Zayed Sustainability Prize opens submissions for 2021 edition

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Mohamed Nass - - Following the recent celebration of the ten winners of the 2020 awards during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the Zayed Sustainability Prize today officially announced that its submissions process for the 2021 edition is now open.

Accepting entries from today until 21st May, 2020, via its online portal, 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.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the 2021 awards cycle, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, 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 the Prize will continue to attract more of the world’s most dedicated innovators to submit their entries, in support of resolving the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges."

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

Now entering its 13th submissions cycle, the Prize has already rewarded 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.

The Prize’s US$3 million annual fund rewards winners US$600,000 in 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. The Global High Schools category was introduced to the Prize in 2012, in recognition that to empower and enhance communities of the future, the next generation of sustainability leaders need to be engaged at the school level – today.

While the scope of the submissions vary, core elements of each entry 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. 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 the due diligence conducted by an independent research and analysis consultancy. This identifies the qualified entries and results in the selection of shortlisted candidates. Following this, 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 winners, across all five categories.

The evaluation for the Health, Food, Energy and Water categories focus 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 be 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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