Points of Progress: Slovakia's first woman president, and more

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.

Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters
Zuzana Caputova awaits election results at her party’s headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 30.

Slovakia

Zuzana Caputova was elected Slovakia’s first woman president on March 30. She campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption and environmental protection. Since the country gained independence in 1993, it has struggled with corruption. Ms. Caputova also says she’ll push back against the rise of nationalist rhetoric that continues to gain ground across Europe. As an environmental activist, Ms. Caputova became popular after she won a battle to shut down a toxic waste site in her hometown. (NPR)

Kenya

Conservationists are working to protect sea turtles. Although hunting sea turtles is illegal, people continue to poach them for their valuable meat and oil. Eating turtles has long been a part of Kenyan culture, but many species are now endangered. Founded in 1997, Local Ocean Conservation is Kenya’s only turtle rescue center and has made more than 17,000 rescues. The group’s community-liaison officers work with local fishermen to ensure safe fishing practices. The organization also supports alternative agricultural businesses to reduce the area’s dependence on fishing. The amount of plastic that turtles consume continues to be a serious issue, conservationists say. (Al Jazeera)

Egypt

A province alongside the Red Sea has banned single-use plastics. Items such as straws, water bottles, and disposable bags will no longer be allowed as of June 1. An environmental affairs agency found that Egyptians discard 12 billion plastic bags a year, causing severe damage to the country’s waterways and marine life. The province’s governor, Ahmed Abdallah, says the ban is “a fight against the sea of plastic.” The environmental agency is leading the charge by launching campaigns to clean up the province’s beaches, islands, and diving areas. (The Associated Press)

Thomas Hartwell/AP
Divers collect plastic and other debris during a cleanup off the coast of the Red Sea in South Sinai in Egypt April 2

United States

In Indiana, a school system is reducing food waste and fighting food insecurity among low-income children. The nonprofit Cultivate has partnered with schools in Elkhart to provide meals for students who may not be getting enough to eat on weekends when they’re away from school. Every Friday, the program gives students backpacks that contain eight frozen meals. To supply the meals, Cultivate gathers unused food from within the school system and from catering companies. (CBS)

Costa Rica

The small nation has bounced back from deforestation by doubling its forest cover in the past 30 years, and now it aims to make itself free of fossil fuels by 2050. The country already has much of its electricity coming from renewable sources. But getting rid of fossil fuels will require a costly overhaul of infrastructure in order to tackle the country’s largest source of pollution: transportation. Another issue: The number of citizens who own cars continues to grow. The first lady, Claudia Dobles, sees the new initiative as having potential to help Costa Rica gain recognition for its handling of climate change. (The New York Times)

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