United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)


HQ: Geneva, Switzerland

Focal Point: Jana Warming 


Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions*


*UNOG data includes the following entities: UNCTAD, UNIDIR, UNISDR, UNJSPF, UNRISD, JIU & Geneva offices of OCHA, UNODA, CEB and OIOS.


Key Figures: Waste



Director General's message


"Sustainability is a key operating principle for the United Nations in Geneva. Through technological innovation, partnerships and a transformation of processes, UN Geneva activities are more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective than ever. The consumption of paper, electricity, water and fuel was reduced by introducing electronic processing in servicing and the PaperSmart business model in conference management, installing over 2,300 sq. meters of solar panels on the roof of the Palais des Nations, switching to natural gas for heating and utilizing lake water to cool the buildings. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 7, which envisions an increase in the use of clean energy by 2030. Ensuring long-term sustainability of operations is also a central aim of the Strategic Heritage Plan for the Palais des Nations. Leading by example, UN Geneva will continue to build on these achievements through individual commitment, teamwork and innovation. 

"Together we can and will make a lasting contribution to global efforts to have a planet that is safer and more sustainable for future generations."

Michael Møller, Director-General, UNOG




UNOG is the representative office of the Secretary-General in Switzerland and the largest duty station outside of UNHQ. Servicing over 10,000 meetings annually and more than 60 United Nations entities worldwide, UNOG is a focal point for multilateral diplomacy and a global service provider of excellence in the areas of administration, conference management, security, information and knowledge-management.


Reduction efforts


During the past years, much has been done to decrease UNOG’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions. UNOG also pursues its actions in order to develop the use of renewable energy. The most significant initiatives and achievements are: 

  • 100% of electricity consumed by UNOG produced by renewable sources (hydro + photovoltaic);
  • Installation of 2,330 sq. m of photovoltaic panels with an average production of 385 MWh/year;
  • Installation of solar panels for hot water production;
  • Replacement of 1,049 windows by thermal efficiency windows;
  • Improvement of the thermal insulation of the roofs, including glass roofs;
  • Cooling of the premises with the water of the Leman lake;
  • Replacement of the heating oil for heating of the premises by natural gas;
  • Installation of air handling units with heat recovery;
  • Replacement of lighting fixtures (outside and inside the buildings) by high energy efficiency fixtures;
  • Development of the Building Management System (BMS) in order to get a better control of lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation;
  • Installation of automatic irrigation equipment in the Ariana Park which reduces water consumption;
  • Maintenance of the Ariana Park with as little chemical plant care products as possible, some areas of the park without any chemical products. Thanks to these actions, UNOG has been awarded the label "Parc Naturel" linked to the differentiated management aimed at preserving and developing the Park's biodiversity;
  • Systematic monitoring of the consumption of the utilities, systematic analysis in case of unusual trend, systematic corrective actions;
  • Installation of sensor activated taps in the bathrooms;
  • Control of the lighting in the common areas (hall, corridor, meeting rooms, bathrooms, etc.) either by the BMS or by motion detectors;
  • Installation of automatic control valves on the heat exchangers in the offices;
  • Removal of the stand-alone A/C units;
  • Installation of loading stations for electrical cars;
  • Systematic waste separation (by both the staff and the contractors, including for construction works);
  • Staff are regularly reminded of the instructions to help UNOG to decrease its footprint (switching off the light, not opening the window when heating the office, etc.);
  • Staff are encouraged to use tap water (fountains have been installed in the bathrooms for this purpose) instead of bottled water.

The following reductions in emissions were realized:

  • UNOG has cut electricity consumption by 32% from 2000 to 2016. The total amount of electrical consumption saved during this period is 55,809,211 kWh, which translates into savings of CHF 7,788,466;
  • UNOG has cut water consumption by 69% from 2000 to 2016. The total amount of water consumption saved during this period is 2,388,613 M3, which translates into savings of CHF 5,789,782;
  • UNOG has reduced heating energy consumption by 36% from 2000 to 2016. The total amount of heating energy consumption saved during this period is 49,596 MWh, which translates into savings of CHF 3,205,370.
Information Technology

ICTS/RTC-E takes environmental concerns into consideration when implementing new projects. 

  • The mobile workforce programme aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the UN through ensuring UN staff based in UNOG have the facilities to work anyplace anywhere. Cloud based services such as Unite Mail, the Unite desktop which facilities safe access to the UNOG network and the use of mobile technology allows for staff to telecommute where appropriate.
  • Unified Communications has expanded the Video and Voice network to allow for greater collaboration and reducing the need for travel. High quality video via global bridge lines enables staff to collaborate with colleagues through a variety of facilities including larger teleconference devices in meeting rooms, personal video through desk phones, Skype for Business and other facilities allow staff to participate in meetings anywhere.
  • Cloud based services and virtualization has allowed for the reduction in servers and the related energy required to power them. With Unite Mail and the soon to be released OneDrive, staff will be able to safely and securely place non-confidential content on the cloud.
  • The current models of laptops are energy efficient and efforts have been undertaken to configure them so they consume minimal electricity. Suspending the computer not only protects your work but also reduces energy consumption when not in use.
Reduction in paper consumption
  • Use of paperless procedures is being expanded within UNOG through the use of electronic forms instead of paper forms and various e-tools made available to Divisions and Services available through UMOJA and the UNOG website.
  • New Sharp printers allow for ‘pull’ printing where staff will need to swipe their badges to print their documents, this initiative will better control and manage printing within UNOG. This contributes to paper reduction by eliminating misprints and only printing documents that staff require. In addition the ability to print confidentially will allow for further reduction of personal printers in staff’s offices.
  • Computerization of processes such as dependency review, review of appointment, lump sum travel and compensation claims, education grant, lead to savings by reducing paper processes and thus paper consumption.
  • Replacement of paper instructions by an electronic workflow between the Travel Unit and the Travel Agent has resulted in a drastically reduction in paper consumption (approx. 50,000 sheets per year).
  • Introduction of the new e-tender which allows the secure issuing of procurement bidding documents via electronic communication means. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the production of printed materials given that this system eliminates the copious use of printed material formerly issued when the bidding documents were sent via regular mail. In the past, approximately 70,000 sheets of paper per year were consumed for bid issue alone.
  • Introduction of electronic documentation delivery to reduce distribution of paper copies at conferences (PaperSmart business model).
Print shop

In 2016, the Environmental Management System (EMS) maintained by the Printing and Distribution Sections was recertified for a three-year period to the new standard of ISO 14001:2015.

Translation services

UNOG increased off-site translation of documents and eliminated travel of freelance translators to Geneva. 

Green commuting 
  • 202 additional bicycle parking places were created, bringing the total bicycle parking at the Palais des Nations to 442.
  • “Walking to work” has been posted on the green commuting blog.
  • With ITU and WIPO, proposed free bicycle rental at the Place des Nations.
  • Fully revised and updated the policy on vehicle access to UNOG thereby reducing vehicle access to the Palais; reducing such authorizations by nearly 50%.
  • Staff are regularly encouraged to use public transport and/or carpooling for commuting to work.
  • Promoted the use of the P&R at Sécheron and other locations.
  • Opening of the Nations Entrance to 24/7 pedestrian traffic.
  • Took part in the European Mobility week and Genèveroule’s 15 year anniversary.
  • Via the Mutuelle, promoted the Catch a Car initiative.
  • Added 8 charging stations for electric card, bringing the total to 16 stations.
Bike to work initiative

This Swiss initiative, launched in 2006 to promote cycling in the corporate world, was extremely successful in 2017 as 1,886 companies registered (1,773 in 2016) for more than 54,970 participants (53,922 in 2016).

UNOG was proud to follow this movement with 72 teams registered for a total of 250 participants. UN Staff travelled a total of 76,225 kilometres over the 2 month period which corresponds to almost twice the circumference of the earth. It is also worth noting the distances travelled by individual teams as several have exceeded 3,000 kilometres and one team even travelled 3,569 kilometres!




There are currently no budgetary provisions for purchasing carbon offsets.


Next steps


The Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP) renovation project will include features to help in greening the Palais des Nations building premises and the primary objectives are as follows:

  • Further reduction of energy consumption and CO2 generated.
  • Improved occupant health and comfort.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced landfill waste.

Specifically, the project shall include the following:

  • Aim to achieve local and internationally recognized energy and sustainability requirements
  • Green elements to be integrated within design concept.
  • Sustainable, low-impact sourced materials to minimize the building’s ecological footprint.
  • Design of the building elements including electrical and mechanical systems to allow for the use of natural solutions such as daylight, natural ventilation, night cooling and free cooling, without compromising the performance.
  • Replacement of outdated and low-efficiency mechanical and electrical equipment.
  • Improvements to the building envelope.
  • Reduce heating water distribution temperature to reduce thermal losses.
  • Waste minimization by using modern methods of construction.
  • Energy-efficient lighting, including emitting diode (LED) automatically controlled.
  • Improved automated building environmental control.
  • Possible use of lake water for heating.
  • Replacement of commercial refrigeration installations using tap water or polluting fluids by new ones using fluids with low impact on the environment
  • Improvement of the efficiency of the production of domestic hot water.


UNOG case studies