Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Sustainable Innovation Awards Open

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has announced it is now accepting entries for the 2023 Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has announced it is now accepting entries for the 2023 Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards — calling upon citizens and organizations from the 56 Commonwealth countries to submit their entries for a chance to win prestigious titles and cash prizes.

Launched in 2019, the awards recognize ground-breaking innovations from applicants in Commonwealth countries that contribute to one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The awards focus on celebrating innovations that improve the lives of people, protect the planet, support prosperity, promote peace, and strengthen partnerships for sustainable development.

Announcing this year’s awards, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland KC encouraged everyone from the 56 Commonwealth countries (Member Countries) to take advantage of this opportunity. In a press statement, she the awards will shine a spotlight on innovations that often go unnoticed but are making a real, measurable difference in communities across the Commonwealth.

“By doing so, these solutions will also serve as a source of inspiration, encouraging others to replicate these ideas or pioneer new approaches in our collective effort to build a sustainable future that leaves none of us behind,” remarked Scotland.

Entries are open (FOLLOW THIS LINK TO APPLY) until 23:59 GMT (02:59 AM EAT) on October 15th, 2023. Women and youth who are transforming their communities through innovative solutions are especially encouraged to apply.

From the pool of applications, an independent jury will judge the entries and select 15 winners — three from each Commonwealth region — across five categories. Each category is structured around the five pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace, and Partnership.

  1. Improve the well-being of Commonwealth PEOPLE.
  2. Improve PROSPERITY in the Commonwealth.
  3. Protect the PLANET and the natural environment in the Commonwealth.
  4. Promote PEACE and justice in the Commonwealth.
  5. Promote PARTNERSHIPS for development in the Commonwealth.

In each of the five categories, one winner will be selected from the public sector (national/regional/local government), one winner will be from civil society / not-for-profit sector, and one winner will be an entrepreneur or a private sector company. Therefore, three winners in each of the five categories, adding up to a total of 15 winners.

The award winners will be selected on the basis of an objective set of criteria;

  1. Level of achievement, impact, or demonstrable potential of innovation to advance sustainable development in one or more Commonwealth countries; strategy, business/delivery plan, and impact evaluation/results measurement framework.
  2. Level of innovation/fresh approaches to problem-solving.
  3. Quality of achievement and impact.
  4. Quality of the evidence and supporting documentation provided.

Each winner will receive a trophy, a certificate of recognition, and a cash prize of £3,000 (approx. UGX13.9 million, KSH547,558) at an award ceremony that will be held during the inaugural Commonwealth Edition of Kenya Innovation Week 2023 in Nairobi on November 27.

Reflecting on the awards’ significance, Prof. Askwar Hilonga from Tanzania, who received the 2021 People Award for his innovative water purification system, said, “Winning the Commonwealth Innovation Award has increased my innovation visibility, reputation, network, and potential to attract more customers, mentors, and sponsors for scale-up to many countries.”

Nominees and Requirements

  • Nominees can be individuals, organizations, companies, charities, or government MDAs.
  • Nominees must be directly engaged in developing their innovations, either in a full-time, part-time, or voluntary capacity.
  • Nominees must be Commonwealth citizens, governments or public sector organizations in Commonwealth countries, private enterprises based in Commonwealth countries, or civil society / not-for-profit organizations based in Commonwealth countries.
  • Nominated innovations must be able to demonstrate impact or potential in achieving progress on one or more of the 17 SDGs in a Commonwealth country (or countries).
  • Award winners must agree to take part in Commonwealth-supported activities and initiatives related to the Commonwealth Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards.


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