A Competition to Protect the Environment—Through Storytelling

Congratulations to the organizations that won the Sustainability Storytelling Competition, and watch for their videos coming soon.

View of green valleys of Sierra Gorda, Mexico

The Sierra Gorda Ecological Group, which won a custom video package, works in the green valleys of Sierra Gorda, located in Querétaro, Mexico.

Photo by Tomas San Hur/Shutterstock

This past August, the content marketing firm GLP invited me to participate as a panelist to judge its first Sustainability Storytelling Competition. I read more than a dozen applications from organizations around the world, all of which shared their missions and how they are protecting the planet. It was a truly inspiring day of work.

In this inaugural competition, more than 130 organizations from 65 countries vied for a chance to win a custom video-production package—meaning GLP will help them create a mini film that tells their story and then share it via partners around the world. Last month, it announced the grand prize winner: the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group, located in Querétaro, Mexico.

Contestants were divided into six categories: sustainable and regenerative tourism, sustainable food, environmental justice, conservation and nature, communities and cultural preservation, and “best of the rest.” Each category winner will get to make a video, though only the grand prize winner’s video will be made on location in their home area—the others will be created remotely.


The competition is in keeping with GLP’s mission to promote sustainability through storytelling. To that end, the video packages are 100 percent carbon neutral; GLP has partnered with Sustainable Travel International and will offset carbon emissions from its production work on this competition.

The Sierra Gorda Ecological Group’s story rose to the top due to its global relevance in addressing the climate crisis and its effects on communities around the world. The organization was founded in 1987 from local citizens’ desire to protect the biodiversity in the mountains in Querétaro, Mexico. Sierra Gorda helps turn the rural communities into allies in conservation by making forest protection economically valuable to them—through controlled harvesting, capturing carbon and water, and building a tourism industry in the region.

While serving as a judge, I particularly appreciated the diversity of the contestants—they represented a variety of missions, locations, and people. I was also glad to see how grounded many of the applicants were in the communities where they work. I am looking forward to seeing the videos as they come to life and hopefully inspire environmental action across the globe.

Sarika Bansal is the editorial director of AFAR Magazine and editor of the book Tread Brightly: Notes on Ethical Travel.
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