There’s no denying that 2016 was a rough year for many. Situations in Syria and Istanbul worsened, terrorist attacks happened everywhere from Florida to France, and many issues surrounding climate change and human rights went unresolved. To those of us who were paying attention to the daily news, it felt like the bad stuff just kept piling on. However, like I wrote in my previous post, there’s no use in condemning the entire year because of what happened during it. 2016 saw many positive changes in the world, too! Here are some of them:
- Child mortality rates have decreased by more than half since 1990!
- Volunteers in India planted almost 50 million trees in one day in order to help reverse effects of deforestation and climate change! In a country where smog levels are at an all-time high, this is a big deal. Read more here.
- 600,000 square miles of Antarctica’s Ross Sea will be designated as the world’s largest marine life sanctuary, safe from detrimental human activity!
- Pakistan finally made “honour killings” punishable by law! More here.
- The World Health Organization has declared Sri Lanka malaria-free! The country has not reported a single locally-transmitted malaria case in three and a half years.
- Eight months of passionate protesting at the Sioux Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota resulted in the U.S. government rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline! It would have transported 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily underneath the Missouri River (close to the reservation), leaving the tribal land vulnerable to devastating oil spills. Major victory for locals, although the fight is not over.
- As of 2016, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities agreement has been signed by 160 countries and parties! The international human rights treaty is intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
- Graduation rates have reached an all-time high in high schools across the United States!
- The Paris Climate Agreement, which has been joined by 122 parties (including China and India), entered into force on November 4, 2016! The central aim of the agreement, as stated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius” and to “combat climate change and adapt to its effects.”
- The number of homeless veterans in the United States has decreased by half since 2010, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Interagency Council on Homelessness!
- The number of wild tigers is increasing for the first time in a century! Why is this important? Giant pandas and manatees were also taken off the endangered list in 2016.
- Groundbreaking peace talks happened between the Colombian Senate and the Farc (the country’s largest rebel group) after victims of the country’s bloody conflicts lobbied the government for peace! According to the BBC, the revised agreement aims to end an armed conflict that has killed 260,000 people over 50 years.
- Kenyan grandmothers in the shady Korogocho slum received praise for learning self-defense moves as a way of preparing to fight off potential attackers! You go, grannies!
- In 1999, Bertrand Piccard became the first person to fly successfully around the world in a hot-air balloon; in 2016, he completed the first circumnavigation of the globe without using any fuel, flying 40,000 km on solar power to promote the use of renewable energy! More on this incredible story here.
- 2016 was one of the safest years in aviation history! Despite the horrific plane crashes that did happen, there were relatively few crashes and deaths compared to other years – the current statistic is 1 death in every 10.7 million travellers.
There you have it, friends! A list of 15 incredible advances and accomplishments that 2016 should be remembered for. Feel free to leave a comment detailing other awesome changes that you know happened last year. We have a long way to go in making the world a near-perfect place, so here’s to hoping 2017 will see even more positive changes!