Number of staff: 221,258
Number of reporting institutions or offices: 63
Total emissions: 1,751,534 tonnes CO2 equivalent
Emissions per staff member: 7.9 tonnes CO2 equivalent
Emissions from air travel: 888,045 tonnes CO2 equivalent
Air travel as a proportion of total emissions: 51%
Air travel per staff member: 4 tonnes CO2
“The United Nations system is strongly committed to leading by example and ensuring that our operations are continuously monitored and improved - not just in terms of what we deliver, but also how we deliver. We are also looking to this year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20 - to generate ideas that will energize sustainability efforts worldwide.”
Ban Ki-moon, April 2012, in the Foreword to Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN
“At the October 2007 meeting of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), Executive Heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes committed to move their respective organizations towards climate neutrality. In particular, they agreed to: – Estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of UN system organizations consistent with accepted international standards; – Undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; – Analyze the cost implications and explore budgetary modalities of purchasing carbon offsets to eventually reach climate neutrality.”
Policies and measures continue to be implemented across the UN system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Significant steps have been taken to improve the energy-efficiency of buildings and office equipment, increased use of renewable energy, raising staff awareness on energy-savings and the greening of meetings.
Areas where efforts have begun and which hold considerable potential include the use of information and communication technologies and the streamlining of air travel.
Measures to cut emissions have also reduced the consumption of energy, water and paper – and therefore costs, and improved planning and efficiency in work delivery. A number of organizations have already put into place offsetting initiatives and have declared themselves climate- or carbon-neutral, while others have offset specific events.
During the senior officials meeting of the Environment Management Group in November 2011, two important decisions were made which will determine the future for the UN’s Climate neutral aims. First, they approved a framework for enhancing environmental and social sustainability in the UN system. Second, they committed to move their entities towards the adoption of environmental sustainability management systems, and agreed on the need for a common UN sustainability office to act as a guarantor and coordinating hub for the UN system’s (internal) sustainability efforts.
In light of these commitments, the next steps for the UN System will be to design of a system that initially focuses on environmental sustainability management and is flexible enough to respond to the diverse capacities and needs of all agencies. An expanded range of options for the common UN sustainability office, including its organisational structure, terms of reference and funding, will also be provided to the next EMG senior officials meeting, in September 2012.
Find out more about the UN's sustainability performance at the main UN website.