Points of Progress: Fair trade coffee thanks to blockchain, and more

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to end your week.

Women sort coffee beans before packaging in Sidama, Ethiopia, on Nov. 30, 2018.


A coffee roastery is using blockchain to track its bean supply and help farmers keep profits.The Moyee brand assigns its coffee farmers digital IDs, which allows buyers to track where their coffee is from and how much the farmers were paid for it via blockchain – a permanent digital record. This ensures that coffee is ethically sourced, an industry-wide issue. Using blockchain to track produce may soon be applied similarly in Caribbean nations, where many fruits are grown. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


A coal seam is exposed at a mine near Decker, Montana, in 2013.

Scientists found a new way to pull CO2  from the air and turn it into solid coal. In a report, an international team of scientists based in Australia detailed a groundbreaking carbon sequestration method. While the idea of removing CO2  from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change has existed for years, previous methods were expensive or unlikely to have scalable applications outside laboratories. The new method uses an electrically charged liquid metal catalyst to continually convert CO2  in the air into flakes of coal. (Nature Communications)

Costa Rica

A new institution is giving a second chance to adults who never graduated high school. La Escuela Costarricense de Oportunidades (The Costa Rican School of Opportunities) is a free private school in San José that offers evening and afternoon classes in subject material corresponding to Grades K through 12. Many Costa Ricans leave school at an early age, never to return. The school’s founders hope to close that educational attainment gap to improve the job prospects of learners. (The Tico Times)


In 2017, the country reduced its deforestation rates and now qualifies for a results-based payment from Norway this year. In 2010, the two countries agreed to a framework established under the Paris Accord in which developed countries pay developing nations to conserve forest areas. Indonesia was one of the few tropical nations to reduce its deforestation rates, thanks to government efforts to curb the destruction of forests, weather that prevented forest fires, and low palm oil prices in the global market. (World Resources Institute)

United States

The United Nations building overlooks the East River in New York.

At its headquarters in New York, the United Nations convened a panel of experts to address sexual harassment within the organization. The UN has faced reports of sexual misconduct for years, both among its staff and in the field. A series of high-profile accusations of sexual abuse made against UN peacekeepers in Africa was one catalyst for the call for change. The panel is part of long-awaited efforts to increase overall transparency in how the UN handles incidents of sexual misconduct. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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