What went right? January to March 2017

Positive News

From political upheaval to humanitarian crises, the first three months of 2017 have seen many challenges. But behind the headlines, there are signs of progress and possibility. Here are 20 of our favourites

1. China is planning a national park three times larger than Yellowstone in the US, to help boost the wild population of giant panda. It will link 67 existing reserves to make mating easier

2. A seven per cent annual drop in teenage suicide attempts among US high school students is linked to the legislation of same-sex marriage, say researchers

3. More than 30 million people in Kerala, India, will be given access to free WiFi after the state declared it a basic human right

4. El Salvador became the first country in the world to ban metal mining

5. Clean energy jobs in the US now outnumber jobs in oil and gas by five to one

6. Denmark announced it has reduced food waste by 25 per cent in five years

7. Experts revealed that 86 per cent of new power in Europe came from renewable energy sources in 2016 with wind energy overtaking coal as the largest form of power capacity

8. The world’s largest fund manager, BlackRock, has warned it will vote out directors of companies who fail to address the risks posed to their businesses by climate change

9. A teenager is on track to plant a trillion trees. Felix Finkbeiner, 19, who began his tree-planting quest when he was nine, founded environmental group Plant for the Planet. It has overseen the planting of more than 14bn trees in 130 countries and aims to plant 1tn – 150 trees for every person on Earth

10. The value of UK ethical markets grew to almost double that of tobacco, new research suggests


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11. The cancer death rate in the US has dropped by 25 per cent since 1991, saving 2.1 million lives

12. India banned all forms of disposable plastic in its capital, Delhi

13. A species of manatee is no longer endangered. The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would downgrade the West Indian manatee from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ after numbers in the wild increased from several hundred to 6,000

14. China is set to close 67 ivory carving factories and retail shops, roughly a third of the total, as it moves to implement a pledge to end all domestic ivory sales by the end of 2017

15. Finland became the first European country to pilot a basic income scheme. Supporters suggest that unconditional monthly sums could curb mass unemployment and create a more equal society

16. The UK saw a seven per cent increase in sales of organic produce from 2015-2016, new figures revealed. Some 39 per cent of shoppers now buy organic each week.

17. Nasa announced that Jeanette Epps will become the first black American to board the International Space Station when she takes part in a mission in 2018. Read our interview with her here

18. A river in New Zealand has been granted the same legal rights as a human being. After 140 years of negotiations, the Māori won recognition for the Whanganui river

19. Europe is poised for a total ban on bee-harming pesticides. Draft regulations reveal that the European Commission wants to prohibit the insecticides that cause ‘acute risks to bees’

20. France has passed a bill urging companies to respect employees’ time outside of office hours. The ‘right to disconnect’ is designed to ensure respect for rest and work-life balance

Illustration: Spencer Wilson


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  • Guy Diamond

    This is a very bad thing for the environment
    16. The UK saw a seven per cent increase in sales of organic produce from 2015-2016, new figures revealed. Some 39 per cent of shoppers now buy organic each week.

  • Thank you! I needed some good news. This list helps. I feel such gratitude to every individual who helped make each of these things happen.

  • Jon-Paul Marshall

    “8. The world’s largest fund manager, BlackRock, has warned it will vote out directors of companies who fail to address the risks posed to their businesses by climate change”… Shouldn’t that be “it will vote out directors of companies who fail to address the risks posed BY their businesses TO climate change”?

  • MichaelC

    LOVE this one!

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