Trust for Sustainable Living


The International Student Essay Competition is open to all students worldwide, aged 7-18 across two age categories – 7-11 years and 12-18 years.

The Sustainability Challenge Video Competition is open to all learners worldwide, across four age categories – 7-11 years, 12-17 years, 18+ and Teachers.

This year’s International Student Essay Competition is open NOW! The entry deadline is 18th January 2024.


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.

Teacher Champions plays a valuable role in the competition and are the people who coordinate and submit competition entries on behalf of each school, college, 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/college 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.

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

All work should be original and the students own. A bibliography of references should be included where appropriate and will not be counted as part of the official word limit. Essays  or videos with plagiarised content will not be considered for an award. 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 student’s age is taken into account when judging, so that younger students are not at an unfair disadvantage when compared with older students.

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

Sustainability Challenge Competition:

The Sustainability Challenge is judged on the quality of the messages featured in the videos and how the messages are presented. All work should be original. Simplicity is no barrier and videos filmed on mobile phones or tablets are warmly encouraged. Judges will select the top entries from each age category and those videos will be shared on social media for the public to select the overall winner.

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

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


If students choose to use AI to support them in their research, then it is important they do not use AI tools to generate an essay and submit it as if it was their own work. The use of generative AI must be acknowledged in the bibliography (as detailed below) where it has been used as a functional tool to assist in the process of creating essays.

Minimum requirement to include in bibliography:

For example: I acknowledge the use of ChatGPT 3.5 (Open AI, to summarise my initial notes and to proofread my final draft.

Essay Competition: The top essay Finalists and Honourable Mentions will be announced on our website on 14th March 2024. The judges will the review the top shortlisted Finalist essays to select the Grand Prize Winner & Top Ten Medallists.

On the 18th April 2024, TSL will contact the Teacher Champions of the Top 10 Finalists via their registered email address and confidentially notify them of their students’ success. The winners will be officially announced during the 2024 International Student Debates in summer 2024.



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 for the Essay Competition and Debates will be available shortly after the announcements of the awards have been made.



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, the top two students in each age category, from each country that participated in the essay competition will be invited to represent their country at the International Schools Debates in Summer 2024 (dates TBC). Students who participated in the essay competition, but are not able to take part in the debates are strongly encouraged to watch the debates and can share their thoughts and ideas through the TSL Community Platform.


Any student who has participated in the essay competition is eligible to participate in the debates. The top 4 students (two aged 7-11 and two aged 12-18 years) 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.

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. We may offer additional workshops throughout the year which may have an associated cost, however these will be detailed in advanced.

We encourage schools/colleges and Teacher Champions to enter into the spirit of partnership and organise a Country Debate with other participating schools and colleges. Country Debates are an opportunity to learn and share ideas with other in-country schools and colleges, 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. 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.