Points of Progress: Oslo records zero pedestrian deaths in 2019, and more

1. California

Alyssa Nakken became the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball after being hired as an assistant by the San Francisco Giants in January. A former college softball player, Ms. Nakken will help coordinate health and wellness programming while traveling with the team. “Simply, I think she’s going to be a great coach,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “Merit and the ability to be a great coach trumps all.” Ms. Nakken’s hire follows the New York Yankees’ November hiring of Rachel Balkovec as a hitting coach for their minor league team – making her the first full-time female hitting coach hired in professional baseball. (ESPN)

2. Norway

Ints Kalnins/Reuters/File
People stroll and cycle through the Grønland district in Oslo, Norway, a pedestrian-friendly city.

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.

Norway’s bike-friendly capital of Oslo is on the brink of achieving a safe and equitable transit system goal, after recording zero pedestrian or cyclist deaths in 2019. The reduction, down from five deaths in 2018, is largely the result of a 2015 plan to reduce the number of cars on the road and promote cycling, foot traffic, and public transit in Oslo’s car-free city center, advocates say. The country as a whole already has some of the safest roads in the world, making its nearly 50% reduction in traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2017 more impressive, according to the International Transport Forum’s 2019 road safety report. (Smart Cities Dive)

3. Florida

Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection will acquire 20,000 acres of wetlands in the Everglades to protect it after a court ruled the former owner, a real estate firm, could drill for oil on the land. Announced in a press release from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, the wetland acquisition is said to be the largest in a decade and could help protect more than 60 endangered and threatened species. Environmental groups praised the decision by Governor DeSantis, who has made preserving the Everglades one of his top environmental priorities since announcing a four year, $2.5 billion spending plan to preserve the ecosystem in 2019. The purchase comes as some Republican governors in coastal states begin to resist efforts by the White House to loosen regulations on offshore drilling. (CNN)

4. Africa

Nigeria marked three years without a polio case, meaning Africa could be declared polio-free as early as this year. The progress follows what Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, called a “monumental effort” of health workers across Nigeria, which in 2012 had 200 reported cases of the disease. “We are confident that soon we will be trumpeting the certification that countries have, once and for all, kicked polio out of Africa,” said Dr. Moeti. If the continent is indeed declared polio-free, then Pakistan and Afghanistan will be the last major countries where the disease is endemic. (The Guardian)

5. China

Aly Song/Reuters
Customers shop at a Costco store in Shanghai. China recently announced a ban on plastic bags to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics.

China is banning plastic bags in all major cities by the end of this year and in all cities and towns by the end of 2022, according to a new policy from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The ban comes as China, perhaps the largest producer of plastic waste in the world, attempts to significantly reduce its reliance on single-use plastics. Other items, such as plastic straws, will also be phased out in the restaurant industry, which faces a five-year deadline to reduce its plastic use by 30%. Fresh produce markets, meanwhile, will be exempt from the bans until 2025. (Reuters)


New findings from researchers at the University of Washington contradict the popular belief that fisheries around the world are declining. Around half the fish caught worldwide, the report says, come from stocks that are monitored and increasing in abundance. Adding to a decade of work and international cooperation, the research project identifies effective fishery management as the most important tool in maintaining healthy fish stocks – even as large gaps in the data remain. “There is a narrative that fish stocks are declining around the world, that fisheries management is failing and we need new solutions – and it’s totally wrong,” says lead author Ray Hilborn, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. (University of Washington)

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