“We are linked to UNESCO through the World Federation of UNESCO, Clubs, Centres and Associations and through UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development for 2030 (ESD for 2030) initiative. Prior to that, we were one of UNESCOs Key Partners for the Global Action Programme in Education for Sustainable Development (GAP in ESD); UNESCO provided the international framework for education for sustainable development, education resources, leadership training and collaborative opportunities. Our links to UNESCO have been, and are, very important to us. There is a depth of experience and a broad range of expertise which a large international organisation like UNESCO can bring. We also link with countries in Europe through Erasmus+, carrying out joint projects and initiatives. I think the international collaboration is very important, as through it, we share experience and good practice, as well as innovations and solutions.
“When I joined ECO-UNESCO, environmental issues weren’t as mainstream. There is a much greater awareness of environmental issues now and young people are at the forefront of this.
“We have always had young people who were interested in environmental and sustainability issues participate in ECO-UNESCO, whether that was through ECO-Clubs, our awards programmes or in our workshops or trainings. We have also always had very politically-aware and active young people. However, I think now more young people are demanding more environmentally-friendly spaces, schools and work places, more environmentally-friendly products and services and are placing greater demands on the political system.
“Young people are demanding change from their politicians and from large corporates, but they are also making change happen. They are innovating and finding solutions themselves and are sharing these with their friends and peers. There are so many more young people setting up their own sustainable enterprises. Social media, in this instance, is a really great tool which has allowed them to do this. This is very different to 2001.
“Also, I think young people are deciding which type of companies they want to work for. They are deciding if the values of the company align with theirs and if they don’t, they are not afraid to go somewhere else. This is quite a different attitude to 2001, and I can only see this getting stronger. The more that young people say that they will only choose eco, green or sustainable, the more pressure companies, products and services will be under to become more sustainable. That can only be positive in achieving the system change that is needed.”