This is our weekly roundup of good news for people and the planet. If you'd like to get this in your inbox, you can subscribe for free below.
Give a damn
Very pleased to introduce our newest charity partner, the Rural Communities Empowerment Centre in eastern Ghana. They transform underprivileged communities with the gift of education, empowerment skills and computer literacy. We love what they do - they fly under radar, but make a real difference through everything from menstrual hygiene education to setting up libraries in places that have none.
Their main focus however, is on training grade 4-12 students, teachers and other adults how to use computers and get online, breaking their sense of isolation and equipping them with the skills required to succeed in the 21st century. To date, they've given ICT classes to over 2,400 schoolchildren, and taught more than 3,000 people to use the internet.
We're sending them US$3,000, which they're going to use to buy five laptops. That should help with their biggest bottleneck, allowing them to provide larger classes, and get more people through their programs. A big thank you to all our paying subscribers for making this possible. If you'd like to find out more about the organisation, this is their website, and they're also on Instagram and Facebook.
Pakistan is making significant progress on tuberculosis. It has the fifth greatest TB burden in the world, but thanks to a concerted government strategy to find and treat hidden patients all over the country, the annual number of cases has fallen from 500,000 before the pandemic, to 340,000 in 2021. Gavi
In late 2020, Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province launched a universal health care scheme for all 30 million of its residents. It's been a huge success - millions of families are enrolled, public hospital utilization rates have increased ten fold, and similar efforts to expand universal coverage are now being rolled out in other provinces. Lancet
Liberia's community health worker scheme is working. There are now over 4,000 health workers, providing care for 80% of the country's rural population. Since the scheme's launch in 2016, the proportion of malaria cases treated in less than 24 hours has risen from 47% to 71%, and the number of detected pneumonia cases has nearly trebled. BBC
The development of COVID-19 vaccines was a scientific and humanitarian triumph. Researchers at Imperial College London have revealed they saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year - and helped rich and poor alike. Nearly as many deaths were prevented in countries supported by the COVAX scheme as in rich ones. Economist
Pandemic silver linings in Senegal, where improved access to oxygen is now helping pneumonia patients across the country. Paediatricians say there's been a notable increase in the availability of oxygen at health facilities, and are reporting that pneumonia deaths in children have declined over the past two years. Undark
Canada is planning a massive increase in immigration levels, with a goal of bringing in 500,000 people in 2025. It's a significant increase from the 405,000 immigrants that arrived last year, and comes after a recent census revealed the country is more diverse than ever - foreign born residents now account for 23% of the population, an all-time high. CBC
California has achieved extraordinary success in combating child poverty. The estimated share of children in poverty fell from 17.6% in 2019 to 9.0% in 2021, translating to about 770,000 fewer children in poverty. Even more striking was that safety net programs have moved nearly one in five, or 1.7 million children out of poverty. PPIC
The share of disabled adults working in the US has soared in the past two years, far surpassing pre-pandemic levels. People with disabilities report they are getting not only more job offers, but better ones, with higher pay, more flexibility and more openness to providing accommodations. “The new world we live in has opened the door a little bit more.” NYT
The last few years have been the most economically prosperous for America's bottom 50% in three decades. That’s not to say their lives are easy — they're not. But it's an improvement on the past: the net worth of the poorest half has doubled since Q1 2020 and is now higher than at any point in history, inflation notwithstanding. Intercept
Europe's improved air quality has saved millions of lives in the last few decades. In the early 1990s, nearly a million premature deaths a year were caused by fine particulate pollution. By 2005, that number had been more than halved to 450,000, and in 2021 dropped to around 300,000. Still far too many - but another marked improvement on the past. Euro News
Pakistan's Senate has passed four human rights bills, including one that, for the first time, outlaws torture by security forces and police. While the country's Constitution prohibits the use of torture 'for extracting evidence' no domestic law until now has made it a criminal offense. Dawn
Ireland has passed new laws criminalizing incitement to hatred against transgender people and those with a disability. The laws were passed after a public consultation process which drew over 4,000 responses, and follow international best practice to enshrine protections for groups of people targeted for hate crime. Irish Times
The Mexican states of Gueterro and Tamaulipas have become the last two in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, meaning that for the first time, love is now legal everywhere in the 10th most populated nation in the world. “The whole of Mexico shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love.” Mexico News Daily
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Planet (Special Cities Edition)
Oslo will become the world's first capital city to have an all-electric public transport system by the end of 2023. In the city's most recent tender, electric buses came in at 5% cheaper than diesel equivalents. "The maintenance is cheaper, it's also cheaper for the operators of the electric buses. All in all, this is a win-win situation." Reuters
Cities around the world are ‘daylighting’ subterranean waterways that were built over during the 19th century, to mitigate rising temperatures and flooding. One of the biggest recovery projects, the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul, revitalised an entire neighbourhood. Paris, Madrid, Manchester, and New York all have similar projects underway. Timeout
Paris has pledged to make the Seine swimmable by the 2024 Summer Olympics, investing in a $1.6 billion stormwater holding tank to curb sewage pollution. The tank has a capacity a of 46,000 m² and will be entirely invisible at surface level. It’s part of a decade long mission to clean up a river that was declared biologically dead in the 1960s. Resilience
Taiwan is turning vacant metro spaces into underground vertical farms to grow sustainable, clean, and organic food. These smart farms use high-tech equipment to regulate light, temperature and nutrients. It’s an ingenious way to tackle food security in a country with a population of 23.57 million people and a surface area of only 36,197 km². Euro News
Monterrey, the second largest city in Mexico, is kicking off its ambitious Green Corridors plan with the Parque Lago project, which will add eight hectares of green public space. 18 other projects are planned, totalling 94 hectares of rehabilitated parks, with 73 kilometers of corridors and 20,000 native tree specimens. Fortune
Amsterdam’s rise to bicycle capital of the world didn’t happen by accident. It was a decades-long plan that began in the 1970s as a campaign against increasing traffic fatalities. At the heart of the city’s transformation is the idea that humans are "innately error-prone, so road design must be forgiving, minimizing the ill effects of mistakes.” Bloomberg
Melbourne has successfully enticed butterflies and bees back to its CBD, simply by working out which plants are most beneficial to wildlife and well, planting more of them. Over the last five years, native shrubs and perennial herbs with high yields of nectar and pollen have been planted along city streets resulting in a significant increase in the number of bee species and an abundance of butterflies. The Age
Seville is digging sustainable cooling - literally, building subterranean canals powered by renewable energy to help cool part of the city above. The Cartuja Qanat project brings technology that was used in ancient Persia to modern-day Spain. Vertical shafts pierced along the canals allow the cooler air to escape, reducing the increasingly sweltering air temperature above the surface.
Heard of sponge cities yet? If not, you soon will. By deploying thirsty green spaces and digging huge dirt bowls where water can gather and percolate into underlying aquifers, you can make rain something to be exploited instead of expelled. "Before, the city would see stormwater as a liability, but 11, 12 years ago, we kind of had a paradigm shift, and we started looking more at it as an asset.” Wired
A new parking bill in California has lifted parking requirements on new developments that are close to public transport, and it’s good news for housing and the climate crisis. Research and market data show eliminating parking mandates help create walkable, affordable neighbourhoods and climate-resilient communities. Bloomberg
A new buoy-to-satellite system has been switched on in San Francisco Bay to alert ships to whales in the area, allowing them to avoid fatal collisions. The Whale Safe system has already been a success in the Santa Barbara Channel, where there have been no incidents of ships striking whales since it was installed a year ago. RTBC
Rio de Janeiro is creating the world’s largest community garden, “Hortas Cariocas” which will span several favelas, connected by a green strip of land and eventually end up the size of 15 soccer fields. It’s estimated over 100,000 families will benefit from the project every month, which aims to make organic food more affordable and accessible. Bloomberg
Vancouver is giving the Squamish Nation 11.7 acres in the middle of the city to do whatever they want. They are not required to follow municipal regulations, development processes, or seek municipal approval, because the land is within their jurisdiction, not the City of Vancouver. And what the Squamish Nation wants to do is to build a whole lot of really kickass, dense solarpunk-style housing.
That's it for this edition, thanks for reading. If you're wondering where the clean energy section has gone, it lives in the premium edition. Oh, and we're sending out the free edition on a weekly basis now.
We'll see you in a week.