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Global Sustainable Development Competition

 Please note that entry to the 2022 Global Sustainable Development Competition has now closed.
Each year, the Global Sustainable Development Department at the University of Warwick runs a competition for year 11 and 12 students (students aged between 15 and 17 years).

We established the competition to engage with talented school students and to give insight into the type of thought-provoking issues involved in studying Global Sustainable Development at Warwick.

2020-21 winners

2019-20 winners

The United Nations defines Global Sustainable Development (GSD) as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”*.

The world’s population is predicted to grow from six to almost ten billion between the years 2000 and 2050, with the next few decades predicted to witness significant transformations in economic growth, international relations, human development, biodiversity, human health, and social justice.

Our degrees equip students with the expertise, skills, and knowledge that enable them to contribute meaningfully to the debates about these big problems, so that they can make a real difference to the world. At undergraduate level, we offer a single honours degree and 11 joint honours degrees. We have also launched new postgraduate programmes in GSD.

To find out more about GSD at Warwick, please see here.

* United Nations Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, 1987

The competition provides year 11 and 12 students (school pupils aged between 15 and 17 years) with the opportunity to think creatively and gain valuable research skills as they learn more about global sustainable development.

Since it was established, we have expanded the types of entries that can be submitted to include videos, podcasts and poetry, as well as more traditional essay responses. This is in line with our aim to engage with students from a variety of different backgrounds and interests, giving them the chance to present their unique perspectives on issues of global sustainable development. This also aligns with our pedagogical approach, as we are aware that, for some of these ‘big problems’, we need creative responses.

"I appreciate this opportunity because it made me look at environmental problems as something more close and personal."

Shortlisted entrant, 2021

If you are shortlisted you will be invited to a virtual event, hosted by the University of Warwick’s GSD Department. During the event, you will hear from staff and current students from the GSD Department, and we will announce the winners of the competition. Each winner will be awarded a £50 prize. The event and prizes are recognition of your achievement and effort in tackling the types of topics our degrees aim to address. We hope this experience will be a great opportunity for you to have your voice heard. We also hope it's a time you can refer to when you challenged yourself beyond your everyday studies at school.

Previous winners have had their work published in GLOBUS, a student-run online publication at the School for Cross-faculty Studies.

The judging panel will consist of members of academic staff from the GSD Team, our current students, and the GLOBUS Team. We will be looking for your engagement with your chosen topic, your understanding of the issue, and your creativity in your response.

The competition is open to you if you are in year 11 or 12 in the UK, or if you are a school pupil in the 15 to 17 year old age group equivalent from anywhere around the world. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from or what subjects you currently study. We are looking for unique entries, and as you will see on our Enter page, we accept a whole range of responses from traditional essays to videos. Whatever your background, we would like to hear what you have to say about issues of global sustainable development.

We accept individual submissions and group submissions. Individuals involved in group submissions must be from the same school.

Entry for the 2022 Competition has now closed.

If you are a school teacher and you think your students could benefit from taking part in our competition, please pass on the word for us and encourage your students to get involved. Please could we ask that you circulate information about the competition amongst your students and add it to relevant newsletters and student communications.

Hear from the schools of some of our previous competition winners and runners up:

If you would like to find out about other events in the GSD Department that your pupils could be involved in, please visit our Outreach pages.

2020/21 competition winners

Congratulations to the essay submissions winner (Clint Broadhead), the creative submissions winner (Prabhas Vedagiri), and those commended and the runners up.

2019/20 competition winners

Congratulations to the essay submissions winner (Clara Grosz), those highly commended and the runners up, and the creative submissions winners (Shian-Li Kelly-Williams and Isabella Walters).

Dr Marta Guerriero handing a certificate to one of our competition winners

2018/19 competition winners

Congratulations to the winners of Best Essay (James Rennie) and Best Video (Finn Deacon), and those highly commended (Issy Edwards and Freddie Seagrave).

Professor Cathia Jenainati handing a certificate to one of our competition winners

2017/18 competition winners

Congratulations to the winner (Anna Gardner) and those highly commended (Chloe Fox-Robertson and Freddie zu Wied).

Ask us a question

If you have any questions about the competition or GSD at Warwick, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.


Hannah Musk

Highly Commended Essay, 2019-20

"If you have an interest in sustainability, this is an opportunity to push yourself out of your academic comfort zone. My tip would be to organise your time effectively - researching is a time-consuming process. Overall, my competition entry gave me skills that I have used throughout the whole of my first year - there really is nothing to lose!"

Hear from Hannah