The ECE pursues the key objectives of all regional commissions, namely to foster economic integration at the sub regional and regional levels, to promote the regional implementation of internationally agreed development goals, and to support regional sustainable development by contributing to the bridging of economic, social and environmental gaps among their member countries. To achieve those objectives, UN regional commissions generate multilateral dialogue, knowledge-sharing and networking at the regional level, and work together to promote intraregional and interregional cooperation.
Experience so far
In 2014, the Executive Secretary of ECE convened a Climate Neutral Task Force, with the goal of making the organization climate neutral as of 2015.
For several years, ECE staff members have been raising staff awareness on the importance of drinking tap water to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles. In cooperation with UNOG, the “Tap water initiative” has raised awareness of staff throughout the Palais des Nations of the safe potable drinking water as tested and confirmed by the municipal provider. Furthermore, ECE staff have worked as part of the “Geneva Green Group” with UNOG to support the introduction of local, in-season and organic food options and sustainable cleaning products as part of a new catering contract for the cafeteria in the Palais des Nations.
Further to ECE’s efforts, UNOG, which manages the buildings that house ECE and which provides direct procurement, travel and administration support to ECE, is taking concrete steps, in close cooperation with the Republic and Canton of Geneva and the Geneva Utility provider, to increase the energy-efficiency of the Palais des Nations and to ensure energy-efficiency practices are being developed within its activities. ECE will continue to ensure it adheres to any guidelines put in place and to support all efforts made by UNOG in this important area.
In addition to specific actions undertaken by the UNOG, ECE develops and coordinates actions to reduce emissions. ECE programmes reduce emissions by organising and participating in coordination or consultation meetings, whenever technically possible, through audio or video conferences. Most meetings are organized as paper-smart meetings. An on-line training platform on industrial safety was developed under the Industrial Accidents Convention in cooperation with UNEP and Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, thus providing a low-carbon means of introducing diverse stakeholders to industrial accidents prevention, preparation and response. In 2012, ECE adopted a Travel Policy which encourages all staff to carefully consider their mode of short-haul official travel and to use the most CO2 efficient travel option or video conference option available as a priority.
The Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in 2007 in Belgrade was organized as climate neutral, the carbon having been offset. The ECE has been taking further steps to assess the possibilities of offsetting emissions with the aim to reach climate neutrality as of 2015.
Under the supervision of the Executive Secretary, the ECE Climate Neutral Task Force has already taken concrete steps to calculate ECE’s carbon footprint and explored carbon offsetting options. The Task Force will present and agree on a strategy for becoming climate neutral in the course of 2015 and implement this strategy by the end of the year.
ECE's response to climate change