31 Oct, 2011, Ha Noi: To mark this year’s UN Day, the UN in Viet Nam hosted a green picnic for nearly 600 staff, family and friends.
Green booths with environmental quizzes and vegetarian meal options were some of the activities featured during the day. Other green elements included encouraging the use of sustainable transportation such as taking the bus, riding a bike or walking.
At one green booth, UN staff were asked to guess the exact amount of sheets in a one-meter high pile of A4 paper. The result, 3398, is the average annual paper consumption per person at the UN.
“I didn’t know we used so much paper,” said one surprised member of staff.
Green Champion, Ruby Banez, explains the green pledge at the UN day picnic
The green picnic was hosted as a part of a larger greening effort by the UN in Viet Nam. The team has been particularly active this year with the launch of “Greening the One UN Campaign” on 1 September 2011.
In partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) Green Office programme, the aim of the campaign is to reduce the environmental footprint and enable the UN in Viet Nam to be more responsible in terms of climate change.
The campaign aims to ensure that all staff are aware of their environmental impact at work and to establish a best practice for other UN offices around the world.
UN agencies in Viet Nam will move to the Green One UN House at the end of next year and the campaign acts as a first step towards the adoption of more environmentally friendly practices in the office.
As part of the campaign, the UN Country Team recently approved the Greening the One UN in Viet Nam Action Plan, outlining the commitments, responsibilities and actions that will guide the campaign over the next 12 months.
Essentially, the plan focuses on four areas:
• Saving energy
• Using sustainable transport
• Increasing staff awareness
• Reducing and recycling paper
“Working together, we will all be collectively responsible for achieving these targets,” said Eamonn Murphy, UN Resident Coordinator.
“We can all act right now and live up to the exemplary role the UN should be playing in this important issue.”
UN Viet Nam has been actively engaging all key players in the greening process, from the Operations Management and Country Management Team, to colleagues, maintenance staff, family and friends.
Among the key players are green champions who are active change agents in this campaign. There are now over 80 green champions in 12 agencies. These volunteers collectively organize regular events such as bi-weekly green film screenings and a monthly Sustainable Transport Day.
Since the launch of the campaign, the UN in Viet Nam has undergone a significant process of greening, with some strong tangibles: in September, UNFPA and UNICEF have reduced the consumption of electricity by 19 percent and 16 percent respectively, compared to the same month last year.
The green effort is not a one-off event, but a long term process looking to create long-term behavioral change. UN Viet Nam is just starting the long journey towards a climate neutral organization.
Green champions promote the campaign’s targets