UNICEF Zimbabwe achieves cuts in waste to landfill

Wed, 26/08/15

In just one year UNICEF Zimbabwe has reduced its waste-to-landfill by over 50%, cut their carbon emissions from electricity generation by 36% and cut water usage by over 10%. The numbers became apparent after the agency completed an Environmental Footprint Analysis for 2013-2014. Their remaining carbon emissions for the year were offset and they became the first UNICEF country office to become climate neutral.

How did they achieve such impressive results? First, they looked at their buildings and equipment to see where they could improve efficiency. An  example of how they did this was to replace two large electricity generators with four smaller ones. This means they are now able to produce only the electricity that's needed, saving over 100 tons of carbon emissions every year. Other changes include installing solar panels, new sensor lighting, better water management systems and new air conditioning units. 

Better buildings and equipment can only take you so far, however. The second element in achieving the reductions was changes in the behaviour of staff. They have taken the Greening the Blue initiative to heart and are all contributing to its success. A small group established an active Green Committee which organises a 'Green Friday' every month to raise awareness of environmental issues. All across the agency there are many staff members looking to reduce waste and improve sustainability wherever possible. Examples include recycling a large proportion of waste, the removal of plastic cups and cutlery and tree planting events.

"Environment and sustainability are becoming an integral part of our programming. The nature and scope varies from program to program but the goals are the same: we want climate change and sound environmental management to be part of the way we do business." said Reza Hossaini, UNICEF Zimbabwe's representative.

The winning combination of improved facilities and brilliant staff engagement has had clear results. They have already achieved the UN Secretary General’s call to go climate neutral by 2020 and, with continued commitment from staff, there’s little doubt they’ll achieve even further reductions in the coming years.