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50 years of good news: 2010s

Words by Smiley Team

For the last 50 years, Smiley has served as a beacon of positivity as the company has encouraged the world to 'Take the Time to Smile'.

In celebration of this huge milestone, Smiley's book – Smiley: 50 Years of Good News – takes a look back at moments in history that gave us a reason to smile. 

So, what good things happened in the world in the 2010s? We take a look. 

[Read the full story: 50 years of good news]


Norway Pursues Restorative Justice 

The Norwegian approach to “restorative justice” is generally regarded by experts as an effective model and one of the most comprehensive in the world. The country’s new restorative justice saw prisons reimagined as rehabilitation facilities, leading to a 60 to 70 percent decrease in recidivism.


All Thirty-Three Chilean Miners Are Rescued 

When the main ramp of the San Jose gold and copper mine collapsed, it trapped thirty-three Chilean miners 2,300 feet underground. Immediate search rescues did not provide any results, but soon after, there was a note discovered written by the miners, stating that they were all safe. In a miraculous move, joint efforts from both the Chilean government and the U.S. government finally managed to safely rescue all miners sixty-nine days after the collapse.


Philanthropic Leaders Take the Giving Pledge

 Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge is a commitment taken on by the world’s wealthiest people to give back to the community from their own assets. As of 2021, more than 220 individuals and couples from 27 countries had signed on, including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, with a total combined pledge of more than $600 billion. 


GoFundMe Is Created 

The for-profit crowdfunding platform allows those launching a campaign for donations to reach anyone around the world to help fund their celebrations and challenges alike. Since its founding, over $5 billion has been raised on the platform from over 50 million donors, cementing its legacy as one of the world’s greatest fundraising platforms. Notable campaigns include “The Official George Floyd Memorial Fund,” which raised $14.7 million, and the ongoing “America’s Food Fund,” which has raised $45.1 million.


Goteo Founded in Spain

Goteo is a free, open-source crowdfunding platform with a civic purpose, committed to fostering transparent and collaborative online networks. By donating money or volunteering their time, members can harness their resources—human, economic or technological— to benefit projects in their communities. 


Christian Egyptians Show Solidarity with Muslim Egyptians

A group of Christian Egyptians joined hands in forming a protective circle surrounding hundreds of Muslim Egyptians as they knelt in prayer to protect them from protestors. That Sunday, the Muslim Egyptians returned the favor to their Christian counterparts who were celebrating Mass. Showing the unity of one nation despite their religious differences.


Global Citizen Is Launched to End Poverty 

Global Citizen is an international education and advocacy organization with the goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030, defending the planet and demanding equity. The public can participate in the organization’s events as “Global Citizens” and give back to the community. In 2020, the organization partnered with Lady Gaga to produce a streamed concert called One World: Together at Home and raised a total of $128 million for charities. Pharrell performs at Global Citizen Festival in New York City, 2019. 


Arabian Oryx Becomes First Animal Brought Back from Extinction 

As a result of reintroduction efforts since 1982, this majestic animal found in the Middle East was able to climb its way out of extinction in the wild. Countries such as Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE concentrated their efforts into captive breeding to save the species.


The Belt and Road Initiative 

Known in Chinese (and formerly in English) as “One Belt One Road,” or OBOR for short, this massive global infrastructure project is a development strategy adopted by the Chinese government to invest in more than seventy countries and international organizations, uplifting a global village along a shared path to prosperity. 


The Ocean Cleanup Project Is Launched 

The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit foundation founded by Boyan Slat when he was only eighteen with the mission to develop technology that extracts plastic pollution before it reaches the oceans. In 2020, the organization has taken a step further and developed its first product, “the Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses,” made from the recycled plastic it has removed from the ocean. 


Batkid Transforms San Francisco for Make-a-Wish Cancer survivor 

Miles Scott became Batkid for a day when he wished to be Batman’s sidekick through the Make-a-Wish foundation. When the request went out, thousands of volunteers, city officials and supporters turned San Francisco into “Gotham City” for a day as Batkid took part in several pre-planned crime scenarios. He ended his day of crime fighting by receiving the key to the city from San Francisco mayor Ed Lee. 


The Billion Tree Tsunami 

The Billion Tree Tsunami was launched by the Pakistani government as a response to the challenge of global warming, aiming to restore 350,000 hectares of forests and degraded land. The government achieved its goal in 2017 and has now set the bar even higher: 10 billion trees by 2023.


Malala Yousafzai Wins Nobel Peace Prize 

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in promoting education for all children and ending discrimination against girls. She shared the prize alongside Kailash Satyarthi, a fellow children’s rights activist from India.


Almost 200 Countries Adopt the Paris Agreement 

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change that covers topics such as climate-change mitigation, adaptation and financing. The longterm goal of this treaty is to ensure that all countries take part in minimizing the 2015 steady climb of global warming that has already been detrimental to the planet.


Tencent Creates the 99 Giving Day 

Every year, from September 7 through September 9, Tencent Charitable Foundation hosts its annual “99 Giving Day,” when it partners up with numerous charitable foundations, philanthropists and celebrities. The public can join via various social-media platforms or participate in person in activities such as “99 Steps Donation,” where organizations will donate money on behalf of a participant based on the number of steps walked.


The China Global Philanthropy Institute Launches 

Founded by Bill Gates alongside other Chinese and American philanthropists, the China Global Philanthropy Institute was founded with a mission to cultivate a global philanthropic model by improving the professional standards of philanthropic education and strengthening international relations. They commit themselves towards the cultivation of talent across China and the world.


France Passes Law to Fight Food Waste 

France adapted a new law in 2016 that made it the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. Instead, they are only allowed to donate it to charities, food banks and other nongovernmental organizations. This law not only helps getting food to those who need it but also minimizes the harmful greenhouse emissions from food that ends up in landfill.


Shakira Builds Seven Schools in South America 

Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation in 1997 with her goal to provide innovative educational infrastructure for public education in Colombia and Latin America. The singer focused on building the schools in rural areas to give the children an equal opportunity of education. In 2017, she announced plans to build her seventh school, in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia.


Women Gain Right to Drive in Saudi Arabia

 The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, lifted the ban on female drivers during the first year of his regime. More than 120,000 women applied for their first driver’s license the day the ban was lifted, as they finally took a seat behind the wheel instead of relying on private chauffeurs.


Afghanistan Province Is Declared Free of Land Mines 

The HALO Trust de-mining group cleared Afghanistan’s Herat Province of land mines as part of a ten-year project funded by the British government. The land mines were estimated to have been laid since the 1980s, and with the mines gone, the province has potential for major economic improvement now that its agricultural land is safe from land mines.


Iceland Becomes First Country to Enforce Equal Pay Across Genders 

The new law requires companies to prove that they pay all of their employees fairly without gender discrimination, and if companies fail to comply, they have to pay a daily fine. This law is the first of its kind in the world, and covers both the public and the private sector.


Greta Thunberg Sparks Global Movement with Sail to UN Climate Conference 

While raising awareness on the carbon emissions from airplanes, climate activist Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean twice to attend UN climate conferences. The schoolgirl from Sweden helped spark a global movement of other students demanding actions from governments to fight climate change. Finding strength in numbers, young people have further come together though UNICEF’s “Youth for Climate Action” movement, which, through outlets like its Voices of Youth platform, is dedicated to elevating the voices of young people who are committed to protecting the future of our planet.


Indigenous Tribe in Ecuador Wins Legal Battle to Protect Their Land 

The indigenous Waorani tribe marched through the streets of Puyo in victory when they had won a lawsuit against the Ecuadoran government for not properly consulting with them before opening up their territory to potential oil exploration. This final verdict saved around seven million acres of Amazonian forest and indigenous territory from oil drilling.


India Plants 220 Million Trees 

More than a million people in India planted 220 million trees due to a government campaign that was launched to combat climate change and improve the environment. Students, lawmakers, officials and members of the public planted dozens of saplings of various species along roads and rail tracks and within the forests in Uttar Pradesh. The state is home to 220 million residents, a fact that inspired the number of trees to be planted: one for each resident. 

And what about the 2020s so far...?


First Covid-19 Vaccine Administered 

Sandra Lindsay, a critical-care nurse in New York, became the first individual in the United States to receive the PfizerBioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. This provided everyone with a glimmer of hope in terms of combating the coronavirus pandemic. Her hospital scrubs, her vaccination card and the hospital ID she wore the day she received her dose were donated to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.


One World: Together at Home Concert Raises $128 Million for Health-Care Workers

Global Citizen hosted its One World: Together at Home concert with the World Health Organization in support of the fight against Covid-19. The concert was curated by Lady Gaga and featured other celebrities, including Elton John and Celine Dion, to share the message that we are all connected at home even as we practice social distancing. In the end, a total of $128 million was raised for the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

2020: Wuhan Celebrates Return to Normalcy After Covid Outbreak 

Wuhan, the city that recorded the first outbreak of Covid-19, celebrated life returning to normal one year from when the virus was first detected. The city has also shut down all the temporary hospitals that were built in haste to house Covid-19 patients. Shops have reopened, and people are attending pool parties and enjoying the nightlife once more while still abiding by Covid-19 precautionary measures.

2021: Chinese Monk Dedicates Life to Rescuing 8,000 Dogs 

Zhi Xiang, a fifty-one-year-old Buddhist monk, has spent the last twenty-seven years rescuing stray dogs from the streets of Shanghai. The dogs are housed at his Bao’en Temple monastery and an animal shelter that he runs. With the help of social media, these dogs have found homes in Canada, the United States and Germany.

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