Sustainability First Essay and Art Prizes

Building from the corona crisis towards a sustainable future


The corona pandemic is currently affecting every area of peoples’ lives across the globe. As we emerge from the crisis, how do we ensure a sustainable recovery – which balances economic, social and environmental wellbeing? Sustainability First ran Art and Essay Prizes, inviting original, radical ideas and visions in response to the question: ‘How do we build from the current corona crisis towards a more sustainable future?’

We had a fantastic response to these creative competitions with over 1100 artworks and over 100 essays. We are extremely grateful to all the entrants who have shared their creative visions and ideas. It has been a challenging process to carefully review the entries and select a shortlist for each competition. We are also grateful to our judging panels for their time considering the works.

We show cased the prizewinning and shortlisted works at a live event on 1 July with interviews with judges and entrants, which was streamed through the Sustainability First YouTube Channel.

Sustainability First Art Prize

View Winners & Shortlist

The judges selected nineteen shortlisted artworks for the Sustainability First Art Prize. Congratulations to the following artists: Adam Sadiq, Eleanor Shipman, Estelle Woolley (Highly Commended), Freya Moffat (Third Prize), Georgia Tucker, Geraint Ross Evans (Highly Commended), Jacob Weeks, Jasmine Pradissitto, Kathy Bruce, Liz Elton (Second Prize), Maria Arceo, Tere Chad, Rachael Mellors, Rachna Garodia, Rebecca Harper, Sam Schmitt, Sarah Strachan, Stephen Bennett, William Bock (First Prize).

The Sustainability First Art Prize was open to all living British and international artists based in the UK, established and emerging, over the age of 18 years. The winning artist received a prize of £1000 with £300 for second prize and £200 for third prize. 

We brought together a high profile panel of judges spanning visual arts and sustainability including:

  • Jeremy Till – Head of Central Saint Martins and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the Arts
  • Kate Bryan – Head of Collections, Soho House and Arts Broadcaster
  • Tabish Khan – Art Critic, the Londonist and Regulatory Manager, British Gas
  • Geraldine Cox – Artist in Residence at Imperial College London
  • Sam Gare – Artist and Co-Founder, the Wilderness Art Collective
  • Jo de Montgros – Founder, Destination0 and Partner, Everoze
  • Phil Barton – Chair, Sustainability First

The judging criteria included: relevance to the theme; creativity and originality; and overall impression / quality of the artwork. The competition rules are available here for reference.


Sustainability First Essay Prize

View Winners & Shortlist

We invited essays of 2,500 words or less on:

‘How do we build from the current corona crisis towards a more sustainable future?’

We asked entrants to consider this question from one or more of the following perspectives:

  • Cultural, behavioural and societal change;
  • Government policy, regulatory & institutional change; and/or
  • Business leadership, governance and practice.

The essay prize was open to people over the age of 18 years. The writer of the winning essay receive a prize of £1000 with £300 for second prize and £200 for third prize.

Nine essays were selected for the shortlist of the Sustainability First Essay Prize. Congratulations to the following writers: Alicja Boryn, Anneli Tostar, Dylan Ngan (Joint Second Prize), James Poston (Third Prize), Manjot Heer (Joint Second Prize), Parth Devalia, Patrick Hinton, Sergiu George Jiduc, Yash Dewan (First Prize). We were so impressed by the variety of arguments and recommendations in the essays overall that we are producing a virtual book which will share insights from various essays, to be launched in late July.

We brought together a high profile panel of judges from academia, business and policymaking including:

  • Lord Deben – Chair, The Committee on Climate Change
  • Andy Johnson – Assistant Editor and News Editor, The i paper
  • Rose O’Neill – Principal Specialist - People and Environment, Natural England
  • Laura Sandys – Chair, Government Energy Data Taskforce and Director of Challenging Ideas
  • Olivia Dickson – Board Member Impact Investing Institute, ShareAction and Financial Reporting Council
  • Phil Barton – Chair, Sustainability First
  • Professor Paul Dewick – Professor of Sustainability and Innovation, Keele Business School, Keele University

The judging criteria included: identification of key issues; radical and practical ideas for action; evidence, style of writing and clarity of argument. The competition rules are available here for reference.


Virtual Bookart book cover

Our powerful new book brings together the insights, ideas and recommendations from across both the Art and Essay competitions, and includes the shortlisted artworks and extracts from the essays. With quotes from the judges, leading industry thinkers and academics, this book sets out clear proposals for society, government and business to help ensure that recovery from the pandemic is smart, fair and green – and our society is more resilient.

Open book








* Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash.