Back to search

Global Essay Competition: Health & Land

poster1Version française  -  Versión en español  -  Русская версия


In the year 2020, we witnessed the Covid-19 pandemic spread, as people across the globe faced devastating impacts both socially and economically. To many, the pandemic feels like a force out of their control. Yet, an extensive look may perhaps reveal to us that our actions as a society has had a direct impact on the birth of these pandemics.

To mark the 2020 World Soil Day (Saturday the 5th of December), the UNCCD Capacity Development and Innovations Office (CDIO) invites you to participate in our essay competition exploring the concept of ‘one health’ and examining the relationship between our treatment of the planet’s land and the increased likelihood of these pandemics.

Participation in the essay competition is open to everyone and is FREE!

Participants should register through THIS FORM. Registration means agreement to the following rules:



The goal of this competition is to explore Covid-19, a topic of current and global importance, specifically, how our actions towards the planet’s land resources can play a role in dealing with and helping in preventing such pandemics from occurring in the future.

Submitted essays should explore inter alia:

  • The diagnosis (the objective reality): The nature of Covid-19 and its relation to our attitude to land.
  • The prescription and solution: What issues must be addressed for our improved relation to land. And what concrete actions we may take in these regards in preventing or minimizing the occurrence of these pandemics in the future?

Submissions must not include any endorsements of products or services, or any obscene, violent, racist, religious intolerance or defamatory content. Incomplete entries or entries that do not comply with the formal specifications will be automatically disqualified.



All essays must be submitted through link in PDF format.

Participants in the primary school student category can also choose to submit one essay together as a group. In this case, all participants’ name should be included in submitted document.

Each essay is allowed a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 1500 words.

Essays can be submitted in English, French, Russian or Spanish.

All entries must be original works produced by the participant which have not been published anywhere. 

The participants grant the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), its partners and other UN agencies as well as other persons or entities authorized by the UNCCD, a free of charge, non-exclusive, irrevocable, transferable, perpetual, worldwide license to use the copyright, related rights or any other intellectual property rights that have arisen by law or will arise by law from the submitted essays. The UNCCD is entitled to publish the essays but has no obligation to do so. 



All submitted essays will be assessed by the UNCCD Capacity Development and Innovations Office (CDIO) which will determine the winners, to be awarded prizes as follows:

  • First place – 300 euros
  • Second place – 200 euros
  • Third place – 100 euros

Furthermore, special individual prizes will be awarded as listed below:

  • Winning essay submitted by land practitioners – 100 euros
  • Winning essay submitted by secondary school students (Age 14-18) – 100 euros
  • Winning essay submitted by primary school students (Age 13 and below) – 100 euros

For the purposes of this competition, a land practitioner is defined as someone who works in the field of agriculture, forestry, landscaping, rangeland or watershed management.

Winning the overall (first, second or third) prize is not mutually exclusive from winning any of the special individual prizes. What this means is that participants have the possibility of, for example, winning the first place 300-euro prize AND the winning essay prize for secondary school students if they qualify to participate as a secondary school student.

Please note that by claiming one of the individual special prizes, you agree to showing proof of identification when requested.

Selected winners will be featured in the work of the UNCCD-CDIO via its various media channels. 

Lastly, all participants will be granted a certificate from the UNCCD for participation in the essay competition. Special certificates shall be given to all winners. UNCCD memorabilia will also be given depending on availability.



All participants must submit their essay by 23:59 Bonn (Germany) Time (GMT+1), on the 5th of February 2021.


Assessment and Announcement of Results:

All essays will be assessed by the CDIO. All decisions made in this regard are FINAL and may not be contested. 

The winners will be announced in the final week of February. The UNCCD reserves the right to change this date.

The prizes are as stated and are non‐transferable. If due to circumstances beyond the UNCCD’s control, the UNCCD is unable to provide a stated prize, the UNCCD reserves the right to award a substitute prize of equal value.

The winners will be notified by email within 7 (seven) working days of being selected.

The UNCCD will actively endeavor to contact the winners to make arrangements for the delivery of the prizes for a period of 1 (one) month following the announcement of the competition winners. In the event that the UNCCD is unable to contact the winner in this notification period, the UNCCD reserves the right to reallocate the prize concerned.

Entrants shall note that by submitting an entry, they are deemed to have agreed that if picked as a winner their name may be disclosed to any third party, by the UNCCD, when providing a list of the names of the entrants where requested.


How to Register:

Individuals who want to participate simply have to fill out a short survey and upload their essay through this LINK.

Please note that by ticking either the ‘land practitioner’, ‘secondary school student’ or ‘primary school student’ box in question 6, you agree to showing proof of identification upon request.



If participants have any questions or comments or if they need assistance, they should send an email to the Capacity Building Marketplace team at jsanz [at]

Participants are encouraged to follow the CBM Facebook, CBM InstagramCBM Twitter and CBM LinkedIn pages and subscribe to the CBM YouTube channel to receive the latest updates regarding the competition.poster2Version française  -  Versión en español  -  Русская версия