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Celebrating 20 Years of the Japanese Awards

In 2020, we proudly celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Global Development Awards Competition, GDN’s flagship awards program.


For more than 20 years, the awards program has celebrated excellence in policy-oriented research and innovation in social development. Funded by the Government of Japan, the competition has awarded US$4 million in grants since 2000, with nearly 8,800 researchers and development professionals taking part over the years.


Indeed, there is much to celebrate, with grantees demonstrating significant impact in their work following their participation in the competition. For example, an independent study found that the majority of research papers submitted are of a quality recognized nationally, if not internationally, in terms of originality, significance and rigor.


The relevance of the competition is another cause for celebration. A majority of the winning projects have been replicated nationally or internationally some even more than ten times with international partners such as European governments and UN agencies.


2020: Health-Environment-Economic Wellbeing


Taking place online, the 2020 edition of the Global Development Awards Competition was centered on the theme Unpacking the Health-Environment-Economic Wellbeing Nexus a topic especially pertinent to the global development community and beyond, in these times.


Coming in first in the category Japanese Award for Outstanding Research on Development was Dr. Kok Sin (Vincent) Woon from Malaysia, with a research project that optimises the ecological efficiency of municipal waste management.


In second and third place were research projects on climate change adaptation strategies, and sustainability in fisheries. Proposals were assessed on their clarity and quality, and the extent to which they address relevant development issues.


2021: Trade, Biodiversity, COVID, Climate Risk and Community-driven Governance


This year’s awards straddle two categories: Outstanding Research on Development and Most Innovative Development Project.


The research award features the theme International Trade and the Promotion of Biodiversity, while the innovation in implementation award features three themes: Universal Health Coverage and COVID, Community-driven, Climate-related, Disaster Risk Reduction in Rural Areas and Quality Urban Infrastructure and Community-driven Governance.


In total, US$180,000 is set to be awarded to projects that embody an innovative approach to an important developmental need. In addition, research award winners will be paired with a world-class academic in their area of work, while project award winners will go on to compete for up to US$200,000 awarded by the Japan Social Development Fund.


Curious about who the most recent winners are? Visit to learn all about the finalists and follow #GlobalDevelopmentAwards to find out more. Winners were announced at Evidence for Development: What Works Global Summit on 22 & 25 October 2021. 

About the Competition | Our Approach | Recent Editions of the Competition | 20 years of the Global Development Awards | Global Development Awards platform | Impact of the Competition

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