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2019-20 winners

GSD competition banner
Entrants to the 2019-20 GSD Year 12 Competition answered one of the following questions:
  • What is the main challenge to sustainable development in your local area? What solutions do you propose to address it?
  • Many influential figures deny that climate change is real. How would you respond to climate change deniers?
  • To what extent is sustainable development about creation?

We received a high number of submissions this year and we were very impressed with the quality of the entries. Once we received the entries, it was the task of our judging panel to review the submissions, selecting the shortlist and the overall winners. The shortlisted entrants were invited to a virtual event in June 2020 where we announced the highly commended entries, the runners-up, and the winners of the competition.

Creative submission winners

Best creative writing

Smoke rising towards the sky from the chimneys of a paper mill.
Shian-Li Kelly-Williams

Shian-Li's short story "strikes an emotional chord within the reader." The fairy tale elements of this piece reminded us that, "quite possibly, in the very near future, many of the things we consider normal today will be nothing more than stories to children".

Shian-Li was invited by GLOBUS to submit her short story for publication, please find her contribution here.

Best podcast

Students protesting. In focus is a person holding a sign which says 'Climate now. Homework later.'
Isabella Walters

Isabella's podcast put forward a very relevant point: "climate denialism is not always actively denying the science, but also turning a blind eye to one’s role in causing it". Through the lens of the recent climate protests, Isabella encouraged us to think more about the incremental changes we can make to have an impact. She sets a good example of how we should help make change: "through constructive criticism and encouragement".

Listen to Isabella's podcast here.

Essay submission


A skyline of windmills, contrasted with bright yellow sunflowers
Clara Grosz

Clara's essay was "a very impressive, well thought out and persuasively constructed piece, well-deserving of first place." Clara's "ability to offer an opposing view, and deconstruct it with a relevant antithesis is very effective in building a persuasive piece, for example where she gave a historical presentation of where climate change denial has grown from, and then broke down why these ‘seeds of doubt’ are wrong."

Clara was invited by GLOBUS to submit her essay for publication, please find her contribution here.


S W Coast Path, Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Sophia Bishop

Sophia "did a great job of appropriately highlighting challenges to development in Cornwall, dissecting the impacts of tourism in a multi-disciplinary way, drawing upon relevant economic, social, political, and environmental considerations". Sophia proposed "thought through solutions based on real-life examples", such as the second-home ban in St Ives in 2016.

Sophia was invited by GLOBUS to submit her essay for publication, please find her contribution here.

Birds eye view of a road with traffic flowing
Lucia Goodwin

Lucia's essay showed "a good understanding of how to construct an argument in a way that is not only convincing but also reads very easily." We were impressed by "her exploration of global wealth disparities causing a gap between creation afforded by the rich and poor, which presents a barrier to the SDGs". Ending with the proposal of more questions that need to be addressed is "a sophisticated writing technique, and further shows a more holistic understanding of the topic".

Lucia was invited by GLOBUS to submit her essay for publication, please find her contribution here.

Highly commended essays

Ice caps melting
Hannah Musk

Hannah's essay stood out as it approached the topic of climate change denial "from a tactical point of view". Her essay "aimed to understand the mechanisms behind climate change denial and advance strategies to address it, thus taking a more proactive approach to the issue". Hannah recognised that climate change deniers "will not be convinced by mere lists of facts, but rather by targeted campaigns and initiatives following models that have proved successful in the past".

Hear from Hannah about her experience of the GSD competition.

Wild flowers
Holly Smith

Holly's essay explored "very relevant and well-reputed arguments and considerations for answering climate change deniers". We particularly enjoyed "the progression of discussion around biodiversity loss to impacts on food security and thus increase in global poverty, which does well to link evidence with reason, thus serving to construct a persuasive piece".

Woman jogging in the countryside
Aimear Wolstenholme

Aimear's essay stood out because of its topic – mental health. Her essay "reminded us of the importance of mental health and its potential repercussions in other areas of sustainable development". Aimear showed "marked interest in the topic, as evidenced by the research conducted in her local area and proposals of solutions".

An array of flags from different countries, blowing in the wind
Guy Zilberman

Guy's essay "had a very broad range of theories and perspectives given and reflected a good breadth of knowledge within this subject area, making it very worthy of commendation". We particularly enjoyed Guy's discussions of the limitations of existing international policy-making frameworks. Guy also highlighted that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, which can be overlooked.