Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 14



Weekly - Year VIII, number 14 – 16th November 2007

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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. 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 3,700 media in 48 countries and to 2,800 NGOs.

It is an all-volunteer 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 in the web site



International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Civil society on the move - Rotary, UN celebrate common goals



International legislation



General Assembly committee backs global moratorium against death penalty

15 November – A committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted today to back a  calling resolution for a global moratorium on executions with a view to eventually abolishing the death penalty entirely. The Assembly’s third committee, which deals with human rights issues, voted 99 to 52, with 33 abstentions, in favour of the resolution, which states “that there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the death penalty’s implementation is irreversible and irreparable.” The resolution will now go before the full 192-member Assembly for a vote next month. All Assembly resolutions are non-binding.

The resolution welcomes “the decisions taken by an increasing number of States to apply a moratorium on executions, followed in many cases by the abolition of the death penalty,” and expresses deep concern that the death penalty continues to be applied in some countries. It calls on nations that do impose the death penalty to ensure they meet internationally agreed minimum standards on the safeguards for those facing execution, and to provide the United Nations Secretary-General with information about their use of capital punishment and observation of the safeguards. Further, the resolution asks countries to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty, such as by reducing the number of offences for which it may be imposed, and calls on those States that have abolished the practice to not reintroduce it. (…)


The Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines – a model for a new active peace policy? - Conference organized by medico international with support of the Foreign Office of Germany November 29, 2007 Berlin 2.00 – 6.00 pm

The “Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines” (Mine Ban Treaty) and the process leading to its signing are “a model for a new active peace policy”. These were the words the Norwegian Nobel Committee used to justify its decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the “International Campaign to Ban Landmines” (ICBL). Both events, the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty and the award of the Nobel Prize, took place ten years ago this year – a good opportunity to take a critical look at the Treaty. This should not just be a retrospective, but also an examination of the prospects for future peace policy.

It goes without saying that the circumstances surrounding the ban on landmines were and indeed still are unusual. For the first time in history a weapon was banned due to public pressure; for the first time close cooperation arose between "like-minded states" and NGOs; for the first time a weapons ban was extended to include disarmament provisions and the humanitarian obligation to assist the victims; for the first time NGOs were involved in drawing up an international-law agreement, and now they are the main bodies monitoring adherence to it. (…)

Indeed, today "Ottawa" appears to be setting a trend. Since February 2007 46 “like-minded states” have been negotiating about a ban on cluster munitions, and even in the context of securing global access to essential medicines there are now calls for an "Ottawa process".

The symposium is designed to let representatives of politics and civil society, and not least those involved in the Ottawa process discuss such issues and opportunities and their prerequisites.

Full programme:



Human rights



Human rights education: European conference calls for national and international support

8 November - Committed, vigorous and concerted national action, supported by international co-operation is essential to foster human rights education, according to participants at the Regional European Meeting on the World Programme for Human Rights Education (Strasbourg, France, 5-6 November 2007). “Today, there is a strong call to build enhanced partnerships where each and every one participates to bring a unique contribution to the cause of human rights education,” commented Linda King of UNESCO.

The conference brought together several hundred people from all over Europe in order to assist states of the European region in implementing the Plan of Action of the on the World Programme for Human Rights Education. The event was organised jointly by the Council of Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNESCO, and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR). They have invited educators to submit good practices for a Compendium of human rights education.

Further impetus will be given to human rights education at the UNESCO International Conference on Human Rights Education in October 2008, which is organized to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Council of Europe also plans to host an inter-institutional meeting on teacher training in citizenship and human rights education in 2008. -- Contact:


European Commission Vice-President Wallström to Chair Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative

13 November - European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström, responsible for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, will visit New York this week to accept a new role as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative − a position held by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright since 2002. "I am honoured to be asked to play such a role in a global network including so many wise and outstanding women," said Vice-President Wallström.

The handover will occur on the occasion of the International Women Leaders Global Security Summit on November 16th, 2007 (, in New York. The Council of Women World Leaders is a network of 36 current and former Prime Ministers and Presidents which includes Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, Mary McAleese, President of Ireland; Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of The Philippines.

The Council's Ministerial Initiative is dedicated to advancing democracy, gender equality and excellence in governance throughout the world by promoting ministerial level exchanges on global issues. Its overall aims include providing a vehicle for highly placed women leaders to have a collective voice on global issues and preparing, informing and shaping the agendas for United Nations meetings and other multilateral meetings and conferences. (…)


Chad: Joint action by the ICRC, UNHCR and UNICEF in behalf of the 103 Abéché children

Abéché, 1 November – Since the events of 25 October that led to the arrest of members of the “Children Rescue/Arche de Zoé” organization, the staff and partner organizations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been working to meet the needs of the 103 children currently living in the Abéché orphanage.

Given the circumstances of the children’s arrival in Abéché, it was necessary to take swift action and ensure that suitable accommodation and care were provided. With this aim, and taking the children’s ages into account, the ICRC, UNHCR and UNICEF suggested to the Chadian authorities that they provide food, bedding, clothing and hygiene items, as well as assistance in the areas of health care and sanitation, with support from partner organizations (such as the Red Cross of Chad). (…)

Staff from the ICRC, UNHCR and UNICEF, their partner organizations and representatives of the Chadian authorities are continuing their efforts to piece together the background, status and identity of the children in order to adapt their work case by case and according to the specific needs and situation of each of them. This work is in support of the authorities and based on the principles of impartiality and non-discrimination. (…)



Economy and development



IFAD agrees with the WDR on the importance of agriculture to overcome rural poverty

Agriculture drives economic growth, acting like an enzyme that catalyzes other forms of human development and poverty reduction, says IFAD President at Sida presentation of World Development Report on agriculture

Stockholm, 14 November – IFAD agrees with the World Development Report’s assessment of the “special power” of agriculture to overcome rural poverty, said IFAD President Lennart Båge, who is in Stockholm to present the 2008 World Development Report of the World Bank, Agriculture for Development. (…) The World Development Report provides a compelling case for higher investment in agriculture, which IFAD has been calling for many years,” Båge said. “The report puts agriculture back where it belongs – right at the centre of the fight against poverty.”

The regional launch has been organized by the World Bank and Sida, in collaboration with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Agricultural development is essential for reducing world poverty, yet agriculture has suffered greatly from underinvestment in recent decades by developing country governments and by donors. Agriculture received 18 per cent of total overseas development assistance (ODA) in 1979; in 2004 it was just 3.5 per cent. However, Sweden continues to be a firm supporter of agricultural development, and increased its level of ODA between 2005 and 2006. (…)

For more information contact: Farhana Haque-Rahman, ief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes,


Working together to improve rural lives and livelihoods

FAO and US Peace Corps to continue collaboration

Rome, 12 November - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Peace Corps today signed an agreement to continue their collaboration to help improve the conditions of the rural poor around the world. The new agreement, a three-year extension of a 2004 Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations, was signed at FAO headquarters in Rome by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter. “This agreement reflects the positive outcome of our cooperation activities to date,” said Dr Diouf. "Peace Corps volunteers benefit from FAO’s technical expertise in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and nutrition, and FAO benefits from the volunteers’ presence at the village level and their ability to help share skills and know-how with the local farmer community."

Today, more than 8 000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 74 countries around the world. Peace Corps projects are developed locally in each country in collaboration with host country agencies and focus on pressing needs at the community level. (…)

FAO and the Peace Corps have been working together since the early 1960s. From developing school gardens to helping create business plans for young farmers, Peace Corps volunteers work with FAO in a wide variety of areas. (…)


Fortify West Africa: Fortifying cooking oil and flour for survival and development

Helen Keller International (HKI) announces the Fortify West Africa initiative which aims to contribute to the survival and development of women and children in the 8-nation Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (known by the French acronym UEMOA).

Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals (vitamin and mineral deficiencies - VMDs), such as vitamin A, iron and folic acid, are major causes of premature death, disability and reduced work capacity throughout the world. VMDs account for 10% of the global disease burden. One of the most cost-effective and sustainable strategies to control VMDs is to engage private sector food companies in  food fortification, and to promote wide consumption of these foods by those at risk. Food fortification is a common practice in North America and Europe, and HKI has led efforts to bring this technology to sub-Saharan Africa. Cooking oil and wheat flour are excellent vehicles for fortification with vitamin A (cooking oil) and iron and folic acid (wheat flour). (…)

At the third annual third annual meeting for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York in September 2007, the Presidents of AIFO-UEMOA and HKI made a commitment, entitled Fortify West Africa,  to reach at least 70% of the UEMOA population with fortified foods by the year 2010.  At the closing plenary, Tom Kalil, head of CGI’s Global Health track, cited the Fortify West Africa commitment as one that typified the spirit of CGI – an innovative partnership that is implementing a practical solution to a pressing global health problem.


International farmers’ dialogue

“Facing the challenges of sustainable development, globalisation and the needs of society”

La Pommeraye (near Angers - Western France), 23-30 November 2007 - This meeting was requested by African and Indian farmers keen to discover the facts about European agriculture with special emphasis on France. It is aimed at gathering farmers from countries in all agriculture parts of the world and all backgrounds, as well as those from the local area. You are invited to come and share your experiences, difficulties and hope, and discuss the role of farmers, today and into the future.






CRWRC to aid those hardest hit by Mexico floods

Grand Rapids, Mich., USA, November 7 - The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee ( plans to provide food aid to 500 families affected by heavy flooding in Southeast Mexico, the agency confirmed today. Families in the Villahermosa district in Mexico's Tabasco State will receive staple foods such as beans, rice, milk, eggs, oil, salt and sugar to be distributed through CRWRC's partner agency, the Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de Mexico.

CRWRC can put plans for aid together quickly because it has an existing relationship with the Presbyterian Church in Mexico," explains Grace Wiebe, CRWRC international relief program manager. "Those in need of food shouldn't have to wait."  Though food is expected to be distributed as soon as possible, CRWRC will have a firm release date once funds have been secured. The agency is currently seeking $90,000 to implement the response. (…)

CRWRC is a Christian, non-profit organization that provides a ministry of development, relief, and justice education to people in need around the world. CRWRC is currently active in 30 countries around the globe, and has an international reputation for "helping people help themselves."


ADRA United Kingdom launches “green” energy project in Somalia

Watford, England, 7 November - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in the United Kingdom has launched an environmentally friendly development project in Somalia that will strengthen livelihood strategies of the Somali people by promoting the use of alternative energy options to meet growing energy needs.

ADRA United Kingdom is funding the Somalia Energy and Livelihood project in partnership with the European Commission, which is furnishing 75 percent of the project’s US$2.8 million value. The three-year project, to date the largest ADRA UK project co-funded with the European Commission, launched November 1, 2007, in Puntland and Somaliland.

The Somalia Energy and Livelihood project is implemented by ADRA Somalia, and will install windmills and solar powered water systems. In addition, the project will facilitate the production and marketing of 10,000 cook stoves. The installation of energy equipment will increase access to clean water and provide health and education services for local residents. (…) Through this project, ADRA will reduce poverty in Puntland and Somaliland, which combined have a population of nearly 5.3 million. (…) ADRA is present in 125 countries, providing community development and emergency management without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, or ethnicity.


Caritas to help thousands caught in Mexico floods

Vatican City, 6 November – Caritas continues to help thousands of people affected by flooding in the Mexican state of Tabasco. The rain-swollen Grijalva River and others burst their banks last week, flooding nearly two-thirds of the low-lying state and leaving more than 800,000 people homeless. Much of Villahermosa, the state’s capital, is underwater, while many rural areas remain largely inaccessible. Caritas Mexico’s diocesan office in Tabasco began responding to the emergency at the outset, distributing food and water and sheltering 8,650 people in schools, churches, and parish buildings.

Caritas Mexico has set up 14 centres in Mexico City to start collecting aid to help the people of Tabasco, and has received an outpouring of support within the country. After an initial evaluation, Caritas Mexico said that it will probably be months before people can return to their homes. (…) Tabasco is one of the poorest areas of Mexico, and the long-term rebuilding effort is expected to be a major operation.


Despite border closings, ANERA continues to supply the neediest in Gaza

Gaza at this time is almost completely cut off from critical supplies coming through its borders. Reports are that conditions are worsening everyday. As the situation grows more challenging, ANERA's long-time support in the region continues.

As of 29 October, ANERA's Gaza Strip Director, Salah Sakka, reported that 1.7 million fortified wafers, enough to distribute to our beneficiary preschool children until the end of January 2008, are in Gaza. We also have delivered, at the end of October, 76,000 cartons of fortified milk - a five-day supply. Additionally, ANERA has delivered over $2 million worth of donated medical supplies into Gaza in October.

Though it is excellent news that we have succeeded in making these deliveries, we still face obstacles. Our partner in providing milk shipments has indicated that although they have met all the conditions for bringing the next shipment into Gaza, it has been delayed at the border.

With the situation getting worse, the cost of these political obstacles in humanitarian as well as financial terms is impossible to calculate. It is all the more imperative that we, in solidarity with Salah and all Gazan families, continue to chip away at this border bureaucracy. (…)


Save the Children partners with American Red Cross to serve California children

Washington, DC, 29 October - Thanks to a unique partnership between Save the Children and the American Red Cross, many of California's wildfire evacuation shelters were equipped with safe play areas that have allowed children to play, participate in structured activities and interact with other children in a secure environment.

The Save the Children / American Red Cross agreement, signed earlier this year, has allowed "Safe Space" kits to be mobilized to disaster-prone regions nationwide, ensuring that emergency shelters will have access to Safe Space materials as soon as a disaster strikes. 

Safe Space kits contain materials that can be used to set-up and establish a safe space within a shelter. These pre-packaged kits contain equipment to mark off a special area for children, activity supplies (such as art materials, books, games and toys), and other materials to assist children and families in a shelter environment. The structured, supervised activities offered in Safe Spaces are designed to strengthen children's resilience and help them begin to work through their emotions following a disaster.

"Emergency shelters place children and their families in cramped quarters, in the midst of strangers, and lack toys, safe places to play and structured activities for children," said Mark Shriver, Vice President and Managing Director of Save the Children's U.S. Programs. "Through this partnership, children in evacuation shelters will be allowed to play, learn, socialize and express themselves under the supervision of a caring adult, giving them a sense of normalcy which can help them recover from the experience of weathering a disaster."



Peace and security



Angola: Kwanza Sul - zones with landmines cleared, 7 November - At least 12.857,800 square metres of previously mined areas were cleared in the coastal Kwanza Sul province, from January to October 2007, by landmines clearance experts, said the provincial co-ordinator of intersectoral demining commission, António Tonga.

According to Antonio Tonga, who is also the provincial vice governor, the demining process covered farming fields, electrical power lines, roads and residential areas. Some 2,769 antipersonnel landmines, 61 antitank and 5,954 devices of various calibres were also removed during the process that has been enabling the execution of the government's economic and social programmes and the free circulation of people and goods across the province. The de-mining programme, in the province, counts on the participation of the NGOs such as the Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), MGM, Santa Barbara, Apacominas, Sedita, Cogote and Inad, as well as the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) take part in landmines clearance operations in the region.


Bahrain parliament calls on Government to join mine ban treaty

Author(s): Site Admin <> .

1 November - A strong call for the government of Bahrain to submit to parliament draft legislation for accession to the Mine Ban Treaty was the main recommendation formulated at the end of a workshop organized today by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) for members of the Bahraini House of Representatives. (…)

Attending MPs confirmed their support to the humanitarian goals of the treaty and assured that a bill for accession to the treaty would encounter no opposition in Parliament. They also recommended that a trust fund should be created within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide international assistance and cooperation on humanitarian issues including mine action. (…)

The ICBL also welcomed the news that Bahrain is planning to attend the 8th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty which will be held in Jordan from 18 to 22 November. (…)

Bahrain never produced, exported or used antipersonnel mines and is not mine-affected.






Singer Beyoncé Knowles immunizes Ethiopian children against polio 

Rotary International News - 30 October - Rotarians taking part in a polio immunization campaign in Ethiopia recently enjoyed a boost of star power for the eradication effort. Singer Beyoncé Knowles, scheduled to perform in Addis Ababa, met the group and helped administer the oral polio vaccine before taking the stage on 20 October.

The 26-year-old, who immunized 10 youth said, "I want to encourage all … parents to give this vaccination to their children. It really benefits their health."

"Beyoncé was so impressed [with] our commitment to not only provide funding but to make the trip to administer the vaccine," said Ezra Teshome, of the Rotary Club of University District of Seattle, Washington, USA, who led the effort. Teshome immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia in 1971 and has headed up seven other immunization drives in his homeland.

The fight to end polio has made significant progress in Ethiopia, which has not reported a single case of the disease this year. The country recorded 22 cases in 2005 and 17 in 2006 after an outbreak in the Horn of Africa.

In addition to raising and contributing funds, over one million Rotarians have volunteered their time and personal resources to help vaccinate more than two billion children in 122 countries during national immunization campaigns.


HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and support

Maia Kahlke Lorentzen (

1.6% of the population of Cambodia is living with HIV/AIDS. DanChurchAid works with HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, care and support in the rural communities.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 26 October – 1.6% of Cambodia’s population, approximately 130.000 people, are living with HIV/AIDS. The epidemic is affecting many different groups in the population. Migrant and mobile workers such as sexworkers, drivers, police and military are the largest risk groups. Poor people living in border areas are at risk, and in recent years there has been an increase of infection among married women. These women are infected by their husbands, and will in most cases transmit the disease to their children during pregnancy or breastfeeding. (…)

DanChurchAid's HIV/AIDS program in Cambodia focuses on awareness, prevention, care and support through empowerment of the local communities.

DanChurchAid works with the local partner LWF Cambodia in three of Cambodia’s poorest provinces, Kampong Chhnang, Battambang og Kampong Speu. The local communities are educated about HIV/AIDS, in order to reduce prejudice and raise awareness about prevention of infection. HIV/AIDS patients are educated to be self-sufficient and to know their rights. They’re educated about risk-behaviour, hygiene and provided with medication in order to increase their chances of a better and longer life with HIV/AIDS.



Energy and safety



The 20th World Energy Congress - Rome 2007,  November 11-15

The Energy Future in an Interdependent World

The 20th World Energy Congress & Exhibition is the most authoritative international energy meeting. (...) It is promoted by the World Energy Council (WEC), which is the most important international energy organisation. It is a UN-accredited, non profit NGO, which aims to foster the economic development and the pacific and sustainable use of energy supplies.

With several Member Committees in over 90 countries, the goal of the World Energy Council is to monitor the status of the energy sector and to find solutions that could promote the economic development of the most industrialised and developing countries. Furthermore, contributing to the dynamic international debates that periodically take place all over our planet, WEC indicates time-frames and ways for a sustainable use of energy resources to the benefit of people worldwide.

The Congress is held every three years and it is considered the most important energy forum. Excellent speakers and thousands of participants from all over the world will be present.

The Congress will host, in addition to the World Energy Council Members, exhibitors from both energy producing and consuming countries, institutions, international organisations and representatives from the energy industry, researchers and experts from all over the world and all of those who are interested in energy and development issues.


Brazil: biofuel revolution reaches airline industry

By Mario Osava

Rio de Janeiro, November 10 (Tierramérica) - Biokerosene has the potential to take off on the international market faster than other alternative fuels, even though it is among the newest and faces stricter quality standards because it is to be used in aviation.

Airplanes have a useful lifespan of 30 to 40 years, and their manufacturers want to ensure they have fuel until the end, chemical engineer Expedito Parente explains to Tierramérica. Three decades ago, he invented biodiesel and biokerosene, both refined from oleaginous crops. Before today's fuel-hungry airplanes are ready to be scrapped decades from now, petroleum-based fuel could disappear or cost too much to make flying economically feasible, Parente says. Investment therefore is needed to develop, perfect and produce plant-based kerosene, fomented also by pressure to mitigate climate change.

The boom in fuels made from maize, sugarcane, palms and soybeans, among other plants, is in part due to the fact that they emit less greenhouse-effect gas than petroleum derivatives, and to the fact that the latter are in increasingly shorter supply.

Bio-jet fuel is being tested "throughout the air transport chain, including in the manufacturing of planes, turbines and accessories, and the network of aeronautical fuel distribution," says Parente. In two years it should be confirmed as a valid alternative to kerosene from petroleum, he predicts.

The process involves "the entire interested universe," Parente stresses, although he avoids naming the U.S.-based Boeing, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, which signed a cooperation agreement with Tecbio, the company that Parente founded in 2001 to promote his projects. "The initial agreement was expanded to the rest of the actors," he says.

It is a vision that the scientist and entrepreneur explains with the didactic approach of a university professor faced with the question about the commercial future of biokerosene and the possibility that it might run into protectionist barriers, like those that affect Brazilian ethanol in industrialised countries. (…)


Bioenergy growth must be carefully managed

Global Bioenergy Partnership publishes report on bioenergy in G8 plus five countries

Rome, 13 November - Capturing the full potential of biofuels means overcoming environmental and social constraints and removing trade barriers, which are hindering the development of a worldwide market, according to a new report released by the Global Bioenergy Parnership (GBEP).

Potential conflicts between bioenergy production and the protection of the environment, sustainable development, food security of the rural poor and the economic development of countries supplying feedstock should be urgently addressed, according to the report “A Review of the Current State of Bioenergy Development in G8 +5 Countries”, issued today at the 20th World Energy Congress (WEC – Rome 2007). (…)

Bioenergy is forecast to satisfy 20 percent of global energy demand by 2030, rising to between 30 and 40 percent by 2060. According to the alternative scenario of the International Energy Agency (IEA), biodiesel and ethanol may make up 7 percent of world demand for liquid fuels in 2030, with consumption rising fourfold to 36 million metric tonnes a year from today’s level of about 8 million tonnes.


World Hydrogen Technologies Convention 2007

Montecatini Terme (Italy), 4-7 November - Forum Italiano per l’Idrogeno (FII) is proud to announce that the second World Hydrogen Technologies Convention will take place from 4 to 7 November 2007 in Italy at Montecatini Terme. WHTC2007 is a biannual hydrogen related conference of International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE) mainly focused on industrial aspects to create a bridge between research and application. (...)

The aim of WHTC 2007 is to encourage the efforts of industries to develop present and new technologies in the Hydrogen energy sector and to convince the policy makers to help feasibility of the Hydrogen technologies in the energy sector. (...) Coupled with electric power, hydrogen can allow a clean, safe and reliable energy system suitable for transportation, heat and power. We have to introduce Hydrogen favouring the production from renewable energy sources. But we have to start as soon as possible, using also conventional sources far from our cities to produce Hydrogen for our cities. WHTC 2007 invites all industries and research centres to contribute to accelerate the clean use of Hydrogen energy (...).


Renewable Heating & Cooling Congress 2007

Brussels, November 20-21 - The European Commission has presented one of the most ambitious energy packages in history with enormous challenges for the renewable energy sector. The heating sector which accounts for almost 50% of energy supplied has the greatest potential to help achieve these targets - yet, to date, the sector has received little legislative support resulting in slow growth over the last decade.

There is growing interest from property owners, architects and construction companies for the inclusion of RESHC into the building envelope. This combined with the rapid developments in technologies, and heightened public awareness on climate change provides the heating & cooling sector with a perfect opportunity to reach its potential.

The Inaugural Renewable Heating & Cooling Congress (RESHC 2007) will bring together leading experts, decision and policy makers from around the world to address key trends from policy decisions to the built environment adoption and will provide a solid base for informed decisions and developing future strategies.



Environment and wildlife



Paying farmers to protect the environment?

FAO publishes The State of Food and Agriculture 2007

Rome, 15 November - Carefully targeted payments to farmers could serve as an approach to protect the environment and to address growing concerns about climate change, biodiversity loss and water supply, FAO said today in its annual publication The State of Food and Agriculture. The report however cautions that payments for environmental services are not the best solution in all situations, and that significant implementation challenges remain. (…)

Current incentives tend to favour the production of food, fibre, and increasingly, biofuels, but they typically under-value other beneficial services that farmers can provide, such as carbon storage, flood control, clean water provision or biodiversity conservation. Farmers can provide better environmental outcomes, but they need incentives to do so. Payments for environmental services represent one way of increasing incentives to adopt improved agricultural practices—and even to offset pollution generated in other sectors (..)Hundreds of payment programmes for environmental services are currently being implemented around the world, mainly as part of forest conservation initiatives. “But relatively few programmes for environmental services have targeted farmers and agricultural lands in developing countries,” the report said. (…)


New conservation network set up to protect wetlands in China

Beijing, China, 9 November – A new wetland conservation network has been established along the central and lower Yangtze River, providing a platform for management organizations, research institutions, social groups and the public to protect wetlands and battle climate change.

Wetlands are critical to mitigating climate change — they have an important and underestimated role in carbon storage and greenhouse gas regulation.

Supported by the WWF-HSBC Partnership Programme, the network of 20 wetland conservation areas is the first of its kind in China

“With this new initiative, the overall protected area will see a remarkable increase if the separated wetlands are networked together,” said Li Lin, Head of Conservation Strategies at WWF China.  “This will significantly boost conservation effectiveness.”

The 20 wetland sites, covering an area of some 1 million hectares, represent a diverse range of habitats and are home to numerous species. The wetlands, however, are threatened by ecological degradation and water pollution as a result of economic development and urbanization.

WWF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wetlands Conservation Network, offering training to monitor waterfowl and climate data, as well as to work together on policy advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns.


Secretary-General Ban makes historic visit to Antarctica

9 November – Ban Ki-moon today became the first United Nations Secretary-General to make an official visit to Antarctica as he travelled to the frozen continent to see first-hand the effects of climate change on its melting glaciers.  Mr. Ban, who has made a climate change a priority issue during his term as Secretary-General, received a briefing from scientists at a Chilean Air Force base in Antarctica before visiting the Collins Glaciers and then the Sejong Research Centre, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told journalists in New York. (…)

Last night, Mr. Ban addressed the Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, the Chilean capital, where he told the audience that the UN’s work is “intimately linked” with the need to promote social cohesion worldwide. “Our very mission for peace, development and human rights depends on fostering inclusive societies that are stable, safe, just and tolerant – societies that respect diversity, equality of opportunity and participation of all,” Mr. Ban said.

He stressed the importance of building and strengthening social cohesion to tackling several key challenges and issues faced by the UN, from climate change to migration to upholding indigenous rights and those of peoples with disabilities. (…)


Black rhinos find new home on community land in South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 7 November – A group of black rhinos has been successfully released into a community-owned game reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal, a move seen by environmentalists as a boost to conserving the endangered species.

The release of 11 rhinos into the Somkhanda Game Reserve is part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project — a partnership between WWF and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife — to increase suitable land available for a viable black rhino population. Once the most numerous rhino species in the world, today, there are only an estimated 3,700 left in the wild. (…)

Somkhanda Game Reserve is the first community land to be involved with the WWF-supported project. The first three were privately held partner sites in KwaZulu-Natal Province: Mun-ya-wana Game Reserve, Zululand Rhino Reserve and Pongola Game Reserve. (…)



Religion and spirituality



“Historic breakthrough” - Global Christian Forum to go forward

Limuro (near Nairobi - Kenia), 6-9 November - After four days of meetings, some 240 leaders of a broad range of churches, confessions and interchurch organizations from over 70 countries agreed to carry forward what they call “the Global Christian Forum process”, an open platform for encounter and dialogue whose goal is to “foster mutual respect, explore and address common challenges”.

Participants broke into a spontaneous doxology when the final draft of a “Message from the Global Christian Forum to Brothers and Sisters in Christ Throughout the World” was approved at the last session of the meeting, which took place 6-9 November in Limuru, near Nairobi, Kenya.

The message, one of the few tangible results of the forum, says the event was a “historic breakthrough” as participants were able to gather “globally as never before”. Representatives of the historic Protestant Churches, the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, the Pentecostal Churches, the broader Evangelical movement and other Christian churches, communities and interchurch organizations, attended the meeting.

“We are extremely pleased by the development and outcome of this meeting,” said the Rev. Dr Walter Altmann, moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee. “What one decade ago was born within the WCC as an idea that seemed fragile and almost impossible to achieve has led to a milestone in the ecumenical journey.”


Linking poverty, wealth and ecology: African ecumenical perspectives

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), 5-9 November - When does the pursuit of economical wellbeing turn into greed? This is one of the questions to be discussed at a 5-9 November ecumenical consultation in Dar es Salaam. Joint church strategies and actions for addressing the interlinked problems of poverty, excessive wealth, and ecological degradation in Africa are intended results.

The consultation is part of a WCC (World Council of Churches) study project on Poverty, wealth and ecological debt. It continues a process which was started at the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare in 1998 and became known as Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth (AGAPE) since the 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre. Today, the issue of socio-economic justice is no less pressing. Especially in Africa, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, with destructive consequences for peace and for the environment.

Discussions in Dar es Salaam will help to draw a “greed line” as practical guidance to Christians regarding sources of growth - such as speculation or expropriation - and the level or ratio of wealth accumulation that are unethical. The theological methodology will emphasize African concepts like “Ubuntu” as well as the theology of peace in the market.

Similar church encounters are to take place on four other continents before the next WCC assembly. Recognizing that there can be no peace without justice, these encounters also inform the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation which will conclude the Decade to Overcome Violence in 2011.


Christians and Hindus - Walking the path of peace: Vatican’s Diwali message

Vatican City, 5 November - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council on Interreligious Dialogue has written a message to Hindus on the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, which falls on 9 November this year. The message is entitled, “Christians and Hindus: determined to walk the path of dialogue”.

“Sensitive to your religious feelings and respectful of your ancient religious tradition,” the cardinal writes, “I sincerely hope that your search for the Divine, symbolized through the celebration of Diwali, will help you to overcome darkness with light, untruth with truth, and evil with goodness.” (...) “In situations of misunderstanding, people need to come together and communicate with one another, in order to clarify, in a fraternal and friendly spirit, their respective beliefs, aspirations and convictions. Only through dialogue, avoiding all forms of prejudice and stereo-typed ideas about others and by faithful witness to our religious precepts and teaching, can we truly overcome conflicts. Dialogue between followers of different religions is the necessary path today, indeed it is the only appropriate path for us as believers.”


Church in India to celebrate Communications Day to focus on media education for children

New Delhi, 18 November - The Catholic Church in India will celebrate India Communications Day on Sunday, November 18, on the theme: “Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education”

The CBCI (Catholic Bishops Conference of India) General Body Meeting held in 2004 at Trichur, Kerala, had declared: “Communications Day is a valuable opportunity to sensitize the community, the Sunday before the feast of Christ the King should be celebrated as ‘India Communications Day’ with a meaningful liturgy and relevant programmes.” (...)

Recognizing the growing importance of the modern communications media and their profound influence on children and youth, for the 41st World Communications Day Pope Benedict XVI gave the theme: “Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education”.

In His message He focuses on how proper formation can help children learn to be truly free. He looks at how the knowledge of how to exercise their own freedom in the social context in which they find themselves can help them develop a profound joy of life. For this reason, the Holy Father appeals to Church members, families and schools to provide an effective education in the use of the media.


Insight Film Festival: Films of Faith – Manchester, 21st November

Manchester, November - Insight Festival to be held in Manchester will be a spectacular chance to see a range of films which explore faith and faith values and to network with others who see the importance of faith issues in community cohesion. Films from young film makers throughout the UK have been submitted to the Festival. (...)

There will be a chance to debate, question and challenge issues concerning faith, media, portrayal and diversity in the special JUDGES SEMINAR during the afternoon. This will feature BBC senior producer Anna Cox, writer and broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor, Head of Drama and film at Manchester University Rajinder Dudrah and a contribution from David N. Weiss, co-writer of Shrek 2. The seminar will be chaired by Talat Awan of BBC Radio Manchester and Lancashire.


A joint retreat of Palestinian Peace Society and Interfaith Encounter Association

The Binding of Isaac/Ishmael: Israeli-Palestinian Interfaith Retreat

Jerusalem, 29-30 November - The Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) is pleased to invite you to the coming retreat of interfaith encounter and conversations for Israelis and Palestinians, co-organized by IEA with the Palestinian Peace Society. We are very excited to continue the process of building true and sustainable peaceful relations in the Holy Land through deep and sincere interfaith dialogue.

This retreat will be held in the charming Guest House of the Austrian Hospice, at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, on 29-30 November 2007.

During the conference we will engage in non-political interfaith conversations designed to help participants better know "the other" in his/her humanity, which we believe can make a substantial contribution to human peace among the two peoples and three faiths that share this Holy Land. We will also sing together religious and cultural songs and have time for spontaneous conversations.



Culture and education



UNESCO focuses on philosophy in schools

14 November - UNESCO is hosting a symposium on philosophy in schools on 14 November to mark World Philosophy Day (15 November). The Organization is also launching a new publication which examines the teaching of philosophy at all levels worldwide. The symposium on new philosophical practices, “Practice, training and research in the school context: Perspectives” welcomes anyone with an interest in the practice of philosophy at school, to debate methods and results. 

It is also the occasion for the official launch of the UNESCO study entitled "Philosophy: A School of Freedom. Teaching philosophy and learning to philosophize: status and prospects". Published in French and English, it examines the teaching of philosophy worldwide at pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education levels as well as suggesting ways to promote the teaching of philosophy.

In his message on the occasion of World Philosophy Day, UNESCO’s Director-General states: “By giving a voice to civil society, to philosophers, historians, educators and researchers, UNESCO seeks to promote a wide-ranging debate open to the momentum of ideas.”

Both these events and related celebrations are in line with the UNESCO Intersectoral Strategy on Philosophy. -- Contact: philosophy&


Rotary Foundation selects fourth group for peace program  

Rotary International News - 9 November - The Rotary Foundation has selected its fourth group of professionals to study peace-building and conflict resolution in its three-month program in Thailand. Participants are chosen twice a year in a global competition based on their professional and academic achievements.

Started in 2006, the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok is aimed at mid- and upper-level professionals who work in academic institutions, governments, nongovernmental organizations, media outlets, private corporations, and other settings that require a working knowledge of conflict resolution and mediation.

The 23 newly selected participants hail from 14 countries and will begin the program in January. They include a logistics operations assistant for the United Nations peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a manager of a nongovernmental organization in Australia, and a journalist working in Kashmir. Upon graduation, they’ll earn certificates in peace and conflict studies from the university. Participants, who receive financial aid from the Foundation, often find that their new skills help them advance in their careers.

Individuals interested in future sessions should contact their local Rotary clubs or e-mail for more information. Applications are being accepted for the July 2008 session and beyond.


Remote Baha'i school adds two new grades

Bunisi, Papua New Guinea, 31 October (BWNS) - In the remote village of Bunisi in Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea, the age you start school doesn't depend on how old you are - it depends on whether you can handle the hike to and from class. Each morning, children trek for two hours, walking 2,000 feet down the mountain to the Ikara Primary School. And each afternoon, they hike back up. Not easy for a 7-year-old.

"By the time the children get to school they are exhausted," said Jalal Mills, a Baha'i familiar with the educational system in Bunisi. "Then they are expected to concentrate in class and learn."

But now the situation is changing, at least for the first and second graders. Last month, the Bunisi Elementary School, which until recently only served preschoolers, added new classrooms.

Operated by the Baha'i community of Bunisi, the school serves students in preschool and now grades one and two from nearly a dozen nearby villages, covering an area with a population of perhaps 1,000 people. The pupils come from different religious backgrounds. (…)

The school has three teachers, offering class for some 75 children in all. Two of the teachers are Baha'is, but most of the students are not. Religious instruction is limited to specified periods, and several religions are taught. (…)


Campus Peace Centers: “Building a Culture of Peace, One Campus at a Time”

Students from Vassar College handed out programs at the launch of the Campus Peace Centers project at UN headquarters in New York on 25 October 2007 during the Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns celebrating the United Nations 62nd anniversary.

Campus Peace Centers is an innovative project to encourage university students working for the various aspects of a culture of peace to form local meeting centers, as well as an international on-line network highlighting UN campaigns and youth initiatives. Deborah Moldow, of the World Peace Prayer Society, and Dr. Neil Altman, of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, are spearheading the project with a Working Group from the UN NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns-New York. (…)

The United Nations was represented by Ms. Yvonne Acosta, Chief of the Academic Partnerships Unit in the Outreach Division of the UN Dept. of Public Information, and Ms. Rochelle Roca Hachem, Programme Specialist for Culture at the UNESCO Office in New York, who spoke in support of future collaboration for a culture of peace.


EDC receives $4M to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning for students and teachers

National Science Foundation increases funds for ITEST programs

Boston, MA, USA, 15 October – Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) has been awarded a $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue and expand its work as a national resource center for over 100 programs designed to produce more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) savvy kids to fill the looming shortage of qualified U.S. workers.

The resource center supports the national effort known as ITEST (Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers). ITEST reaches more than 120,000 students and over 4,000 teachers in grades 6-12, through projects in schools, universities, museums, and afterschool programs.

Under the 4-year grant agreement, EDC will continue to bring students and teachers from each of the projects together—both in person and virtually—to share promising practices, address challenges, and offer recommendations that can be shared with educators and policymakers across the U.S. This information and the lessons learned are shared through a Web site (, publications, conference presentations, and public symposia and webcasts. (…) The ITEST initiative, including the Learning Resource Center, are funded by the National Science Foundation.

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is an international nonprofit organization that conducts and applies research to advance learning and promote health. EDC creates and manages more than 300 projects in 35 countries. Visit


Asia’s relevance in a globalised world

Trust and integrity in the new leadership model - a conference jointly hosted by Indian and Japanese business leaders.

Panchgani (India), 23-27 November  - Caux Initiatives for Business (CIB) aims to engage business-people and decision-influencers in honest conversations on the broad issues associated with globalization and the human face of economics.

Participants are motivated by a shared commitment to personal integrity. They aim to address economic problems of immediate or long-term concern, including environmental imbalance, social exclusion, job creation and poverty reduction.



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Civil society on the move:


Rotary, UN celebrate common goals

by Barbara E. Walters


Rotary International News, 6 November  - In Tanzania, villagers buy mosquito nets through a Rotarian-supported program that aligns with the United Nations' goal to reduce malaria. In Kenya, families build Rotarian-funded rainwater collection tanks, complementing UN efforts to prevent deaths, especially among children, linked to poor sanitation.  In Romania, farmers receive heifers through an effort backed by a Rotary Foundation grant that goes hand in hand with the UN goal to fight hunger.

These stories were highlighted during Rotary-UN Day at UN headquarters in New York City as ways Rotarians are helping the United Nations advance its goals to improve lives around the world. Held annually, the occasion celebrated the organizations’ 62-year partnership. More than 1,300 Rotarians, UN officials, Interactors, and Rotaractors from 48 countries attended the day of panel discussions on water, literacy, health, and hunger on 3 November.


Rotary's relationship with the UN dates back to 1945, when 49 Rotarians acted as delegates, advisers, and consultants at the conference that founded the global association of governments. Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status offered to any nongovernmental organization by the Economic and Social Council, which oversees many specialized UN agencies. "Ever since the United Nations was founded, you have been a wonderful partner to our organization," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said to Rotarians in remarks delivered by Kim Won-soo, deputy chef de cabinet and special adviser. "You have worked with the UN for health, literacy, and poverty eradication. You have promoted peace through your exchange programs. You have helped people understand what the UN is, what it does, and what it can do." Ban and Kiyotaka Akasaka, UN undersecretary-general for communications and public information, praised Rotary for working on the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to slash poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and other social ills by 2015. But more work is needed, Akasaka said. "It is intolerable that 72 million children are not in primary school. Maternal health remains a scandal, and HIV is growing faster than treatments can be made available," he explained, adding that climate change threatens to undermine work toward all the goals.


Progress is being made, though, according to speakers featured throughout the day. Stephen Nicholas, a member of the Rotary Club of Yonkers, New York, and a professor at Columbia University Medical Center's Department of Pediatrics, said better, cheaper medication and intervention during pregnancy has almost completely diminished the number of HIV-infected infants at the clinic he founded in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Nicholas has also helped develop a family AIDS program in the Dominican Republic. Now a World Community Service project, it aims to reduce the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmissions and the number of AIDS orphans.

During a panel discussion on water, John Boot, of the Rotary Club of Summerland, British Columbia, Canada, described how Kenyan villagers have built 12,000 concrete water tanks and planted hundreds of trees as a natural purifier.

In a health panel, Brian Stoyel, of the Rotary Club of Saltash, Cornwall, England, said posters encouraging Tanzanians to buy mosquito netting below cost have reduced malaria by 64 percent in targeted areas. Two billion additional nets are still needed in East Africa, however, said Melanie Renshaw, UNICEF senior health adviser.

The event also featured a presentation by Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program graduate Richelieu Allison, of Liberia, who received the day’s only standing ovation. "Rotary has become a passer of the light," Allison said. "The Four-Way Test has transformed my life. It can transform the world."



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Next issue: 6 December 2007.


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