Bessie O’Dell wins Africa Essay Prize competition

Africa Essay Prize

Green Templeton student Bessie O’Dell (DPhil Psychiatry 2019) has won first prize in the Slaughter and May Africa Essay Prize competition 2020. Since 2016, international law firm Slaughter and May has run an annual essay competition. It is intended to stimulate debate among university students around the important issues to which African commerce and law give rise. This year, the choice of questions posed were ‘are Western corporate reforms suitable for African businesses?’ or ‘what should Africa nations do about climate change?’ with a 1000 word limit.

Competition winner Bessie, who will receive £2,000 in prize money and a work placement at the firm, spoke to us about her winning essay:

Bessie O'dell“My essay considered that despite global inequalities in exposure to climate change, it is imperative that African nations (both individually and collectively) act in order to mitigate risks such as the spread of disease and vulnerability to poverty caused by conflict, environmental degradation and market failure. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa is responsible for just 7.1% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, and most African countries have been found not to emit much carbon dioxide. However, global warming of just 2˚c would put over 50% of the continent’s population at risk of undernourishment, through increased water stress and the reduction of rain-fed agriculture. My essay therefore also proposed two key, symbiotic efforts that can be made to address climate change, namely 1) through community-based education, and 2) local projects centred on renewability, including for example the Ghana Bamboo Bikes initiative.

I was drawn to this competition because it offered the opportunity to examine important and timely topics, beyond my usual area of research (psychiatry). To win first place in the Africa Essay Prize feels like a fantastic achievement, and it was great to attend the awards evening in London and come away with a prize. I’d highly encourage any interested Green Templeton students to enter in future.”

The Slaughter and May Essay Prize joins the firm’s other Africa initiatives, including various training and secondment programmes. As an international law firm, they deal with high-profile and ground-breaking international transactions, with many of the firm’s clients having operations in African jurisdictions, requiring solutions to challenging legal issues in Africa in collaboration with outstanding local law firms across the continent. For more information, please see the Slaughter and May Africa site.

Congratulations to Bessie on her win!

Created: 12 March 2020