Zayed Sustainability Prize 2021 calls for submissions from innovators


The Zayed Sustainability Prize is calling on all innovators in Ghana with solutions addressing some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, to submit an entry for its 2021 edition.

Offering an annual winners’ reward fund of US$3 million and accepting online submissions until May 21, 2020, the UAE’s pioneering global award for rewarding impact, innovation, and inspiration across five sustainability categories saw a record-breaking number of submissions last year with 2,373 entries received from 129 countries.

The Prize has been gathering momentum across Africa since its inception – last year boasting a greater number of applicants than any other region worldwide, with Nigeria performing in the top five of all countries globally. At the annual awards show earlier this year, African innovators continued to prove that life-changing innovations are increasingly borne out of the continent.

Okuafo Foundation, a Ghana-based start-up won the Prize in the Food Category. Recognized for its smartphone application that uses A.I., machine learning (ML) and data analytics to predict and detect crop diseases and infestations, Okuafo’s app also offers recommended solutions based on scientific knowledge, in real-time.

Now entering its 13th submissions cycle, the Prize has already awarded a total of 86 winners whose solutions or school projects have directly and indirectly, positively transformed the lives of 335 million people, around the world.

Commenting, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Director General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize said: “With a 12-year record of recognizing and rewarding excellent solutions, we are confident that the Prize will continue to attract more of the most dedicated innovators to submit their entries, in support of resolving the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.”

He added: “Inspired by Sheikh Zayed’s legacy of commitment to global sustainability and humanitarianism, the Prize also aligns with the emphasis our national leadership has given this year to planning, preparing and finding solutions for the next 50 years.”

The Prize’s US$3 million annual fund awards US$600,000 to the winner of each category. The Global High Schools category is split into six world region winners, with each school able to claim up to US$100,000 to start or augment their project in their local communities. This category was introduced to the Prize in 2012 from the knowledge that empowering and enhancing communities of the future, necessitates that the next generation of sustainability leaders need to be engaged at the school level – today.

While the scope of submissions varies, core elements of each entry must lie in the innovative ways in which technology, applications and solutions are driving positive transformation of people’s lives.

For the Health, Food, Energy, and Water categories, organisations should demonstrate that they are improving access to essential products or services and have a long-term vision for improved living and working conditions. Additionally, many technological-based solutions often integrate with impactful long-term programmes and mechanisms like practical skills training, social entrepreneurialism, and gender empowerment.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize has a three-stage evaluation process, beginning with due diligence conducted by an independent research and analysis consultancy. This identifies the qualified entries and results in the selection of shortlisted candidates.

Afterwards, evaluations are undertaken by a Selection Committee consisting of category-specific panels of independent international experts. From this shortlist of candidates, the finalists are chosen and then sent to the Prize Jury who select the final winners, across all five categories.

The evaluation of the Health, Food, Energy and Water categories focuses on three core criteria: Impact, Innovation, and Inspiration.

For ‘Impact’, submissions must demonstrate improved quality of human lives in a social, economic, technological, infrastructural, or environmental capacity. For ‘Innovation’, candidates should show a clear and unique value proposition, be disruptive or transformative, technically and commercially viable, and have been adopted in at least one market.

The ‘Inspiration’ criterion requires organisations to demonstrate shared values with Sheikh Zayed’s sustainability approach, have the potential to influence behaviour and actions in the wider community, and encourage others to develop complementary solutions for the advancement of sustainable and human development.

For the Global High Schools category, their projects should be designed to be student–led with emphasis placed on the students being actively involved in the planning, implementation, and monitoring processes.

Similar to the other categories, projects should demonstrate innovative approaches that will also be impactful and inspirational to others. The six world regions of the Global High Schools category are: The Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East & North Africa, Europe & Central Asia, South Asia, and East Asia & Pacific.

Winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2021 will be announced at the annual awards ceremony held during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, in January 2021.

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