Our Story

Since we were established in 1986 we have developed and grown into a vibrant, dynamic organisation. We have created a wide range of innovative programmes and services aimed at promoting the personal development of young people by building their confidence and self-esteem. This has enabled them to become active citizens whilst developing a knowledge and an understanding of our natural environment, which has protected the environment. 

We are a forerunner in innovative environmental education and youth programmes. We have worked with hundreds of thousands of young people promoting environmental protection through youth action and innovation will remain a key theme in our work. We work with young people, educators and youth leaders on environmental projects across Ireland, helping to protect and conserve the environment. Each year our programmes, workshops, events and trainings support and inspire environmental action at a local level among young people, their peer groups, communities and beyond. Through our innovative peer education programmes and youth-led events, ECO-UNESCO continuously strives to better achieve our mission of using environmental education as a means of empowering young people and supporting positive personal development.

30 years of history

ECO-UNESCO started in 1984 when a group of young people who wanted to take action to protect the environment got together and started an ECO Club. A year later the ECO Club became a member of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and was admitted into the Department of Education’s Youth Service Grant as part of the celebration of International Youth Year. In 1986, ECO-UNESCO is officially founded and opens an Environmental Resource Centre.

Timeline of ECO-UNESCO over 30 years

2019

ECO-UNESCO became a Sustainable Development Goal Champion

2018

ECO-UNESCO launches it new Strategic Plan 2018-2023

2017

ECO-UNESCO expands its Youth for Sustainable Development Programme to 4 new communities in Ireland. 21

2016

ECO-UNESCO invited to deliver pilot UNESCO GAP Flagship Youth Leadership programm

2016

Over 40,000 young people have taken part in the Young Environmentalist Awards to date

2015

ECO-UNESCO is invited as Key Partner in the Implementation of UNESCO’s Global Action Plan

2014

ECO-UNESCO attend the UNESCO Conference in Japan marking the end of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development

2013

President Michael D. Higgins is announced as patron of ECO-UNESCO

2013

The first Youth Employability programme, Green Pathways, is launched

2012

ECO-UNESCO run the “Youth Exploring Rio+20 – A UNESCO Clubs Transnational Meeting”

2011

With support from Toyota Ireland we receive funding for a new ECOUNESCO Clubs in Action programme from Toyota Fund for Europe

2010

ECO-UNESCO’s Director, Elaine Nevin, attends the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House, on invitation from President Obama & Michelle Obama in recognition of our work in youth and community development

2009

ECO-UNESCO runs a National Youth ECO-Forum called ‘What’s so Hot about Climate Change 2?’Countdown to Copenhagen with over 180 young people

2007

ECO-UNESCO is appointed as consultants for the development of a National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development

2006

3 participants of the ECO-UNESCO Youth Representatives Programme represent Ireland for the first time at the Youth Eco Parliament in Paris

2005

ECO-UNESCO becomes an accredited FETAC centre

2004

ECO-UNESCO runs a strength in diversity project in partnership with Sustainable Ireland, Belong2, Pavee Point and Unaccompanied Minors

2003

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern presents the Young Environmentalist Awards for the second consecutive year

2002

Four ECO-UNESCO members attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg

2001

Schools received environmental training through the SEMPA programme, sponsored by Fingal County Council

2000

The first Young Environmentalist Awards Final is held in the Law Society and is attended by President Mary McAleese

1999

The first Young Environmentalist Awards programme is launched

1998

Four ECO-UNESCO members go on a youth exchange to Canada with the objective of planting trees with ‘Tree Canada’ Foundation

1997

The tree nursery in Finglas wins an AIB ‘Better Ireland’ award

1996

ECO-UNESCO rebrands and adopts a new logo

1995

Our EnergyWatch programme raises awareness of energy conservation and efficiency by awarding young people who carry out environmental work focusing on energy within their local community

1994

ECO-UNESCO’s Greenwatch programme encourages environmental audits in schools, homes and communities to improve knowledge of local environments and to identify areas for improvement

1993

ECO-UNESCO hosts EU seminars on training for a better world and a new European Environment

1992

ECO-UNESCO sends a representative to the earth summit in Brazil

1991

ECO-UNESCO opens a tree nursery in Finglas

1990

ECO-UNESCO produces its first video to recruit new members and promote the organisation

1989

ECO-UNESCO’s Riverwatch programme is launched with the aim of creating a wider awareness of our water resources

1988

ECO-UNESCO is represented in Youth Environment Europe’s Youth Forum

1986

ECO-UNESCO is officially founded and opens an Environmental Resource Centre