Turkish teen wins UPU Letter-Writing Competition with climate message

Thirteen-year-old Esra Sümeyye Öz from Türkiye was awarded first prize in the Universal Postal Union’s 51st International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People during the World Post Day ceremony held in Berne, Switzerland, today.

“We cannot speak about the future without first listening to those who will determine it – the next generation. This letter-writing competition not only promotes the value of written communication, it also gives young people an international platform to amplify their views, voice their concerns, and share their ideas as to how we can secure the future – their future,” said UPU Director General Masahiko Metoki.

The 2022 edition of the competition asked young people between the ages of 9-15 to write a letter to an influential person about how and why to take action on climate change. The writing prompt aligned with the theme of this year’s World Post Day, “Post for Planet.”

Reaching out to households across the globe, Esra writes, “My teacher asked me to write a letter to an influential person to draw attention to the climate crisis. I think that mothers are the most influential people in the world. A mother shapes the world, raises generations, changes societies.“

Runners-up and special mentions

Nisal Nasser Salem Al Rawahiyah from Oman, received the silver medal for her letter to Oman’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources.

“How can I achieve the dream of my life when the coral reefs are transformed from brightly coloured gardens to a pale white colour? After marine life disappears from the seas and oceans, what will I discover?” Nisal writes.
In third place was Bryaneliza Latchman from Guyana, who addressed her letter to the country’s president with several actionable steps to fight the climate crisis.

“Making everyone aware that a problem exists is the first step. I think you should run infomercials via social media. Most kids like myself watch TikTok. My 13 and 16-year-old cousins are on Instagram and my father likes to watch Facebook,” she suggests.

Young writers from Algeria, Cyprus, Georgia, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam each received special mentions in the competition for their letters.

The international round of the competition was deliberated by a panel of judges with expertise in literature, the Post and climate change, including:
  • Ms Brigitte Perrin, Head of Strategic Communications, World Meteorological Organization;
  • Mr Moussibahou Mazou, author and former UPU Deputy Director General; and
  • Mr Richard Nash, winner of the 1986 UPU International Letter-Writing Competition.
The theme of the 2023 International Letter-Writing Competition for Young people will be announced shortly.

World Post Day is celebrated each year on 9 October. The event was declared by the 1969 Universal Postal Congress in Tokyo as a means to mark the anniversary of the UPU’s creation in 1874.

Read the winning letters here.

The Universal Postal Union is a UN specialized agency with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne. Established in 1874, it is one of the world’s oldest international organizations and is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players.

Press contact:
Kayla Redstone
Expert, Communication & Outreach Programme
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Mobile: +41 76 457 36 54
Email: kayla.redstone@upu.int