A. General Questions

1. What are the categories of the Prize?

The Zayed Sustainability Prize awards 5 categories:

  • Health
  • Food
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Global High Schools (1 award for each of the below regions)
    • The Americas
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Middle East & North Africa
    • Europe & Central Asia
    • South Asia
    • East Asia & Pacific

The total prize fund is US$3 million, distributed as follows:

  • Health - $600,000
  • Food - $600,000
  • Energy - $600,000
  • Water - $600,000
  • Global High Schools - $600,000 – (divided amongst 6 Schools, awarding each up to US$100,000)
    • The Americas
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Middle East & North Africa
    • Europe & Central Asia
    • South Asia
    • East Asia & Pacific

The Prize fund comes from the Abu Dhabi Government as a way to honour and continue the sustainability and humanitarian legacy of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, manages the Zayed Sustainability Prize. A dedicated team works on the Prize all year round.

For Health, Food, Energy and Water categories, the criteria are:

INNOVATION: 40%

Innovation refers to a novel solution or a transformation of an existing solution that solves a challenge or a need, generates value and brings significant positive impact. A solution can be a technology, a service or a business model.

The innovation criterion requires organisations to demonstrate that their solution:

  • has a unique value proposition;
  • is disruptive or transformative;
  • is technically and commercially viable; and
  • is adopted by the market.

The Prize does not award early stage start-ups, demonstration projects, prototypes or solutions that have not demonstrated any impact on the ground.

IMPACT: 30%

Impact refers to a positive change that addresses social, economic, technological and/or environmental challenge(s) and has proven to make the world a better place by improving the well-being of humanity.

The impact criterion requires organisations to demonstrate that:

  • their solution already has had a positive impact on the quality of peoples' lives;
  • they are resilient to potential social, economic, technological, and environmental challenges;
  • they have good governance by employing skilled people and establishing fair policies;
  • they have a detailed plan of how the Prize money would be used to further increase their impact.

INSPIRATION: 30%

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, was a pioneering advocate of global sustainability and human development. Leading by example, he placed great value in the pursuit of socioeconomic development that meets the needs of both current and future generations. Continued through the Prize, Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is a source of inspiration for the entire world.

The inspiration criterion requires organisations to demonstrate that their solution:

  • reflect’s Sheikh Zayed’s core values – sustainability and human development that were central to his own approach and actions;
  • can inspire and influence others to advance sustainable and human development; and
  • can further inspire sustainable actions from the wider community by instigating behavioural changes.

For Global High Schools category, the evaluation criteria are:

INNOVATION: 30%

Innovation refers to a creative idea, proposed by students, which solves a challenge or a need for the school and/or local community in the areas of health, food, energy and/or water.

The Innovation criterion requires schools to demonstrate that:

  • the project is driven by students who work together to identify a challenge and create an innovative solution either by utilising existing technologies or by developing their own;
  • the students use project management techniques – planning, scheduling, and budgeting to implement the idea, and apply learnings at school to deliver the desired sustainability outcome.

The Prize does not award early stage start-ups, demonstration projects, prototypes or solutions that have not demonstrated any impact on the ground.

IMPACT: 30%

Impact refers to a positive change, as a result of the proposed project, that improves the well-being of the school, students and/or local community.

The Impact criterion requires schools to demonstrate that:

  • the project delivers measurable sustainability outcomes – in terms of access to sustainable energy, clean water, basic healthcare and/or nutritious food in your school or wider community;
  • the project delivers benefits for both current and future students. These benefits may include, but are not limited to opportunities for education and/or improving technical skills in the area of
    sustainable development.

INSPIRATION: 40%

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, strongly believed that a country's greatest investment lies in building generations of knowledgeable youth. He was a firm believer of youth’s active role in the development process by sharing responsibilities to lay foundations for the success of the society. Continued through the Prize, Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is a source of inspiration for the young generation.

The Inspiration criterion requires schools to demonstrate that:.

  • the project reflects Sheikh Zayed’s core values – sustainability and human development that were central to his own approach and actions;
  • the project can be sustained in the long term;
  • the project inspires students to become the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders capable of addressing sustainability challenges;
  • the project further inspires responsible actions from the wider community and other schools.

Previous winners can be found here in the Winners section of the website.

All submissions go through our three-tiered evaluation process.

  • First stage: A reputed international Research & Analysis firm conducts due diligence on all submissions to ensure that they meet the criteria of the Zayed Sustainability Prize: Innovation, Impact, and Inspiration.
  • Second stage: The Selection Committee reviews every entry and the final entries are sent to the Jury for final evaluation.
  • Third stage: The Jury meets in person to deliberate on the finalists and select the winner in each category. Final decisions are unanimous. The winners will be announced at the Zayed Sustainability Prize Awards Ceremony, which takes place in Abu Dhabi during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

B. Questions on the Submission form

Interested applicants should submit using the online submissions portal. This can also be accessed through the homepage of the Zayed Sustainability Prize website.
 Submissions for the 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize awards cycle will remain open until 6th May 2021 5:00PM EST
No. All submissions for the Zayed Sustainability Prize must only be made through our submissions portal

The Prize only accepts entries completed in English.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize is open for submissions until the deadline on 6 May 2021 at 5 pm ET. Submissions will not be accepted after the deadline.
To ensure all entrants have the same opportunity and timeframe, the submissions period is not extendable, under any circumstance.

The online portal allows entrants to save the progress of their submission details and return to add or complete the entry at a later time.Applicants must remember to save their progress and can update and change the content as many times as needed, up until confident it is ready for submission. Simply log in using the credentials you used to set up your account.

Please note that once the submission has been officially submitted, no further additions and/or changes will be permitted. No submitted entries will be accepted after the submissions deadline has expired.
In order to edit your application after you have submitted it before the deadline, please send a request to techsupport@zayedsustainabilityprize.com. A member of the technical support team will ‘open’ your application for editing within 48 hours, provided this time lapse is still within the deadline.

All entries received during the submissions period will receive an acknowledgement of receipt. However, should the submission not reflect one of the three criteria, and therefore not progress for further evaluation, the feedback will only reflect that the submission did not meet the minimum requirements.

As the first stage of the evaluation is handled by an independent consultancy for research and analysis, their decision on what meets the minimum requirements is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.

Should any entrant require any additional feedback on how to submit their application, they may contact us on: info@zayedsustainabilityprize.com
Any organisation or high school may submit or resubmit an entry for the Prize 3 times, unless they are a former winner of the Prize (in any category).
Each applicant or entity may enter in one category of the Prize only.

A maximum of five attachments are allowed with a maximum single file size of 4MB per attachment.

Yes. Only one video link is allowed.

Video links from only YouTube and Vimeo are accepted, but due to the size (MB) of actual video files, no attachments will be accepted.

If the research organisation fits the eligibility criteria (Innovation, Impact and Inspiration) then it can be considered for any of the categories apart from Global High Schools.

As long as the emerging start-up company meets the required criteria of the Prize and can demonstrate a proven track record of innovation, impact, and inspiration it may apply in any of the non-Global High School categories (Health, Food, Energy or Water).

No additional material will be accepted via email or airmail. All material relevant to your submission should be submitted through the Online Submission Portal.

The response boxes in the form only accepts plain text. Therefore, candidates will be unable to include graphs and charts in these response boxes. However, there will be a separate attachment facility for you to upload your supporting documents such as graphs and charts. Please describe each attachment as an "Appendix" - i.e. Appendix A – Graphs and Charts. You may upload them as Word, PDF or JPG files.

The answer section only accepts plain text or a plain URL (e.g. http://wikipedia.com); however, please avoid using charts, tables or hyperlinks. Should this information be critical, please include this in a word document and attach it in the “Attachments” section of the submission form.

Please feel free to contact us at techsupport@zayedsustainabilityprize.com.

Yes. Financial information will need to be included. All applicants can be assured that all such information will be handled in the strictest of confidence and will only ever be disclosed to the relevant panel of judges, as required.

There are no fees associated with completing a submission.

Interested applicants can participate by submitting an entry using the online submissions portal.

If you wish to review the step-by-step application process, please watch our video tutorial.

If you require technical assistance for using this portal, please email the technical support team at techsupport@zayedsustainabilityprize.com are no fees associated with completing a submission.

Respecting equitable geographical representation, the Prize defers to the definition of Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the applicant’s country of origin. Please consult your national Chamber of Commerce or relevant legislation for the definition of SMEs in your own country.


The Prize awards solutions by Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) in the categories of Health, Water, Energy and Food.

Additionally, under the Global High Schools category, the Prize recognises high schools or secondary schools from six global geographic regions that propose innovative, impactful and inspirational sustainability projects in the areas of health, food, energy and/or water. Universities are not eligible for participation.

For the successful retrieval of their log-in information, applicants must remember and have access to the email ID used at the time of registration. It is very important to save the information shared in the automated confirmation email received upon registration for any future inquiries.

C. Global High Schools Category

For the Global High Schools category, we ask schools to submit proposals for funding consideration to implement sustainability measures in their schools and/or community. These measures could range from the implementation of technologies to the incorporation of dedicated curricula.

The Global High Schools award aims to encourage innovation amongst youth, in developed and developing nations alike. It is open to educational institutions targeting high school students of age from 11 years old to 19 year old.

D. Post-Submission

All entrants will receive a notification email upon submitting.

If you have not submitted your application, you will also receive a reminder email to complete your submission, as we approach the deadline.

Yes. You can download a copy of your submission by logging into the submissions portal.

Yes. You will be notified by email by the Prize administration team. You will also receive an email should you not make to the shortlist.

Please note that a public announcement of the finalist candidates can only be made following the meeting of the Jury of the Prize.

No. In order to ensure that every year we recognise innovative, impactful and inspirational solutions, former winners (of any category) are not permitted to resubmit another entry.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize has incorporated a non-disclosure policy on announcing shortlisted candidates before the final stage of the evaluation and the Jury Meeting is concluded.

At this time, should you or your entity be listed as one of our finalists, you are free to publicise this as well.

The judges will not visit or communicate directly with the candidates as part of their assessment. For this reason, it is imperative that all information critical to your submission be included in the entry form.

All finalists will be invited to attend the ceremony, with flights and accommodation costs provided.

The winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize are asked to sign a contract with Masdar detailing the relationship between the Prize and its winners.

The Prize fund should go towards the sustainability programme or solution described in the submission. Alternatively, dedicating the fund to new sustainability ideas is also possible, subject to details provided and agreed on, in advance, to the Prize administration.

For the Global High Schools category, the fund is to be used to implement the project proposal and satisfy the obligations (including any timing requirements) as set out in the proposal.

E. About the Awards Ceremony

The Zayed Sustainability Prize awards ceremony takes place during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January every year.