10 December 2020 Greening the Blue Report 2020 launched! UN System works together to reduce environmental footprint

UNEP, in collaboration with hundreds of UN personnel from across the UN System, annually collects and analyses information provided by entities on their environmental impacts and publishes this data and case studies in the Greening the Blue Report: The UN System’s environmental footprint and efforts to reduce it. The 2020 edition, which was released Thursday 10 December online at www.greeningtheblue.org, covers environmental impact data from 2019. It focuses on the impacts of over 310,000 personnel in Headquarters, field offices and operations on the ground. Data was provided by close to 60 UN System entities and one new member of the growing Greening the Blue community: The Green Climate Fund.

Of note, environmental governance has progressed across the UN System in 2019, with five additional UN entities advancing in their implementation of environmental management systems. 

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the Greening the Blue Report 2020 found the UN System is continuing its downward trend. In 2019, per capita emissions of 6.5 tonnes CO2eq were generated. This is 22% less than the per capita emissions of 8.3 tonnes CO2eq that were reported in Greening the Blue Report 2010. As well, through Certificates of Emissions Reductions registered with the Clean Development Mechanism, 97 per cent of reported emissions were offset.

The report presents different examples of how UN entities are finding innovative ways to reduce the UN System’s environmental footprint. For instance:

Biogas Chamber Attached to Communal Latrines

IOM South Sudan started viewing wastewater and sludge as a resource that could be used to benefit the Protection of Civilians site in Malakal. By attaching two biogas reactors to the communal latrines, wastewater and sludge are treated to produce biogas. The biogas produced was connected to a central kitchen where it is used it for cooking. Using biogas for cooking is projected to save 9.4 - 11.4 tonnes of firewood per year. Emissions abated from firewood combustion and through the conversion of methane to less potent greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) during cooking is projected to reduce emissions by 11.07 tCO2eq -13.32 tCO2eq per year. 

WFP gives a second life to plastic waste in supply chain

WFP also views waste as a resource to help reduce its environmental footprint. Pallets are critical warehouse assets for WFP and are used across their operations for storage and handling. WFP Ethiopia has found a way to give broken pallets a second life: they are collected from warehouses around the country for recycling. The damaged pallets are crushed, mixed with virgin material, and then moulded into reusable beverage crates. The plastic is high-quality, so the new crates are durable and have a long lifespan. But if they do break, they can be recycled again. So far, over 9,000 pallets have been recycled.

These efforts, along with many others from UN entities across the UN System, resulted in the continued improvement of the System’s efforts to reduce its environmental impacts. 

Additional Information

The Greening the Blue Report 2020 is composed of two elements: a brochure and entity-specific webpages. The brochure focuses on the UN System data as a whole; whereas, on www.greeningtheblue.org, from the menu under Performance then UN Entities, each contributing entity provides information about its environmental impacts and reduction measures taken in the course of the reporting year. 

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