21 January 2012


Energy is central to nearly every major challenge, and opportunity the world faces today. Be it jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes , access to sustainable energy for all is essential for strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems and achieving equity.

In fact, more than 1.4 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more only have intermittent access. Some 2.5 billion people – almost half of humanity – rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made sustainable energy one of his five priorities that will guide his second 5-year term. Specifically, he will direct the United Nations to extend energy’s reach in order to combat endemic poverty. Universal access to energy, improved efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources are ambitious goals, and the Secretary-General is leading a Sustainable Energy for All initiative to make them achievable.

This initiative will call for private sector and national commitments and attract global attention to the importance of energy for development and poverty alleviation. The goal is to meet three objectives by 2030:

• Ensuring universal access to modern energy services.
• Doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
• Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

In recognition of the importance of energy access for sustainable economic development and supporting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations General Assembly has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All


Italian Jesuit priest Luigi Tapparelli d’Azeglio, (1793-1862) is generally acknowledged as the person with whom the concept of social justice originated.

Taparelli wrote frequently about social problems arising from the Industrial Revolution seeking a middle path between laissez faire capitalism and extreme forms of socialism, and his influence was significant. Pope Leo XIII’s social encyclical Rerum Novarum, published in 1891 and recognized as the foundation for the social doctrine of the Catholic church, drew on insights from his former teacher, Taparelli.

Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.

The United Nations General Assembly has decided to observe 20 February annually, starting in 2009, as the World Day of Social Justice a day recognizing the need to promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment.

20 January 2012


More than 4000 children die each day from severe diarrhea, which is spread through poor sanitation and hygiene.

In a world population of 7 billion, 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation and 884 million do not have access to clean water, this despite the UN Human Rights Council affirming that water and sanitation are human rights.

Sub-Saharan Africa faces some of the worst deficits - 330 million people in the region lack access to clean water and 565 million lack access to proper sanitation facilities. People living in rural areas continue to be disproportionately underserved, as seven out of ten users of unimproved sanitation facilities live in rural areas.

As with many challenges in development, women and girls are disproportionately impacted by scarcities of clean water and adequate sanitation. Women are more than twice as likely as men to be responsible for water collection. On average, women in the developing world walk six kilometers each day to collect water, time which could be spent in school or at work. And studies show that more than half of girls who drop out of primary school in sub-Saharan Africa do so because of a lack of separate toilets and easy access to safe water. The effects of lack of access to water and sanitation have a macroeconomic impact as well. In total, the World Health Organization estimates that 40 billion working hours are spent collecting water each year in Africa - comparable to a year's labour for the entire workforce of France.

Even though water and sanitation scarcities will be exacerbated as new challenges such as climate change and urbanization emerge, the One.org website describes some encouraging signs of progress. The solutions to the problem are known and cost-effective

During the 18th Session of the Human Rights Council in Sep 2011, Franciscans International and WaterLex also delivered a joint oral statement on the Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, in which they called upon States to use the human rights–based planning developed by the Special Rapporteur to articulate the implementation of all their water related international legal obligations through a human rights-based water governance.


Australians lose over $12 billion every year on poker machines, and problem gamblers can lose over $1000 in a single hour.

The Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce which includes representatives of all major churches and their welfare agencies, have supported the proposals initially put forward by the government to address the issue of problem gambling.

However a key feature of the proposed legislation, the introduction of a national mandatory pre-commitment scheme that requires gamblers in all electronic gaming venues to set spending limits on high impact (high loss) poker machines, now appears in danger of being discarded in the face of a multi-million dollar campaign mounted by Clubs Australia and supported by the major Opposition party, opposing the legislation.

Get-Up, a member organisation of the Stop the Loss coalition, which also includes Catholic Social Services, has included an online petition on their website urging support for the original legislation.

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