Education for Sustainable Development prizewinners awarded by UNESCO and Japan


The three winners of the 2017 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) received their awards at a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on 3 November. They were awarded the prize in recognition of their innovative projects at the local, regional and international level.

This was the third edition of the prize, funded by the Government of Japan and created in 2014 to honour outstanding projects and programmes in the field of ESD. The three laureates for 2017 are: the social enterprise Zikra from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; the Hard Rain Project from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and Sihlengeni Primary School from the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, presented the award, saying “The Sustainable Development Goals mark strong recognition by the international community that countries need ESD to make the transition to green societies” Each laureate received a diploma, an award and US $50,000.

Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Yoshimasa Hayashi congratulated the winners, and encouraged their future efforts: “Receiving the award is the start of a journey rather than the finish line. I look forward to the varied efforts by laureates leading to further progress on ESD and greater quality of education around the world.”

The future is bright!

Sihlengeni Primary School in Zimbabwe won its award for its “Permaculture” programme which implements ESD through a whole-institution approach, providing learners with life skills while reducing land degradation and deforestation. “The future is bright for our Green Oasis of Zimbabwe!” exclaimed Headteacher Sibanga Ncube accepting the prize on behalf of the school. He added that winning the prize had boosted motivation for the future ESD work of his school as well as adjacent communities,

Zikra won the prize for its “Popular Learning Programme” which promotes equity between rural and urban communities though ‘exchange tourism’. Representing the social enterprise, co-founder Lama Kathieb said: “Our work has been dedicated to rediscovering local knowledge and employ it in fabricating solutions to community’s current struggles. We thank the UNESCO and the government of Japan for awarding us with this great prize.”

The Hard Rain Project was rewarded for its international exhibition projects “Hard Rain” and “Whole Earth?” which bring arts and science together to reach a large audience of citizens and leaders. Founder Mark Edwards said: “Education is a key element in the transition to a sustainable society, yet it’s often these projects that are hardest to fund. Thanks to the prize we can start work on our next exhibition that will showcase the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In addition to the award, the three winning organizations will be invited to become key partners of the Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP), driving the GAP implementation forward in close collaboration with UNESCO.

The call for nominations for the fourth edition of the prize will be launched in January 2018.