2017 was a troubled and violent year in many respects. On the political front much of the news centred on “Brexit”, aggression from North Korea, terrorist attacks and Trump’s irresponsible tweets. The refugee crisis as a consequence of political unrest, genocide and xenophobia in several areas worsened, with vulnerable children and women being harassed, abused and traumatised. There were natural and man-made disasters including tragic high-rise and landscape fires, the volcano eruptions on Bali, floods and landslides, drought, hurricane, cyclone and monsoon. 

But what of the good and positive things that occurred last year? 

There seems to be greater awareness about global warming and climate change, and the prevention thereof for the preservation of our beautiful planet. 

Solar power and wind energy are gradually replacing fossil fuels, and it is hoped that the recycling of plastics, metal and glass will reduce waste and sea pollution in the near future. 

Pesticides harmful to bees are about to be banned in the UK and in other parts of Europe.  

Ireland, France, Germany and Bulgaria have banned onshore fracking, and the EU has imposed stricter limits on pollutants emitted by Europe’s big power plants. The EU and nine other nations including the US, Russia, China and South Korea succeeded in banning commercial fishing in the Arctic, and this has given scientists more time to understand the region’s marine ecology. 

Several major scientific and medical breakthroughs have resulted in half of those in the world infected with HIV now receiving treatment, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer have declined 16% since 2000, according to World Bank data. Many more people are alive today thanks to organ donation and successful transplants, and the number of smokers has reduced considerably. The measles vaccine has saved millions of lives, and global deaths due to tuberculosis have dropped by 37% since 2000. 

People: Healthier lifestyles and healthcare has reduced the number of people suffering from dementia in the UK, and further research indicates that this insidious affliction could one day be treated or prevented altogether.  

Denmark managed to cut food waste by a quarter in five years, and opened a charity food surplus market in 2016. France banned the use of excessively thin models in May last year, and the International Labour Organization revealed that child labour internationally has declined sharply since 2000. More governments, including more recently, Australia, are recognising same-sex marriage, as well as acknowledging the possibility of a third gender.

The UK’s Alex Stephany created a digital platform, Beam, which aims to help homeless people with a long-term solution by providing employment training and careers advice.

On the subject of the world’s ever-popular and colourful royal families: Prince Gabriel Carl Walther of Darlana, second son of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden was born in August, and Prince Harry of England became engaged to Ms Meghan Markle in November.


Women: In Saudi Arabia women are now allowed to drive, following a ruling that they no longer need male permission to travel and to study. On International Women’s Day 2017 Iceland became the first country to make equal pay compulsory by law, as did Norway’s Football Association.

Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal triggered the #MeToo movement, which became a rallying cry on social media platforms for both men and women who suffered this indignity and trauma. Victims were able to take a stand and give voice to their experiences, which in turn increased awareness of this sinister activity in the workplace and at home.

Animals: 40 countries, including India, have banned the use of wild animals in circuses, and several fashion brands such as Gucci and Armani have become fur-free. In November a new species of orangutan was identified in Sumatra, Indonesia; it is now the third known species of orangutan, as well as the first great ape to be described in almost a century. 


Southern Africa: And here in the south we celebrate the ANC’s replacement of its corrupt president Jacob Zuma with Cyril Ramaphosa, and the ousting of equally corrupt Robert Mugabe, the President of our beleaguered northern neighbour, Zimbabwe. 

In Johannesburg, after 20 years of excavating, cleaning, reconstructing and casting, the oldest virtually complete human ancestor was finally available for public viewing. The skeleton of Little Foot, who wasn’t so little at the time of her death, was unveiled at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Evolutionary Studies in December.

In November Miss South Africa 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, was crowned Miss Universe in Las Vegas. So all-in-all, not such a bad year after all. We must just remember to consider THE BRIGHT SIDE – and know where to look for it. 


  1. Positive.news: https://www.positive.news/2017/society/30733/went-right-2017/
  2. Indian Express.com
  3. News24.com


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