Good News Agency – Year V, n° 9
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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media in 48 countries, as well as to 2,500 NGO and service associations.
It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included as an international organization in the web site http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/
Clinched agreement on a Constitutional Treaty for the European Union
23 June - At the European Council meeting in Brussels June 17-18, 2004, the EU heads of state and government clinched agreement on a Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, which replaces the European Communities and the former European Union with a new European Union endowed with legal personality; spells out more clearly EU competences; and redefines qualified majority voting and the institutional setup, taking account of EU enlargement.
A significant innovation is the creation of a Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, merging the present tasks of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy with those of the Commissioner for external relations. Put at the head of a joint "European external action service", the Minister will be responsible for the representation of the Union on the international scene.
A Message from European Commission President Romano Prodi provides an excellent overview of the Intergovernmental Conference's final results: http://www.europa-eu-un.org/article.asp?id=3600
All in all, it was a remarkable, positive reversal of the disagreement so clearly displayed just six months ago, and a testament to the Irish Presidency's efforts to find ways forward. As the Constitution is, in legal terms, still a Treaty, it must now be ratified by all Member States before it can enter into force. In a number of cases, this will require popular referenda.
Rome, 29 June 2004 - A crucial legally binding global treaty on sustainable agriculture has become law today, FAO announced. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has entered into force, 55 countries having now ratified it.
"This is the start of a new era," said FAO Director-General, Dr Jacques Diouf. "The Treaty brings countries, farmers and plant breeders together and offers a multilateral approach for accessing genetic resources and sharing their benefits. Humankind needs to safeguard and further develop the precious crop gene pool that is essential for agriculture."
"The agreement recognises that farmers around the world, particularly those in the South, have developed and conserved plant genetic resources over the millennia. It is now up to countries to make the Treaty fully operative," he said. (…)
For the first time a binding treaty acknowledges the collective innovation on which world agriculture is based. It recognises the "enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centres of origin of crop diversity, have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources". (…) The world's most important gene bank collections, around 600 000 samples, held by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), will be put under the Treaty. (…)
26 June - Women Facing War, an ICRC photo exhibition that first opened in Amman at the end of 2002 under the auspices of Queen Rania of Jordan and has since travelled to Beirut, Geneva and Paris, will be shown in Monaco, in Grimaldi Forum during the 44th Monte Carlo Television Festival.
The exhibition will run from 26 June to 9 July, presenting pictures of women caught up in war: women victims of sexual violence, women who have been forcibly displaced, women who have been arrested, either because they were suspected of having collaborated with the enemy or because they took part in the fighting, women anxiously awaiting news of missing relatives and women who are now at the head of their households because their menfolk are off fighting, have been killed or are being held in detention. Most of the pictures were taken by Nick Danziger (winner of the World Press Photo 2004 best portrait award), who spent nine months travelling through several countries at war.
In showing these striking pictures, the ICRC wishes to draw attention to the obligation that the 191 States party to the Geneva Conventions have at all times to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, which affords protection to women affected by armed violence.
During the festival, the ICRC will also award, for the second year in a row, its press prize for the documentary or news programme that has best promoted the principles of international humanitarian law. (…)
21 June - Human rights activists in Bangladesh recently traded places with public servants to try to understand the difficulties in making the cumbersome criminal justice system work. As part of a national consultation on access to justice and human rights, the activists tried to resolve real-life legal problems and address human rights concerns as officials - with actual, but bemused, public servants looking on.
The novel approach seeks to break down barriers between different groups working on criminal justice issues, said UNDP Programme Officer, Monjurul Kabir. "We want to map out a set of commonly agreed and doable recommendations that the Government can adopt, and UNDP can incorporate into a large-scale programme in the area of human rights," he said. "We are pursuing a human rights-based approach in our programmes in the justice sector, focusing on disadvantaged groups." (…)
Growing trees on farms to reduce hunger and poverty
To restore degraded land and provide wood, food, medicine and forage
Orlando, Florida, 30 June - Trees grown on farms could help to alleviate poverty by providing income and food for poor farmers, whose livelihoods are increasingly threatened by harsh environmental conditions and land degradation, FAO said today. (…)
About 75 percent of the world's poor - some 1.2 billion people - live in rural areas. Most of them rely on small-scale agriculture and the intensive use of natural resources for nutrients, medicines and other products to generate income.(…) Diversifying income-generation from natural resources is key to the sustainability of smallholder farms, FAO said.
FAO has been assisting countries to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor by designing policies and developing field projects on agroforestry. Among them, a two-year community based FAO project in northern Namibia has enabled local farmers to select, plant and manage fruit tree species and to produce and market fruit-based goods.
In Vietnam, a project has been launched to diversify agricultural output by planting trees on farms. The project will provide capacity building and technical support for the development of market-oriented forest gardens and agroforestry systems in Quang Nam Province, so that the farmers may benefit from the sale of their farm produce. .
WRI inks pact with Indian industry to promote green business
Mumbai, India and Washington, DC, June 24 - The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) agreed today to collaborate on various projects to advance sustainable enterprises in India. The agreement was announced during the Green Power 2004 Conference organized by the CII, the US Agency for International Development and ICICI Bank, June 24-25, 2004, in Mumbai. (…)
Under the agreement, the CII and WRI will set up a program to assess, measure and report greenhouse gas emissions following the internationally accepted Greenhouse Gas Protocol (www.ghgprotocol.org) developed by WRI and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
CII and WRI will also help to expand markets for renewable electric power, promote sustainable enterprises and build public-private partnerships to attract significant investment in green technology, following WRI’s New Ventures model (www.new-ventures.org). (…)
The agreement will initially run for one year, though both organizations envision that it could extend to four years. (…)
Among the recommendations of the 12-member Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations, appointed last year by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, are that the General Assembly involve civil society organizations more regularly in its affairs, that civil society dialogue with the Security Council be extended and deepened and that civil society groups should be more closely involved in UN field work. The Panel also suggests the establishment of a special fund to help civil society organizations in developing countries build up their capacity to work effectively with the UN. (…)
Inaction could cost more than 10 million lives by 2015, Kofi Annan warns
Dakar, Senegal, 11 June – All African countries today reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, stressing that the Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved unless the Cairo Programme is fully implemented.
Apart from being important ends in themselves, gender equality and the empowerment of women were “key to breaking the cycle of poverty and improving the quality of life of the people of the continent”, the countries emphasized.
The nations of Africa expressed their view on the Cairo consensus when their ministers for population and development adopted a declaration and a report from a preceding meeting of more than 400 experts from all parts of the continent. (…) Today’s ministerial meeting was organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to review the implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action. It was supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
According to today’s declaration, the countries of Africa decided to intensify and “exert maximum efforts” to build on the progress achieved in the last 10 years through the Cairo and Dakar-Ngor programmes and to implement proposals in the report from the expert meeting. More efforts will focus on poverty eradication, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, maternal death and the empowerment of women. (…)
The Copenhagen Consensus panel of leading economists agree that the lack of safe and affordable access to water and sanitation services is a great burden for more than a billion of the world's poorest people.
Three proposals, including small-scale water technology for livelihoods, community-managed water supply and sanitation, and research on water productivity in food production, were regarded as likely to be highly cost-effective, and were placed sixth, seventh and eighth in the panel's ranking. The panel was asked to address ten challenge areas and to consider "the best ways of advancing global welfare, and particularly the welfare of developing countries, supposing that an additional US$ 50 billion (EUR 41 billion) of resources were at governments' disposal?" The panel gave highest priority to proposals on control of HIV/AIDS (disease challenge), providing micronutrients (malnutrition), trade liberalisation (subsidies and trade barriers), malaria control (diseases) and the development of new agricultural technologies (malnutrition).
By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga (Rotary International)
25 June - Two years ago, Edward Coman of the Rotary Club of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA, had scant knowledge of Bolivia but lots of questions about how he could help make a real difference in the lives of that country's poor. For answers, he turned to his friend Enrique Via-Reque of Wheaton, Illinois, a physician who had organized several medical missions to Bolivia. The doctor introduced him to Alfonso Via-Reque, his brother, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Cochabamba in a Bolivian city of the same name. (…)
Soon, Coman learned that many schools on the outskirts of Cochabamba, a city of 600,000, lacked proper bathroom facilities and relied on a contaminated supply of water, which posed serious health concerns. The two clubs teamed up to sponsor a clean water and sanitation project targeting four elementary schools where conditions were actually worse than in the poor neighborhoods they served. (…)
Members of the Rotary Club of Glen Ellyn sold fresh grapefruit and oranges ordered directly from groves in Florida to raise US$5,000 for the initiative. The Rotary Foundation and District 6440 (Illinois, USA) each contributed $2,500 in matching funds and District Designated Fund allocations toward the project. (…) Underground water tanks and septic tanks were sunk or built up on rocky terrain, often from scratch; bathrooms demolished and rebuilt, repaired, or constructed anew; and plumbing unblocked. Parents often volunteered their labor to help with excavation. With freshly painted walls, patched roofs, properly insulated electrical wiring, and newly flushing cisterns connected to elevated water tanks or underground tanks serviced with efficient water pumps, the bathrooms once again became safe and hygienic for the children. (…)
Bujumbura, 16 June – The United Nations World Food Programme is feeding thousands of refugees who have crossed into Burundi and Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of Congo to escape violence that temporarily paralysed WFP’s aid operations in much of eastern DRC. (…)
The first WFP food was distributed at the three sites of Gatumba, Cibitoke and Rugombo last Saturday and more rations were handed out yesterday. (…) WFP has also supplied almost 20 tonnes of food to some 2,300 Congolese who have crossed into Rwanda from the eastern DRC city of Bukavu since 27 May. A new distribution will take place this week. Renegade troops captured the capital of South Kivu province on 2 June and subsequent looting and violence halted most of WFP’s aid operations in the east. Rebel forces pulled out a week later and government troops took control of Bukavu on 8 June.
In a separate operation, WFP is sending food from the northeastern DRC city of Bunia for more than 260 families who fled their homes in Drodro in Ituri district in the last two weeks after an attack on civilians by a dissident militia commander. The displaced include women and children – some of whom are wounded or suffering from malnutrition. German Agro Action, WFP’s partner in the area, will also provide food and distribute it to the displaced. (…)
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, June 18 - To help fight child malnutrition in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK), the Adventist Development and Relief Agency’s (ADRA) bakery in Pyongyang, DPRK is producing high-nutrient, whole wheat cookies to benefit 32,000 children. Daily, 300,000 cookies are produced in two shifts by the 50 bakery staff. The cookies are delivered to the provinces of North and South Pyongan where they are packaged and weekly transported by ox cart to 450 local kindergartens. The biscuits, each imprinted with a smiley face, are lightweight, easily stored, and readily packaged and transported.
The machinery and personnel costs of this joint venture are co-funded by ADRA Switzerland and Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (DWHH)/German Agro Action (GAA), and are valued at more than $100,000. In addition, raw materials are being funded by DWHH.
In 1995, ADRA started project activities in North Korea that included the distribution of food, medicine, and seeds. ADRA has also introduced solar-powered cooking to parts of North Korea where electricity and heat are not readily available. (…)
By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga (Rotary International)
11 June - For a growing number of Rotary clubs, the image of children with fingers stained in gentian violet is now indelibly associated with polio fundraisers. The Purple Pinkie Project of the Rotary Club of Lake City, Florida, USA, is a perfect example of what a group of Rotarians can achieve for polio with just a few bottles of purple dye. The effort involves recruiting students to participate, with their parents' permission, in fundraising and polio education events.
For every 60 U.S. cents a child donates, he or she gets a finger painted with the same type of dye used at National Immunization Days (NIDs) around the world to identify those children who have been immunized. Gentian violet is typically used, though the iridescent dye sometimes appears to be green.
In May, about 3,000 students raised more than US$3,000. Baya Pharmacy, a local business sponsor, contributed an additional $1,000 toward the initiative. (…)
Several Rotary clubs in Florida plan to organize similar fundraisers in the fall. The purple pinkie idea has also spread beyond the borders of the United States — not entirely surprising, considering that the original inspiration came from an NID photograph of Ethiopian children with dyed fingers. For example, in April, the Rotary Club of Brighton, Ontario, Canada, sent the local community on a finger-painting spree for polio. (…)
Kabul, 24 June – The programme to demobilize and re-integrate former child soldiers in Afghanistan, led by UNICEF with Government, NGO partners and local communities, has now helped to demobilize 2,203 children in eight provinces of the country, since its launch in February. The majority of children demobilized to date – all of whom are boys – are aged between 14 and 18 years old.
The programme is now underway in Kunduz, Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Bamyan, Laghman, Nangrahar and Nuristan provinces. The operation is divided into two phases; firstly, children are assessed for eligibility within the programme, registered and offered medical screening facilities and then secondly provided with durable alternative opportunities to military life including education and vocational skills training opportunities.
Of the children who have been demobilized to date, more than 1,700 have been assessed for reintegration programmes and many are now benefiting from education, skills training courses and income generation support in their home communities.
The demobilization process takes place at the community level, involving family members and local community structures to ensure ownership by the larger community. (…)
22 June - More than 40 Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives from the most mine-affected countries of the world met in Sweden last week to pool their experience and intensify efforts to reduce casualties and suffering caused by mines and explosive remnants of war. The meeting, which took place from 10 to 19 June, was the fourth such event organized by the ICRC for Red Cross and Red Crescent mine-action staff from around the world. (…)
The ICRC is currently running mine-action programmes in conjunction with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 26 countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war, from Afghanistan to Angola and from Cambodia to Colombia. These programmes seek to raise awareness of the dangers of mines among people at risk, and to speed up the process of clearing mines by collecting and analysing information about mine incidents and areas known to be dangerous. In Iraq, where the ICRC continued its activities throughout the war, the collection of data has been crucial for mine-clearance operations.
Despite the adoption in 1997 of the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines, mines and explosive remnants of war continue to claim thousands of new victims every year. (…)
In December 2004, governments and mine-action organizations will meet to review the Ottawa Convention for the first time since it was adopted.
22 June- Sierra Leone is emerging from a decade long civil conflict but some firearms still in the possession of local communities pose a threat to lasting peace. The Government and UNDP are trying to encourage people to turn in weapons through an Arms for Development initiative begun last year. Since the Lomé Peace Accord of July 1999, various disarmament programmes have generally met with success, but porous borders throughout the region allow weapons to enter from neighbouring countries.
The initiative assumes that security brings communities the peace of mind to turn to development activities. This requires a mindset change – people abandon the prestige of gun ownership for the benefits of a weapons-free environment, conducive to development.
After disarmament, communities receive a grant of about US$20,000, helping to reinforce the link between community security and long-term development. As the District Officer for Moyamba pointed out, “the weapons-free certificate is actually a licence for development”. (…)
The initiative is supported by the Governments of Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
14 June - The Sudanese Anti-Land Mine Network, the director of the Land Mine Programme run by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the representative of the organizations working in the field of land mines last Friday (11 June) signed a memorandum of understanding through which a joint programme would be launched to remove land mines.
A member of the government delegation, Dr Siraj-al-Din Abd-al-Ghafar, said an agreement was reached with SPLM representatives to set up a unified national programme to undertake the task of land mine clearance and to set up one network bringing together all the organizations working in the field of land mine clearance in the north and in the south, called the Sudanese Anti-Land Mine Network.
They also agreed to submit joint proposals to donors on the issue of land mine clearance, which will be jointly implemented by organizations working in the north and in the south.
Author: Sylvie Brigot
Vilnius, Lithuania, 8 June - On 7 June, Lithuania destroyed its remaining 340 PMN antipersonnel mines at the Pabrade military range, located 40km from the capital Vilnius, in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs Antanas Valionis and Mr. Jonas Gecas, National Defence Vice-Minister.
Lithuania destroyed part of its stockpile of 8,091 antipersonnel mines, including 3,975 PMN mines, and converted others (409 MON-100 and 3,703 OZM-72s) to command-detonated munitions.
As a region, North and Eastern Europe has the largest remaining stockpile of antipersonnel mines. Lithuania's deadline for destroying its stockpiled mines, as required by Article 4 of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty is 1 November 2007 and the ICBL would like to congratulate Lithuania for destroying its stockpiled mines so far ahead of the Treaty-imposed deadline. This demonstrates the strength of the global norm against landmines in the months leading up to the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World, the First Review Conference of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, to be held 29 November- 3 December 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya. (…)
Vienna, 25 June (UN Information Service) -- “Drugs: treatment works” is the theme of a year-long campaign launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 26 June, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The campaign aims at emphasizing the importance and effectiveness of drug treatment – to drug dependent individuals, as well as to the general public.UNODC also hopes to diminish the stigma attached to drug users by illustrating the possibilities for a positive future, using the stories of individuals who have successfully undergone treatment and are engaged in productive lives. (…)
Effective drug abuse treatment can also help alleviate some of the most devastating social ills – crime, the transmission of infectious diseases, loss of productivity, and family as well as social disorders.
UNODC’s recently published World Drug Report estimates the total number of drug abusers worldwide at approximately 185 million. Cannabis is the most widely abused drug, followed by amphetamine-type stimulants. In terms of health impact measured by the demand for treatment services, opiates remain the most serious problem drugs in the world. (…)
Rome, 24 June -- The phytosanitary system in Syria needs to be modernized to prevent the introduction of plant pests and meet the requirements of international trading partners, according to FAO. Syria would need to update its sanitary and phytosanitary system to be able to participate fully in world trade while protecting its own resources, said Mahmoud Solh, Director of the FAO Plant Production and Protection Division. FAO will work with the Syrian institutions to improve their national system for pest surveillance, inspection and certification of exported and imported plant and products, added Mr. Solh. (…)
In addition to the updating of the phytosanitary legislation, some 20 senior staff and 25 inspectors will be trained under the FAO project, with the aim of strengthening the technical capabilities in terms of critical equipment for inspection and pest detection at the priority ports of entry. The project complements a food safety plan for "strengthening the national codex committee and updating, harmonizing foodstuff standards and regulations", Solh said.
Kabul, 24 June - The Afghan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development are joining forces with UNICEF and other partners to launch a new nationwide campaign to tackle water-related disease in Afghanistan. The campaign, which is officially launched on Sunday 27 June, will combine a number of initiatives, including hygiene education, health promotion and the physical safeguarding of the water supply.
Afghanistan faces high incidences of water and sanitation-related diseases, such as cholera, dysentery, scabies and trachoma. UNICEF estimates that up to half of the deaths of all children under the age of five are related to diarrhoeal disease, caused by inadequate sanitation, lack of clean drinking water and poor hygiene practices. (…)
The focus of the school and community hygiene education will be on five water, sanitation and hygiene issues, coined “Panj Pak” (or “Five Cleans”). These are Clean Water; Clean Latrines; Clean Hands; Clean Environment and Clean Food. The Afghan Ministry of Health has just completed the training of over 1,000 hygiene promoters who will undertake house-to-house, school and mosque-based hygiene promotion exercises and the dissemination of hygiene messages to local populations. An estimated 2 million people will be reached through these exercises over a five day period following Sunday’s launch. The campaign will extend from Kabul to other cities including Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat. (…)
22 June, Geneva - Since traditional, complementary and alternative medicines remain largely unregulated, consumers worldwide need to be informed and given the tools to access appropriate, safe and effective treatment. To help address this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) today releases a new set of guidelines for national health authorities to develop context specific and reliable information for consumer use of alternative medicines. (…)
Many traditional /alternative medicine products are sold over the counter. In a WHO survey of 142 countries, 99 responded that most of these products could be bought without prescription. In 39 countries, many traditional remedies were used for self-medication, bought or prepared by friends, acquaintances or the patient. These trends raise concerns over the quality of the products used, their therapeutic appropriateness for a given condition, and the lack of medical follow-up. (…) Accessible, easy to understand information is key to guiding consumers in their choices. The guidelines provide simple, easy to follow tips on issues to look out for and a brief checklist of basic questions which may be used to help facilitate proper use of traditional and alternative medicine.
(…) While the guidelines cannot compensate for poor products or inappropriate practices, they can help governments educate consumers on how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of traditional medicines. (…)
ICN Mobile nursing library celebrates success by reaching out to refugee camps
Geneva, Switzerland, 22 June - The International Council of Nurses celebrated the success of the ICN-Merck Mobile Library by reaching out to the vulnerable refugee populations. Now in 50 rural African communities, the Mobile Library will next reach health workers in refugee camps, through a partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Merck. The ICN project has been generously supported by funding from Merck & Co., Inc., coupled with donations of the Merck Manual Home Edition. Elsevier has contributed preferred pricing for books from their vast nursing list and their facilities and expertise in coordinating the packing and shipping of the trunks.
The nursing mobile library is packed at the Elsevier warehouse into a specially designed transportable trunk resilient to moisture, insects and hard knocks. Each library contains more than 80 titles, and is crammed with up-to-date information on family and community health, disease prevention, health promotion, and health services management and training.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of 125 national nurses' associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide.
17 June - Liberia is getting a US$ 24.3 million grant from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to help it deal with diseases exacerbated by dislocations of war and damage to its health system. UNDP, which is helping the Transitional Government rehabilitate the country after 14 years of civil conflict, will manage the grant.
Together with its partners, UNDP plans to allocate $7.65 million of the money in the campaign against HIV/AIDS during the next two years, $ 4.53 million against tuberculosis and $12.14 million against malaria.
The Liberia Coordinating Mechanism, chaired by the Minister of Health, will take responsibility for implementing the programmes being funded. These will focus on increasing access to treatment and providing support services for people living with these diseases. (…)
16 June - Radiotherapy treatment is crucial for a majority of cancer patients but most people in developing countries simply cannot access it. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has set up PACT -- "Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy" -- to take radiotherapy to where it is most needed. The IAEA's Board of Governors backed the PACT plan at its meeting in Vienna 14-18 June 2004. It paves the way for the IAEA to seek and direct funds from individuals, charitable trusts, foundations and the public and private sectors to help patients in poor countries fight cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the initiative.
Cancer kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria put together. A single radiotherapy machine can deliver nearly a million treatments during its 20 to 30 year lifespan. But the need is enormous. The number of cancer patients in the developing world is set to double, from 5 million in the year 2000, to nearly 10 million per year by 2020.
Through PACT, the IAEA will build partnerships within and among countries, and with other United Nations organizations, like WHO, and other non-UN bodies. With enough support, the programme could save or improve the quality of millions of lives each year. (…)
The age of renewables has arrived
Bonn, Germany, June 4 (ENS) - Pledges of increased funding for renewable sources of energy have brightened the four day International Conference for Renewable Energy which concludes here today. The nearly 2,000 participants - government ministers and business people, trade unionists, nongovernmental organizations, and renewable energy manufacturers - heard investment promises of hundreds of millions of new dollars a year for renewables.
Washington, June 30 - Sister Cities International recently joined the coalition for the Earth Legacy Campaign, a non-partisan group of environment and foreign affairs organizations. The coalition issued a declaration earlier this month calling on Congress to re-affirm the United States is a leader in supporting the global environment.
The declaration asks Congress to establish a commission to examine scientific understanding and efforts to protect the global environment, to assess the impact of continued global environmental deterioration on U.S. interests, and to make recommendations for U.S. environmental leadership.
(…) As a member of the Earth Legacy Coalition, Sister Cities International will encourage its members to learn more about the campaign. (…) www.earthlegacy.org.
Representing more than 2,500 communities in 124 countries, Sister Cities International is a citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and communities abroad. (…)
UK expands public access to environmental decision-making
Washington, DC, June 24 - Bill Rammell, the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, announced today new commitments by his government to expand public access to information and participation in environmental decision-making both at home and abroad. Speaking at a press conference on the Partnership for Principle 10 (PP10) organized by the World Resources Institute (WRI), Rammell announced greater cross-government working on environmental governance as well grants of more than $600,000 to promote public access to environmental decision-making in Latin America and Africa. (…)
Some $450,000 of the U.K. financial commitment will fund national assessments of government policies and practices that facilitate public access to decision-making in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru. (…) The balance of the UK’s funding will be made available on a competitive basis to developing country governments and non-governmental organizations that have committed to improving public access to decision-making that affects the environment. (…)
Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration articulates public access to information, participation in decision-making, and access to justice as key principles of environmental governance. In 2002, the international community reaffirmed these goals during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Partnership for Principle 10 (PP10), launched two years ago, puts this commitment into action and supports transparent, inclusive, and accountable decision-making for sustainable development. (…)
Gland, Switzerland, 24 June - Africa's critically endangered black rhinoceros could be on its way to recovery if present trends continue. That's according to new estimates announced by the African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and WWF, the global conservation organization.
Africa's white rhinoceros also appears stable at much higher numbers than the black rhino.
The black rhino suffered a drastic decline from about 65,000 in the 1970s to only 2,400 in the mid 1990s. The latest findings show black rhino numbers have increased to just over 3,600, a rise of 500 over the last two years. The white rhino population, down to just 50 individuals a hundred years ago, now stands at 11, 000. While the continuing increase in continental black rhino numbers since the 1990s is encouraging, two African rhino sub-species still face a high risk of extinction.
The northern white rhino has been reduced to a single, small population of just over 20 animals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is highly vulnerable because of the emergence of organized poaching. In Cameroon, the western black rhino is in an even worse state with only a few animals scattered widely. (…)
Nairobi/Bangkok 21 June – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced a one million Euro per annum partnership with German-based chemicals and healthcare company Bayer AG to support its global long-term strategy to involve young people in environmental issues. Called ‘Tunza’, meaning to treat with care or affection in the east African language of Kiswahili, the strategy aims to engage young people in the work of UNEP and enhance their participation in environment and sustainable development issues. (…)
Under the agreement UNEP and Bayer will create a steering committee to develop projects to be implemented under the partnership. Identified projects include continuation of the Young Environmental Envoy Programme, further development of the Eco-Innovate learning forum, a youth-orientated media award, World Environment day activities in Europe and Latin America, and support for sub-regional youth networks in Asia-Pacific, based on the successful South Asia Youth Environmental Network (www.sayen.org ). (…)
The partnership agreement is for three years. (…)
Rome, 26 May - Countries in the Near East are showing increasing interest in planting trees to improve water quality and increase food security, FAO said on 25 May 2004 at the FAO Near East Forestry Commission (24-27 May) in Beirut. Around 20 countries discussed the role of forests in food and water security. "Planted trees not only help the region to have better quality water but trees serve as windbreaks and shelterbelts against desertification," said Hosny El-Lakany, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry.
Forest cover in the region amounts to around 110 million hectares, equivalent to 5.9 percent of the land area. Countries in the Near East currently face an imminent shortage of water and the threat of deforestation as a result of agricultural expansion and urbanisation. An increasing number of countries in the region, including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, have begun using treated waste water to irrigate forest plantations and greenbelts.
Religion and spirituality
This year the ceremony of thr World Peace and Prayer Day will take place on Mount Fuji, Japan.
From ancient times, Mt. Fuji has been considered to be a sacred mountain. It is said that the name "Fuji" comes from the Ainu world "Fuchi", meaning Great Mother, and also from the word "Fuji" which means "Only One".
It has become clear that in order to provide a better future for our children, we must stop thinking of the earth as a resource to be exploited, and instead remember that it is our Mother. We need a philosophy that cherishes and respects our connection with all other life on this earth. Just such a philosophy has been taught for thousands of years by indigenous people all over the word: Native Americans, Inuit, Aborigines, Ainu, Maori to name a few, and many other indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa, South America, Pacific Islands.
Among these peoples are prophecies and messages passed on from generations regarding the future of the earth. Sensing a growing crisis in the global environment, indigenous people from around the world gathered in 1993, the U.N. Year of Indigenous Peoples, and started a movement to share their traditional prophecies and teachings with the rest of the world.
The College of the Humanities and Sciences becomes the founding partner of the Sister Cities Youth and Education Network
Washington DC, June 30 - The College of the Humanities and Sciences, an accredited distance learning college, signed on as the founding partner of Sister Cities International’s new Youth and Education Network. The College’s $50,000 donation over three years will help sister city members sustain and develop their youth and education projects by creating new programs. (…) The new network will be formally launched during the annual conference for Sister Cities International, to be held in Fort Worth, Texas July 14-18, 2004.
Organizers say that cultivating young leadership is vital to the future. (…) The new youth network will go beyond traditional sister city youth programs, which have focused on two communities conducting a program collaboratively. “The autonomous and grassroots nature of the sister city network is a tremendous strength because it allows local programs to be tailored to community needs,” said Elisa Stafford, coordinator of the Sister Cities Youth and Education Network. (…) The youth network is modeled after the successful Sister Cities Network for Sustainable Development, launched in 2003.
Representing more than 2,400 communities in 124 countries, Sister Cities International is a citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and communities abroad. (…) Sister Cities International promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation by focusing on sustainable development, youth and education, arts and culture, humanitarian assistance and economic growth programs.
UNA-USA Model United Nations Summit & Leadership Conference – New York, 11 July
Every summer, UNA-USA holds a Model U.N. Summit and Leadership Conference, bringing together students and faculty advisors who share a desire to deepen their understanding of Model U.N. The conference consists of workshops for novice and experienced delegates, conference organizers, and advisors.
In Model U.N., students step into the shoes of ambassadors from U.N. member states to debate current issues on the organization's vast agenda. Student "delegates" in Model U.N. prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the U.N.'s rules of procedures - all in the interest of mobilizing "international cooperation" to resolve problems that affect almost every country on Earth.
This year's summit is hosted by Seton Hall University's School of Diplomacy and International Relations (40 minutes from New York City). Participants will spend a day at U.N. Headquarters for seminars on U.N. issues. Fee per participant includes 5 nights lodging at Seton Hall, 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, reservation for banquet, day at U.N. Headquarters, Model U.N. Simulation at Seton Hall, and UNA-USA materials. Please log on to our webpage for more information.
26 June - A 15–year old Israeli girl, Lotus Ammar, passed the Olympic flame to a 15 year old Palestinian boy, Zayd Khader Mostafa, in front of the Organization’s Paris Headquarters this evening, in a gesture charged with the spirit of peace and reconciliation that both the Olympic Games and UNESCO embody.
“The passage of the Olympic Flame by UNESCO is a moment of high symbolism given the close affinity between the goals and values of UNESCO and the ideals of the Olympic movement,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura who joined hands briefly with the teenagers as they passed the flame. “This symbolic gesture is further enhanced by the passing of the Olympic Flame from the hands of an Israeli girl to a Palestinian boy, reminding us that peace, fraternity and mutual respect between neighbours, and among all the peoples of the world, are the strongest expression of our common humanity,” said the Director General. (…)
More than 130 sporting and media personalities, including UNESCO Champion for Youth David Douillet, who is also olympic and world judo champion, carried the flame across the French capital throughout the day, each running a distance of 400 metres.
The Olympic Flame is passing through 34 cities ahead of the official opening of the Games in Athens on August 13.
We, The World: 11 Days of Global Unity – September 11-21
It's been nearly 2 months since we invited organizations and individuals to partner with us for 11 Days of Global Unity September 11-21, 2004, and the response has been literally overwhelming! There will be 11 Days events taking place in over 100 cities around the world! We look forward to working with all who have contacted us to make this historic global celebration a success!
Working with Amnesty International, the Jane Goodall Institute's Roots & Shoots Youth Program, the Earth Charter Initiative, Dennis Kucinich's Department of Peace Initiative and many others, we are reaching out not only to the progressive activist communities, but far beyond. Therefore, we are insuring that each event has 3 crucial components:
- engage & inspire the public engendering a spirit of unity and compassion;
- raise awareness about critical issues & the urgency of getting involved through dynamic presentations and distributed materials;
- provide coordinated civic actions and ongoing campaigns supporting solution-oriented endeavors that event viewers and participants can take part in on-the-spot and afterwards.
Inspire, Inform and Involve - that's our plan. To maximize the results we need your support now! (…) See We, The World Vision and Implementation for a concise overview of our strategy.
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