Can we identify some improvement in the world? This year we are celebrating 5 years with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – and on many topics we have reasons to be optimistic. These topics rarely get the news media coverage they deserve.
Source: verdensbestenyheter.dk/The World Bank/UN
Far more people in the world can now look forward to a longer life than they could before. In 2019, the world average life expectancy reached 72.6 years. This is an improvement of more than five years since 2000. And life expectancy is constantly rising. Compared to 1960, the world population now lives about 20 years longer on average, and life expectancy is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. This presupposes that poverty continues to fall and that more people have access to health services.
Although the poor countries are below average, there is also progress to be traced here. The countries in sub-Saharan Africa account for the largest improvement. Here, people live on average over ten years longer than they did in 2000. The reason is lower child mortality and better medication for AIDS.
Today, the women of the world generally have fewer children than before. In fact, the size of the flocks has halved since fertility peaked in the sixties. At that time, each woman had an average of over five children. The development has led to almost half of the world’s countries now having a reproduction figure of less than 2.1 children. The number 2.1 is important because with this number of children, that means the population is expected to remain stable in the long term.
More people than ever before can keep their food fresh in the fridge and get light from lamps when darkness falls. Today as many as 90 percent of the world’s population has access to electricity.
This is an increase from 83 percent in 2010. Part of the development is due to the fact that far more people in poor rural areas have now started to produce their own electricity in the form of small diesel generators, mini-hydropower plants or solar cells. Since 2010 alone, 40 countries have achieved the goal of giving the entire population access to electricity. Among others, China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Egypt.
But in sub-Saharan Africa, on average, 53 percent still lack access to electricity. In 2017, $ 21.4 billion internationally went to the development of green, renewable energy in developing countries. This is a doubling since 2010.
Despite the decline in nature across the world, a number of the most well-known, endangered animal species have avoided extinction – even though it has been close. In several places, stocks are rising again, thanks to an active effort to protect them. This shows that active efforts are of great importance in the biological diversity crisis we are facing.
Pandas, tigers, elephants, rhinos, gorillas, bison, whales and sea turtles are among the endangered species that have escaped extinction, and in several places the populations are rising again.
At the same time as the world has fewer children, more children survive today than just a few decades ago. In 1990, 93 out of every 1,000 children died before they were five years old. Today, the number has been reduced to 38. Reductions in child mortality have been particularly large in Asia and South America. There is also progress in Africa, but it is still here that child mortality is highest.
When more children succeed, there will also be more young people. In many developing countries, the proportion of people of working age is now historically high. This means that economic growth and less poverty are expected in the coming years. But it depend on the fact that these countries are investing in educating the many young people.
In the Atlantic Ocean, 20 kilometers off the coast of Portugal, three wind turbines have been spinning since July this year. They are the world’s largest floating wind turbines. They stand on a triangular platform that floats on the surface and are attached to the seabed with cables. The platforms are large and weigh 2,000 tons each, with wind turbines that rise 200 meters into the air and can produce electricity for 60,000 Portuguese. Together with around 20 other demonstration turbines, floating around Europe, the three turbines are building a bridge to a new horizon for renewable energy.
There is a major limitation for anchored wind turbines: the sea must not be deeper than 50 to 60 meters. But with floating wind turbines, the potential for utilizing a larger part of the world’s oceans to harvest wind is much greater.
The IEA, International Energy Agency, estimates that wind turbines could theoretically cover the world’s total power consumption up to 11 times in 2040 if suitable locations are used within 300 kilometers of the coast and at depths up to 2000 meters.
Good news from the World Bank: Over the past two years, women’s rights have improved in more than 40 countries.
A thorough study conducted for the World Bank called Women, Business and the Law 2020 has concluded that in the last two years, over 40 countries have implemented more than 60 reforms with the goal of making women’s lives better. One of the countries is Tunisia, where the authorities have introduced a law to protect women from domestic violence and rape.
The World Bank reports that of the ten countries that have improved the most, six of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, three are countries south of the Sahara and one in South Asia. The legislative changes that have been made are a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
A new international study on marine research show that the ocean appears to be more resilient than we previously thought. In the world-leading scientific journal, Nature, the researchers say that the ocean can be restored to a sustainable level by 2050.
The researchers have looked at success stories of protection measures that have already been implemented and believe there is reason to be optimistic. Several measures in recent years turn out to have had the intended effect. The success indicates that nature to a much greater extent than we have previously thought is able to repair itself, as long as we facilitate it.
Researchers believe the recipe is that damaged nature must be rebuilt – instead of just working on preserving what is left. The recommendation is as follows: protect animals and nature, harvest the sea in a sustainable way, reduce pollution, restore habitat and slow down climate change. It is the combination of all these measures that will determine whether we succeed.
Urban agriculture is emerging in major cities around the world. It can be a salient contribution to the food supply of the future and the climate.
On the roof of a building in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, the world’s largest urban agriculture has begun to sprout. Strawberries, lettuce, tomato, eggplant and basil grow side by side as far as the eye can see. In the future, the 14,000 m2 urban agriculture, which is equivalent to two football pitches, will grow 35 different crops and harvest around 1000 kg of fruit and vegetables a day that local hotels, restaurants and residents can buy.
It is not only in Paris, but in big cities around the world, that plants and crops are grown on rooftops and in abandoned skyscrapers. Although urban agriculture will probably never feed entire cities, it will be part of the solution to future problems with food shortages in cities. In addition, it can also play a key role in both the fight against and adaptation to climate change.
Sales of disposable plastic bags are plummeting in the UK, and so far in 2020 it has fallen by 49 percent. This happens after a very small fee on the bags was introduced.
In 2020, around 564 million plastic bags were sold in England. That is 546 million fewer than last year. This is equivalent to a person in the UK going from buying 20 plastic bags a year to buying 10. This is also a big drop compared to 2016, when a person bought as many as 38 bags a year. If the plastic tsunami is to be slowed down, more measures must be taken against our plastic consumption on the table, but this is a step in the right direction.
If you want to know the good and the bad, where we are and where we should be, I recommend watching the presentation Ola Rosling gave to the UN in September of this year. Here he gave a status of which goals are moving forward, which are standing still and which are moving in the wrong direction.