United Kingdom (Commonwealth Union)_ Entries are now open for the prestigious Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards, welcoming submissions from citizens and organizations representing the 56 Commonwealth nations. Launched in 2019, these awards aim to honor breakthrough innovations within Commonwealth countries that contribute to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Accordingly, an independent panel of judges will evaluate the entries and select 15 winners, with three hailing from each of the Commonwealth’s regions.
The awards are structured around the five pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership, emphasizing innovations that enhance people’s lives, safeguard the environment, support economic well-being, foster peace, and reinforce partnerships for sustainable development. Each recipient will be honored with a trophy, a certificate of recognition, and a substantial cash prize of £3,000 during an award ceremony held as part of the inaugural Commonwealth Edition of Kenya Innovation Week 2023 in Nairobi on November 27.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, has encouraged individuals and entities from across the Commonwealth to seize this opportunity, emphasizing the importance of innovation in addressing the challenges affecting communities and the environment. These awards aim to shed light on innovations that often go unnoticed but have tangible, positive impacts across the Commonwealth, serving as a source of inspiration for others to replicate these ideas or pioneer new approaches in our shared pursuit of a sustainable future that leaves no one behind.
The Secretary-General stated, “In these turbulent times, we find ourselves in greater need of the determination, talent, and imagination of Commonwealth citizens to confront the challenges affecting our people, communities, and planet. We hope these awards will shine a spotlight on innovations which 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.”
The significance of these awards is evident in the words of past recipients. Christopher Nesbitt from Belize, the winner of the 2019 Prosperity Award for his pioneering work in carbon farming, attested to the Commonwealth’s profound interest and encouragement in supporting innovative endeavors. He said, “In the 30 years I’ve been working in this field, the Commonwealth has shown the greatest interest and given me the most encouragement.” Similarly, Professor Askwar Hilonga from Tanzania, who was awarded the 2021 People Award for his innovative water purification system, acknowledged that winning the Commonwealth Innovation Award significantly enhanced his innovation’s visibility, reputation, network, customers, and potential for expansion to multiple countries. Submissions for these awards must arrive by 23:59 GMT on October 15, 2023. Women and young innovators who are driving transformative changes within their communities through innovative solutions are particularly encouraged to apply. This marks the third biennial edition of the awards, following the successful ceremonies held in 2019 and 2021.