1. Energy
  2. Waste
  3. Biodiversity
  4. Water
  5. Climate Change
  6. Transport
  7. Eco-Community Development
  8. Eco-Enterprise
  9. Eco-Art and Design
  10. Eco-Health and Wellbeing
There are also a range of additional awards presented at the YEA. Click here for details.


This award will be for projects that clearly demonstrate that a group has raised awareness and taken action to reduce energy consumption and/or offer alternatives to non-renewable fuels in their households/school/youth centre and/or community.

Energy is essential in all our lives for heat, electricity and transport. Energy is one of the most important environmental issues in Ireland, our increasing dependence on imported non-renewable fuels could result in many environmental implications namely, global warming. However, there are many ways which energy can be used more efficiently while still meeting our energy needs. Ireland has a rich availability of renewable energy resources including; the sun (solar energy), wind, water (hydropower, wave and tidal energy), the heat under the surface of the earth (geothermal energy) and biomass (wood, waste and energy crops).  In 2008, 11.9% of Ireland’s electricity was from renewable sources. The aim for 2010 is to have 15% of total electricity production from renewable sources. As well as a shift away from fossil fuels, there are many things each of us, as individuals, can do to reduce our carbon emissions. The choices we make everyday in our homes, schools, how we travel, what we consume (food, clothes, computers, etc) and waste all influence our carbon footprint. Therefore, as an individual, household, school, centre or community, we can make choices to conserve energy and change our unsustainable lifestyle building a better future for everyone. As Einstein said “the problems of today will not be solved using the same ways of thinking that created them”.

What can you do?

Examples of previous energy projects:

  • Carry out an energy audit in your school/youth centre.
  • Promote energy conservation in your school/youth centre. Compare energy bills before and after to see the effect of your awareness raising.
  • Raising awareness of electricity pylons in your community, outlining the positive and negative impacts.
  • An investigation of the carbon footprint of a school.
  • Researching the use of renewable energies in schools, centres or communities.
  • Produce an information booklet raising awareness and promoting good practices.
  • Phone App to encourage reducing energy use.

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.


Projects in this award category should clearly demonstrate that a group has raised awareness and taken action to improve the issue of waste within their school, youth group and/or community.

Worldwide the generation of waste has increased massively due to the increased consumption of goods and services. This has serious implications for local and global environments. There are many small steps which we can take to cut down the ever increasing amount of waste in our society. Avoiding disposable products such as Paper and Plastic Cups and Cutlery, Kitchen Towels, Cameras & Batteries and Drinks Bottles as well as cutting down on excessive packaging can go some way to reducing the waste we produce. By reducing, reusing and recycling you can address the issue while often saving you money as well.  As waste and litter is one of the more visible environmental issues it is often a popular issue to be tackled in a school or youth group.

What can you do?

Examples of previous waste projects:


  • Get your school or youth centre recycling, raising awareness about waste
  • Carryout a waste audit in your school and put in place a waste management scheme following the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
  • Start your school/centre composting (this can lead on to creating a school vegtable garden)
  • A reuse programme for books, clothes and accessories.
  • Creating Art from recycled materials: sculpture/collage/litter monster (from everyday litter and waste); raising awareness about waste in the process.

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.


This award will be for projects that clearly demonstrate that a group has raised awareness and taken action to improve local biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the diversity or variety of life on Earth which has evolved over billions of years of evolution. It forms the intricate web of life of which humans are an integral part and depend upon for all aspects of life. Scientists reckon that there are about 13 million species, though estimates range from three to 100 million. Based on current trends, an estimated 34,000 plant and 5,200 animal species – including one in eight of the world’s bird species – face extinction. Biodiversity also means the genetic diversity within species as well as the diversity and variety of habitats in which species live and depend. While the loss of individual species catches our attention, it is the fragmentation, degradation, and outright loss of forests, wetlands, coral reefs, and other ecosystems that poses the gravest threat to biological diversity. 

In general, Ireland has a rich biodiversity for such a small island. For example, we have about 815 native plants, about 1108 non-native plants that have made Ireland their home; 584 different mosses, 78 types of fern; 3500 different fungi, over 12,000 species of insect, 28 species of land mammals, over 400 resident birds, one toad, one frog and one lizard. Plants, animals, birds and fish are dependent on the habitats in which they live. The biodiversity of Ireland is under threat due to habitat loss and disturbance. In fact, there are 60 habitats in Ireland that are recognised by the EU to be in need of special protection. You can make a difference by helping restore and conserve these habitats and their species as well as letting your peers and community know about the amazing biodiversity we are part of and the urgent protection it needs.

What can you do?

Examples of Biodiversity Projects:


  • Raise awareness of the plight of the bees, gather information, created your own bee garden and raise money to donate to a local bee charity
  • Carry out a study of different species, e.g. carry out a study of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) woodland habitat in their local area and developed a nature walk for local primary students to raise awareness about their project.
  • Raise awareness about your local area e.g. bogs/woodland/dunes by gathering information, carrying out studies and planning on educating young people in order to teach them how to preserve their local area and their environment in the future.
  • Design, create and put up birdhouses, made out of milk cartons and tinfoil, and as an extra scientific slant why not conduct experiments to find out what kinds of colours, shapes and designs attract birds.
  • Plant a wildflower garden in your school, youth centre or community to attract bees and butterflies
  • Do a poster campaign raising awareness about local biodiversity and it’s importance

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.


“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water”            Benjamin Franklin

This award is for groups that demonstrate that their project has raised awareness or that they have taken action to improve local water systems and/or water usage in their area.

More than oil or even money, the availability of water is the key to quality of life for millions of people. Over a billion people in the world do not have access to safe water and over two million people die from diseases related to drinking contaminated every year. Water is a vital resource for our daily lives. However through pollution and waste we may be jeopardising its future availability. Pollution is one of the main dangers for water systems in Ireland leading to what scientists call, eutrophication.  This occurs when water is polluted, resulting in an over-abundant growth of plant and algae. The main pollutants involved are phosphorus and nitrogen, from agricultural manures and fertilisers, sewage and detergents. Under the EU Water Framework Directive Ireland must achieve good water status by 2015, currently not all water in Ireland meets these criteria. There are many different water categories in Ireland including, rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters, bathing waters, groundwaters and drinking water. Everyone can make a difference by raising awareness and reducing the chemicals that impact on our waters . Water conservation is and reducing the quantity of water they use.
(Source: www.epa.ie)

What can you do?

Some examples of previous water projects:


  • Investigating river pollution and its causes.
  • Raising awareness about the importance of water conservation.
  • Reclaiming and restoring a local pond.
  • Restoration and conservation of a river.
  • Setting up a rainwater collector in your school or youth centre
  • Comparing the health of two rivers in different areas.

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.

Climate Change

This award is for groups that demonstrate that their project has raised awareness of Climate Change and/or that they have taken action to reduce the impact of climate change in their area.

Human-induced climate change is a worldwide issue and is one of the primary environmental challenges of this century.  Increased levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide act to enhance the natural greenhouse effect and accelerate irreversible changes in the climate.  Greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide are released when fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel, oil, coal, peat and gas, are burned to run cars, heat our homes, business and industries. Other gases are also released as a result of agriculture, industry and in the waste sector. Unlike previous cycles of climate change, the current extent and rate of change is far in excess of natural variation. The impacts of change will be far reaching, threatening health, access to water, food production and the use of land.

Unfortunately, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions per person are amongst the highest in the world. Some of the impacts of climate change for Ireland could include a rise in sea-level, intense storms, increased flooding, water shortages, increased wild fires, changes in species distribution, including possible extinction of species which need cooler conditions.

There are many ways which we can all help to tackle climate change including improvements in energy efficiency, investing in renewable energies, using sustainable transport options and employing sustainable development practices.

What can you do?

Some examples of previous climate change projects:

  • Giving presentations to raise awareness of climate change and encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint
  • A school newspaper about the importance of trees and climate change.
  • Set up a climate change forum
  • An investigation into the release of methane gas from cattle.
  • Measuring and reducing carbon footprints.

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.


This award is for groups whose project raises awareness or who take action to improve local transport systems in their area and/or promote green transport in their area.

Transport or transportation is the movement of people and goods from one location to another which can be achieved using a variety of modes of transport including; air,railroadwatercablepipeline, and space. In Ireland we are a nation of car owners, with the total number of private cars on the road increasing by 82% between 1990 and 2002.  The environmental effects of transport are diverse and wide-ranging, and can extend to air, water and land causing smog, noise pollution, acidification which affects fish populations and forest soils, and eutrophication which causes some plant species to grow excessively and others to disappear, thereby reducing biodiversity. However, the most alarming effect is the release of greenhouse gases that cause global warming with Road transport is the largest contributor.

Clearly, a reduction of transportation emissions is essential especially in Ireland. We need to find alternatives to fossil fuel based transport and make the use of those alternatives practical and open to as many people as possible. You could start with simply walking or cycling over short distances like to school or getting public transport or car pooling over longer distances. Governments also must make greener transport choices by improving public transport, putting in place cycling lanes and overall better town/city planning so people don’t have to commute long distances everyday for work/school.

What can you do?

Some examples of previous transport projects:


  • Development of a car-pooling system in your community
  • Encouraging students to walk, cycle and carpool to school.
  • Carry out a study of the modes of transport used by your school/centre/community.
  • Surveying traffic in an area.
  • Carry out an investigation of biofuels.

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.

Eco-Community Development

This award is for groups whose project regardless of its theme, extends out into their community, raising awareness and linking with other community groups, encouraging communities to get involved in eco-action.

Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to affect change in their own communities, making those communities more inclusive and sustainable. Schools and youth centres are at the core of any community and their activities naturally connect outward into the community. Young people are often told about the ‘power of one’ and individual responses to the great challenges we face. But as part of their own communities, youth organisations and peer groups they can effect far greater changes and feel empowered to respond to these challenges on a scale that will be seen and used as a good example to the rest of society. Environmental issues will inevitably affect every single community member and so, are an important aspect of community development. Eco-Community Development aims to improve the environmental aspects of a community and projects will often incorporate the other category themes but have the extra element of extending into the development of the community.

What can you do?

Some examples of previous Eco-Community Development projects:


  • Set up a town green committee to tackle the environmental issues that affect the community such as; traffic congestion, town planning, waste management, etc.
  • Research an local environmental problem (e.g. pollution of the local river) by carrying out a town survey, contacting groups such as; town council, residents, farmers to get their feedback
  • Set up a farmers market in your community giving local producers the opportunity to sell their produce
  • Research the carbon footprint of your community assessing how green they are.
  • Do a town clean-up, making green spaces more attractive for community members as well as for wildlife.
  • Turn one of the many derelict sites in a community into a community garden

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.


This award will be for a group that have created a business model that not only reaps financial profits but is sustainable. It should benefit society and rather than being detrimental to the environment, improve it. Eco-business also includes projects that raise awareness about unsustainable aspects of business.

Eco-business merges previous categories such as eco-innovation, eco-technology, eco-consumerism and eco-enterprise into a broader idea of ‘Green Business’; a new model that has no negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society or economy. In order to create a sustainable world, business must look beyond simply monetary profit and include benefits to the environment and society. Young entrepreneurs and business people are therefore crucial in re-orientating business toward long-term sustainability. Green business is growing rapidly all over the world with innovative new products emerging everyday such as; hybrid cars, biodegradable plastics, carbon neutral cement and water saving toilet flushes. So no longer can the business world ignore the negative effects on the environment but instead, see the advantages to a green business model.

What can you do?

Some examples of previous Eco-innovation, technology and enterprise projects:


  • Research and develop an environmentally friendly product such as; grow bags, waste paper briquettes, wind/solar power garden light.
  • Grow and sell potted holly and Christmas trees to your local community or in your local Market so as to encourage people to grow their own Christmas trees instead of buying a new one each year
  • Turn waste into a product that can be sold and used to raise awareness on waste
  • Carry out an eco-business audit on a local business, with the findings presenting recommendations on how to green their business
  • Research consumerism and its effects on the environment and raising awareness about this research in your school/youth centre or community

For more information or support on how to carryout a project contact us at yea@ecounesco.ie or call 01 6625491.