Contest “Our Sustainable Future”

Contest “Our Sustainable Future”© Mika Baumeister / Unsplash
Over the course of the past year, one thing has become clear: We are all connected. What happens in one part of the world influences what happens in another. The choices you make in your community now have a direct impact on future generations. We are all experiencing diverse local effects of the same global crises: a global pandemic that spans national borders, civil unrest as a response to social injustices, and natural disasters that intensify as our climate continues to change. At the same time, the world seems smaller now than ever before. Increased virtual and digital opportunities have made the distance between us all but disappear. We can connect and interact across continents at a speed we have never seen before.

“We can't save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change - and it has to start today.” (Greta Thunberg, TEDx Stockholm, 2018)

Sustainability stands at the center of all this. It encompasses economy, the environment, and people. Our sustainable future can be designed using these pillars. Countless youth leaders around the world in the Fridays For Future movement have taken action. Greta Thunberg, a leading 17-year-old climate activist from Sweden, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, “I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” She is right: Everything needs to change.

So, what does our common future look like? How can we ensure that our future is sustainable for everyone? This is where you come in. We want to hear your ideas!

The contest 2020/21

There are two options for participating in the competition:

Project I. Carry out an interdisciplinary sustainability project in your school or community based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the UN.
Form a team! Work with your peers, for example fellow students from class or after school clubs or organizations, and ask your German, STEM, philosophy, or social studies teachers for help! Tackle global problems such as climate change, poverty, or pollution together!

Your project should be made up of three parts:
  1. Think: What are the most important sustainability issues in your cities, at your schools, and in your lives? Maybe it’s energy use, poverty, traffic, waste, or pollution? What else can you think of? Which SDG is it related to? Read more here about the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals!
  2. Research: What are the ecological, economic, political, and social causes of the problem you have identified?
  3. Act: Develop concrete actions and carry them out in your community!
Project II. Develop an idea for creating a green start-up or sustainable student-led company.
Form a team. Describe your business idea, explain your product or service and present your company idea to other colleagues. Additionally, you could create presentations, take pictures and videos, as well as cross-post on social media channels or your own websites to communicate your ideas. Present your student-led company and your business profile and enter the North America-wide competition.

The best ideas will receive expert coaching. They will also be invited to our sustainability conference. Additionally, the winning teams will be connected with green start-ups and sustainable student-led companies in Germany.

For inspiration, check out last year’s winning projects!



  1. Form a team of students together with your German and your STEM, philosophy, or social studies teacher.
  2. Fill out the project description form together in your native language.
  3. Make a short video (3-5 mins.) about your project in German.
  4. Send the form, video, and terms and conditions form to by March 1, 2021 (11:59pm EST).
Your project description is the most important part of your application. An international expert jury will evaluate your project based on the information you provide. The jury will announce the results in April 2021.
The competition is for students between the ages of 14-19 as well as their German, STEM, philosophy, or social studies teachers from the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The jury will evaluate your project description and video in German based on the following criteria:
  • Relevance of the identified sustainability issues for the students and those in their immediate geographical location (for their neighborhood, school, city, state)
  • Quality of research and results
  • Interdisciplinarity of the project and use of research methods in STEM and other relevant fields (Note: The project must be dealt with in both German and subject area classes. This must be made clear in the project documentation.)
  • Clarity, logic, and structure of the project description
  • Practical orientation of the proposed project and results
  • Resonance and reception of the results of the project to the larger public, for example coverage in local media
  • Documentation of the project and the process
Please note: Your video is an important part of the project! You have the chance to share your project with a larger audience. Show us your project (in German, 3-5 mins.)!
  • What do you want to improve?
  • How?
  • What is your goal?
  • Who are your partners?
The winning teams (3 students, German teacher, and STEM, philosophy, or social studies teacher) will participate in a scientific coaching program with sustainability experts to optimize their projects. The team will win the chance to present their results in German at a digital international sustainability conference in Summer 2021. Winning teams will also have the chance to participate in a start-up coaching for their project ideas.
Meet the members of our international expert jury here!