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Chemical Sciences in Development

2023 Essay Competition

The 2023 IOCD Essay Competition, Young Voices in the Chemical Sciences for Sustainability, had the theme:

How can the chemical sciences lead the stewardship of the Earth’s element resources?

The competition was launched in January 2023 and was open to entrants who were aged under 35 on the closing date, 31 March 2023.
From around 35 countries across the world, 87 applications were received by the closing date, with entrants’ ages ranging from 12 to 34 (36 were aged under 20). 38 entrants stated they were female, 45 male and four did not say. From initial assessments by our international team of volunteer Evaluators, 21 essays were highly rated, based on their quality and relevance to the set topic. From within this group, six essays were chosen as Regional Winners, with regions being defined according to the World Bank geographic classification.
The results are presented below. Overall, these essays from around the world provide an encouraging snapshot of the shifts that are underway in the field of chemistry and how it is perceived by young people studying, researching and working in the field. The knowledge-creating and utility-producing aspects of the discipline that have traditionally been seen as its key functions are increasingly being joined by an emergent new responsibility for chemistry practitioners that is understood to be urgent and of paramount importance. This responsibility is to help detect, avoid, minimise and counter harmful impacts on the environment that result from humankind’s continually expanding use of natural resources, as well as to be good stewards of the resources themselves to maximise their continuing availability well into the future. These young voices show a heightened awareness of the importance of chemistry professionals entering the wider societal and policy debates, recognising that good technologies need to be attractive economically, politically and socially in order to be implemented.
IOCD is extremely grateful to the Royal Society of Chemistry for its sponsorship, which helps to cover the costs of operating the competition during its first five years, and for its participation in the competition process and publication of the Regional Winner essays. We are also highly indebted to the dozens of volunteer evaluators from around the world who agreed to assist us in reviewing the entries and selecting the Finalists and Winners. Most of all, we are grateful to the young people from across the continents who made the effort to write fascinating essays and to submit them for our scrutiny.
The Regional Winners of the 2023 IOCD Essay Competition, Young Voices in the Chemical Sciences for Sustainability (with links to the published essays at RSC Sustainability) were:

East Asia and Pacific

Iris K.M. Yu
Chemical sciences, technological innovations, and resource circulation (available here)."

Europe and Central Asia

Eleanor R. Newton
“We didn’t start the fire”: how the chemical sciences can steward the use of our earth’s chemical resources (available here)."

Latin America and the Caribbean

Mariel A. Opazo
Climate crisis: energy storage challenges in the transition to renewable energies (available here)."

North America

Thibaut L. M. Martinon
The urgent recognition of phosphate resource scarcity and pollution (available here)."

South Asia

Selvakumar Selvarasu
The excellence of chemical science in achieving a sustainable world (available here)."

Sub-Saharan Africa

Petra van der Merwe
Science – a chess game against time (available here)."
Each Regional Winner also received a cash prize of US$ 500 and a Winner’s Certificate.
In an Editorial in the same issue of RSC Sustainability, IOCD’s Competition Organisers present an overview of the results and the topics covered by these Regional Winners:
The 15 additional essays that were selected as Finalists in the 2023 competition were published by IOCD in a Compendium:


Jessica O. Anabor

The chemical industry and environmental stewardship: finding its footing in the net-zero agenda.

Haotian Bai

The chemical sciences as stewards of the Earth's element resources.

Parul Bansal

Cut the crap: a chemist’s view on treatment of global issue of “plastic waste”!

Mathilde Bouvier

Defining chemical science based guidelines to manage primary and secondary mineral resources in a sustainable way.

Gillian Collins

A chemist’s vision for the future.

Saba Iqbal

How can the chemical science lead the stewardship of the Earth’s element resources?.

Dong Jin

Chemical sciences: paving the way for responsible management of the Earth's elemental resources.

Jia Yang Lim

Chemistry enables greener consumption of rare earth elements.

Shreyas U. Mone

The role of the chemical sciences in the mitigation of resource depletion.

Hariprasad Ranganathan

Hydrogen economy and its role in combining other renewable energy sources for the decarbonization of public sectors.

Fernanda Retana

The chemical journey for clean and sustainable energy.

Shashi Shekhar

How can the chemical sciences lead the stewardship of the Earth's element resources?.

Souhil Sid

Chemical sciences steward Earth.

Adriana Sierra-Romero

The fate of e-waste within circular economy.

Helen Vjestica


A sustainable future for chemical sciences and the Earth.