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Hedge Planting

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Gilford Castle, Gilford Village, Co–Armagh
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The Rivers Trust Spring Conference 2018

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Iveagh House, Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin
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Schools should be Eco–Schools… 28 November 2013

Every school should be an Eco–School – Durkan

 

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, today returned to the classroom at the latest school to register with the Eco–Schools better environment programme. 

Visiting Sacred Heart Primary School in Derry, the Minister met with the young Eco–Committee which will lead the school and the wider community as they embark on changing attitudes to and behaviours for the environment.

The Minister attended a special lesson with the children to learn how their school is now working to get a Green Flag award which will require the completion of a seven step process focusing on nine key areas including energy, litter and waste.

The Minister said: “Eco–Schools is the world’s largest environmental education programme operating in 58 countries from South Africa to the USA, Mongolia to Malaysia. It involves over 13 million pupils, more than 800,000 teachers and numerous other parents, governors and caretakers.

“Sacred Heart Primary School is the latest in a long list of schools here which are part of this exciting programme. Learning topics include Climate Change and its global effects. The work children are doing here in Derry may seem far removed from the current disaster in the Philippines but fundamentally the steps they are about to take could make a difference, not just locally but globally.”

2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of Eco–Schools and Northern Ireland can be especially proud of receiving the first ever Green Flag awarded in the world. The flag, which was earned by Downpatrick Nursery School in 1994, must be renewed every two years, in line with the programme’s ethos of continual improvement and the school still retains a current Award today.

Last month the Minister wrote to the schools not yet registered with the Eco–Schools programme to encourage them to do so. 1,080 schools have now registered representing 90% of all schools in Northern Ireland.

The Minister continued: “It is my vision to see “Every School an Eco–School” and I ask the remaining 122 schools to join this Young Eco–Army and take up the environmental gauntlet.”

Now in his tenth year as Principal of Sacred Heart Primary School, Brendan Bradley, commented: “It’s an absolute privilege to serve such a great community and we are delighted that the Minister has visited us today to encourage us as we begin working towards our Green Flag Award.”


Notes to editors:

1. About Eco–Schools

· Eco–Schools is a programme for environmental management, certification and sustainable development education for schools. Eco–Schools was developed in 1994 on the basis of the need for involving young people in finding solutions to environmental and sustainable development challenges at the local level, as identified at the UN Conference on Environment and Development of 1992. The Programme was initiated by Member organisations of the Foundation for Environmental Education with the support of the European Commission. 

· In Northern Ireland, the Eco–Schools Programme is operated by TIDY Northern Ireland, an environmental charity. 

· Eco–Schools share the same methodology and concept across 58 participating countries and with 13,000,000 participating students, and are identified by the Eco–Schools logo and Green Flag. The Eco–Schools Green Flag is a recognised and respected eco–label for environmental education and performance, and is awarded to schools meeting the international standard. Participating countries include, for example: Brazil, China, most of Europe, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the USA.

· Northern Ireland was the first country in the world to award a Green Flag to one of its schools. Click http://www.eco-schoolsni.org for further information. 

· TIDY Northern Ireland, an anti–litter charity, is the province’s leading authority on litter issues, and provides a unique service to communities, businesses, councils and schools throughout Northern Ireland. 

· TIDY Northern Ireland operates the Blue Flag, Seaside and Green Coast Awards for beaches and marinas, Young Reporters on the Environment, TIDY Business, and BIG Spring Clean as well as the Borough Cleanliness Survey, Northern Ireland Environmental Quality Forum, and the Eco–Schools Programme. 

2. All media enquires should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058 or out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.