Points of Progress: Ivan Golunov, air pollution, 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 inspire you.

Pavel Golovkin/AP
Russian journalist Ivan Golunov cries as he leaves a federal Investigative Committee building in Moscow after Russian police dropped all charges against him on June 11.


Russian authorities backed down after a public outcry about freedom of the press. Ivan Golunov was investigating corruption within the funeral business when he was arrested for alleged drug dealing on June 7. State-owned and independent media alike spoke out – three newspapers published “I/We are Ivan Golunov” on their front pages. Russian journalists set up pickets and celebrities recorded supportive videos. Journalists rallied worldwide and signed a petition to free Mr. Golunov. Within a week, he was released and criminal charges were dropped. (CNN)

United States

Since New York enacted clean-air taxi legislation in 2004, air pollution associated with the taxi industry has abated. An analysis by Columbia and Drexel universities has found that taxi fuel efficiency more than doubled since 2004. As a result, the two major sources of air pollution have substantially decreased: nitrous oxide emissions by 82% and particulate exhaust emissions by 49%. Researchers conclude that air pollution legislation is effective in improving urban air quality. (Columbia University)


College-educated millennials are challenging the stigma of farming. In Ghana, farming is synonymous with poverty, and the farmer population is growing older. But younger individuals are entering the field with a different approach; “agripreneurs” incorporate data and scientific research to increase yields and, they hope, profits. Africa contains 65% of the world’s arable but uncultivated land, and yet $35 billion worth of food is still imported annually. Agripreneurs see their college degrees as an opportunity to reduce imports and find solutions to problems that have plagued the industry. Farming tech startups across Africa increased substantially over the past few years, according to a report by Disrupt Africa. Since becoming president in 2017, Nana Akufo-Addo has focused on the agricultural sector, encouraging younger farmers and deploying more than 2,700 educators on motorbikes to teach farmers about sustainable practices to improve climate change resiliency. (The New York Times)


Women in soccer are getting a pay raise. In June, the Royal Dutch Football Association announced that women’s team salaries will increase incrementally until women are paid the same as men by 2023. Australia has also announced that professional women footballers will receive an equal hourly rate, resulting in a 33% increase. Despite being reigning World Cup champions, the U.S. women’s team has not had as much success with payment. In March, the team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for “purposeful gender discrimination.” But women are gaining ground in this year’s World Cup, with prize money doubling to $30 million since the previous tournament in 2015. This still pales in comparison with the $400 million in prize money that men’s teams shared in the 2018 World Cup. (Yahoo Sports)

Dutch players celebrate their 1-0 win over New Zealand in a FIFA Women’s World Cup match in Le Havre, France, on June 11.


Whales, porpoises, and dolphins can no longer be taken into captivity under a bill passed by Parliament. Lawmakers called the move a “moral obligation.” Animal rights activists have long criticized the confining spaces of tanks; many also see the treatment of the animals during training as abuse. The new law does not apply to animals already in captivity, and animals can be kept for rehabilitation and licensed scientific research. (NPR)

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