Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 15



Weekly - Year VIII, number 15 – 7th December 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



Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

The UN Secretary-General  message on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2007



Human rights



ITUC and ILO develop a strategy to fight racial discrimination and xenophobia

Brussels, 3 December (ITUC Online) - The ITUC and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are jointly holding a seminar in Geneva from 4 to 7 December aimed at developing a trade union strategy to fight racial discrimination and xenophobia.

 Although a large majority of governments have ratified ILO Conventions 100 and 111, millions of working men and women suffer discrimination based on colour, cultural differences, ethnic or national origin. They are prey to racism, xenophobia, intolerance, ethnic and religious tensions, both in the world of work and in society in general.

 The fight to combat racism and xenophobia and to promote human rights, equality and diversity forms an integral part of every trade union organisation’s mission. During its Founding Congress in November 2006, the ITUC decided to take action. The action programme against racism and xenophobia, to be developed during the joint seminar with the ILO, will be equipped with an international monitoring, implementation and assessment mechanism. (…)

In addition to drawing up an action plan to fight discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, the seminar will also propose capacity building tools to empower these discriminated groups. Finally, another challenge to be met is awareness raising on a massive scale, both in the workplace and within trade unions.

Founded on 1 November 2006, the ITUC represents 168 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 305 national affiliates. For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.


MADRE Delegation to Travel to UN Climate Change Conference

November 30 - New York, NY - In preparation for next week’s United Nations (UN) Conference on Climate Change, MADRE today emphasized that human rights must be the starting point for international negotiations on climate policy. MADRE also announced the launch of its climate change blog, inaugurated for the conference.

From December 3-14, representatives of over 180 countries will gather in Bali, Indonesia to outline steps for the international community to address the crisis of climate change. (…) MADRE representatives in attendance during the first week of the conference will be available by email beginning December 3 for comment.  In addition, MADRE will provide daily updates in a blog, titled "All Eyes on Bali," to monitor the latest developments at the conference, comment on the trajectory of the discussions, and transmit perspectives from non-governmental organizations.  This blog is now available here:

MADRE is an international women's human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women's organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and other human rights. MADRE provides resources, training, and support to enable our sister organizations to meet concrete needs in their communities while working to shift the balance of power to promote long-term development and social justice. (…)


Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC steps up presence at victims' side

Geneva (ICRC)November 29 – Following a sharp deterioration in the security situation in the province of North Kivu and a dramatic rise in the need for humanitarian aid there, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has decided to step up its operations in that part of the Congo. The decision was announced by Dominik Stillhart, the organization's deputy director of operations, following a visit to the country during which he had talks with Congolese officials in Kinshasa, Goma and Bukavu.

The upsurge in hostilities, which began in late August, has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. The fighting has been accompanied by serious violations of international humanitarian law by people bearing weapons. These acts have included rape, forced recruitment, pillaging of civilian property and destruction of infrastructure essential to the population's survival. (…) The ICRC has therefore decided to significantly expand its programmes to come to the victims' aid. The expansion will focus on helping displaced persons and on support for medical facilities treating war-wounded people.

Stepped up ICRC operations will enable delegates to remain at the side of the people affected by the violence and will help the organization maintain a consistent dialogue with all parties to the conflict, reminding them of their obligation under international humanitarian law to respect the lives and health of civilians. Under no circumstances may persons be attacked who are not taking part in the hostilities.


UNIFEM launches campaign on ending violence against women with Nicole Kidman 

On Monday, 26 November, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), in partnership with its Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, and a large number of global partners launched an Internet campaign on ending violence against women. The campaign, entitled “Say NO to Violence against Women,” invites supporters to add their names to a virtual book and urges hundreds of thousands — even millions — of people around the world to send a strong message to decision-makers to place ending violence against women high on the global agenda. Major civil society organizations, UN partners and private sector companies have come on board to Say NO to Violence against Women. The campaign will run until 8 March 2008, International Women’s Day. “Violence against women is an appalling human rights violation,” said UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman in a statement. “But it is not inevitable. We can put a stop to this. (…)

UNIFEM’s Internet campaign highlights the system-wide UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, through which more than 250 initiatives in close to 120 countries have received much-needed support in the past 10 years. UNIFEM also announced today, close to US$5 million have been awarded this year to 29 initiatives, involving 35 countries. (…)


According to ECLAC's Panorama Social 2007:

Positive Scenario for improving health programmes for Indigenous Peoples States need to reformulate concepts and goals in this area, while indigenous organizations need to make use of and defend this basic service.

22 November - In Latin America, the emergence of indigenous movements as political actors in democratic contexts more open to the creation of pluricultural States has enabled progress to be made towards the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. Another factor is the recent Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which reinforces the existence of minimum standards for the human right of this population. So states the Social Panorama of Latin America, 2007, the recent ECLAC publication that covers, among other topics, progress and obstacles regarding indigenous health policies and programmes in the region. 

"Health sector reforms geared towards the equity, efficiency and quality of health benefits are conducive to furthering the application of indigenous health rights, with priority given to the active participation of the communities themselves," the document states. According to ECLAC, most Latin American countries have made advances in legislation on access to health services by indigenous peoples. But progress is still needed in comprehensive provision of the right to health, incorporating the use and development of traditional medicines and protection of indigenous territories as living areas, as well as the full participation of indigenous peoples in the policies and programmes that affect them.(…)



Economy and development



Germany commits over US$7.5 million for food security, livelihoods projects

Funds support FAO activities in Afghanistan, Kenya and Tanzania

Rome, 4 December - The Government of Germany has committed more than US$7.5 million to support food security, nutrition and sustainable livelihoods in Afghanistan, Kenya and Tanzania, under an agreement signed last week with FAO.

Afghanistan - The new funds bring Germany’s extrabudgetary contributions to FAO in 2007 up to US$13 million, with more than half going to support nutrition, livelihoods and food security activities in Afghanistan. A new three-year project with a budget of nearly US$2.8 million will build on the achievements of earlier German-funded activities by continuing to integrate nutrition, food security and livelihoods objectives and activities in government policies and programmes, notably in agriculture, rural development, health and education. (…)

Participatory forestry - Concerned about the depletion of forests and woody rangelands, the Government of Afghanistan has endorsed a new forest and rangeland policy that involves local communities in the management of forests and other natural resources. A new legal framework providing access and rights to local communities has been formulated and a draft Forest Law is now available. To ensure the effectiveness of the proposed forestry policy and legislation, another three-year project, funded by Germany with over US$2.5 million, will pilot participatory forest management practices in three provinces of northern and eastern Afghanistan where security conditions are satisfactory. (…)

Dynamic conservation -  In Kenya and Tanzania, Germany is providing over US$2 million to enhance the viability of smallholding and traditional agriculture and agro-pastoral systems and the food and nutritional security of the indigenous communities depending on them. Part of FAO’s global initiative to preserve globally important agricultural heritage systems, the project will target the Masaai agropastoral and Tapade agroforestry systems. (…)


Helping farmers export "forgotten" crops

Lack of pesticide data hampers trade in specialty commodities

Rome, 3 December - In a global first, over 300 crop safety and pesticide management officials and other experts are meeting this week at FAO to discuss challenges associated with pesticide use on "speciality crops" like garlic, ginger and chilies. The event starts today and runs through December 7.

Unlike large-area crops such as corn, wheat, cotton or rice, specialty crops have traditionally been produced in relatively small amounts. As a result, studies on the proper use of pesticides in their cultivation have not been as systematic or widespread as they have been for major cash crops. This poses problems for producers, many of them in the developing world, who are struggling to export their goods to overseas markets with strong safety standards for imports. (…)

The event includes two days of hands-on training aimed at spreading knowledge and building the technical expertise of participants, who are drawn from over 60 countries. (…) In particular, following the summit FAO hopes to see more MRLs for pesticides used on specialty crops established at the international Codex Alimentarious level. Codex is a joint FAO-World Health Organization body that sets international standards for food safety, standards which are relied upon by the World Trade Organization when resolving trade disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection.


ECLAC and the Kellogg Foundation hold Latin American and Caribbean Social Innovation Fair

Seventeen ground-breaking projects will be showcased to demonstrate how community participation at reasonable costs can help overcome poverty in the region

 29 November - The Social Innovation Fair, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will take place Tuesday 4 to Friday 7 December in the Plaça da Alfândega, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, sponsored by the Porto Alegre Mayor's Office, State government, Santander Cultural Center and Rio Grande do Sul Federation of Municipalities. Representatives of 17 most innovative projects presented over the past two years to the Experiences in Social Innovation competition will be on hand. The event seeks to identify and promote the creative replication of social projects within a framework of active community participation, as a means of strengthening citizenship and achieving greater social cohesion in the region. Enrique V. Iglesias, former President of the Inter American Development Bank and current Secretary-General of the Ibero-American Secretariat, will deliver a presentation on social development in Latin America on Wednesday 5 December as part of the Fair. The 12 projects from eight Latin American and Caribbean countries at the fair are finalists in the 2006-2007 round of the competition. Each participating project will present its experiences before a Committee of Notables. The five top prize-winners of the 2005-2006 round will also attend.(…)


Rate of increase is slightly higher than that of GDP growth:

Public Social Expenditure Shows Per Capita Growth of 10% Between 2002 and 2005

According to the ECLAC report, in some countries, levels of expenditure are insufficient due to low tax burdens.

16 November - Sustained increases in public social expenditure as a percentage of regional GDP since 2002 slowed in accordance with high per capita GDP growth for the 2003-2007 period (more than 3% per annum). This has allowed most Latin America countries to maintain macroeconomic equilibrium without having to stop expanding social spending to attend problems of unemployment, poverty and indigence. The institutional framework delivering greater financial stability and legitimacy for social policy is becoming more consolidated. This is the view of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) in its Social Panorama of Latin America, 2007 report, launched yesterday by ECLAC Executive Secretary José Luis Machinea. According to the document, public social expenditure as a percentage of GDP has tended to converge at 16% of GDP over recent years. Parallel to the strong recovery of growth during this period, per capita public social expenditure rose by 10%. But important differences persist among countries, attributable, with few exceptions, to diverse levels of economic development. Only five of the 21 countries analyzed allocate resources at levels over the regional average. (…)


Cisco "Say on Pay" shareholder resolution wins strong 48% support

San Jose, CA., USA, November 15 - At the annual meeting of shareholders, almost half (48 percent) of Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) shares voted were cast in support of a "say on pay" proxy resolution asking the leading U.S. high-tech company to put to a vote the Cisco board's compensation report. ICCR Member Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) was the lead sponsor of the resolution, which was submitted this year for the first time at Cisco. (…)

The CBIS-sponsored shareholder resolution reads, in part: “RESOLVED, that shareholders of Cisco Systems Inc. urge the board of directors to adopt a policy that Company shareholders be given the opportunity at each annual meeting of shareholders to vote on an advisory resolution, to be proposed by management, to ratify the compensation of the named executive officers set forth in the proxy statement’s Summary Compensation Table and the accompanying narrative disclosure of material factors provided to understand the SCT (but not the Compensation Discussion and Analysis). The proposal submitted to shareholders should make clear that the vote is non-binding and would not affect any compensation paid or awarded to any [named executive officer].”

The vote is advisory in nature -- the shareholder vote would not override compensation decisions, but instead, would allow shareholders to weigh in on whether they believe the executive compensation package at the company is reasonable.


Making toys is not child's play

by Anne Moore Odell

A group of shareholders have come together to demand safer working conditions for workers along the toy supply chain. - November 14 - The holidays are approaching and the toy-buying season is starting its annual frenzy. However, the large number of recalls by toymakers such as Mattel, RC2 and Toys R Us has highlighted consumers' worries that unsafe toys are making children sick. Yet little has been made of the dangers that the workers who make the toys face on a daily basis. (…)

A large number of concerned shareholders have banded together to focus on the how well companies are monitoring the product safety of toys and the working conditions along the toy supply chain. Coordinated by the non-profit investor organization As You Sow, the shareholder effort is confronting publicly held toy companies and licensors.

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a non-profit coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors, and the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), which represents over 20 investment organizations with $22 billion in assets under management, are partners with As You Sow in the toy supply chain shareholder project. (…)

The first concern of this shareholder effort is to confirm if companies have in place occupational safety protocols in their supply chain facilities. These shareholders also want to make sure that companies have protections in place to prevent exposure of dangerous chemicals and other hazardous substances to employees. (…)


New project won – West Africa: African Union-Funded Farmer Organizations and Trade Associations activity

November 14 - ACDI/VOCA has won a new activity funded by the African Union (AU)—a first for ACDI/VOCA—to provide expert support in the development of a framework by AU’s New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to better support farmer organizations and trade associations in West Africa. (…) Through this initiative, AU aims to ensure that African organizations and associations have the capacity to provide high-quality technical and commercial services to their members and serve as credible actors in public and private sector partnerships and business-to-business ventures, in order to support the development of agribusiness enterprise in Africa.

ACDI/VOCA’s work will be important in the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program, which was established by AU’s NEPAD and has been endorsed by African heads of state and governments as a vision for the acceleration of agricultural growth, food security and rural development in Africa. (…)


Tides of change: a project makes a difference in the livelihoods of artisanal fishers

Fighting rural poverty is a multifaceted challenge. It is not only about increasing the incomes of  poor rural people, and providing them with access to safe water, health and education. It is also about transferring knowledge and know-how. And more importantly, it is about implementing policies that empower people and lead to reducing rural poverty. This is what the IFAD-funded Sofala Bank Artisanal Fisheries Project is doing in Mozambique.

The Sofala Bank, which is rich in fishing resources, lies off the coast of Mozambique. (…) The project is implemented by the Institute for the Development of Small-Scale Fisheries (Instituto de Desenvolvimento de Pesca de Pequena Escala (IDPPE)), which is under the authority of the Ministry of Fisheries. IDPPE is in a good position to lobby on behalf of artisanal fishers and advocate for their cause. (…)

Before the Sofala Bank project helped change things, fishery regulations and law allowed both industrial and semi-industrial fishers to fish as close as one nautical mile from the shore. This meant that trawlers could pass over and destroy the nets of artisanal fishers. A fisher's net is like a businessman's blackberry or cellphone – it is his lifeline. The one-mile regulation had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of fishers and the more than 12 people who work in each fishing unit. It also affected fishers casting beach seines from the shore. The IDPPE team through their advocacy work managed to change national maritime fishery regulations. They lobbied with the Ministry of Fisheries to raise awareness that the narrow, one-mile fishing zone was disastrous for artisanal fishing. (…) Now that the area to be fished exclusively by artisanal fishers has been extended, they can catch high-value species in the open sea up to three miles off the coast, and they no longer have to compete for space with industrial and semi-industrial fishers. (…)






WFP to feed worst affected by Bangladesh cyclone for six months

Dhaka, 29 November - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a plan to provide emergency food aid to 2.2 million people left hungry and homeless by this month’s cyclone in Bangladesh over the next six months, while applying the lessons of past floods and cyclones to prevent a surge in malnutrition in the aftermath of the disaster.

When previous cyclones have hit Bangladesh, there is often a surge in the rates of malnutrition, as those who lose their homes and livelihoods struggle to feed their families. “This time, WFP will start longer-term distributions to families with hopes of preventing increases in malnutrition throughout the region,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. (…) More than four million Bangladeshis were hit by the cyclone on 15 November and within hours WFP food assistance including high energy biscuits were reaching thousands of the most vulnerable victims. So far WFP has delivered more than 300 metric tons of biscuits by road and by Bangladesh Air Force helicopter and C130 Hercules aircraft. It has also dispatched more than 430 tons of rice, using trucks provided by WFP’s corporate partner TNT, who have also supplied personnel to help with logistics. Even during normal years, acute malnutrition rates tend to peak at over 15 percent prior to the main harvest, reflecting an increase in food insecurity as stocks of the previous season’s crops dwindle. (…)


Democratic Republic of the Congo: drinking water for the people of Kongolo

November 26 - The Kongolo city pumping station and drinking water treatment and supply plant, which the ICRC and the Redigeso (the national water authority) have just restored to working order, was inaugurated on 23 November. (…)

Kongolo, which is the capital of Kongolo territory in Katanga province and has a population of 57,000, has suffered the effects of armed conflicts that have ravaged the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996. The city’s pumping station and drinking water treatment and supply plant, which entered service in 1954, had been damaged, leaving the city without any facility to supply drinking water. For years, this state of affairs was the cause of water-related disease and cholera epidemics. Kongolo’s population was reduced to drawing water from the River Congo and shallow wells, which were sometimes polluted.

The ICRC and the Regideso worked in partnership to repair the drinking-water supply system and the water production, storage and distribution facilities with a view to achieving a daily capacity of 1,300 cubic metres. The ICRC renovated the buildings and the water tower, provided catchment and delivery pumps, a generator and accessories for repairing the water supply system, and transported all of the materials and equipment to the various sites. The Regideso installed the new settling tank, built sand filters, repaired the mains network and constructed 12 water distribution points. (…)


Relief to cyclone survivors

By Malene Haakansson

November 23 - DanChurchAid gives relief aid worth 300.000 DKK to the worst hit areas in Bangladesh. The survivors of the brutal cyclone Sidr, which recently hit the coast of Bangladesh, are in great need of help. Villages and crops have been washed away, and livestock have drowned.

DanChurchAid’s local partner Dushtha Shasthya Kendra, DSK, is distributing blankets, food and soap to the most vulnerable families and the partner is also providing tube wells because the remaining wells are contaminated by salt water. The relief aid from DanChurchAid is so far worth 300.000 DKK. One million people are affected by the cyclone in Bangladesh’s coastal districts. More than 10.000 people are feared dead. DSK will distribute the relief items in two of the worst hit districts of Bagerhat og Khulna.


Chile: A child-friendly space in the midst of quake's devastation

By Marta Gazzari

22 November - In the heart of the destruction in Tocopilla, World Vision is raising an oasis of peace and hope. A huge weatherproof tent in a fenced playground will host the “Club de Niños y Niñas"—a World Vision child friendly space.

A group of young volunteers, experienced in working with children in summer camps, is training volunteers from Tocopilla to help staff the club in coordination with World Vision specialists.

Once completed, the club will receive 100 children between the ages of four and 12 and serve them three meals a day while they participate in cultural and recreational activities to help them deal with their traumatic experiences and memories of the earthquake.

The club's services will help fill a gap created by an early end to the school year due to earthquake damage.

The services will free up families to start rebuilding their houses and to complete the paperwork necessary to access government services offered during emergency situations.

The club will also offer special psychological counselling to children who need support.


England expands support of humanitarian flight service in the Congo

November 21 - The British Department for International Development (DFID), which has since 2004 financed Air Serv International’s humanitarian flights in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), recently expanded its support to add a Cessna Caravan in Lubumbashi.

Air Serv International opened its Lubumbashi base in 2004 with DFID funding, to serve the growing needs of the humanitarian community supporting internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Katanga Province. The DRC, roughly the size of Western Europe and home to over 60 million people, has been plagued with violence, instability, disease and extreme poverty. Of some one million IDPs nationwide, almost 100,000 live in Katanga, served by 23 NGOs that rely on Air Serv International for aviation support. World Vision, Concern, MSF ACF and others provide relief and rehabilitation for these people, while Air Serv International flies them to the camps where these IDPs and returnees live.

Air Serv International has more than 23 years and over a quarter of a million hours of flight time with no flight related fatalities, and currently operates 19 aircraft worldwide. It is committed to improving conditions and become a catalyst for positive change by helping the peoples of our host countries help themselves, and supporting our partner humanitarian aid agencies with air service to some of the most remote and underserved places in the world.(…)


Hunger Bytes! WFP and YouTube viral video competition

21 November - The World Food Programme calls on students, would-be filmmakers and any other interested folks in the web universe to put their creativity towards raising awareness about hunger through a unique, international competition - the best short video about ‘byting’ global hunger . (…)

To show video-makers just how far they can go to stir-up the online community, WFP has produced its own provocative 30 second video. This edgy clip shows competitive eaters wolfing down hotdog after hotdog played out in slow motion before reminding viewers that “850 million go to bed hungry every night …Share.” To enter the contest, videos are submitted to WFP. The five most compelling clips, between 30 to 60 seconds in length, will then be let loose on the web through YouTube. Competitors can increase their chances of winning by sharing the link with friends and online communities such as Facebook, MySpace and through blogs. The video that gets the most views by World Food Day - October 16, 2008 - will win. (…)


ADRA responding with aid for survivors of Bangladesh cyclone

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, November 21 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is on the ground and responding to the immediate needs of survivors after Cyclone Sidr made landfall over the low-lying southwestern coast of Bangladesh on Thursday, November 15.

Emergency response teams based out of the ADRA Bangladesh office in Dhaka have assessed the damage and the most urgent needs in cyclone-affected areas. ADRA is initially responding with relief food items, including two types of rice, sugar, salt, lentils, and oral rehydration solution for 927 households (about 5,000 individuals) in the hard-hit district of Barguna, specifically the villages of Chorpara and Sadagorpara. In these two villages, 36 people are confirmed dead and 100 percent of houses have been destroyed. (…)

 Latest United Nations and news reports indicate at least 3,100 have died as a result of the storm, with the death toll expected to climb. At least three million people have been affected. The Government of Bangladesh estimates that over 273,000 homes were destroyed and an additional 650,000 damaged. Public buildings were affected as well, with 75 educational institutions destroyed and another 4,231 partially damaged. More than 760,000 acres of crops were damaged.  (…) ADRA is present in 125 countries, providing community development and emergency management without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at


Caritas aid gets through in cyclone-hit Bangladesh as donations mount 

Vatican City, 20 November - Caritas has started the first round of food distribution for 120,000 people (23,500 families) in coastal Bangladesh in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr. 

The storm hit the coast of Bangladesh on 15 November, killing over 2,600 people, although that figure could rise towards 10,000 people as more remote areas are reached. At least 1.2 million have been made homeless in the worst disaster to hit the country in over a decade.

The Caritas Confederation, one of the largest aid networks in the world, has responded to the emergency with initial pledges of financial support of over USD 2 million. (…)

Caritas Bangladesh has long-term development and disaster preparedness programmes in the worst-hit areas, which helped with the speed of response. Under the first round of food distribution each of these 23,500 families will get 13 kg of rice and other food to last one week.

After completing the first round, Caritas will repeat food assistance to these same families. Under the second round, Caritas will add plastic sheets, bedding, mosquito nets, and cooking utensils for these families.

Over USD3.2 billion worth of crops have been destroyed resulting in the loss of food and income for millions of people. Caritas will be looking at the medium to long-term impact after the initial phase of the relief effort has ended. 

Caritas Bangladesh started relief and rehabilitation activities in 1970 after a devastating cyclone to the coastal areas of the country. Since then, Caritas has been responding to various natural and man-made disasters in order to meet the basic needs of the affected people. So far, Caritas has spent over US$100 million for its relief and rehabilitation activities.



Peace and security



MAG features at exhibition in German parliament

November 29 - Numerous pictures highlighting the work of MAG in various countries are part of the ‘Explosive Legacy of War’ exhibition that went on display this week at the German parliament in Berlin. Opened by the vice-speaker of the German parliament, the exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the production, distribution and use of most landmines. Initiated and organised by Landmine.De, a coalition of German charities, the exhibition shows the impact of all kinds of landmines and cluster munitions and their devastating effect on the lives and livelihoods of their victims. The exhibition, previously on display at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, can be visited until 11 January 2008 in the foyer of the Paul Loebe Haus, Konrad Adenauer Street 1, Berlin.

Website: (German and English options available)

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) expertly clears abandoned weapons and landmines, but that isn’t what makes us unique. What sets us apart is our focus on the impact our work has on people’s lives. We move into conflict zones to further the road to peace and development. We work with communities to lessen the threat of death and injury, while releasing safe land and other vital resources back to the people who need them. Our approach is long-term, enabling countries to rebuild and develop their social and economic potential.


Gambia: Nova Scotia-Gambia Association assists in landmine risk awareness in the Foni region, 28.11.2007

The Nova Scotia-Gambia Association (NSGA), in collaboration with UNICEF, is set to embark on a landmine awareness campaign in the Fonis. The campaign is one of the most important activities in UNICEF's Child Protection Project in The Gambia.

For many years NSGA has worked extensively in schools and communities across the country with their Peer Health Education Programme, drama troupes, community film shows and group discussions. All of these efforts have focused on promoting health awareness issues, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, reproductive health, and malaria and gender equity. Now NSGA, in partnership with UNICEF, is tackling the vital topic of landmines. (…)

Using their expertise in education techniques, NGSA will go to communities and villages to show films, and then lead interactive community information sessions. About 15 communities have been identified in the Foni region along the Gambia-Cassamance border, an area occupied by a large number of refugees, who have been displaced by the civil war in the Cassamance region. This campaign will have immense importance to the people of the Foni region, especially the refugees who are expected to return to their villages in the Cassamance where there remains a high volume of unexploded landmines. (…)


Somaliland on the way to adopt a legislation banning anti-personnel mines

Hargeisa/Geneva, 27 November – In collaboration with the Institute for Practical Research and Training (IPRT), Geneva Call and the Somaliland Mine Action Center (SMAC) held a workshop for members of the Somaliland Parliament to prepare the adoption of mine ban legislation. The workshop, which took place from 27 to 29 October in Hargeisa, brought together approximately 50 people from the House of Representatives, the House of Elders, the Government and mine action stakeholders (United Nations Development Programme, Danish Demining Group, Halo Trust, Handicap International, Disability Action Network and Police Explosive Ordnance teams).

(…) Somaliland authorities have on many occasions expressed interest in joining the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty but cannot do so as long as Somaliland is not recognized by the international community as an independent State. In 1999, the House of Representatives of Somaliland passed a non-binding resolution calling for the elimination of anti-personnel mines. However, no formal measures have been taken yet to prohibit use, possession and transfer of these weapons.

The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss in detail the content of the draft legislation prepared by Geneva Call, SMAC and IPRT, in consultation with expert organizations. The draft bill is now being finalized by the House of Representatives Sub-Committee for Internal Affairs and Security before consideration by the full House. The President of Geneva Call, Elisabeth Decrey Warner, said that Somaliland has to be commended for demonstrating such a firm commitment against landmines despite having an insecure and instable environment.


Sister Cities International lays foundation for peace with the Muslim world

Grassroots Diplomacy Report Highlights Nearly 90 Citizen-led Programs With Islamic Communities

Washington, November 27 - As leaders and diplomats from a host of countries gathered in Annapolis, Md.  this week for a summit discussing the Middle East's rocky journey toward peace, Sister Cities International released a new report that highlights steps U.S. communities are taking to build peace with the Islamic world. (…) With nearly 90 examples of model sister city programs between U.S. and predominantly-Islamic communities, the report provides a look at the grassroots activities being conducted by ordinary citizens to build peace. The report is available for free at

 Profiled in the report are sister cities like Baltimore, Md. and Luxor, Egypt, which organized a medical exchange that brought doctors and nurses to the renowned Valley of the Kings to train Egyptian heath professionals. Sister cities Chicago , Ill. and Amman , Jordan held an economic development summit in October 2007 to stimulate business relationships and networking.

 The report also explores the growing trend of trilateral sister city relationships. It shows dramatically different methods communities are using to build peace. Gainesville , Fla. has a trilateral sister city relationship linking itself with Qalqilya, Palestinian Authority and Kfar Saba , Israel that explored good governance. Their projects encourage all three communities to implement exemplary city management practices. While rarely delving into politics, organizers believe they are fostering peaceful relationships. (…)

Sister Cities International's Islamic Partnership Initiative aims to develop and energize sister city relationships between U.S. communities and communities in predominantly-Islamic countries and to breakdown stereotypes between the western and Muslim worlds. In the five years since its launch, the Islamic Partnership Initiative produced a 33% increase in U.S. communities partnering with the Middle East, an 18% increase in partnerships with Africa , and a 3% increase in Eurasian sister city relationships. (…)

A list of cities currently seeking sister cities is available online at under Cities Seeking Cities. To get involved with the Islamic Partnership Initiative, contact Jenny Oliver 


Uganda: over 900 bombs detonated in the north, 26.11.2007

The national anti-mine team has destroyed over 900 bombs and ordinances in northern Uganda. The northern team leader, Emmy Katukore, said most of the bombs were found in Gulu and Amuru districts.  They were recovered between February and November. In Gulu, the bombs were mainly in Odek sub-county, Omoro county, the home area of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. Katukore added that the ordinances included 11 landmines, 82 rocket bombs, 560 bullets and 12 airdrops. Others were 156 bomblets and five projectile bombs. He said their work was affected by the vegetation, thick bushes in the region and the recent floods. The community helped the team identify the bombs.


Launch of first Arabic website on landmines

Author(s): Site Admin

Amman, Jordan, 17 November  - The International Campaign to Ban landmines (ICBL) is pleased to annunce the launch of the first information website on landmines in Arabic. The website will be managed by Cairo-based ICBL member organization Protection and will contain background sections about the landmine problem, the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and developments in the struggle against landmines with a special focus on the Middle East and North Africa. This unique, comprehensive on-line resource on the issue in Arabic is being launched on the eve of the Eighth Meeting of the Sates Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, which will take place in Amman, Jordan, from 18 to 22 November 2007. (…)


Swizerland donates for demining actvities in Bosnia and Herzegovina 

November 14 - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) received a donation from Switzerland  in the amount of 450.700 CHF. The donation agreement was signed today at the Embassy of Switzerland  in Ljubljana, by H.E. Stefan Speck, Swiss  Ambassador to Slovenia and Mr. Goran Gačnik, ITF Director. The latest Swiss donation, thirteenth in row,  is earmarked for demining activities in Sarajevo Canton in Bosnia & Herzegovina which will be carried out by the NGO Norwegian People's Aid.

In total, Switzerland has contributed to ITF more than 3.66 million US$ and remains one of the most regular and recurring  donors to the ITF since 1999.


NPA and the Government of Jordan break mine clearance records

November 14 - The Government of Jordan has made a strong commitment to destroy all landmines in the country by 2009 in accordance with its signatory to the International Mine Ban Treaty. As the task is significant in scale and impact, the Government of Jordan has asked for assistance by Norwegian People’s Aid to clear all anti-personnel and anti-tank mines along the border to Israel from the Red sea to the Dead Sea within this time. Funding has kindly been made available by the Government of Norway and also by the Governments of Germany, Finland and Japan.;action=Article.publicShow;ID=4393;lang=eng


Twelfth German donation to ITF 

November 13 - Federal Republic of Germany has supported the activities of the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance (ITF) for the third time this year. (…) The donation in the amount of EUR 95.000 is Germany's twelfth donation to ITF and is earmarked for demining activities in Albania. Germany is one of the most regular donor countries and has contributed on a yearly basis to ITF ever since ITF's inception in 1998. Donations from Germany to ITF now amount to over 14 million EUR. Donations were earmarked for demining activities in South East Europe, namely in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Albania.

Ongoing implementation of demining strategy in Albania, since year 2000, remains one of the crucial conditions for reconstruction and socio-economic development of Northern Albania. The most recent donation from Germany is intended for a successful conclusion of 2007 demining season, which is being carried out by the Albanian Mine Clearance Organization and aided by the international NGO Danish Church Aid (AMCO/DCA). (…)


For a nonkilling world

Report of the First Global Nonkilling Leadership Forum

Honolulu, Hawai‘I, November 1-4, 2007 (…) The Forum was organized by the nonprofit Center for Global Nonviolence and was co-sponsored by the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace, University of Hawai‘i, and the Mu Ryang Sa Buddhist Temple of Hawai’i. Forum Co-chairs were Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Dr. Balwant (Bill) Bhaneja, Senior Research Fellow, Program for Research in Innovation Management and Economy (PRIME), School of Management, University of Ottawa. Over 30 participants from 20 countries of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and Pacific shared experiences. (…)

The Forum arose from reader responses to the book Nonkilling Global Political Science (Gandhi Media Centre, 2002; Xlibris 2002, 2007), which is being translated into 26 languages with 13 already published.  The full English text is universally accessible at  The book advances the thesis that it is possible for humans to stop killing each other.  This thesis is supported by the conclusion of the WHO, World Report on Violence and Health (2002) that human violence is a “preventable disease.” (…)

We reaffirmed the presence of the Global Nonkilling Spirit in religious and humanist faiths: Hawaiian, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Islam, Jainism, and Judaism. We reviewed and reaffirmed the thesis that, viewed globally, human beings can stop killing each other on at least seven grounds:  spiritual, scientific, skill, institutional artistic, historical, and predecessor demonstration. (…)


The Global Link Teleconferences

Voices of global citizens from every continent calling for peace to prevail on earth will be connected Live by Teleconference. Your active prayers for peace will commune with voices from around the world to inspire, awaken and further elevate the conscious evolution of humanity. A multi-cultural, interfaith opportunity for the global heart to merge as ONE.

Two Teleconferences are scheduled in December:

A Call to Peace in the USA –Saturday, December 15th, 4pm EST, USA,in celebration of World Day of Unity and Union. 

World Peace Prayer Ceremony Saturday, December 22nd, 9am EST, USA linking with the Global Celebration of a New Dawn .

Both Teleconferences will be broadcasted live by the All One Now Network webcast service.  The Global Link Teleconferences are hosted by The World Peace Prayer Society. To learn more and register please visit: 






Colombia: ICRC boosts production of artificial limbs and orthotic devices in Norte de Santander

November 30 - To enable victims of anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance to benefit from a faster and more efficient service, the ICRC is working with various local organizations specializing in the manufacture of artificial limbs and orthotic devices and in rehabilitative treatment.

The ICRC recently donated equipment and materials to the Centre for cardiac and neuromuscular rehabilitation in the Colombian department of Norte de Santander to enable the Centre to modernize its workshop. It also provided support and advice for training of staff. As a result, it will now be possible to produce orthopaedic articles locally using polypropylene, a high-quality, low-cost technology used and promoted by the ICRC all over the world. (…)

The ICRC is also working with other similar centres in Cali, Bogotá, Cartagena and Medellín in order to improve victims' access to rehabilitation services countrywide. (…)


World AIDS Day: Teachers take the lead

November 27 - To mark World AIDS Day, Education International is challenging educators around the world to teach the same lesson as part of a new initiative called "One Hour on AIDS." The aim is to create a great global learning experience that will increase awareness of the disease and show solidarity with the millions of people suffering from it.

Education International has been at the forefront of AIDS prevention through education since 2001, and now delivers its EFAIDS programme in 46 different countries through 71 affiliated teacher unions. EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said that teachers are determined to confront the HIV and AIDS pandemic in their classrooms because they see its devastation in their communities. (…) To that end, EI has created an activity kit to help teachers teach about HIV and AIDS. It contains introductory materials, a one-hour lesson plan that can be adapted to the age of students, and a "Take the Lead" poster that highlights ways to take action against AIDS. The activity kit is not exclusively for use in schools. It can also be used to raise awareness among union members. To download the kit in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, please go to:  (…)


Rotary International and Gates Foundation together commit $200 million to eradicate polio

Evanston, Ill., U.S.A., November 26 -- Rotary International today announced a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will inject a much-needed US$200 million into the global campaign to eradicate polio, a crippling and sometimes fatal disease that still paralyzes children in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and threatens children everywhere.

The Rotary Foundation has received a $100-million Gates Foundation grant, which Rotary will raise funds to match, dollar-for-dollar, over three years. The Evanston-based volunteer service organization will spend the initial $100 million within one year in direct support of immunization activities carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF.

"The extraordinary dedication of Rotary members has played a critical role in bringing polio to the brink of eradication," says Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Eradicating polio will be one of the most significant public health accomplishments in history, and we are committed to helping reach that goal." The polio eradication grant is one of the largest challenge grants ever given by the Gates Foundation and the largest grant received by Rotary in its 102-year history. Polio eradication has been Rotary’s top priority since 1985. Since then, Rotary has contributed $633 million to the eradication effort.  (…)

Last month, WHO released data confirming that all four remaining polio-endemic countries are on track to achieve eradication. In particular, significant progress has been made in India and Nigeria, which together account for 85 percent of the world’s polio cases. Nigeria has reported 226 cases so far this year, compared with 958 at the same time last year. In both countries, more effective oral polio vaccines have contributed to steady progress in reducing polio cases. (…)



India-Pakistan cricketers team up to "bowl out" polio

25 November - Children’s mouths literally fell open when they lined up for their polio drops yesterday. Instead of the usual volunteers, there to vaccinate them were celebrity cricket players from the national teams of India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan –  whose political differences are often in the news – share a common passion for cricket and are among the four remaining countries which have never stopped polio. The “Bowl Out Polio” campaign in India supports the government’s efforts to immunize children and is supported by Rotary International, UNICEF and the National Polio Surveillance Project (NPSP), a joint Government of India-WHO programme. To drive home the message that polio should be eradicated and parents must immunise children repeatedly, cricket players use opportunities such as the current cricket series between India and Pakistan , which are closely followed by millions of people in both countries. (…)

Pakistan has reported 17 cases of polio  this year, and India has reported 392 (as of 20 November). Both have seen a decline in cases over the same period last year, particularly with regard to the more paralytic of the two types of poliovirus, type 1. (…)


Americares sends emergency aid to Bangladesh

Stamford, CT, November 21, 2007 – AmeriCares is sending emergency shipments of critical medicines to Bangladesh in response to Cyclone Sidr, which devastated coastal towns throughout the country and has left hundreds of thousands homeless and killed more than 3,000 people. (…)

Two emergency shipments, which include medicines and other relief supplies essential to treating health conditions during and after a disaster, are scheduled to arrive in Dhaka. The first is enroute from our warehouse in Stamford, CT, USA, and scheduled to arrive on Thursday with the second scheduled to arrive later in the week. Combined, the two shipments include over 40,000 pounds of essential medicines and emergency supplies including, antibiotics, analgesics, topical creams and IV solutions.

AmeriCares is a nonprofit international disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization, which provides immediate response to emergency medical needs and supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs around the world. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $7 billion in humanitarian aid to 137 countries. For six years in a row, AmeriCares has been given a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest possible rating, indicating effective management practices. For more information, log onto


Project HOPE to lead first-ever, large-scale diabetes education and training initiative in India

Corporate Partners BD, Eli Lilly and Company, and Bayer Diabetes Care to sponsor four-year program intended to educate more than 5,000 health care professionals to address the needs of nearly 41 million people with diabetes in India

Millwood, VA, November 12 - The India Diabetes Educator Project, the first large scale initiative to train and educate health care professionals in India about the disease, was announced today by Project HOPE, an international health education and humanitarian assistance organization, and its corporate partners, BD, Eli Lilly and Company, and Bayer Diabetes Care. The four-year, multi-million dollar collaborative program is designed to help health care workers in India reduce morbidity and mortality related to diabetes and to combat the rapidly growing threat of diabetes there. With an estimated 40.9 million people currently living with the condition, India leads the world in the prevalence of diabetes.

The India Diabetes Educator Project offers a comprehensive and sustainable approach that will provide diabetes training to more than 5,000 health care professionals, including nurses, dieticians and nutritionists in India. (…) The training will be based on the International Curriculum for Diabetes Health Professional Education developed by the International Federation Consultative Section on Diabetes Education (IDF-DECS) curriculum, adapted for use in India. (…)



Energy and safety



Shipping industry subject of new  emissions-reduction moves

Oakland, (California), December 4 - The country’s two busiest shipping ports are taking steps to also become more environmentally friendly. The ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California, have begun implementing a new program to reduce the emissions and air pollution from the ships and trucks that make these two facilities among the world’s most-trafficked shipping hubs.

Beginning in September 2008, the two ports will prohibit the entrance of any trucks built before 1989, when pollution controls began coming installed in big rigs. The next phase of the project, which will go into effect in 2012, moves that manufacture date up to bar any trucks made prior to 2007 from operating in the ports.

In addition to working on the trucks that offload products for delivery nationwide, the ports will also implement solutions that affect the ships bringing goods from overseas. The ports will soon require ships to turn off all on-board power systems while at the docks, another major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. (...)


Xerox hits GHG reduction goal six years early, sets target higher

Oakland (California), December 3 - Four years ago, Xerox set a goal of reducing its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2012.

Last year, innovation and an emissions reduction program allowed the company to surpass this target by 80 percent. Six years ahead of schedule, the company reduced its GHG emissions in 2006 by 18 percent, based on a 2002 baseline. (…)


WRI joins Greenhouse Gas Management Institute to train on emissions accounting

Bali (Indonesia), December 3 - The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute are joining forces to train professionals on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. (…) WRI’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a perfect fit with the new nonprofit organization’s focus on training and education and offering of online courses on how to measure, account and manage GHG emissions. (...)

WRI developed the GHG Management Institute’s first course on corporate GHG emissions accounting and is working with the new Institute to develop and instruct additional courses on emissions estimation methodologies and building GHG reporting programs.

The GHG Management Institute and WRI will officially announce their partnership at an event in Bali, Indonesia on December 7 during the United Nations annual conference on climate change.


4th Annual Canadian Renewable Summit 2007

Quebec City, December 2-4 - The 4th Annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) Summit will bring together a diverse and influential group of approximately 800 professionals from throughout North America whose common goal is to promote and discuss the production and utilization of renewable fuels.


1st International Conference on “Advances in Energy Research” 2007

Bombay (India), 12-14 December - The conference will be held at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in Mumbai. IIT Bombay is one of the premier technological institutes in India with students and faculty who are comparable with the best in the world. The institute has a vibrant research culture and has several linkages with Indian and international industries and institutes. Energy Systems Engineering (ESE) is an inter-disciplinary programme with a mission to develop sustainable energy systems and solutions for the future. ESE currently has about 30 M.Tech’s and Ph.D graduating annually. The ESE is expanding into a School with new academic programmes and an increased research thrust.

IIT Bombay is celebrating its Golden Jubilee from 2007 to 2008. The International Conference on "Advances in Energy Research" is part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.



Environment and wildlife



United Nations Climate Change Conference - Bali, 3 - 14 December

The Conference, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, brings together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the media. The two week period includes the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol. A ministerial segment in the second week will conclude the Conference.

What is needed is a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a future international agreement on enhanced global action to fight climate change in the period after 2012, the year the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires. The main goal of the Bali Conference is threefold: to launch negotiations on a climate change deal for the post-2012 period, to set the agenda for these negotiations and to reach agreement on when these negotiations will have to be concluded.

Today’s UNFCCC press briefing at the thirteenth Climate Change Conference in Bali opened with a statement by Kishan Kumarsingh, Chairman of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) on the importance of reducing emissions from deforestation. 

Mr. Kumarsingh explained that forest ecosystems play a key role globally, both in tackling climate change - by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - and in adaptation to climate change by maintaining ecosystem services and providing livelihood options.

Deforestation is estimated to have occurred at the alarming rate of 13 million hectares per year in the period 1990-2005, accounting for 20% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions in the late 1990s and making it the world’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Conference is expected to adopt a decision on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries. The text under consideration, Mr. Kumarsingh said, recognizes the urgency to take action on this issue and lays the groundwork for an early start to capacity-building activities and pilot projects in these countries. It also addresses mobilization of resources by governments as well as the methodological work needed to estimate emissions from deforestation. These decisions, he added, are important in paving the way for an arrangement on reducing emissions from deforestation in a future climate change agreement.


Climate change and the EU’s response

Brussels, 27 November – (…) Europe’s drive towards a low-carbon future will be further underpinned by the Strategic Energy Technology Plan presented by the Commission on 22 November 2007. The EU’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling due to the combined impact of policies and measures resulting from the European Climate Change Programme, domestic action taken by Member States and the restructuring of European industry, particularly in central and eastern Europe. These factors have enabled the EU to ‘decouple’ emissions from economic growth.

The 'EU-15' Member States reduced their collective emissions by 2% between the base year (1990 in most cases) and 2005 while the economy grew by more than 35% over the period. EU-25 emissions were down 11% over the same timeframe. These reductions compare, for instance, with a 16.3% rise in US emissions between 1990 and 2005 as the US economy expanded by 54.7%.

Under the Kyoto Protocol the EU-15 are committed to reduce their collective emissions in the 2008-2012 period to 8% below base year levels. Latest projections from Member States indicate that measures already taken, together with the purchase of emission credits from third countries and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere, should achieve a cut of 7.4% by 2010. Additional policies and measures under discussion at EU and national levels will allow the target to be reached, and could even take the reduction to as much as 11.4% by 2010, if implemented promptly and fully. (…)

For the EU it is therefore imperative that the next UN climate change conference, taking place from 3 to 14 December 2007 in Bali, reach consensus to launch these negotiations and fix an end-2009 deadline for completing them so there is enough time to ratify the new agreement before the end of 2012. The window of opportunity to keep global warming below 2°C is narrowing as temperatures rise, and the costs associated with climate change will keep increasing the longer further action is delayed. (…) Comprehensive information about EU climate change policies is available at: 

Information about the UN framework can be found at: 


Ten millionth tree planted in Congo's gorilla habitat

Gland, Switzerland/Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, 24 November – WWF and Congolese authorities are celebrating the ten millionth tree planted around Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a crucial habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla. The WWF tree-planting project, launched in 1987 — and continuously operated despite recurrent armed conflicts in the region — aims to reduce the shortage of firewood for neighbouring communities. Strong demand has led to illegal wood harvesting and charcoal production within the park, a major threat for the protected area. (…)

In time of peace, Virunga National Park is the DRC’s most visited place by tourists, who come to see the endangered mountain gorilla in its natural habitat. However, the recent clashes between rebels and the regular army in the area are keeping people away. Over 300,000 people have fled the fighting, setting up makeshift camps on the edge of the park. Over the past two months, WWF provided over US$150,000 for purchasing wood to supply the camps near Goma.

On average, these camps need a daily supply of 50 metric tons of wood. The wood comes from the plantations established through the WWF project. (…)

WWF also announced the launch of a new forestry project, jointly funded by the European Union, which will help individuals and communities plant over 2,000 hectares in North Kivu during the next five years.


UNEP and WMO Panel puts final full stop behind risks and rewards of combating climate change

Pocket Guide for Policy Makers agreed by IPCC in run up to Bali Conference

Valencia, 17 November - The challenges and opportunities facing the world as a result of climate change have been distilled into a concise and sobering guide by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The guide, launched today after five days of discussions in the Spanish city of Valencia, will be essential reading for delegates attending the upcoming UN climate convention meeting in Bali, Indonesia. The guide, officially known as the Summary for Policy Makers, underlines the urgency to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions alongside the economic costs of a transition to a low carbon society. It also argues strongly in favour of stepping up support and action on adaptation. "Neither adaptation nor mitigation alone can avoid all climate change impacts. However, they can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change," says the report by the IPCC, a panel jointly established by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). It also highlights five "reasons for concern" which are now stronger than before. This is because scientists now conclude that they may happen at lower increases in temperature or because the risks may be larger than had previously been supposed. These include the impacts on species and biodiversity hotspots as temperatures rise including polar and high mountain communities and ecosystems. (…)


New York rotarians plant 100 miracle trees to address asthma and global warming

New York, November 16 - Members of the Rotary Club of New York, along with their young Rotaract group, will bring their shovels tomorrow, November 17th, at 1: pm, as they prepare to plant 100 unusual trees in Inwood Park at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center( entrance on 218th Street.) The "Fast Tree" planting project, which the club's Foundation has sponsored, will be done in cooperation with the Green Apple Core and the NYC Parks Department. These unique trees are expected to speed to maturity three times faster than the average tree. The project will be called "Trees for Public Health" and will address the overwhelming asthma situation in Inwood, as well as the Global Warming issue.

The Rotary organization is composed of 1,221,298 men and women in 32,747 Rotary clubs in 168 countries around the globe. These humanitarians address poverty, health, education, and conflict resolution issues 365 days a year.

Contacts: Andreas Runggatscher, RC of New York,


Marek Belka: “Europe moving towards sustainable forest management. The next challenge will be to develop a consensus on the role of wood in renewable energy supply”

Geneva, 13 November – The ministers responsible for forestry of 38 countries met at the fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) from 5 to 7 November 2007 in Warsaw on the theme of Forests for Quality of Life. They adopted a Ministerial Declaration and two Resolutions, containing commitments on promotion of wood as renewable energy carrier and the role of forest in water protection in the context of climate change for implementation at a national level.

The Conference had before it the most complete and balanced assessment ever of the state of Europe’s forests, prepared by the MCPFE Liaison Unit with UNECE and FAO. The report addresses all criteria of sustainable forest management, provides relevant information for policymakers and points to potentially unsustainable situations in some indicators in a few countries. It concludes “Overall, are European forests sustainably managed? The answer is a qualified “yes” with caveats in all three areas of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental”. The Executive Secretary of UNECE, Marek Belka, addressed the Conference. He pointed out the need to balance different positions and interests to find a sustainable solution, rather than imposing a “winner” in a contest of political strength. (…)


Earth Day Network, Clinton Climate Initiative and U.S. Green Building Council team up to Green Schools

Chicago, November 7 - Today at the world’s largest green building exposition in Chicago, Greenbuild 2007, former President Bill Clinton announced a joint commitment to green all of America’s schools within a generation.  Earth Day Network (EDN) – a Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) partner – and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) joined former President Clinton in making this announcement to the American public and media.  Today’s event formally kicked-off EDN’s national GREEN Schools campaign, which includes three major initiatives:  greening all new and existing school structures within a generation; developing and building healthier play areas and recreational facilities for all students; and working to greatly improve the food children eat in K-12 schools.  Along with USGBC and the Clinton Foundation, EDN will expand the green schools movement through legislation, education, and corporate and community volunteer greening efforts. (…)


South Korea contributes more than US$4 million to first environmental project between two Koreas

Nairobi/Bangkok, 22 November - The United Nations Environment Programme and the Republic of Korea today signed an agreement for establishing a Trust Fund that addresses key environmental issues in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Republic of Korea will contribute US$4.4 million in total for this project. The first venture of its kind on the environment between the two Koreas, the Trust Fund will tackle forest depletion, declining water quality, air pollution, land degradation and biodiversity in DPR Korea. It will also support eco-housing initiatives as well as conservation and management of the Taedong watershed, environmental education, integrated environmental monitoring system, clean development mechanism and renewable energy technology. (…)



Religion and spirituality



International conference “Europe and Asia: between Islam and the United States: the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran”

Melbourne (Australia), 5-7 December - Jointly sponsored by the Centre for Dialogue (La Trobe University), the Innovative Universities European Union Centre, the Contemporary Europe Research Centre (University of Melbourne), "L’Orientale" (Università degli Studi di Napoli, Italy), the Institute for Social Ethics (Nanzan University, Japan), the Institute for International Relations (Warsaw University, Poland) and the Cold War Studies Centre (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK).

The Centre for Dialogue is a major initiative of La Trobe University. It comes after several years of preparation and close collaboration with Australian and international partner organisations.


Genetics, new biotechnologies and the ministry of the church

Johannesburg (South Africa), 2-6 December - Some fifty church representatives, scientists, youth, indigenous people, people with disabilities and theologians are expected at a global consultation on genetics and new biotechnologies in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 2-6 December. Ethical and moral issues related to genetics and new biotechnologies facing the church and the ecumenical movement will be approached both from a global perspective and through an inventory of issues from different regions.

Issues such the aggressive promotion of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, the hybridization of human and animal cells for basic research, the use of genetics for surveillance, efforts to enhance human performance through genetic engineering along with other technologies, will be addressed from a theological perspective

After examining how human rights legislation and conventions address these issues, participants will discuss priorities for a strategic faith-based response, and clarify personal and organizational commitments. The communication platform offered through this event fosters the creation of a network of concerned people in the churches and ecumenical partner organizations.

The event is organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in collaboration with the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA) and the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). The CCC and the NCCUSA strongly contributed to make the emerging applications of life sciences an ecumenical concern through an international consultation they organized in 2006 and which created momentum for a WCC project on faith, science and technology.


The Rumi Forum’s Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue  hosted the Luncheon Speaker Series: “How the Media Covers Religion”

with Sr. Maureen Fieder, SL, Ph.D, Host of Interfaith Voices.

28 November - Sr. Maureen Fiedler, SL, Ph.D. offered her perspectives on how religion is discussed in the media.  She discussed mainstream media coverage in print and on TV/radio, new efforts at interfaith programming and publishing, and the “new media” of the Internet.  Sr. Maureen also shared how religion has been discussed or referred to in different media outlets over the years and she provided different media sources where religion is discussed in a positive and fair manner. The talk also included the treatment of Islam in the media and the right of “free speech” and how media professionals should exercise that right with responsible reporting.  At the conclusion of her talk Sr. Maureen Fiedler offered ideas on how the media could cover the moderate view of Islam, the future of religious discussions in various media outlets and how important it is for all to have a world view in an effort to shape our perspectives about the “other” whether it be about religion, culture, race, etc.. Following the talk participants asked questions and discussed with Sr. Maureen various topics some of which included how the media’s coverage of religion can improve, social action perspectives in religion and the moderate voices of religion.

Sr. Maureen Fiedler, SL, Ph.D. is the host of Interfaith Voices, an hour-long radio magazine show, heard on 40 public and community radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, including WAMU 88.5 FM in Washington, DC.  She has been involved in interfaith activities for more than three decades as an active participant in coalitions working for social justice, racial or gender equality, and peace.  Her special interests lie at the intersection of theology and public policy.  She is a Sister of Loretto, and holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.


Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, New York, comes “The Human Experience”

Synopsis of the Film - From Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, New York comes “The Human Experience”, the story of a band of brothers who travel the world in search of the answers to the burning questions: Who am I? Who is Man? Why do we search for meaning? Their journey brings them into the middle of the lives of the homeless on the streets of New York City, the orphans and disabled children of Peru, and the abandoned lepers in the forests of Ghana, Africa. What the young men discover changes them forever. Through one on one interviews and real life encounters, the brothers are awakened to the beauty of the human person and the resilience of the human spirit.

Grassroots Films is an independent film company catalyzed by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in response to JPII’s message,

“The film industry has become a universal medium exercising a profound influence on the development of people’s attitudes and choices, and possessing a remarkable ability to influence public opinion and culture across all social and political frontiers.” Pope John Paul II


Essay contest to mark the 60th anniversary of the WCC

“Making a Difference Together - Prospects for Ecumenism in the 21st Century.”  

The World Council of Churches (WCC) invites young theologians and students of theology to submit essays addressing the theme: “Making a Difference Together - Prospects for Ecumenism in the 21st Century”.  The WCC would like to receive essays from different church traditions, contexts and perspectives. The best six essays will be presented by their authors at an international consultation on Ecumenism in the 21st Century to take place in Bossey, Switzerland during late 2008. Other selected essays will be published by WCC Publications.

The essay contest is part of the programme to commemorate the Council’s 60th anniversary in 2008.


Study programme on inter-civilizational dialogue

Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore & Istanbul - 10 December 2007 to 5 January 2008

We are pleased to bring to you the 2nd installment of our very successful inter-religious study programme. Last year the theme of the programme was Contemporary Muslim Societies and this year, the focus will be on inter-religious, inter-faith dialogue. Therefore we are pleased to announce the Study Programme on Inter-Civilizational Dialogue 2007 - Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore & Istanbul is now open for application! (...)

The purpose of the dialogue is to create tolerance, mutual understanding, interest, and concern among such groups. However, the consideration of such dialogue should not be confined to its literal sense.  Dialogue among civilizations is also a metaphor for the process of the implantation and cultivation of an orientation and attitude that is founded on the attributes of tolerance, mutual understanding, interest, and compassion. This amounts to no less than the inculcation of the spirit of multiculturalism, that is, the celebration of cultural variety and diversity. A very effective way of bringing about such dialogue or creating the conditions for successful dialogue is to expose young minds to a variety of culture and religions. USP will do just this, by bringing a group of students to Istanbul, Penang & Kuala Lumpur this December, to be immersed in various academic and cultural activities that involve in an intensive manner, the religions of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism.


Global Celebration of A New Dawn - Saturday, December 22nd

This is the 2nd Timely Transformation Event of The Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day following the May 20th event that enjoyed participation by tens of thousands around the world to envelope the world in prayers and meditation for peace on Earth and the awakening of human consciousness.  This event will be celebrated worldwide in a 24 hour marathon of meditation and prayer events to usher in A New Dawn as the New Sun rises after the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  This event is sponsored by The Club of Budapest and The World Peace Prayer Society. The last event was monitored by a number of scientific devices indicating shifts in random number generators, the human organs including the creation of a ‘Buddha effect”.  For more information please visit:



Culture and education



Just launched: the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2008

30 November - The Report“Education for All by 2015: Will we make it?” asks the title of the 2008 edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, launched on 29 November at the United Nations in New York. Published by UNESCO and Oxford University Press, the sixth edition of the annual Report is a mid-term review of progress towards the six EFA goals established in 2000. 

On the positive side, there is a rise in the number of children starting primary school, the number of girls in school, and spending on education and aid. However, poor quality, the cost of schooling and high levels of adult illiteracy rates need to be tackled in order to meet the EFA goals by 2015.

The Report’s findings were used to prepare the Seventh Meeting of the High-Level Group of Ministers on EFA from 11-13 December 2007 in Dakar, Senegal. The Report will be presented on 12 December at the meeting.


Farm schools for vulnerable rural youth on the rise in Africa

Millions of orphans and vulnerable children in need of support – new manual published

Rome, 28 November – Farm schools for vulnerable children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic are playing an increasingly important role in sub-Saharan Africa, FAO said today. The schools are teaching orphans vital farming and life skills ensuring them sustainable livelihoods and long-term food security. A new manual on how to set up a Junior Farmer Field and Life School (JFFLS) has just been published by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP).

HIV and AIDS have a tremendous impact on rural communities in Africa, particularly on children. “Children and youth are charged with the heaviest burden of the AIDS crisis,” said Marcela Villarreal, Director of FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division. “Without their parents, they become more vulnerable to hunger and poverty, disease, conflict, sexual exploitation, forced migration and environmental degradation.

The schools are an attempt to give orphans the means and the confidence to survive in an often very difficult environment,” she added. The number of orphans and other vulnerable children is growing in sub-Saharan Africa as a serious consequence of the AIDS epidemic, conflicts and displacement. To date, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 40 million orphans, with an estimated 11.4 million children orphaned by AIDS.

Since 2004, FAO has established highly successful JFFLS projects targeting several thousand youth in eleven African countries: Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Collaborating partners are national governments, non-governmental organizations, local institutions and WFP.(…)


Youth Can Do It!

Activists and youth workers came together in Johannesburg to learn from each other.

November 18 - Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) supports youth initiatives in many countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For one week around 30 active volunteers and professionals were gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to exchange information, experiences and working methods. (…)

Although there is considerable variation between different countries with regards to youth’s situation, the methods for involving and activate young people are surprisingly similar. During the conference in Johannesburg, good ideas were collected in a bank of ideas. The aim is to develop the bank of ideas into a workshop style course which can encourage young people’s participation in their communities. For NPA it is important to support young people’s right to speak out, be listened to and have influence on their communities. There is no doubt that youth both can and will have a say when the world’s future is decided upon.;action=Article.publicShow;ID=4403;lang=eng


Brazil: marvellous results with street children

About 100 km from São Paulo, in the town of S.J. Campos, a group of educators, psychologists and others were trained in the LVE street children programme in March 2007. Thanks to Fundhas, a large governmental foundation that through its 30 units assists more than 7000 at-risk children, they have since then been applying the programme at Fundhas’ central unit. “They have had challenges and difficulties, but passed through them and become fully confident,” reported Rodrigo Brito who coordinates LVE street educator training in Brazil. “Their enthusiasm at a meeting this August was very much visible. Further LVE training and regular follow-up for the teams of all 30 units is already planned for 2008.

The initial results have been marvellous. For instance, one young mother who has been in the Living Values programme since March was formerly considered unable mentally to take care of her children. Now she is taking care of them. Fundhas is already thinking of promoting Brazil’s 1st Regional Conference on Values Education!”




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The UN Secretary-General  message on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2007


  On this Human Rights Day, we launch a year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The entire UN family will take part in a campaign to promote the Declaration's ideals and principles of justice and equality for everyone. 

   The campaign reminds us that in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Second World War, the Declaration was the first global statement of what we now take for granted -- the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings.

   The extraordinary vision and determination of the drafters produced a document that for the first time set out universal human rights for all people in an individual context. Now available in more than 360 languages, the Declaration is the most translated document in the world -- a testament to its universal nature and reach. It has inspired the constitutions of many newly independent States and many new democracies. It has become a yardstick by which we measure respect for what we know, or should know, as right and wrong.

   The Declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted.  But the fundamental freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality for everyone.  Too often, Governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted.

   This anniversary year is an occasion to build up that will. It is a chance to ensure that these rights are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists -- and that it exists for them.

   May this year reinvigorate us in that mission. Let us make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights an integral part of everyone’s life.


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Next issue: This is the last number of the year. After issuing the Italian edition on Dec.14, the Good News Agency staff will make a pause in their volunteer activity.

The next English issue will be on January 11, 2008.


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Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 3,700 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 48 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to over 2,800 NGOs around the world and it is available in its web site:

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