United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)


HQ: Amman, Jordan and Gaza

Focal Point: Mr Yann Kervinio

Number of locations: 6

Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions



UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for nearly five million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory. The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, social safety-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.

Experience so far


UNRWA acknowledge that has a role to play in addressing environmental issues within the Palestine refugee community across its fields of operation and an obligation to contribute to UN system-wide environmental goals, in particular minimizing the impact of our own operations that contribute to climate change.

The prioritization of limited available funding to sustain service provision for Palestine refugees translated into environmental protection measures that are somewhat muted in terms of an Agency-wide strategic focus. On a field by field basis, however, UNRWA made concerted efforts to ensure that environmental quality and protection concerns were factored into day-to-day decisions and activities.

Reduction efforts

In 2018 the Agency implemented the following measures to reduce the environmental impact of UNRWA operations in Jordan: (i) the installation of off-grid solar photovoltaic systems in five Health Centers, lowering the consumption of fossil fuel produced electricity by 17,910 kWh and CO2 emissions by 115 tonnes, generating an overall cost savings of US$ 55,800 (ii) the installation of 2,788 LED lights in Health Centers and schools, reducing electricity consumption by 54,957 kWh, CO2 emissions by 35 tonnes and saving US$ 18,576; (iv) the replacement of 16 old air conditioners with inverter air conditioners that saved 18,800 kWh in electricity (a 58 per cent reduction), 7.3 tonnes of CO2 and US$ 51,500; (v) the installation of a new cooling/heating system in Amman field Office, lowering energy consumption by an estimated 25,700 kWh, CO2 emissions by 21.8 tonnes and saved US$ 25,626; and (vi) the recycling of 6.3 tonnes of waste paper.
In Lebanon, in line with its 2016-21 Environmental Health Strategy for Palestine Refugee Camps in Lebanon and its 2018-21 Environmental Health Response Plan, focused on addressing environmental health and protection needs, including water and sanitation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, green technology, air and soil quality monitoring and climate change, UNRWA commenced with the development of an integrated solid waste management system that will serve all Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon. To this end, in 2018: (i) a new solid waste operational plan applicable to all 12 Palestine refugee camps was developed, focusing on environmentally friendly approaches to solid waste management; (ii) staff, including sanitation laborers, received capacity development training to facilitate plan implementation; and (iii) a waste sorting pilot initiative was developed and implemented in Burj Shemali camp that aims to foster recycling at source and ultimately, waste reduction in the camp. The Agency also addressed environmental protection issues in 2018 through a number of comprehensive water supply and waste water system rehabilitation activities and infrastructure improvement efforts within camps. In addition, solar panels were installed in 26 Health Centers.

In the West Bank, prioritizing the efficient use of light and water and waste reduction, the construction of Tulkarem Boys School and Beit ‘Anan School included the installation of solar panels and efficient ventilation and lighting systems and used advanced greening techniques to ensure the maximum absorption of natural light. In addition, the implementation of the solid waste management (SWM) strategy proceeded through the drafting of plans in Tulkarem, Nurshams and Shufat to enhance waste collection efficiency and effectiveness. Finally, under the education programme, environmental awareness raising initiatives were organized in eight schools across the West Bank to enhance the environmental awareness of approximately 3,400 students in the areas of waste disposal, recycling, healthy lifestyles and the proper use of natural resources.

In Gaza, enhancing the use of renewable energy, UNRWA continued to install solar power systems in Health Centers and schools for a total of 80 schools and six Health Centers currently operated under solar power.
In Syria, UNRWA continued to provide camps with WASH services, including the management of solid waste, maintenance and the rehabilitation of sewage and water networks, the removal of rubble and the provision of clean potable water, all of which have contributed to the maintenance of a clean and healthy environment. With regard to specific environmental protection measures: (i) solar panels are used in the UNRWA field office in Damascus, resulting in environmental protection and cost saving; (ii) the Agency is progressively moving to energy efficient LED bulbs in all of its installations and (iii) Tree planting, recycling and cleanliness campaigns are being implemented in various Palestine refugee camps.

Next steps


To build in-house staff capacity and ensure that environmental issues are duly addressed, UNRWA is recruiting experts in the area of environmental management.

UNRWA is finalizing an Environmental Management Framework/Policy the Agency and developing tools, guidelines and instructions to integrate Environmental, Social, Health and Safety (ESHS) in the Operations.