UNESCO/Idries Shah Foundation World Tales Short Story Competition 2020

UNESCO/Idries Shah Foundation World Tales Short Story Competition 2020

Application Deadline: 15th October 2020 at midnight (CET).

UNESCO/Idries Shah Foundation World Tales Short Story Competition 2020

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.

Extension of deadline for submission: 15 October 2020 at midnight (CET).

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). Young teenagers from all over the globe are invited to write about 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”.

Who is eligible?

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

How to participate?

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  • Original unpublished works of fiction;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.

Attention: please note that entries not respecting all of the requirements will not be considered.

The deadline for submission to [email protected](link sends e-mail) is 15 October 2020 at midnight (CET).


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.


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.

We 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 these 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.

The World Tales Short Story Competition is funded by the Idries Shah Foundation.

About the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities of UNESCO (ICCAR)

ICCAR is a global 500+ cities network. It empowers local decision-makers by promoting dialogue, advocacy and joint action towards inclusive urban development free from any form of discrimination.

ICCAR is composed of seven national and regional Coalitions. Each Coalition responds to specific priorities and challenges set out in a Ten-Point Plan of Action. The Plan is composed of ten commitments covering various areas of competence of city authorities such as education, housing, employment, and cultural activities. More on ICCAR

About the Idries Shah Foundation

The Idries Shah Foundation is a British charity dedicated to bridging cultures through the power of stories. Afghan thinker and writer Idries Shah was himself a proponent of Teaching Stories or narratives created as a vehicle for the transmission of wisdom. His illustrated children’s books can be read for free at www.idriesshahfoundation.org.

Important disclosure

UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation reserve the right to modify the Competition’s prizes and its rules and regulations as and when necessary, without prior notice.

For more Information: Visit the webpage for UNESCO/Idries Shah Foundation World Tales Short Story Competition 2020