ECO UNESCO: ‘Listen to our young people – we need urgent action on Climate Action’
By Elaine Nevin,
National Director ECO UNESCO
TODAY is World Water Day. It’s an event held every year to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The official UN day is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn more about world water issues, to voice their own opinions regarding water concerns and to encourage them to explore what they can do in 2019 and beyond, to promote sustainable practices in the areas of water and energy.
In ECO UNESCO we often see young people take action to save the environment. Last Friday we saw students from all over the world come out for Climate Change (CBS Kilkenny students pictured protesting above). I was struck by the perception from some that young people taking action on environmental issues was something new.
For over 30 years, Eco-Unesco, Ireland’s environmental youth organisation, has been engaging, educating and empowering young people to take action on environmental issues of concern to them. These are young people who have been concerned about environmental degradation, including biodiversity loss, over-consumption and climate change. As educators, we have worked to build their awareness, their confidence and self-esteem so that they can make choices and take an active role in society.
Through work such as ours, young people have been playing a role as active citizens through their actions and around issues identified by them, with solutions identified by them and carried out by them. We’ve seen over 300,000 young people across Ireland take environmental action since we first opened our doors in 1986. With each action taken, a real positive change is affected.
Perhaps in the past, the young-person revolution has been more silent due to the absence of social and digital media. And now with social media and other new technologies, young people are able to organise, mobilise and take direct action for themselves.
At ECO UNESCO, we have seen just how passionate young people are about environmental action through our Young Environmental Awards, which annually sees more than 4,000 young people take action and make a difference to our environment.
Our society has a real responsibility to our children and young people. Climate change is the defining issue of our generation and will be a priority issue for generations to come. That young people are expressing their concerns through organised actions, such as the schools strikes, should be supported.
We encourage young people of Kilkenny to be active citizens and we should support them when they are. Our young people have been voicing their environmental concerns for decades but now they are mobilising themselves due to the urgency of climate change.
It’s time that policymakers and decision-makers listened to them; this is long overdue.
To register for tickets or for more information on the YEA awards, visit: www.YEA.ie