2020 can be characterised as the year where some terrible things happened. I’m talking about the Australian bushfires; the death Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman; the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor (to name a few) sparking the Black Lives Matter protests; and the Beirut explosion just to name a few. For all this to happen on top of a global pandemic, lockdown after lockdown, and negative news after negative news, I thought we should finish the year with some positivity. Whether that is finding light of the bad situations or some glimmers of hope for the future, here is my list of 20 positives we can take from 2020
1. A vaccine was developed!
Although Covid-19 spread across the world, we must also dwell on the fact that scientists worldwide have responded with unprecedented speed and purpose to discover and manufacture vaccine. This really is an exciting development for science and shows what can be achieved with a cooperation!
2. Connecting with one another
We have connected with people in ways we previously never thought possible. The amount of zoom quizzes and video chats I have experienced over the past year can only be described as madness, but it highlights how as a community we can draw together and maintain friendships and relationships even when physical presence isn’t possible. Seeing my grandparents work out technology so they can continue to attend church services or Pilates classes is a miracle in itself!
3. A lot of Firsts for America!
America elected its first female vice-president, first Black vice-president and first Asian American vice-president – Senator Kamala Harris.
4. Equality – at last!
The US Supreme Court ruled that no one can be fired for being gay or transgender – bringing the court up to speed with increasing desires for equality no matter who you are. There was also a landmark change to blood donation criteria in the UK which saw the government announce that gay and bisexual men can now donate blood, even if they are sexually active. This is a fundamental shift towards recognising people as individuals.
5. A more energy efficient world
Carbon Dioxide emissions declined – in part due to the national lockdowns and restricted air travel yes, but also because the costs of renewable energy sources is declining more quickly than experts previously predicted. The return of nature in their habitats such as Dolphins in the Venice canals was definitely a wonderful sight. In fact, the UK ran 67 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes without coal-generated power – the longest time possible since the industrial revolution.
6. Defeating Misogyny!
Women leaders were pushed to the forefront of the world. Special mention to Jacinda Arden, the prime minister of New Zealand who led a nationwide effort to eradicate the virus and became the world’s most COVID-resilient country. Angela Merkel, Sanna Marin and Tsai Ing-wen also reacted incredibly well to the pandemic. Male leaders by contrasted, were found not only more likely to be flustered in the face of the pandemic, but they were also more likely to get COVID themselves! I’m not claiming we have defeated misogyny in 2020, but 2020 has shown that the assumption that men are better leaders should be dismantled!
7. On the road to more pedestrianised cities
More cities have banished more cars! Barcelona, Paris, Melbourne, Detroit and Portland have all decided to reduce the amount of parking availability in the centers and increasingly prioritising cyclists. They all plan to create “15-minute cities” where you can reach all basic necessities on food, bike or public transit within 15 minutes.
8. Greener and Cleaner
Our land is becoming greener and our oceans cleaner. Probably more in theory than actually, but there are so many plans put in place to protect our planet and reverse damage that has already been done. India, for example planted 250 million trees in one weekend which is the largest planting scheme which aims to re-forest the subcontinent. The UK is more woodland covered than any other time since the age of Robin Hood and the 14 nations that own 40% of the world’s coastlines just banded together to create the world’s biggest ocean sustainability initiative.
9. Moving towards less meat consumption
As a world we have consumed less meat. Global meat consumption was down by an estimated 3%. This is the second year of decline which has never happened before. Meat consumption is often lead to increased emissions in the atmosphere.
10. A Baby Boom in the Animal Kingdom
Where theres life, there is hope. There was a baby boom in 2020, but not the one you think. In Kenya, lion numbers have increased 25%, the Amboseli Elephant Research Project celebrated more than 170 new elephants and the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme welcomed 48 wolf pups to name a few.
11. Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter became the biggest mass movement in history! The protests may have died down physically, but the widespread rage at racist policing remains. The mass movement the death of George Floyd sparked is the largest mass movement in US history and we can be proud in the fact that although progress is slow the movement has had a huge impact already with police funding slashed in Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Portland. The important conversations that derived from this movement, and the education of the population about institution racism and white fragility will only improve the society we live in further.
12. The internet held out for us
The internet passed the ultimate stress test. A radical shift from office work to remote work placed a great emphasis on having the technology ready. More videoconferencing took place in 202 than at any other time in human history, unsurprisingly, both for work and socialising. And – the infrastructure held up!
13. Captain Sir Tom Moore – enough said.
Captain Sir Tom Moore won over the nations hearts and raised over £38.9 million for NHS Charities Together in the run up to his 100th birthday, a pick me up the whole nation needed. The news became positive and seeing how much he raised daily was that bit of positivity we all needed.
14. The NHS
We all remembered how lucky we are to have the NHS and came together every week to clap their service on a Thursday evening along-side other key workers. So many people kept our country going from the bin men, teachers, supermarket workers and care home assistance, their recognition was heart-warming. Here’s hoping they get the funding they deserve in 2021.
15. One less disease in Africa
Africa was declared free of wild polio after four years without a reported case.
16. Period Poverty removed in Scotland
Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to period products and the UK announced in March that they would remove the VAT on period products once we have left the transition period for Brexit.
17. Brexit is done
Whether you like the deal or not, the UK has secured a deal with the EU. The uncertainty will fade slightly, and we can all move on from the 2016 referendum (slightly).
18. Mental Health pushed more into the forefront
There has been an increased awareness of treating mental health as a HEALTH issue. More people than ever took advantage of online mental-health resources due to the impact of the pandemic. Hopefully, this is the end of a stigma and the beginning of more funding to support anyone struggling.
19. Beauty in the world around us
We have all (restrictions dependent) rediscovered nature and exploring closer to home. Meeting up with friends and going on a walk, supporting the local community, and booking staycations all helped us appreciate the beauty of our own country and the nations spirit. I think this was all exemplified with the VE celebrations whereby communities came together to safely celebrate what makes us British.
20. Finally, I think it’s safe to say we have all mastered a banana bread recipe!
I hope you enjoyed this article and it reminded you to always find joy and positivity in everything that happens. Happy Holidays and have a lovely New Year – here’s to hoping it’s not quite like this one! Comment on what you think was your highlight of 2020.