A spray that can be used to make bioplastics compostable at home; an app that resulted in 3,500 trees being planted by young people; and an outdoor edible classroom to give students a place to ‘learn and grow’ were among the 24 eco-projects recognised at this year’s annual ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards (YEA).
The Young Environmentalist Awards showcase and finals took place at the Convention Centre, Dublin, with over 1,000 people in attendance. From nearly 280 projects across 27 counties, 104 were shortlisted for today’s event.
The awards recognise the work of young people who are tackling key issues in relation to climate and
At the Eco-Unesco Youn Environmentalist Awards 2023 in Dublin today, Karl SRonan EMMA SECKINGTON, FIFI BENTLEY AND ISABEL RAMIREZ
biodiversity loss, take environmental action in their school or community and come up with creative solutions to solve environmental issues. Since it began, the YEA programme has attracted over 50,000 young people and reached countless others with awareness-raising campaigns in schools and communities throughout Ireland.
Winners by Category
Projects were awarded across three age groups – super junior, junior and senior – and in twelve categories including biodiversity, climate change and eco-community development.
The Overall Senior Winner was ‘Ireland’s Waning Water Standards’ from Glanmire Community College (GCC), Cork. This group of young people founded the GCC Clean River Society within their school with the aim of educating other young people about river pollution in Ireland. They used their local river, the Glashaboy, for testing nitrates, orthophosphates, dissolved oxygen and pH levels.
The Overall Junior Winner went to Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk for the ‘Mounthawk Student Climate Conference’. This group of young people organised a climate conference in their school to discuss topics such as global food systems, fast fashion, energy, transport and water, with contributions from young people’s voices across the school. Resolutions and action projects were agreed which has informed the work of the Student Council Environment Committee for 2023-24. The resolutions and action ideas were also presented to Sean Kelly MEP.
St Colman’s National School, Ballinaggin, Enniscorthy was awarded the Overall Super Junior prize for their project – ‘Butterfly Mosaic’. From their research the group found that 18 percent of native Irish butterflies are under threat of extinction which inspired them to draw attention to the importance of butterfly habitats. The group designed a butterfly mosaic to communicate their message along with other activities such as a litter-picking event, creating a book, and a quiz.
The winner of the People’s Choice Award, chosen by online vote with over 9,000 votes cast, was St. Clare’s Abbey Primary School, Newry, Co. Down for their project – St. Francis’ Garden. This group wanted to raise awareness on the importance of biodiversity loss. They engaged the whole school in the project, planting trees, bulbs and flowers and building bird houses in their school garden. The winner of the Mentor of the Year, chosen by online vote, was Nicholas Condon from St. Wolstan’s Community School, Cellbridge, Co. Kildare.
Commenting on the awards Elaine Nevin, National Director, ECO-UNESCO said “We’ve been blown away by the standard of eco-action projects this year, and the sheer breadth of issues being highlighted by young people across Ireland. The awards provide an important opportunity to recognise the action our young people are taking in the fight against climate change. The projects also highlight the tangible impact that simple actions can have on stalling climate change and protecting our planet.
“I would like to congratulate all of our awardees, acknowledge those who took part in our regional semi-finals and thank all our funders who make this all possible. Each and every project that entered this year’s awards deserves to be celebrated. As one of the official Sustainable Development Goals Champions appointed in Ireland, we are in awe of the new and innovative ways in which young people are making a positive environmental difference. We look forward to continuing to support and empower young people to use their voices and minds to enact change in our society.”
Further information about today’s awardees is available online here.
Photographer Tommy Clancy