Good News on Measles, Inequality in America, and Global Mangrove Conservation

Plus, education in Sierra Leone, de-mining in Cambodia, a new Alzheimer's drug, floating wetlands, green projects in Europe, and plastic in Abu Dhabi.
Good News on Measles, Inequality in America, and Global Mangrove Conservation

This is our weekly roundup of good news from around the world. If you'd like to get this in your inbox, you can subscribe for free below. 

We're really pleased to announce another charity partner, Smart Parks, who use open-source technology to track and protect wildlife around the world. By linking up low cost, low data sensors with satellites and long range ground networks, they're able to tag and track animals across vast areas, providing a crucial tool for wildlife rangers to protect against poaching. Check out some of their projects.

We're sending them €7,500 to develop and test their new sensor called the Elephant Edge, which has super low power and high-end satellite connectivity, and will be used to track orphaned elephants reintroduced back into the wild. They're working with WWF Zambia and Game Rangers International to carry out the first trial runs in Zambia's Kafue National Park in early 2023.

This donation will help with the development of the sensors, putting Smart Parks within striking distance of their funding goal. A big thank you to all our paying subscribers for making this possible. We're looking forward to reporting back on this one.

The 20 white and 7 black rhinos recently translocated to Zinave National Park in Mozambique are protected by Smart Park's RhinoEdge Pucks.

People

The fight against measles is one of humanity's greatest achievements of the 21st century. Despite a brief resurgence in 2019, and a fall in vaccination rates during the pandemic, between 2000 and 2021 the annual number of measles deaths fell from 761,000 to 128,000; saving an estimated 56 million lives. An astonishing feat that deserves far more attention. WHO

Singapore has eliminated rubella - the leading vaccine-preventable cause of birth defects worldwide. This follows Singapore's elimination of measles in 2018. Seven countries in the WHO's Western Pacific Region have now interrupted endemic transmission of the virus that causes rubella: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Singapore. WHO

About 160,000 new HIV infections among children under five occurred last year, a dramatic 50% decline from 320,000 infections in 2010. Since the launch of a global plan in 2011 to prevent mother-to-child transmission programmes, 1.5 million deaths and 2.9 million HIV infections have been averted worldwide among pregnant women and children. UNICEF

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Cambodia's landmine removal program. Since 1992, over a million landmines and three million explosives have been removed, and 2,531 km2 has been cleared and made safe for the construction of homes, schools, farms and roads for nine million people. Deaths have fallen from 4,320 in 1996 to less than 100 in 2021. Phnom Penh Post

Landmine workers detonate a landmine with C4 explosive. Photo by Kevan Evans.

Millions of Alzheimer’s patients have been given hope after a new drug has been shown to slow memory decline by 27% over 18 months. It's the biggest breakthrough in a generation, marking what experts have called the 'beginning of the end' of Alzheimer’s and offering “real optimism that dementia can be beaten and one day even cured.” BBC

Sierra Leone is allocating almost a quarter of its entire budget to education as part of its ongoing effort to ensure every child in the country gets free schooling. Since 2018, enrolment rates have surged from 2.0 to 3.1 million students, and there's been a highly progressive shift in completion at every level of education. Guardian

Bangladesh has the lowest rate of infant and maternal mortality in south Asia. The maternal mortality rate has fallen from 269 per 100,000 live births in 2009 to 165 per 100,000 today, and child mortality has declined by 63% since the turn of the century. It's the eighth most populated country in the world - millions of lives have been saved. TBS

France has moved a step closer to becoming the first country to enshrine abortion as a constitutional right, after lawmakers approved a resolution in the lower house to guarantee access to “the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy”. Four in five people in France, from across the political spectrum, want abortion rights to be better protected under the constitution. Guardian

The roads of 22 of the world's major cities have become a lot safer in the last decade. Following a combined 2010 pledge, road fatalities and serious injuries have fallen by an average of 4% a year, with a particularly noticeable decline during the pandemic. ITF

A rigorous new study from Stanford has found no meaningful association between the age at which kids receive their first smartphones and their wellbeing, as measured by grades, sleep habits and depression symptoms. In short - all kids have phones and no, it doesn't make them depressed. Naturally, not headline news.

For the first time since the early 90s, wealth inequality is falling in America. Since December 2020, the wealth of the top income percentiles has fallen significantly, while the wealth of the bottom 50% has risen by 26%. Wealth share under the current administration has also shifted to the benefit of bottom 50%. Real Time Inequality

Canada's overall poverty rate fell from 14.5% in 2015 to 10.3% in 2019, and 6.4% in 2020. This means that Canada has met both its interim target of reducing poverty by 20% by 2020 (relative to 2015 levels) and of reducing poverty by 50% by 2030 - ten years ahead of time. National Advisory Council on Poverty

Russia is losing a war to a country a quarter its size, Iran is experiencing massive protests, and China is struggling with a lockdown dilemma and a sputtering economy. The United States has record low unemployment, inflation is coming down and election deniers lost the midterms. Europe, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand are all economically resilient, politically stable. Liberalism on its last legs, huh?

We know this sounds crazy, but what if everything... is going to be okay?


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Planet


The Global Mangrove Alliance launched a new initiative at COP27 to restore and protect an additional 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030. It will build on good momentum - globally, net mangrove deforestation has essentially flatlined, and 42% of the world’s mangroves are protected, an increase of 17% since 2012. Conservation

'The Bengal Water Machine' is a nature-based solution in Bangladesh that relies on the country's 16 million smallholders pumping up groundwater, rivalling the storage capacity of the world’s large dams. It's enabled the country's farmers to make it world’s fourth highest producer of rice, drastically improving food security and resilience to climate change. Sci Dev

The 19th meeting of CITES has produced new trade regulations for over 600 animal and plant species, including new protection for sharks, glass frogs, turtles, songbirds, and tropical timber species. The most significant development was the protection of requiem and hammerhead sharks which account for 95% of the global fin trade. Mongabay

Abu Dhabi’s single-use plastic policy has reduced the use of single-use plastic bags in retail stores by 87 million, the equivalent of half a million bags a day since launching in June. The ban was implemented to address the 11 billion plastic bags used in the Emirates each year, which is almost four times the global average. The National

Israel and Jordan are teaming up to save their shared waterway, the Jordan River. Efforts will focus on increasing treatment facilities, upgrading sewer systems and promoting sustainable agriculture to restore water supply and at least 50% of lost biodiversity. AP

After a 50 year absence, swift foxes have returned to the grasslands of Fort Belknap in Montana. Three years into the recovery program, 130 foxes have been released into the wild and are already reproducing, a critical milestone for a self-sustaining population. Local tribes have worked tirelessly for decades to bring indigenous wildlife back to the area. Defenders

Vulpes velox is native to the Great Plains region of North America and found in Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

An ambitious plan to save Louisiana’s coastal communities and ecosystems will divert sediment and water from the Mississippi into the Barataria Basin. The $20 billion project is the largest coastal restoration project in the US, and expected to create over 6,200 acres of land in its first decade. Settlement money from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill will foot the bill. Nola

Thanks to conservation efforts in China, a number of endangered species are recovering. The Yangtze finless porpoise population has reached nearly 100 while the population of milu deer has expanded from 64 in 1990 to around 2,500 today. Sightings of Shennongjia golden monkeys are also increasing. China.org

The European Commission just approved €380 million of funding for 168 new biodiversity, circular economy, climate adaptation and clean energy projects across the continent. The biggest chunk has been reserved for 27 nature and biodiversity projects that will support the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the proposed Nature Restoration Law.

Cities around the world are installing artificial islands brimming with grasses and sedges to clean up their waterways. An acre of floating wetland can absorb pollution from 7-15 acres of urban development while creating a refuge for wildlife. Baltimore was one of the first to trial the invention and the project has been so successful they plan to expand the islands to 10,000 square feet in 2024. Yale360

A floating wetland in Baltimore's Inner Harbor installed by the National Aquarium. 

That's it for this edition, hope you enjoyed it.

We're taking a break next week in order to work on our traditional end of year list. The plan is to go through the more than 1,200 good news stories we've reported in 2022, and choose our favourite 99. So no newsletter next week, but please keep an eye out for those 99 stories, dropping on the 16th December.

Much love,

FC HQ

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