Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 15



Weekly - Year IX, number 15 – 5th December 2008

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of 4,000 media in 49 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities. 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

Interview: Public opinion, CPNN, and the expressions of a culture of peace



International legislation



Poland 19th state to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against trafficking in human beings

The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force on 1 February 2008. On 17 November 2008 Poland became the 19th state to ratify the Convention. For Poland the Convention will enter into force on 1 March 2009.

Albania, Armenia,  Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, GeorgiaLatvia, Malta, MoldovaMontenegro,  Norway Poland, Portugal,  Romania and Slovakia are the first 19 states to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against trafficking in Human Beings.

The Convention has been signed by 21 other Council of Europe member states: Andorra, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.


European Commission acts against six countries on gender equality legislation

27 November - On 27 November 2008, the Commission sent reasoned opinions to six countries to fully implement EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of sex. Austria, Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy and Malta have two months to respond. If they fail to reply or if the response is unsatisfactory, the Commission can decide to take them to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (…) The main problems include definitions of direct and indirect discrimination; rights of women on maternity leave; and the functioning of equality bodies.



Human rights



Expert Seminar on the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

Madrid, 2-3 December - An Expert Seminar on the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings will take place in Madrid on 2-3 December 2008. The seminar will provide technical assistance on the implementation of the measures contained in the Convention as well as promote ratification of the Convention. (...)

The first working session of the seminar will give a general overview of the measures contained in the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The following sessions will be devoted to specific aspects, including the need for national coordinating bodies for combating trafficking, the necessity to adopt a multidisciplinary approach in preventing trafficking, civil society’s action to prevent trafficking, the question of the identification of victims of trafficking, the recovery and reflection period, the need to criminalise trafficking in human beings, as well as an overview of the monitoring mechanism of the Convention. (...)


World Congress against the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents comes to a close in Brazil

Nations leave with blueprint for action in the fight to protect the world´s children

Rio de Janeiro, 28 November - The sexual exploitation of children is not inevitable. That was the message coming out of Rio de Janeiro today where 137 governments have been meeting with children, international organizations, NGOs and private sector companies. While those gathered in Brazil recognize that ending child sexual exploitation is a long and difficult battle, the organizing partners say countries are in a better position now to win the fight as a result of days of work developing a blueprint for action called the Rio Declaration and Action Plan to Prevent and Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. (…)


November 25th & 16 Days of Activism

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. The 16 Days Campaign has been adopted as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

UNIFEM is sponsoring or supporting numerous events and activities to commemorate November 25th and the 16 Days of Activism campaign.


Juvenile justice topic of first regional conference of judges and prosecutors in South East Europe

Skopje, 28 November - UNICEF, Representative, Mr. Sheldon Yett and Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Ibrahim Ibrahimi opened today a conference to discuss issues related to juvenile justice and making judicial reform work for children. Judges and other professionals from Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro have come to Skopje for the conference. (...) “The aim of juvenile justice systems should be the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of those children in conflict with the law, not their punishment,” said UNICEF Country Representative Mr. Sheldon Yett. (...) The conference has been organised as part of the Government’s national plan for action for implementation of the juvenile justice law. During the conference experts will discuss the main characteristics of procedures for working with juveniles in the domestic courts, share experiences in working with children at risk, and best practices in implementing of alternative measure and mediation. (...)


Foreign dignitaries, legislators open Fifth Session of Interparliamentary Conference

Scranton, Pa., USA, 24 November - The Fifth Session of the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom opened today at Marywood University with speeches from foreign and local dignitaries and a top White House official. Michael G. Kozak, the senior director for democracy at the National Security Council gave the keynote address and spoke about the necessity for U.S. foreign policy to support freedom and pro-democracy movements around the world. “Given the chance, people around the world will choose democracy over authoritarian regimes,” Kozak said. “This does not mean that all democracies will look like the USA. But the basic value of giving voice to the people is common to all: free elections, freedom of expression and belief.” (...) This year’s session in Scranton marks the first time that an Interparliamentary Conference has been held outside a national capital. The Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom is a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated program of the Institute.


New Report shows cultural sensitivity critical to successful development strategies, women’s equality

New York, 12 November - Development strategies that are sensitive to cultural values can reduce harmful practices against women and promote human rights, including gender equality and women’s empowerment, affirms The State of World Population 2008 report from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Reaching “Common Ground: Culture, Gender and Human Rights”, launched 12 November 2008, reports that culture is a central component of successful development of poor countries, and must be integrated into development policy and programming.

The report, which coincides with this year’s 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is based on the concept that the international human rights framework has universal validity. Human rights express values common to all cultures and protect groups as well as individuals. The report endorses culturally sensitive approaches to development and to the promotion of human rights, in general, and women’s rights, in particular.



Economy and development



New German funds for anti-hunger projects

$14.2 million pledged for food security, forestry and biofuel initiatives

Rome, 3 December - Germany has pledged an extra $11 million to support various FAO projects in the fight against hunger. The new funds bring Germany's 2008 extrabudgetary contributions to $14.2 million-the largest amount Germany has ever committed to FAO in one programme year.(…)

Germany's contributions support a variety of FAO activities in countries ranging from Tanzania to Sierra Leone. One project promoting reduced deforestation in Ghana is being financed through Germany's Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. The project will assist Ghana in implementing the "Non-legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forest" (NLBI) which was adopted by the United Nations Forum on Forests in May 2007.

Four other projects will benefit from Germany's funding being funnelled through its Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. These include: a project enhancing forestry conservation in the Congo Basin; a seed enterprise development project in Sierra Leone; food systems development in the United Republic of Tanzania; and a project supporting interregional biofuel development.


Malawi President awarded Agricola Medal

President Mutharika leads country from deficit to food exporter

Rome-Lilongwe, 28 November - Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika was awarded FAO’s Agricola Medal in honour of his substantial contribution towards transforming the country’s economy from a state of food deficit to a net exporter of maize. During a ceremony held in the Malawian capital Lilongwe on 27 November, FAO Director-General, Jacques Diouf, conferred the medal on President wa Mutharika, noting that despite sharply rising food and energy prices earlier in the year, and the negative impacts of climate change, Malawi has been able to contain food prices to the extent that economic growth of 8 percent was forecast for 2008.
In 2005, thanks in a large part to the adoption of an Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme piloted by the Government of President wa Mutharika, the country has succeeded in restoring national food security by increasing access to fertilizers and improved seeds by poor farmers and other vulnerable population groups. (...)                                                                                                                                           


Haiti: UN mission funds public works projects employing more than 2,000 people

26 November - The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is providing $250,000 to fund two construction projects in the Central Plateau region of Haiti, one of the poorest regions in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Some 2,500 people will be put to work over a period of six months on the construction of two roads as part of public works projects in Haiti. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is charged with overseeing the project in Marmont, which is estimated to cost some $157,000 and employ around 1,800 people as a dirt road linking the town to a road leading to the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is rehabilitated. The second project, costing a little less than $100,000, involves paving road in the city of Hinche, close to the border with the Dominican Republic and about 30 miles from Marmont.


Crafting a blue-print for a Green Global Economy

Geneva, 25 November - Leading environmental economists researchers, business leaders and senior figures from international organizations are to meet in Geneva to take forward the United Nations’ Green Economy initiative. Also headlined as a ‘Global Green New Deal’, the $4 million initiative was recently announced in London by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The initiative aims to re-shape and re-focus markets and public spending towards areas such as clean technologies, renewable energies and natural assets such as the planet’s ecosystems and their trillion dollar goods and services. The initiative is aimed at assisting governments overcome the current economic crisis while outlining the strategies and policies needed sustainably grow economies, generate employment and accelerate a transition to a low resource-use, low carbon society. The Green Economy initiative will deliver a comprehensive roadmap for governments within two years, but key elements of the Global Green New Deal will be outlined within the next six month. (...)


Vietnam: cow bank project offers better life to the blind

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 24 November - Through an income generation cow bank project, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is helping visually impaired and blind persons in Vietnam’s southeastern Binh Phuoc province achieve financial independence and improve their self-confidence through skills training in agriculture, health, and finances.

As a result of the Cow Bank Project, worth more than $50,000, nearly 70 participants and their families have improved their economic standing in the last twelve months through financing opportunities. This initiative, launched in November 2007, has allowed families living in rural areas to purchase cows, opening up new income streams and improving their overall economic stability. (…) To extend the sustainability of this project, participants are required to return to ADRA a female calf, which in turn is sold to a new family joining the project.

Over the last year, beneficiaries have also received training in technical skills and safe farming techniques, and are taking a more active role in their own communities. (...)


ANERA rehabilitates an ancient site in Jericho

USAID and ANERA inaugurate a revitalized Hisham’s palace.

Jericho, West Bank, 20 November - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) held an inauguration ceremony at Hisham’s Palace. This 1,300 year-old archeological site, near Jericho, is the most important monument from the early Islamic period in the Palestinian Territories. It is a great tourist attraction, but was badly in need of repairs to make it more accessible to visitors. With $850,000 from the USAID, ANERA was able to do extensive work on the site.

Working in close cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Municipality of Jericho, ANERA rehabilitated the existing museum (…) The rehabilitation of Hisham’s Palace provided short-term employment opportunities for approximately 4,000 Palestinians and will benefit some 50,000 visitors a year. (…)


Architecture for Humanity - Biloxi Model Homes, a creative reaction to hurricane Katrina

The goal of the Biloxi Model Home program is to provide design services and financial assistance for the construction of homes that for families in Biloxi, Mississippi, USA, whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. (…) By rebuilding responsible homes in a devastated community families have a real base for contributing to the reestablishment of their community, rather than just getting by until the next disaster. (…)

To jump start the program, Architecture for Humanity invited twelve established local and national firms to create proposals for homes that meet the new challenges of disaster-mitigation in the post-Katrina environment. In August 2006 these firms participated in a House Fair. The event was open to the public, but also served as a vehicle for seven participating families to meet and talk with the architects one-on-one and select a design team with which to work. Through out the construction of these 7 homes different construction methods and materials were proposed and tested. The results of the near complete program provide community building partners with valuable resources.

In addition to sponsoring the Model Home program, Architecture for Humanity collaborated with the East Biloxi Coordination Relief and Redevelopment Agency, Hands On Gulf Coast and the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio to bring volunteer designers and architects to East Biloxi and provide support for continuing rebuilding efforts.






India: Red Cross aid for displaced people in Assam

New Delhi-Geneva, 28 November (ICRC) - The Assam State Branch of the Indian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) are delivering aid to over 20,000 people who had to flee their homes when communal violence flared up in the Udalguri and Darrang districts of Assam. (...) After assessing needs, the Assam Branch of the Indian Red Cross, in cooperation with the ICRC, proceeded with a distribution of blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, tarpaulins, clothing, hygiene items and other supplies. Assam Branch Red Cross volunteers also promoted good hygienic practice and proper sanitation. “Together with our colleagues from the ICRC, we will keep on monitoring the humanitarian situation of the displaced population,” said Ms Renuka Devi Barkatak of the Indian Red Cross. “That way, we’ll be able to meet their most urgent needs.”


Honduras flooding: ADRA funds relief efforts after latest tropical storm

Silver Spring, Maryland, 25 November - In an effort to assist more than 16,000 survivors of Tropical Depression Sixteen in Honduras, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) provided more than 2,100 hygiene kits and nearly 1,300 clothing kits in cooperation with COPECO, the Honduran government office for disaster response, on October 28. More than 10,500 affected residents benefited from the distribution of hygiene kits, while approximately 6,000 benefited from the clothing kits, according to Claudio Sandoval, country director for ADRA Honduras. The items were distributed in the regions of Comayagua, El Sur, Ocotepeque, and El Paraíso, areas severely affected by the storm. Each hygiene kit contained hand towels, soap bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and combs, and every clothing kit provided enough clothing items for a five-person family. (…)

ADRA has been active in Honduras since 1998, working primarily in the areas of infrastructure, health care, economic development, food security, emergency management, and education. ADRA is present in 125 countries, providing community development and emergency management without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.


Victims of Congo’s other crisis get help

25 November - Caritas has delivered aid to 2000 families in northern Congo where thousands of people have fled their homes because of Ugandan rebel violence. Over the past two months, villagers have been uprooted because of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacks. (...) Caritas has given out items such as covers, clothes, cutlery, plates and soap in the diocese of Dungu-Doruma to help those who have left everything behind. A second distribution of items will take place in a different area in two weeks’ time. (…)

Caritas was established in Congo in 1960. It is currently appealing for US$5.5 million to help people caught up in the crisis in eastern Congo and in Ituri region. It also carries out development work in areas such as peace building, HIV prevention and education.


Central African Republic: aid for 20,000 displaced people

Bangui, 19 November (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just completed a distribution of basic necessities to nearly 20,000 people in villages between Bouzoum and Paoua and between Talley and Billacaré, in the Paoua sub-prefecture of north-western Central African Republic. (...) The distribution of tarpaulins, blankets, mosquito nets, buckets, soap, hoes, sleeping mats, clothing and household items was carried out with the help of volunteers from the Central African Red Cross Society. (...) In addition to providing displaced people with essential items, the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Padoua, opened in 2006, carries out activities raising awareness of the basic rules of international humanitarian law among people who bear weapons. The sub-delegation also visits people detained in connection with the conflict and provides support for local Red Cross chapters to boost their capacity to bring aid to those who need it most.



Peace and security



Mine-affected states given clearance extensions but told to work urgently

Ninth Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty concluded in Geneva today.

Geneva, 28 November - Under pressure from the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and civil society, the United Kingdom announced that it will immediately begin demining the Falkland Islands and reaffirmed its commitment to their full clearance as soon as possible. This was the most contentious issue at the annual Meeting of States Parties which concluded today in Geneva. (...) The pressure exerted by civil society and the extremely serious concerns expressed by States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty resulted in positive declarations from Belarus, Greece, Turkey, which have been in violation of the treaty since they missed their 1 March 2008 stockpile destruction deadline. Greece announced it had started stockpile destruction this week and intended to finish in mid-2009, Turkey stated that it has destroyed almost 800,000 mines in 2008 and aimed to finish destruction in early 2010, and Belarus re-stated its need for much-delayed financial assistance. (… ) Author(s): Site Admin


Students mobilize in support of cluster bomb ban, People’s Treaty

28 November - As the Convention on Cluster Munitions signing conference approaches, Canadian students are joining the worldwide movement to ban cluster bombs. At both high schools and universities from Victoria to Kingston, students have shown their support for the ban and the People’s Treaty in creative, effective ways. Students in Grade 12 at St. Michaels University School organized a demonstration and collected signatures for the People’s Treaty, the initiative that allows regular citizens to pledge their support for the Convention. Inspired by Dariusz Dziewanski, a former MAC Youth Ambassador and an alumnus of St. Michael’s University School, they also gave a presentation and held a moment of silence for the victims of cluster munitions and landmines on November 20. (…) The People’s Treaty has signatories all over the world and it will be presented to global leaders at the signing conference for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on December 3.






Early HIV testing and treatment can save newborn lives, new U.N. report released on World AIDS Day states

New York, 1 December - Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the prospects for survival of newborn babies exposed to HIV, according to a report released today by four United Nations agencies. The report, titled Children and AIDS: Third stocktaking report, was jointly prepared by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and released on World Aids Day. “Without appropriate treatment, half of children with HIV will die from an HIV-related cause by their second birthday,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “Survival rates are up to 75 per cent higher for HIV-positive newborns who are diagnosed and begin treatment within their first 12 weeks.” (...)


“Keep the Promise” is the message for World AIDS Day December 1

28 November - This year World AIDS Day will be celebrated under the banner “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise” and will highlight the special theme of “Leadership”. Events will take place around the world to highlight existing programmes, launch new initiatives and raise awareness of key HIV and AIDS-related issues. The emphasis will be placed on the shortfall between commitments made to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS and actions taken to follow through on them. UNESCO offices around the world will commemorate the day with a range of activities. (...)


President Chissano launches UNICEF report “The State of Africa’s Children 2008”

Nairobi, 25 November - UNICEF’s inaugural report The State of Africa’s Children 2008 was launched today by Former President of Mozambique Joachim Alberto Chissano in Nairobi, Kenya. During a press conference hosted by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the renowned African leader called the report “an excellent blueprint on how to accelerate the attainment of health-related MDGS.” The inaugural edition of The State of Africa’s Children complements The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF’s annual flagship report on the world’s youngest citizens. The report outlines some of the recent achievements in child survival and primary health care in Africa. The inaugural edition of The State of Africa’s Children complements (…)


Mosquito net projects help prevent malaria 

Evanston, Il, USA, 21 November - One of the most sobering facts about malaria is that it can be prevented simply by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net. These nets can last five years and cost about US$10 - expensive to families who survive on less than $1 a day but, thanks to Rotarian efforts, now accessible to many of them.

The Rotary Club of Kråkerøy, Norway, teamed up with the Rotary Club of Machakos, Kenya, in 2004 on a $16,000 Matching Grant project to distribute 3,000 mosquito nets to children under five and pregnant women in a slum of Machakos and nearby rural villages.

It was such a success that the clubs are collaborating on a second Matching Grant project to hand out 5,000 nets during 2008, with plans for a third effort in the works.

Malaria prevention often fits in with larger community development ventures. The Rotary Club of Red Deer Sunrise, Alberta, Canada, for instance, is partnering with the Rotary Club of Iganga, Uganda, on a $33,000 Matching Grant project that’s providing rainwater harvesting tanks, livestock, agricultural education, and 1,400 insecticide-treated mosquito nets - enough for everyone in Uganda’s Buntaba village. “Malaria is almost like the common cold [to people in Buntaba],” says Ed Grose, of the Red Deer Sunrise club. “And because it’s so commonplace, it becomes almost acceptable.” (…)


MSF teams react to ‘biggest ever’ cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe’s capital

Up to 1.4 million people are endangered if the outbreak continues to spread. 

18 November - In Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to an outbreak of cholera, which the local Ministry of Health has declared “the biggest ever in Harare”. MSF has set up cholera treatment centres (CTC) in Budiriro Polyclinic and Harare Infectious Diseases Hospital, where 500 patients have been treated to date and, on average, 38 new patients are admitted every day. (…) Up to 1.4 million people are endangered if the outbreak continues to spread.

Since being asked to assist with the outbreak in Harare, MSF has been providing staff as well as medical and logistical resources at both CTCs. Amongst a growing team of over 40 national staff are nurses, logisticians, chlorinators, and environmental health workers. (…)


US$1 million gift to fight polio eradication

by Arnold R. Grahl 

Evanston, Ill, USA, 17 November - A 92-year-old Taiwanese Rotarian with more than 40 years service to his club has been honored for his family’s donation of more than $1 million to further Rotary’s polio eradication efforts.

Shui-Sen Hsu, a member of the Rotary Club of Taipei Northwest, and his wife, Pei-Tsen, were recognized for their contribution, made by the Hsu Family Foundation, during the 2008 Rotary Institute for RI Zones 4B, 6B, and 7B in Taipei on 18 October.

RI President Dong Kurn Lee and Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Jonathan B. Majiyagbe presented Hsu and his wife with a crystal piece in recognition of their contribution in support of Rotary’s US$100 Million Challenge during the institute, held 17-19 October and attended by more than 1,100 Rotarians from 16 Rotary countries and geographical areas in Asia. (…)


Rotarians on the move 

Rotary International Board of Directors has approved a new worldwide Action Group on Diabetes. Many Rotary clubs have diabetes education projects in Bolivia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

On 8 November, 1605 Rotarians from 44 countries visited the UN for a full-day program on Water, Health (Diabetes, Polio), Literacy, and Hunger. The main program attracted 1100 people and a special youth program in another UN Conference Hall attracted 600.

Sylvan Barnet, Alt. Rotary Intl Rep. to UN (NYC)



Energy and safety



EU nears deal on car CO2 emissions

25 November - The EU is getting closer to reaching an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, amid speculation that the bloc’s car-making countries have struck a deal to lower fines for manufacturers that fail to meet their CO2 targets. The French EU Presidency, the European Parliament and the European Commission resumed talks yesterday (24 November) to thrash out an agreement on the main points of the proposed legislation. These include introducing emissions targets and setting out the proportion of the European fleet to which they will apply. It also foresees the establishment of a penalty system for non-compliance. (...) The agreement will be a careful balancing act between the bloc’s environmental goals and the interests of the European car industry, currently weighed down by the economic crisis. (...)


Securing your energy future: Commission presents energy security, solidarity and efficiency proposals

Brussels, 13 November - The European Commission has proposed today a wide-ranging energy package which gives a new boost to energy security in Europe, supporting the 20-20-20 climate change proposals which should be agreed by December. The Commission puts forward a new strategy to build up energy solidarity among Member States and a new policy on energy networks to stimulate investment in more efficient, low-carbon energy networks. The Commission proposes a new EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan which sets out five areas where more action is needed to secure sustainable energy supplies. The Commission also looks at the challenges that Europe will face between 2020 and 2050. In addition, a package of energy efficiency proposals aims to make energy savings in key areas, such as reinforcing energy efficiency legislation on buildings and energy-using products, and enhancing the role of energy performance certificates as well as inspection reports for heating and air-conditioning systems. (...)


European Commission announces first building-blocks of a future super-grid

13 November - The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) welcomes the key role given to offshore wind energy in the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Review (SER) published this morning, and above all its commitment to publish a Blueprint for a North Sea offshore grid. With 1,486 MW of capacity currently installed offshore and 30,882 MW more capacity planned by 2015, investor interest is high, but the sector needs a European legislative framework, including a dedicated offshore grid to reach its full potential. (…)

Although nine countries - one-third of the EU Member States - now have operational offshore wind farms, up from just five 11 months ago, the offshore electricity infrastructure needs to be vastly improved and the overall electricity grid updated and reinforced. Crucially, the European Commission gives one of its aims in the Strategic Energy Review as to “ensure the development of the grid to permit the achievement of the EU’s renewable energy objectives”. (...)[tt_news]=1409&tx_ttnews[backPid]=718&cHash=4a4507292c



Environment and wildlife



Latest round of UN-led climate change talks kicks off in Polish city of Poznan

1 December - The latest round of United Nations-led negotiations aimed at reaching an ambitious global climate change deal next year began today in Poznan, Poland, drawing around 9,000 participants from governments, business and industry, environmental groups and research institutions. The two-week meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the halfway mark on the road to a major summit in Copenhagen in 2009, at which countries hope to reach agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions reductions, whose first commitment period ends in 2012. Addressing the delegates in Poznan, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, pointed towards the need to achieve progress on issues which are important in the run-up to 2012, including adaptation, finance, technology and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. (...)


Green Cross International at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan

Green Cross International’s Chairman Dr Jan Kulczyk to host UN Poznan panel discussion on business and climate change, calls for a Global Solar Fund to help generate new ‘clean’ energy investment and ‘green’ jobs

Dr Jan Kulczyk, the Chairman of Green Cross International, will host an important panel discussion at the Poznan UN Conference on Climate Change on 2nd December. The panel will focus on the economic opportunity of climate change for the business community. In particular, the Green Cross International initiative of creating a Global Solar Fund to make solar power a viable affordable energy source will be addressed. (…)

The panel discussion will be followed by presentations from Global Green USA, (the US affiliate of Green Cross International) and Green Cross Australia. Global Green USA will present the Global Solar Country Report Card comparing country efforts in encouraging the development of solar energy and encouraging the transition to a clean energy future. (…) For further information on the panel discussion:


International Wildlife Conference: Rome, Italy, 1-5 December 

The 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS) will be held in Rome, 1-5 December 2008. 300 representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as scientists will come together to discuss urgent conservation responses to address the rapid decline of migratory animal species across the globe. “2010 and Beyond: Wildlife Renaissance” is the theme of CMS COP9. CMS, also called the Bonn Convention, is an international treaty concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) dedicated to the conservation of migratory animals such as birds, whales and dolphins, sharks, marine turtles and elephants. CMS has committed itself to reducing the loss of biodiversity, of migratory animals and their habitats beyond 2010. (...)


Cheetahs, dolphins and falcons among species proposed for conservation boost across countries and continents

Rome/Bonn, 28 November - Whether they are speeding across the African savannah or navigating brackish waters in Asia, some of the world’s most charismatic species need an urgent boost in international protection.

Over 100 governments meeting next week for the ninth conference of the parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) will consider proposals to strengthen conservation of close to 30 endangered land and marine animals that often cross international borders, by placing them on the Convention’s appendices. (...)


African governments commit to protect gorillas

Rome, Italy, 28 November - The first meeting of the Parties of the Gorilla Agreement, to be held in Rome tomorrow, is expected to come up with practical proposals to further gorilla conservation work in Africa. The meeting is being held against a backdrop of increasing humanitarian crisis from continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the Virunga National Park home to nearly a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

The Gorilla Agreement came in to effect in June 2008 and is the first to legally oblige governments to work together to combat the threats faced by gorillas in the wild, and find coordinated solutions for gorilla conservation by requiring collaboration on issues such as anti-poaching and law enforcement. Today’s meeting occurs on the eve of the United Nations announcement of 2009 as the ‘Year of the Gorilla’, part of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. (…)



Religion and spirituality



The 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia - 3-9 December 2009

“There will be no world peace until there is peace among the religions.” Hans Küng

Since 1993, a Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city (Chicago 1993, Cape Town 1999, Barcelona 2004). Sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the 2009 Parliament will take place in Melbourne, Australia. A multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multicultural city, Melbourne offers an ideal location for the 2009 Parliament. Culturally vibrant and global in vision, Melbourne and Victoria are home to indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities as well as the major world religions - Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism among others. Over 10,000 participants will come to Melbourne for the Parliament. The 2009 Parliament will turn worldwide attention to Melbourne as a destination city with international appeal. The Parliament will run for seven days with approximately 450 events including keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, debates, performances, concerts and exhibitions. (...)

In today’s world, understanding between people of different traditions is not optional. It is essential. The 2009 Parliament will give people of faith, spirit and goodwill new reason to say that peace is still possible. (...)


European Youth Centre Budapest: study session “Religions in the Media” ends

Christian, Muslim and Jewish young people from 18 European countries gathered in Budapest in the European Youth Centre Budapest from 9th to 16th of November 2008 to promote inter-cultural learning, youth participation and overcoming stereotypes at the study session organised by the Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe.

The aim of the Study Session was to explore the role and potential of different types of media in overcoming differences, and to equip young people with competencies in order to be able to promote respect for diversity of cultures and beliefs as well as to protect human rights. Thus, young religious youth leaders reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to Human Rights.

The programme ranged from building bridges between cultures and religions to gaining knowledge on the relationship between religious communities and media in European countries.



Culture and education



H2Onews: 80 Years of SIGNIS

Rome, 2 December (H2Onews) - The World Catholic Association for Communication, SIGNIS, celebrated 80 years of its existence in Rome and has announced that the World Congress in 2009 will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from October 17 to the 21st, 2009, with the theme “Media for a Culture of Peace - Children’s Rights, Tomorrow’s Promise.” A series of conferences took place from November 20 to 26 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of SIGNIS in the Eternal City. (...) Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, stated that the influence of technology on modern culture and further development and training are some of the objectives for Catholic communicators today. (...)

SIGNIS is a consultant member of Unesco and the Council of Europe and is officially recognized by the Holy See as a Catholic organization for communication.


Sacrificing education quality is not an option

“Overcoming inequality: why governance matters”

25 November - The Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2009 provides a useful blueprint for achieving greater equality of opportunity and improved quality of education for learners of all ages around the world. (…) The Global Monitoring Report entitled “Overcoming inequality: why governance matters” is scheduled to be released today in Geneva. It is the seventh report examining worldwide progress towards the six Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the international community in 2000.

It warns that, although much progress has been made, this progress is undermined by a failure to tackle persistent inequalities due to gender, race, ethnicity, language, location, disability or other factors. (...) Education is a fundamental human right, yet opportunities for learning are vastly different across rich and poor countries. (…)


31 Nobel Peace Prize Winners issue first-ever joint statement initiated by Save the Children

Westport, Conn., USA, 20 November - In a first-ever joint statement, 31 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize enlisted by Save the Children called for urgent action to implement quality education and build peace in conflict-affected countries. The Nobel Laureates, including President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and Wangari Maathai urged world leaders to take action on behalf of the 37 million children who live in areas of armed conflict and are unable to go to school. “War and conflict are perpetrated by adults,” the letter reads. “But every adult was once a child and grew up with experiences and guidance that shaped their lives. At the heart of this lies education. But if more than 70 million children do not even have the chance to go to school, and more than half of these children live in countries affected by armed conflict - what are these children learning?” The Nobel Peace Prize winners support Save the Children’s global campaign, Rewrite the Future, which seeks to provide quality education for children living in conflict-affected fragile states. (…)


SmART Schools gets $817,000 from Dept. of Education to enhance arts instruction in New Hampshire, Rhode Island

Newton, MA, USA, 13 November - Elementary schools in Conway and Manchester, New Hampshire and in Warwick, Rhode Island have been selected to implement SmART Schools, a program that supports making the arts a core academic subject in the school curriculum and strengthens the use of high-quality arts in other academic subjects. SmART Schools, based at Education Development Center, instruction in Newton, Mass., has garnered nationwide attention for its results in improving academic performance by expanding classroom focus on the arts.

SmART Schools, now in nine elementary and middle schools in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, will be expanded to six new schools with federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, totaling approximately $275,000 per year for each of three years, will fund testing, refining, and documenting the SmART Schools program. (…)


* * * * * * *



Public opinion, CPNN, and the expressions of a culture of peace

Sergio Tripi interviews the Coordinator of CPNN-USA, David Adam


The culture of peace is an emerging reality, germinating and growing in the values, attitudes and actions of people, a problem-solving process that needs to be cultivated and supported, hence the official slogans of the International Year for the Culture of Peace: "Cultivate Peace" and "Peace is in Our Hands." ( The Coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network-USA, David Adams, appreciates the role of Good News Agency in the creation of a more aware public opinion and agreed to give an interview to its Publisher and Managing Editor.


1. As CPNN’s website well points out, the values, attitudes and behaviour that are necessary for a culture of peace can be expressed in these fields: Education for a culture of peace  - Tolerance, solidarity and international understanding - Democratic participation - Free flow of information - Disarmament - Human rights - Sustainable development - Equality of women and men. Could you describe, for each of these human endeavours, some of the main examples of expression of civil society’s efforts that you know have inspired public opinion and given rise to consequent and relevant behaviour from far-sighted institutions?


Education for a culture of peace. We are about to celebrate the tenth anniversary of one of the most influential initiatives, the Hague Appeal for Peace.  The Hague Appeal was launched in a remarkable meeting of over 10,000 people, many of them youth, on the 100th anniversary of the first Hague meeting for Peace in 1899 which led to important disarmament measures.  The Appeal led to the several education initiatives and books, including a campaign for disarmament education and the three volumes of Learning to Abolish War: Teaching toward a culture of peace.  Another more recent initiative that has great potential is the law for the teaching of peace recently adopted by Spain, modelled on a similar law that was passed earlier in the region of Andalusia.  Mention also needs to be made here, and developed further below, that the non-formal education of the mass media is perhaps the most influential educational system and needs to be oriented toward the culture of peace instead of its present orientation toward violence.


Tolerance, solidarity and international understanding.  At the United Nations over the past few years, the culture of peace agenda has been dominated, with good reason, by the question of inter-cultural dialogue and, in particular, inter-religious dialogue.  This has led to the Alliance of Civilizations and a number of other similar initiatives.  As we have emphasized in the Bulletin of the World Report on the Culture of Peace ( available at ), a particularly fruitful approach has been the Global Youth Solidarity Fund supported by the Alliance of Civilizations as a result of the 2006 Youth for a Culture of Peace Report.


Democratic participation.  I am especially impressed by the new model of democracy at the local level that has been developed in South America under the banner of participative budgeting.   CPNN recently gave coverage to the inauguration of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the inaugural address of Bolivian President Evo Morales, who said, among other things: "Let the people decide, submit to them and not to big money, with citizen participation and pluralism.  A participatory democracy and not only of polls every four or five years."  The methodology of participative budgeting is now spreading around the world at the local level, as may be seen, for example, at the websites of and  .


Free flow of information.  CPNN and the Good News Agency are part of a growing movement of independent media providing information by means of the Internet, and thereby "pushing the envelope" of the mass media.  More and more, people, and especially young people, are going to the independent media to obtain their information.  This is discussed further below in response to question 4.


Human rights.  As I write this we are about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).  In fact, for the first half of these years, the UDHR was very little known.  According to the Social Science Citation Index, there were less than one thousand citations during the first 30 years, whereas now there are more than one thousand citations every month.  The reason for this acceleration of interest was the activity of the civil society, as exemplified by Amnesty International which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for their work.  This was the point in time when references to the UDHR began to accelerate.   Although the UDHR now receives more support from the civil society and an increasing recognition by the United Nations, there is still resistance to it from the powerful nation states.  For example, the United States continues to refuse to sign the protocols for economic and social rights. 


Sustainable development.  The movement for sustainable development has provided the model for an effective social movement on a global scale.  In the civil society, thousands of organizations are involved, and increasingly, they are joined by initiatives of local governments.  See, for example, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives at .  If anything, we may expect this movement to intensify and deepen as the world enters an economic crisis unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930's.   There is the risk of a crash of the globalized food system that depends on huge agrobusiness and the transportation of food between and across continents.  It is important, in the face of this risk, to return to sustainable agriculture on a local level.


Equality of women and men.  In the developed countries there has been more progress in this area than in the other areas of a culture of peace.  At first, the progress was led by the civil society, and in recent years it has been taken up by local and national governments.  However, where there is exploitation, it is still women who earn much less than men and women are not paid for many forms of labour, especially labour in the home.  And in the countries of the South, the victims of the exploitation of the global economy, it is still the women who suffer the most.


2. The role and voice of public opinion can take a certain time to be expressed in innovation within public institutions. Could you describe those campaigns that are being executed in those fields and that have a considerable potential to induce change, but that need a higher cumulative build-up to express their impact tangibly?


The campaign that in my opinion is the most important, the most difficult, and which faces the greatest resistance is the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace.   Although the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999, first called for this movement, since then there has been decreasing support at the level of the UN system.  It seems that at the level of the UN and the Member States, the culture of peace is seen as a menace and a threat, especially by the most powerful states.  Their opposition is mirrored in the almost total silence from the commercial mass media, as we found in the World Report on the Culture of Peace in 2005, and as will be discussed below in Question 4.  In fact, it is the civil society that has continued to work for a culture of peace, although this is hampered by a lack of consciousness that ALL of the eight programme areas are equally important, necessary and inter-related.  Many civil society organizations consider that they work only for one of the eight areas and fail to see the connection between what they are doing in their own area and what other organizations are doing in the other areas.   As for my own priority at this time, it has been to expand the Global Movement to include cities, towns, local and regional governments. 


3. “WE the people…”: the preamble of the UN Charter expresses a vision that implies understanding, sharing, and responsibility. How are these attitudes interlinked in today’s world?


It is interesting that you raise the question of "responsibility".  Recently, I was told that there was an unpublished exchange of letters on this subject in 1948 between Mahatma Gandhi and Julian Huxley who was then the Director-General of UNESCO.  Huxley had sent Gandhi a draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, asking his opinion and suggestions.  Gandhi apparently replied that it was good as far as it went, but would be much stronger if it were the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Responsibilities.   Indeed, it is not enough to understand, and not even enough to share.  We must be responsible for each other, and that goes beyond education, information and development aid.  We are, in fact, "our brother's keeper."  Injustice against one is injustice against all.  The vision of a culture of peace is a vision for all, not just for the fortunate few.


4. In this context, how could public opinion become more aware of the NGOs’ role and work around the world? Or, in more general terms, how could the media be persuaded to report regularly the evidence that public opinion is on the move to reflect those values, attitudes and behaviour that are the foundation of a culture of peace?


It has been my belief in working on the Culture of Peace News Network and in watching the success of the Good News Agency, that we are part of a growing movement of independent media that is gradually commanding the attention of the new generation as their major source of information.  As this grows, the commercial media will have to change. After all, they are driven by the profits from their advertisers and sponsors, and since the advertisers and sponsors want, above all, to keep the attention of young people, they will be forced to demand that the media compete by printing the news of the culture of peace in all its areas.  This has already happened in the area of sustainable development.  A few years ago, sustainable development was only described and discussed by the independent media, but now it is a major topic in the commercial media as well. 


5. The young is a fundamental group for the long-term preparation of a public opinion that fosters a culture of peace. What else do you think could be done by civil society at large as well as by national and international institutions to enhance the youth role?


In every initiative that is undertaken, we need to give priority to youth.  An example was the youth initiative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations mentioned above.  Five young people were hired and trained to undertake the survey of youth organizations around the world.  In a record time of only two months they obtained information from 475 youth organizations.  The final report was co-edited by one of these young people, and as a result she then went on to the United Nations in New York to oversee the initial development of a Global Youth Solidarity Fund.  Some details are available in recent bulletins of the Decade Report ( ). Hopefully, this fund will continue to support youth activities for a culture of peace.


Another example is the Youth Advocacy Teams that have lobbied for a culture of peace at the United Nations General Assembly.  Two such teams have already taken place, as described on the website  and another team is being planned for next year.  The young people who took part in these teams remain active today in a wide range of important international actions for a culture of peace both inside and outside the United Nations system.


It is important that the culture of peace enter into school curricula.  Readers of the Good News Agency (GNA) and the recent article on GNA in the Culture of Peace News Network are aware that the GNA is being used in 500 high schools, of which 130 were "recruited" by Rotary Clubs.  In Spain, the law for the teaching of culture of peace in schools, first developed in the region of Andalusia, has now been adopted for all of Spain.


In the various initiatives, it is not a question of "lecturing" to the young, but rather of involving them (including work at proper wages) in the work of promoting a culture of peace, so that they learn through doing, and so they can take on a leadership role for the coming generations.


* * * * * * *


Next issue: 19th December 2008



* * * * * * *


Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Elisa Peduto, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos.

Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 4,000 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 49 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace”. The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.


* * * * * * *