Eligibility Criteria

The Global High Schools category 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. The proposed project could be in one area (e.g. water) or a combination of areas (e.g. energy, water, food, and health).

The Prize is intended to encourage students to develop and implement their sustainability ideas and is not aimed at administrative projects or educational reforms at the school.

The award in this category is not given for past achievements but will enable students from winning high schools to implement sustainability projects in their own schools.

These student-led projects must demonstrate innovative approaches to address sustainability challenges and inspire students to take active roles in sustainable development.

The application must be submitted by the students and supported by the school management. The projects must:

  • Demonstrate how they meet the three criteria: impact, innovation, inspiration
  • Be able to be implemented and operational within one to two years
  • Benefit the school community and/or their local/regional community for several years

In each of the following six global regions, one school will win up to US$ 100,000:

  • The Americas
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe & Central Asia
  • South Asia
  • East Asia & Pacific

If you believe you have a project that could win the Zayed Sustainability Prize, we want to know about it!

prize fund

global high schools
US$ 600,000

(divided amongst 6 Schools, awarding each up to US$100,000)

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria is split into three parts, each with their percentages of influence on the initial assessments. They are:


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.


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.


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.