In an excellent article on December 22, 2022, The Christian Science Monitor highlighted some of the values that guided actions in the world during the year – ingenuity, responsibility, dignity, equality, cooperation. You can read the entire article here. We highlight here the first two, ingenuity and responsibility.
Much of 2022’s progress was propelled by inventive efforts to find solutions or make discoveries. Sometimes these inventions began with one small idea.
An entrepreneur from Ivory Coast noticed that his parents, who don’t read, couldn’t use smartphones – so he designed one himself. In Rwanda, “smart canes” expanded mobility for those with visual impairments, just as all-terrain wheelchairs gained ground in U.S. parks. One resident of a Kenyan refugee settlement helps provide internet access to hundreds of others using solar panels.
In other cases, new ideas took years of collaboration. In a first for ocean energy, a wave energy converter completed a successful first year off the coast of Australia’s King Island. Turkey opened Europe’s first carbon-negative biorefinery, while Finnish engineers pioneered the first “sand battery” for storing green power. The Nature Conservancy helped Belize restructure its debt, freeing up $4 million annually for marine conservation over two decades. The largest vertical farm in the world opened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. And all around the world, people are reaping the power of the sun: East Africa’s first tests of agrivoltaics began outside Nairobi, Kenya, and Europe’s largest floating photovoltaic farm is operating in Portugal.
Around the world, people are caring for the planet and each other. In large-scale action for the environment, more than 5,100 square miles of protection for water, land, and glaciers was established in Argentina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and Chile, while the island nation of Niue is protecting 100% of its ocean. In Niger, researchers estimate that farmers encouraged at least 200 million trees to grow back across 15 million acres. South Korea now recycles nearly 100% of its food waste. And Austria is helping pay for repairs to electronics instead of landfilling them.
The United Nations will create a binding framework by the end of 2024 to guide the elimination of plastic pollution. It declared access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment a universal human right.
The commitment was seen at the community level, too. More than 355,950 pounds of trash was removed from the Ohio River. Using a payment for ecosystem services model, citizens have planted over 2 million trees in southeastern Brazil since 2005. Gazans were able to return to their beaches after massive infrastructure improvements. And refugees in Algeria designed useful furniture out of plastic waste. There are signs environmental responsibility will become second nature for future generations; the United Kingdom’s Department of Education began work on a national climate curriculum.