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


ECO-UNESCO became a Sustainable Development Goal Champion


ECO-UNESCO launches it new Strategic Plan 2018-2023


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


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


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


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


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


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


The first Youth Employability programme, Green Pathways, is launched


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


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


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


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


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


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


ECO-UNESCO becomes an accredited FETAC centre


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


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


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


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


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


The first Young Environmentalist Awards programme is launched


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


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


ECO-UNESCO rebrands and adopts a new logo


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


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


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


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


ECO-UNESCO opens a tree nursery in Finglas


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


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


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


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