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Good news you didn't hear about
The decline of poverty in India is the most underreported story of our time. Two weeks ago, the country's biggest public policy think tank released a new report, and the numbers are mind-blowing. 135 million people were lifted out of multi-dimensional poverty between 2015-16 and 2019-2021, easily putting the world's most populous nation (and fastest growing major economy) on course to achieve its SDG targets. NITI
2023 marks two decades since the adoption of the Maputo Protocol, humanity's most progressive legally-binding instrument on women’s and human rights. Fourty-four African countries have signed and ratified it, 43 of them now have laws putting the minimum age of marriage at 18, and 22 out of 29 African countries practising female genital mutilation now have national laws banning the practice. WEF
Ghana recently became the fourth country to decriminalise attempted suicide in the past year, following Malaysia, Guyana and Pakistan. Activists say it's a sign of greater awareness and understanding of mental health, with many other countries set to follow. 'There seems to be a domino effect taking place.' Guardian
Egypt used to have the highest rate of hepatitis C in the world. In 2018, the government decided to implement a massive and unprecedented campaign to screen and treat every citizen, crystallising into something called the 100 Million Healthy Lives Campaign. Today, both the World Bank and the WHO say Egypt has eliminated hepatitis C from its entire population. Forbes
Uganda launched a massive, free hepatitis B screening programme in 2015. Today, 90% of all infants receive childhood vaccinations, four million people have been screened, and those infected can access comprehensive treatment services, making Uganda the first country in Africa to surpass the WHO’s programme targets. WHO
The UK Health Security Agency has published new data showing that there were an estimated 70,649 people living in England with hepatitis C in 2022, marking a 45% decrease from the number recorded in 2015. Since 2015, the NHS has treated over 80,000 people as part of its national elimination programme.
In the last 12 months, an NGO called Evidence Action has installed over 24,000 new chlorine dispensers in Uganda and Malawi, bringing its total network to more than 52,000 dispensers providing 9.8 million people with access to safe water, more than double the number of only 18 months ago.
Yes, we know democracy is in mortal peril in the United States–except for the fact that US states have enacted more than twice as many laws expanding voting rights as restricting them in the past year. So yes, 16 states have made it harder to vote, but 26 have made it easier, including both blue and red states. Fivethirtyeight
'I know lots of Americans still think the economy is doing poorly, and are upset about that. But when I look at objective measures, I just can’t rationalize that negative viewpoint. Because as far as I can tell from the actual numbers, this economy is doing really, really well.' Noah Smith
Racial inequality in imprisonment rates in the United States has fallen substantially in the last two decades. Whereas 5,159 out of every 100,000 Black men were imprisoned in 1999, the rate had fallen to 2,881 per 100,000 by 2019—a 44% decrease. The generation of Black men—and, indeed, of all US residents—born after 2001 'is facing a distinctly reduced risk of imprisonment.' WaPo
In 1999 Connecticut had so many people in prison that it paid to send 500 of them to be incarcerated in Virginia. Nearly 25 years later, the state has not only cut its number of imprisoned people in half, but it has been able to close more than ten prisons while keeping its crime rate at its lowest level in more than 40 years. Slate
The Addis-Djibouti corridor, the vital route along which 95% of Ethiopia's trade moves, and a lifeline for Ethiopia's 120 million people, is getting a significant upgrade thanks to the newly approved Horn of Africa Initiative’s Regional Economic Corridor Project. World Bank
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The only home we've ever known
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by at least 60% in July compared to the same month last year. Independent analysts described the preliminary data as 'incredible' and said the improvement compared with the same month last year could be the best since 2005. Guardian
A decade after the documentary Blackfish exposed the ethics of keeping orcas in captivity, public opposition to marine parks has 'passed the tipping point.' Tourism companies have stopped promoting swim-with-dolphin attractions and Canada has passed legislation to end the public display of captive cetaceans. World Animal News
Ant Forest, a mobile app game in China, is responsible for the planting of over 400 million trees, half of them in Mongolia. The app encourages users to adopt eco-friendly behaviours and earn virtual ‘green energy’ points that can be converted into trees planted in designated areas. China Daily
Over 55% of the world’s population now lives in cities, and the rural land they've abandoned adds up to 400 million hectares (nearly half the size of Australia). That land can be restored. 'In abandoned areas that were previously intensively farmed and where biodiversity was low, plant life, birds, and invertebrates have a new chance to thrive.' Earth
At the end of last year, the UN recognised ten ground-breaking restoration efforts around the world that aim to restore 68 million hectares (an area bigger than France) and create nearly 15 million jobs. We missed the story when it came out. Feels like a good time to mention it again. UNEP
Restoring 15 million hectares of forests in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay
2. Abu Dhabi Marine Restoration
Repairing the coastline in Abu Dhabi to create a refuge for dugongs
3. The Great Green Wall
Repairing thousands of square kilometres of degraded land across Africa
4. Ganges River Rejuvenation
Reviving the river and surrounding basin, which is home to 520 million people
5. Multi-Country Mountain Initiative
A collaboration to protect mountain landscapes in Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Serbia and Uganda
6. Small Island Developing States Restoration Drive
Ridge-to-reef restoration to drive economic growth for Vanuatu, St Lucia and Comoros
7. Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative
Restoring the steppe, semi-desert, and desert ecosystems of Kazakhstan
8. Central America Dry Corridor
Restoring 300,000 hectares of drought-stricken Central American farmland
9. Building with Nature in Indonesia
Creating semi-permeable sea walls made of natural materials to protect mangrove forests
10. Shan-Shui Initiative in China
Combining 75 large-scale projects to restore ecosystems from mountains to coastal estuaries
The world’s largest oyster restoration project in Maryland, in the United States, has repopulated more than 10 billion oysters in the Chesapeake since 1994. Along with boosting numbers, the project is improving water quality, and the new oyster reefs are providing a welcome habitat for crabs, fish and other marine life. WaPo
H2Ohio, one of America’s most progressive water quality management programs, has been awarded $270 million to filter out harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie to protect native habitats and the drinking water of more than 12 million people. Ducks.org
For the first time in its history, the EPA has created a searchable database of pesticide harm to people, pets, wildlife, and the environment. The public can access information from pesticide companies, state regulators, direct complaints and reports based on the ten most recent years of data. Investigate Midwest
In Japan, the Raporo Ainu Nation are reclaiming their historical fishing rights to salmon, thanks to a collaboration with First Nations people in the United States. In California, the Shasta Indian Nation are celebrating the return of flowing water through Ward’s Canyon for the first time since 1918 after the removal of a dam along the Klamath. In Wisconsin, the Menominee tribe has become a shining example of forest management after sustainably harvesting its woods for nearly 170 years while increasing the number of trees by 40%.
We come in every 15 years, take out the weak trees, the sick trees, and the ones that are dying, but leave the healthy stock to grow some more and reproduce. This is all natural regeneration, and the way we do it the forest just gets better and better.
Mike Lohrengel, Timber Harvest Administrator, Menominee Indian Reservation
A UN-led international team has started siphoning oil out of a marooned tanker off the coast of Yemen—defusing a giant, million-barrel time bomb threatening the Red Sea’s unique coral reefs, global commerce, and the survival of millions of people. In the middle of rebel-held waters. Why isn't this a bigger story? Grist
Florida has allocated almost $1 billion for conservation in its most recent budget. The landmark funding will help protect the remaining acreage needed to conserve a vital stretch of land from the Everglades to Pensacola that is a critical panther habitat and home to other endangered plants and animals. News Press
India and Bhutan have recorded significant increases in their wild tiger populations. After decades of conservation efforts, India now has 3,682 tigers, making it home to 75% of the global population. Bhutan has recorded 131 tigers, an increase of 27% since 2015. BBC
The recovery of the bald eagle continues, a conservation success story achieved via a combination of legal reform, enforcement, breeding programs, and public support. In the 1950s the population dropped to a mere 412 nesting pairs, but by 2021, it had soared to 71,467 breeding pairs. Defenders
380 baby seahorses were successfully released into Sydney Harbour, marking the fifth time captive-bred seahorses have been released into the wild. This latest attempt boasted a 90% survival rate, and scientists have created eight custom-built 'seahorse hotels' made from biodegradable metal to provide a safe place for the endangered fish to hide from predators. Smithsonian
A wildfire reduction project in the Iberian Peninsula is using Garrano horses and European bison, both ancient breeds, to clear scrubland and vegetation that serve as fuel. This ‘eco-grazing’ marks a significant shift towards sustainable fire prevention strategies. Euro News
That's a wrap for this edition.
Next week, we're going to try something new. On Monday, 7th August 2023, we're going to take a sample of headlines from the top ten news sites in the world (they're all English language) and share them with you. The implicit bargain that we all make with these organisations is that in return for our attention they will inform us about what is happening in our world. Let's see how true that is. Tune in to see the results in our next edition.
We'll see you then.