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Our Future, Our Planet

Providing a platform to showcase the best thinking from our young professionals. In this essay competition we are asking entrants how our industry can deliver net zero by 2050.

21 October 2021

As our future leaders and our current and future experts and strategic advisors, it is essential that our young professionals are mobilised and celebrated. They will be leading on the climate change and sustainability challenge for decades to come, and their actions and decisions will shape the world of the future. It is incumbent on us to provide them with a platform where they can showcase thoughts, ideas and solutions - both to inspire those before them and those that will come after them.

The Our Future, Our Planet essay competition is an opportunity for young professionals to demonstrate their independence of mind, depth of knowledge, sound reasoning and critical thinking. We are asking entrants to write 1,500 words on how our industry can deliver net zero by 2050.

The winning essays will be judged by a panel of senior experts from industry and academia.  Finalists will have the chance to receive feedback from the panel and will have their essays published as part of a collection. Winners will be invited to become WBEF columnists for a period of 12 months. One overall winner will be selected and invited to go to the World Built Environment Forum 2022, held at EXPO Dubai in January.

The closing date for applications is 3 December 2021 and winners will be announced 17 January 2022.



Please choose one of the following:

  1. ‘Delivering net zero means that the surveying profession, and in particular [your industry/sector], must drastically change’. Discuss.
  2. ‘The solutions to achieving net zero already exist in the surveying profession and [your industry/sector]’. Discuss.
  3. ‘The surveying profession is uniquely placed to deliver holistic solutions to achieving net zero by 2050.’ Discuss.

Further Information

  • Winners

    Four winning essays will be selected. A further set of finalists will also be selected, the number of finalists will be determined according to the number of entrants and quality of submissions.


    There is no entry fee. Entry is open to RICS young professionals from across the globe, including APC candidates, student members, AssocRICS, MRICS and fellows. Candidates must be 35 years old, or younger, on the date of the announcement of the winners, 17 January 2022.


    Entries will be assessed anonymously and purely on the merit of their content. Entries must be written in English and entrants may only submit one essay. The decision of the judges are final. The panel will be unable to provide feedback on all essays received.

    Content and approach

    The best essays should have arguments that are well-reasoned, refer to evidence and real-world examples. Answers will be assessed on their understanding of surveying practice, their knowledge of the key issues in industry and their written communications skills. Entrants must demonstrate a strong command of written English. They must also be concise and clear in their language to fit the word count (not counting references, diagrams and tables of data, where relevant) of 1,500 words.


    Essays may be written using any of the appropriate referencing styles (APA, Chicago, Harvard) as long as it is consistent. References and footnotes will not be included in the word count.

    Unique work

    Essay submissions to Our Future, Our Planet must be the original work of the entrant and unique: they must not be, or have been, submitted to any other competitions and must not plagiarise, copy or in any way infringe on the rights of any other party. Essays will be checked for plagiarism.

    Consent and publication

    By entering this competition, entrants provide their consent to the publication of their essay if they are successful. RICS reserves the right to make amends to the guidelines and to edit the final published essay and any winning columnist’s articles.

  • Each entrant should choose one of the questions to answer. Entrants are welcome to write about their professional sector specifically, or about the profession and industry more generally, or both.

    Essays must be written and submitted in English, using the attached word document format – those not submitted in this format will be excluded.

    Essays should be submitted to The title of the word document should read: ‘SURNAME, Fore name’ (e.g. ‘JONES, Jemma’). The title of the email submission should read ‘Our Future, Our Planet: SURNAME, Fore name’ (e.g. ‘Our Future, Our Planet: JONES, Jemma’).

    Only entries that are received to the email inbox by 5pm GMT on Friday 3 December 2021 will be considered. Only essays which conform to the guidelines and are from candidates who meet the criteria will be considered.

    Entrants will be informed of the outcome of their entry on or before 17 January 2021.

    Good luck!

    Download the entry form


  • Ann Gray FRICS – RICS President-Elect

    Ann became RICS President-Elect in September 2021. She acts as a key ambassador responsible for driving thought leadership across the profession, helping to deliver RICS’ goal of creating positive social impact in the built environment. Alongside her RICS role, Ann is a real estate broker and licensed architect in Los Angeles, California. In her capacity as a real estate advisor, she brings over 25 years’ experience of professional leadership to her role.

    Tina Paillet FRICS – RICS Senior Vice President

    Tina became RICS Senior Vice-President in September 2021. She works as part of the global Presidential Team to advance strategic goals and create positive impact, particularly in the field of sustainability. Tina is an international real estate executive with over 25 years of experience in the built environment across asset management, development projects and sustainable investment. Tina has served as the Chair of the Europe Board from 2017 to 2021, where she had a strong focus on driving advocacy for public and private action to combat climate change, whilst embracing new technologies and the opportunities they present for our ways of working and living. She is also a European Ambassador for the World Green Building Council’s #BuildingLife campaign.

    Clement Lau

    Clement became RICS President in September 2021. This recognises his active promotion of professionalism across the built environment throughout his career, most recently in his current role as Director and Head of Development and Valuations for Commercial Property at Hongkong Land Ltd. Clement has also served as Chair of both the RICS Hong Kong Board and the RICS Asia Regional Board. In addition, he sits on the Hong Kong Foundation Board of The University of New South Wales, Australia.

    Ros Goode

    Ros is Avison Young's Managing Director for London. She was the first woman in the role, appointed in 2016. Ros leads the London offices, focussing on supporting the business around the growth of our valued client base. With 500 colleagues across London, Ros has a focus on the health and wellbeing of all Avison Young people, promoting and embracing a culture of care and collaboration. Prior to the London role, Ros was National Head of Restructuring Solutions, a team of 35 working across the UK.
    Ros has worked within the real estate industry for over 30 years joining the Avison Young business as a graduate in 1986, and has been a dedicated member of the specialist and market leading Restructuring Solutions team since 1989. Ros was promoted to lead the London team in 2013 and took up the role as National Business Unit Head in 2014. Ros has a passion for the development of the next generation of property professionals currently heading up the Emerging Leaders Programme of 100 young colleagues at Avison Young.

    Steven Williams

    A former President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Steve Williams is currently Vice President Emeritus at global data providers, Real Capital Analytics and an active Non-Executive Director at Dallas-based valuation firm, Capright. Steve has enjoyed a global career in property, having worked on all five continents. He is a respected presenter and writer on property matters having had his manuscripts, “Facing the Global Challenge” and “What’s It Worth” referenced by the UN in NY and Geneva. Steve holds an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) in UK and is a former Chair of the Center for Real Estate Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In the USA, he is a former Chair of the Appraiser Qualifications Board, a visiting lecturer at Duke University and a former external examiner at MIT’s Centre for Real Estate. He has been included among Property Week’s Top-50 property professionals. For the RICS, Steve has Chaired its Global Knowledge Board and sat as a Non-Executive Director on its Management Board. Recently, he and four others received widespread media attention for making a stand against corporate intransparency. Steve is certified by the Institute of Distance Education and is a Freeman of the City of London.

    Anil Sawhney, Ph.D. PMP FRICS FHEA

    Anil Sawhney is the Global Lead, Construction and Infrastructure Sector for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Anil is a construction and infrastructure sector expert, an educator, a researcher, and a ConstructionTech enthusiast. In his role at the RICS, he is involved in producing the construction and infrastructure sector’s body of knowledge, standards, guidance, practice statements, education, and training. He is also an Adjunct Faculty at Columbia University, Visiting Professor at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, and an adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California. Anil has a rich mix of academic, research, industry, and consulting experience gathered in the USA, India, Canada, the UK, and Australia. In 2020, he co-authored a book entitled “Construction 4.0-Innovation Platform for the Built Environment.” He is currently the co-editor of the Construction Innovation Journal. Dr. Sawhney serves on the international editorial board of the ICE Infrastructure Asset Management journal and the Journal of Information Technology in Construction.

    James Kavanagh MRICS C.Geog

    James Kavanagh is a Chartered Surveyor & Chartered Geographer. James studied at DIT Dublin, Ireland and University of London. With over 30 years’ experience in the global land and property sectors, James has worked on some of the largest surveying projects in Europe before spending several years working on mapping, surveying, and informal land rights issues for the United Nations (UNRWA). James has broad experience of surveying and land management in many countries around the world. James is head of Land & Resources with The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). James is chair of the International Land Standard (ILMS) Coalition, vice chair of FIG Comm 9 and is working on further research, insight, standards and output on issues of valuation within informal settlements, natural capital and biodiversity value, customary land issues, land acquisition and compensation and the process of land and property rights formalisation.

    Kisa Zehra

    As a Sustainability Thought Leadership Lead, Kisa is responsible for delivering specialised market insights around sustainability to enable adoption as well as support growth of the profession. She designs surveys and analyses datasets to track progress on key sustainability issues. She also monitors developments in the global economy and the potential implications for the real estate sector. Kisa graduated with a degree in Economics and went on to complete an MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change at LSE. Her postgraduate degree also covered urban planning and development, behavioural economics and quantitative analysis using time series and panel data.

  • Essay submission deadline: 5pm GMT on Friday 3 December 2021

    Winners announced: Monday 17 January 2022.