Contests for Students in Business and Sustainability – Environmental and Social Issues

There are various ways to embed sustainability into the curriculum and to get students engaged in sustainability issues. One such method is to invite students to get involved in the growing number of global competitions and contests, which are often organised in partnership with the business sector. These competitions provide a valuable opportunity to explore solutions to existing business and sustainability challenges. These contests sometimes offer winners fame, other times cash prizes; in any case, they are an important opportunity for students to help move these issues forward.

In this section, I will regularly share with you different contests that could be used to generate enthusiasm around the topic of sustainability. Here we look at challenges relating to Environmental and Social Issues.

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The Showcase of Solutions for Planetary Sustainability is an initiative by Sustainable Silicon Valley and NASA Research Center. This event showcases students’ creative solutions to advancing global sustainability. Finalists will have the chance to meet investors and qualify for a range of awards. Finalists will be announced in March.

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Challengefuture is a yearly global youth competition looking at innovation and environmental and social issues. The theme for the 2013 contest is around youth employment. How can youth fight youth unemployment and what can companies from Eastern Europe do to escape the bind between the more productive West and the more cost efficient East. The contest is organized by CEEMAN in partnership with AT Kearney.

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The International Impact Investing Challenge provides graduate students from around the world the opportunity to create high-performance, high-reward investment strategies that deliver social and environmental impact. Founded by Kellogg, the I3C is a pitch competition that asks students to propose and defend a sustainable impact investment strategy that uses finance and investment tools to create an innovative solution to an environmental or social challenge. To participate, teams of students must submit a 2-page prospectus outlining their investment strategy and the issues that it addresses by March 14, 2013. The finals will take place at the World Bank in Washington D.C. with Calvert Foundation serving as the host partner.


UNEP World Environment Day takes place annually on the 5th of June. UNEP provides the opportunity for students to submit essays about the featured topic and read essays from other students around the world. Winning essays are featured on the UNEP website and promoted internationally . Themes change yearly; 2013 is Greening the Blue.

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 17.36.25The Nespresso’s AAA Sustainability Quality MBA Global Challenge invites MBA students from around the world to think about and come up with innovative ideas related to sustainable quality coffee sourcing from hundreds and thousands of smallholder coffee farmers in Latin American and other parts of the world. Three finalists will be invited to present to a group of leading business experts. The winners will be invited to contribute to the development of Nespresso’s strategy.

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