Good News Agency – Year XII, n° 197



Weekly – Year XII, number 197 – 3rd February 2012

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. 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 via Internet*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Culture of Peace; Amplifying the Unseen and Unheard Voices of Peace


International legislation



United Nations Commission for Social Development - February 1 - 10

Priority theme: Poverty Eradication

The 46-member UN Commission for Social Development (CSD) is charged to advise the Economic and Social Council of the UN and Governments on social issues and the social perspective on development. Following the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen the CSD is the major UN body responsible for implementation and follow-up on the Programme of Action agreed to at the Summit. This means that the annual meetings of the Commission in New York provide an important arena for governments and civil society to review progress and develop dialogue around key themes, including poverty eradication, disability, youth, ageing, families.

During the 10 days of the Commission conference rooms at UN Headquarters in New York will be full of events organized by governments as well as civil society on the theme of poverty eradication. Focus will be on the following subjects: (a) Priority theme: Poverty eradication; (b) Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups; (i) World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons; (ii) World Programme of Action for Youth; (iii) Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002; (iv) Family issues, policies and programmes. NGO events include presentation of the outcome of the Civil Society Forum held on 31 January 2012.


Finland joins Landmine Ban Treaty

US should conclude policy review and ban landmines

January 11, Washington, DCFinland’s action to join the international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines should spur the United States and others to get on board without delay, Human Rights Watch said today. Finland deposited its instrument of accession to the Mine Ban Treaty with the United Nations in New York on January 9, 2012. The Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively prohibits use, production, trade, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines and requires their clearance and assistance to victims.

With Finland’s accession, a total of 159 nations are party to the Mine Ban Treaty, which was negotiated in 1997 and entered into force on March 1, 1999. Others that joined recently include South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, in November and Tuvalu in September. Poland, which signed the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, has indicated that it will ratify in 2012, making all European Union countries party to the treaty. In November, Somalia pledged to join in the coming months.

The majority of the other 35 nations that remain outside the ban treaty are in de facto compliance with most of the treaty’s provisions, including the United States. The US has not used antipersonnel mines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, has not produced them since 1997, and is the largest donor to international demining programs.

The Obama administration began a comprehensive landmine policy review in late 2009. The Clinton administration, in 1998, set the objective of joining the Mine Ban Treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration reversed course in February 2004, and announced that it did not ever intend to join.



Human rights



UN welcomes Iraqi ratification of Pact on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

New York, January 30- The United Nations welcomed today the ratification by Iraq of a convention that protects, promotes, and ensures the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified last week by the Iraqi Government, covers a number of key areas such as accessibility, personal mobility, health, education, employment, habilitation and rehabilitation, participation in political life, and equality and non-discrimination.

“The ratification of this convention by Iraq marks a historic step in ensuring that persons living with disabilities enjoy full participation in the Iraqi society and can contribute to the community to their full potential,” said Francesco Motta, chief of the human rights unit of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Iraq.

UNAMI noted in a news release that the ratification requires Iraq to introduce measures such as anti-discrimination legislation, the elimination of laws and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities, and considering these persons when adopting new policies and programmes. Other measures include making services, goods and facilities accessible to them.


EI welcomes new UNESCO initiative on teaching respect for all

26 January - Concerned about the increasing cases of racism, xenophobia and intolerance in many parts of the world, UNESCO, with the support of the Brazilian and United States (US) governments, has launched a new project to promote learning to live together.

The project, called “Teaching Respect for All”, was launched by Ms Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, together with Ms Esther Brimmer, the US Assistant Secretary of Department of State and Mr Marios Lisboa Theodoro, a representative of the Brazilian Government, in Paris on 18 January 2012. The launch event was attended by around 200 participants, who included policy makers, professionals/academics, students, Education International (EI) and other civil society organisations.

The project considers education as key to strengthening the foundations of tolerance and reducing discrimination and violence. It targets children and young people in their formative years through educational materials and curricula. To this end, UNESCO intends to develop a curriculum framework for anti-racism and tolerance, for adaptation and use by national governments.



Economy and development



United Nation’s report on Green Investments shows how sustainable investments can bring tide of economic and social benefits

January 25, Manila/Nairobi-  Several United Nations Programmes and Organizations including FAO, have worked on a very important report, the Green Economy in Blue World, that demonstrates how sustainablefishing, shipping and tourism can create economic growth and poverty eradication. It highlights how the sustainable management of fertilizers would reduce the cost of marine pollution caused by nutrients used in agriculture, which is estimated at $100 billion per year in the European Union alone. Only five months before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brasil, this report presents a case to stimulate countries to unlock the vast potential of the marine-based economy.  With as much as 40% of the global population living within 100 km of the coast, the world's marine ecosystemsprovide essential food, shelter and livelihoods to millions of people.Green Economy in a Blue World alsolays out some recommendations across six marine-based economic sectors. 


$45.7 million IFAD loan and grant to Malawi to boost food security in rural areas

January 24, Rome –The Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi to Belgium and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, Brave Rona Ndisale, and the President of  IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze, signed an agreement for a $22.85 million loan and $22.85 million grant to the Republic of Malawi to improve food security and reduce rural poverty in the country. Agriculture is an important sector for Malawi because it employs 85 % of the workforce and contributes nearly 45 % of the country’s gross domestic product. The programme will support approximately 200,000 poor rural households through the use of simple and affordable technologies. 


$47 million IFAD loan for small farmers in China to prepare for climate calamities

January 20, RomeGuoHandi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Rome-based agencies, and the President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze, signed an agreement for a $47 million loan to China to enhance the livelihoods of rural people.  Although China's strong economic growth, poverty is still persistent  in rural areas. IFAD’s  loan will contribute for the 48% of the Guangxi Integrated Agricultural Development Project:  a 97 million project that will help 1.92 million rural people. The project will help farmers learn innovative approaches to agriculture and improve their access to markets, information and technology. 


FAO and the European Commission project to promote climate-smart farming in Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia          

January 16, Rome-  FAO and the European Commission announced  a  €5.3 million project to help the transition in the Republic of Malawi to a  "climate-smart" approach to agriculture. Agriculture is vulnerable to climate change impacts but at the same time it contributes to global warming: a “Climate-smart” approach is necessary.  

FAO’s Assistant Director-General for the Economic and Social Development Department, Hafez Ghanem, says: "This project will look closely at three countries (…) and produce strategic plans tailored to each country's own reality". The EU is providing €3.3 million  while FAO's contribution is €2 million, but FAO will take the overall lead on the project.  


ACDI/VOCA celebrates launch of International Year of Cooperatives

Co-ops instrumental in driving economies, strengthening communities

ACDI/VOCA’s cooperative development roots date to 1963 when U.S. farmer co-ops founded a predecessor of the organization to assist cooperatives in developing countries. ACDI/VOCA retains this strong commitment to helping rural households and for 48 years has helped millions of farmers and entrepreneurs help themselves using the cooperative model.

ACDI/VOCA applauds the theme for 2012: “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World.” Worldwide, cooperatives are instrumental in driving economic, democratic and social development. In many countries they are instrumental in areas involving agricultural production and marketing, savings, credit, rural electricity, insurance, housing, and information and communication technology. From the United States—where nearly 30,000 cooperatives account for more than $3 trillion in assets, $500 billion in revenue and 2 million jobs—to hillside coffee farms of Ethiopia, cooperatives enable producers and marketers to take charge of their destinies and gain economic efficiency, while also building markets and local communities.

ACDI/VOCA does not develop a one-size-fits-all solution for smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs but rather tailors its approach to the needs of group members as well as the developmental and social context of the beneficiaries. The programs that ACDI/VOCA champions are designed to stimulate, and not replace or deter, the expanding private sector in developing countries. The goal is a more vibrant, competitive and diverse market environment.






CARE's Response to the Horn of Africa crisis

In the last six months, CARE has reached over 1.8 million affected people throughout the region. Long-term recovery efforts aim at building resilience to food insecurity

Atlanta, Ge, USA, January 19 -  CARE has been working in the Horn of Africa for several decades and was well placed to respond to the crisis. Throughout the region, CARE continues to provide immediate relief to the affected communities while placing an equally high priority on long-term projects to help reduce the risk to inevitable future droughts. CARE aims at supporting communities in building resilience to food insecurity. Between July and December 2011, CARE has reached more than 1.8 million people:

CARE is scaling up its activities in Northern Kenya to assist vulnerable pastoralist communities. Through cash-for-work programs, families are able to purchase food and other basic necessities. CARE also rehabilitates water points to ensure that communities and livestock have access to clean and safe water. Vaccination of animals helps pastoralists keep their herds alive despite the drought.  In Northern Kenya alone, CARE has reached over 460,000 people.

In Ethiopia, CARE has reached over 700,000 people in Oromia and Afar regions with nutrition, food, water, shelter, and support to their livelihoods. Through controlled destocking, animal feed and the distribution of seeds and planting materials, CARE has supported more than 100,000 people in agro-pastoralist communities. Over 19,000 children under the age of 5 have been treated for malnutrition while more than 425,000 people have benefitted from food distributions. 

Building up on existing programs in northern Somalia, CARE has been able to scale up its emergency response projects to reach over 150,000 people in several regions of Puntland and Somaliland. Building on more than 25 years of experience working in Somalia, CARE has developed tools to monitor, build capacity and ensure effective and responsible delivery of humanitarian support and use of donor funds by our local partners. (…)


In south India, ACT aids victims of cyclone

by Anto Akkara

Monday, January 23 – Following the devastating cyclone that wrecked havoc in India's southern Tamil Nadu state at year end, church charities are getting aid to affected families.

"People are still struggling without electricity, [with] roofless houses and roads blocked by fallen trees," said Florina Benoit, chief zonal officer of Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA). Benoit was speaking to ENInews on 16 January from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, after a weekend visit to the worst-hit remote villages around Cuddalore. "We have distributed emergency relief material in 40 villages. But the task is enormous," said Benoit.

Cyclone Thane pummelled the east coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on 30 December, killing nearly 50 and damaging more than 350,000 houses, schools and roads. CASA, the charity wing of 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches in India, distributed food for more than 6,000 affected people through the local Church of South India (CSI) and Lutheran churches.  (...)


$31 million contribution  to WFP from Germany to fight hunger in Yemen

January 18, Sanaa - WFP will receive the largest donation ever from Germany and one of the highest ever worldwide: a $31 Million contribution to help Yemen face its humanitarian crisis caused by recent civil unrest, soaring food and fuel prices and a breakdown in social services. Holger Green, German Ambassador to the Republic of Yemen, says: “The German Government has decided to use a major part of its regular cooperation budget in 2011/2012 to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen”. The German contribution will enable WFP to distribute more than 20,000 metric tons of food commodities such as fortified wheat flour, oil, and specialized nutritional products for severely malnourished children. The contribution will also support WFP’s Food for Girls’ Education programme which provides take-home food rations as an incentive for families to keep girls in schools. 


Liberia: ADRA working with refugee populations from Cote d'Ivoire

January 17, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The eastern region of Grand Gedeh, Liberia has become home to more than 150,000 refugees from neighboring country, Cote d'Ivoire. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to assist some of the neediest of families who have sought refuge in Liberia from drought and civil unrest. Through a project that is distributing supplies of food, and offering training in agriculture and domestic violence education, ADRA is helping strengthen physical and mental health amongst refugees.

Following the presidential election in November 2010, riots erupted in Cote d'Ivoire that eventually led 1 million people to flee from an uncertain and fearful future. Approximately 170,000 people sought refuge in neighboring Liberia, the majority of who are still living there today.


The online quiz game Freerice reached the millionth registered player : the game has provided meals to almost 5 million people

January 5, Rome  – The world’s largest online hunger-fighting game is helping more people than ever before: Freerice is a game that allows players to donate 10 grains of rice to WFP with every correct answer. Freerice players have already donated 100 billion grains of rice since the game’s launch in 2007 . Nancy Roman, WFP Director of Communications, Public Policy and Private Partnerships, says: “When one million people each do their small part, the collective effect is beyond impressive—it’s extraordinary (…), this is a significant milestone for WFP in our mission to engage millions of people online in the fight against hunger. Since June 2011, all rice raised has supported WFP’s activities in Cambodia, where WFP is purchasing rice locally for use in its school meals programmes. By encouraging kids to attend school and helping them to learn better when they get there, daily school meals are an essential investment in the next generation. 



Peace and security



New youth campaign launched in support of the needs of survivors

On January 25, the Youth to Youth Action Network officially launched its Take the Next Step with Survivors! Campaign, under the guidance of Mines Action Canada. The goal of the campaign is to promote the rights and needs of cluster munition and landmine survivors through youth-led action and advocacy.

In the coming months, the over 100 members of the Youth to Youth Action Network will be asked to undertake a variety of actions in support of that goal, including fundraising, media work, domestic advocacy and generating public awareness. They will also have access to online training sessions led by experts in the area of victim assistance, and develop critical skills such as proposal writing and utilizing social media effectively.

The Youth to Youth (Y2Y) Action Network is responsible for facilitating global youth action on cluster bombs and landmines and expanding the support and reach of youth involvement in the movement. Mines Action Canada is a Governance Board member of both networks and a recognized leader in the area of youth programming. Through their initiatives, including annual Youth Leaders Forums and the Young Professionals International program, they are actively preparing the next generation of campaigners and experts.


Somalia: UN envoy re-establishes office in Mogadishu after 17-year hiatus

24 January – The United Nations envoy for Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, today formally moved his office back to the country’s capital, Mogadishu, from neighbouring Kenya, where it has been based for 17 years. Mr. Mahiga, who was received at the airport in Mogadishu by Somalia’s Prime Minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, other officials and diplomats, said he was delighted that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) will now carry out its work from Mogadishu.

The last Special Representative of the Secretary-General to be based in Mogadishu was James Victor Gbeho, who worked with the now defunct UN Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II), and left in early 1995.

UNPOS was established shortly afterwards and has since been based in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Six UN agencies have permanent staff in Mogadishu.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the relocation of UNPOS was a demonstration of the UN’s strong commitment to working alongside the Somali people and their leaders to build peace, political stability and a hopeful future. (…)


Azerbaijan: ICRC supports communities living close to front line

Baku, 18 January – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is inaugurating two new water supply systems today that were built in the front-line villages of Gazakhlar and Mirzanagilar, in Fizuli district. In front-line regions, the problem of access to drinking water is not new. As a result of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, sources of drinking water – located along the front line – became inaccessible for residents.

In partnership with the British Red Cross and with the support of the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan, the ICRC also provided 934 needy families living in eight communities with small-scale economic support through conditional cash grants.

The ICRC, which has been active in the region since 1992, continues to address the humanitarian consequences of the conflict on the civilian population living close to the front line and supports the local authorities' efforts to improve the situation.


Nepal: students receive landmine risk related education

Kanchanpur, 8 January - Hanumandhwoj Company of the Nepal Army has conducted landmine risk reduction education at schools in Kanchanpur district. Officers of the NA have run the awareness classes to make aware students about risks of landmine by reaching to schools.

Students were told to inform nearby relatives and security bodies if they see suspicious things, not to touch things found in a pile of garbage, rivers and banks of rivers, entry gate of the security bodies and not to enter the areas surrounded with barbed wire with 'danger' sign posting around the security base camps. Education about risks of landmine involved more than 3,000 students of 30 schools so far.

A total of 773 land mines were exploded across the nation after the comprehensive Peace Accord-2063 BS and 78 people lost their lives in the incidents. UNICEF has made aware about risks of landmines to children and locals of 21,565 affected areas of 84 places of the country as part of landmine risk reduction since 2063 BS.






Cholera fight in the Democratic Republic of Congo gets fresh USD 9.1 million

Kinshasa / New York, 26 January - The humanitarian community in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) received today a new financial boost of USD 9.1 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to fight off cholera, a water-borne disease that has affected over 22,000 people and killed over 500 over the past year.

The United Nations Children Fund and the World Health Organization will receive $4.4 million and $4.7 million respectively. But agencies will work with a number of international and national NGOs who are instrumental in the frontline response. Aid organizations say they are confident that they will beat this emergency, but added that durable solutions are required and that the Congolese authorities will need to prioritise investments in clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

Aid organizations estimate that at its worst, the disease could affect some 21 million people.

The CERF was created by the United Nations in 2005 to pre-position funding to respond in a timely fashion to humanitarian crises. Last year, it allocated $4 million to fight cholera in the provinces along the Congo River.


Canada - Yoga helps at-risk and incarcerated kids

By Kim Hughes

25 January – It’s hard to believe that another chapter could possibly be added to the story of yoga, which already spans the globe and the millennia. And yet a new, perhaps unlikely group — at-risk and incarcerated youth — is discovering the stress relief, mood-enhancement and improved balance and fitness benefits of regular yoga practice.

That’s thanks to the New Leaf Yoga Foundation. The Toronto-based registered charity brings downward dog, shavasana, meditation and conscious breathing — and the above-mentioned benefits they confer — to teens “overcoming histories of abuse, neglect, incarceration, gang-involvement, addiction, marginalization and other factors that have led them to be identified as ‘at risk,’” according to the Foundation’s website,

Those involved insist yoga teaches real-world coping skills (focus, relaxation and calming breath, for example) that youth can access to constructively deal with anxiety and anger rather than acting out.  Plus, it’s fun. Judging by the testimonials of former students on the New Leaf site — not to mention zealous practitioners in stretchy pants the world over — the transformative power of yoga can’t be overstated. Not surprisingly, New Leaf instructors claim to walk away from the sessions with as almost many benefits as their students. (…)


Libyan Red Crescent uses play to restore a little bit of normality after the conflict

By Perrine Bell

Published: 25 January – 2011 was a dramatic, and traumatic year for the people of Libya, making the deployment of psychosocial support one of the most pressing needs for the National Society. Post-traumatic stress is one of the most significant outcome of conflicts. Each person who has experienced a threat to their life, or experienced violence, is likely to be affected; as will those who have lost all their belongings, homes and means of subsistence. These are fundamental needs of human beings. (…)

Further to the Appeal launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Palestinian, Italian and Danish National Societies have offered to provide psychosocial support. They sent Bassam Marshoud, a psychologist from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, who specializes in dealing with post-traumatic stress and in providing psychosocial support training, which he practiced and developed at length and in depth during the Palestinian conflict. Marshoud came in with two objectives: provide psychological support to volunteers, while developing and providing a ‘Training the Trainer’ programme in post-conflict psychosocial support. The content of this programme is based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy specialized in post-traumatic/post-conflict stress syndrome, but it can also be used by those who do not come from a psychosocial background. (...)

Within a year, thanks to the Training the Trainers approach, Marshoud’s aim is to have two teams trained to provide psychosocial support. One group of 450 ex-detainees will work with other detainees, while 650 people will be trained to work with communities and individuals. A further five professional psychologists or social workers will be hired to coordinate the entire psychosocial programme.(…)


Nigeria: helping surgeons to enhance their skills

Abuja, 24 January – More than 30 surgeons from various hospitals in Nigeria have gathered in Abuja to attend a seminar organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that will focus on surgical techniques for treating people injured by weapons. Two ICRC surgeons with extensive experience operating on weapon-wounded patients all over the world will lead the seminar during the next three days.

The seminar will make use of videos showing real-life situations involving casualties as well as the sharing of experiences and best practices. The participants are from hospitals in the states of Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Plateau and Yobe, and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) that regularly admit injured patients.

The ICRC has organized over 160 war-surgery seminars in various countries since 1989. The seminar in Abuja will be the first to take place in Nigeria.


Rotary celebrates India’s first polio-free year

By Dan Nixon and Wayne Hearn 

12 January, Rotary International News - Rotary club members worldwide are cautiously celebrating a major milestone in the global effort to eradicate polio. India, until recently an epicenter of the wild poliovirus, has gone one year without recording a new case of the crippling, sometimes fatal, disease. India’s last reported case was a two-year-old girl in West Bengal State on 13 January 2011. The country recorded 42 cases in 2010, and 741 in 2009.

A chief factor in India’s success has been the widespread use of the bivalent oral polio vaccine, which is effective against both remaining types of the poliovirus. Another has been rigorous monitoring, which has helped reduce the number of children missed by health workers during National Immunization Days to less than 1 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

Rotary has been a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since 1988, along with WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a key supporter of the initiative. 

Sporting their signature yellow vests and caps, the nearly 119,000 Rotarians in India have helped administer vaccine to children, organize free health camps and polio awareness rallies, and distribute banners, caps, comic books, and other items. (...)

If all ongoing testing for polio cases recorded through 13 January continues to yield negative results, WHO will declare that India has interrupted transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus, laying the groundwork for its removal from the polio-endemic countries list, which also includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. However, because non-endemic countries remain at risk for cases imported from endemic countries, immunizations in India and other endemic and at-risk countries must continue. Neighboring Pakistan, which has reported 189 cases so far for 2011, is a major threat to India’s continued polio-free status. Last year, an outbreak in China, which had been polio-free for a decade, was traced genetically to Pakistan. (...)


Helping HIV patients in Lebanon

January - SIDC – Soins Infirmiers et Developpement Communautaire – is situated in a quiet neighborhood in Sin El Fil, East of Beirut. It was founded in 1987 with the mission of meeting “the health needs of the youth, elderly and the most vulnerable individuals and groups in Lebanon through community empowerment”.

One of the major challenges that face persons living with HIV in Lebanon is access to healthcare and social services. Often organizations like SIDC provide these services, but operate on a very limited budget. That’s where ANERA has been able to help.  Through its partnership with YMCA-Lebanon, ANERA recently delivered a much-needed donation of the anti-retroviral medicine Didanosine. The 3,160 packages of Didanosine valued over $180,000 were kindly donated by AmeriCares Foundation.  This is the third year in a row that ANERA has delivered life-saving anti-retroviral medicines donated by AmeriCares to SIDC, which have included Abacavir, Lamivudine, Nevirapine, Zidovudine, and Saquinavir.


Canada - NHL alumni take shot at finding cure for Alzheimer’s

By Steve McLean

9 December – The National Hockey League Alumni Association has raised more than $16 million for Alzheimer's disease research since launching a Toronto tournament that gave pick-up players the chance to play shinny with some of their former professional heroes in 2006.

The Scotiabank Pro-Am for Alzheimer's expanded to Edmonton in 2010 and Calgary this year, when it raised $5.1 million, and will move into Vancouver next year. (...)

Half-a-million Canadians have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, and approximately 71,000 of them are under 65. This year alone, more than 103,000 Canadians will develop dementia, and an aging population is expected to push that figure to more than 257,000 by 2038. Alzheimer's still has no known cause or cure.

Toronto's Baycrest is the global leader in developing and providing innovations in aging and brain health, and is a partner of the alumni association in the Scotiabank Pro-Am. (…)



Energy and safety



USA: DOE report shows shift to energy-saving lighting products

January 24 - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a report that documents the increased adoption of energy-efficient lighting products in the United States over the last decade.

The new report is an update to a similar DOE report that modeled the 2001 U.S. lighting market inventory. During the intervening decade, two overarching trends emerged:

•Push toward energy-saving lighting – Investment in more efficient technologies, higher efficiency standards, and public awareness campaigns helped shift the market toward more energy-efficient lighting technologies across all sectors. The average system efficacy – a measure of the amount of light provided per watt of power consumed – of installed lighting increased from 45 lumens per watt in 2001 to 58 lumens per watt in 2010, due mainly to a move from incandescent to compact fluorescent lamps in the residential sector, and from T12 to more-efficient T8 and T5 fluorescent lamps in the commercial and industrial sectors.

•Increased demand for light – The total number of light bulbs installed in U.S. stationary applications grew from just under 7 billion in 2001 to more than 8 billion in 2010. Most of this growth occurred in the residential sector, primarily because of an increase in the number of households, which increased from under 107 million in 2001 to more than 113 million in 2010, and a rise in the number of sockets per household from an average of 43 to an average of 51.


Alleviating water scarcity in the Eastern desert of Bethlehem

By Joan Nørgaard Madsen

January 5 – (...) The Eastern desert of Bethlehem is a difficult place to live, especially due to water scarcity. There are no water systems or networks and the Bedouin residents living in this area are forced to rely on expensive tankered water during the summer time for both animal and human consumption.

The Bedouins live off their livestock so they are very much dependent on providing water for their animals. To increase access to water, DCA and EJ YMCA have commenced a project where ancient cisterns are rehabilitated and new household cisterns are built. This project is funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO).

During the raining season, the water is collected in these cisterns, but in 2010-2011 the raining season has been extremely short and the water in the cisterns ran out in early May. The next raining season starts in November-December.

To help mitigate the scarce water situation, DCA and EJ YMCA have launched a Water Scarcity Response Plan where the Bedouins living in the affected areas east of Bethlehem can buy water for a reduced amount of money. Before this intervention, the Bedouins paid between 100-300 NIS (26 – 78 USD) for a tank of water (3.7 cubic meters), and now they are able to buy one cubic meter for only 10 NIS (2.65 USD). (...)


July 2011 - June 2012: International opportunity for testing solar cooker designs

Originally announced as a one-time event Oct. 11-13, 2011 with a related conference, the solar cooker competition has been cancelled, and instead there will be a year-long opportunity for having solar cookers and fuel stoves tested free. India’s Promoters and Researchers in Non-Conventional Energy (PRINCE) group has updated standards for solar cookers, developed in conjunction with input from SCWNet members. These universal testing standards will be used to evaluate the cookers by simulating real world conditions.

Promoters and Researchers In Non-Conventional Energy (PRINCE) is a volunteer-based group dedicated to creating a better world for everyone through the use of renewable energy. We believe that protecting and enhancing the environment is possible only through using non-conventional energy sources. We are based in Dhule, Maharashtra, India and work in association with the local NGO Jankibai Trust.



Environment and wildlife



Indonesia signals intent to conserve Borneo’s “lungs of the world”

26 January, Jakarta - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree on Jan 5 authorising conservation of at least 45 percent of its share of the island of Borneo, known as Kalimantan.  The decree covers a massive area of more than 250,000 km2 encompassing vast tracts of rainforest in the Heart of Borneo and landscapes beyond.

"At least 45 percent of Indonesian Borneo will serve as the lungs of the world… with the plan ensuring that local ecosystems are protected and the biodiversity of the island is allowed to flourish," a presidential press release said.

Indonesia is rated as the world's third-worst emitter of greenhouse gases with emissions mainly due to deforestation caused by expanding palm oil, timber and pulp & paper industries.

"We hope with the decree, Indonesia will be able to meet its target of reducing gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020," forestry ministry secretary general, Hadi Daryanto, told the international media.

The regulation looks to promote the sustainable use of the island’s resources while ensuring an ambitious network of conservation areas are linked together by a series of “ecosystem corridors". In addition, existing protected areas are to be strengthened and degraded areas rehabilitated.


Both sides of the river protection confirmed for Danube sturgeons

26 January – Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgarian authorities have confirmed that a one year ban on sturgeon fishing in the Danube river is to be extended for a further four years.  Bulgaria's original ban ended the anomaly of sturgeon receiving protection only on the Romanian side of the Danube, following that country's 2006 announcement of a 10 year sturgeon fishing ban.

Originating 200 million years ago, sturgeons have outlasted the dinosaurs, but today most species are critically endangered according to the IUCN red list. Bulgaria and Romania hold the only viable populations of wild sturgeons in the European Union, but five of the six native sturgeon species in the Danube are critically endangered. Among the sturgeon species native to the Danube basin is the Beluga sturgeon famous for its expensive caviar.

Dams such as the Iron Gates between Serbia and Romania have cut off the migration routes of sturgeons, which has led to loss of spawning habitats, impacting sturgeon populations. According to the World Sturgeon Conservation Society, the Danube is the only large river system in Europe where protection of existing but dwindling sturgeon stocks is still possible.


Project Green Lavanya - A green initiative of Rotary Club of Chennai Gemini, India

1,500 tree saplings planted in one day

This tree plantation project was kick started on 10th Dec 2011 at Arangankuppam Village, Pazhaverkadu (Pulicat).   About 540 families live in this village and every house was given a coconut sapling and a flower bearing sapling. Also, saplings were planted at Tsunami rebuilt school, Community Hall and Ice Plant House. Apart from this, saplings (along with tree guards) were planted at the road sides so that it is greenery everywhere.

On the inaugural day all the villagers joined at the Community Center to hear Rotarians' speeches on "Go Green Initiative"   Villagers committed themselves tol take good care of the trees.  A short film on 'Demerits of de-forestation was shown.

This Project is the need of the hour and local Rotarians are looking forward to bring more villages under a green cover,  as their small effort in reducing global warming.

For further information: Rotarian Mythili  Muralidharan, chairman - Project Green Lavanya:



Religion and spirituality



World Interfaith Harmony Week  - February 1 - 7

In November 2010, following a proposal by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the United Nations General Assembly decided to observe the first week of February every year as World Interfaith Harmony Week. The resolution recognized that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding, and it reaffirmed that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace. Read the full resolution here.

Events will be held around the world to mark the Week. Special note should be made of a meeting, Common Ground for the Common Good, in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations on Tuesday, February 7, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm.

In calling for this meeting the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar stated: The recently-concluded Fourth Doha Forum on the Alliance of Civilizations has inspired me immensely in making this call to the international community to promote respect for diversity and pluralism regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. It is this spirit of mutual respect that will afford us a firm building block in the establishment of a global culture of peace, a climate of hope and healing to address the challenges that confront our world today.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. 


Vatican signs treaties against drug trade, organized crime, terrorism

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

Vatican City (CNS), January 26 -- The Vatican has signed three international treaties supporting the fight against the illegal drug trade, financing terrorism and organized crime.

By signing onto these international legal instruments Jan. 25, the Vatican "confirms its intention as well as its effective and practical commitment to collaborate with the international community in a manner consistent with its nature and mission, with a view to guaranteeing international peace and justice," wrote Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican secretary for relations with states. The Vatican released copies of its declarations supporting the three treaties Jan. 26.

The Vatican ratified the U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances to help "contribute and to give its moral support to the global prevention, repression and prosecution of drug abuse and the related problem of illicit trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances," wrote the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who certified the declarations.

The Vatican is adhering to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the cardinal wrote, in an effort "to contribute and to give its moral support to the global prevention, repression and prosecution of terrorism and to the protection of victims of such crimes." (...) The Vatican is also adhering to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime as "the Holy See upholds the values of brotherhood, justice and peace between persons and peoples, whose protection and strengthening require the primacy of the rule of law and respect for human rights," wrote Cardinal Bertone. (...)



Culture and education



Help my hand write my future: Literacy project launched in Senegal in collaboration with UNESCO and Procter & Gamble

February 1 - “Literacy for young girls and women through information and communication technologies (ICT),” a project initiated by the Government of Senegal in partnership with UNESCO and Procter & Gamble, was officially launched in Dakar on 30 January.

This project, under the slogan “Help my hand write my future,” aims at training 40,000 young girls and women in seven regions of the country, with emphasis on the use of ICTs to acquire skills in national languages.

This project is linked to the achievement of the 4th Education for All goal to increase adult literacy levels by 50% by 2015, especially for women. The illiteracy rate in Senegal is above 40%.

The agreement signed with Proctor & Gamble in April 2011, amounting to $750,000 over a period of two years, foresees the training of literacy teachers; face-to-face courses, virtual classrooms,  the acquisition of income generating skills and the development of teaching tools and educational programmes for radio and television.


UNESCO forum to discuss role of holocaust education in fighting prejudice

New York, January 30 - Historians and researchers will gather in Paris tomorrow for a United Nations forum designed to address the impact that Holocaust remembrance can have in stemming the tide of intolerance around the world.

The conference, which will be hosted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will provide an opportunity to debate the role of Holocaust education in the global fight against racism and anti-Semitism. It will also allow the attending experts to discuss the need to preserve the memory of the Holocaust in areas of the world where it is less well known.

Last week, the UN marked the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which is observed annually on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

In a declaration marking the occasion, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova emphasized the need for Holocaust education as part of the overall fight against intolerance. “Transmitting the memory of the Holocaust is a vital part of the struggle to combat ignorance and prejudice through education in humanist values, the sharing of cultures and knowledge of history,” Ms. Bokova said. “Education is a key front in this struggle and also UNESCO’s unique contribution, through our work for youth, training of teachers and curriculum design,” she added.


New school competitions on the Millennium Development Goals and on the Charter of Duties launched in Italy by four Rotary Clubs in synergy with Good News Agency

Four school competitions have been announced this year by four Rotary Clubs, in synergy with Good News Agency. Together with those conducted successfully in recent years, these stimulating educational activities, which have thrilled and involved many students in different geographical areas of Italy, thus amount to eleven.

The four school competitions have been announced this year in Rome, Genoa, Palermo and Pordenone and are especially directed to the higher classes of the middle schools. The subjects which the students have been invited to address concern the Millennium Development Goals, and the Charter of Duties, in this way contributing to the training of future citizens aware of the challenges of our times.

For further informstio:


Youth and experts interact at launch of UNESCO-USA-Brazil project “Teaching respect for All”

© UNESCO/Danica Bijeljac

January 27 - Living with diversity, how to tackle racism and the importance of youth involvement were topics young people in the USA and Brazil raised with UNESCO’s Director-General and experts on January 18 at UNESCO Headquarters via a live videoconference. The occasion: the launch of the UNESCO-USA-Brazil project “Teaching respect for All”. Delegates of UNESCO Member States, representatives of NGOs, teachers and students were also present.

Opening the ceremony, Ms. Irina Bokova, said education was vital to deepen understanding and to protect the dignity of all, “regardless of colour, gender, descent or national, ethnic or religious identity”. This was essential for promoting a new humanism for the 21st century, she said. (...) Mario Lisbôa Theodoro, Executive Secretary, Secretariat on Policies of Promotion of Racial Equality Brazil, said sharing experience with other countries was important. “We want to learn,” he said. “We want to hear about new experiences when it comes to fighting racism and education.” A videoconference followed with students in Bagunçaço Youth Centre, Salvador, Brazil and Tallwood High School, Virginia Beach, USA. interacting with Director-General and speakers. Chris Plutte, Executive Director of the Global Nomads Group, moderated.

Building respect in and through education was the focus of the second part of the event. Moderated by Maria Aparecida da Silva Bento of the Research Centre on Laboor Relations and Inequality in Brazil, panellists from different areas of expertise presented multiple approaches to address racism and discrimination and foster respect. (..) 


Morocco: Improving public schools and teaching conditions in rural areas together

26 January - Education International has lent its support to the first forum of teachers working in rural areas in Morocco. This initiative of the Syndicat National de l’Enseignement brought together more than 250 teachers from all national rural areas to Marrakech, from 13-15 January. EI affiliates, AOB from the Netherlands and FETE from Spain, also took part in the event.

This forum was intent on having teachers engage in a real discussion about school, programmes, the curriculum, textbooks, teaching conditions and students’ difficult situations,. The aim was to come up with proposals that could lead to real solutions to the quality of public schools in rural areas.

As in most developing countries, public services in rural areas in Morocco (60%) are deeply disadvantaged, and education is no exception.Even today, schools in the most remote areas in the Moroccan countryside have neither water nor electricity, and often no facilities (classrooms, toilets) either. Students have to walk very long distances to get there, and teachers who have to live in such areas feel totally isolated. The SNE-FDT members decided to launch on appeal to have education in rural areas in Morocco become a national priority.


Young people building the future in Zambia

By Linda Nordahl Jakobsen and Doreen Kambanganji, Communications officers

January 6 – Dorcus Siamasusu, a 24 year-old old female stands out in Sikaneka Village, a small community in the Southern Province in Zambia’s Sinazongwe District. She has been trained by the Joint Country Programme partner Monze Diocese in advocacy and has since been elected as the Community Advocacy Volunteer for the village. (...)

Like in other rural areas in Zambia, very few women in Sikaneka Village were taking part in governance issues previously. Traditionally men are expected to take a centre role in governance issues while women are expected to take care of the household and fed for the children. This has a negative impact on most women and girls and retards development as they are unable to contribute to most local issues and problems which affect their day to day life such as health care, education, markets for their agriculture products, acces to land and water, taking up leadership roles, etc.

The advocacy training that is offered by Monze Diocese helps to reverse this trend in the villages. The advocacy training is part of the Sustainable Economic and Social Empowerment of Vulnerable and Marginalized Rural Communities in Southern Province (SESE). The SESE is aimed among other things at empowering local communities to hold their elected leaders accountable. This project has deliberately targeted its empowerment and advocacy trainings towards young people especially young women to encourage them to participate in the local development and in society issues. (...)



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UN DPI Briefing - January 19, 2012 on the theme:


Culture of Peace; Amplifying the Unseen and Unheard Voices of Peace


Talk by Dorothy J. Maver, Ph.D., President

National Peace Academy 


It is a joy to be with you today at the United Nations to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the heretofore invisible field of peace. And is it not a very auspicious day at the UN, the first briefing in 2012 as we celebrate the Culture of Peace. At the same time there is a Youth Assembly here at the United Nations. It doesn’t get better than that!


I want to thank Ambassador Chowdhury, and Cora Weiss, and Michael O’Malley. It is so delightful to share in the panel and to know that forthcoming is a dialogue with everyone in this room.  You know, this year promises to reveal the culture of peace that already exists, and the many, many facets of right relationship, literally hundreds of thousands of threads in the fabric of society that are just becoming visible and viable as we shift from living in a culture wrought with violence and dysfunction where people’s needs are not fully met … to a culture where peace and justice, loving understanding and sharing, truth and reconciliation prevails, where everyone’s needs are met and there is true equity.


The definition of peace we are using in the work I am primarily involved with is taken from the Earth Charter: “peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.”


Peace is sweeping the world right now … from Peace Councils in Kenya and a Peace Academy in Rwanda, Africa, to the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, to right here in the USA where there are Peace Commissions in towns and cities, including Cambridge and Leverett, Massachusetts.


Infrastructures for Peace are becoming a framework for moving through this all systems breakdown we are experiencing. In my way of thinking, this breakdown is to be celebrated.  We are moving from a system based on competition, separation, individualization and operating as silos … to a system based on cooperation, unity, group work and sharing on behalf of the common good.


On July 9, 2011 humanity made history … when Sudan became North and South Sudan. For the first time, a country just forming – South Sudan - included a Minister of Peace at the federal government level.


One of the international communities I am part of – soon to be an NGO - is the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace and there are now four Ministries of Peace on the planet: Solomon Islands, Nepal, Costa Rica and South Sudan. Yes!


The Global Alliance, founded in 2005, embraces infrastructures for peace, recognizing the necessity of national peace academies and similar education institutions (USA, Costa Rica, Romania, Rwanda, Nepal, Canada and others) As we experience this shift in our global society, we are developing the institutions and policies that embody and reflect a culture of peace and right relationship, by whatever name.


Peace Systems already exist. The best example is Mother Nature and the dynamic principle of cooperation. Everyone in this room is part of a peace system … a synergistic effort to play our part in making the world a better place … knowing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


We know that education shapes society, and it does not have to be formal education.


There are leading groups, such as the Peace and Justice Studies Association, a network of academics, educators and activists collaborating to bring a necessary focus and intention to peace studies and peace education. There are over 400 programs at the university level now and we are beginning to celebrate Ph.D.s in peacebuilding … yes, doctors of peacebuilding


Two groups doing groundbreaking work in peace education are the International Institute for Peace Education, now in its 30th year, and the International Peace Research Association – both playing significant roles in revealing the underlying principles and processes of educating to live in right relationship at all levels (from personal to ecological) developing a personal skill set that encourages our attitudes and behaviors to truly reflect such values as cooperation, sharing, empathy, mutual respect, goodwill, loving understanding, nonviolent conflict resolution and sustainable stewardship of Earth’s ecosystems.


There are so many groups peacebuilding in all sectors of society –it has become impossible to name them all … if you visit wiserearth’s website you will see an ever increasing number count on the homepage … hundreds of thousands of groups working towards a better world.


2012 is already proving to be the turning point for us as a global family. In this moment of global connectivity and recognition of our interconnectedness, there are innumerable collaborative initiatives, including a ninety day initiative focused on the United Nations International Day of Peace … over fifty groups are already committed to cooperating … our BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) … to reach one billion people … and not only will we celebrate on September 21st with a united mass appeal at noon: May Peace Prevail on Earth … we will initiate a ninety day Push4Peace, encouraging individuals and groups to take action in their areas of interest all over the globe.


Imagine one billion people taking action for a culture of peace. And this is only one initiative among many in 2012. I hope you will participate at


The spirit of goodwill is alive and well in humanity, and this is the year to turn the corner. It is time to tell the new story … the story of peace … to make peace an organizing principle in society … and to intentionally offer our personal and group contributions on behalf of the greater good: to ourselves, to each other, and to the planet.


Let us sacrifice personal differences, bridge separate cleavages, and harmonize polarized schools of thought - personally, socially and between countries.  We can do this – in fact, we are doing this – all over the world – let’s live the new story, beginning with each one of us.


In closing, I speak the words and wisdom of former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationship – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace.”


So be it, and help us to do our part.

Thank you.


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Next issue: 24 February 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, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster: Simone Frassanito. Media 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).