UNESCO/Idries Shah Foundation 2020/2021 World Tales Short Story Competition

Filed in Competitions by on September 29, 2020 0 Comments

With the aim to foster imagination, resourcefulness and ingenuity, UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation (ISF) launch the World Tales Short Story Competition in close collaboration with the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities of UNESCO (ICCAR).

Climate change, human rights violations, conflicts, racism and discrimination are among many threats to our present and future. In the face of adversity and the manifold consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, creative young minds need to be encouraged to find innovative solutions.

Young teenagers from all over the globe are invited to write about the challenges of today and tomorrow in the format of a short story and share their perspectives. The theme of this 2020 First Edition is “Once upon a time in my future”.


  • Three Laureates — Gold, Silver and Bronze — will be selected from each of the seven national and regional Coalitions forming ICCAR. All 21 names will be announced on December 2020.
  • They regret to announce that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will unfortunately not be possible to organize a high-level conference at UNESCO Headquarters, as initially planned, and to invite the laureates to attend. However, all will be invited to attended an online Award ceremony in December 2020 during which the names of the seven Gold winning laureates will be announced.
  • Each of the Gold winning laureates will be awarded an iPad.
  • The Idries Shah Foundation will publish the work of the 21 laureates in a special edition hardcover book. It will feature all winning short stories and honorable mentions, and will be made available in ePub format.
  • All winning laureates will receive a copy of the book, and a personalized certificate.
  • Schools and cities of the 21 laureates will receive copies of the book and a set of ISF children’s books for their public libraries.


  • Participants must be between 12 and 18 years old (inclusive).
  • The Competition is open to all regardless of their nationality or city of residence.

Evaluation Criteria

The short stories will be evaluated primarily on their degree of creativity and imagination. Participants will benefit from a particular leniency for potential grammatical and linguistic mistakes.

How To Apply

Entries must be:

  • Short stories of 250 to 500 words;
  • Typed in English or French using Arial 12-point Regular font;
  • Original unpublished works of fiction;
  • Stories on the potential for future societies to be fair, inclusive, peaceful, resilient, sustainable and/or tolerant.

Entries must be submitted to worldtales@unesco.org by October 15, 2020 at midnight (CET).

For more information, visit UNESCO/Idries Shah Foundation

Application Deadline: October 15, 2020

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