From political upheaval to humanitarian crises, the final three months of 2017 have seen many challenges. But behind the headlines are inspiring stories of progress. Here are 20 of our favourites
1. Nations united to outlaw commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean
The EU and nine nations including the US, Russia, China and South Korea reached a deal to make the Arctic off-limits to commercial fishers for the next 16 years. The pact, announced in November, will give scientists more time to understand the region’s marine ecology and the potential impacts of climate change become fishing becomes widespread there.
2. France banned fracking and oil extraction in all of its territories
French parliamentarians passed a law in December, banning fossil fuel extraction. President Macron says he wants France to lead the world with the switch to renewables.
3. The measles vaccine saved millions of lives, it was revealed
In October, new research from the Center for Disease Control showed that the measles vaccine saved 20.4 million lives between 2000 and 2016.
4. More countries banned the use of wild animals in circuses
In November, the Indian government officially banned the use of all wild animals in circus performances. A month later, the Italian parliament did the same. Now, 40 nations have animal circus bans in place.
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5. Global deaths from tuberculosis have fallen, figures showed
In November, the WHO announced that global deaths from tuberculosis have dropped by 37 per cent since 2000. It means an estimated 53 million lives have been saved.
6. Millions more got access to electricity
The International Energy Agency announced in October that nearly 1.2 billion people around the world have gained access to electricity in the last 16 years.
7. The UK and Canada led a global alliance against coal
In November, a new global alliance of more than 20 countries including the UK, France, Mexico, Canada and Finland, committed to end their use of coal before 2030.
8. California recognised non-binary genders, and Germany made a significant ruling too
9. Australia legalised same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage will become legal in Australia after a historic bill was passed in the House of Representatives in December. An overwhelming majority of MPs voted to change the Marriage Act, eight days after a similarly decisive result in the country’s Senate.
10. Global deaths from terrorism have dropped from their peak in 2014, it was announced
Global deaths from terrorism dropped by 22 per cent from their peak in 2014, due to significant declines in four of the five countries most impacted: Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The announcement was made in the Global Terrorism Index 2017 in December.
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11. Major fashion brands announced they will go fur-free
Gucci announced in October that it would go fur-free in 2018. It follows another major fashion house Armani, which went fur-free in 2016.
12. One of China’s richest women announced a $2bn donation for wildlife conservation
The donation by He Qiaonv is thought to be the largest environmental philanthropic pledge of all time.
13. Mexico announced it would create a huge new ocean reserve
In November, Mexico’s government announced the creation of a 148,000 sq km ocean reserve. ‘The Galapagos of North America’ is set to help protect hundreds of species, including rays, humpback whales, sea turtles, lizards and migratory birds
14. The UK will support an extended ban against of use of bee-harming pesticides, it was announced
Research led environment secretary Michael Gove to overturn the UK government’s previous opposition, making a total EU ban much more likely according to experts.
15. Global child labour fell
A report released by the International Labor Organization in October revealed that global child labour has declined sharply. There were 98 million fewer boys and girls being exploited in 2016 than in 2000, the body estimates.
16. Women in Saudi Arabia received the right to drive
Women in Saudi Arabia are now legally allowed to drive. It followed a ruling that women would no longer need male permission to travel or study.
17. ‘Boys should be free to wear tutus and tiaras’ said the Church of England
Primary schoolchildren should feel free to dress up in a tiara or a superhero cloak without expecting comment from teachers or pupils, the Church of England said in new bullying guidance issued to its schools in November.
18. Authorities in Oxford announced plan for ‘world’s first’ zero emission zone
In October, city and county councils in Oxford submitted joint proposals to introduce a Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre. They say it would be the first of its kind in the world, and could lead to “historic” reductions in air pollution.
19. Norway’s FA agreed a deal to pay male and female players the same
The Norwegian Football Association and the country’s international team players agreed a new deal in October to pay male and female players the same. Under the agreement, players on the men’s team will make a financial contribution to the women’s team in order to bridge the disparity in earnings.
20. A digital platform launched that uses crowdfunding to help homeless people into new careers
Digital platform Beam, launched in October by entrepreneur Alex Stephany, aims to help people out of homelessness by providing a long-term solution. His tech startup Beam allows people to fund employment training and careers advice to help homeless people in the UK.