Climate Change Conference

The top news stories of 2017 for sustainability

These are the top news stories of 2017 and the people who have most left a mark on a year that has been intense yet also rewarding from the point of view of social and environmental sustainability.

Not everyone would agree on what the top news stories of 2017 are, and who has most left their mark on this year. We’ve selected the people and news stories that for us most characterise these intense past 12 months in terms of the struggle for a more just and balanced world for nature and its inhabitants. What’s changed in 2017 is that most of the news stories we’ve chosen for their importance from the point of view of social and environmental sustainability have echoed throughout international media. Because these topics are increasingly close to everyone, whether out of necessity or ethics.

China has banned its ivory trade

China bans its ivory trade
Poverty, corruption, and an increasing demand in ivory are the main causes of elephants being poached for their tusks. Closing the major ivory market (China’s) will contribute to curbing poaching © Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

January – The Chinese government announced it would ban ivory trade and processing by the end of 2017. The historic move puts an end to the world’s biggest ivory market and aims to save African elephants from poaching. Up to 70 per cent of the trafficked ivory ends up in China. Read the full story here.

Phil Robertson. Myanmar pursued ethnic cleansing and apartheid against Rohingya Muslims

Sittwe, Burma: a Rohingya woman feeds her 1-month-old baby in the Baw Du Pha refugee camp. An arson destroyed 56 homes and left 2,224 people homeless © Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

February – Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said that ethnic cleansing was pursued against Rohingya Muslims. And Aung San Suu Kyi also had responsibility. Read the full story here.

Defund DAPL, why investors pulled millions out of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline
Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline © Alex Wong/Getty Images

March – Many investors urged banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, an underground oil pipeline project in the United States, to either support rerouting the pipeline or divesting from it. So the hot potato was in their hands. Read the full story here.

Who is Emmanuel Macron, the former investment banker who won the first round of French elections

Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron © Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

April – Emmanuel Macron presented himself as an “anti-system candidate”, despite his past as an investment banker and government minister. Who he is and what he proposes for France. Read the full story here.

Trump made his choice: the US withdrew from the Paris Agreement

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

June – The United States of America withdrew from the Paris Agreement as President Donald Trump had announced in his electoral campaign. Trump said the agreement “put the United States in a very, very big economic disadvantage.” The decision met with harsh criticism from leaders all over the world. Read the full story here.

Janine Händel and the Roger Federer Foundation. To us, philanthropy requires professionalism

Roger Federer
Federer visits the children of the Foundation’s project in Ethiopia © Roger Federer Foundation

June – Roger Federer isn’t just the best tennis player in history. He’s the president and the face of the foundation he founded back in 2003. Read the full story here.

What is Earth Overshoot Day and why we have a debt with the Earth

overshoot day
Costa Rica generated 97% of its electricity from renewable sources over the first 3 months of 2016. In 2015, it ran on renewables for 75 days in a row © Ezequiel Becerra/AFP/Getty Images

August – Overshoot Day marks the point when humanity has used up the Earth’s resources for a year. And the date comes earlier and earlier every year: in 2017 it was on the 2nd of August. If we continue like this, we’ll need another planet to satisfy our greed. Read the full story here.

“We need to become the hope”, Eskimo shaman Angaangaq on the spiritual significance of climate change

Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq Greenland
Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, the shaman from Greenland © Sarine Arslanian

October – We talked to Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, an Eskimo Elder and shaman from Greenland, about the spiritual significance of climate change: “You have a beautiful spirit and you’re worth doing something for”. Read the full story here.

From Bt cotton to GM mustard, two decades of corporate corruption and scientific fraud

GM mustard in India
GM mustard in India

October – The fraud and corruption witnessed in the illegal introduction of Bt cotton in India were repeated with GM mustard. Farmers and biodiversity were sacrificed for Monsanto’s profits. The editorial by Vandana Shiva, scientist, ecologist, activist and founder of Navdanya. Read it here.

Glyphosate has been authorised in the EU for another 5 years

Protests against glyphosate
Protests against glyphosate © Campact via

November – European countries reached an agreement and voted to renew the license to use glyphosate for five more years. It is the world’s most used herbicide and the primary ingredient in the product Roundup, synthetized by agrochemical giant Monsanto. The original proposal of the European Commission was a 10-year renewal, until 2027. Read the full story here.

The laws of ecology, for the survival of the human species

The relationship between whales and phytoplankton exemplifies interdependence among species

December – Refusing the anthropocentric vision and respecting the laws of ecology is the only way to safeguard the future of our and all other species. The editorial by Paul Watson, President of Sea Shepherd. Read it here.

Anote Tong. It’s not just the climate that’s at stake, it’s the future of a generation

anote tong kiribati
Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati

December – Saving humanity’s future is possible according to Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati and now environmental activist. Not only is the climate’s future at stake, but so is a whole generation of young people who have done nothing wrong. Take a grandfather’s word for it. Read the full story here.

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