2021 Winner: Barry McLaughlin
Born and raised on a small island off the Coast of Donegal along the Wild Atlantic Way, Barry has grown - up immersed in some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife spectacles. With a vast wilderness at his front door - it was inevitable that he would become mesmerized by the natural world in all its glory. However, he had also witnessed first-hand, the accelerating loss of biodiversity and the alternation of ecological patterns resulting from climate change. Seeing the complexities of how a growing human population impacts the natural world. It is through this perspective which has sparked his ultimate goal of pursuing a lifelong career dedicated to environmental protection.
With this goal at heart, Barry spent the last four years leading the youth voice on sustainability, climate action and environmental protection - gaining national and international recognition. He was elected as Ireland’s Climate Ambassador 2020 and was listed in the 'Top 50 Citizen Scientists' from over 140,000 applicants in over 200 countries worldwide by Ocean Conservancy. Barry has spent several years volunteering for numerous conservation and environmental projects with Inch Wildfowl Reserve, the British Trust for Ornithology, Birdwatch Ireland, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Barry has graduated with a 1st in his BSc in Environmental Sciences at the Ulster University with a Distinction in his Diplomacy in Professional Practice. Barry was also awarded the EDGE Excel Award by Ulster University for completing over 27 extra-curricular activities. In 2019, Barry was selected as one of five students to represent Ulster through a GoGlobal Cultural Inclusion Program at Southwest Minnesota State University, USA.
Alongside his final year studies, Barry Co-Founded a global youth-led NGO called Earth Action Hub. A movement which aims to bridge the gap between generations, cultures and the global North and South. In May 2021, his team launched a 3-day online festival with 52 events, 100 keynote speakers and over 2,200 participants from over 100 countries worldwide. The event was a major success and received official partnerships from the Foundation for Environmental Education, UNICEF, UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme and +46 other world leading organisations.
Barry will be pursuing his Masters at the University of California, Berkeley, as a triple scholar in Development Engineering. He is a George Moore Scholar, the UC Berkeley Blum Centre Scholar and the Finduddannelse Denmark Scholar.