When the 2030 Agenda inspired an essay competition

Published 9 July 2019 in:

Photo: Dainius Labutis

The 2030 Agenda, including the 17 Global Goals, is a plan of action to end poverty and hunger, make human rights a reality for all, achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. It is the most ambitious sustainable development agenda that the world’s countries have ever adopted. But despite this, many people – both in Sweden and around the world – know very little, if anything, about the Global Goals. The Embassy of Sweden in Lithuania decided to do something about this.

During Lithuania’s centenary celebrations, the Embassy decided that rather than looking at the years that have passed, it would focus on the 100 years that lie ahead. The celebrations included a competition for young people, more specifically an essay competition on the topic of Lithuania’s future within the framework of the Global Goals and the 2030 Agenda.

In cooperation with the Lithuanian Ministry of Education – which sent information out to all Lithuanian upper secondary schools – and Swedish companies that contributed prizes, the Embassy encouraged upper secondary school pupils throughout the country to think about how they themselves could contribute to a sustainable future for Lithuania. The challenge lay in choosing one of the Global Goals and writing an essay on a creative and innovative way of achieving that goal.

The competition was launched by the then Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training Anna Ekström and her Lithuanian counterpart at an upper secondary school in Lithuania. One month after the launch, 180 essays had been received from all around the country.

The jury, headed by Swedish Ambassador to Lithuania Maria Christina Lundqvist and including the President’s culture and education adviser, evaluated the essays based on creativity, originality, development of ideas, reasoning, style and structure. The writers of the thirty best essays were invited to a prize ceremony at the Ambassador’s residence.

The top three essay writers were each presented with a computer and the other participants received some special treats. Some of them, for example, were given the opportunity to meet Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel during their visit to Vilnius to tell them about the essays they had written.

The winning essay was written by Erika Rindokaite. Erika chose to write about minimalism as an approach to achieving Global Goal 12: responsible consumption and production. Minimalism is a lifestyle trend that aims to reduce excess consumption, and Erika argues that this, in turn, can lead to more sustainable production.

A minimalist’s motto is ‘Less is more’, and they strive to own and be content with as few possessions as possible. This is not regarded as a sacrifice, but rather as a means to a clearer mind and a simpler life.

In addition to greater engagement among young Lithuanians for the 2030 Agenda and the Global Goals, the competition resulted in a beautiful present for Lithuania – a printed book of the thirty most interesting and creative essays. The book – already printed in two editions – was a greatly appreciated centenary gift from the Embassy.

Work to promote the sustainable development of the coming100 years has now begun. Since winning the essay competition, Erika has become involved in the regional youth initiative ReGeneration 2030 and her engagement for sustainability continues.