Environmental Award Ceremony energises, inspires and gives hope
Cork Environmental Forum’s Awards Ceremony held on Wednesday 27th November at the Firkin Cane Centre was an event that reflected youthful activism alongside the hard slog of decades of work by very worthy recipients across all categories of the Awards.
CEF Chairperson James O’Donovan pointed to “the strengths we have in Ireland to make the positive changes required and that this event is a recognition of just some of those contributing to this trajectory”.
Whilst not shying away from the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change that challenges us all, Bernadette Connolly said “this is a chance to pause and reflect on what is being achieved by all the individuals, groups and organisations being honoured here this evening”.
The Lord Mayor, Cllr. John Sheehan and Mayor of the County, Cllr. Christopher O’Sullivan were in attendance, presenting a number of Awards both enthused by the revealing and insightful inputs from nominators and recipients throughout the evening.
The youth activism and commitment to change were represented across three of the recipients, Saoi O’Connor who received the Outstanding Individual Award for her leadership role in striking in Cork and galvanising the commitment of others to raise awareness and communicating widely on the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.
The Fridays for Future Cork, who join forces with the Schools Climate Action Network received a commendation for their consistent commitment to calling on the Government to honour the Paris Agreement and act on climate change and in organising hugely successful Marchs’ in Cork to maintain the focus and pressure. In accepting the Award they didn’t miss the change to encourage us all to show solidarity and join in the March on this Friday the 29th November and Saoi even got the large audience energised by joining in their now familiar chant for action.
Introduced by Niamh Guiry who nominated them the UCC Environmental Society received a commendation to acknowledge the trojan work they do both on and off campus to promote sustainability and for having mobilised students to undertake climate action rallies, to support the efforts of the UCC Green Campus and for initiating many great project including one currently on consumption.
The Business and Commercial award went to Douglas Street Business Association, accepted on the groups behalf by Peter Murphy, Sinead Cotter, Val O’Mahony and Breda McCarthy, for their collective leadership in concrete efforts to transform the street to a more liveable and attractive area which is both good for business and good for the community. Paul McGuirk, Cork City, Local Enterprise Officer, in his introduction to the group said “they were an outstanding illustration of what can be achieved by people working together for their area through collaboration”.
Christopher Moran accepted the Commendation for NeighbourFood and shared his own very positive experience of working with this model of providing local food to the communities of Cork that also supports a wide range of primary producers, including the apple juice from Future Orchard Trust here tonight.
The Winners under the Community & Voluntary, the Public Sector, Sustainable Agriculture and the Lifetime Achievement Award were reflective of years of dedicated work in support of the environment and a more sustainable future across a range of disciplines.
The Award to Tony Lowes, Friends of the Irish Environment and Dr. Aíne Ryall, Co-Director, UCC Centre for Law and Environment highlighted the importance of environmental justice. Tony may have exceeded his allotted acceptance speech but gave an insightful overview of the work of “Friends” and signalled the threat the changes to the Planning Bill pose. Both Declan Walsh, Lecturer in European Law, UCC nominator and presenter Atttracta Ui Bhroin, Environmental Law Officer at the Irish Environmental Network and Vice-President of the European Environmental Bureau outlined the depth and breadth of Dr. Ryall’s work, her exemplar example of public service, ensuring open access and public engagement to information on environmental law, her significant voluntary contribution on the Aarhus Compliance Committee and her own activism. For their tremendous contribution in this vital area both these awards were highly merited.
Introduced by nominator Tad Kirawoski, and presented by Maria Young, Cork Food Policy Council the mother and daughter team of Madeline McKeever and Holly Cairns who run Brown Envelope Seeds were acknowledged for the significant work they do in continuing to provide open pollinated seeds which are a very important basis for diversity and resilience in the food system. A striking comment from Madeline is that “100 years ago I would not be receiving this Award as this is what every grower was doing, and the fact that all this time later these seeds have been passed down through other hands”.
The final Award of the evening went to Mark Boyden and was presented by Dr. Simon Harrison, UCC School of Biological Earth and Environmental Science and UN Water Capacity Centre. Mark is a lifelong environmentalist who has dedicated himself to engaging people with the water around them, and inspiring people to come together over this fundamental resource. Having founded the Coomhola Salmon Trust and the Streamscapes programme in 1989 which has been delivered throughout the island of Ireland Mark is such a worthy recipient of an Award that recognises his decades of contribution to an inclusive catchment management approach as well as in the broader context in his role as Chairperson of the Sustainable Water Network. It is apt that he is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award 2019 to coincide with the opening of the “Streamschool” which has been a lifelong ambition and is an incredible resource of a river aquarium in Coomhola where he is based. Mark was very keen to clarify that he has a lot yet to contribute and will continue to do so as he encouraged us all to rewild ourselves which may unlock what we need going forward.
In her closing comments Bernadette Connolly said the issues at the root cause of climate change are also those causing unprecedented loss of nature and the solutions for both are complementary, as Edward O’Wilson said “If we save the living environment, the biodiversity that we have left today, then we will also automatically save the physical environment. If we only save the physical environment, then we will ultimately lose both.
Cork Environment Forum is honoured to be able to recognise the actions of all those who received Awards this evening as you are not only providing real inspiration but are making a world of difference and giving much hope and leadership.
She thanked all those who had taken the time and effort to make nominations for this year’s awards and the adjudication panel, Catriona Courtney, Darren McAdam O’Connell and Derry O’Farrell, CEF Committee members and Justin Byrne, Irish Environmental Network.
Kevin Casey of Bogwood Studio for the beautiful prizes, elegant unique herons sculpted from bog oak and yew buried for 1000’s of years beneath the midland bogs and to Martha Cashman, More Clay Less Plastic for the wonderfully colourful birdfeeders.
To Diane Cusack for taking the photographs throughout the evening. Special thanks was given to all the CEF members and voluntary management, as well as the support we all receive from friends, family and colleagues who sustain us on a constant basis. A final thank you to Ann Rea and all the wonderful team at the Firkin Crane Centre and to Cork City PPN for kind sponsorship towards the Awards Ceremony.
Background information on Cork Environmental Forum and the Awards:
CEF is a not for profit organisation based in County Cork, Ireland. We work to promote sustainable development in the region by connecting with key community groups and running our own programme of sustainability events and projects. Our philosophy is based on local agenda 21 principles and our members represent a cross section of society in the county, brought together by their desire for local action on their environment.
Established in 2001, the Cork Environmental Forum Awards honour the sometimes little known actions of groups, organisations and individuals around the county that have contributed to the health or richness of the Cork environment. The awards are split into different categories according to different pillars of society, nominations are accepted from CEF members and any member of the public for actions that are in keeping with the spirit of sustainable development and community resilience.
Cork Environmental Forum is delighted to announce the 2019 Environmental Award Winners who are all so worthy of this accolade. The winners across the 4 main CEF Pillar categories reflect youth activism on climate change and biodiversity loss, the importance of environmental law and justice and collective business leadership. Preserving seeds and local growing are highlighted by the winner of the Sustainable Agriculture Award and the Board are honouring a lifetime of dedication to the management and protection of catchments with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Awards presentation will take place at the Firkin Crane Centre, Shandon, Cork on Wednesday 27th November 2019, starting at 7 pm where we will be joined by the Lord Mayor and Mayor of the County who will also present Awards. The event will include a wine reception with light refreshments. All are welcome.
Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) is seeking nominations for its Annual Environmental Awards 2019 .
Nominations closed on 10th November 20019
CEF has held its Environmental Awards ceremony since 2001 which aims to acknowledge and honour the sometimes little known actions of groups, organisations and individuals around the county that have contributed to the health or richness of the Cork environment.
Awards are nominated under the four main pillars of the Forum , Public Sector, Business and Commercial Sector , Community & Voluntary Sector, Individual Category and Sustainable Agriculture.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given from time to time at the discretion of the Management Committee.
Nominations are accepted from CEF members and members of the public for actions that are in keeping with the spirit of sustainable development and community resilience, including raising awareness on environmental sustainability. The Awards have proven to be a very positive public acknowledgement of the work that groups, individuals, communities and businesses undertake every day to improve their environment and that of the wider community. With the increased awareness of the biodiversity and climate change emergencies there has been a surge in activity by people and communities, so please nominate any person, project or organization that you know is contributing in this way.
Details of previous winners here.