Good News Agency

Weekly – year 12th, number 203 – 8th June 2012


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

Rio+20 must result in ‘concrete’ decisions to advance sustainable development – Ban


International legislation



EU wide civil law protection from stalkers

30 May - Victims of stalking, harassment or abduction who are granted protection in one EU Member State could get fully equivalent protection if they move to another under new rules approved by the Legal Affairs and Women's Rights committees on Wednesday. The draft legislation would add civil law protection to the criminal law rules already enforced under the European Protection Order (EPO) Directive. (…) Under the new rules, any victim of gender violence, abduction or aggression, who has been granted protection in one EU Member State, would just need to fill in a standard and multilingual certificate to have his or her right to protection fully enforced throughout the EU.


Somalia bans antipersonnel landmines, despite ongoing conflict

All sub-Saharan African nations now on board the Mine Ban Treaty

Geneva, 22 May -  Somalia has become the 160th State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, the United Nations confirmed today. This morning the news was announced to delegates from more than 95 countries, assembled in Geneva for a global conference to discuss progress on the landmine ban.

Somalia’s accession to the 15-year-old treaty means all countries in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the world’s most heavily mined regions and home to thousands of landmine survivors, have now banned antipersonnel mines.

Somalia has never been known to produce antipersonnel landmines but the weapon has been widely available in the country during the years of conflict, and a survey conducted in 2008 before escalation of the conflict showed that nearly 200 communities in 300 different areas are living under the deadly shadow of landmines.



Human rights



More States ratify optional protocols to UN convention on children's right

25 May - Twenty additional countries have ratified the optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, while 15 States have became parties to the optional protocol on children in armed conflict since the launch of the campaign two years to encourage universal ratification.)

The Protocol on the Sale Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography provides guidance for States in their efforts to prohibit and prevent sexual violence and exploitation of children and the prosecution of perpetrators. It also protects children from sale or trafficking for purposes such as forced labour, illegal adoption or organ donation.

The Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict prohibits the use of children in hostilities and urges all States to set their minimum age of conscription at I8 years. It also prohibits the recruitment by armed groups of children under the age of 18.



Economy and development



Egypt’s export opportunities benefit from value chain mapping and market intelligence successes

ACDI/VOCA’s Anderson addresses American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt

June 1 – ACDI/VOCA and Agribusiness Systems International Regional Representative Doug Anderson and Senior Business Intelligence Advisor Dr. Ali El-Saied presented ACDI/VOCA's history of successful programs in Egypt and suggested that market intelligence and value chain mapping have helped the organization identify and grow Egypt's export opportunities in a competitive global market.

Anderson spoke about the tomato farmers doing a “remarkable job” in Upper Egypt under the Agribusiness Linkages Global Development Alliance project. He said the average yield has been raised from 15 to 35 tons per feddan (approximately an acre). He pointed out that Egypt now has the longest tomato growing and supply capability of any country in the world due to its climate, global export reach and improved processing. According to Anderson, the future of agriculture is in Upper Egypt and links need to be made in the supply chain to ensure the area reaches its full market potential.


FAO and Sweden sign Contribution Agreement

June 1, Rome - FAO and Sweden’s International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) have signed a 10.8 million dollars Contribution Agreement aimed at improving the quality of FAO’s assistance to distressed populations in several high-priority countries and regions. The two-year agreement will help FAO carry out projects in Chad, Niger, Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria and North Korea as well contribute to two regional projects in the Sahel and Central and Eastern Africa. Key aspects of the agreement include support to FAO’s ongoing decentralization of emergency operations. The Organization will strengthen its capacities in areas such as needs assessment, gender, accountability to affected populations and risk management.

 Laurent Thomas, FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation, explains: “This will allow us to accelerate our efforts to target people at the key points of need and deliver assistance to them more effectively. We will encourage other donors to support the same vision”.


IFAD signs loan agreement for 62.9 million dollars ‘Buen Vivir in Rural Territories’ programme in Ecuador

May 31, Rome - Representatives from IFAD signed a loan agreement this week with the Government of the Republic of Ecuador for the new 62.9 million dollars  “Buen Vivir [Good Living] in Rural Territories” programme. The programme will benefit some 25,000 rural families, and includes 33 million dollars in financing from IFAD and the Spanish Food Security Co-financing Facility Trust Fund. The remaining project funds will come from the Ecuadorian government and regional financial institutions.

The Buen Vivir Programme will work for at least 6 years in eight territories with high incidences of rural poverty that spread through the provinces of Bolívar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Imbabura, Manabí, Santa Elena and Tungurahua. Ecuador is considered a middle-income country and has a growing national economy. Nevertheless, in the programme area, over 67 % of people live in extreme poverty, there is a 42.3% rate of infant malnutrition, and around one in three people do not make enough money to cover their basic needs.


WFP welcomes new support from Australia, key ally in fighting global hunger  

May 31, Sydney – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a new AU$ 25 million contribution to fighting hunger, announced during the first official visit to Australia by the agency’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.  Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, explains: “I am pleased we are able to announce an extra AUS$10 million for the escalating food crisis in the Sahel and AUS$5 million for WFP operations in South Sudan. The situation in the Sahel is an extremely serious food security emergency, with an estimated 18 million people affected by drought and severe impending food shortages”. During her visit, Ms Cousin met Minister Carr and the Director of AusAid, Peter Baxter, and said ““Australia’s generous and flexible support allows WFP to meet the needs of the most hungry and vulnerable people in the most efficient way possible, making a real difference in the lives of many around the world”. The new funding – which will address pressing needs in the Sahel, South Sudan and Pakistan- builds on close to AUS$128 million in Australian support in 2011 for WFP operations and $12 million previously provided for the Sahel and South Sudan.
Australia was the first country to agree to an unrestricted flexible multi-year partnership and funding arrangement with WFP.


Kenya to receive 33 million dollars loan from IFAD and EUR 12.8 million loan from Spanish Trust Fund

May 23, Rome - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a loan of 33 million dollars to the Republic of Kenya to finance the Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resource Management Project. An additional loan amount of EUR 12.8 million from the Spanish Food Security Cofinancing Facility Trust Fund will also be provided to fund the same project.

This new project will help smallholder farmers in the area to reduce rural poverty through sustainable management of their natural resource base.

In Kenya the droughts in 2009 and 2011 generated food emergencies, while flooding in 2010 and recently in 2012 severely affected some parts of the country: the new project will be a scaling up of the Mount Kenya East Pilot Project for Natural Resource Management supported by IFAD and the Global Environment Facility and will help to promote the environmental conservation to ensure sustainable livelihoods for poor rural people in five selected river basins of the Upper Tana river. The project will cover about 17,420 square kilometres and include 24 river basins that drain into the Tana river: approximately 205,000 poor rural households will benefit from the project, which will have a particular focus on women.

Since 1979, with this new project, IFAD will have financed 16 programmes and projects in Kenya for a total investment of $247.5 million benefitting 4,200,097 rural households


Libya and FAO renew commitment to develop the country’s agriculture and food security

May 18, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Sulaiman Abdelhamed Boukharruba, Libya's Minister for Agriculture, Animal Wealth and Marine Resources, signed an agreement that commits Libya and FAO to work together to develop the country’s agricultural sector and improve food security, signing a cooperation agreement. Libya will provide 71 million dollars in funding needed to develop different areas, such as plant and animal health and production, pesticide management, seed development, natural resource management, capacity building and institutional strengthening. Graziano da Silva explains “This agreement includes a number of strategic projects aimed at supporting the new Libya in responding to its development goals and priorities". Projects under the agreement will aim to increase food production and improve productivity while preserving natural resources such as water, all with the goal of improving food security in the country. Beneficiaries will include farmers, herders and fishers as well as their organizations and cooperatives and traders.






United Arab Emirates and IFRC strengthen ties, humanitarian aspirations

June 1 – Networks that include the IFRC and National Societies together will result in more effective humanitarian interventions. This was the message that President Konoé promoted on a recent mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April where he met with leaders from the UAE Red Crescent  Society and was informed of its activities, both domestic and international. He invited the UAE Red Crescent to play a leadership role in helping to build stronger ties between Red Cross and Red Crescent and the IFRC, locally and globally.

“The UAE Red Crescent plays a leadership role in the region and globally as an active member of the Governing Board. I encouraged the UAE Red Crescent to share their inspiring success stories more widely,” said Konoé. “The UAE is the first non-western nation to be included in the global list of top 10 aid donors as measured by population, where official development assistance exceeds the UN target of 0.7% of GNP. Against this backdrop, the UAE Red Crescent has become one of the leading humanitarian actors in the world, supporting both domestic and global programmes.”

President Konoé visited one such domestic programme called the ‘Ewaa Shelters for Women and Child Victims of Human Trafficking’. The programme was established by the Red Crescent to provide care to victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, including housing, health, repatriation, legal and travel support in cooperation with public authorities, UNHCR and IOM.


More than $427 million provided for humanitarian relief in 2011, says UN report

29 May – The United Nations humanitarian office provided more than $427 million last year to assist countries that suffered from emergencies such as drought, floods, and food insecurity, according to a report released today by the Organization. The report – the 2011 Annual Report of the Central Emergency Response Fund – highlights the contributions of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to humanitarian partners in 45 countries in 2011.

Financed by voluntary contributions from Member States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local governments, the private sector and individual donors, the CERF is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts, helping agencies to pre-position funding for humanitarian action.

Climate-related emergencies due to drought, floods and storms, received more than $149 million from CERF last year, according to a news release issued by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which helps administer the Fund. CERF also gave more than $128 million to the Horn of Africa for people affected by drought and food insecurity, and provided needed money to help humanitarian partners intervene early in the Africa's Sahel region to help people affected by drought-related hunger in Niger, Chad and Mauritania.

As in previous years, the World Food Programme (WFP) remained CERF's top-funded agency, and was given $127 million – almost 30 per cent of all CERF funds – due to its role providing emergency food aid. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) was the second-highest funded agency in 2011, receiving $109 million in support of 130 projects in 38 countries.

The report also highlights stories and programmes from Cambodia, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Guatemala, Kenya, Niger, the Philippines, the Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Turkey, which have received resources from the Fund.


U.S. Government donates 30 million dollars to WFP's emergency operation in South Sudan

May 21, Juba - The United States Government has announced a cash donation of 30 million dollars toward the emergency relief operation of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to assist conflict-affected and food-insecure people in South Sudan. The donation is in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan, where an estimated one million people are severely food-insecure due to a cereal deficit, high food prices and intercommunal conflict.

Due to South Sudan’s poor road network, about 60 percent of the country will become inaccessible during the rainy season. This contribution helps WFP complete prepositioning of much-needed commodities across South Sudan, where roads will soon become impassable. The U.S. Government is the largest supporter of WFP’s operation in South Sudan, and including this donation has contributed more than US$110 million in 2012 to WFP’s emergency operation in the country


West Bank - Clean water for Al Auja

May 10 - Residents of the West Bank village of Al Auja joyously celebrated a new and improved water distribution project that helps resolve water shortages in one of the hottest areas of the West Bank.

Children joined the festivities May 10, performing traditional folk dances and presenting bouquets to officials at the ceremony. The head of Al Auja’s council was joined by the governor of Jericho, the head of  the Palestine Water Authority, and ANERA and USAID officials.

The new drinking water network and reservoir will benefit the village’s 4,500 residents who suffered from the 30-year old network that was severely deteriorated.

ANERA implemented the project with $1.1 million USAID funding through the Emergency Water and Sanitation and Other Infrastructure (EWAS II), which aims at providing rapid emergency relief in the water and sanitation sectors and addressing basic infrastructure needs.



Peace and security



Africa unites against cluster bombs

Regional meeting concludes with strong Accra Action Plan

Accra, May 30 -  A meeting to further the global fight against cluster bombs held in Accra, Ghana this week resulted in 34 African countries adopting an action plan with the ultimate aim of a cluster munition-free Africa.

The Accra Universalisation Action Plan lays out practical steps states should take to promote and achieve continent-wide membership of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively prohibits the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of these weapons.  The document reaffirms the partnership between states, the UN, and civil society to achieve the goals of the treaty and ensure it is fully implemented at the national level.

Signatories Cameroon and Togo announced that their governments have approved ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and will take the final step of depositing the ratification with the UN within weeks. Uganda, where thousands of people are living with injuries caused by lethal explosive remnants of war like cluster bombs, also announced plans to ratify the treaty before states meet again in Oslo in September for the third annual global meeting of States Parties. Countries in attendance overwhelmingly voiced clear support for the universalisation of the treaty.






Africare lauds Mobil over malaria control programme

June 1- Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC/MPN) joint venture, has been commended for its commitment toward the prevention and control of malaria among host communities in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States.

Africare, a non governmental organisation involved in health campaigns, gave the commendation during the demonstration on the proper method of hanging Long Lasting Insecticide Nets as parts of activities marking this year’s World Malaria Day celebration at Odio in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

Africare, which is supported by Mobil, noted that the oil company had through the Malaria Prevention Supplier Communities (MAPS-C) project taken concrete steps to the fight against the menace of malaria in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States. The Red Cross Volunteers demonstrated net hanging and folding every morning to the community members while the Africare team explained that the Nets and the drugs for malaria would be given free in Health post at Odio as well as other health facilities supported by Africare in Eket and Ibeno LGAs.


Polio eradication shifts into emergency mode

Rotary International News, 25 May – Despite the dramatic drop in polio cases in the last year, the threat of continued transmission due to funding and immunization gaps has driven the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to launch the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan 2012-13. The plan aims to boost vaccination coverage in the three remaining polio-endemic countries -- Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan -- to levels needed to stop polio transmission. Health ministers meeting at the World Health Assembly in Geneva adopted a resolution on 25 May that declared “the completion of polio eradication to be a programmatic emergency for global public health.”

Polio eradication activities have resulted in several landmark successes since 2010. India, long regarded as the nation facing the greatest challenges to eradication, was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February. Outbreaks in previously polio-free countries were nearly all stopped.

The GPEI’s emergency action plan was developed in coordination with new national emergency plans. The plan builds on India’s success and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support polio eradication efforts, including:

Full funding of new plan critical - Already, funding shortages have forced the GPEI to cancel or scale back critical immunization activities in 24 high-risk countries, leaving more children vulnerable to the disease and polio-free countries exposed to the risk of reintroduced transmission.Since the start of 2012, the GPEI has moved its operations into emergency mode. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has activated its Emergency Operations Center, UNICEF has officially activated an Interdivisional Emergency Coordinating Committee operating directly under the deputy executive director, and WHO has moved its polio operations to its Strategic Health Operations Centre.


Philippines: newly renovated infirmary for TB-affected detainees

Manila, May 25 – Tuberculosis patients at Quezon City Jail will now have access to proper treatment and monitoring of their condition at a newly renovated and expanded facility.

The formal opening of the infirmary, which is 211 square metres in area and can accommodate up to 60 patients, will take place today. Support for its renovation was provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which also facilitates the implementation of the National TB Control programme in the jail, second largest of those administered by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), with a population of about 3,000 inmates.

The ICRC has been visiting Philippine jails for more than 50 years. Among the people it visits are those detained in connection with internal armed conflicts and other situations of violence. The objective of these visits is to monitor the conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees.


Haiti: new centre for disabled rekindles hope

Port-au-Prince/Geneva, May 22 – The Special Fund for the Disabled of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officially inaugurated a new physical rehabilitation centre in Port-au-Prince today. The facility opened its doors following a year of rebuilding and repair work on the previous structure, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 12 January 2010.

According to government figures, one of every 10 Haitians lives with a physical disability. The new centre, which will be run by Healing Hands for Haiti, a non-governmental organization, will be able to treat approximately 1,000 patients a year, for whom it will provide prosthetic and lightweight orthotic devices, walking aids and physical therapy services. Over the next five years, the ICRC's Special Fund for the Disabled will maintain its support for the centre's production of artificial limbs and other devices suited to patients' needs, and for its training of staff.

The centre was rebuilt and equipped thanks to financial support from the American Red Cross, the Australian Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross. Healing Hands for Haiti, founded in 1999, endeavours to provide physical rehabilitation and medical services with the aim of eventually turning them over to Haitian management. The Special Fund for the Disabled was set up by the ICRC in 1983. It supports physical rehabilitation services in more than 30 countries by providing supplies and training that enable local professionals to produce prostheses and other mobility devices using low-cost technology.


Rwanda: ADRA improves condition of hygiene in transit camp

May 22 – Silver Spring, Md., USA - The political climate in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been volatile since the highly disputed presidential elections of November 2011. Since then, Congolese refugees have been seeking shelter in Rwanda, escaping clashes between DRC government forces and armed militia. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working in Rwanda's Nkamira transit camp, improving the condition of the camp's sanitation in efforts to reduce the spread of disease.

A rapid assessment conducted by ADRA revealed some of the most urgent needs were food, shelter, and water, in addition to improving sanitation issues concerning latrines and waste bins. ADRA, in coordination with CARE and Oxfam, are responding to the deteriorating hygiene infrastructure within the camp, with each organization addressing specific needs.


To help world's children reach fifth birthday, look to this Bangladesh program

An innovative development program in Bangladesh is defying child mortality rates, ensuring children grow healthier and taller, by empowering women and educating families about nutrition.

By Faheem Khan /

Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 9 – (...)  Each year, 7.6 million children die before their fifth birthdays from preventable causes and diseases. These conditions are often worsened by the chronic malnutrition and food shortages. That is why last month USAID launched a public campaign called “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” to help raise awareness and end these avoidable child deaths. (...) Called SHOUHARDO, a Bangla word for “friendship,” the program is run by the poverty-fighting organization CARE, USAID, and the government of Bangladesh. The first phase, implemented from 2004 to 2010, represented the largest non-emergency USAID food security program in the world.

But SHOUHARDO is about much more than food. It employs an integrated approach that addresses how people support their families and access nutritious meals. And it strikes at the underlying causes of malnutrition, including the deep inequities between women and men.

The results of SHOUHARDO have been phenomenal: Over the last four years, child stunting, the measure of the shortfall in growth due to malnutrition, has plummeted 28 percent despite natural disasters and spikes in food prices. The reduction came at twice the rate of the average US government funded project of its kind in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has the one of the world’s highest child malnutrition rates, but the country’s active and supportive government has helped contribute to the program’s success. Bangladesh is also a country with many policies and laws that protect women, which gives many of the participants in the SHOUHARDO additional support.

SHOUHARDO is one of the most comprehensive and integrated food aid programs in the world. There are very few programs that combine economic capacity building, health, and nutrition education with women’s empowerment.  While women’s empowerment initiatives aren’t new, the idea of combining direct interventions (such as giving pregnant women rations of food) with indirect interventions (such as addressing the disparity between women and men) is one of the program’s signature aspects. SHOUHARDO used a 360-degree approach, which resulted in a bigger impact on the lives of women and their families. (...)



Energy and safety



Italian wins UN European ad competition on water

Brussels/Copenhagen 5 June - Italian designer Mr. Daniele Gaspari has been declared the winner of the UN European Ad Competition on Water; Drop by Drop - the Future We Want.

The competition called on professionals and non-professionals to create a newspaper ad that inspires others to preserve water, now and for future generations. Mr. Gaspari won the competition for his ad "Wasting water will kill the future" which shows a water gun held to the head of an infant. A jury of experts led by France's advertising guru, Mr. Jacques Séguéla chose the ad from more than 3,500 ads submitted to the competition from 45 European countries.

The first prize, the Nordic Council of Ministers Award and a 5,000 euro cash prize, was handed over to Mr. Gaspari at a ceremony in Copenhagen on 5 June, World Environment Day, by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Denmark.

The Drop by Drop competition was organized by UNRIC, the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Brussels in cooperation with UNEP, the UN Environment Programme and the Nordic Council of Ministers.  It is part of the UN Secretary-General's campaign, The Future We Want in the run-up to Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, 20-22 June, where increasing scarcity of water is among the main themes under discussion.


USA: Energy Department announces interagency committee to increase use of clean energy technologies in federal facilities

June 1 - The Energy Department today announced a new interagency advisory committee to accelerate deployment of innovative products and technologies in the federal sector. The Senior Executive Committee for Technology Deployment, a subcommittee of the Interagency Technology Deployment Working Group, brings together leaders of technology deployment programs from across the federal government to implement the Obama Administration's comprehensive strategy to reduce energy costs in agency facilities, while boosting American competitiveness in the global clean energy race.

The new committee will review and share results from energy-related technology demonstrations with other agencies in the federal government. Agencies will also develop new policies, modify procurement specifications, and increase communications and outreach about these technologies to support this effort. In addition, FEMP will facilitate agency projects by engaging energy service companies and utilities that routinely provide support to federal agencies.


IEA "Golden Rules" for Fracking track closely

Boston, May 29 - On May 16, Boston Common Asset Management (Boston Common), the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) announced that 55 major investment organizations and institutional investors with nearly $1 trillion in assets under management had united in support of “best practices” for the fracking of shale gas.   The guidelines, “Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing Risks from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations,” are available online here.

With the publication today of its “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas” report – part of the World Energy Outlook series – the International Energy Agency outlines a number of recommendations in the same spirit as the IEHN/ICCR guidelines.


Germany's day in the sun: solar hits 22 GW mark

By Steve Leone, Associate Editor,

New Hampshire, USA, May 29 - With the sun beaming overhead and the nation hard at work, Germany turned to solar like never before last Friday and Saturday as the nation's PV installations fed 22 gigawatts of electricity into the grid at one point, providing nearly half of the country's energy needs. In doing so, Germany answered some critical questions as it reshapes its policy away from nuclear power and toward renewable sources like solar, wind and biomass. Chief among the concerns is how much intermittent solar Germany can seamlessly integrate into its grid without causing major disruptions.

During one 24-hour period, Germany’s PV accounted for nearly a third of the nation’s energy needs on midday Friday when the nation’s factories and offices were humming along, and then it approached 50 percent midday Saturday as residents enjoyed a sun-filled weekend.

The milestone comes at a critical crossroads for a country that is eager to move on from its dependence on nuclear power, but has been increasingly at odds over which path to take. If nothing else, the achievement is certain to add to the growing confidence that solar can fill much of the nuclear void. Germany currently gets about 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources, with solar contributing about 4 percent annually. According to the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies in Muenster, the power produced at its weekend peak was greater than the capacity of 20 nuclear power plants. The timing of the peak is particularly important since it comes during times when energy use is at its highest.



Environment and wildlife



Scotland launches climate justice fund

Edinburgh, June 1 - The Government of Scotland took a major step forward in facing up to its historic responsibility for climate change by launching an international Climate Justice Fund. The new fund, which has been welcomed by WWF and others in civic society, will help people living in some of the world's poorest countries affected by the changing climate - such as more frequent and severe droughts and floods . The fund was a key demand of WWF Scotland's campaign for national climate legislation in 2007-2009 and of its election campaign activities in 2011. One of a series of initiatives ahead of the Rio+20 summit in June, the Scottish Government is providing £3 million (UK pounds) for the fund - one million per year for the next three years - which will support water projects in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia - increasing communities' resilience to the impacts of climate change. At the launch, a short film was released highlighting support for climate justice from across Scottish society. It includes endorsements from many organisations, including WWF, development and faith groups.


WWF receives award for contribution to the conservation of Vietnam’s Tram Chim National Park

May 22, Dong Thap province, Vietnam – The People’s Committee of Dong Thap province has honoured WWF with a medal and certificate of merit in recognition of the organisation’s contribution to the conservation of the wetland habitat in Tram Chim National Park.

Tram Chim National Park, located in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, is one of the last remnants of the original wetland landscape of the Plain of Reeds, a vast wetland area of about 13,000 km2 in the provinces of Dong Thap, Tien Giang, and Long An (Lang Sen) in Vietnam, and part of Svay Reang in Cambodia.  The Park has tremendous biodiversity, including over 230 bird species and 130 fish species. Its most striking visitor, the Sarus Crane, is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and visits annually from the end of January through to mid-May.

Under earlier management efforts, water was permanently stocked in the park in order to suppress fire. However, the wildlife in Tram Chim is adapted to a six-month dry season and a six-month flood season, and year-round water stocking was interrupting the natural rhythm. As a result, habitats dwindled and species disappeared.


The world situation and the consciousness of people

The WWF report details "the cumulative pressure we’re putting on the planet, and the consequent decline in the health of the forests, rivers and oceans that make our lives possible." At the same time, however, it documents an increasing consciousness around the world that this dangerous trend must be reversed.

What we see is an increasing gulf between the world situation, on the one hand, and the consciousness of people on the other. If we believe that history is ultimately determined by human consciousness, then we must expect that we are arriving at a major turning point in history.


Religion and spirituality



Interfaith seminar on the Jordan river

This month FoEME's Tel Aviv office partnered with the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and Rabbis for Human Rights to undertake a pilot interfaith seminar on the Jordan River. The seminar brought together congregational leaders and seminary students who are studying to be Sheikhs, Rabbis and Priests to learn about the current state of the Jordan River and exchange perspectives on the importance of the river from the three faith's perspectives.

This activity, part of the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, aims to further open channels of communication and partnership between environmentalists and faith based communities in the region. To learn more about this unique tour please read our blog.


Unexpected diversity: interfaith organizing from the bottom up

Webinar, with Matthew Weiner - June 20, 12:00pm U.S. central time

 The interreligious movement has no road map: we are creating it as we go. Effective interfaith work today requires new methods and a new kind of grassroots organizing. The movement is not static. It is an experiment.

This webinar will seek to address the following questions: How do we creatively organize religious and spiritual communities when the desired outcome is not a fixed idea and can change? How can our work be genuinely inclusive of traditions that are more conservative? How can religious communities better engage with the secular public?

 Matthew Weiner has worked as an interfaith organizer for 20 years, and he now serves as Associate Dean of Religious Life at Princeton University.



Culture and education



Special Workshops: Introduction to Peace Education x 3!

The Teachers Without Borders Introduction to Peace Education online course series 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 3-part online course invites participants to learn about peace education theory and practice, and how to apply it to their personal and professional lives. Each course is offered online.

Module 1: Core Concepts of Peace Education. Dates: June 19-July 17

Module 2: the Scope of Peace Education. Dates: July 24-August 19

Module 3: Pedagogy and Practice. Dates:  September 3-30, 2012

Teachers Without Borders offers courses through several core programs, including the Certificate of Teaching Mastery, Emergency Education, and Peace Education. Through the peace education program, TWB promotes peace education as a key part of teacher professional development with the intention of supporting teachers in their roles as agents of peaceful change in their communities. This course is part of the National Peace Academy's National Peacebuilding Peacelearning Certificate Program, a program designed to make learning for peace accessible, available and affordable for all. 


Is the culture of peace advancing?

If we consider just the headlines of the mass media and the actions of governments and the state of the environment, the answer is negative. We can see this in the annual reports cited on CPNN this month from Amnesty International and the World Wildlife Federation. The Amnesty report "highlights the endemic failure of leadership at a local and international level to protect human rights. It shows that the response of the international community to human rights crises was often marked by fear, prevarication, opportunism and hypocrisy."

At the same time, however, it shows how "Millions of people took to the streets to demand freedom, justice and dignity – some of them securing memorable victories. Successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt early in the year ignited protests across the region and then the world, stretching from Moscow, London and Athens in Europe, to Dakar and Kampala in Africa, to New York, La Paz and Cuernavaca in the Americas, to Phnom Penh and Tokyo in Asia."


Rio will gather free media for another communication

an article by World Forum of Free Media

Hundreds of representatives of free media are getting ready to go to Rio de Janeiro, in June 2012, to help to prepare the Peoples’ Summit at Rio+20, a parallel event to the UN Conference on sustainable development. They will work to spread the voice of the people gathered at the Summit, who instead of talking about the management of the environment by economic power, will speak about the ways for the environmental and social justice. These media have their own agenda within the Summit, where they will meet to hold the II World Free Media Forum, besides covering the activities and the themes of Rio +20. (...)

The II World Forum of Free Media: After three forums in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro 2008, Vitória 2009 and Porto Alegre 2012), two preparatory meetings in North Africa (Marrakesh 2011 and Tunis 2012), a world edition (Belém 2009) and a Convergence Assembly at the World Social Forum (Dakar, 2011), the free media are slowly building their agendas, regional and global, which will make important progress in Rio de Janeiro, with the second world edition.

The II World Forum of Free Media will be organized in panels, free debates, workshops and plenary sessions planned for Rio de Janeiro.


US higher education delegation travels to North Africa

Washington, June 1 - A delegation of US universities, colleges, NGOs, and foundations will travel to North Africa to meet with representatives of higher education institutions June 2-9. The Aspen Institute led delegation will discuss new education partnerships between the US and countries in North Africa. The delegation will meet with local universities, technical institutes, NGOs, private sector companies and government officials in order to discuss how partnerships can be facilitated to support entrepreneurship and private sector skills development among youth. Such partnerships are key to addressing high unemployment levels in the region, which has been a key focus of US and local government, business leaders and civil society particularly in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

The delegation is a part of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB), a network of business, government and civil society, housed at the Aspen Institute in Washington DC and working in 11 countries to foster economic opportunity and catalyze exchange.


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Rio+20 must result in ‘concrete’ decisions to advance sustainable development – Ban


6 June With just two weeks until the start of a major United Nations sustainable development conference, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged countries to step up efforts to achieve concrete decisions to reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and more sustainable and fair use of resources. “Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make real progress towards the sustainable economy of the future,” Mr. Ban told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, referring to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June.


 More than 100 heads of State and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, Chief Executive Officers and civil society leaders are expected to attend Rio+20 to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection. The gathering follows on from the Earth Summit in 1992, also held in Rio de Janeiro, during which countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.


Mr. Ban said that there is still much work ahead, but foundations are in place for agreement on the remainder of the negotiating text that is expected to become the outcome of the conference. “I expect the negotiators to accomplish this in the days before ministers and world leaders arrive in Rio. Leaders will then act to resolve all outstanding issues,” he stated. “Their job is to achieve renewed political commitment for sustainable development. We aspire to nothing less than a global movement for generational change.”


Negotiators concluded the last round of Rio+20 preparatory talks – focussed on the gathering’s outcome document – in New York last Saturday, and they have now reached agreement on more than 20 per cent of the document, with many additional paragraphs close to agreement.  The Secretary-General cited several “concrete outputs” he expected from Rio+20, which he said will improve the lives of people around the world. The first is to agree to define a path to an inclusive green economy that will lift people from poverty and protect the global environment, he said, adding that this requires international collaboration, investment, and an exchange of experiences and technology among countries. Second, leaders should agree to define sustainable development goals with clear and measurable targets and indicators. These so-called “SDGs” will be a central part of the post-2015 global development framework, he stated.


 Also needed are decisions on key elements of the institutional framework for sustainable development, as well as strong, action-oriented outcomes on a wide range of cross-cutting areas, such as food security and sustainable agriculture, oceans, gender equality and women’s empowerment, education and energy.


 Progress is also required in the area of implementation, including reaffirming past commitments and initiatives on trade, financing for development, technology transfer and capacity building, the UN chief said. In addition, more partnerships with civil society and the private sector – strategic alliances that can galvanize global public support and drive change – are important. “Ultimately, Rio+20 will be measured in the transformation it sets in motion – the lives it changes for the better,” said Mr. Ban.


Following the latest round of negotiations in New York, the next and final preparatory talks will be held in Rio de Janeiro from 13 to 15 June, just ahead of the Conference. 


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