*Saoirse Exton. Photograph: John Mangan
O’BRIENSBRIDGE TEENAGER, Saoirse Exton has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General to a special advisory group on climate change.
Saoirse is one of seven young people that have been selected to participate in the United Nations Youth Advisory Group on climate change. They were shortlisted from a large pool of candidates nominated by respected global youth and climate organisations.
They will have to report directly to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and will work alongside international climate experts while consulting with youth climate movements.
Of her new role, Saoirse explained, “It’s about bringing the concerns of young people directly to the Secretary General. One of the biggest things we experience is climate anxiety and that was only very recently recognised as a legitimate mental health concern.
“I also think we’re just ignored even though we’re the ones who will bear the brunt of the crisis, it’s really important our voices are there and that we are heard so that we contribute directly to the writing of the policy”.
For the past four years, Saoirse has been a climate justice activist with Fridays for Future in Limerick. In 2021, she was one of 100 inaugural winners of the Rise Global Scholarship programme for her work researching and rewriting Irish mythology from different perspectives, including bringing women and queer characters to the foreground.
A student at Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, the seventeen year old is a proud Gaeilgeoir and is of the view that the wealth of knowledge held in traditional languages and storytelling can re-establish the vital concept of Earth as sacred within capitalism-imposed mindsets. She is a member of the C40 Cities Global Youth and Mayor’s Forum.