The UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs Innovation Award (“the Award”) celebrates efforts and achievements that advance the innovative delivery of services to refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR. The Award is given to NGOs from any country/territory that demonstrate commitment and creativity to achieving improved efficiency of services for forcibly displaced people.

The Award is a UNHCR Initiative. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees and other persons of concern.

In preparation for the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs ‘Putting People First’ – to be held in Geneva 27-29 June 2018 – the tremendous work of NGOs will be highlighted through various mediums. This year we will launch the first Innovation Award to recognize and catalyse creative solutions to improve the lives of refugees, host communities and persons of concern. UNHCR believes innovation is a process of designing, experimenting, and learning and the Award aims to support and showcase NGOs working through this process.


A first prize of USD 10,000 and a second prize of USD 8,000 will be granted to two winners. One representative of each winning NGO will be invited to an award ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2018.


NGOs in any country or territory are eligible.

UNHCR seeks applications from NGOs that would like to test new approaches, ideas or elements of a project that will increase the efficiency of delivering services to refugees and other persons of concern. The Award is not looking for well-refined project plans, but projects and/or ideas that still can be adapted and made better.

Applications must meet the following requirements:

  • Applications must be original ideas, with original design and approach.
  • Applications should be submitted in English.


Shortlisting will take place based on a comprehensive technical review. After shortlisting, a jury of UNHCR and NGO innovation experts will evaluate applications using the following criteria:

Relevance to Innovation

UNHCR defines innovation as a process of designing, experimenting, and learning. Innovation is a process to introduce a change and/or something new into systems. Innovation is not synonymous with the application of technology, nor does it necessarily result in the output of one specific product.


Applications should demonstrate commitment to the priority of “putting people first” in addressing forced displacement.

Applications should raise awareness for refugees and other persons of concern.

Applications should reflect the values of UNHCR.


Applications should demonstrate how the experimentation or experimentation plan has been co-created or led by affected communities, with a focus on gender equality, inclusion, and diversity.


June 28, 2018
Official launch of the Award at UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs (Geneva, Switzerland)

Extended: August 31, 2018
Submission process closes

September, 2018
Applications processing and shortlisting

October, 2018
Jury voting and selection of Award winners

November, 2018
Public announcement of Award winners

December, 2018
Award ceremony in Geneva

For information and inquiries, please contact: Partnership and Coordination Service

The deadline for applications has passed.


All personal and institutional data provided to UNHCR for the Award will be kept confidential in accordance with UNHCR’s data protection policy. By completing submissions, applicants agree to the publication of the names of participating organizations and personnel, addresses and other submitted materials and any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any UNHCR propose. Applicants grant UNHCR the right to disseminate their work through knowledge/awareness/capacity-building activities globally.

Award winners will receive a monetary prize.  In order to receive the monetary prize, Award winners shall enter into contractual agreements with UNHCR, in line with UNHCR rules and regulations and any income tax regulations in the country of legal residence of the organization. The monetary prize must be used for innovation activities for the benefit of refugees and persons of concern. Further documentation, such as proof of legal status and governance of the organization shall be required by UNHCR.

In accordance with the contract to be entered into with the Award winners and UNHCR, a reporting/monitoring mechanism will be established on the winners’ use of the monetary prize. Award winners are expected to submit a final narrative report detailing the key challenges, lessons learnt and successes etc.

UNHCR reserves the right not to select any applicants, or to cancel the Award for any reason at any time. UNHCR accepts no liability for cancelling the Award or for anyone’s failure to receive actual notification of cancellation.