Youthink! The World Bank's blog for youth
Syndicate content

Youthink! International Youth Day Essay Competition

Saadia Iqbal's picture

International Youth Day was established by the UN in 1999, to raise awareness of the importance of youth participation and investing in youth. The theme of the day for 2009 is Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future.

As many of you know, sustainable development means meeting the needs of the people today without hurting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In other words, we can’t make decisions based on what we need now, without considering the impacts of our actions in the years ahead. According to the UN, “sustainability does not only refer to maintaining environmental balance and renewal. Sustainability encapsulates three facets of life: the environment, society and the economy.” For example, many girls around the world don’t get to go to school because they have to help with household chores, such as fetching water. While this might be an immediate need for the family, in the long-run educating girls can be a powerful force for development:  if a woman is educated and has an income, then she is more likely to send her children to school and to the doctor to make sure they are healthy.

As Editor of Youthink! I struggle with the question of how young people around the world can feel more involved; can feel that their voices and ideas will actually be heard and make a difference. Especially those young people with limited means and resources at their disposal.  It’s always amazing for me to get a first-hand look, based on the emails I receive, into the goals and dreams of so many of you living around the world, and your thoughts and ideas for tackling the issues that matter to you, like corruption, climate change and unemployment. And most of all, your optimism and determination to make a difference.

The point I’m getting at (and I apologize for the long-windedness), is that I have no doubt that youth everywhere really want to create change. The question is, how can you get involved? What are the challenges you face in doing so, and what are the best ways to overcome those challenges? So, this year, for International Youth Day, we want your ideas.

The Contest

Answer the question below in an essay of no more than 1000 words:

What are your tangible ideas for how youth can create effective, long-lasting change? How can youth in your country—or around the world—work together to really make a difference?


Winner will receive an iPod Nano (4GB)and a Youthink! bag.

2 runners-up will each receive a Youthink! bag and a copy of the book
Change the World for Ten Bucks—a book of simple, everyday actions that we can all do.

Read This Before Getting Started…

- The deadline for submissions is August 12, 2009
- Open to participants aged 16-25 (winners will need to provide proof of age)
- Essays can be submitted as MS Word documents (.doc) or in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
- Only one entry is allowed per person
- All submissions must be the author’s original work, and should not have been previously published anywhere
- Youthink! will publish the winning and runner-up submissions, and may modify format and content for publication purposes
- World Bank staff are not eligible to participate
- Winners will be announced on August 25, 2009

How/where to submit:

You can either email your submissions to [email protected] or mail them to:

Youthink! Editor
World Bank
Mail Stop: MC 9-907
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433


Submitted by Maria on
This is a great topic for this contest! can't wait to read the essays!

Submitted by Abhishek Parajuli on
I was growing restless looking at the systemic corruption in my country Nepal and saddened by how the poor who are least responsible for the problem are most affected by climate change , a result of the unsustainable consumerism in much of the developed world. This contest was a wonderful chance to lay out concrete plans and proposals that we the youth could employ to be the change we want to see. I look forward to reading the ideas from all over the world!

Submitted by Chiranjibi Bhandari on
In world, powerful nations are struggling only for own development and they have no any concerns about rest of the world. Industrialization of European and American countries but problems growing in developing countries like Nepal. So, it opens the avenue for all the youths to explain own ideas with vibrant potentialities of change. So, it would be the valuable contest for all the youths those who are trying to make better world for coming generations.

Submitted by Roshan on
It is really a good approach for the side or the orginizers to involve the youts in such a creative and fruitful job.The essay contest will surely help the youths voice to give a new momentum in building a solidarity campaign against the burning issue like climate change,neo-colonialism,ansd many more. Thanks to the orginizers once again.

Submitted by emmanuel on
i am very happy to take prt in this essy writteing: What are your tangible ideas for how youth can create effective, long-lasting change? How can youth in your country

Submitted by kartik dave. on
This topic is very nice and it will definately give boost to the youths to do something for the country.As we are the future of our nation,it is our responsibility to strive hard and do any thing which will lead our country to proud.So we should be united and simple rock the whole world.We(youths) ROCK.

Submitted by charandeep singh on
i really like this topic because topic help to convey our message to whole youth that how we can make effective changes in country to help our nation throgh this we can boast the inspiration our todays youth

Submitted by Ximena on
this is a great idea i am looking foward to read all the essays, when are they gonna be on line??

Submitted by Daniel Yakubu on
i love the essay topic. I believe that I participated in the competition not only to win but really become part of positive change in my country and the world at large. Thanks to the organisers.

Submitted by Abhishek Malhotra on
Great opportunity to involve youths creativity and to understand various ideas coming from all across the world.