February 7, 2008

OPPORTUNITIES: Essay competition about urban living

Essay competition about urban living

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces an international essay competition. Singapore youth are welcome to participate. Come join and shape the city of your dreams! More details about the competition below.

28/01/2008 ::
International Essay Competition 2008

Young people are not only the future, they are also the now. More than one fifth of the world’s population is between the ages of 12 and 24, with 1.3 billion young people living in developing countries. Over the last two years, consultations and research work with youths have demonstrated that they can make a difference in fighting poverty through their actions and advocacy activities in youth organizations. Youths are key agents of change, but too often the nature and impact of their projects are not recognized or documented sufficiently, and youth face difficulties being heard and engaging more directly in civic life.

In order to learn how youths can make a difference in reducing poverty, the World Bank launched the International Essay Competition. The Essay Competition is an annual, worldwide competition targeting youths aged between 18 to 25 years and managed by the World Bank Office in Paris. The competition is designed and implemented in partnership with Country Offices of the World Bank and Public Information Centers (PIC) in 84 countries, as well as partners representing universities, NGOs and youth organizations all over the world.

The fourth edition of the Essay Competition in 2007 on the theme of Corruption attracted 2240 submissions from over 130 countries all over the world (90% of submissions came from developing countries).

This year the World Bank has teamed up with the Cities Alliance and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – sponsor of the Essay Competition 2008, to invite youths all over the world to participate in the International Essay Competition 2008, under the theme of urbanization:

WANTED: Your Practical Ideas

Shaping the City of Your Dreams

In 2007, for the first time in human history, the majority of people in the world, particularly in developing countries, will be living in urban areas. Life in the city is often associated with more opportunities, better access to employment, education, health and other services. Cities are often called engines of economic growth, contributing disproportionately to the national gross domestic product (GDP). They are also centers of innovation, entrepreneurship and investment. But many cities also have a large part of their population living in slums, without essential services such as water, sanitation and energy, and threatened by environmental hazards, violence and social exclusion. As more and more people move from the countryside to the city, and as city populations grow, there is a growing need for solutions to the issues of urban poverty, environment, and urban infrastructure (housing, roads, water, energy etc.).

What can you do to shape the city of your dreams?

Please answer the three questions below:

1) Think about the city you live in. What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for people living there?

2) What needs to be done to transform your city into the city of your dreams?

3) What could be your role, working together with your peers, in shaping the city of your dreams? Please focus on one or two points you mentioned in question 2).

You may use some of the points below to structure your answer:

If you have been personally involved in concrete initiatives, write specifically about your experience:

Who have you worked with? Who have you helped? What have you accomplished? In what way would you consider this work to be innovative? How have you measured the results of your work?

Looking ahead:
How would you expand or improve the impact of your work? How can other youth replicate your experience?

If you don’t have practical experience, write specifically about your ideas:
How would you work with your peers to shape the city of your dreams?

Who can take part in the World Essay Competition

The World Essay Competition is open to all young people, students and non-students alike, between the ages of 18 and 25.  Essays should be submitted by individuals.


The competition will be launched in January 2008 through a massive media campaign, and posters and leaflets in universities and youth clubs. The launch will be carried out in close collaboration with World Bank country offices worldwide. The competition is entirely web-based (guidelines, submission of papers, review process, etc).

Young people will be invited to submit their essay (max. 10 pages – 4,000 words) together with an abstract (max. 1 page) in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic. The abstracts will serve as a basis for the first round of selection. Winners will be selected by a jury (Review Committee) composed of representatives of the Steering Committee.

Deadline for submissions is March 23, 2008.

The jury will complete their selections of 8-9 finalists in April, 2008, after a three-stage review process. Essays will be blind-reviewed. Finalists will be invited to present their essays to a panel of experts during the Final Jury. The winner(s) will present their work to the audience of the ABCDE 2008 conference in Cape Town, South Africa (June 8 -10, 2008).

Presentations will be taped and posted on the internet at www.essaycompetition.org. A summary of the best essays will be published in the months that follow the award ceremony.


The process is supervised by a panel of experts from the World Bank and its partner organizations, who make up the Steering Committee:
The World Bank (co-organizer), The Cities Alliance (co-organizer), Researchers Alliance for Development (RAD), UNAM University, Mexico; Jadavpur University, India; Cairo University, Egypt; University of Texas in San Antonio, USA; student organizations AEGEE (Europe), AIESEC (International) and Junior Achievement Worldwide; Africa Leadership Forum; Conciencia Association, Argentina; the Glocal Forum.

And the Advisory Committee:
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (co-organizer), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, UN HABITAT, United Cities and Local Governments.

Selection Criteria for Winning Essays

Evaluation criteria include: quality of proposals, structure, coherence of arguments, originality/creativity, style, use of sources and evidence.

Essays will be reviewed by the Review Committee, consisting of some members of the Steering Committee and Advisory Committee.


Awards include up to $10,000 in prize money:
 Grand prize of $5,000
 Runner-up prizes of $1,000

The jury reserves the right to modify the allocation depending on the number of winning essays.

Schedule of the Essay Competition

January 2008 Launch of the Essay Competition -Submissions accepted
March 23, 2008 Deadline for Submissions
April 30, 2008 Announcement of finalists
June 2008 Finalists present their essay to the Jury - Award ceremony


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