“We need to radically transform our economies and behaviors, make sure that they are inclusive, green and sustainable”
Qu Dongyu, Director-General, FAO
FAO’s Strategic Framework seeks to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable, agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.
ALIGNMENT WITH THE STRATEGY FOR SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM, 2020–2030
In February 2021, the FAO Director-General endorsed the new Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020-2030. The new Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020-2030 serves as both a mandate and a roadmap for a 45 percent reduction in the absolute amount of CO2e emissions released into the atmosphere by 2030, compared to 2018 levels. This is in line with the overarching Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030, as four of the five environmental impact areas, and the six management functions are included in the new FAO Strategy. (Biodiversity is treated separately, as FAO has recently launched the dedicated Strategy on mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural sectors).
Since around 2008, the organization has incorporated many in-house sustainability initiatives, primarily related to facilities, travel, and procurement. Many efforts have been made towards being more energy efficient and improving waste management, especially at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy – where an Environmental Management System has been developed in 2014, a new waste separation system has been introduced in 2018 and 32% reduction in electricity consumption has been achieved between 2012 and 2019.
Thanks to the Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy and Strategy 2017-2020, FAO has further committed to lower its environmental impact by more systematically expanding the scope of its activities to Decentralized Offices as well. Since 2016, solar systems have been successfully installed in the Regional office for Africa in Ghana, and in the country offices in Nepal, Djibouti, Uganda and Mauritania. The regional office for Asia and the Pacific is implementing an EMS and other initiatives such as single use plastic ban, improved waste management, lighting or HVAC upgrade etc. are taking place spontaneously in many offices.
Thanks to the annual environmental inventory exercise, FAO is regularly monitoring its footprint and calculating the unavoidable GHG emissions related to the Organization’s operations. Accuracy of data has improved over the years, especially regarding decentralised offices.
Building related emissions have shown a steady decrease trend since 2016 overall FAO. The observed reduction is of 21% between 2016 and 2019. In 2020, emissions from FAO buildings dropped by 52% compared to the previous year due to the pandemic crisis.
Air travel emissions still account for more than 50% of the Organization’s environmental footprint, and have increased by 13% in the biennium 2018-2019 compared to the previous one.
In 2020, air travel emissions dropped by 76% compared to the previous year due to the pandemic crisis
EMS AND REDUCTION EFFORTS
Emission reduction efforts are mandated by the Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy and Strategy 2020-2030.
The new Strategy sets the ambitious target of reducing the Organization’s emissions by 45% by 2030, compared to 2018 levels.
The main success stories and reduction efforts over the years are reported on our annual Corporate Environmental Responsibility reports. Have a look here.
Inventory Management Plans (IMPs)
The inventory covers all emission causing activities over which FAO has financial and/or operational control.
Offices from 222 locations in 126 different countries reported 2020 related emissions. In addition to these, proxies were used to estimate the emissions from a range of minor offices that had not participated in the environmental inventory exercise. Therefore, it can be stated that 100% offices are included in the FAO GHG Inventory.
The specific emission source are Purchased Electricity; Purchased Steam; Refrigerants; Stationary Combustion; Air travel; Mobile sources; Public Transport. Several sources of greenhouse gas emissions that could result from FAO indirect activities are excluded (e.g. emissions from projects implemented by external entities, emissions due to couriers and postal mail, supply chain emissions etc.).
FAO has purchased Adaptation Fund Certified Emission Reductions from the Clean Development Mechanism for the purpose of compensating the unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions from the operations and travel of the Food and Agriculture Organization since 2014. The amount of GHG emissions to offset every year correspond to the figures displayed on top of the page.
The offsetting is done for the whole Organization (HQ and all decentralised offices) and covers 100% of the areas where FAO has operational and/or financial control (buildings, fleet and official travels).
At HQ, waste monitoring and waste separation is part of the waste management contract. Waste differentiation has been boosted in 2018 and awareness raising campaigns are periodically organized. So far, a general increase in waste separation has been observed (the recycling rate is around 70%), but no absolute reduction in waste generation. Single use plastic items have been banned from catering services.
In decentralised offices, waste reporting is mainly done through the annual environmental inventory exercise. Over the years, we have achieved a participation rate of over 90% of the consulted offices. However, only 34.5% of the reporting country offices declare to have recycling procedures in place, and the recycling rate is generally very low (average 18%).
Waste management is an area where FAO will focus its efforts in the next future, in line with the UN commitment and objectives outlined in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030 – Part I, and the FAO Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020-2030.
WATER AND WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT
Presently, water management only consists in monitoring water consumption at HQ and in decentralised offices through utility meters, and in raising awareness towards water saving measures and basic technologies.
Water reporting is mainly done through the annual environmental inventory exercise. Over the years we have achieved a participation rate of 90% of the consulted offices.
Water and wastewater management is an area where FAO will focus its efforts in the next future, in line with the UN commitment and objectives outlined in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030 – Part I and the FAO Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020-2030.
OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES
- Study of UN Practices for Waste Management in field offices, in collaboration with UN Environment
- Implementation of single-use plastic ban policy
- Intelligent use of air conditioning policy and guidelines
- Promoting behavioural changes
- HVAC upgrade with HEPA filters to reduce internal air pollution
- Installation of hybrid solar systems to supply energy during normal operation and as backup source during grid outages, to avoid the use of diesel generators
The new FAO Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020-2030 has entered into force and its implementation has started in consultation and cooperation with many administrative divisions at HQ level and regional coordinators of decentralized offices. The team is currently working to build specific workplans, identify priority actions and set up a solid monitoring and reporting framework.
Recent News & Stories
The New Corporate Environmental Responsibility Strategy 2020 - 2030 of FAO has Been Launched - 3 June 2021