By Claire McAuley

15 September 2021 - 08:19

Jacinta Hamley, who has organised Northern Ireland's first-ever climate festival.

Jacinta Hamley is on on a mission to raise awareness about the climate crisis in Northern Ireland.

The 24-year-old, who grew up near Crossgar in Co Down, is organising Climate Craic – Northern Ireland’s first-ever climate festival, which takes place this Sunday, 19 September on the grounds of Stormont Estate.

The festival is the result of Jacinta taking part in social action training through the British Council and Co-operation Ireland. Through the British Council’s Active Citizens programme, she participated in a number of workshops with trained facilitators to develop her confidence, networking and project management skills – leading to her pioneering Northern Ireland’s inaugural climate festival.

The festival, which is open to all ages, will feature an array of activities including live entertainment, eco-friendly workshops, guest speakers and displays from local artists – all in the name of helping more people learn about and celebrate climate activism.

Speaking ahead of the festival, Jacinta said: “When I was taking part in the Active Citizens programme, I thought a climate festival would be amazing, but too much work – but somehow, the training gave me the motivation and energy to go ahead with it anyway. The idea came from everyone being so disconnected during Covid-19 and being online. There didn’t seem to be much space for building communities and connections and it just felt like something we all need right now – being physically together, outside.

“I feel really strongly that this festival should celebrate the joyous aspects of climate action and environmental engagement - and that it’s not all doom or gloom. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of – bringing people together who might not usually feel connected enough to engage in something as big as a march of protest. This is more of a fun day out for people to enjoy.”

Jacinta is no stranger to climate action having sailed the Atlantic to attend COP25 in 2019 and hopes to make Climate Craic an annual event. She said: “After this, I would love to be able to attend COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow in some capacity and then think of what’s next for the festival – hopefully something bigger and better – but with more planning and funding. I would encourage everyone to come along this Sunday – it’s just a chance to have fun, learn a bit and be inspired by others.”

Speaking about Jacinta’s social action project was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland. He said: “We’re delighted to see this amazing project come out of the Active Citizens training with Co-operation Ireland – which aimed to challenge young people to stretch their thinking and take action on the biggest issue facing our planet. What Jacinta has been able to achieve in such a short time is incredible, and we wish her all the best with the event on Sunday.”

“This training is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection, which draws on our expertise in education, the arts, cultural exchange, and the English language to help young people find innovative solutions to tackle the climate crisis.”

Peter Sheridan, Co-operation Ireland CEO, said, “The challenge of climate change is a global issue so we were delighted to get involved with the British Council’s Active Citizens programme to bring young people together from across the island of Ireland to help raise awareness. 

“Through the Co-operation Ireland Future Leaders Programme we were able to provide social action training for three young leaders who have now gone on to train a further 19 people. I look forward to this great work continuing.”

The Climate Craic festival takes place this Sunday, 19 September and is free to attend – to find out more and see the full schedule of events visit: Climate Craic will be delivered as part of the Climate Coalition’s Great Green Week, a nationwide celebration of action and climate change. 

The Active Citizens project is part of the British Council’s global programme, The Climate Connection, which brings young people around the world together in 2021 and beyond to meet the challenges of climate change ahead of COP26 Glasgow, Scotland, from 1 to 12 November. The project was delivered as part of Co-operation Ireland’s Future Leaders Programme, which aims to empower the next generation of young leaders and peacebuilders across the island of Ireland to make a positive contribution to the future development of their communities, and across communities.