UNESCO and Idries Shah Foundation launch “World Tales” Short Story Competition

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

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

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  • Original unpublished works of fiction;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 city halls is 30 April 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 30 June 2020.

The seven Gold winning laureates will be invited to attend a high-level conference and Award ceremony on 21 September 2020 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France).

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. Cities of the 7 Gold winning laureates will also receive a set of ISF children’s books for their public libraries.


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

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