He made the comments during a joint visit with Education Minister Michelle McIlveen to an eco-school. Eco-Schools is the world’s largest environmental education program, delivered here by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB), with funding from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Ballycraigy Primary School in Antrim has been involved in the program since 2005 and has developed an outdoor vegetable garden, wildlife area and wild woodland area with a hedgehog house, insect hotel and bird feeding stations. in order to improve local biodiversity.
Minister Poots said: “It is essential that we connect our young people to nature and the Eco-Schools program is a fantastic way to do this. This generation will play a vital role in tackling climate change, one of the greatest challenges we all face.
“Ahead of COP26, I am delighted to meet these wonderful young people who are so engaged and aware of climate change and who are taking action to change things. I hope the work they do inspires others to follow their example and get directly involved in helping us become a more sustainable place.
“Thanks to the Eco-Schools program, our young people have the opportunity to discover our precious environment and the role they can play to protect and improve it. And in this centenary year, it is crucial that we all look to the next 100 years and do better for our environment and future generations, ”he added.
Ian Humphreys, Managing Director of the environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “We are extremely proud of Northern Ireland’s strong support for eco-schools, which is entirely due to the commitment and energy of many local teachers and parents. DAERA funding was instrumental in achieving a world first, as every school in Northern Ireland is registered as an eco-school, although not all of them are active yet.
“However, we face a three-pronged global emergency: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and we want all schools in Northern Ireland to embrace the curriculum and receive support and space in the curriculum to do so. . Given the immense environmental challenges our young people face, it is our duty as a society to give them the information they need to make the right choices and take the right actions for the future. “