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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: November 2017

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Citi Foundation And Living Cities Announce Findings From City Accelerator Infrastructure Finance Initiative In Four Major American Cities


Press Release – November 29, 2017 – Today, Living Cities and the Citi Foundation released “Resilience, Equity and Innovation,” a new guide for cities looking to deliver on critical infrastructure projects. Built on the experiences of four major Ampuerican cities, the guide shares best practices to build comprehensive and resilient financial strategies that rely on diverse revenue sources, make use of flexible and innovative financing and transfer key long-term risks to the private sector.

“Officials at all levels of government face very real obstacles to taking on the challenges that have the greatest impact on residents’ health, social and economic futures,” said President and CEO of Living Cities Ben Hecht. “This report highlights real-world solutions and new ways of thinking about capital that can be employed by cities across the country. These four cities are leading the way to create stronger, more equitable communities.”

Over the course of the 18-month initiative, cross-disciplinary teams from the four cities applied learnings about innovative revenue sources, creative financial tools and supportable funding models to advance a set of innovative projects.

  • Washington, D.C. formalized its Public-Private-Partnership (P3) project selection process
  • Pittsburgh fundamentally shifted how it prioritizes its efforts to rehab its more than 800 pedestrian staircases
  • Saint Paul determined funding mechanisms for green infrastructure at its Ford Field redevelopment site
  • San Francisco developed a plan for maintaining its seawall- a large-scale, critical infrastructure project that is invisible to most San Franciscans

“These cities are raising the bar by dedicating the time and teams to work towards closing gaps in infrastructure finance in order to better serve residents and create economic opportunities,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “Their leadership and learnings from the City Accelerator will inform new approaches to meet the growing demands of infrastructure improvements in the U.S.”

The City Accelerator teams came together four times to learn from each other’s experiences, hear from leading infrastructure finance and government innovation experts and visit major ongoing infrastructure projects across the United States. Many common themes have surfaced, such as the use of delivery strategies like pay-for-success bonding, P3s and Energy Savings Agreements (ESAs) to help ensure projects deliver long-term performance and services, not just bricks and mortar.

This is the third group of cities to take part in the City Accelerator program, an initiative led by Living Cities and supported by the Citi Foundation to accelerate the adoption of innovations within and across local government. Previous areas of focus included embedding innovation in government and engaging harder to reach residents. The City Accelerator also recently launched a new effort on equitable procurement.

The guide includes detailed explanation of modern financing options, as well as a framework for evaluating the tools, models and revenue sources that can be used by different types of infrastructure needs – from public staircases to city streetlights. It was written by Jennifer Mayer, an infrastructure finance expert who led the cities through the effort, and can be found at

About Living Cities

Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 18 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

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Effort To Create Mouse That More Closely Mirrors Human Alzheimer’s Wins Federal Grant

Genetically engineered model could boost anti-dementia drug research

Andrea Tenner, UCI professor of molecular biology & biochemistry, and Frank LaFerla, dean of UCI’s Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences, will lead an effort to create a mouse that more closely mirrors human Alzheimer’s. Steve Zylius/UCI

Press Release – Irvine, Calif., Nov. 30, 2017 – A proposal to humanize several mouse genes for research into Alzheimer’s disease has spurred the National Institute on Aging to award $11.35 million to the University of California, Irvine.

“Over the last two decades, the search for new Alzheimer’s drugs has been stymied, in part because it’s now clear that animal test subjects don’t fully mirror enough of the major features of the disease,” said Andrea Tenner, UCI professor of molecular biology & biochemistry. “This project could reshape the fight against Alzheimer’s.”

Currently, scientists investigating anti-dementia medications must use mice that are bred to have a rare, aggressive form of Alzheimer’s, one that accounts for less than 2 percent of human cases. UCI, which is nationally known for producing specialized research mice, will employ sophisticated genetic recombination methods to engineer a better mouse, replacing rodent DNA sequences with human DNA strands linked to the most common type of Alzheimer’s, called sporadic Alzheimer’s disease.

“The new mouse will more accurately mimic human Alzheimer’s conditions, enabling superior testing of therapies designed to slow or prevent the disease,” said Frank LaFerla, dean of UCI’s Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences and a renowned Alzheimer’s expert. His previous work includes creating a “triple transgenic” mouse model that developed the same brain plaques and tangles found in human Alzheimer’s patients, a breakthrough that provided researchers with a living laboratory for understanding the behavioral, physiological and biological processes of the disease.

LaFerla and Tenner will lead a team building on a “base model” mouse that harbors a humanized Alzheimer’s-related gene – an endeavor they began in 2010 – and gradually humanizing other key genes. As part of the prestigious NIA grant, the UCI team will work together closely with Indiana University and Jackson Laboratory researchers to add various genetic characteristics associated with Alzheimer’s to the “next-generation mouse” and eventually make it available to scientists around the world.

The UCI group also includes professor of developmental & cell biology Grant MacGregor, associate professor of developmental & cell biology Ali Mortazavi, associate professor of neurobiology & behavior Kim Green, Francisco J. Ayala Chair in Neurobiology & Behavior Marcelo Wood and assistant researcher David Baglietto-Vargas.

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World’s First Healthcare Development Impact Bond Aims To Reduce Mother And Baby Deaths In Rajasthan, India

  • The world’s first development impact bond in healthcare is focused on improving the quality of care among private maternity care providers in Rajasthan.
  • If successful, up to 10,000 maternal and newborn deaths could be averted over a five-year period.
  • Partners include USAID, UBS Optimus Foundation, Palladium, PSI, HLFPPT and MSD for Mothers.

Press Release – The world’s first healthcare development impact bond aimed at reducing the number of maternal and newborn deaths in Rajasthan, India, launches today.

Rajasthan has one of the highest maternal and newborn mortality rates in the country, with 244 maternal deaths per 100,000 births and 47 infant deaths per 1000 live births. The Maternal and Newborn Health DIB – known as the ‘Utkrisht bond’, taken from the Hindi for ‘Excellence’ – will support government efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by improving access to, and the quality of care in, up to 440 private healthcare facilities in Rajasthan.

Impact bonds are an innovative way of financing international development. They are 100% focused on outcomes and have the potential to leverage private philanthropic capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges.

For this impact bond, the upfront funder, UBS Optimus Foundation will provide up to USD 3.5 million initial working capital so service providers can begin their work with private facilities in Rajasthan.

Interventions will be delivered by NGOs Population Services International (PSI) and HLFPPT and will reach up to 600,000 pregnant women with improved care during delivery and could lead to up to 10,000 maternal and newborn lives being saved over a five year period. The impact bond was designed by Palladium, who will manage implementation throughout the three-year term.

PSI has adapted its Engage, Launch and Support quality improvement framework and will be implementing this in 14 districts of Rajasthan. HLFPPT will be working in 19 districts to support and engage private medical facilities through capacity building, mentoring and ongoing support.

In a further innovation, all implementation partners are also co-investors, contributing more than 20% of the capital required. USAID and MSD for Mothers* have committed a total of up to USD 8 million in outcome funding, provided a set of independently evaluated targets are met.

Naveen Jain, Secretary for Rajasthan Ministry of Health and Mission Director of the National Health Mission said: “The Government of Rajasthan is committed towards improving maternal and newborn health and is working with the Government of India towards achieving the SDGs. We see innovative public private partnerships, and the engagement of private capital, as an essential strategy in our toolkit towards this goal. We look forward to working with the Utkrisht bond team and the private health facilities to enhance quality and develop the flexibility and the trust to allow services to be provided outside the public sector. In this way, impact bonds and their emphasis on results will benefit the public sector – and, of course, new mothers and their children”.

Administrator Mark Green, U.S. Agency for International Development, announcing the launch of the impact bond today said: “This results-based financing mechanism is ground-breaking in that it takes a business approach to development, while still targeting basic needs like improving the quality of care and private facilities. By leveraging the assets and skills of a diverse group of partners across the public and private sectors, we are stretching our investments further while saving more lives. This mechanism is just one example of how USAID is doing business differently.”

“We must be bold. We must challenge, innovate and create if we are to truly reframe the future for the millions less fortunate than ourselves, and the launch of the world’s first development impact bond in healthcare demonstrates how we are turning those words into actions,” said Phyllis Costanza, CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation. “The model is proving increasingly attractive as people recognize its ability to secure new and much needed sources of finance and deliver significant and sustainable social returns.”

Kim Bredhauer, CEO of Palladium said: “This is hugely exciting because it could have a transformative impact on how development is financed in the future. Not only, if successful, does this first healthcare impact bond potentially unlock vast sums of private capital for other projects but ensures accountability and full transparency in the process. This new results-based financing mechanism, which in effect is a public private partnership, is bringing a commercial approach to international development and ultimately will save lives and taxpayer money.”

“We need innovative and sustainable financing models to help solve some of development’s most vexing challenges,” said Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of Population Services International. “The Utkrisht bond is bringing together new funding partners motivated by social and financial returns, with the goal of improving the quality of maternal and newborn health services in the private sector – where a majority of Indian women go for health solutions. It makes perfect sense for us to meet the consumer there, and try to better meet her needs.”

“Private sector investment in social enterprises helps to ensure quality services. The Utkrisht bond will strengthen health provisions in Rajasthan and will help to dramatically improve the well-being of mothers and their newborn children,” said Sharad Agarwal, CEO of HLFPPT. “We are committed to extending quality maternal and newborn services as we truly believe that no gift can be more precious than saving a life.”

Dr. Naveen Rao, Lead, MSD for Mothers, said: “We are committed to exploring novel ways to improve maternal health. We believe that innovative financing mechanisms, such as the Utkrisht bond, provide an opportunity to unlock additional funding across sectors as well as allocate resources more effectively to achieve desired health outcomes. This brings us one step closer to creating a world where no woman dies giving life.”

The private sector accounts for over 25% of hospital births in Rajasthan and is used by women across socio-economic levels. By developing new approaches to improve, assess and sustain private healthcare facilities, this new impact bond will support greater state-wide improvements in health outcomes.

The success of the Utkrisht bond will be judged on whether healthcare facilities are able to achieve the new certification standard developed by the National Accreditation Board of Hospitals and Healthcare Providers and the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India. This means that, for the first time, quality maternal care will be certified and fully transparent in private health facilities.

* MSD for Mothers is MSD’s 10-year $500 million initiative to help create world where no woman dies giving life. MSD for Mothers is an initiative of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.

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Global Impact Taps Luis Guardia as New Chief Business and Financial Services Officer

Press Release – ALEXANDRIA, Va., November 29, 2017 – Today, Global Impact President and CEO Scott Jackson welcomed the organization’s new Chief Business and Financial Services Officer Luis Guardia. With 25 years of experience, Guardia brings significant expertise to the already strong executive team at Global Impact where he will lead internal financial administration, external financial services and asset management programs. Most recently Guardia served as Chief Operating Officer for The One Campaign and prior to that he worked for a number of other respected organizations, including International Center for Research on Women, NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Guardia joins Jackson and a seasoned executive team:

Victoria Adams, Vice President of CFC Administration, is responsible for the organization’s administration and services within the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) both locally, nationally and internationally, including strategic planning and implementation. She joined Global Impact in 2010 and previously served at ChildFund International and the American Red Cross.

Cindy Darnell, Vice President of Operations and Special Initiatives, has been with Global Impact since 2012 and currently oversees the organization’s technology team, board engagement and special initiatives. Darnell has been a certified Project Management Professional, and prior to Global Impact she worked for Deltek, a software company based in the Washington metro area.

Kathleen Lowenthal serves as Managing Director of Partner Solutions and oversees Global Impact’s consulting and advisory work for corporate and nonprofit partners. She has been with Global Impact for five years and previously served at Catholic Charities USA and Turning the Page.

Joseph Mettimano serves as Chief Marketing and Development Officer and has been with Global Impact for six years. He currently leads the organization’s campaigns, fundraising and marketing functions. He has served in leadership roles with nonprofit organizations for more than 27 years, including positions with World Vision, Prison Fellowship, UNICEF USA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Stephanie Scholz, Vice President of Human Resources, has been with Global Impact for nine years and has an extensive background in human resource management. She directs human resource strategy, oversees employee benefit programs, supervises the performance management process and collaborates with executives daily on organizational needs. Scholz is a certified HR professional with both her SPHR and SHRM-SCP.

“With this team of experienced, skilled executives, Global Impact is well-positioned to continue achieving its mission to grow global philanthropy,” stated Jackson.


Global Impact is a leader in growing global philanthropy. The organization builds partnerships and raises resources that help the world’s most vulnerable people by providing integrated, partner-specific advisory and backbone services; workplace fundraising and representation; campaign design, marketing and implementation for workplace and signature fundraising campaigns; and fiscal agency and technology services. Global Impact works with more than 300 public and private sector workplace giving campaigns to generate funding for an alliance of more than 100 international charities. Through strategic council and implementation support, Global Impact equips nonprofits, public sector and private sector organizations to achieve their philanthropic goals. The organization also leads national marketing efforts for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and serves as Outreach Coordinator for the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area (CFCNCA), the Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas (CFC-O) and three other CFC zones across the United States. Since 1956, Global Impact has generated more than $1.8 billion to help the world’s most vulnerable people.

Learn more at Follow Global Impact on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook.

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National Comprehensive Cancer Network Introduces New Guidelines for Patients with a Form of Cancer Associated with HIV and AIDS

Brand new NCCN Guidelines® map out best practices for treating patients with AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma.

Press Release – FORT WASHINGTON, PA [November 29, 2017] — The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) –your best resource in the fight against cancer for more than two decades – has created a new resource for patients living with HIV who develop AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma. This newly-released NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) brings the total library to 68 NCCN Guidelines®. Additional NCCN Guidelines, devoted to overall cancer care for people living with HIV, will be released in early 2018.

“These new NCCN Guidelines for AIDS-Related Kaposi Sarcoma are a first step to ensuring that people living with HIV receive appropriate and equitable cancer treatment,” said Gita Suneja, MD, Duke Cancer Institute. Dr. Suneja is Co-Chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for AIDS-Related Kaposi Sarcoma. “NCCN recognizes the urgent need for cancer management guidelines in this special population of patients. The Guidelines Panel is comprised of experts from NCCN Member Institutions across the United States, including oncologists, HIV specialists, pharmacists, and patient advocates. In compiling these Guidelines, we learned a tremendous amount from each other and hope this will benefit clinicians and, most-importantly, patients living with HIV.”

The incidence of AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma in people living with HIV has fallen dramatically in the United States in recent years thanks to advancements in HIV treatments.[1] It is considered an AIDS-defining illness and was famously featured in the movie Philadelphia. The disease can be limited to skin lesions, which tend to respond well to treatment, but when more advanced it can be difficult to treat. There are also other types of Kaposi sarcoma that affect HIV-negative individuals; treatment recommendations for those cancers will be included in future updates of these guidelines.

NCCN Guidelines Panel Co-Chair Erin Reid, MD, of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center further explained: “The NCCN Guidelines for AIDS-Related Kaposi Sarcoma fill an important gap in guidance for care of this rare but important malignancy. Although incidences have decreased, the disease remains one of the most common cancers occurring in persons living with HIV—not only in patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection or inadequate suppression of HIV, but also in people who otherwise appear to have maximum viral suppression and ‘normal’ CD4+ T cell counts.”

NCCN made the decision to create a panel devoted to AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma while working with the African Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society, and Clinton Health Access Initiative to create the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“While the medical community has made monumental strides toward reducing the impact of HIV and AIDS, there are still more than a million people living with HIV in the United States today,[2]” explained Robert W. Carlson, MD, chief executive officer, NCCN. “That patient population is then diagnosed with cancer at a 50-percent higher rate than people in the general population.[3] Our work with the African Cancer Coalition began as a way to help them with some of the particular health issues in their home countries. In the end, it also resulted in us finding new ways to expand our library of Guidelines for patients here at home.”

As with all NCCN Guidelines, the NCCN Guidelines for AIDS-Related Kaposi Sarcoma are available free of charge for non-commercial use online at They can also be viewed via the Virtual Library of NCCN Guidelines mobile app for smartphones and tablets.

To tweet about this news, click here.

[1] Robbins HA, Shiels MS, Pfeiffer RM, Engels EA. Epidemiologic contributions to recent cancer trends among HIV-infected people in the United States. AIDS 2014;28:881-890. Available at:

[2] U.S. Statistics.; 2017. Available at

[3] Robbins HA, Pfeiffer RM, Shiels MS, et al. Excess cancers among HIV-infected people in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst 2015;107. Available at

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Chick-fil-A Foundation Awards $1.23 Million Through the 2018 True Inspiration Awards

Atlanta-based Path Project is named S. Truett Cathy Honoree

Press Release – ATLANTA (November 29, 2017) – The Chick-fil-A® Foundation is honored to announce the recipients of the organization’s 2018 True Inspiration Awards. The 23 deserving not-for-profits, which represent 13 states throughout the country, are receiving a combined $1.23 million in grants to further their work fostering leadership and entrepreneurial spirit in children. The fourth annual Chick-fil-A Foundation’s True Inspiration Awards honor local organizations across the country who are working hard to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and youth in their communities.

The Path Project, a local education-focused initiative has been named this year’s S. Truett Cathy Honoree. The S. Truett Cathy Honoree is awarded a $100,000 grant, and it recognizes an organization that embodies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Chick-fil-A’s late founder. Founded by husband and wife Jim and Melinda Hollandsworth, the Path Project empowers children growing up in mobile home parks to find their path to high school graduation and beyond. The Path Project operates community centers, involving parents, schools, churches, park owners and local businesses in their mission.

Now in its fourth year, the True Inspiration Awards were created to carry on S. Truett Cathy’s legacy of generosity, community service, and dedication to inspiring children to become future leaders. The grants range from $20,000 to $100,000. Organizations can either apply for an award directly or receive a nomination from a local Chick-fil-A restaurant franchisee based on the group’s local work.

In addition to Path Project, the other 22 winning organizations range from The Lake Avenue Foundation in Pasadena, California, to New City Kids, Inc. in Jersey City, New Jersey, spanning 13 states and 16 cities.

“These organizations are changing lives in communities across the U.S., but don’t always get the recognition they need and deserve,” says Rodney Bullard, vice president of Community Affairs for Chick-fil-A, Inc., and executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. “Through the True Inspiration Awards, we seek to reach community organizations and help them extend their impact. The Chick-fil-A Foundation exists to help every child reach their full potential, and that’s exactly what these organizations are working to do.”

The True Inspiration Awards are one way the Chick-fil-A Foundation is fulfilling its mission to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. The Chick-fil-A Foundation will award the 23 winning organizations at the fourth annual True Inspiration Awards celebration in Atlanta next spring. The True Inspiration Awards are the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s central grant-giving platform. The Foundation reviews and distributes additional grant requests on a quarterly basis.

To learn more about the True Inspiration Awards and view a complete list of recipients, visit

About the Chick-fil-A® Foundation

The Chick-fil-A® Foundation is the corporate foundation of Chick-fil-A, Inc. A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation’s purpose is to lead the company’s commitment to support youth and education in Chick-fil-A’s local communities. The Foundation’s work is focused on developing and educating young people so they can build a positive legacy and become all they were created to be. For more information, visit

About Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. is a family owned and privately held restaurant company founded in 1967 by S. Truett Cathy. Devoted to serving the local communities in which its franchised restaurants operate, and known for its original chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A serves freshly prepared food in more than 2,200 restaurants in 47 states and Washington, D.C.

Chick-fil-A system sales reached nearly $8 billion in 2016, which marks 49 consecutive years of sales growth. In 2017, Chick-fil-A received the top score among fast food brands and one of the top 10 scores overall for customer experience in the Temkin Experience Ratings survey, and the company’s internship program was ranked #13 in career website WayUp’s survey of the top 100 best summer internships. In 2016, Chick-fil-A was named the Technomic Consumer’s Choice for “providing value through service,” named the “the most polite restaurant in the country” in QSR Magazine’s annual drive-thru report and was the only restaurant brand named to the Top 10 “Best Companies to Work For” by 24/7 Wall Street. More information on Chick-fil-A is available at

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Space Nation Prepares to Reach Maximum Velocity in 2018

After a record-breaking 2017 full of achievements, Space Nation is set to carry the momentum into 2018

Press Release – In 2017 Space Nation made several giant leaps forward in establishing itself as the world’s leading space media company. A historic agreement with NASA was signed, and Space Nation became the first space company to join the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization.

Space Nation also launched its first product, Space Nation Orbit (, an online space lifestyle magazine that makes space relevant and relatable to daily life. Space Nation Orbit was launched in early November 2017 at an event in the heart of New York’s art district that gathered together some of the city’s finest content creators. During the launch week Space Nation Orbit gained over 25 million social media impressions.

Candice Kilpatrick, Head Editor of Space Nation Orbit and former Front Page Editor, Yahoo News: “I like that to read and enjoy Space Nation Orbit you don’t have to have a high baseline of space or science knowledge. You can learn new things even if you don’t consider yourself a “science person”. Space Nation Orbit is a genuine first in that it focuses on how the new space era can benefit people’s lives right now in all sorts of unexpected ways.”

Navigator app testing results exceed all expectations

One of the core components of the Space Nation Astronaut Program, the Space Nation Navigator app, underwent the first phase of user testing. Approximately 1,000 testers from around the world took part, among whom was one actual astronaut. The user retention rate was 31%, more than double the industry average. Based on the testing feedback, several updates and improvements to the Navigator app were implemented.

Testers were asked to play for one week, but many chose to continue playing for longer. Giulia Bassani, an astrophysics student from Turin, Italy, was one of the testers. Her life goal is to become an astronaut. When asked for her opinion of the Space Nation Navigator app she was emphatic in her response: “I honestly loved it. Space Nation Navigator gave me motivation and a better understanding of what aspiring astronauts need. I just can’t wait for the final release.”

Space Nation in brief

Founded in 2013, Space Nation is enabling a global audience to have previously unattainable space experiences.

Space Nation’s partners and advisors include Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space; John Barbera, former president of Turner Broadcasting Sales & 24/7 Realmedia; and Peter Vesterbacka, former Mighty Eagle at Rovio Entertainment, the creator of Angry Birds.

Space Nation has received numerous media accolades. The company was ranked first in Forbes’ 10 European Growth Businesses to Watch in 2017.

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Clearing Decades-Old Landmines Will Protect Endangered Elephants, Lions And Local Communities

Press Release – Harare, Zimbabwe — APOPO, the charity famed for its use of specially trained rats in landmine and tuberculosis detection, is proud to announce it will begin clearing landmines in Zimbabwe’s largest wildlife conservation area and important elephant migration area, coinciding with new beginnings in the country.

APOPO has been tasked by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defence with clearing the deadly landmines inside what is now the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) – the largest conservation area in the world, spanning South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The four-decades old landmines cause a serious threat to already endangered wildlife such as elephants and lions, as well as to local communities who desperately need the land for grazing and agriculture.

Laid along the Mozambique border by the Rhodesian army during the war of independence in the 1970s, the landmines represent a remnant of a troubled time.

“Robert Mugabe’s resignation after four decades of rule now marks the beginning of a new era for Zimbabwe,” said Christophe Cox, CEO of APOPO. “It is time to move forward and remove these dangerous explosives from the country.”

APOPO has been tasked by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defence with clearing the deadly landmines inside what is now the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) – the largest conservation area in the world, spanning South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The four-decades old landmines cause a serious threat to already endangered wildlife such as elephants and lions, as well as to local communities who desperately need the land for grazing and agriculture.

Landmines and wildlife do not mix. Animals can wander into mined areas, triggering explosives that result in the loss of a limb followed by a slow, painful death. The minefield has one of the highest landmine densities in the world—about 5,500 mines per kilometer—making any movement in the region treacherous. Home to thousands of elephants, studies suggest that this huge lethal barrier is preventing traffic across the divide and may have a long-term impact on the gene pool of species.

Meanwhile communities that live in proximity of the minefield have suffered four decades of fear and terror, unable to safely access vital resources such as water, much needed grazing lands, and cross-border trading routes. Many human lives and limbs have been lost and injury to livestock still occurs regularly.

Clearing the landmines will also open new economic opportunities for the region as safari operators and lucrative, conservation-focused ecotourism will be able to operate for the first time. Kruger National Park in neighboring South Africa receives over 1.5 million tourists a year, which could potentially travel up the Sengwe Corridor and into Gonarezhou National Park without requiring a visa or leaving the conservation area. Currently Gonarezhou National Park receives virtually no international tourists.

“We are proud to be able to help Zimbabwe rid itself of these mines during an incredibly important period in the nation’s history,” Cox said. “We saw this approach work in Mozambique, which is now mine-free, and believe we can help accomplish the same in Zimbabwe.”

APOPO will begin the project using conventional demining methods (survey, metal detectors and machines) and aim to bring in the mine detection rats at a later stage after government approval.

APOPO Zimbabwe is partnered by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defence and sponsored by the Players of the Postcode Lottery UK and the Nationale Postcode Loterij.


APOPO is an award-winning, non-profit international NGO that has developed an innovative method deploying African giant pouched rats, nicknamed “HeroRATs”, to detect landmines and tuberculosis using their extraordinary sense of smell. APOPO’s headquarters, training and research center is based in Morogoro, Tanzania and the HeroRATs detect tuberculosis in Tanzania, Mozambique, and soon Ethiopia.

Harnessing the highly attuned sense of smell in the African giant pouched rat, APOPO has spent the last two decades training these affectionate rodents in detecting two of the deadliest threats on the planet: landmines and tuberculosis.

For 20 years, APOPO (which stands for Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling in Dutch, or Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development) has faced the landmine issue in seven countries, including Cambodia, Angola and, notably, Mozambique, where it played a key role in the country achieving ‘mine-free’ status in 2015.

The HeroRATs have helped clear over 106,000 landmines, identified over 12,000 TB-Positive patients who were missed by their clinics, and prevented almost 90,000 potential infections of tuberculosis – today’s biggest infectious disease global killer.

The Next 20 Years:

Twenty years after the Ottawa landmine treaty was signed, there is still work to be done. To this day, 58 countries are still plagued by as many as 110 million landmines buried in the ground. However, global financial support for mine clearance is declining, necessitating a faster way to find the landmines. APOPO’s goal is to become the go-to resource in accelerating the pace of landmine clearance as the world races to accomplish the Ottawa Treaty target of eliminating all landmines by 2025. In order to do this, APOPO’s HeroRATs could be the key to speeding up the decades long process.

“When we launched APOPO, the common view was that it would take another 500 years to clear all landmines from the Earth’s surface,” APOPO CEO Christophe Cox said. “Twenty years later, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and if the international community fully supports the collaboration of all demining operators, we could clear the remaining minefields by the 2025 mine ban treaty deadline.

About the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP)

The GLTP is part of a bold African vision to combine three of the world’s most unique national parks by removing all human barriers within the area so that animals and tourists can roam freely within the huge ecosystem. The GLTP aims to establish large areas for conservation by integrating vast landscapes and re-connecting ecological systems as well as deploying conservation as a land-use option. Local communities will then gain from ecotourism and peace and stability brought to the region through cross-border tourism. The initiative constitutes some of the most exciting and ambitious conservation projects in the world today.

The minefield lies just south of Gonarezhou National Park in a location known as the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor, an area specifically designated to allow for the free movement of wildlife between Kruger National Park in South Africa and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.

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UN Development Agency Charts Course For Development in 21st Century

“A new plan for a new era”

Press Release – 28 November, New York City – The UN’s development agency, the United Nations Development Programme, today launched a new and ambitious blueprint for development in the 21st century at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

“This is a new plan for a new era,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP, at the Executive Board in New York. “The dramatic changes we see in the world have occurred on such a scale and at such a pace that our institutions are struggling to keep up. More is being demanded of us.”

President of the Board H.E. Mr. Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark, said: “UNDP’s new strategic plan marks a welcome new direction for the Organisation to support the realisation of the 2030 Agenda. On behalf of the Executive Board, I welcome today’s endorsement of the plan as an essential tool for UNDP to continue to evolve and adapt over the next four years.”

“The nations of the world have committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda and the UN system has been tasked to support them,” Steiner continued. “This is the driving force of the Secretary-General’s UN reform agenda, and we must rise to the challenge.”

Anchored in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and committed to the principles of universality, equality and leaving no one behind. It sets out a vision for the evolution of UNDP over the next four years, responding to a changing development landscape and the evolving needs of partners. Building on UNDP’s 50 years of experience, it describes how UNDP will support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and related agreements.

“This plan has been designed to be responsive to the wide diversity of the countries we serve,” Steiner continued. “This diversity is reflected in the three broad development settings described in the plan: eradicating poverty; structural transformations; and building resilience. It also describes how our two new platforms; country-level and global, will enable UNDP to deliver our support in a more effective way.”

The plan identifies six “signature solutions” against which UNDP will now align its resource and expertise, to make a real impact on poverty, governance, energy access, gender equality, resilience and environmental sustainability.

As well as formally endorsing the plan, the Board approved UNDP’s integrated resources plan and integrated budget estimates 2018-2021.

UNDP’s Executive Board is made up of representatives from 36 countries and provides inter-governmental support to and supervision of UNDP activities, ensuring that the Organization remains responsive to the evolving needs of programme countries.

To read the Strategic Plan in full please visit:

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Land Trust Alliance Endorses Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act of 2017

Bill Continues to Reward Honest Philanthropy While Shutting Down Abuse

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2017) – The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, today endorsed the proposed federal Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act of 2017.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of California, a Democrat, and Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, a Republican, the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act (H.R. 4459) would eliminate the ability of partnership investors to profit from the donation of a conservation easement on land held for a short period of time. The bill’s language makes clear that conservation easement donations, like other charitable donations, are not intended to be opportunities to generate a profit.

“Not all donations of conservation easements are created equal,” said Andrew Bowman, the Alliance’s president. “While the vast majority are truly charitable endeavors, a few bad actors are promoting conservation easement donations as a way for investors to make a fast profit by gaining access to very large federal tax deductions. These transactions are essentially tax shelters and cannot be allowed to continue.”

IRS data released earlier this year show that a sampling of these transactions enabled investors to claim, on average, deductions valued at nine times the amount of their original investment.

“The bloated nature of these transactions also appears to be showing up in the amount of federal deductions that taxpayers are claiming from the donation of conservation easements,” Bowman said. “In the most current data available, the value of conservation easements donated nearly tripled – from $1.1 billion to $3.2 billion – from 2013 to 2014.”

The Alliance has worked for years to counter this abuse, pressing the IRS to shut down these transactions and taking a number of actions to help its member land trusts identify and avoid these deals, all while ensuring honest philanthropy continues to be rewarded. But because these deals continue to be promoted, Reps. Thompson and Kelly introduced the bipartisan Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.

“Conservation easements are important incentives that have already protected and preserved millions of acres of land across our country,” said Rep. Thompson. “Unfortunately, some bad actors have abused these incentives, taking advantage of the tax code to make fast and large profits at the expense of American taxpayers. The legislation I’ve introduced, the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, will strengthen conservation easements by preventing abuse, ensuring this important conservation tool remains sustainable.”

“On this Giving Tuesday, Americans across the nation generously support the work of charities that enrich and enhance our lives and our communities,” said Rep. Kelly. “The federal charitable tax deduction for conservation easements helps donors motivated by generosity to protect their land. That is why Congressman Thompson and I worked hard to make it permanent two years ago. It is an important tool that helps protect and preserve natural areas and working farms, ranches, and forests in my own state of Pennsylvania and in communities across America. But some have found a way to abuse the intent of this provision. That is why I am proud to introduce the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, which will prevent abuse of this charitable donation for good while keeping the important incentives in place.”

Bowman applauded Reps. Thompson and Kelly for crafting a bill that is straightforward and narrowly drafted.

“All of us at the Alliance sincerely hope this bill will become law and end these abusive transactions,” he said. “Beginning today, we call on our land trust members and all Americans who care about land conservation to advocate aggressively for passage of the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. A world in which abusive deals are allowed to continue poses grave threats to the land trust community and cheats all taxpayers, so please join us in seizing this excellent opportunity to put an end to these transactions.”

For more information, visit

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000 member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at

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