Sustainability Poetry Contest

2022 Sustainability Poetry Contest: Beyond Sustainability

The 2022 Poetry Day Celebration will take place on Monday, March 21 at 5 p.m. on Lifesize.
The event is free to attend and all are welcome.


About the 2022 contest:

In 2020, in the mist of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNESCO Chair and her partner researchers received the good news that their project, entitled “Beyond Sustainability: Radical Transformation through System Thinking,” was approved. What is this project?

With the various crises that affect the world from the COVID-19 pandemic to loss of biodiversity, land degradation, and climate change, we need to rethink our world. We need to reconnect with nature and what we really need instead of the wants. The current overconsumption lifestyle is not sustainable. But how can we do this?

What is your vision of a new world where people are living in a more socially and environmentally viable world that still maintain basic but green economy?

This year’s call for poems aims to bring from everyone their vision of this possible new world through poetry.

En 2020, pendant la pandémie de la COVID-19, la Chaire UNESCO et ses partenaires ont reçu la bonne nouvelle que leur projet intitulé « Au-delàs de la viabilité : Transformation radicale à travers la pensée systémique ». Qu’est-ce que ce projet?

Les diverses crises qui affectent le monde, de la pandémie COVID-19 à la perte de biodiversité, la dégradation des terres, et le changement climatique, nous obligent à repenser notre monde. Nous devons reconnecter avec la nature et ce dont nous avons réellement besoin et non ce que nous voulons. La présente surconsommation dans nos vies n’est pas durable. Mais que devons-nous faire?

Quelle est votre vision d’un nouveau monde où les gens vivent dans un monde plus viable socialement et environnementalement et qui maintien une économie de base et verte?

Cet appel à soumission à poèmes vise à amener les gens à penser à cette vision d’un nouveau monde à travers la poésie.

Submission Form/ formulaire de soumission

The 2022 Poetry Contest is now closed and all winners will be contacted. Please watch this page for more details on the forthcoming Poetry Day Celebration to follow.


Submission Deadline / Date limite de soumission:

The 2022 Poetry Contest is now closed. Submissions are no longer being accepted.

Submission Categories / Les catégories de poèmes sont:

Elementary Student, High School Student, College/University Student, and General Public. / Etudiant(e)s du primaire, étudiant(e)s du secondaire, étudiant(e)s collégiaux ou  universitaires et toutes et tous les autres résident(e)s de la Niagara.

Who can submit a poem / Qui peut participer?:

All residents of the Niagara Region are eligible to enter. / Tous et toutes les résidents de la région de la Niagara, Ontario, Canada, sont invités à participer.

Prizes / Prix:

One prize will be awarded for each of the four categories. Prizes will include books, gift cards, and other gifts valuing over $50 per category. / Un prix sera décerné pour chacune des quatre catégories. Les prix incluront des livres, certificats cadeaux et autres prix pour une valeur de plus de $50 par catégorie.


UNESCO declared March 21 as World Poetry Day during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999, to recognize the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind. It supports linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

In 2015, the UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: from local to global, with the help of the Brock University Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, initiated a contest designed to celebrate Niagara’s creative minds region and enhance their role in community sustainability.

Every year, writers from the local community are encourage to submit unpublished poems on themes related to sustainability.

From the UNESCO Poetry Day Website:

“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.

Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.
In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.


Thank you to all of the participants in our 2021 poetry contest!
Click the link below to read all of the submissions from the contest.

Thank you to all of the participants in our 2020 poetry contest!
Click the link below to read all of the submissions from the contest.

Thank you to all of the participants in our 2019 poetry contest!
Click the link below to read all of the submissions from the contest.

Thank you to all of the participants in our 2018 poetry contest!
Click the link below to read all of the submissions from the contest.

Thank you to all of the participants in our first three poetry contests!
Click the link below to read all submissions from 2015 – 2017

Previous Winners


Theme: ‘The International Year of Peace and Trust’ and ‘The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.’

The themes aligned with the international years being observed this year by the United Nations, drawing on current world events to highlight the goals and objectives of the organization.


  • ONE UMBRELLA by Shelley Anne Locke (General Public)
  • Hospital Fruit by  Ethan Michael Birch (University/college)
  • Ontario’s cornucopia by Jonathan Vasilyev (High school)
  • Health and happy by Coral Foster (Elementary school)
  • Mon Apprentissage des Fruits et Légumes by Dominic Scibetta (University)
  • Poème de paix et confiance by Ambar Foster (Elementary)


Theme: ‘International Year of Plant Health’

“Poetry is a form of expression that can link our feelings and values to the real world. The International Year of Plant Health relates to many aspects of our lives including cultural expressions, the health of our planet and our own health.” – Liette Vasseur


  • Un monde tout vert by Brock Concurrent Education student Alexander Emmitt Yap
  • Help the Plants by Harry Byun, Grade 3 student at Kate S. Durdan Public School in Niagara Falls
  • Terra by Elizabeth Grace Tomaino, Grade 12 student at Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School
  • The Active Agent by Diana Vasu, English Language and Literature Student at Brock University
  • Adam and Eve Recall the tree by Franco ON Cortese, of Thorold, Ontario


View Presentation

Theme: ‘Year of Indigenous Voices’

“Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. To encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts.” – UNESCO

“Indigenous languages are essential to sustainable development; they constitute the vast majority of the world’s linguistic diversity, and are an expression of cultural identity, diversity and a unique understanding of the world. The disappearance of indigenous languages has a negative impact on areas directly affecting lives of indigenous peoples such as, politics, health, justice, education and access to ICTs among other things.” – UNESCO, April 2018


“The Language Poem” by: Ambar K Foster
Category: Elementary Student (English)

“The Voyageur” by: Jake Ontario Vandenbosch
Category: College/University Student (English)

“Le pardon” by: Fatima Mojahid
Category: College/University Student (French)

“Well Educated Guesses” by: Janet M Rogers
Category: General Public (English)

Special Mention:

“The bridge” by: Cristina Soto
Category: General Public (English)


View Presentation

Theme: ‘The Future We Want’

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in its Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 27 July 2012 during the Rio +20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, adopted the outcome document entitled “The future we want” as a vision for what has become in 2015 the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As mentioned: Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In this regard, we are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency… We therefore acknowledge the need to further mainstream sustainable development at all levels, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects and recognizing their interlinkages, so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.”


“Now” by: Hannah Johnston
Category: Elementary Student (English)

“Do we have to die before dessert” by: Emily Lizbet Fulton
Category: High School Student (English)

“My feet are damp” by: Danielle Izzard
Category: College/University Student (English)

“Two worlds” by: Liz Bonisteel
Category: General Public (English)

“Les cris d’univers” by: Victoria Vieira
Category: College/University Student (French)


View Presentation


“Pensez avant de voyager” by: Natalie Leblanc
Category: College/University Student (French)

“Take a deep breath” by: Kostyn Vaughan Petrunick
Category: College/University Student (English)

*Honourable mentions:

“Touriste” by: Stacey Lynn Duncan
Category: College/University Student (French)

“Tourisme durable pour le développement” by: Wilfrid Junior Desrosiers
Category: College/University Student (French)


View Presentation


“La Ville-Jardin, faillite alimentaire” by Casey Maria Lawrence
Cateogory: College/University student (French)

“Gertrude Stein on Sustainability” by Jonathan Karl Lepp
Category: General public (English)

“Exported Goods” by Jamie Eri Lupia
Category: College/University student (English)

Contest Details

View Presentation


“Birds of the World” by: Cole David Michael Campbell
Category: Elementary school student

“The old man…” by Rebekah  Cho
Category: High school student

“The Malleable Genealogy of Oranges” by Ryan Ralph Racine
Category: College/ University student

“Ode to the Dandelion” by Shelley Anne Locke
Category: General public