2022 UN SDSN Youth Global Innovation and Impact Awards

Deadline: May 25, 2022.

SDSN Youth’s first-ever Global Innovation and Impact Awards are now live!

On March 31, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth (SDSN Youth) unveils its first-ever Global Youth Innovation and Global SDG Impact Awards, which aim to recognize, showcase, support and mobilize outstanding solutions that are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These awards are a global call to action to recognize, showcase, and support the best and brightest ideas and solutions led by the SDSN Youth youth global community and the strongest commitments driven by the private sector and academia changemakers. These changemaker’s commitments and solutions are providing pathways toward realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.


  1. The Global Youth Innovation Awards: are a global call for applications for our more than 3,000 young people in the SDSN Youth global community who are building real solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. 
  2. The Global SDG Impact Awards: are a global call for nominations to identify and recognize emerging private and academia sector initiatives and commitments to implementing the SDGs at local and national levels. 


Global Youth Innovation Awards 

  • SDSN Youth Membership: Must be an active Member or alumni of the SDSN Youth Community and have participated in the SDG Students, Local Pathways, Youth Solutions, or the Global Schools programs.
  • Leadership Role: Members must be a founder or co-founder of the SDG mission driven project or venture you are proposing. The project and venture must be created and led by the Founder(s).
  • New or Existing Initiative: Your application includes a new project, organization, program or business, or a major new initiative of an existing organization. If this is part of an existing organization, you must distinguish the initiative from existing operations; and clearly define how this initiative is focused on the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Duration: The initial planned duration of the initiative may not exceed 12 months.
  • Location: Initiatives can take place online or offline in one or more countries across the globe.
  • Design: The initiative should be coherent and have clear, attainable and measurable goals. Activities should be consistent in relation to the expected goals. The budget should be realistic and correspond to the proposed activities.
  • Sustainability: Your initiative or project must be sustainable (not a one-time event) financially and environmentally.
  • Global Impact: Project has some idea of the overlapping transnational nature of SDGs and explores potential implications and adaptations beyond its immediate community. Clearly demonstrates a set of quantifiable impact metrics from the project, linked to the SDGs.
  • Cross-cutting elements: The initiatives should take into consideration cross-cutting elements such as environmental/climate change issues, gender equality and equal opportunities.

Initiative should also meet the following:

  • Scalability: Demonstrates an understanding of risks that may undermine the impact of the solution proposed. Attempts to clearly identify intrinsic limitations to the solution

    – How significant is the social innovation and SDG impact locally/globally?
    – Are the SDG goals linked to the business goals?
    – Are the SDG Goals measurable and achievable?
    – Does the applicant clearly explain how they will meet these goals?
  • Collaborativeness: Team structure, functionality, adaptability and potential to scale a solution successfully.

    – How well is the team suited to realize the solution?
    – Has the team reflected on any additional needs in the team structure to realize the solution?
    – Are the members of this team motivated to invest time and energy to realize this solution?
  • Comprehensibility:  

    – Does the enterprise have a governance structure?
    – Does the applicant demonstrate the ability to attract human capital to support the enterprise? For example, volunteers, etc.
    – Does the applicant provide mentoring and/or development opportunities for staff?

Global SDG Impact Awards

  • Sector: Private companies across all sectors and academia can be nominated to the Global SDG Impact Awards List.
  • Timeframe: Eligible initiatives will have been launched between 2015 and 2021, including those implemented in response to COVID-19.
  • Relevance: Aligns with at least one SDG, as well as with SDSN Youth vision and strategic objectives, and supports the use of SDSN Youth work in countries’ or stakeholders’ activities and processes to meet SDG targets and report on SDG indicators.
  • Innovation: Ensures valuable, new and/or innovative solutions that go beyond the existing practice in the sector and/or in the concerned territories.
  • Impact: Demonstrates tangible social, economic and/or environmental impact of the initiative regardless of the longevity of the activation – thus ideas or projects that have not moved beyond the conceptual stage will not be considered.
  • Exemplarity: A commendable example and strong representation of the use of resources for the SDGs that is worth showcasing; an endeavor which might motivate others.


Together with NOVA Impact, SDSN Youth will work collaboratively with the awardees to provide seed funding, mentorship and access to exclusive opportunities and benefits to help awardees pave the way forward towards realizing the SDGs by 2030. Examples of these benefits include: 

  • Seed Funding: Awardees receive up to $2,500 to test, launch and scale their initiatives. Please note that funding is only available for the Global Youth Innovation Award.
  • Exclusive Access to SDG Pioneers: The opportunity to collaborate and learn from SDG experts in various fields of sustainable development.
  • Mentorship: A community of mentors and experts who will help refine your ideas and solutions, overcome challenges, attract investors, and achieve your objectives.
  • Impact Driven Community of Practice: A community of practice alongside philanthropists, community leaders, and impact investors with the ability to engage in grantmaking and impact projects. 
  • Global Recognition: Increased visibility in the SDG and sustainability space and the ability to showcase your solutions and commitments at premier SDG events and networks.
  • Impact Education: A comprehensive suite of educational resources to learn and engage more deeply with the Sustainable Development Goals.


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