended

On-line pledge campaign to promote tolerance will continue through November 16

On September 1, 2011, URI (United Religions Initiative) invited people around the world to sign a pledge to take action against intolerance in their communities. With responses still coming in from more than 50 countries, URI is extending the campaign until November 16, the International Day for Tolerance.

The campaign was inspired by both the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and the International Day of Peace, September 21. The pledge site,, provides a list of suggested actions people can take to build trust among different groups in their communities and speak out against bigotry. Ideas include organizing an interfaith dinner, visiting a place of worship or community center, or writing a letter-to-the-editor promoting tolerance. Pledge takers are also invited to share their photos, inspiration and ideas. Visit to see photos and read more quotes from featured pledge takers like these. Each refresh of the page brings a new image.

Partners and sponsors for the campaign include  the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, North American Interfaith Network, the Pluralism Project, Interfaith Unity News, 20,000 Dialogues, My Fellow American, Bond zonder Naam (Movement Without a Name), 2011 Hours Against Hate, Covenant of the Goddess, and World Faith.


Webinar: Ending Poverty: Practical Steps for Those Inspired by Their Faith

Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 10:00am U.S. central time

This webinar will address spiritual and practical imperatives that emerge from the intersections of religion and development. We now approach the culmination of the Millennium Development Goal challenge set in the year 2000. What are the successes, flops, and challenges we must face to create greater equity in our communities and around the world?

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Visiting Professor in the School of Foreign Service. She leads the Berkley Center’s work on faith-inspired institutions working in development, that has involved both a regional “mapping” and explorations of priority development topics, around the basic questions: what can we learn from faith inspired work and why is it important for global development efforts? She is Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.



Culture and education



Partnership UNRWA with Real Madrid will establish 8 sport schools in Gaza and West Bank

New York, November 25 - UNRWA has entered a partnership with the Spanish football club Real Madrid under which eight Social Sport Schools will be established in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for the benefit of 10,000 Palestinian refugee children. “The education of new generations, who constitute the future, is the essential axis of peace building in the Middle East,” said Mr. Grandi at the signing yesterday of the partnership agreement with Florentino Pérez, the President of Real Madrid Foundation and Real Madrid FC.

“With about 700 schools across the Middle East, UNRWA emphasizes quality education; access for all refugee children to a sound education; the learning of the principles of tolerance and respect, gender equality and self-improvement. This joint project that UNRWA and Real Madrid Foundation have undertaken… promotes all these things,” he said.

The project is intended to give Palestinian refugee children the opportunity to practise sports and learn values such as teamwork and to increase their self-esteem.


10th Youth Assembly @ the United Nations: January 18 - 20, 2012 at UN Headquarters, NYC

Greenwich, CT, USA, November 22 – Registration now open for global youth delegates to the popular 10TH Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations. Young professionals from around the world, ages 22-26, continue to register in large numbers to add their voices to the success of the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 10th Youth Assembly at the United Nations: The YA+10@UN MDG Executive Sessions is free after registration processing and acceptance. The January event will engage young professionals in think tanks, networking, and special events focused on success for the MDGs.

The YA empowers nearly one thousand young people annually to find success for the UN's 8 MDGs throughout the world. Attendees receive free, practical training on how to start NGOs, administer or manage campaigns, and identify existing work by governments, the UN, or civil society. It is among the largest youth networking events on the UN’s annual calendar.

"[The YA] is an important mechanism of the United Nations. Not only does it give young people a chance to be included … it also brings new perspectives to the General Assembly, thereby enriching its work." – U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

If you register for the YA+10@UN prior to 15 December, you will receive one of the very limited invitations to attend the TEDx event at the UN. TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading."


USAID awards EDC $35M to provide programs for youth in Liberia

Newton, MA, USA, November 21 – EDC has been awarded $35 million by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide basic education, job training, and leadership skills for youth in the West African country of Liberia, where it is estimated that half of the population is under the age of 18.

The five-year Advancing Youth Project, part of USAID’s portfolio of youth livelihood development projects known as EQUIP3, will provide increased access to high-quality, alternative basic education services, social and leadership development, and livelihoods for out-of-school youth aged 13–35 who have marginal or no literacy and numeracy skills. The new project builds on EDC’s implementation of the Core Education Skills for Liberian Youth (CESLY) project, which launched a new non-formal education curriculum and helped the ministry create a more effective teacher corps in Liberia. Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that addresses urgent challenges in education, health, and economic development. EDC manages 350 projects in 35 countries. Visit


Santa “Cause” is coming to town

Newport children get books and holiday spirit from Santa

Washington, D.C., November 8 — Santa Claus is coming to town early this season for close to 600 Newport, Tennessee children from Save the Children’s literacy programs in Northwest Elementary and Bridgeport Elementary Schools. Bearing books and a "Be Merry" mission, Santa — from The Noerr Programs (that means a real beard and a real belly laugh) — is sleighing in today from his temporary residence at Simon Property Group’s West Town Mall to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to children from kindergarten to fifth grade, give new books to each child, and encourage Noerr’s BeMerry spirit of caring, sharing, good manners, helping others, and healthy choices.

The Newport event marks the 2011 national kick-off of "The Santa Cause," a partnership between Save the Children and The Noerr Programs to encourage and celebrate the act of giving back by emphasizing the importance of education for underserved, struggling children living in rural America. Last year, Noerr raised more than $117,000 to support rural U.S. children in need. This year, The Santa Cause fundraising goal for Save the Children is $250,000.


Palestinian Territory - Vocational training: doors open for Nahr El Bared youth

Beit Atfal Assumoud’s vocational training program in Nahr El Bared - The community organization partners with different humanitarian aid organizations like American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) to support underprivileged youth within the walls of the camp.

The growth and popularity of vocational training within refugee communities has sparked a sense of hope for many refugees.  As they recover from a tremulous past, the certifications and training have given them an opportunity to find employment that helps them support their families and rebuild their lives.

In partnership with Reach Out to Asia, ANERA is supporting 70 young men and women in pursuing vocational training in plumbing, autoCAD/ 3D max and graphic design. The three specialties are in demand, and can help graduates secure jobs. The courses are organized by Beit Atfal Assumoud in partnership and with support of ANERA and ROTA as part of a comprehensive program to enhance non-formal education and build capacity of vocational training (VT) providers in Nahr El Bared.


Introduction to Peace Education: A course for educators

Online course  conducted by: Teachers Without Borders, January 30-March 26, 2012

The Teachers Without Borders Introduction to Peace Education supports educators in their professional development as peace educators and connects them with like-minded colleagues around the world through a supportive virtual learning environment. The 8-week online course consists of three modules that provide a strong foundation in peace education theory and invite participants to explore ways in which they can put peace education into practice. Module 1 explores peace education theory through its history, definitions, and core concepts. Module 2 focuses on the scope of peace education, and encompasses different approaches to the field. Module 3 emphasizes the practice of peace education, including pedagogy, communication, and how to promote a culture of peace in your school and community.






Millennium Development Goals


Sergio Tripi


Because of the rapid progress of the technology for communication, we are rapidly becoming one world, which recognizes that it has sufficient resources to allow everyone on the planet to enjoy fundamental goods like food, housing, education, work and medical assistance. In spite of this formidable potential, however, man still needs to express adequately his desire to put an end to suffering on the global level. To this end, those individual and collective attitudes and ways of behaving are necessary which can translate the widespread and growing awareness of this responsibility into reality.


Perhaps, at the global level, we have expected too much from others instead of taking on our individual and national responsibilities. And thus still today several essential human conditions, those which should ensure a daily life free from need and worthy of being lived, are sadly denied to many peoples of the earth.


Originated from the Millennium Declaration produced by the United Nations, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), international development goals that all 193 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve by the year 2015,  are the answer that humanity must give to the problems of our time.

1 – To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2 – To attain primary education everywhere

3 – To promote gender equality and strengthen the role of women

4 – To reduce infantile mortality

5 – To improve the health of mothers

6 – To fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

7 – To ensure environmental sustainability

8 – To realize a global partnership for development.


   These Goals are subdivided into 21 well identified targets which are measured by 60 indicators. A specific and in-depth analysis certainly cannot be made in this context; however, here it is possible and, I think, useful to indicate how the progress of national and international institutions, supported and upheld by the work of civil society, is apparent and spurs us to reinforce efforts to overcome those obstacles, and the consequent delays, which impede their attainment.


   Human Rights: abstract concepts with little possibility of materializing, according to some; crucial ideals for the progress of humanity, according to others. Fortunately, the latter now constitute the majority of that part of humanity which is inclined to reflect and to make assessments. In this initial period of the new millennium, human rights, whether in their fundamental aspects or in their eminently concrete ones of a practical kind which characterize daily existence, are a field of vital importance. They represent the basis on which every just society should be founded, whether a remote village or the world community. A basis which is ideal, consisting of principles, but also a range of objective and specific situations to be realized with determination along a definite path and through intermediate stages which can be monitored. So it is that Human Rights give rise to the Millennium Development Goals.


   At the United Nations Summit for the Millennium, in September 2000, the heads of the nations of the world decided to go into the new millennium taking on full responsibility for a fundamental declaration on the development of the global environment: the Millennium Declaration, signed by 189 countries and then elaborated as eight goals to be reached by 2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were defined in the light of agreements arising in the nineteen-nineties from a series of world conferences of the United Nations and constitute the commitment of all countries to reduce poverty and hunger, to fight disease, gender inequality, illiteracy, lack of drinking water and environmental degradation. The awareness of the problems to be resolved in order to pursue the Millennium Development Goals includes the recognition of the efforts which must be made by the developing countries, as well as the contribution that can be made by the developed countries through commerce, development assistance, debt relief, the availability of essential medicines and the transfer of technology.


MDG 1 – To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

1st target:  to halve the proportion of the population which lives on less than a dollar a day.

The Preface to the Millennium Report of 2005 on the subject “Halving hunger: it can be done” says: “The Project of the United Nations for the Millennium set up the Task Force on Hunger in 2002, with the mandate to develop a strategy for halving hunger by 2015”. Published after three years of analysis, the report includes the recommendations and interventions of the Task Force to reach this goal. It is based on and develops “the many previous attempts aimed at eliminating world hunger, efforts which have reduced the part of the world population which suffers hunger from33 percent to18 percent in the course of the last forty years”. Further on in the Report it is explicitly stated: “Our conclusion is that hunger can be halved by 2015, and finally eradicated from our planet, with the timely and determined execution of our recommendations. It can be done”. An encouraging statement, especially if one considers it against the formidable demographic increase of the last two decades. But the condition "with the timely and determined execution of our recommendations" clearly indicates the direct responsibility that all peoples have in order to limit the delays of this march.


   From a long-term point of view, there is certainly no lack of substantial and encouraging elements for this formidable work of social construction. I quote from an article in Good New Agency of 2009:  “Of course, much still remains to be done, but it is incorrect to affirm that things are getting worse and worse, because this only involves the risk of leading to an insidious sense of impotence. This is the first stage in a path towards resignation and inertia, feelings which are really paradoxical at a time when there is the concrete possibility of realizing important goals for humanity that were unimaginable even up to the generation of our grandparents. From 1950 till today, world income has increased 10 times, while it had grown not even 4 times in the previous fifty years; the number of the poor has diminished by 20% in the last 10 years, despite the fact that the population has grown by 15%. As a whole, from 1950 till today the number of people who live below the level of poverty has passed from 50% to less than 25%. According to the UNICEF report Progress for Children (PFC), “between 1990 and today, more than 1.2 billion people have gained access to drinking water. Between 1990 and 2004 access to drinking water increased, at a global level, from 78% to 83% and it is estimated that from 1970 till today it has even passed from 30% to 83%. The rate of global malnutrition has fallen from 50% to 17% between 1950 and today. Overall life expectancy at birth has grown by 20 years in the last 40 years  and infant mortality has been reduced by 50 percent.


MDG 2 – To attain primary education everywhere

In the decades up to 2000, significant progress in this direction had been registered everywhere, though with notable differences between the various regions of the planet (in Europe the rate of                        illiteracy is 1.8%; in Africa 40.2%). In 1970 the illiterate were still 35% of the inhabitants of the Earth, while they were reduced to 21% in 2000. The rate of illiteracy among adults (population older than 15 years) fell from 36.6%  in 1970 to 20.3% in 2000. Though decreasing, the rate of female illiteracy remained much higher than that of male illiteracy: in 2000, the percentage of illiterate adults was 25.8% among women (compared with 44.6% in 1970) and 14.8% among men (compared with 28.5% in 1970).


   However, the prospects for this Goal are not bright and are decreasing, even though many poor countries are making huge efforts. Enrolment in elementary schools has been increasing and in 2008 it reached 89% of the developing world (it was 82% in 1999), but the rate of growth is not sufficient to ensure that, by 2015, all boys and girls complete a full cycle of primary school. The sub-Saharan countries (enrolment: from 58% in 1999 to 76% in 2008) and those of western Asia (from 83% to 88%) and those of southern Asia (from 79% to 90%), in spite of great progress, include the majority of the children who do not go to school in relation to the potential global school population. The inequality of conditions and of gender blocks progress towards universal education.


MDG 3 – To promote gender equality and strengthen the role of  women

Globally, women are about 74% of the (estimated) 774 million illiterate adults. In the world, 77% of adult women can read and write, while 87% of men are in this position. World-wide, the opportunities for women to have an income-earning job have increased. But in the developing countries the majority of women work in informal sectors or in the context of the family (without retribution); so they do not enjoy security of income. In sub-Saharan Africa and in southern Asia, this type of work constitutes over 80% of the working activities of women.


   At the top of the social scale, there is another significant fact: the increase in the number of women who hold a seat in parliament is slow. In the world, in September 2008 women occupied little more than 18% of national parliamentary seats (chamber of deputies and senate), with a negligible increase with respect of the previous year. In particular, at the end of October 2008, the percentage of women in parliament was: America 21.7, Europe 21.1, Asia 18.3, sub-Saharan Africa 17.9; Pacific 12.9; Arab States 9.7.


This low profile of the female role and its slow progress are an obstacle from many points of view. It is impossible to put an end to poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals until discrimination is eliminated against women, who can make a vital contribution to the economy, government, the peace process, their community and their families. The study “Gender Dimensions of Agricultural and Rural Employment: Differentiated Ways out of Poverty”, undertaken by FAO, IFAD and ILO, whose report was published in English on 21 January 2011, was conducted with the main aim of finding adequate responses to the principal obstacles to the attainment of a decent job for everyone. The study underlines that “every measure that tends towards gender equality and the reduction of poverty must recognize that in the rural reality women carry out most of the work related to the care of the children and the family. The weight of linking the productive with the reproductive responsibility inevitably impedes their possibility of obtaining a paid job, often increases their level of stress and has an impact on the dynamics of power in the family context. These effects are not considered in the conventional notion of a decent job, which tends to be focused only on situations of paid work”. Two significant examples: unpaid work in the context of family agricultural undertakings constitutes 34% of informal female work in India, and as much as 85% in Egypt. All this picture offers a clear identification of the work to be done to correct the present social rules and to understand better and value the fundamental and irreplaceable female role in the societies of the world.


   At this point I remember that one of the most beautiful thoughts on women’s role was expressed at the beginning of the twentieth century by the far-seeing Russian writer Helena Roerich: “The flight of the spirit of humanity cannot be supported by only one wing”. In view of the reality which humanity has built over the millennia of ‘masculinist’ history, I am strongly convinced that the time has arrived to intensify efforts to realize the implications of this splendid thought.


MDG 4 – To reduce infant mortality

While some countries have obtained great improvements towards achieving the goals related to health, others remain behind on this path. Often the countries with less progress are those characterized by high levels of HIV/AIDS, difficult economic conditions or conflicts. Globally, the number of deaths of children below five years of age has gone down to 8.8 million, a reduction of 30% with respect to 1990. It is estimated that the percentage of malnourished children who are less than five years old diminished from 25% in 1990 to 16% in 2010. The percentage of births assisted by specialized personnel has increased world-wide, even though, in the regions examined by the World Health Organization in Africa and southeast Asia it has been less than 50%. The number of new infections from HIV diminished globally by 16% in the period 2001-2008. The cases of tuberculosis are decreasing. The global march to reach the goal of access to drinking water is proceeding according to the programme, but greater efforts are needed to reach the goal of availability of sanitation. Impressive evidence of these efforts is linked to the battle against poliomyelitis, to which Rotary International has contributed significantly over the years, recently also jointly with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 1988 the World Assembly of Health, that is, the organization which controls WHO, launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. At that time polio was endemic in more than 125 countries, while today it is endemic in only four (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan).


MDG 5 – To improve the health of mothers

Maternal health continues to be the Millennium Development Goal which registers the most unsatisfactory progress. Recent estimates indicate that maternal mortality has diminished since 1990 but at an annual rate well below the reduction of 5.5% necessary to attain the Goal. The study indicates, for the period 1990-2008, a global annual average rate of decrease of 1.3%, as against the diminution of 0.4% reported by the UN between 1990 and 2005. So much still remains to be done, even though some specific situations are encouraging.


   The contribution of civil society in this battle is well exemplified by what has been done by the volunteers of Kathmandu in the last 17 years. Last December the director of the health centre Satungal Health Post declared: “ Besides the incentives and the actions of the Government and many donors, the contribution of the volunteers is what contributes most to reaching the goal of reducing the rate of mortality of mothers and children.” And the result is admirable, as it means that this poor Himalayan country will probably reach the fifth Millennium Development Goal on the improvement of maternal health. In fact, in September 2010, Nepal was chosen by the Comitato Riconoscimenti OSM, in collaboration with the Office for Partnership with the United Nations, as one of the 49 under-developed countries which have attained significant results with regard to the MDG. Nepal was praised for its excellent national leadership and for its commitment and progress in the field of maternal health. The goal of this country is the reduction by 2015 of the rate of maternal mortality to 213 for every 100,000 live births.


MDG 6 – To fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

HIV/AIDS – Between 2001 and 2008 the new cases of HIV/AIDS infection diminished by 16%. In 2008, 2.7 million people contracted the illness and there were two million deaths from this illness. In 2008, about 45% of the 1.4 million seropositive pregnant women  in the countries of low and medium income had an antiretroviral therapy to prevent the transmission of HIV to the child. In those countries, at the end of 2008, over four million people were being treated with that therapy, but over five million seropositive people were unable to obtain treatment.

   Between 2001 and 2009 the rate of new infections of HIV stabilized or diminished by more than 25% in at least 56 countries of the world, including 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the five countries with the greatest spread of the epidemic in the region, four nations – Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – reduced the rate of new infections from HIV by more than 25%, while the Nigerian epidemic stabilized. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most hit by the epidemic, with 69% of all new infections. In seven countries, mainly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the rates of new infections from HIV increased by 25%. Among the young, in 15 of the countries most affected, the rate of new infections from HIV fell by more than 25%, a fall linked to the adoption of safer sexual practices by the young population. Although the number of new infections is diminishing, there are two new cases of HIV for every person who starts the specific treatment. The investments in the prevention of HIV, taken globally, have not been adequate or assigned efficiently. Investments in the prevention of HIV constitute about 22% of the expenditure related to AIDS in countries of low or medium income.

   Tuberculosis – In spite of an increase in new cases of TB in the world, due to the increase in the population, a larger number of patients are being cured successfully. Mortality from TB among HIV-negative people diminished from 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 1990 to 21 deaths per 100,000 in 2008. However, cases of TB associated with HIV and cases of TB which is resistant to several medicines are more difficult to diagnose and cure.

   Malaria – There are indications that 38 countries are proceeding in the right direction to attain the goal of reducing malaria: it is estimated that, in 2008, 243 million cases of malaria caused 863,000 deaths, mostly of children under five years of age. The distribution of nets treated with insecticide has been increased, but the requirements for these have been greater than their availability everywhere. Access to antimalarial medicines (especially the therapy based on the combination with artemisina) has increased but it was insufficient in all the countries checked in 2007 and 2008.


MDG 7 – To ensure environmental sustainability

In view of the serious worsening of environmental conditions in the course of the last decades, the report of the Task Force on environmental sustainability (UN Millennium Project 2005, Environment and Human Well-being: A Practical Strategy), after studying the various problems in depth, put forward ten specific, articulated recommendations, which constitute a practical strategy for ensuring environmental sustainability. These recommendations of the Task Force had a direct contribution from almost a hundred experts, even though the members of the Task Force took direct and sole responsibility for them. The breadth of scope of the fields examined by the study is well demonstrated by the ten recommendations of the report, which are: to improve the systems of small-scale agricultural production; to promote the management of forests both for their protection and for a sustainable production; to fight the threats to the resources of fresh water and to ecosystems; to tackle the threats to fishing and marine ecosystems; to tackle the causes of pollution of the air and of water; to reduce the effects foreseen of global climatic change; to reinforce institutions and global governance; to correct the failures and distortions of the market; to improve access to, and utilization of, scientific and indigenous knowledge; and to increase environmental sustainability, including it in all proposals for development projects.

As these ten recommendations indicate, the basic problems are many and the ways of dealing with them are various and difficult; but we must succeed, all working to the best of our ability, because the emergency is great and environmental sustainability is vital.


Goal 8 – To develop a global partnership for development

Here the goals for improvement are manifold and very demanding and concern, at the institutional level, the commercial and financial system; the needs of the least-developed countries; and the debt of the developing countries. Besides the institutional level, in this march towards the improvement of human conditions, the role of civil society is sometimes decisive, frequently stimulating and always a point of reference. It is appropriate to remember, in this perspective, the motto for the year 2011-2012 which the President elect of Rotary International, Kalyan Banerjee, announced to the Governors elected for the Rotarian year 2011-12: “Know yourself in order to embrace humanity”. And at a certain point in his speech he said: “There are many things that we know how to do well: to work for clean and safe water; to spread literacy; to collaborate in every possible way with the new generations, our young people, in our new Way of action and to  help them become the leaders of tomorrow”. Then, quoting Gandhi, Banerjee invited the Rotarians to devote themselves to change: “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world. If we desire peace, we must live in peace in our families and in our communities. To put an end to environmental degradation, reduce the rate of infant mortality or prevent hunger, we must be the instrument of change, recognizing that it must be brought about in each one of us”.


A final reflection


   The eight Millennium Development Goals are wonderful evidence of unity in diversity, and to achieve them the role of the institutions will have to be integrated and at times anticipated, by the work of civil society. Without doubt the most advanced part of humanity, that part which is more aware of its own duties than of its own rights, is increasingly refusing those obsolete values which have given rise to goals and models of behaviour tending to gratify the single person or country. Those kinds of behaviour, to make it clear, which have put on the altar material success, hedonism, consumerism and the lack of an ethical code of responsibility to provide a limit to what can rightly be pursued in consideration of the rights of others. It now seems evident that the silent part of humanity of which I speak, which is mobilized by and for the evolution of consciousness, is responding with growing determination to this new way of being, which aims at the common good in the perspective of unity in diversity.


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Sergio Tripi, editor of Good News Agency, founder and president of the publishing educational charity, after a career as company director, was from 1996 to 2001 the Representative to Italy of the University for Peace, established by a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations.



United Nations headquarters – UN Development Program – UN World Food Program – UNICEF – World Health Organization – UNAIDS Report, November 2010.

Gender dimensions of agricultural and rural employment: Differentiated pathways out of poverty – status, trends and gaps, study conducted by FAO, IFAD and ILO, January 2011.

UN Millennium Project 2005. Halving Hunger: It Can Be Done. The Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York.

Non è vero che tutto va peggio (It's not true that everything gets worse), by Michele Dotti and Jacopo Fo,  EMI 2008.

Il sistema globale seconda edizione. Geografie del sistema globale (The global system, second edition. Geography of the global system), by M. Dinucci, Zanichelli, Bologna.

La fine della povertà (Endo of poverty), by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Mondadori, Milano.


Translation by Jancis Browning.


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Next issue:  13 January 2012.


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti. Media and NGOs coverage: Maurizio Palazzoni.  


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 3,000 NGOs, 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as 22,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered 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.


*In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly (, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information.  In section A - International Organizations, the Report says:

"Participatory Communication and Free Flow of Information and Knowledge has been advanced largely through use of the Internet by civil society corresponding to para 6 in the 1999 Programme of Action calling for the promotion of a culture of peace through sharing of information among actors in the global movement for a culture of peace (p.7). 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 (p.12).