The Good News edition: International

Goodbye, Donald Trump

Internationally, the good news story of the year has to be the US election, which saw the ejection of Donald Trump from office after one term.

Enter President-elect Joe Biden: we’re seeing signs that he will take Africa more seriously than his predecessor. As the Financial Mail reports, where Trump alienated Africa, Biden has extended an olive branch. Trump never visited Africa during his presidency, and referred to immigrants from Africa as “people from these shithole countries”. 

Biden, however, has reached out to countries Trump alienated, including SA. He personally phoned President Cyril Ramaphosa in November. Plus, Biden’s ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a black woman, reportedly has loads of experience in conducting diplomacy in Africa. She knows the continent well, and self-identifies as an “Africanist”. 

Here’s to brighter beginnings.  

 Hello, women leaders!

Not all countries have been equally devastated by Covid, fortunately. And what do most countries getting it right have in common? They’re led by women. 

As The Guardian reports, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark have all had lower infection rates than other countries, and they’ve got women at the helm. Germany and New Zealand, both led by women, have also been praised for their responses. 

Why? These women leaders responded to Covid-19 with “proactive and coordinated policy responses”, according to the World Economic Forum. It’s true that having a woman leader isn’t a silver bullet to the world’s problems – women leaders have their flaws, too. But the research suggests that where countries have more systemic gender reform in their countries, women leaders have the support they need to perform better. 

Read our deep dive at explain.co.za to see how women leaders aced their Covid responses earlier in the pandemic.

Countries commit to ending climate change

Covid-19 has felt like the biggest threat to humanity this year, so it’s easy to forget another ever-present existential threat: climate change. 

So we were thrilled to find out it HASN’T fallen from everyone’s agenda: a number of countries made ambitious commitments to cut their emissions in 2020. China pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, EcoWatch reported. Similar pledges were also made by the EU, UK, Japan and South Korea. 

Even SA approved its own emissions reduction in 2020. It’s a HUGE step in the right direction from these large greenhouse gas emitters.

Forward, young people!

All over the world, young people stood up against corrupt and oppressive governments, and it was inspiring to watch. 

Take the #EndSARS movement, for example. Young Nigerians turned out in droves to protest against a brutal police unit. The government clamped down violently on the protests, morphing the movement into a broader rejection of oppression and bad governance in the country. As The New York Times reported, the government was forced to promise reforms and the unit has been dissolved, showing the power of a movement whose time has come.

But it was bigger than Nigeria. Time Magazine reported that Hong Kong, Chile, Sudan and Lebanon were just a few sites of youth struggle in 2020. School strikers all over the world protested against climate change. And in Italy, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and even Iraq, young people have been making their voices heard against poor governance, united in saying: “the system is not working”, according to Time.

And they haven’t lost their sense of humour, either. Hundreds of TikTok users and K-pop fans lobbied followers to buy tickets to a Trump rally in June – and then not show up, the New York Times reported. The Trump campaign denied that the lower-than-expected turnout was due to the online boycott, but try telling that to the pranksters.

It shows that the bad PR this generation gets – lazy, entitled millennials – is just that: bad PR. 2020 showed us that the youth of today are vibrant, involved, and are moving the needle towards a more just world. 

This brief was originally published in the good news edition of The Wrap here.

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