What went right in 2016

Lucy Purdy

It was a tough year by many measures but 2016 also saw some reasons for celebration. We look behind the headlines for signs of progress

  1. World hunger is at its lowest point for 25 years
  2. The Rio Olympics featured more female athletes than ever before
  3. The Paris Climate Change Agreement came into force
  4. For the 24th year in a row, teenage pregnancy rates declined in the UK and US
  5. Wild tiger numbers increased for the first time in 100 years
  6. The number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes has almost halved since 1990
  7. Evidence suggests that major diseases, from colon cancer to heart disease, are now starting to wane in wealthy countries
  8. India turned on the world’s largest solar power plant – spanning 10 sq km – in the state of Tamil Nadu
  9. Public smoking bans appear to have improved health in 21 nations
  10. Black incarceration rates fell in the US
  11. Measles has been eradicated in the Americas – the first time the disease has been eliminated from an entire world region
  12. An HIV cure may be a step closer after a trial cleared the virus in a British man
  13. Italy became the last large Western country to recognise same-sex unions
  14. China installed 20 gigawatts of solar in the first half of 2016
  15. Volunteers in India planted 50m trees in 24 hours
  16. Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since 2000, it was announced this year
  17. The amount of money it would take to eliminate extreme poverty is now lower than the annual foreign aid spend
  18. Giant pandas are no longer endangered
  19. The number of deaths from malaria is at a global record low
  20. The World Bank says we are now one generation away from achieving universal literacy

Main illustration by Spencer Wilson: the fact that some conflicts have ended has helped reduce world hunger


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  • Ravenelvenlady

    What we focus on expands. Thanks for this article as a reminder.

  • Iii

    Sources on all of these would be nice!

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  • Tam Borine

    I would love to see some sources linked to these facts!

  • Neil Morbey

    We need citations or we can’t share this legitimately

  • LossExperiment

    Every item on this list includes a link to a source.

  • LossExperiment

    Everything on this list includes a link to a source.

  • LossExperiment

    Each item on this list includes a link to a source.

  • Henry Ellis

    To be fair there are sources named in the links. It’s a properly sourced article. But for point one, I would just say Ethiopia has suffered its worst crop failure since 1983 (and that’s Live Aid territory) meaning in that country alone 18million people are facing starvation. So too early to be chicken-counting. (Source Oxfam).

  • BladeRunner

    Wow, thanks Positive News for informing me of these things! Maybe it wasn’t such a bad year after all. Let’s hope 2017 can put some more things on that list!

  • R. Eric Swanepoel

    Click on the hyperlinked text.

  • R. Eric Swanepoel

    The blue words are hyperlinked to the sources.

  • R. Eric Swanepoel

    Click on the words in blue. They are hyperlinked to the sources.

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