ECO-UNESCO, one of 257 groups and projects to receive funding under the NGO Challenge Fund 2014, attended the Showcase and Exhibit in the Beech Hill Country House, Derry on June 12th. The event was a celebration of the 2014 Challenge Fund recipients’ work with groups having the chance to exhibit their work and network with each other.

Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) was the administrator of the NGO Challenge Fund 2014 which granted a total of £2.2 million to environmental action projects based in Northern Ireland, the money raised coming from the carrier bag levy. The NGO fund received 363 applications in 2013/2014 and granted funding to 257 projects. Mark H Durkan MLA, Minister for the Environment delivered the keynote address on the day and commended and recognised the contributions of all of the funding recipients to the enhancement of Northern Ireland’s environment.

Under the Challenge Fund, ECO-UNESCO delivered a series of 6 Steps to Success Young Environmentalist Awards workshops and trainings to groups all across Northern Ireland. The workshop provided young people the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to enable them to carry out their own environmental action project in their community, youth group or school. The workshops delivered were very successful with all of the groups carrying out an environmental action project, four of them making it through to the All-Ireland final of the Young Environmentalist Awards. Here, two of the groups, Slam Dunk The Junk from Belfast Model School for Girls and SERC Woodland College from South Eastern Regional College, Bangor took home the Junior Waste and Senior Biodiversity prizes respectively.

Commenting on the event, National Director of ECO-UNESCO, Elaine Nevin said, “ECO-UNESCO was delighted to be part of this initiative and have the opportunity to empower young people in Northern Ireland and up skill them in carrying out local environmental action projects which really made a big impact in local communities. It was fantastic to attend the NGO Challenge Fund celebration, to see the wide range of environmental projects that are being carried out across Northern Ireland and to meet with the various groups who are doing such important work on the ground. I look forward to the announcement of the 2015 Challenge Fund and to submitting what I hope will be another successful application.”