BY MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN
Start off the new year with a bang. We’re here again to deliver a warm reminder that the world’s not all doom and gloom. Here’s a nice list of sixty headlines (the list just keeps growing every year!) you might’ve missed in 2018 to remind you that there’s a lot to celebrate on the upside.
#1: Epic wins for the environment
- 157 new species were discovered in Southeast Asia.
- Carbon emissions in the UK, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, fell to the lowest levels since 1894.
- Ireland became the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels.
- Repsol became the first major fossil fuels producer to stop pursuing oil growth, leading a shift towards cleaner energy.
- New Zealand stunned the oil and gas industry by no longer granting offshore oil and gas exploration permits; a clear move towards a carbon neutral economy.
- After more than a decade of debate, 140 nations agreed to begin negotiations on the Paris Agreement for the Ocean, the first-ever international treaty to stop overfishing.
- UNESCO removed the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world, from its list of endangered World Heritage Sites.
- In just a decade, Isle of Man completely rid its beaches of plastic, becoming a world leader in ocean protection.
- Brazil has planned to plant over 73 million trees – the largest tropical reforestation project in history.
- Colombia expanded the Serranía de Chiribiquete to 4.3 million hectares, making it the largest protected tropical rainforest national park in the world.
- Canada signed a conservation deal with its First Nations people to create the largest protected boreal forest in the world, twice the size of Belgium.
- Norway stepped up to fight against illegal deforestation with a £12m fund.
- Millennials are driving the world away from meat with 70% of the world’s population reducing meat consumption.
- Adidas has committed to using only recycled plastic by 2024.
- 250 of the world’s major brands, including Coca Cola, Kellogs, and Nestle, agreed to ensure 100% of their plastic packaging will be reused, recycled, or composted by 2025.
- Less plastic causing mass destruction in our ecosystems thanks to the single-use plastic ban placed by the NZ government and the European Parliament (which will come into effect in 2021).
- In fact, by the end of 2018, at least 32 countries now have plastic bag bans, with almost half in Africa.
- More Americans now believe in climate change.
- Online fashion giant Asos announced it would ban certain animal-derived products from the site from 2019.
- The Goldman environmental prize, the world’s foremost environmental prize, has announced more female winners in history.
#2: A lot of things done right for human rights
- LGBT couples in Costa Rica won the right to marry in 2020, when its Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
- Trinidad and Tobago moved to decriminalise homosexuality.
- India did the same.
- Pakistan passed a landmark law guaranteeing basic rights for transgender citizens.
- Morocco passed a landmark law criminalising sexual violence against women.
- New Zealand became the second country in the world to pass legislation granting domestic violence victims 10 days paid leave.
- Scotland became the first nation in the globe to guarantee free sanitary products to low income women.
- Scotland also became the first country to include teaching of LGBTI rights into its state school curriculum.
- Similarly, India announced it would scrap its 12% GST on all sanitary products.
- Canada became the second country in the world to legalise marijuana.
- Malaysia abolished the death penalty.
- Democracy is more widespread than ever with six in ten countries now democratic.
#3: Global shift in living standards
- A world youth poll reveals that 90% of teenagers in developing nations are hopeful for the future.
- Global suicide rates have actually dropped by 38% since 1994.
- Majority of humanity is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty for the first since agricultural-based civilisation began 10,000 years ago.
- Our world population without access to electricity fell to less than 1 billion people.
- Despite the world media’s frenzy about Cape Town’s water shortage, the crisis was averted.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed a new, cheap, and effective vaccine able to end cholera – one of humanity’s worst killers.
- Teenage drinking has declined across Europe, the continent with the highest rates of drinking in the world.
- Paraguay is now 100% free from malaria – and the first country in the Americas with this status since Cuba in 1973.
- 1 million smokers in France quit smoking this year, the sharpest drop in a decade.
- Rwanda became the first low income country to provide eye care to all its citizens.
#4: Positive moves in politics
- NZ PM Jacinda Ardern became the second female world leader to give birth while in office.
- North and South Korea vowed to formally end the Korean War that has been going since the 1950s.
- Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace treaty, ending a 20-year war and reuniting thousands of families.
- Trump’s reported extreme dislike of sharks led to a flood of donations to shark conservation. While seemingly a jab at President Trump, this is a positive contribution to a species that society is often taught to fear.
- Iraq held its first parliamentary elections since the defeat of ISIS.
- Mexico vowed to sell its presidential plane valued at NZ$318.2 million to fund poor communities.
- Women in Saudi Arabia are finally allowed to drive a car on their own.
#5: The good stuff in pop culture
- 2018 saw the rise of blockbuster films that improved representation on the big screen like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s 8, and Love, Simon.
- Meghan Markle became the first woman of colour to join the British royal family.
- Representation of young women in the British music industry increased by almost 10%.
- The Golden Globes alluded to #MeToo or Time’s Up movement with its flood of black gowns in solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct, the message further cemented by Oprah Winfrey’s speech.
- Sexual misconduct also became a major topic during the Academy Awards.
- Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer prize, bringing attention to the profound challenges of modern African American life.
- This is America by Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino became a worldwide hit and a catalyst for much-needed discussion.
#6: For us Kiwis: some good news from our part of the world
- Kiwi Alexia Hilbertidou became one of only 60 winners around the world of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for creating GirlBoss.
- Jessica Tyson represented New Zealand in Miss World 2018 with a message to fight sexual violence through her charity project Brave. She was awarded second place in the Beauty with a Purpose project judged section of the pageant.
- The Tip Top x Whittaker’s collab. Need I say more?
- Kendra Cocksedge won NZ Rugby’s top award, breaking down barriers for women’s sport in NZ.
#7: Science and tech made more leaps and bounds
If we even touched on this, then this article would be endless. Not kidding. Instead, check out our Maverick Mackenzie Steele’s recent article about the stellar scientific progress made in 2018 here. It’ll blow your mind.
Good news is everywhere, but it’s all a matter of perception. Defeat despair. Don’t be too caught up in all the bad vibes. Step into every day in this new year seeking out the good in everything, and I promise you that it’ll feel great.
Did we miss anything? Let us know!
MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN is known by many names, from childhood nicknames to a certain tropical fruit. Has a massive list of things to do, but should probably get some sleep first. An open-minded urban planning student aspiring to somehow change the world for the better.
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