Climate Change & Sustainability

Climate Education

Climate education is right up there on our agenda. We have a programme of education which is delivered across four main sections:

  • MEA Schools
  • MEA Communities
  • MEA Council staff
  • MEA Businesses

MEA Schools

Below outlines some of the ways we engage with our local schools. We ensure all levels of academia are supported, from nursery level right through to secondary school and beyond.

Key highlights:

  • All 77 MEA schools are registered to the Eco Schools Programme, administered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB).
  • There are eleven Eco-Schools Topics. These are: biodiversity, climate action, energy, global perspective, healthy living, litter, marine, outdoor learning, transport, waste and water. In order to achieve the Green Flag, schools must study at least three topics - one major and two minor and evidence of this must be demonstrated in the application and during the assessment.
  • The Eco-Schools topics compliment many of the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In 2022/23, Council bolstered funding support to KNIB to also support the new ‘Wheelie Big Challenge’ programme, focusing on waste minimisation and recycling.
  • MEA were the most improved Council area for Green Flag Awards in 2022.
  • New Sullatober Household Recycling Centre (HRC) schools visits planned throughout 2022 and 2023 – contact 0300 124 5000 (Option 0) to arrange a visit for your school or community group.
  • Continued promotion of KNIB Carbon Literacy Training for school teachers.
  • Continued signposting to climate/sustainability/waste/recycling etc grant opportunities for schools.
  • MEA-hosted QUB placement student (40 weeks) – BSc Environmental Management (ongoing). In 2023 Council are hosting three MSc Leadership in Sustainable Development placement students.

MEA Communities

Council also supports local community groups e.g. residents associations, community associations, church groups, sports clubs, U3A, Probus Clubs etc through provision of educational talks and demonstrations. Council also signpost community groups to funding support available with our delivery partners.

Key highlights:

  • Ongoing promotion of KNIB Carbon Literacy Training - available to community groups across the borough.
  • Action Renewables – Free Solar PV assessment / upgrade opportunity - if your community group building is equipped with solar PV installation, you could be eligible for a full (free) assessment and potential upgrade, if they are now a bit older or faulty. Find out more here.

Promotion of funding and training opportunities including:

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

  • Marine Litter Capital Grant (up to £40,000)
  • Tackling Textiles and Innovation Fund (£500-£3,000)
  • Textiles Sustainability Workshops

Live Here Love Here Regional Event – 11 November, The Showgrounds

On this date, Council hosted an event aimed at sharing information on all KNIBs programmes, showcasing projects from the area and hosting biodiversity and food growing workshops.

MEA Council Staff

We are a Council of approximately 850 staff. We recognize that in terms of carbon emissions, as a local government, we account for 3-4% of emissions in the borough, however we have a wider influence of up to 40% emissions through engagement with our community.

Internally, we continue to deliver a programme of education to all staff, including Elected Members.

This is delivered through the following platforms:

Climate Change Working Group and Core Working Group – made up of dedicated Elected Members, with multi-service area input. The working group helped to develop new Climate and Sustainability Policy and are currently helping in the development of new Climate Adaptation Plan and Climate Action Plan.

ISO14001 EMS Environment Champions quarterly meetings to disseminate climate/sustainability/environmental updates to staff. Council continue to be accredited to this international standard and are externally audited each year. This system helps to ensure little or no adverse impact on the natural environment from Council activities.

Quarterly Waste/Recycling/Climate & Sustainability e-newsletter update to staff.

Series of Climate and Sustainability ‘Lunchtime Seminars’ – topics in 2022/23 included: water, fuel, waste/recycling, energy (Part 2), tourism, plastics, EV installations, climate plans.

MEA Businesses

Council support local businesses through provision of information on funding and training opportunities.

This information is provided through the following platforms:

Economic Development Team – e-zine updates on training/grant opportunities etc, these are issued monthly.

Business in the Community NI (BITCNI) – Annual ‘Environmental Benchmarking Survey’ This is promoted to local businesses to encourage them to apply, to benchmark their business against others to demonstrate their commitment to reducing impacts and improving upon environmental performance. Council enters this survey each year. In November 2022 we secured Platinum Level, the highest award achievable in this survey.

Find out more here.

BITCNI – Members Support Area – this is a new support area for Council and MEA businesses. It consists of an online/app resource on climate action and includes:

  • carbon-friendly workplace transition
  • tackling suppliers emissions
  • climate jargon buster
  • climate toolkits

COP27 EventBrite Event – 16 November 2022 which coincided with COP27 ‘Biodiversity Day’ in Egypt

Council hosted a free online event called “Helping the agri and business sector on the journey to net zero” event to help raise awareness of COP27 and to educate local businesses and stakeholders on how they can help on the journey to net zero.

This event outlined research and funding opportunities within the agri and business sector and carbon offsetting opportunities using nature-based solutions.

Key speakers:

  • Queen’s University, Belfast – Prof. Nigel Scollan – Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agri-food
  • Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE), Queen’s University, Belfast – Martin Doherty - Research and funding opportunities within the agri-sector and within business collectives
  • Woodland Trust – Jo Boylan – Woodland Carbon Programme
  • MEABC – Lindsay Houston – Carbon Canopy Project
  • Business in the Community NI – Emma-Louise Kells – Business Action on Climate