As Ireland’s biggest celebration of youth eco-action once more opens for registrations, young people nationwide are now being encouraged to get their hands green and reap the rewards of their environmental efforts.

Now in its fifteenth year, ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards (YEA) is an initiative open to young people aged 10-18 years from across the 32 counties of Ireland. The programme sees groups from schools, youth and community organisations come up with real solutions to a host of local and global environmental issues.

Last year, hundreds of entries were shortlisted to just 70 finalists following some very competitive regional ECO-Dens. Having impressed the expert judging panel with projects ranging from rooftop city gardens to constructing greenhouses from plastic bottles to co-ordinating a sustainably run outdoor music festival, the 70 groups went on to attend the prestigious Young Environmental Awards Showcase and Ceremony where President Michael D. Higgins delivered the keynote address. 

Commenting on the 2014 Young Environmentalist Awards, Elaine Nevin, National Director of ECO-UNESCO said, “This programme just grows year after year and it’s a huge testament not only to the depth of young people’s environmental awareness, but also to the huge level of innovation, commitment and passion that they show in providing a real response to a wide range of issues such as biodiversity, climate change, waste, energy and a whole lot more besides”. 

This year, a YEA Road Show will hit towns and villages across Ireland, inspiring and encouraging young people to start their very own eco-action projects. Free training will be provided to all registered groups from the end of September through to October. The training will provide young people, their teachers and leaders with the skills, knowledge and know how to grow their ideas into a real life action project that will help improve their local school, community or wider world.       

Registration to ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards will close on November 29th. Participants will have until February 2014 to complete their project in one of ten categories including Climate Change, Biodiversity, Energy, Waste, Community Development and Art and Design. Once registered, groups can avail of ECO-UNESCO’s training, advice and on-going support as their projects progress.

Teachers and youth leaders can register groups of 2-25 young people by visiting www.ecounesco.ie or by contacting ECO-UNESCO at +353 1 6625491 or yea@ecounesco.ie.

ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards is supported by Department of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government; Department of the Children and Youth Affairs; the Environmental Protection Agency, Dublin City Council, Alupro Ireland and a number of local authorities island-wide.

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