Sustainability First Essay Prize
Sustainability First Essay Prize 2020

For the 2020 Essay Prize, we invited essays of 2,500 words or less on:

“How do we build from the current corona crisis toward a more sustainable future?”

We asked entrants to consider this question from one or more of the following perspectives:
- Cultural, behavioural and societal change;
- Government policy, regulatory & institutional change; and/or
- business leadership, governance and practice.

The essay prize was open to people over the age of 18 years. The writer of the winning essay received a prize of £1000 with £300 for second prize and £200 for third prize.


We brought together a high profile panel of judges from academia, business and policymaking including:

Lord Deben – Chair, The Committee on Climate Change
Andy Johnson – Assistant Editor and News Editor, The i paper
Rose O’Neill – Principal Specialist - People and Environment, Natural England
Laura Sandys – Chair, Government Energy Data Taskforce and Director of Challenging Ideas
Olivia Dickson – Board Member Impact Investing Institute, ShareAction and Financial Reporting Council
Phil Barton – Chair, Sustainability First
Professor Paul Dewick – Professor of Sustainability and Innovation, Keele Business School, Keele University

The judging criteria included: identification of key issues; radical and practical ideas for action; evidence, style of writing and clarity of argument. The competition rules are available for reference.

Nine essays were selected for the shortlist of the Sustainability First Essay Prize. We were so impressed by the variety of arguments and recommendations in the essays overall that we produced a virtual book to share insights from various essays.

Shortlisted Essays 2020

Yash Dewan (First Prize) – Considering broader conceptual frameworks, as well as a range of near and mid-term solutions, Yash’s essay provides a holistic approach to building from coronavirus towards a sustainable future, with reference to the water sector and employment challenges.
Read essay.

Dylan Ngan (Joint Second Prize) – A wild card amongst the entries, Dylan’s philosophical angle centred on the use of a value-based approach to uncertainty and how, to effectively lead us out of crisis, we must question what is important and why.
Read essay.

Manjot Heer (Joint Second Prize) – Building on personal experience, Manjot’s essay centred on the use of innovation hubs to develop renewable energy projects between academia, government and business, facilitating the step change in creativity and collaboration needed for a sustainable future.
Read essay.

James Poston (Third Prize) – Including primary research, James’ work mapped out clear, practical actions for government, businesses and civil society to recover from coronavirus in a way that builds back better.
Read essay.

Alicja Boryn - Alicja’s essay focused on culture, policy and business responses to the pandemic. Her essay covered everything from food chains, to legal frameworks for political accountability and measures to protect the unemployed.
Read essay.

Anneli Tostar – Anneli’s essay emphasized the need for tax reform to free up funds for the future. By backing income support packages to transition to a circular economy, more tailored forms of engagement with under-represented groups and provisioning extra support for renewable projects, her suggestions called for a sustainable, equitable future.”
Read essay.

Parth Devalia – With an emphasis on leveraging the moment to redefine social contracts and forge a new economic model which values preparedness, Parth’s essay gave a variety of recommendations ranging from a one off wealth tax, to investor action and purpose-led business.
Read essay.

Patrick Hinton – Providing both a government led and community centred approach to achieving a sustainable future, Patrick’s suggestions ranged from the need for a green recovery via economic stimulus packages, to youth empowerment.
Read essay.

Sergiu George Jiduc – With a strong economic focus, Sergiu’s essay put forwards guiding principles for a green economic recovery, as well as practical green stimulus interventions available for policymakers in the short term.
Read essay.

The work of many other highly scoring entrants is featured and credited in our virtual book.