United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)


HQ: Geneva, Switzerland


Key figures*


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

Director General's Message

“Leading by example, UNOG has made sustainability a key operating principle. Through technological innovation, partnerships and a transformation of processes, we continuously make our activities more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective. With introduction of electronic processing in servicing, the PaperSmart business model in conference management, integration of solar energy, use of natural gas for heating and of lake water to cool the buildings, we continue to cut consumption of paper, electricity, water and fuel. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of our operations is also a central objective for the Strategic Heritage Plan for the Palais des Nations. Individual commitment and teamwork are critical.”

Michael Møller


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: 

  • Cooling of the buildings with the water of the Leman Lake.
  • Fuel oil has been replaced by natural gas for winter heating.
  • Replacement of the lighting fixtures at the Palais des Nations with energy efficient ones.
  • Upgrade of the Building Management System (BMS) controlling ventilation, heating, air conditioning, and automatic lighting, to control 15,000 points. For instance, the lighting of some corridors and halls is now automatically switched off when not needed.
  • A few ventilation units have been changed with high efficiency units, equipped for heating recovery.
  • Temperature in air-conditioned meeting rooms kept at an average of 24°C (74°F) in summer when rooms are in use. All air-conditioners are turned off when rooms are not in use.
  • Thermostatic valves have been installed on all the heating radiators.
  • Replacement of the flushes of the toilets.
  • Recycling programme for waste is on-going.
  • Improvement of thermal insulation of skylights, conference rooms, halls and offices through the replacement of obsolete glazed structure (about 1000 windows) by a new double glazing system compliant with energy saving and security related standards.
  • Thermal insulation and water proofing system of roofs.
  • Installation of 3300 m2 of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of several buildings of the Palais des Nations, designed to produce annually 400,000 kWh.
  • Extension of the existing solar panels field increasing the capacity of production of sanitary hot water, in particular for the showers at the cyclists' disposal and the cafeteria.
  • Separation of storm water from sewage water to reduce pollution.
  • All electricity purchased by UNOG comes from renewable energy sources.
  • Lighting fixtures of the roads and parking of the Palais have been replaced by LED sources.
  • Construction of shelters for electrical cars equipped with photovoltaic panels and charging stations in car parks. The recharging of cars is free, in order to encourage staff members to use low emission vehicles.
  • Renewal of the "Certificat de qualité nature et économie" for Ariana Park by Fondation Nature & Economie.
  • Sheep are grazing the meadows of the Park Ariana in autumn every year, thereby cutting the grass in an ecologically sustainable manner and providing natural fertilizers.
  • Bees have produced UN honey for the first time in 2013.

The following reductions in emissions were realized:

  • UNOG has cut electricity consumption by 29% (4891615 KWh less between 2000 and 2012).
  • UNOG has cut water consumption by 69% (211232 M3 less between 2000 and 2012).
  • UNOG has reduced heating energy consumption by 22% (4263 MWh less between 2000 and 2012).


  • Encouragement to travel by train, whenever a convenient solution exists, was implemented.


  • Inauguration of the new Geneva Technology Centre (data centre), which dramatically lowers energy consumption in comparison with traditional solutions.
  • Upgrading of videoconference bridge.
  • Consolidation of server rooms.
  • Continued virtualization of servers, reducing the total number of physical machines.
  • Greening the Desktop environment - Monitor and reduce energy consumption of computers managed by ICTS, taking full advantage of configuration features.

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.
  • Computerization of processes such as dependency review, review of appointment, lump sum travel and compensation claims, lead to savings by reducing paper processes and thus paper consumption.
  • Replacement of paper instructions by electronic workflow between the Travel Unit and the Travel Agent has enabled to drastically cut 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 resulted in 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. During 2012 for example, 70,000 sheets of paper were consumed for bid issue.
  • Introduction of electronic documentation delivery to reduce distribution of paper copies at conferences (PaperSmart business model).

Print shop

  • UNOG's printing and distribution facility maintains ISO 14001:2004 certification of its Environmental Management System (EMS).

Translation services

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

Bike to work initiative

  • This Swiss initiative, launched in 2006 to promote cycling in the corporate world, was particularly successful in 2013: 1'602 companies registered more than 50,000 participants.
  • A record number of UN staff in Geneva signed up for the 2013 edition of "Bike to Work". 61 teams registered for a total of 229 participants who traveled 40'650 km or a round-trip around the world. Had a car travelled that distance, it would have produced over 6 tons of CO2.


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.
  • Improved occupant health and comfort.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced landfill waste.

Specifically the project shall include the following:

  • Green elements to be integrated within design concept.
  • Sustainable, low-impact sourced materials to minimise 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.
  • High levels of thermal insulation.
  • Waste minimisation by utilising modern methods of construction.
  • Energy-efficient lighting, including emitting diode (LED) automatically controlled.
  • Possible use of lake water also for heating.

Greener postal services contract

The contracts for the delivery of mail and express mail will be tendered in 2014. The statement of work includes for the first time a number of sustainable requirements that were developed in close cooperation with UNEP:

  • The contractors will have to provide an annual report detailing sustainable policies and environmental principles adopted by the company to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and in particular its CO2 emissions (“carbon footprint”).
  • Packaging and labeling material for express mail should be made of environment friendly materials.
  • The contractors should use hybrid or electrical vehicles. Measures should be undertaken to plan efficient itineraries with the aim to reduce driving times and fuel consumption.
  • Buildings and sorting machines used by the contractors should be environmentally sustainable (passive / energy efficient buildings and energy efficient sorting machines).
  • Shipments with no impact on the climate (carbon-neutral mailing) should be made available.

The result of the tender will show which of the above measures may be introduced.

Green catering contract

UNOG successfully completed the retendering of the catering contract, put in place in January 2014. The statement of work, which was developed in close cooperation with UNEP and the Geneva Green Group, included for the first time a number of sustainable requirements. The following changes will be implemented:

  • Organic food on the cold buffet.
  • “Natura” menus composed of local, organic and fare trade food; Installation of a composter to recycle food waste.
  • Partnership with a local association for redistribution of unsold meals.
  • Eco-contract with the city of Geneva for the reduction of waste and electricity.
  • Price differential for hot drinks served in mugs.
  • Fare trade coffee and teas.
  • Exclusive use of biodegradable cleaning products.