Albania pledged to protect Europe’s ‘last wild river’, low-carbon airships prepared for take-off, and community spirit was found to be in good health, plus more
On a continent where most rivers are dammed, the Vjosa is a rare species. Fast, free flowing and untroubled by pollution, it runs unimpeded for 170 miles across Albania to the Adriatic Sea. They call it Europe’s ‘last wild river’.
This week the Albanian government vowed to keep it that way. On Monday, it committed to protecting the Vjosa and its tributaries by creating Europe’s first wild river national park. River Watch and other campaign groups have been calling for such a designation for years.
The move should safeguard the river and its tributaries from the kind of development many feared would impact this eden. Dams have previously been mooted for the region.
“Albania’s Vjosa is nature’s unrelenting force, the only survivor of the wild rivers of our continent,” said Albanian prime minister Edi Rama. “Under the protective cloak of the national park, Vjosa will stay intact for Albania, for Europe, for the planet we want for our children’s children.”
Help protecting the river will come from an unlikely source: the outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, has agreed to assist in creating the national park.
Image: Nicolas Jehly
The pandemic and cost of living crisis have inflicted hardship on many, but they have also brought us closer together.
That’s according to new research. It found that 35 per cent of British adults feel closer to their communities than before the pandemic. One in five, meanwhile, joined an online community group, while 21 per cent said they feel less lonely.
The survey of 2,000 adults was conducted by Opinium on behalf of Engage Britain, a charity that helps bring people together.
Julian McCrae, its director, said: “The hard times we’re living through in Britain have left too many people struggling and isolated. But incredibly there are millions of us who feel less lonely than before the pandemic, because they’ve connected with their local communities.”
Image: Kenny Eliason
A digital agency in Kyiv says that it has launched a cyber campaign to inform Russians about the war in Ukraine, and their experiences of it. Access to information in Russia is strictly controlled by the state.
Nebo’s Torrents of Truth campaign disguises news reports and eyewitness accounts as films, television series and music files, and uploads them to Russian pirate sites.
The Kremlin effectively legalised intellectual property theft from “unfriendly” countries in response to western sanctions, unwittingly creating an opportunity for Ukrainian journalists to share stories.
One of them is Volodymyr Biriukov. “When I was asked to take part, I immediately agreed,” he said. “This is a unique platform that will reach out to those who have fallen under the influence of powerful propaganda.”
Image: Markus Spiske
A report out this week confirmed what Positive News readers have been telling us for years: the mainstream news is overwhelming people with negative stories, and forcing them to switch off.
The research, published by the Reuters Institute, found that 46 per cent of people in the UK are unplugging – a rate that’s nearly doubled since 2016. Fifty five per cent of avoiders in the UK said the news had a negative effect on their mood.
Positive News appeared on BBC World News on Wednesday to discuss the report’s findings, and the importance of balancing negative stories with stories about solutions.
“Solution-focused news can put people in a better position to respond to the world’s problems because it has a positive impact on their mental health and sense of agency,” said acting editor Daisy Greenwell. “Our journalism empowers people by showing that their actions matter, and that change is possible.”
Image: Positive News
Airships could replace planes on some short-haul routes this decade, after a Spanish airline placed an order for 10 of the low-carbon aircraft.
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the British firm behind the blimps, said the airships would be built in Yorkshire from the end of this year.
The 100-seater aircraft will initially use both combustion and electric engines, providing a range of 460 miles. HAV told Positive News that the CO2 footprint per passenger would be about 75 per cent lower than on a plane. By 2030, the company aims to have an all-electric fleet.
HAV agreed to supply Air Nostrum, a Spanish carrier, with 10 airships from 2026. Once complete they will be the biggest aircraft in the world.
Madrid is to benefit from a new park that will draw on Middle Eastern architecture to keep the city cool.
The centrepiece of the 14.5-hectare park in the city’s north will be the ‘Garden of Wind’, a verdant, vertical garden that its designers say will provide natural air conditioning.
“This large vertical garden will rise above the height of the treetops to capture the high breezes,” explained Adriaan Geuze, co-founder of West 8, the Dutch firm behind the design. The air will then be directed down through the garden and through the park below.
Similar designs are used in the Middle East to cool houses.
Image: West 8
The Spanish government has drafted legislation that will see supermarkets fined for binning food, and oblige them to work with food banks to distribute surplus produce. Restaurants will also be required to provide doggy bags so customers can take leftovers home.
The bill is expected to come into effect in early 2023, pending approval in parliament.
Tackling food waste is a big priority. The food system accounts for roughly a third of global emissions, but around a third of the food we produce ends up rotting. Meanwhile, many people go hungry.
In a week that saw the UK government fail in its attempt to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, an artwork was unveiled in London to bring a young refugee’s journey to life.
The work, commissioned by the charity Migrant Help, was created ahead of Refugee Week. It tells the story of Eskander Turki, who escaped violence in Ethiopia before making a perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean. He settled in Northern Ireland, where he is finding success as an elite runner.
“I hope that sharing my story helps others to understand what many refugees experience while seeking a safe home, and gives hope to those healing from journeys like mine,” said Turki (pictured).
The work was created by the street art team 3D Joe and Max. A short film about Turki will be released next week.
Image: Turki with the artwork. Credit: Migrant Help
Bus stops in England’s second city have been turned into ‘stained-glass art galleries’ to celebrate the diverse communities living nearby.
Artist Nilupa Yasmin spent months working with local groups to create the dazzling displays along Soho Road, between Birmingham and Dudley.
The On Our Way project explores many themes; from the civil rights struggles of Windrush generation bus workers, to local entrepreneurialism.
Yasmin said: “Many elements of art history document the changed landscapes around us. Our mini bus stop galleries are telling you all the stories we heard.”
Image: On Our Way
The UK economy would get a £1.6bn-a-year boost if policies were introduced to bring air pollution levels in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) targets.
That’s according to a report published on Thursday. Compiled by UK100, a network of climate leaders, it claims the economic benefit would come chiefly from healthcare savings. The WHO estimates that 4.2 million people die each year from air pollution globally.
The report urged local authorities to introduce clean air targets and align them with net zero policies. Reducing car ownership and insulating homes were among the recommendations.
“Aligning clean air and climate policies will save lives and money while accelerating net zero progress,” said Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100. “We’re calling on the government to give local authorities the support they need to deliver cleaner air, warmer homes and a more secure future for their communities.”
Image: Benjamin Davies
Main image: CEO of RiverWatch, Ulrich Eichelmann, on the banks of the Vjosa. Credit: Hannah Bailey
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This article was updated on 23 June 2022. An earlier version stated that agriculture accounted for 8.5 per cent of global emissions. The food system in fact accounts for around a third of global emissions, according to the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.