A fortnightly roundup of good news from around the world. You're reading the free edition. For the full experience, you can upgrade to the premium edition, which also comes with mind-blowing science and the best bits of the internet, delivered every week. One third of the subscriber fee goes to charity.Become a paid subscriber
The Gambia has become the third African country to eliminate trachoma. It's an extraordinary achievement: in the mid-1980s, trachoma was responsible for almost 1 out of 5 cases of blindness. Behind it lies three decades of hard work by community volunteers, who played a crucial role in raising awareness and promoting behaviour change. Read their stories here.
After nearly a century, an effective malaria vaccine may finally be within reach after trials of a vaccine from Oxford recorded 77% efficacy in 450 children in Burkina Faso. Larger trials are now underway - if the vaccine gets through those, it will represent one of the biggest public health breakthroughs of all time. Guardian
Afghanistan has passed a new law that will, for the first time, include mothers’ names on their children’s birth certificates and ID cards. It's a major victory for women’s rights activists, who for several years have campaigned for both parents to be named under the social media hashtag #WhereIsMyName. It's especially significant for women who are widowed, divorced, separated, or dealing with abusive partners. HRW
The participation of women in the labour force in Saudi Arabia has surged by 64% in the last two years, thanks to recent reforms allowing women to drive, and changes to labour laws. Reminder - equal access to employment opportunities is one of the most important drivers for progress in human rights. Brookings
Nigeria has kicked off its largest electrification project ever, with an ambitious initiative that will give 25 million Nigerians access to cheap solar power. Access to affordable energy is a big part of the government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The rollout will begin with communities who are off the national power grid and eventually cover all 36 states. ESI
Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth over the past 15 years has resulted in poverty declining from 39% in 2004 to 19% in 2020. Growth has come from the transition from an agriculture-led to a service-led economy (services overtook agriculture in GDP in 2016) and the government is now targeting a poverty rate of 7% by 2030. IFS
A school feeding program in Venezuela has started providing daily meals to 185,000 children in areas where food shortages are most severe. The program is a major step forward in tackling increasing malnutrition rates and there are plans to expand the operation to reach 1.5 million students over the next two years. Reuters
The US government has launched the most ambitious food assistance program in the country's history to help the 25 million Americans who don’t have enough to eat. The campaign has increased food stamps by more than $1 billion a month and has expanded the produce allowance for pregnant women and children. NYT
Prostitution will no longer be prosecuted in Manhattan and thousands of cases, dating back decades, may also be dismissed. The reform is part of a growing national movement to change how the criminal justice system deals with sex workers. NYT
New Mexico has become the 16th US state to legalize recreational marijuana with retail sales to begin by April 2022. A legal cannabis industry could spawn a $318 million market and create over 11,000 jobs for one of America's poorer states. The reform will also clear the record for many people with past marijuana convictions. BI
Investors are fleeing from fossil fuels, with the value of share offerings in coal, oil and gas companies plummeting by $123 billion in the last decade. Clean energy IPOs also overtook carbon-heavy flotations for the first time in 2020 with renewables raising a record $11 billion from public equity offerings. Carbon Tracker
Big news from Europe: Poland, the continent's last major holdout on coal, has announced an agreement between the government and unions to phase out coal production by 2049. That's the first time the country's powerful mining sector has agreed to reduce its presence, finally admitting that the writing is now on the wall. DW
Electric cars in Germany, Europe’s largest auto market and the fourth largest in the world, accounted for 13.5% of sales last year - a significant jump from 2019’s overall share of 3%. With Volkswagen's ID.4 now rolling off the production lines, analysts expect that share to climb to over 25% by the end of 2021. Clean Technica
The Biden administration has become the last of the big carbon emitters to ramp up its climate goals, with a game-changing commitment to halving carbon emissions by 2030. This is a huge deal, kickstarting a decade of transformative industrial change. Here's what we're looking at over the next ten years. NYT
⚡ >50% of electricity from renewable energy (+20% from today).
💨 CO2 released from new natural gas plants to be captured and buried.
🛑 All 200 remaining coal plants shut down.
🚙 2/3 of new cars and SUVs sold to be battery-powered (+97% from today).
🏢 All new buildings heated by electricity instead of natural gas.
🏗 Cement, steel, and chemical industries adopting strict new energy-efficiency targets.
🛢 Oil and gas producers slashing methane emissions by 60%.
🌲 Expanding regenerative forestry and agricultural practices to pull 20% more CO2 from the air than today .
An inspiring collaboration in British Colombia between an Indigenous community, lawmakers and a mining company has permanently saved the eastern slopes of Mount Edziza from mining development. The agreement closes the book on any industrial activity in the area which is of great ecological and cultural importance. Narwhal
After nearly 20 years of negotiations, the Peruvian government has established the 10,000 km² Yavarí Tapiche Reserve for uncontacted peoples deep in the Amazon rainforest. “This constitutes a historic milestone in the protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples in a situation of isolation and initial contact.” Mongabay
The Australian government has committed $100 million to ocean conservation, in an effort to protect ‘blue carbon’ environments. The funding will go towards ocean management and methods to draw down carbon with seagrass and mangroves. An additional $11.6m will be spent to establish nine Indigenous protected areas in sea country. West Australian
Conservationists have banded together to save one of the world’s most pristine rainforests from deforestation, purchasing a 950 km2 biodiversity hotspot and wildlife corridor at the intersection of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. The corridor secures the largest contiguous block of forest in Central America, home to five species of wild cat (jaguars, margay, ocelot, jaguarundi and puma), spider monkeys, howler monkeys and hundreds of bird species. The Nature Conservancy
Good news for turtles in North Cyprus with nest counts of green turtles increasing by 162% and loggerhead turtles by 46% since 1993. Local conservation efforts began in 1983, with volunteers and scientists working tirelessly every nesting season to keep the nests safe from local predators and plastic waste. Mongabay
A four-year seagrass restoration project in the UK is now underway, hoping to turn the tide for local ecosystems impacted by pollution and dredging. The scheme will plant eight hectares of biodiverse-rich seagrass meadows off the south coast, providing safe habitat for an estimated 160,000 fish, including seahorses, and 200 million invertebrates. Positive News
Lehua Island in Hawaii and Redonda Isle in the Caribbean are both rodent-free after years of conservation efforts. Rats threatened wildlife and endangered species on both islands, but since their removal, signs of recovery to ecosystems, vegetation and wildlife populations have been almost immediate.
At a time when so much of the news about the state of our planet is understandably downbeat, the rebirth of this island shows that if we give nature a chance, it can and will bounce back."
Bob Seawright puts together something called The Better Letter every week, and we've been thoroughly enjoying his smart, yet folksy take on markets, politics, faith, and life. It also includes some excellent article curation and every now and again, a little bit of good ol' fashioned advice. Here he is on grandparenting:
Eight rules for grandparents
- What you do matters (they are always watching). Don’t forget: They are always watching.
- Love them unconditionally (no more and no less). Good parents set boundaries and expectations. Support the parents but let them take all of that on themselves. Their rules may not be yours. We actively try to avoid doing more than loving them for strategic reasons, too. If all you do is love the grands, they’ll come to you when they can’t or won’t go to their parents – and better you than anybody else. Besides, it’s like being able to ignore vegetables and getting double dessert.
- Keep reminding them how wonderful they are. I want my grandchildren to know that Grandy and I are their biggest fans and supporters. One of my grandsons had his Opening Day last Saturday. It was glorious. We all cheered, the right team won, and Will autographed a baseball for us. It’s on display already.
- Be generous (especially with time). Kids care less about what you do as that you do it. I try to do what my grandchildren want as long as they want to and we are allowed. My record is nearly two-and-a-half consecutive hours of catch. I thought my arm might fall off. The societal emphasis on “quality time” is more myth than reality. There is no substitute for (just-plain) time.
- Bend the rules (but don’t break them). Respect the rules, but don’t be afraid to stretch things a bit for the benefit of the grands.
- Tell stories. A good story allows the listener to feel thoughts, allowing us to learn and remember them. Stories are thus the best way to teach family history, values, and other important lessons. And kids love to hear about their parents when they were kids.
- Have fun. Fun is the best activity and crucial to your legacy.
- Offer wisdom (carefully and sparingly). Age brings a modicum of wisdom, if you’ve done things right. Grandchildren are uniquely positioned to hear and absorb it from you.
That's it from us, we hope you enjoyed this week's edition, thanks for reading!
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Amy, Tane and the rest of the FC team.