Limerick student appointed to UN climate change advisory group

Saoirse Exton is one of seven young people from around the world invited to join the UN advisory group on climate change.

A YOUNG environmentalist who spearheaded the ‘Fridays for Future’ climate action initiative in Limerick has been appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to an international advisory group on climate change.

Saoirse Exton from O’Briensbridge is one of only seven young people around the world selected to join the group that will report directly to UN chief Antonio Guterres.

The Youth Advisory Group, which started its two-year term on March 16, was selected from a pool of candidates nominated by youth and climate-focused non-governmental and civil society organisations around the world.

A student at Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, the 17 year-old said the advisory group will be bringing their perspectives to the Secretary General and she wants to see better commitments on economic restructuring.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said that in order to combat the climate crisis, there should be a strong realisation that things like growth and increasing GDP being the objective is actually harmful.”

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She said she wants to see a clear stance on the idea de-growth rather than green growth which “isn’t really possible within planetary boundaries.”

In 2021, Saoirse was one of 100 inaugural winners of the Rise, an initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust for her work researching and rewriting Irish mythology from different perspectives.

A proud Gaeilgeoir, she wants to ensure more Irish is spoken in the UN.  She is also a member of the C40 Cities Global Youth and Mayor’s Forum.