#ClimateStrike: A Letter from ECO-UNESCO National Director Elaine Nevin Features in the Irish Times

Sir, –

 

Fintan O’Toole in his article “Shame on us for forcing children to wake us up to climate change” (Opinion & Analysis, March 5th) is right that “there is a need for

humanity to understand and respect the limits of nature”. Climate change is the defining issue of our generation and there is a need for urgent action to reduce global warming.

 

On reading the article I was struck by the perception that young people taking action on environmental issues is something new. For over 30 years, Eco-Unesco,

Ireland’s environmental youth organisation, has been engaging, educating and empowering young people to take action on environmental issues of concern to them.

These are young people who have been concerned about environmental degradation, including biodiversity loss, overconsumption and climate change.

As educators, we have worked to build their awareness, their confidence and self-esteem so that they can make choices and take an active role in society.

 

Through work such as ours young people have been playing a role as active citizens through their actions and around issues identified by them, with

solutions identified by them and carried out by them. We’ve seen over 300,000 young people across Ireland take environmental action since we first opened our doors in 1986.

With each action taken, a real positive change is affected.

 

Perhaps in the past, the young-person revolution has been more silent due to the absence of social and digital media.

And now with social media and other new technologies, young people are able to organise, mobilise and take direct action for themselves.

 

At Eco Unesco, we have seen just how passionate young people are about environmental action through our Young Environmental Awards,

which annually sees more than 4,000 young people take action and make a difference to our environment.

 

Our society has a real responsibility to our children and young people. That they are expressing their concerns through organised actions,

such as the upcoming schools strikes, should be supported. We encourage young people to be active citizens and we should support them when they are.

Our young people have been voicing their environmental concerns for decades but now they are mobilising themselves due to the urgency of climate change.

 

It’s time that policymakers and decision-makers listened to them; this is long overdue. – Yours, etc,

 

ELAINE NEVIN

National Director,

ECO-UNESCO

Burgh Quay,

Dublin 2.

 

See the letter on the Irish Times website here.