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UN and Sustainability

“I would like to see our renovated Headquarters complex eventually become a globally acclaimed model of efficient use of energy and resources. Beyond New York, the initiative should include the other United Nations headquarters and offices around the globe.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Speech on World Environment Day 2007

Cover of UN's greenhouse gas emissions report

Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN: The UN System’s Footprint and Efforts to Reduce It (2013 edition)

The most recent analysis of the UN's performance in implementing the UN's Climate Neutral Strategy. The report includes the details of the greenhouse gas emissions for 64 organisations in 2012, as well as a breakdown of emissions by source. The brochurePDF document and posterPDF document showcase some of the efforts that have gone on around the UN System to reduce emissions and explains the next steps.  

In 2007, on World Environment Day (5 June), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the above words, made public his ambition to make the United Nations more efficient in its operations. In October 2007, at the meeting of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), the Executive Heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes committed to move their respective organizations towards climate neutrality, and developed the UN Climate Neutral Strategy.

Specifically, they committed to:

The UN Climate Neutral Strategy highlights the advantages of harmonization. A common approach across the UN system brings greater impact, lowers transactions costs, facilitates practical action on the ground through the development of common tools, ensures comparability of data across organizations, and pooling of results for better-informed decisions and knowledge-sharing.

The main building at UN Headquarters in New York
was recently renovated. The 60-year-old original
glass panels were replaced with double-glazed
panels. Energy consumption will now be 50%
lower than before. (UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Greenhouse gas emissions of UN organizations and what we are doing to reduce them

The work to create a more sustainable UN is now coordinated through the Issue Management Group (IMG) on Sustainability Management, which is serviced by the Sustainable United Nations (SUN) facility and reports to the Environment Management Group (EMG).

Throughout 2009, the EMG secretariat and SUN worked with the IMG focal points to develop the first generation of greenhouse gas inventories for each UN organization, using common methodologies, resources and training. The results of the process were published in December 2009 in Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN. A breakdown of the results for each UN agency is also available here.

In 2010, work continued to develop the second generation of greenhouse gas inventories and the first generation of emission reduction plans.

Greening the Bluegreening the blue

Greening the Blue is the official United Nations platform for raising awareness about the importance of sustainability within the UN system.  The website highlights what has been achieved, what is happening next, and how UN staff can get involved.

Aiming to improve communications on the UN system's sustainability performance, the website is a reservoir of useful information, including:

Greening the Blue is a one-stop shop for UN staff and the general public who have an interest in creating a more sustainable United Nations.