UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs 2019 Innovation Award

The UNHCR NGO Innovation Award celebrates efforts and achievements that advance the innovative delivery of services to refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.

The UNHCR NGO Innovation Award 2019 looks for innovative and inclusive solutions in partnerships and connectivity.

The Award was widely announced for the first time in 2018, amongst NGOs working with refugees and displaced persons, and received 165 submissions from 57 countries. The Award went to SINA Loketa, an organization that empowers youth to self-actualize in a Ugandan refugee camp, and Artemisszio, a foundation that is creating an inclusive community space in Hungary. The Award shows UNHCR’s determination to innovate together with NGO partners.

With the successful practice last year, the Partnership and Coordination Service (PCS), together with Innovation Service, is organizing the second NGO Innovation Award to further encourage innovation efforts of NGO partners.

The importance of partnership is underlined in both New York Declaration to the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). In line with the Principles of Partnership (Equality, Transparency, Results-Oriented Approach, Responsibility and Complementarity), partnering with a broader range of actors improves our collective ability to ensure better outcomes by combining and leveraging resources and methods. Partnership is not an end in itself but a means to maximize the impact our work has on protection, assistance and solutions, which contribute to improving the lives of refugees, host communities and more.

Connectivity for Refugees is an initiative by UNHCR’s Innovation Service to ensure that displaced populations and communities that host them have the right, and the choice, to be part of a connected society, and have access to technology that enables them to build better futures for themselves, their families, and the world. Connectivity for Refugees formally started as an initiative by UNHCR Innovation Service in 2016 to develop a practical roadmap towards bridging the digital divide and connecting those who are currently not connected, ensuring that all refugees, regardless of age, gender and diversity, have the ability to fully participate in the digital revolution that is taking place globally.

UNHCR believes that to harness the innovation efforts by all members of society, we need to include a wide range of colleagues, partners and Persons of Concern as well as host communities into our work – not forgetting the importance of cognitive diversity, race, ability and language.

The objective for the Award 2019 is to explore how you can create or foster new kinds of inclusive partnerships and/or connectivity solutions that include people in novel ways and thus improve the delivery of services to refugees, those who welcome them and beyond.

We wish to explore with you how we can collectively improve our efforts in two specific areas:

Category “Partnerships”

What we are looking for:

  • Nontraditional and creative partnerships that value inclusion and diversity, which are people-centered and community-based;
  • Solution-driven efforts* that introduce positive change in improving access to information and knowledge sharing.

*These interventions can include resource mobilization, public-private partnership, data and evidence, storytelling and advocacy, Protection against sexual exploitation and abuse, humanitarian-development-peace nexus, etc.

Category “Connectivity”

What we are looking for:

  • Demonstrated or proposed efforts that address connectivity challenges for displaced persons in a creative and novel way;
  • Solutions that encourage inclusion and ensure that displaced people have the right and choice to be part of a connected society.

*These interventions can include facility connectivity (e.g. infrastructure, electricity, etc); digital connectivity (enhancing digital skills and literacy of Persons of Concern (PoCs), devices, applications, software); service connectivity (access to finance, mobile services, etc.); policy connectivity (overcoming legislations and policy barriers); institutional connectivity (mechanisms to provide channels for PoCs to stay connected).

Shortlisting will take place based on a comprehensive technical review. After shortlisting, a jury composed of UNHCR and external partners will select the winners.

Winners will be announced in the following categories:

  • Winner in Category “Partnership”
  • Winner in Category “Connectivity”

A prize of USD 10,000 will be granted to each winner. One representative of each winning NGO will be invited to an award ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland (or another location).

Who is eligible to apply?

  • NGOs with a valid registration certificate in the country of operation.
  • Proposed or ongoing project on:
    • Novel, inclusive partnerships;
    • And/or novel, inclusive connectivity solutions;
    • You can apply to the award with a proposal you aim to work on or describe an ongoing project within 2019 (completed projects are not eligible for the Award);
  • NGOs that have the drive and interest to find new ways to solve challenges facing the humanitarian sector serving refugees. We strongly encourage refugee-led NGOs to apply.


Applications should be submitted to UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs Innovation Award website. Guiding questions are provided.

Please note that the deadline for applications is Wednesday, 31 July 2019.


  • June 2019 Launch the Call for Submission
  • June to July 2019 Website open for accepting submissions
  • July 5, 2019 Reminder of submission at UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs
  • July 31, 2019 Submission process closes
  • August 2019 Applications processing and shortlisting
  • September 2019 Jury voting and selection of Award winners
  • October 2019 Public announcement of winners and Award ceremony in Geneva, or another location

Terms and Conditions

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 purpose. 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 other 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.

For information and inquiries, please contact:
Partnership and Coordination Service/ Innovation Service at [email protected]