On 5 June 2007 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly called on all UN agencies, funds and programmes to become climate neutral and 'go green'.
At their meeting in October 2007 the CEB - the executive heads of the UN agencies, funds and programmes - approved the UN Climate Neutral Strategy. In doing so they formalised their commitment to move their respective organizations towards climate neutrality in headquarters and UN centres for their facility operations and travel.
“Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation...For this reason I made climate change a top priority as soon as I took office. It is a practical and moral imperative”
United Nations Secretary-General
In particular, they agreed to estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions consistent with accepted international standards, to undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent possible; and to analyze the cost implications and explore budgetary modalities – including consulting with governing bodies as needed – of purchasing carbon offsets to eventually reach climate neutrality. The initial milestone for this work was set for December 2009.
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 UN Environment Management Group (EMG) was tasked with initiating the coordination of the UN system’s efforts to move towards climate neutrality, and worked through a network of focal points from each organization.
In addition, the Sustainable United Nations (SUN) facility was established to provide additional support on becoming climate neutral, particularly on emissions reductions.
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 focal points worked on the internal data collection with offices and departments that had access to relevant information. Facility managers, travel agents, and technical and administrative staff were therefore heavily involved in collecting and aggregating information for the greenhouse gas inventory.
The results of the process were published in December 2009 in Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN. In April 2010 a second report was published showing the 2009 emissions. Today work continues with a new group of focal points to develop the next generation of greenhouse gas inventories and the first generation of emission reduction plans.
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