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International Development Essay Contests

Young women and men from around the world are invited to participate in this year’s edition of the Goi Peace Foundation - UNESCO International Essay Contest for Young People. The contest is open to anyone up to 25 years old. The deadline for entries is Sunday, 15 June 2014.

On the occasion of the final year of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), the theme of this year’s contest is “My Role as a Citizen of Earth”.

In the vast universe, we were born on this planet called Earth, where various cultures and ethnicities, all living things, and all of nature exist together. However, in our world today, we face numerous problems -- environmental destruction, resource depletion, wars and conflicts, poverty, and many more -- that make our future uncertain. Given this situation, what do you think is the best way forward for humanity? How do you wish to fulfill your role as a citizen of Earth?

As stipulated in its Operational Strategy on Youth (2014-2021), UNESCO considers that today’s young people are crucial for the shaping of our future. It is imperative that they are enabled to develop to their full potential. Therefore the Organization’s objective is to help empower young people and ensure that their contributions are taken into account.

This annual essay contest is organized by the Goi Peace Foundation and UNESCO in an effort to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world's youth in promoting a culture of peace and sustainable development. It also aims to inspire society to learn from the young minds and to think about how each of us can make a difference in the world.

Prize winners will receive a cash award, and first prize winners will be invited to Japan for the award ceremony.

We look forward to the participation of many young people from communities from all over the world!

Entries can be sent online through

Contact: essay(at)

Photo by Anes Sabitovic/Unsplash

In 2014, GDN ran an international essay competition on the future of development assistance in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The contest received 1,470 submissions from 142 countries around the world. Thirteen winners were selected, including tenured academics, students and professionals within and outside the field of international development.

In 2016, seven winners were invited to deliver their ideas at a variety of high-level events to recognized experts and top policymakers in the development arena: during the Civil Society Policy Forum at the 2016 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (April), at the Center for Global Development (CGD) in Washington DC (June), at the Brookings Institution (June) and in partnership with the OECD DAC in Paris (September).

The contest was judged through a comprehensive and strict multi-review stage process. An eminent jury, comprising of international luminaries and experts, selected 13 essays judged to be the best and most potentially consequential on the basis of their originality, usefulness and analytical quality.

The members of the international jury panel were:

  • Jury Chair: Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development
  • Armida S. Alisjahbana, ex Minister of National Development Planning and Head of National Development Planning Agencay (BAPPENAS), Indonesia
  • Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) & Chair, Southern Voices on Post-MDG International Development Goals
  • Elizabeth Ford, Deputy Editor, Guardian’s Global Development website 
  • Erik Solheim, Chair, OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
  • Frannie Leautier, Partner & CEO, Mkoba Private Equity Fund
  • Gargee Ghosh, Director, Development Policy & Finance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Guillermo Perry, Professor, Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia 
  • Hiroshi Kato, Vice-President, Japan International Cooperation Agency 
  • Pierre Jacquet, President, Global Development Network
  • Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International

See the list of winning authors and links to their essays here.

Find out more

To find the studies completed under this program, please go to the Research section of this website, and check back frequently for updates.