Environmental Systems and Societies Extended Essay Topics

As an experienced IB writer, I’ve seen first-hand how studying Environmental Systems and Societies can be challenging and rewarding for students. This area blends scientific understanding with societal issues, providing a rich area for investigation in the IB Extended Essay. It’s exciting to see students engage with topics that have real-world implications.

Choosing Your Extended Essay Topic: Where to Begin

I think the process of choosing your Extended Essay topic should commence with a reflection on your interests. Contemplate the environmental issues that truly resonate with you. Is it the rapidly changing climate, the delicate balance of ecosystems, or the innovative strategies for sustainable living? Your passion for a topic will be the driving force behind your research and writing.

Furthermore, the scope of your topic is of paramount importance. An ideal option strikes a balance: narrow enough to be manageable yet broad enough for comprehensive research and analysis. For instance, rather than choosing a broad subject like climate change, you might focus on a specific aspect, such as the impact of climate change on coral reefs in a particular region.

Additionally, consider the relevance and originality of your topic. Select a subject that interests you and contributes something new or under-discussed. It could involve examining a local environmental issue that hasn’t been widely studied or applying a novel theoretical framework to a well-known problem.

Moreover, ensure that your chosen topic aligns with the IB’s Environmental Systems and Societies criteria. This involves understanding the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, which combines aspects of both science and social studies. Your essay should reflect this intersection, offering scientific analysis and societal implications.

As you narrow down your choices, seek advice from your teachers or mentors familiar with the IB expectations. They can provide invaluable guidance on the feasibility and depth of your proposed topic. Reviewing past extended essays on Environmental Systems and Societies can give you an idea of successful topics and research methodologies.

Topic Ideas for Environmental Systems and Societies Extended Essay

Here’s a list of 55 topics and research questions for an Extended Essay in Environmental Systems and Societies. These options can inspire in-depth research and critical analysis, suitable for IB students:

ESS Extended Essay Topics

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  1. The Impact of Urbanization on Local Ecosystems. How does urban sprawl affect biodiversity in surrounding rural areas?
  2. Renewable Energy Sources. Are solar farms more efficient and eco-friendly than wind farms in coastal regions?
  3. Climate Change and Coral Reefs. How is climate change affecting coral reef ecosystems in the Great Barrier Reef?
  4. Water Conservation Techniques in Agriculture. What are the most effective methods of water conservation in arid climates?
  5. Sustainable Waste Management. How can small cities improve their waste management practices to be more sustainable?
  6. Deforestation and Its Global Impact. What are the long-term global consequences of Amazonian deforestation?
  7. Air Quality and Public Health. How does air pollution in major cities impact public health?
  8. The Effectiveness of International Environmental Policies. Are international agreements effective in curbing greenhouse gas emissions?
  9. Plastic Pollution in Oceans. What methods are most effective in reducing plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean?
  10. Conservation Strategies for Endangered Species. What strategies have been most successful in conserving the Giant Panda?
  11. Impact of Pesticides on Soil Health. How do different agricultural pesticides affect soil biodiversity?
  12. Sustainable Fashion and the Environment. What role can sustainable fashion play in reducing environmental pollution?
  13. The Role of Bees in Ecosystems. How critical are bees for maintaining biodiversity in temperate climates?
  14. Eco-Tourism and Wildlife Conservation. Can eco-tourism effectively contribute to wildlife conservation efforts?
  15. Urban Green Spaces and Mental Health. How do urban green spaces impact the mental health of city residents?
  16. Electric Vehicles and Carbon Emissions. Are electric vehicles truly effective in reducing carbon emissions?
  17. Oil Spills and Marine Life. What are the long-term effects of oil spills on marine ecosystems?
  18. Hydroelectric Power and River Ecosystems. How does hydroelectric power development affect river ecosystems?
  19. Climate Change and Agriculture. How is climate change impacting agricultural practices in the Mediterranean region?
  20. Sustainable Building Materials. What are the most effective sustainable building materials for tropical climates?
  21. The Social Impacts of Environmental Policies. How do environmental policies affect low-income communities?
  22. Recycling Systems in Developed Countries. How effective are recycling systems in reducing waste in the U.S.?
  23. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Meat Industry. What are the environmental impacts of the global meat industry?
  24. Impact of Tourism on Coastal Ecosystems. How does mass tourism affect coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean?
  25. Wind Energy and Bird Populations. What impact does wind energy have on local bird populations?
  26. Genetically Modified Crops and Biodiversity. Do genetically modified crops pose a threat to biodiversity?
  27. Sustainable Urban Planning. What are the critical elements of sustainable urban planning in European cities?
  28. Conservation of Marine Protected Areas. How effective are marine protected areas in conserving biodiversity?
  29. Air Pollution and Climate Change. How significant is the contribution of air pollution to climate change?
  30. Sustainable Agriculture Practices. What are the most effective sustainable agriculture practices in tropical regions?
  31. Effects of Acid Rain on Forest Ecosystems. How does acid rain impact forest ecosystems in North America?
  32. Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion. What are the environmental consequences of the fast fashion industry?
  33. Renewable Energy Adoption in Developing Countries. What are the challenges and opportunities for renewable energy adoption in Africa?
  34. Sustainable Water Use in Cities. How can cities in arid regions effectively manage their water resources?
  35. Climate Change and Polar Ice Caps. What are the implications of melting polar ice caps on global sea levels?
  36. Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming. Is organic farming truly better for the environment than conventional farming?
  37. Energy Efficiency in Home Appliances. How has the development of energy-efficient home appliances impacted energy consumption?
  38. Environmental Education in Schools. How effective is environmental education in fostering sustainable practices among students?
  39. The Role of Technology in Environmental Conservation. How is technology being used to aid in environmental conservation?
  40. Noise Pollution in Urban Environments. What are the effects of urban noise pollution on human health?
  41. Sustainable Fisheries Management. What strategies are most effective in managing sustainable fisheries?
  42. Impact of Dams on River Ecosystems. How do dams affect the ecological balance of river systems?
  43. Global Warming and Natural Disasters. How is global warming influencing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters?
  44. Wildlife Corridors and Biodiversity. How effective are wildlife corridors in promoting biodiversity?
  45. Sustainable Transportation in Cities. What are the most effective sustainable transportation methods in large urban areas?
  46. Impact of Mining on Local Communities and Environments. What are the environmental and social effects of mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
  47. Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change. How do urban heat islands exacerbate the effects of climate change?
  48. Conservation Efforts for Wetlands. What are the most successful conservation strategies for wetlands?
  49. The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Environmental Management. How can indigenous knowledge contribute to sustainable environmental management?
  50. The Environmental Impact of Consumer Electronics. What is the environmental footprint of consumer electronics production and disposal?
  51. Sustainable Food Systems and Food Security. How can sustainable food systems contribute to global food security?
  52. Desertification and its Socio-Economic Impacts. How is desertification affecting rural communities in the Sahel region of Africa?
  53. Sustainable Tourism in Island Ecosystems. What strategies can small island nations use to balance tourism with environmental conservation?
  54. The Impact of Organic Farming on Soil Health. How does transitioning to organic farming practices affect soil health and crop yields?
  55. Green Roof Systems in Urban Areas. What are green roof systems’ environmental benefits and challenges in densely populated cities?

These extended essay topics provide a broad range of research opportunities, from the socio-economic implications of environmental changes to innovative solutions for sustainable living. They encourage students to investigate the scientific aspects and societal impacts of environmental issues. Such topics provide a starting point for in-depth research and analysis, which is essential for a successful extended essay.

Writing Tips for an Environmental Systems and Societies Extended Essay

Structuring your essay is critical. Start with a compelling introduction, build a strong body of work, and conclude with a conclusion that ties everything together. Academic rigor is non-negotiable, so be meticulous with your sourcing and citations. A dash of creativity can make your essay stand out.

Also, tackling research challenges can be daunting. However, these obstacles are often opportunities in disguise. Stay aware of ethical considerations in your research. Overcoming these challenges demonstrates your maturity as a researcher.

For instance, you might encounter difficulties in accessing reliable data or find that your initial hypothesis does not align with the emerging evidence and even fail an Extended Essay. In such situations, adaptability is vital. It might mean refining your research question, considering alternative methodologies, or seeking out new sources of information.

In my experience, one of the most valuable aspects of facing and overcoming these research challenges is the development of problem-solving skills. This process often leads to a deeper engagement with your topic and a more nuanced understanding of the subject matter. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think independently, a quality highly valued in the IB community and beyond.


In conclusion, extended essays in IB Environmental Systems and Societies are not just academic exercises. They’re stepping stones towards becoming knowledgeable, responsible environmentalists. I encourage you to use this opportunity to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the world.

Remember that our team of experienced IB EE writers can help you succeed in the challenging International Baccalaureate program. We have a proven track record of assisting IB students to achieve the grades they need to fulfill their academic potential.

Valerie Green

Valerie Green

Valerie Green is a dedicated educator who spends her time helping high school and college students succeed. She writes articles and guides for various online education projects, providing students with the tools they need to excel in their studies. Friendly and approachable, she is committed to making a difference in the lives of students.

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