2015 International Schools Essay Competition and Debate

My Vision for Sustainability Education

Global essay competition invites schoolchildren to share their ideas for the future of sustainability education, and how we can achieve them

Congratulations to Raja Khan (Reading School, UK), who won the 2015 Grand Prize - a trip to the 2016 Schools Debates in Dubai, UAE next April

Raja Khan (Reading School, UK) won the 2015 Grand Prize – a trip to the 2016 Schools Debates in Dubai next April. Maia Jafar (JESS Jumeirah School, UAE) won 1st Prize in the Primary Schools Category.

CONGRATULATIONS to Raja Khan, the 2015 Grand Prize Winner, and our many other Essay Competition and Debate winners from 43 countries!

Primary Schools: All Finalists & Honourable Mentions – Essay and Debate Prize Winners – Read the Top 5 Essays

Secondary Schools: All Finalists & Honourable Mentions – 2015 Grand Prize Winner and Other Essay and Debate Prize Winners – Read the Top 5 Essays






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Participating schools were invited to attend the 2015 International Schools Debate & Awards (7-10 July, 2015) in Oxford, England, with side trips to London, the Living Rainforest and the surrounding region. Latest Programme (updated 6July2015)RegistrationAccommodation. FAQs.


The fundamental importance of education in achieving a sustainable future was recognised by the UN General Assembly when it declared 2005-2014 the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, was charged with leading the UN’s efforts and supporting countries in implementing Education for Sustainable Development. Since then, different nations have attempted to develop sustainability education programmes, with differing degrees of support and success.

As the Decade now draws to a close, and based on their own experiences, we are inviting schoolchildren around the world to share their personal visions for the future of sustainability education and their ideas on how to achieve them.

The competition and debate are aimed at primary students (ages 7-11) and secondary students (ages 11-17) and their teachers in both formal and home schools. Trophies for 1st to 5th Places will be awarded in each category (Primary and Secondary) and one overall Grand Prize Winner (plus Teacher Champion and Parent) will receive a free trip to the 2015 TSL International Schools Debate & Awards in the UK (7-10 July 2015). All participating schools will be invited to attend the Schools Debate and Awards and related events.

Essay Competition

Students are invited to write an essay outlining their vision for the future of sustainability education, in English, as follows:

Primary students (ages 7-11): My vision for sustainability education (max. 400 words)

Secondary students (ages 11-17): My vision for sustainability education and ideas on how to achieve it (max. 600 words)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (pictured here at Rio+20) received the Winners' essays from the 2012 competition, 'Dear Mr. UN Secretary General...'.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (pictured here at Rio+20) received the Winners’ essays from the 2012 competition, ‘Dear Mr. UN Secretary General…’.

An international panel of judges, drawn from experts and educationalists in the field, will select the winning entries for each age category. The essays will be judged for originality and creative thinking and the potential to contribute to a broad-ranging and constructive debate on Education for Sustainable Development. The winning essays will be published on the competition website.

For each category, schools are invited to submit up to 30 essays online. (These must be submitted by the Teacher Champion, using the login details provided at registration. We regret that paper and emailed copies cannot be accepted, and essays more than 10% over the word limit will be automatically rejected.)

International Schools Debate & Awards

The TSL 2015 International Schools Debate & Awards will take place at the world-renowned Oxford Union debating society in Oxford, England. Each school will be represented by a team of up to two students, plus one Teacher Champion. Aside from the Grand Prize Winner, each participating school must cover its own costs.

Key Dates

16 September 2014 – School/Teacher registration opens

1 February 2015 – Closing date for essay submissions and Schools Sustainability Challenge entries

23 March 2015 – Schools notified of Finalists and Honourable Mentions and invited to attend International Schools Debate and Awards (see winners lists above).

7-10 July 2015 – 2015 TSL International Schools Debate & Awards, Oxford, UK. In addition to the primary and secondary debates, which occur on separate days, we are organising a special programme of educational visits in and around Oxford, London and the Living Rainforest – not to be missed! Participation in the Debate & Awards and additional visits is free, however participating schools or families are responsible for their own travel arrangements including all flights, transfers, accommodation, subsistence and miscellaneous costs. Latest Programme (6July2015)Registration (extended deadline: 19 June 2015). Accommodation (PDF, 233kb). FAQs.

Resources for Schools

To assist teachers and students in preparing for the competition and debate, supporting resources for schools will be made available on the competition website in advance of the submission deadline.

Introducing the ‘Schools Sustainability Challenge’

This year, in addition to the essay competition, the Trust for Sustainable Living is launching a parallel international contest for schools called the Schools Sustainability Challenge. Teacher Champions are invited to submit short videos showcasing their schools’ best sustainability projects. Schools are welcome to participate in both contests. The Challenge winners will be announced during the Awards Cermony in July.

Enquiries & Updates

Subscribe to our newsletter (using the form in the sidebar), to receive periodic updates and announcements about the competiition.

Email queries should be directed to: schools[AT]livingrainforest.org

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