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Zayed Sustainability Prize: 6 high schools bag award for innovative projects

In the global high schools' category of the Prize, winners were picked from across six regions of the world

Photo: DXBMediaOffice/Twitter
Photo: DXBMediaOffice/Twitter

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Mon 17 Jan 2022, 4:34 PM

Last updated: Mon 17 Jan 2022, 5:36 PM

The Zayed Sustainability Prize has given wings to the dreams of six inspiring and innovative projects, which will ensure a sustainable future and a better world for everyone.

In the global high schools' category of the Prize, winners were picked from across six regions of the world: Instituto Iberia from Dominican Republic (the Americas), Liceo Europeo from Spain (Europe and Central Asia), Eastern Mediterranean International School from Israel (Middle East and North Africa), Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School from Uganda (Sub-Saharan Africa), Hira School from Maldives (South Asia) and UWC ISAK, Japan. Each school has secured up to $100,000 to start or further expand their project.

Since 2012, by awarding innovative sustainability projects developed by high school students worldwide, the Prize has been empowering students to reach their full potential and inspiring next generations to be responsible, sustainable citizens.

Instituto Iberia from Dominican Republic (The Americas)

The school from Santiago won with its project on biodiesel-fuelled generators. The students have proposed a project to convert the school’s used cooking oil into biodiesel to power the school generator, decreasing the negative impact of used oil on the community health, as currently, the oil is sent to the landfill in metal tanks which damages the environment.

“Sheikh Zayed was a visionary leader who embraced the improvement of the world we live in by sustainable development,” a team member said.

In five years, the project envisions impacting 10,000 students in the Santiago area.

Liceo Europeo from Spain (Europe and Central Asia)

Students at Madrid-based school clinched the Prize with their project: ‘LivingEnergy’, which aims to develop a scalable technology capable of converting waste into electricity using microorganisms. Their solution would produce clean energy affordably while also helping to reduce waste in their local community. Their approach is based on a technology known as microbial fuel cells.

“We can use microorganisms to produce electricity and we can do that from waste,” a student said.

Students have developed a new design to make this technology scalable using discarded facemasks from which microorganisms can degrade and produce electricity. This is in light of facemasks becoming commonplace worldwide due to the ongoing global pandemic. So, the students have come up with an idea to reduce waste and produce energy.

Eastern Mediterranean International School from Israel (Middle East and North Africa)

The school from Israel impressed the jury with its water from air project. The students are looking to integrate the school’s condensation unit and Organic Rankine Cycle, a thermal power system, into one system powered by a solar battery, which will increase their energy efficiency and water production. It aims to convert water from the air into clean, drinkable water using the Condensation Unit and then capture and convert the produced heat into electrical energy, which will be used to power the whole system.


The existing device produces 100 litres of water per day, which generates around 2.7 kilowatts of thermal power. A more extensive system would produce 1,000 litres of water per day and generate 27 kilowatts of thermal power.

Hira School from Maldives (South Asia)

The school won with its ‘sustainable rainwater harvesting’ project. Students from the private school located in Addu City, Maldives, have proposed a project that would support a sustainable water management system for their school.

Their project aims to harvest rainwater for the whole year during the monsoon season, which it would then treat, use, and store for school operations.

Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School from Uganda (Sub-Saharan Africa)

The school clinched the top honours with their initiative of harvesting organic waste to produce female sanitary products. The girl students face challenges of attending school with lack of sanitary pads. There was a drop in the number of girl students at the school and eventually the dropout kept rising. In a bid to manage the situation and bring girls back to the classrooms, the students came with a project to make sanitary pads.

“We celebrate. Wow! We have won the Zayed Sustainability Prize,” a team member of the school’s initiative said as the winner of the Prize was announced.

UWC ISAK from Japan (East Asia and Pacific)

The school won the Prize for its ‘sustainability school upgrades’. The students have proposed a project to make the school ‘fully green’ while educating the local community about sustainability. The students predict that their energy efficiency projects will lead to a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and 30 per cent reduction in burnable trash. It will produce a healthy, reliable food source and increase awareness of sustainability in their local area.

Overall, the project is expected to impact 3,830 people from various schools. This includes 200 students and 70 faculty members directly involved in the school's institutional change, the remaining 3,560 people will benefit by promoting UWC ISAK Japan as a role model for sustainable transformation.

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