Road to Rio+20 Mobilising Young People in Ireland



ECO-UNESCO would like to invite youth workers, youth leaders and educators to join us as we explore how to inspire and empower young people to influence the outcomes at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development this June in Brazil. We will explore the role young people played 20 years ago at the Rio Declaration while examining how the young people in Ireland today “can and must play a central role in bringing dynamic new ideas, fresh thinking and energy to the Rio+20 process” (Ban Ki-Moon). Join us for an evening where we discover how to channel the energy and talent of the young people we serve in Ireland in achieving a sustainable future. Book today for this free event (places are limited) For bookings or further information, contact Megan Noah: ECO-UNESCO The Greenhouse 17 St. Andrew Street Dublin 2 Ireland t (01) 662 5491 f(01) 662 5493 The fee for this course is subsidised by Irish Aid

ECO-UNESCO's Introduction to Sustainable Development (FETAC Accredited Module - L5)



The course develops an understanding of concepts such as sustainability, quality of life, sustainable communities and carrying capacity. It builds awareness of the links between the environment, society and the economy, education for sustainable development and develops skills of analysis (auditing). Learners facilitate a workshop on an environmental issue of their choice incorporating education for sustainable development methodologies, carry out a project on the life cycle analysis of a product and complete a group project on developing a sustainable community. By the end of the training participants will: • acquire a general knowledge and understanding of the term sustainable development • develop an awareness of the interactions between society, economics and the environment at a local and global level • develop skills of problem solving, critical thinking and systems thinking • skills of data recording, analysis and evaluation (e.g. environmental auditing and indicator development) • develop communication and facilitation skills Who? Anyone interested in learning more about sustainable development including: professionals, local authorities, businesses, teachers, youth leaders, community workers, young people under 25 and the general public. workers, young people under 25 and the general public.

Where? ECO-UNESCO @ The Greenhouse, 17 St Andrew Street, Dublin 2. Also available in Cork, Sligo and Tipperary read moreğ How Long and When? The course consists of 25 contact hours. NEW DATES FOR 2012 COURSES Option 1 – 10 Week Course

(Start Dates) • Course 1: Thursday, January 26th. • Course 2: Thursday, September 27th Option 2 - Intensive Course • Course 1: Fri 24th & Sat 25th February || Fri 23rd & Sat 24th March • Course 2: Fri 27th & Sat 28th April || Fri 25th & Sat 26th May • Course 3: Fri 20th Sat 21st July || Fri 17th & Sat 18th Aug • Course 4: Fri 5th Sat 6th Oct || Fri 2nd & Sat 3rd Nov

ECO-UNESCO also runs this course for groups on request. If you have a group interested in participating please contact us. Assessment: Learners have to complete one individual project, one group project and facilitate a workshop. How much? €200 ECO-UNESCO Members, students,unwaged, young people under 25; €220 Voluntary and Community Sector; €240 Statutory

How do I book? Contact ECO-UNESCO at || +353 (0)1 662 5491

Registration for ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards extended


Registration for ECO-UNESCO's Young Environmentalist Awards has been extended until December 23rd and groups have until February 24th 2012 to get their projects in. Groups can register on the ECO-UNESCO website.

The ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards recognise and reward the achievements of young people in environmental protection and are open to any group of young people, aged 10-18, who want to take action on key environmental issues such as climate change, energy, waste, biodiversity, transport and more.

Eco-innovation Action Plan sets agenda for jobs and growth


The European Commission has launched a new Eco-innovation Action Plan as part of Europe 2020. Building on the lessons-learnt of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan launched in 2004 (ETAP), the plan complements the EU policies on innovation, resource efficiency, industry and skills to support the transition towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The efforts of ETAP focused on:

  • Getting from research to market with actions at both EU and Member-State levels – however better coordination is still needed between EU, national and regional efforts and instruments with advanced governance structures to build on national strengths and best practice.
  • Improving market conditions with environmental policy driving rapid development and market take up of eco-innovation. The Lead Market Initiative, the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) initiative, LIFE+ and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme have helped but stronger support for SMEs, also through Cohesion Funds, would accelerate eco-innovation.
  • Opening up global markets – eco-innovation policies are now key items on the global green growth agenda in the run-up to the next UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and in bilateral environmental dialogues with the EU’s partners.
  • Enhancing governance – since ETAP was launched, efforts have been made to coordinate EU and Member States’ policies and action more closely to harness the potential of environmental technologies and eco-innovation. However, insufficient networking and weak links across policy areas remain key obstacles.

The new Eco-innovation Action Plan provides a clear outline of the actions now needed at EU and Member State levels to meet the challenges for jobs and economic growth in a resource- and environmentally-constrained world.

Source: ETAP

Innovation Hub to address Ireland's water infrastructure


A new Innovation Hub to address Ireland's water infrastructure was launched in the Nimbus Centre, Cork Institute of Technology on Thursday 8th December.

The Water Systems and Services Innovation Centre (WSSIC) is a joint venture between Cork County Council, Cork City Council, and the Nimbus Centre at Cork Institute of Technology. The WSSIC aims to create an expert resource in modernizing Ireland's water infrastructure by taking advantage of Nimbus' technological knowledge and leveraging both Councils' experience in Water Resource operation.

The WSSIC plans to harness state-of-the-art technology in water quality monitoring, leakage reporting & repair, remote monitoring and much more. The resulting innovations will be rolled out across County Cork with a view to deploying to all city and county councils in Ireland. With this, the WSSIC will seek to become internationally recognised as a hub for innovation in water-based systems and technologies. Alongside more efficient water services and monitoring processes, the WSSIC will be used as a catalyst for the creation of Irish-based enterprise and jobs.

Source: Cork County Council

Public Consultation on EU Renewable Energy Strategy


A public consultation has been launched to gather input on the form, extent and content of policy interventions at EU and national levels in the field of renewable energy sources after the year 2020.

Particularly at the regional/local level, the public consultation aims to explore the potential for regional cooperation. The possibility of a coordinated, more strategic approach to grid connection is being examined for the rapidly growing volume of offshore wind generation facilities in the North Sea. Do you think such cooperation should be further fostered? What benefits do you think could arise from it? Do you think that this experience could be generalised and applied elsewhere?

Do you represent a public authority at the national, regional or local level, a private organisation, an association, an NGO or an SME? Are you a European citizen with a view on how renewable energy sources can shape our future?

This is your opportunity to have your say on our common Renewable Energy Strategy. The deadline for submissions is 7th February 2012.

Source: European Commission Energy

EU is not on track to meet 2050 carbon targets, says report


EU climate and energy policy is failing to put the EU on a course to decarbonising by 2050, according to WWF and Ecofys.

The EU Climate Policy Tracker 2011 uses a scoring system to rate countries’ environmental policies and their use in developing a low carbon economy. The EU’s 2050 goal of near total decarbonisation (80% reduction from 1990 levels) sets the benchmark for an “A” rating.

The report found that despite improvements by nine Member States over the past year, some have achieved a worse score than the year before. Also, the overall average remains low: an evaluation of the effectiveness of EU policy in relation to achieving the 2050 targets using a scale from A to G (where G is lowest) found that the average score was E.

The report said that the EU’s new plans, consisting of a roadmap on a low-carbon economy by 2050, a transport white paper and an energy efficiency plan, “show significant improvements, but are still insufficient to be in line with a low-carbon economy”.

It also found that the majority of new policy developments in EU member states were either a direct implementation of EU legislation or were linked to EU legislation. “This reinforces the message that intensification of policies at the EU-level can have a large impact on countries’ performance,” the report said.

The report made a series of recommendations. It called for a revision of the EU Emissions trading system cap so that it aligned with the 2050 carbon reduction target; the introduction of a CO2 tax as part of the Energy Tax directive; tighter CO2 emissions for cars; more stringent standards under the Eco-design Directive; and more guidance for member states on how to retrofit as part of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

Source: European Environmental Press

Feeding Wild Birds in Winter


As the frosty winter weather returns, spare a thought for the wild birds in your garden! Detailed information on feeding them can be found in the How To section of this website.

This is especially important for the Blackbirds and Thrushes who are dependent on slugs, snails and berries for their diet. As the ground becomes frozen they are unable to dig for slugs and insects and would greatly appreciate some cut fruit e.g. apple or some dried fruit left over from Christmas baking. Water is also very important for them as they find difficult to access it in freezing conditions.

You will be rewarded in spring/summer with their song. They will also eat the slugs and snails from your garden plants!

Revised grant amounts announced for Better Energy homes scheme


The Better Energy Homes scheme temporarily closed for new applications following Budget 2012 and a subsequent announcement by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

As with all schemes administered by SEAI, the Better Energy Homes scheme is subject to continuous review with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with respect to programme objectives. To date over €115m has been paid in grant support towards 270,000 upgrade measures in 110,000 homes. There is also a noted continued downward trend in the typical cost of works, particularly in the case of wall insulation.

Therefore after a review with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources a number of scheme revisions have been agreed, which will come into effect when the scheme reopens on December 8th 2011, at 10.00 a.m.

The two key changes to the scheme are

  • Revised grant amounts for all wall insulation types and Building Energy Rating (BER)
  • Internal and external wall insulation grants will no longer be one single amount, but rather be based upon the house type.

Grants for attic insulation and all heating system upgrades including solar remain unchanged.

A summary of the new grant levels, and how they relate to house type, is available on the SEAI website.

Source: SEAI

Irish Energy Use Falls Slightly in 2010


Launching two statistical reports yesterday, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has announced that energy use in Ireland fell by 0.3% in 2010 when increased energy use, as a result of the particularly cold winter, was offset by improved energy efficiency and economic factors. These findings were published in SEAI’s annual report Energy in Ireland 1990-2010 , while Electricity and Gas Prices in Ireland (1st Semester 2011) shows that the majority of households in Ireland enjoyed lower energy prices for the first half of this year.

Please see the SEAI website for details of the reports.

Source: SEAI

Irish energy firm Cylon gets sustainability innovation accolade


Cylon Active Energy, the new cloud-based energy management division of Cylon Group, has been awarded the Sustainable Energy Innovation Award at the SEAI 2011 Annual Awards.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) 2011 Annual Awards, held in Dublin City last week, honour individuals and organisations that are showing excellence in the management and use of energy and who are committed to more sustainable energy practices.

Commenting on the award win, Sean Giblin, managing director, Cylon, said that the company was “thrilled” to win the award for sustainable energy innovation, especially as it is the first time Cylon took part in the SEAI awards.

“Efficient-energy management is becoming a priority for businesses due to growing regulatory requirements and increasing energy costs. Cylon’s unique cloud-based real-time energy management technology allows us to centrally monitor and analyse our clients’ energy consumption from our Dublin-based energy bureau in Clonshaugh,” he said.

Giblin founded Cylon in 1985 following research he carried out as part of his final-year project at University College Dublin (UCD).

Source: Silicon Republic

New Climate Change Report Published


A new climate change report has been published which includes observations, projections and impacts of climate change for twenty-four countries. The report was commissioned by Chris Huhne, the UK's Secretary for State for Energy and Climate Change in April 2011.

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • All countries studied show an increase in the number of people at risk from coastal flooding due to rising sea level.
  • Most of the countries studied are predicted to experience a significant increase in the risk of river flooding.
  • The production of food and food security are highlighted as growing risks, particularly in Bangladesh and India.
  • Water shortages are likely to be threatened by drought and increase in demand, in particular parts of Italy, France and southwest USA. The report also predicted that water stress in some areas may decline.

Reports for the individual countries are available to download from the UK Met Office website.

Limerick County Council Launches Severe Weather Guide


Limerick County Council has launched an online advice and information guide for householders and the business community on how to prepare for severe weather periods and how to handle emergencies during severe weather.

The ‘Severe Weather Guide’ features flooding advice, reducing the risk of water leakages and shortages during freezing weather, safety tips for driving in snow and ice, information on the ice treatment regime/routes for the winter season, and emergency contact details, as well as a range of health and safety advice. Information relating to the “Winter Ready”, a national campaign launched on 9 November last, also can be found on the site.”

The initiative follows an increase in recent years of severe weather episodes, including the severe flooding in Newcastle West in August 2008, flooding along the lower River Shannon in November 2009, and the prolonged cold periods in December 2009 and December 2010.

The guide is available to download from the Limerick County Council website.

Source: Irish Press Releases

€200,000 funding under the Rural Development Programme sanctioned to support a unique Ecotourism project in Co Galway


Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government announced yesterday, 5th  December, 2011, that he has given sanction to Galway Rural Development Co Ltd to approve funding of up to €200,000.00 to the Slieve Aughty Centre, Loughrea, Co Galway.

This funding, provided under the Tourism measure of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 will provide the necessary financial support to allow Esther Zyderlaan, T/A the Slieve Aughty Centre to complete an accommodation unit, which will enable the centre to expand its  ecotourism facility in Co Galway. This facility offers a sustainable tourism amenity that aims to work in harmony with the local environment while simultaneously offering a unique eco friendly option for home visitors and tourists alike.

Source: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

EEA report: recycling can boost the European economy

The three bin system
Copyright Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government


A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) focuses on the recycling industry in the context of building a 'green economy'. The report,   Earnings, jobs and innovation: the role of recycling in a green economy,shows the numerous environmental benefits of recycling, how it can meet a large proportion of an economy's resources demand, as well as the the growth in the industry in recent years which has increased employment in the sector by 45% between 2000 and 2007.

The full report is available to download from the EEA website.

Bill to provide for €100 Household Charge to fund vital local services in our communities is published


The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D. today (5 December, 2011) announced the  publication of the Bill to provide for the introduction of the household charge of €100 to fund vital local services in line with the requirement in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland.  The Government had announced, in July, 2011, its intention to introduce the household charge in 2012.

The Minister stressed the Government’s firm commitment to introduce a valuation based property tax to replace the household charge. The Minister indicated that work is to commence early in the new year on the development of the property tax.

“A full property tax, requiring a property valuation system, will take time to implement, so the Government is introducing the interim household charge to apply to the majority of owners of residential property in the State.  I will establish an inter-Departmental expert group to advise me, by mid 2012, on the design, scope and implementation of the property tax,” the Minister stated.

The Bill will provide for the raising of some €160 million from the household charge which will be used to support the continued delivery by local authorities of vital services for our communities.

Source: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Science for Environment Policy issue 264 now available online


Science for Environment Policy issue 264 now available online. Articles include:

  • Seabird ingestion of plastic litter still exceeding policy targets
  • 'Effective mesh density': a useful measure of landscape fragmentation
  • Intensive farming methods affect birds and plants in Europe
  • Thawing permafrost could lead to higher carbon emissions
  • Reductions in nitrate pollution through better monitoring
  • Marine litter means significant economic damage too

Hogan provides €5m to support recycling facilities in Local Authorities


Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, (1 December 2011) announced the provision of €5 million in funding to assist local authorities in meeting the costs associated with the operation of their bring banks and civic amenity facilities for the period January to June 2011.

Making the announcement, Minister Hogan said: “I am today allocating €5 million from this year’s Environment Fund, to assist local authorities with the costs incurred in operating their recycling facilities for the period January to June 2011. The funding underlines my ongoing commitment to providing support for measures that assist in the recycling and recovery of waste, even in the current economic climate”. The Minister has set aside a proportion of the funding to support the opening of civic amenity sites at weekends to make recycling as convenient as possible for the public.

Minister Hogan commended local authorities for their ongoing efforts to provide the necessary waste management infrastructure, and added that, “it is essential that we, as a nation, continue to manage our waste in the most environmentally friendly way possible and I would urge all local authorities to continue to put in place the requisite facilities to allow the public contribute towards this goal”. 

Source: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Irish companies to benefit from €9m EU marine fund


The Irish marine renewable energy sector is set to benefit from a new €9m EU-funded initiative to provide access to test facilities in specialist marine renewable energy centres across Europe. ‘MaRINET’ (Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network) offers periods of marine renewable energy testing at these centres at no cost to participants through funding from the European Commission. The UCC-led initiative is being coordinated by the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC) at UCC. HMRC is part of the new Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) which was launched recently by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

MaRINET supports testing of concepts and devices in areas such as wave energy, tidal energy, offshore-wind energy and the environment, to accelerate Europe-wide development of marine renewable energy. The funding seeks to remove financial barriers for the first time by enabling companies and research groups to access unique world-class European testing facilities outside their own country, which is generally not covered under national grant schemes.

The initiative, with at least four calls for applications, runs until 2015 and the first call for applications opened on 1st December. Potential users, who must work in Europe or a country associated to the European FP7 programme, are invited to apply to access this first call.

Source: University College Cork

Minister Hogan opens Waste Summit 2011


Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, opened the Sunday Business Post Waste Summit 2011 on 29 November 2011.

Opening the conference, Minister Hogan said it was time for decisions in relation to waste management policy.  He said there were no foregone conclusions in the policy development process, but that he wanted to see strong environmental outcomes resulting from policy initiatives.

Referring to opportunities for savings to be made, he said “I want to see a greater level of awareness of waste prevention among the private and public sectors and among householders.  This is a clear area where the economic and the environmental objectives come together.  Not only can we have a reduction in the environmental impact of the way we live and do business, but we can all reduce the cost of managing our waste.”

The Minister emphasised the need for targeted enforcement to ensure the proper and environmentally sound management of Ireland’s waste. He pointed to the positive impact that Ireland’s environment can have in decisions by international investors.

The Minister also announced the establishment of a Waste Management Forum to allow stakeholders to present their views on waste management. “The role of the Forum will be to feed views and suggestions into the ongoing process of ensuring sustainable waste management in Ireland,” concluded the Minister

Source: Government News Service

Green Building Course: January - February 2012


A Green Building Course will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10th January to 9th February 2012, from 18.00 - 20.30pm at The Greenhouse, St Andrew St, Dublin 2. The cost of the course is €325, although j obseekers should contact their local FAS office to enquire about financial support through the Technical Employment Support Grant.

Explore the principles, practices and relevance of environmentally sustainable building and construction. Learn to make choices in approach and of materials based on sound principles for sustainability, be able to analyse materials from a sustainability perspective, recognise when certain choices and approaches are appropriate. Gain an understanding of alternative forms of meeting housing needs.

Why take this course? If you want to work in the green construction industry or want to learn about the options available when designing and constructing new buildings.

Accreditation: FETAC component certificate, Green Building (L22108).  Level: 5 Credit: 1

Source: Cultivate Centre

Take Part in the Annual Garden Bird Survey

Blue Tit
Copyright Mike Brown


BirdWatch Ireland's popular annual Garden Bird Survey began on 28th November and will run to 13 weeks. Taking part is fun and easy; you can download a survey form and instructions from the BirdWatch Ireland website, or alternatively you can enter you bird counts online.

For full details on the Garden Bird Survey, please visit the BirdWatch Ireland website.

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