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Our approach

“Ensuring environmental sustainability” is the seventh Millennium Development Goal. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS) are working towards these goals and wish to lead by example in the countries in which we operate.

A peacekeeper wearing a blue helmet, standing in a field.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

A peacekeeper standing in a rural area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We acknowledge that our current environmental footprint is significant, representing 56% of the 2008 total UN-wide greenhouse gas emissions footprint. It will take several years to change our practices to reduce our emissions, and to reduce our direct impact on the ground by improving water and waste management.

Greening the Blue Helmets

DPKO and DFS are active members of the UN-wide working group on sustainability management, and we promote Greening the Blue which is the official UN campaign to make a more sustainable United Nations. We have also partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to take advantage of their long-time expertise in to the field.

Since June 2009, DPKO and DFS have a dedicated Environmental Policy for UN Field Missions. It covers key areas such as waste, energy, water, hazardous substances, wild animals and plants and cultural and historical resources management.

Our approach is to mainstream the environment in all operational activities during the life-cycle of a peacekeeping operation. Planning and mission staff involvement is therefore key.

We also integrated environmental considerations into our new Global Field Support Strategy [A/64/633] PDF Document, with the aim to improve:

  • The health, safety and security of both UN staff and surrounding local communities;
  • The cost-effectiveness of our operations, through inter alia, prevention of costly remediation works.

Environmental sustainability, unlike other crosscutting issues managed by field missions (such as gender or HIV/AIDS), does not have a specific Security Council resolution.

International days

Each year, a number of international days are set aside to promote environmental issues: