ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards (YEA) is an all-Ireland environmental awards programme which recognises and rewards young people who raise environmental awareness and improve the environment.

The Young Environmentalist Awards showcase and finals took place at the Convention Centre, Dublin, on 26 May with over 1,000 people in attendance. From nearly 280 projects across 27 counties, 104 were shortlisted for this year’s awards.

Since it began, the YEA programme has attracted over 50,000 young people and reached countless others with awareness-raising campaigns in schools and communities throughout Ireland. The awards are to recognize the work of young people who are tackling key issues in relation to climate change and biodiversity loss.


ECO-UNESCO is Ireland’s leading environmental education and youth organisation, which works to conserve the environment and empower young people. Working with over 10,000 young people each year, ECO-UNESCO offers environmental youth programmes, training programmes, educational resources focused on environmental education and environmental youth work aimed at young people, leaders and teachers, as well as consultancy services.

Winners by category

Projects were awarded across three age groups – super junior, junior and senior – and in 12 categories, which included biodiversity, climate change and eco-community development. The Overall Senior Winner was ‘Ireland’s Waning Water Standards’ from Glanmire Community College (GCC), Cork. This group founded the GCC Clean River Society within their school with the aim of educating other young people about river pollution in Ireland. They used their local river, the Glashaboy, for testing nitrates, orthophosphates, dissolved oxygen and pH levels.

The Overall Junior Winner went to Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk for the ‘Mounthawk Student Climate Conference’. This group organised a climate conference in their school to discuss global food systems, fast fashion, energy, transport and water, with contributions from student voices across the school. Resolutions and action projects were agreed on, which has informed the work of the Student Council Environment Committee for 2023-24.

St Colman’s National School, Ballinaggin, Enniscorthy, was awarded the Overall Super Junior prize for their project – ‘Butterfly Mosaic’. From their research, the group found that 18% of native Irish butterflies are under threat of extinction, which inspired them to draw attention to the importance of butterfly habitats.

The winner of the People’s Choice Award, chosen by online vote with over 9,000 votes cast, was St Clare’s Abbey Primary School, Newry, Co Down for their project ‘St Francis’ Garden’. This group wanted to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity loss. They engaged the whole school in the project, planting trees, bulbs and flowers and building birdhouses in their school garden.

“We’ve been blown away by the standard of eco-action projects this year, and the sheer breadth of issues being highlighted by young people across Ireland,” said Elaine Nevin, ECO-UNESCO’s national director.

She continued: “The awards provide an important opportunity to recognise the action our young people are taking in the fight against climate change. The projects also highlight the tangible impact that simple actions can have on stalling climate change and protecting our planet. We look forward to continuing to support and empower young people to use their voices and minds to enact change in our society.”

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