Southeast Asia

Thai flag

Thailand’s Senate overwhelmingly approves bill legalizing marriage equality

The bill will also allow LGBTQ+ couples to adopt children together. Though it still must be formally approved by King Maha Vajiralongkorn to become law, he is expected to support its passing. Once passed, it will make Thailand the third country in Asia and the first in Southeastern Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Thailand’s Senate overwhelmingly approves bill legalizing marriage equality Read more

Leopard shark / Zebra shark

Rewilding program ships eggs around the world to restore Raja Ampat zebra sharks

The Shark Reef Aquarium on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada has been sending zebra shark eggs to Indonesia’s Raja Ampat. Researchers hope to release 500 zebra sharks into the wild within 10 years in an effort to support a large, genetically diverse breeding population.
A survey estimated the zebra shark had a population of 20 spread throughout the Raja Ampat archipelago, making the animal functionally extinct in the region.

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Elderly person smiling

Global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years between 1990 and 2021

A new study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that the super-region of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania had the world’s largest net gain in life expectancy between 1990 and 2021 (8.3 years), largely due to reductions in mortality from chronic respiratory diseases, stroke, lower respiratory infections, and cancer.

Global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years between 1990 and 2021 Read more

African girl sleeping on mother's shoulder

‘Historic milestone’ as global child mortality hits record low of 4.9 million in 2022

Figures newly released by the U.N. Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) reveal the global under-five mortality rate has declined by 51% since 2000 reaching an all-time low. Some countries such as Cambodia, Malawi, Mongolia, and Rwanda reduced under-five mortality rate by over 75% over the time period. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell praised the dedicated efforts of midwives, health workers and community health workers, whose commitment has contributed to the remarkable decline.

‘Historic milestone’ as global child mortality hits record low of 4.9 million in 2022 Read more

Vast solar farm

Utility solar dethrones coal as the cheapest power source in Asia

According a new analysis from Wood Mackenzie on the levelized cost of electricity for the Asia Pacific region, the cost of renewables reached a historic low in 2023. Renewable energy costs in Asia last year were 13% cheaper than coal and are expected to be 32% cheaper by 2030. Utility solar is now the cheapest power source in 11 out of 15 APAC countries. New-build solar project costs are expected to fall by another 20% by 2030.

Utility solar dethrones coal as the cheapest power source in Asia Read more

River dolphin

11 countries sign global pact to protect endangered river dolphins

Since the 1980s, the combined populations of river dolphin species have plummeted by 73%. With the Global Declaration for River Dolphins, 14 countries are expected to join forces to protect six surviving species. So far, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, and Venezuela have signed the declaration.

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Person receiving nasal spray

Novel nasal COVID-19 vaccine offers longer, better immunity than jabs

Researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore have developed an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine that enhances the immune system’s response to the virus, providing longer-lasting, greater protection than vaccine injections, even against new and emerging variants. The novel vaccine candidate could mean fewer boosters in future.

Novel nasal COVID-19 vaccine offers longer, better immunity than jabs Read more

Buddha statue in the dark

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to return looted ancient art to Cambodia and Thailand

Thirteen of the works are being returned to Cambodia in concert with an investigation from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York and Homeland Security. Among the works are a large head of Buddha made of stone in the seventh century, and a tenth century sandstone goddess statue from the Koh Ker archaeological site.

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Waving a pride flag

Thailand to legalize same-sex marriage

The Southeast Asian country will become the third Asian nation, after Taiwan and Nepal, to legalize same-sex marriage. A new amendment to its Civil and Commercial Code will change the words “men and women” and “husband and wife” to “individuals” and “marriage partners.” The next step will be an amendment to the country’s pension fund law to recognize same-sex couples.

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Palm trees

Indonesia to reforest more than 400,000 acres of palm plantations

Landowners with oil palm trees in designated production forests will be allowed to continue growing the crops after paying fines, while plantations found in protected forests will have to be turned over to the government for reforestation. Companies that grow oil palms illegally after the Nov. 2 deadline will be subject to legal action.

Indonesia to reforest more than 400,000 acres of palm plantations Read more