Youth for the Future: Environmental Youth Summit 2017-18



In Autumn 2017, ECO-UNESCO launched a new initiative that aimed to empower young people to engage with key policy makers and influence the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Environmental Youth Summit programme was an innovative 10 month initiative made up of a series of events, trainings and action projects for over 50 Irish and European young people aged 15-19. 

By the end of the project, which was funded by Erasmus+ with support from UNIDO, young people were equipped with the tools they require to influence the achievement of the SDGs.



Project Step 1: First meeting of the Youth for the Future, September 30th 2017

On the 30th September, 2017 young people met in Dublin for the first part of the project. They took part in interactive workshops and met with experts and policy makers including Brian Carroll (Department for Communications, Climate Action & Environment); Breda Naughton (Department of Educations and Skills); Prof. Paul Walsh (Chair of International Development Studies in University College Dublin); Paul Melia (Irish Independent); and Sabrina Dekker (Climate Change Policy Analyst at Codema – Dublin’s Energy Agency).


Project Step 2: Environmental Youth Leader Summit, November 2017


As part of the Youth for the Future project, the young people met again in Dublin Castle for a 3 day Environmental Youth Leader Summit. This consisted of 3 days of project work, workshops and discussion – all inspired by three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; Climate Action, Sustainable Consumption & Production, and Sustainable Cities.


During the summit, young people met with experts on the SDGs and environmental policy such as Kai Bethke, Director of the Department of External Relations at UNIDO; Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party; Brian Carroll, Assistant Secretary of the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment; and Duncan Stewart, presenter of RTE’s Eco-Eye series. This was a valuable opportunity for the young people to speak directly with the experts and to get their voices heard on matters that influence their generation. 


Young people also had the chance to be inspired by youth activists who attended the summit and shared their experiences of taking meaningful action for positive change. The youth activists included Aisling Byrne, founder of a sustainable fashion start-up called Nu Wardrobe; Aaron Bailey, a community leader in Cloughjordan eco-village in Tipperary; and Claudia Tormey, the Relations Supporter at Young Friends of the Earth and co-manager of the Dublin Library of Things.


The educational approach was very practical, with participants collaborating in groups and planning their action projects. Additionally, there were also outdoor excursions and fun activities to keep them on their toes, including a trip to Leinster House, a visit to the Dublin Waste Water Treatment Facility, and even a hike to the top of Sugar Loaf in the Wicklow Mountains. In the evenings, participants did a Halloween tour of the city, attended a concert, and had several other social events.


After the summit the young people returned to their communities where they carried out Local Action Projects, putting the knowledge and skills they had gained into practice by coming up with environmental initiatives in their local communities.


Project Step 3: June 2018

The final event of ECO-UNESCO’s ‘Youth for the Future’ Summit 2017-2018 took place on Monday, May 28th at the Carmelite Centre on Aungier Street, bringing together participants from Ireland, Italy and Armenia. 

Green Party Councillor Ciaran  Cuffe gave an inspiring key note speech to start the day off, and youth participants presented their finalised projects to a panel of esteemed judges such as Sabrina Dekker , Climate Change Policy Analyst; Patrick Paul Walsh, UCD & UN SSDN; and Niall Sargent, Irish Environmental Network. 

We were also delighted to be joined by Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan, who joined us to give some constructive feedback on participants projects.

Thank you to all of the youth groups who took part in this programme:

  • ECO-UNESCO, Dublin
  • Leave No Trace, Westport
  • Bailieborough community School, Cavan
  • Liceo Classico Statale Tito Livio, Italy
  • Federation of Youth Clubs, Armenia


See the photos here