The Queen's Commonwealth
Essay Competition

2020 Competition: 'Climate Action and the Commonwealth'

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world's oldest schools’ international writing programme, run by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. Every year, the competition receives entries from thousands of young people across the Commonwealth, in which they express their thoughts on the past, opinions of the present and hopes for the future. The competition is a highly regarded and popular international education project. Past winners include Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and writers Elspeth Huxley and Mei Fong.

Building upon the 2019 theme of A Connected Commonwealth, this year’s topics draw on the increasing youth movement across the Commonwealth and the ongoing climate crisis. Young people are called upon to consider their position and power in bringing about change, and how the Commonwealth can be used as a tool for positive action.



Born between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2006 (14-18 years of age)

  1. Imagine you are President of one of the Commonwealth’s 31 Small States and you have been invited to give a speech on Climate Change to other Commonwealth leaders, what will you say
  2. There is no Planet B: How will Climate Change affect you and your community?
  3. ‘We will never stop fighting for this planet’ - Greta Thunberg. How can young people make change happen?
  4. The destruction of the Oceans everyone’s concern.


Born on or after 1 July 2006 (under 14 years of age)

  1. Imagine you are Planet Earth, what would you say to Humans?
  2. A Blue Commonwealth: it is not too late to save our oceans. True or False?
  3. In 2019, students in more than 100 countries walked out of school to protest climate change. How can young people get their voices heard and make a difference?
  4. My planet, my place.

Our Final Panel of expert judges described entries to the competition in 2019 as ‘massively memorable’, ‘original’ and ‘very powerful’. We expect a similarly high calibre of writing for 2020. Keep up to date with the Competition on Twitter and Facebook.


The competition is open to nationals and residents of all Commonwealth countries and territories, as well as residents of The Gambia, the Maldives and Zimbabwe aged 18 and under and is open until 30 June 2020.

Residents of non-Commonwealth countries whose entries are submitted through their local RCS branch are also eligible to enter.

Please complete an entry form in block capitals and attach it to the front of your essay. Please submit it to by 30th June 2020.

All entrants receive a Certificate of Participation and one Winner and Runner-up from the Senior and Junior categories will win a trip to London for a week of educational and cultural events. For more information about the competition, please see Terms and Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions.

2019 Finalists from the nordic-baltic region:

Three young writers from the Nordic-Baltic region are receive Distinction and Merit Awards for their entries in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019. The Finalists produced highly original and thought-provoking short stories on such varied topics as the impact of environmental damage on future generations, educational inequality, and the competing concepts of Wealth, Freedom, Health and Happiness.

Entries were assessed by volunteer judges all based in Finland.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the essays are not necessarily shared or endorsed by The Royal Commonwealth Society.

nordic-baltic judging panel

  • Minna Ekblom, Leadership coach 
  • Harri Jaskari
  • Siri Kolu, Finnish Children’s Author 
  • Kaj Kunnas, Finnish sports journalist
  • Elina Lepomäki MP, Member of Finnish Parliament 
  • Arto Nyberg, Finnish TV-journalist 
  • Michael Franck, Finnish film maker
  • Iiro Seppänen, Finnish film maker
  • HE Carmen Smidt, Ambassador of South Africa to Finland
  • Francis Uy, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Canada in Finland


The RCS has a rich history of nurturing the creative talents of young people around the Commonwealth. We endeavour to promote literacy, expression and creativity among young people by celebrating excellence and imagination. In 2015, the contest was renamed ‘The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition’, in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s role as both Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is delighted to welcome Moomin Characters as principle sponsor of the programme for 2020. The Moomins, created by the Finnish artist Tove Jansson, are a family of friendly, brave trolls who live an adventurous life in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley in harmony with nature. The original Moomin books have been translated into more than 50 languages and are much loved across the Commonwealth and beyond.