16 Positive Good News Stories from December 2021

Calendar that says "Good News 2021" with colorful art illustrated on top

Through our years of reporting the best good news stories in the world, we've always been able to find people, organizations, and movement shaping the world for the better. And this month has been no exception.

You can check up our complete roundup of all (and we mean all) the best good news from 2021 — and we'll be updating this December article as more good news happens in the next week.

Thank you for celebrating good news with us — and cheers to more good news in 2022!

AIDS-related deaths have declined by 60% since their peak in 2003

December 1st was World AIDS Day — the annual event that raises awareness for the fight against HIV/AIDS. And every year, we continue to have more good news about the progress we’ve made.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) interfere with the body’s immune system, increasing the risk of developing common infections.

HIV/AIDS is a pandemic that, as of 2018, affects nearly 40 million people worldwide, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Between the early 1980s — the time that AIDS was identified — and 2018, the disease caused an estimated 32 million deaths worldwide.

Not only does HIV/AIDS have major health consequences, but it’s also closely associated with discrimination, including violence against HIV-infected individuals.

There is no cure or vaccine (yet), but thanks to medical advances, treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. And organizations like The Global Fund and (RED) have led the way in advocacy and fundraising that have led to a dramatic decrease in deaths worldwide.

AIDS-related deaths have declined by 60% since their peak in 2003, and the number of babies born each day with HIV has declined by more than two-thirds since 2000.

After ranking among the lowest countries in quality of biodiversity, rewilding projects are multiplying in the U.K.

Rewilding projects are multiplying in the U.K. in response to a growing awareness of the country’s serious loss of biodiversity. Britain as a whole ranked 189th out of 218 countries in the 2016 “State of Nature” report for the quality of its biodiversity and its natural condition.

One of the most innovative projects now underway may be WildEast, which ambitiously hopes to rewild an area more than three times the size of New York City, creating interconnecting wild corridors across East Anglia, England's most intensely farmed region.

The plan originated with three large estate owners, who, in addition to the commitment of their own lands, have already registered 1,000 “pledgees” for the project. However, some local residents, especially farmers, have complained that there is not enough consultation from the project.

Even so, many East Anglia residents welcome the explosion in wildlife happening on the newly rewilded areas.

This year, Giving Tuesday donations totaled a record $2.7 billion – and volunteering increased by 11%

This year, millions of people around the world participated in the biggest day of generosity of the year.

In the U.S. alone, Giving Tuesday Data Commons announced that an estimated 35 million people (!!) participated by giving, volunteering, or donating in some other way — a 6% increase over 2020.

And people donated a record $2.7 billion — a 9% increase over Giving Tuesday in 2020, and a 37% increase over 2019.

In the announcement posted to their website, GivingTuesday said, "A celebration of all types of generosity, GivingTuesday inspired people around the world to give gifts of time, skills, goods, advocacy, and more, showing that everyone has something to give and every act of generosity counts."

Speaking of all acts of generosity, volunteering on Giving Tuesday also increased by 11% and donated goods (clothes, food, supplies, etc.) increased by 8% over 2020.

These figures should be so inspiring and encouraging to all of us: People are more generous than ever, of their time, money, gifts, skills, and more.

Eliminating harmful microplastics, scientists invented sustainable glitter made from fruit

It is the season for all things sparkly, but at what cost to the environment? It’s a well-known fact that traditional glitter is often made from harmful microplastics that pollute the environment — specifically waterways.

Now, as Christmas celebrations get underway, parents, kids, and craft lovers can opt to use a safer, more sustainable glitter alternative.

Scientists at Cambridge University in the U.K. have developed a new type of glitter made from fruit pulp.

It’s just as sparkly, but it’s vegan, biodegradable, and far less harmful to the environment than conventional glitter.

The BRIT Awards announced that the 2022 award show will feature all gender-neutral categories

At the 2022 BRIT Awards, four traditionally gendered categories —male solo artist, female solo artist, international male solo artist, and international female solo artist — will be replaced with two awards with no gender classification: artist of the year and international artist of the year.

"It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible," BRITs chair and Polydor Records Co-President Tom March said in a statement. "It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender."

The BRITs also announced nominations will be extended to featured artist in the song of the year category — previously, only lead artists or named collaborators were given nominations. And they're adding four new genre awards to include more music styles: alternative/rock, hip-hop/grime/rap, dance, and pop/R&B.

Separating award categories into genders leaves out artists that don't identify within the male-female binary. Plus, we love that a single award will recognize and honor the music and achievements of a single artist — however they identify.

Other awards shows have removed gender classifications, and we hope this is a sign of even more to come!

A new plan created by Indigenous groups will protect 80% of the Amazon rainforest in Peru and Ecuador

A new plan called the Amazon Sacred Headwaters initiative proposes the protection of 80% of the Amazon in Peru and Ecuador by 2025, consisting of 35 million hectares (86 million acres) of rainforest.

The Amazonian Indigenous organizations leading the plan aim to center Indigenous-led forest management and land tenure to protect endemic species and prevent approximately 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

According to reporting from Mongabay, the proposal has received positive responses from Ecuadoran and Peruvian government officials, but faces a stumbling block in the fact that both countries rely heavily on extractive industries operating within the Amazon to help pay off foreign debt.

Chile just became the 31st country in the world to pass marriage equality

Good news for equality: Chile just became the 31st country in the world to pass marriage equality — and by an overwhelming margin in both the Chilean Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

According to reporting from Human Rights Watch, Chile's new law undoes existing legal discrimination against same-sex couples in several areas: parentage, joint adoption, and assisted reproductive technology, and more.

The law also removes the requirement that married transgender people must divorce if they want to have their gender legally recognized.

This good news didn't come out of nowhere though, it's the result of years of ongoing advocacy by LGBTQ+ activists in Chile.

It's also the result of progress over time: in 2015, Chile took a step towards equal rights when it passed a civil union law, allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions — but no rights for parents or adoption.

This latest law rights that wrong — and moves the world a step closer towards equal rights for all!

The site of a former coal plant near Toronto is being transformed into a bikeable, walkable lakefront community

The site of an old coal plant outside Toronto in Canada will soon be transformed into a bikeable, walkable lakefront community thanks to the advocacy if and protests from local community members.

According to reporting from Fast Company, the Canadian government shut down the coal plant to reduce emissions, but still originally had planned to replace it with a gas-fired power plant. The surrounding community protested the idea, in favor of something more meaningful.

"There were a lot of grassroots community efforts that really resisted and had a more ambitious vision for what the waterfront could be here, toward a mixed-use, sustainable waterfront community," Brian Sutherland, vice president of development at Argo Development Corporation, told Fast Company.

Residents of the future community, to be called Lakewood Village, will be able to either bike or walk to everything in 15 minutes or less. It will take back once-obstructed views of and access to the lake, and new bike paths will connect the suburb to Toronto for bike commuters.

The village will create 8,000 homes for an estimated 20,000 people — and 9,000 jobs. The first residents are expected to move in by 2026.

Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1’s most successful driver of all time, is using his platform to support LGBTQ+ rights and quality

Seven-time world champion Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton wore his "Progress Pride" helmet for the first time for a race in Qatar last month in support of LGBTQ+ rights. He raced in it again in Saudi Arabia, and he felt "duty-bound" to speak out.

Both countries hosted Formula 1 for the first time in 2021. Hamilton said Saudi Arabian law related to the LGBTQ+ community was "pretty terrifying."

According to reporting from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Saudi Arabia has no laws regarding sexual orientation or gender identity, and judges have convicted people for "immorality", having sexual relations outside of marriage, and homosexual sex.

"Visibility and representation isn't everything, and it doesn't change things necessarily overnight, but it does begin conversations that I think are important," Racing Pride’s co-founder Richard Morris, one of few openly-gay professional racers, told the foundation.

Last month, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had "a history of using celebrities and major international events to deflect scrutiny from its pervasive abuses."

And while Formula 1 launched a "We Race As One" campaign last year, they've been criticized for racing in countries with poor human rights records.

Morris said that while Lewis was undoubtedly sending a message to his global fanbase and supporters, he's also "showing a support that perhaps otherwise wouldn't be there within the region. He's raising this issue of human rights and starting those conversations. And I think once you start those conversations, there's then a need for responses."

We're celebrating this growing movement of progress within Formula 1, racing in general, and applauding Hamilton for using is platform to advocate for equality.

Combating both climate change and environmental racism, Chicago is planting 75,000 new trees in parts of the city that need it most

Planting trees in urban areas is a relatively cheap and effective way to mitigate the impacts of climate change and help save energy. In Chicago, city officials are currently in the planning process for planting 75,000 new trees as part of a $188 million climate package passed last month.

And many of the trees will be located in neighborhoods populated by people of color — neighborhoods that because of racist policies and practices have typically suffered from disinvestment of all types, including in green spaces and park services, and which have reduced tree canopies.

As reported by Energy News Network, a tool developed by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the University of Chicago combines existing tree canopy data with assorted health-related metrics such as air quality and traffic volume to help identify areas in greatest need of additional tree cover.

“We expect this historic investment to reap historic outcomes,” said Angela Tovar, chief sustainability officer for the city of Chicago, in a press release.

TIME announced its 2021 ‘Heroes of the Year’ are the vaccine scientists

For the year 2021, TIME announced its "Heroes of the Year" are the vaccine scientists, or as they call them "The Miracle Workers."

In an announcement article, TIME profiled four of the scientists, Kizzmekia Corbett, Barney Graham, Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman and recognized the rapid, combined, global efforts of scientists around the globe to create the vaccines.

While some were created — still in record time — using more established methods, the breakthrough of the mRNA vaccine platform not only changed the course of the pandemic, but will continue to change the health for the foreseeable future.

“We have turned a disease that has been a once-in-a-generation fatal pandemic, that has claimed more than 780,000 lives in America, into what is for the most part a vaccine-preventable disease,” says Dr. Leana Wen, professor of health policy and management at George Washington University. “That is the difference that the vaccine has made.”

In the announcement, TIME said named "the miracle workers" behind the vaccines the heroes of the year "not only because they gave the world a defense against a pathogen, but also because the manner of that astonishing achievement guards more than our health: they channeled their ambitions to the common good, talked to one another and trusted in facts."

Hopefully, those with the power to do so will model their ambition and continue the work toward global vaccine equity.

🏅 It's also important to note that TIME named Simone Biles the "Athlete of the Year" — in part for her brave contributions to not only the sporting world, but to the conversation around mental health.

A report found that rapped Logic's song featuring the National Suicide Prevention Hotline may have saved hundreds of lives

A new report found that hip hop artist Logic’s song "1-800-273-8255" — the phone number of the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — may have saved hundreds of lives.

The song released in 2017, but the findings from the study were recently published in the BMJ research journal.

It found that the lifeline saw nearly 10,000 more calls, and there was a 5.5% reduction in suicides among 10- to 19-year-olds during three time periods: the first 34 days after the song's release, Logic's performance at the 2017 MTV Music Awards, and a performance at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

That reduction equates to 245 fewer suicides than what was expected during those periods.

"To know that my music was actually affecting people's lives, truly, that's what inspired me to make the song," Logic told CNN, "We did it from a really warm place in our hearts to try to help people. And the fact that it actually did, that blows my mind."

We're thankful for voices like Logic, and everyone who uses their platform to advocate for things like suicide prevention, mental health, and more. It makes a difference.

And we hope it serves as a reminder that YOUR voice makes a difference, too! You don't need a song on the music charts to make a difference — you just have to care, and then take a step to use your voice, too.

The world's largest freshwater wind farm is now operating in The Netherlands

Windpark Fryslân, the world’s largest freshwater wind farm sitting in the Netherlands’ Lake IJssel, is now online and fully operational.

The 382.7 megawatt wind farm is around 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) off the Frisian coast, which is located in the north of the Netherlands and parts of northwestern Germany. According to reporting from Electrek, it's made up of 83 turbines, and is expected to produce around 1.5 TWh of electricity per year.

While that's only around 1.2% of the country's electricity consumption, or enough to power around 500,000 households, this is really a really good point of progress to celebrate in the transition towards renewable energy solutions.

500,000 fewer households consuming energy produced by fossil fuels = good news.

Las Cruces, New Mexico just became the latest to join a small group of cities with all-women governing bodies

The city of Las Cruces, New Mexico will soon have women in all six of its city council seats — it joins a short list of all-women or nearly all-women governing bodies in the U.S.

Women hold 30.5% of municipal offices nationwide, including mayoral offices, city councils and other similar bodies, according to data released earlier this year that shows similar representation limitations in state and federal offices. It makes all-women or nearly all-women governing bodies all the more noteworthy.

Las Cruces has used ranked-choice voting since the city council approved an ordinance in 2018.

The system — which allows residents to pick multiple candidates by preference — has been credited with helping women and people of color candidates because it’s less likely to create false choices amongst diverse candidates.

As reported by The 19th, the earliest known example of an all-women governing body in America was recorded in 1887 in the city of Syracuse, Kansas, when an all-woman city council was elected.

A New Soccer League Is Helping Gaza Amputees Cope With War Traumas

Palestine’s first national soccer team made up entirely of amputees is here. The players are war refugees from the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict along the Gaza strip. According to AP News, the players say the game helps them cope with the trauma of their injuries and the hardships of living in a crowded territory that has endured four wars and a blockade.

“We feel we have something, we can give something,” said Ziad Abu Halib, 41, who lost his right leg in 2008, during the first Israel-Hamas war. Per AP, he hasn’t missed a single practice or match since joining the local league after it was founded in 2019.

The team is now officially a national team thanks to the collaboration between the International Committee of the Red Cross working with Palestinian Amputee Football Association. The team is now qualified for the World Cup for amputees in Turkey in 2022.

By giving a positive and physical outlet to those who have suffered extensive wartime injuries, the soccer team is bringing folks together and giving them a common goal in addition to healing. Coach Simon Baker told AP News, “The goal is to create an environment whereby the players come to the field and they leave the trauma behind.”

A New Study Found Depression Stigma Dropped Significantly For The First Time In the U.S.

Stigma toward people with depression has dropped significantly for the first time since national data have been tracked in the United States, a new study shows.

The findings can help shape treatment of those with mental illness and have an impact on anti-stigma programs and policies to help people find support, the researchers say.

“Stigma translates into so many issues, including people’s reluctance to seek care, our shortage of mental health professionals, and the US’ unwillingness to invest resources into the mental health sector. The good news from this study is stigma can change, and the change we document crosses all sectors of society and individuals," says coauthor Bernice Pescosolido, professor of sociology at the Indiana University-Bloomington told Futurity.

Data from 2006 to 2018 revealed a statistically significant drop in social rejection for people described as having major depression

As we rounded out the year 2021, we're looking back on the best good news stories from December. While this year or this month have been filled with heartbreak, pain, and injustice — there have still been so many stories worth celebrating.

Article Details

December 19, 2021 12:03 PM
Three photos. On the left, Auli'i Cravalho smiles brightly in a black wetsuit while sitting on a boat, her two thumbs up in the air. In the center, a coral polyp under the sea. On the right, Aulil'i Cravalho speaks with a Hawaiian man about the area's coral reefs, while standing in front of the ocean.

'Moana's Auli'i Cravalho speaks up for Hawaiian coral reefs in new short film series

The voice actress of the beloved Disney princess is partnering up with a Hawaiian coral restoration nonprofit to educate us all about the importance of the planet's reefs.
From left to right: A woman has her hand over her mouth in surprise, a senior man walks across the street, as seen through a window, and the woman

Woman who moved into new home has ‘no words’ after 98-year-old neighbor left this at her doorstep

Her neighbor had lived in the community for 52 years, and he left her speechless.
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