Trust for Sustainable Living


The International Schools Essay Competition is open to students aged 7-17 across two categories – Primary (7-11) and Secondary (11-17).

The Sustainability Challenge Video Competition is open for learners of all ages across four categories – Primary (7-11), Secondary (11-17), 18+ and Teachers.

They are open now! Registration for this year’s competitions opened on the 8th September and is open until the 23rd December for the International Schools Essay Competition, or the 28th February for the Sustainability Challenge.

To submit an essay or video, you will need to register as a Teacher Champion on our website- ( Once registered you will have the option to upload up to 30 essays and a video for the sustainability challenge.

Teacher Champions plays a valuable role in the competition and are the people who coordinate and submit competition entries on behalf of each school, education institution, home-school, or individual student.

You can participate as an individual student, but if you are under 18, you will need to be registered and have your essay or video submitted by an adult. If your school or teacher do not wish to register, then a parent or guardian can register as a Teacher Champion and submit your entries, by following the same registration process detailed on the website for Teacher Champions (

If you are 18 or over and wish to participate in the Sustainability Challenge, you can register and submit entries yourself following the same registration process for Teacher Champions (

An international panel of sustainability experts and educationalists will select the winning entries in each category.

The judges look for originality, creativity woven around a factually based narrative in all formats – and the potential to contribute to constructive national or international debate. Unique and well-argued perspectives score highly.

Students are strongly discouraged from copying non-original material.  Especially within the essay competition, the same snippets of text tend to reappear again and again from common sources such as Wikipedia, and thus become very obvious to our essay readers!

Each child’s age is taken into account when judging, so that younger children are not at an unfair disadvantage when compared with older children.

We understand that for some students English may be a second language and therefore do not mark down for syntax.

Essay Competition: The top essay Finalists and Honourable Mentions will be announced on our website on 15th February 2021. The judges will the review the top shortlisted Finalist essays to select the Grand Prize Winner & Top Ten Medallists.

On the 8th March 2021, TSL will contact the Teacher Champions of the students selected as the Grand Prize Winner & Top Ten Medallists via their registered email address and confidentially notify them of their students’ success. The winners will be officially announced during the 2021 Partner Power Summit.

Sustainability Challenge:  On the 9th April 2021, TSL will contact the participants selected as the Top Entry Winners from each age category via their registered email address and confidentially notify them of their success.

On the 12th April 2021 the top videos will be announced on our website and shared via social media, our website and YouTube channel for the public to share their views, comments and help judges select the overall Sustainability Challenge Trophy Winner from the top entries.

The Sustainability Challenge Trophy Winner will be officially announced on our website and social media on May 1st in advance of the UN COP 15 summit.

Essay Competition: Certificates are awarded to the Grand Prize Winner and all students receiving recognition as a Finalist or Honourable Mention.  Participating Teacher Champions are also awarded a certificate in recognition of their work in inspiring and encouraging student engagement in sustainability education.

Sustainability Challenge: Certificates are awarded to all Shortlisted Finalists, and to the overall Sustainability Challenge Trophy Winner and Top Entry Winners in each category.

International Debates: Certificates are awarded by the judges for the best group and individual performances and participation during the online debates. These are decided and announced at the end of each debate session.

Certificates will be created and uploaded to our Certificate Portal after the debates have finished in mid-July. Once the certificates are available, we will announce it on our website and social media and send Teacher Champions the link to the Certificate Portal.

Certificates are uploaded to our TSL Certificate Portal ( and can be accessed and downloaded by Teacher Champions using their registered login details.

For all events since 2017, our certificates have been created online and are available to download from the TSL Certificate Portal using your registered Teacher Champions login details ( If you have mislaid your certificate please (In the first instance) go to your Teacher Champion for a copy.

Yes. The debates are held after the essay competition as part of the Partner Power Summit on Protecting Biodiversity. Entry to the debates is only available to those students who have submitted essays as part of the essay competition.

Any student who has participated in the essay competition is eligible to participate in the debates. The top 4 students (two Primary and two Secondary) from each country will be invited to be a ‘Debating Student’ and will be allocated by TSL to a debate team with other international students to work together to debate their given viewpoint.  All other students and Teacher Champions are invited to participate in a ‘Non-Debating’ capacity, meaning they can still watch the debates and participate actively by sharing comments and feedback via our Zoom platform and social media.

The summit consists of the primary and secondary school debates, and a series of panel discussions, plenaries, and workshops. The summit is open to anyone to view or attend, but only students selected from our essay winners will be able to actively debate during the primary and secondary debate sessions. The summit will host a series of interesting guest speakers, ranging from students and youth to science and business leaders, to discuss and share their viewpoints and answer participants’ questions.

To make the competition and summit as accessible as possible to the widest audience, there is no cost to enter the competition or to join the debates and summit. We may offer additional workshops to include in the summit program which may have an associated cost, however these will be detailed in advanced.

Due to the current global pandemic, we do not  anticipate there will be a physical event held by TSL for the debates and summit. We hope to hold physical events in future once it is safe to do so, but the safety of our participants is obviously a top priority.

If it is safe to do so, we encourage schools and Teacher Champions to enter into the spirit of partnership and organise a Country Debate with other participating schools. Country Debates are an opportunity to learn and share ideas with other in-country schools, while also helping to prepare students for the International Debates. Advice on how to host a country debate can be found at


The International Debates will take place online via zoom during the 2021 Partner Power Summit on Protecting Biodiversity. Only the students who submitted the top essays from each country will be invited to take part as debaters, although all students and teachers are warmly invited and encouraged to watch and share live feedback and comments.