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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: a new approach to drugs, plus more positive news

Posted 13th May 2022 • Written by •

A pioneering drugs testing service launched in England, the Philippines set a climate precedent, and California set a welcome record, plus more positive news

The UK approved its first drugs testing service

Drugs. The west has been fighting a war against them for decades, with scant evidence of success. This week, the UK offered a further sign that a new approach is emerging, one that places the emphasis on harm reduction over criminality.

In a move unthinkable a decade ago, the government granted a licence for a service that will anonymously test people’s illegal substances for strength and purity – information that could save lives. It comes amid a record rise in drug-related deaths in the UK.

The facility will open in Bristol this month following successful trails in city centres and at festivals. Those accessing the service will be able to deposit a sample of their drugs into an amnesty box; the drugs will then be assessed and the results presented to them an hour later during a consultation with a medical professional.

The service is run by The Loop, a non-profit harm-reduction organisation. Its work has been linked with a fall in drug-related medical problems at festivals. Similar projects already operate in some European countries. 

Bristol city councillor Ellie King said the service “will empower people to make safer, informed decisions and access drug treatment and further support”.

The Philippines set a climate precedent

A Filipino inquiry has concluded that big polluters are ‘morally and legally liable’ for climate damage, a verdict that could help supercharge climate lawsuits around the world. 

The inquiry by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights was launched seven years ago by survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. It concluded that coal, oil and cement firms engaged in “wilful obfuscation” of climate science, while slowing down the transition to clean energy. 

“This report is historic and sets a solid legal basis for asserting that climate-destructive business activities by fossil fuel and cement companies contribute to human rights harms,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño.

The commission does not have the power to hold the companies legally responsible. However, experts hope that the report will lead to new climate laws and pave the way for more climate litigation. 

Smithsonian adopted an ‘ethical returns policy’

The Smithsonian Institution – the world’s largest museum complex – has launched an ‘ethical returns policy’, which will allow its museums to repatriate items that were acquired in a dubious manner.

The institution admitted that it possesses works that it “would not have acquired under present-day standards”. It will now give museums the power to return them based on ethical considerations, such as whether the items were taken under duress or removed without consent. 

“There is a growing understanding at the Smithsonian, and in the world of museums generally, that our possession of these collections carries with it certain ethical obligations to the places and people where the collections originated,” said Smithsonian secretary Lonnie Bunch.

Spain moved to introduce menstrual leave for women

Women who experience severe period pain will be allowed to take up to three days leave each month, as part of reforms due to be approved by the Spanish government.

The move would make Spain the first western nation to offer menstrual leave; Japan, South Korea and Indonesia are among the countries that have already introduced it. 

The reform is due to be passed at a cabinet meeting next Tuesday, according to The Telegraph. It will include other measures to improve menstrual health, including a requirement for schools to provide free sanitary pads for girls who need them.

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