Home News Freedom by bike, the chance to own a wind farm, more paths to agency

Freedom by bike, the chance to own a wind farm, more paths to agency


In addition to two stories where people gain the freedom of more choices, our environmental progress includes a Southern Hemisphere glacier park and a phone app whose notifications are helping fight Thai forest fires.

1. Chile

A new national park in Chile will protect over 185,000 acres of melting glaciers. The National Glacier Park site is 60 kilometers
(37 miles) from the capital city of Santiago and will protect 46% of the ice found in the Andes area of the metropolitan region, where over 7 million of the nation’s 19 million people live. “It is a fundamental step that our country is taking to combat the destruction of nature,” said then-President Sebastián Piñera on March 6.

Why We Wrote This

In our progress roundup, two ways that people gained greater agency over their lives: a wind farm that’s owned by its consumers and a nonprofit that gives away bikes in rural areas.

Glaciers are a key indicator of climate change for scientists, and all but two of Chile’s 26,000 glaciers are shrinking due to rising temperatures. In the southern region of Patagonia, glaciers are diminishing faster than in any other location around the world. Meanwhile, a national law for glacier protection has been under debate since it was proposed in 2006. The new national park cannot turn back the clock on climate change and has been criticized for not protecting enough land, but it is a sign politicians are heeding the urgent call from scientists and environmentalists for more robust protections. The government says the park will serve as a key site for ecotourism and research.
Agence France-Presse; EOS; University of Santiago, Chile, Daily

2. Burkina Faso

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters/File

In an architecture exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2014, Francis Kéré designed his installation using plastic honeycomb panels. He intended for visitors to add colorful straws to the structure.

Francis Kéré became the first African to earn the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s most prestigious award. When Mr. Kéré was a boy in the village of Gando, Burkina Faso, there was no school. He was sent to the provincial capital to receive an education – in an unventilated, crowded classroom with poor lighting. There, sitting with over 150 other students in 110 F heat, he made up his mind: “In my heart, I felt even then that I wanted to build things better one day, so that kids like me would be free to learn,” he recalls.

Mr. Kéré studied architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. While there, he raised $50,000 to build Gando’s first primary school, later adding teachers’ housing and a library. The student body has since grown from 120 to 700. He has designed schools, libraries, health care facilities, and public spaces throughout West Africa, using simple, local materials in innovative ways, and has built structures across Europe and the United States. His architectural philosophy combines social service and elegance. “It is not because you are poor that you should not try to create quality,” said Mr. Kéré. “Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort.”
The New York Times, Pritzker Architecture Prize


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here