Young Geographer of the Year Award

Year 9’s Esme has won a Highly Commended Award at the prestigious Young Geographer of the Year 2023 competition, attending a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society where she collected her award from television and radio presenter Tom Heap.

The Young Geographer of the Year is an international competition run by the Royal Geographical Society aimed at encouraging young people to think creatively and analytically about geographical themes. The theme for 2023 was A blueprint for the future, with entrants invited to share innovative ideas to address problems in areas such as food production and supply, energy and sustainability, resources, population growth, travel and biodiversity. Out of around 35,000 ‘blueprints’, 1,000 entries were sent in by schools and 16 young people were chosen for recognition by the Society.

Esme’s entry took the form of an A3 poster on Low-Carbon Housing, a sector which is crucial in combating the effects of climate change. Her detailed poster contained an outline of how the construction industry contributes to carbon emissions, and her blueprints for solutions, from water efficiency and low-carbon building materials to renewable energy sourcing and town planning.

Head of Geography Henna Nissenen said, “We are delighted with Esme’s achievement in this highly respected competition. Her entry on sustainable housing was thoughtful, thorough and clearly presented, giving real life examples and solutions to an important issue.”

Esme said, “Buildings are a huge contributor to carbon emissions, so l chose to look at low-carbon solutions both to their construction and to their day-to-day running. Using real-world case studies, my poster explored renewable energy sourcing, town planning, water efficiency and low-carbon materials as solutions, showing that change is achievable. The unique geography of each location was integral. At the award ceremony, Tom Heap gave a talk on ’39 ways to save the planet’ about climate change solutions around the world. Many of the ideas were new to me and left me wanting to find out more. As well as technical innovations I was also interested to learn how important social changes, such as ensuring all girls complete their secondary education, are as part of the climate solution. We also had a tour of the building and learnt about some of the amazing artefacts they have. We even saw Ernest Shackleton’s balaclava and the sextant used by Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle.”

Professor Joe Smith, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) said, “Congratulations to the winners and everyone who took part in the competition. The entries we received were truly inspiring. As a global community we are facing many complex geographical problems now which will become increasingly critical in the future. The ‘blueprints’ submitted give me hope that the next generation of geographers is well equipped with the skills and understanding to drive forward the changes needed to ensure a sustainable future.”

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How to apply

Find out more about how to apply for Colfe's School. Our main entry points are at ages 3, 4, 11 and 16.