Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam & Stockholm Conventions (BRS)

HQ: Geneva, Switzerland

Focal Point: Marylene Beau / Ana Witt

Email: marylene.beau [at] / ana.witt [at] 


Key Figures: Greenhouse gas emissions


NB: FAO and UNEP jointly perform the Secretariat functions for the Rotterdam Convention. The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention is composed of a UNEP-part located in Geneva, Switzerland and a FAO-part located in Rome, Italy. The inventory covers the emissions of the Secretariat of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions and the UNEP-part of the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention.

Key figures: Waste

Key Figures: Water


Executive Secretary’s message


"As countries need to make concrete efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, international organizations should lead the way by implementing measurable efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, especially in air travel in view of the nature of our work. The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) remains committed to reducing our carbon footprint through all means possible.

Since 2011, the Secretariat has put in place practical measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, in 2017, we reduced our global air travel footprint by 15 % on average compare to previous COP years (2015, 2013 and 2011). Overall, since 2011, the Secretariat has reduced its carbon footprint by 21%, most notably due to promoting teleconferencing and back-to-back meetings.

Since 2012, the BRS Secretariat has been climate neutral and will continue to be so until 2020 thanks to the agreement signed with UNFCCC allowing BRS to offset current and future emissions over a five year period through the purchase of Adaptation Fund Certified Emission Reduction units.

At each of the BRS Conferences of the Parties, Parties to the three Conventions are updated on our efforts and performance in reducing our carbon footprint. Our efforts are contributing to the activities undertaken by other Geneva-based UN organizations, networks and the canton of Geneva to promote a climate neutral UN. These efforts towards improved sustainability performance also contribute to the broader 2030 sustainable development agenda as it relates to climate change and chemicals and waste management.”

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions




The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are multilateral environmental agreements that share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes. These Conventions aim to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes by providinge the a framework to ensure their environmentally sound management throughout a life cycle approach. There are 187, 161 and 183 Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, respectively, as at 1 September 2019.


Experience so far


Overall, 98% of the Secretariat’s carbon footprint is due to air travel. The large majority of the travel organized by the Secretariat relate to meeting participants’ travel, which accounts for around 60-70% of the totals of travel.

Through the promotion of the use of video conferencing and other digital techniques, and more systematic scheduling of back-to-back meetings, significant reductions in GHG emissions have been noted over the years. The estimated total emissions of the Secretariat totalled 697 t CO2 eq. in 2013; in 2018, the Secretariat generated a total of 366 t CO2 eq., marking almost a 50% decrease overall. During the years when the Secretariat organizes the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Conventions, which are more carbon intensive, GHG emissions have decreased by 11% in 2017 compared to the previous similar years, e.g. 2015 and 2013.

In addition to travel related emissions, those associated with waste management are also being addressed. Recent actions have been taken to reduce wastes, in particular plastic waste, generated during the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties. The 2019 COPs have been plastic free.


EMS and Reduction efforts


The Secretariat prepares annual inventories of its greenhouse gas emissions, takes steps to reduce its emissions and offsets unavoidable emissions. Reduction efforts are being guided by the work of the Secretariat’s sustainability team which evaluates ongoing sustainability practices and monitors progress in reduction efforts.

In line with the team’s recommendations, endorsed by the Executive Secretary in December 2013, the following measures are systematically implemented to reduce the Secretariat’s carbon footprint:

  • An internal policy is in place to minimize staff travel and promote tele/video and online conferencing, as well as back-to-back meetings to reduce travel;
  • The organization of sustainable meetings is systematically promoted, through a policy that promotes the reduction of wastes (paperless meetings, ban on single use plastic at the meeting venue) and offsetting of participants’ travel-related emissions;
  • Car sharing, the use of public transport and other sustainable transport means are encouraged within the office;
  • Improved environmental sustainability of the Secretariat’s offices is promoted in terms of energy and water consumption and waste generation (the offices are located in Geneva’s International Environment House (IEH) which provides high environment standards, such as waste separation and a recycling scheme; reduced energy and water consumption; IEH is certified MINERGIE, a green standard).

Click here for more detailed information on actions taken for greening the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.




The Secretariat offsets all of its GHG emissions generated in 2018, namely 366 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, through an ongoing long-term agreement it has with the UNFCCC.


Waste management


Specific activities targeted at waste prevention and minimization include:

  • The meetings organized by Secretariat are paperless and, whenever possible, plastic free. At the 2019 COPs meetings, specific arrangements have been made to minimize the use of plastic.
  • In the Secretariat’s offices, situated at IEH-1, wastes are separated during collection and shipped to different contractors for final disposal or recycling, as appropriate.
  • Recycling is organized in the building for paper, PET, glass, aluminum, batteries and Nespresso capsules. Over the years, new waste recycling bins have been introduced for mobile phones, batteries, coffee capsules.
  • The amount of waste being recycled is systematically accounted for and reported by the building management entity (FIPOI) and the organizations hosted in the building.
  • Awareness-raising on waste sorting and recycling is promoted among staff members within the office.

Water Management


The measuring, reporting and managing water and waste water is done centrally by the managing organization of the building.


Other environmental measures



Measures are currently ongoing to promote the use of tap water in the BRS Secretariat and increase awareness on its environmental benefits. Water jugs are used for BRS meetings rather than bottled water. In 2014, the BRS Secretariat phased out the use of water coolers in the offices.

Staff training

To facilitate the sharing of information and green tips in BRS offices, the Green Board Initiative has been in place since October 2013. Staff members are regularly informed via bulletin boards and through electronic communication on selected environmental sustainability topics and practical tips on how to go green at work. New topics are regularly addressed.


Next steps


The work on sustainability is a continuous process to which the BRS Secretariat is committed to contribute to, while taking into account best practices and tools put in place by other United Nations organizations in their strategies toward better environmental performance.


BRS and sustainability

BSR case studies