99 Good News Stories From 2020 You Probably Didn’t Hear About

April 2021

There’s been so much loss, grief and heartbreak in 2020 that it feels almost wrong to be compiling our traditional annual list of good news. Things can and do fall apart, and this year it felt like they really did. Amazing as it may seem however, there were also big wins for conservation, living standards, peace, safety and human rights, clean energy, and yes, even global health. The reason you didn’t hear about them is because good news doesn’t sell advertisements or generate clicks, and that was more true in 2020 than ever before.

Progress isn’t a straight line and it doesn’t happen by magic. It depends on people who, even during the darkest of times, believe that it’s possible to make the world a better place and who are willing to roll up their sleeves to do the work, even when the cameras aren’t watching. These are their stories, and off the back of a horrible year, we think it’s more important than ever to celebrate them. We hope you agree.

1. The British territory of Tristan da Cunha created the largest protected area in the Atlantic Ocean, and the fourth largest in the world. The 687,000 km² sanctuary is a no-take zone, meaning fishing and other harmful activities are now prohibited, to protect wildlife found on and around the chain of islands, including albatross, penguins, whales, sharks and seals. Nat Geo

2. Belize added another jewel in its crown as a global leader in ocean conservation. In August, it increased the size of its Sapodilla Cayes reserve to 1,300 km² to encompass the Cayman Crown, one of the best preserved reef ecosystems in the region, home to many endangered species of corals, as well as previously undocumented reef types. EDF

3. In October, the Seychelles reported that one third of its territorial waters are now protected, covering 410,000 km² of ocean (an area larger than Germany) and Samoa launched an ambitious new ocean conservation strategy, with a commitment to create 36,000 km² of new fully-protected marine protected areas by 2025, 30% of its territorial waters. BBC

4. In November, 14 countries, responsible for 40% of the world’s coastlines, signed a new pledge to end overfishing, restore fish populations and stop the flow of ocean plastic in the next 10 years. Each of the countries also committed to making sure all oceans within their national jurisdictions, a combined area roughly the size of Africa, are managed sustainably by 2025. Guardian

5. The most incredible environmental group you’ve never heard of, Pristine Seas, revealed this year that in the past decade they’ve inspired the creation of 23 marine reserves – two-thirds of the world’s fully protected marine areas, covering an area of more than five million square kilometers. In the next decade they believe they can double what’s already been accomplished. Nat Geo

6. In December, a new report by the UN’s FAO revealed that after decades of pressure, fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea are turning the corner. The percentage of overexploited stocks fell from 88% to 75% between 2014 and 2018, and since 2018, the number of fish stocks with high relative biomass has doubled.

7. In perhaps one of the most globally consequential yet under-reported stories of 2020, China issued new rules for its distant water fishing fleet. The country’s Wildlife Protection Law will now apply at sea, ships will no longer be allowed to ‘go dark’ or approach marine protected areas, ship captains who break the rules will lose their license for five years and company managers will be banned for three years. Earth.org

8. In the Pacific Northwest, the Yurok tribe began the reintroduction of the Californian Condor to its ancestral lands along the Klamath River, and also signed a historic deal to begin the largest dam removal project in US history, freeing up 600km of spawning grounds for salmon and other migratory species like steelhead trout and Pacific lamprey. “These efforts are as much about ecology as they are to right the wrongs that took place in this country for the last 200 years.” 

9. At the turn of this century, Staten Island’s landfill was the largest garbage dump in the world, three times larger than Central Park, with trash mounds 20 stories high. Today, it’s a green oasis, and one of the most unlikely urban ecological restoration success stories of all time. The radical fix? Bury the rubbish, plant some grass and do nothing for 20 years. NYT

10. A new study from Yale revealed that the mass of electronic waste generated by Americans has been declining since 2015. The biggest contributor is the disappearance of large, bulky cathode-ray tube TVs and computer monitors. The total number of electronic devices entering the waste stream is also levelling off, due to ‘convergence’ e.g. smartphones doubling up as cameras.

Read more good stories at: https://futurecrun.ch/99-good-news-2020

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