21 December 2023 Greening the Blue Report 2023 shows UN System’s Progress on Environmental Sustainability

The annual Greening the Blue Report – The UN system’s environmental footprint and efforts to reduce it shows the progress both at the UN system-wide level and entity level of implementing the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030, Phase I: Environmental Sustainability in the Area of Management (Sustainability Strategy I). The 2023 edition of the Greening the Blue Report, which provides 2022 data, was published on 21 December 2023.

Commenting on the results from the report, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General noted, “The world must work together to address the triple planetarycrisis of runaway climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. We at the United Nations must do our part with advocacy and action. I encourage all UN entities to set an example by greening the blue.”

Sustainability Strategy I covers both environmental impact areas and management functions. Highlights of the Greening the Blue Report 2023’s UN system-wide 2022 data results include:

Environmental Impact Areas

  • Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) - the UN’s operations and facilities emitted 1.4 million tonnes of CO2eq in total or 4.6 tonnes CO2eq per capita. The UN system’s GHG emissions by source were 38% from air travel, 47% from facilities and 15% from other forms of travel
  • Waste - the average waste generated for the whole UN system was 321 kg/person
  • Water - the average water consumption by the UN system was 49 m3 per UN personnel per year

Management Functions

  • Environmental Governance – 7 UN entities have met or exceeded the criteria for implementing an Environmental Management System, with an additional 15 entities approaching the criteria
  • Procurement* – 24 out of 29 organizations implemented formal sustainable procurement policies in their procurement processes
  • Human Resources – 31 entities have environmental training available for their staff

Greening the Blue Report 2023 highlights the environmental impacts of over 308,000 personnel in 57 entities across Headquarters, field offices and operations on the ground.

The report also includes a case study from a UN entity on each of the environmental impact areas and management functions:

Environmental Impact Areas

  • GHG - UNICEF’s Journey Towards Greenhouse Gas Reductions & Greening Premises
  • Waste - IOM Ends Use of Plastic Bags from its Movement Operations
  • Air Pollution - Reducing Air Pollution at UN Geneva
  • Water and Wastewater - Santiago’s Water Management Plan Promotes Conservation [ECLAC]
  • Biodiversity - UNESCO Personnel Take Full Ownership in 2022 of Vegetable and Biodiversity Garden

Management Functions

  • Environmental Governance - United Nations Office at Nairobi First UN Headquarters to Achieve Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2015 Certification
  • Procurement - Eighty Per Cent Construction Waste Recycling Thanks to Effective Procurement Specifications at ESCAP
  • Human Resources - Mandatory Environmental Training Helps Ensure Personnel Make a Positive Impact in South Sudan [UNMISS]

To read the whole report and the detailed entity level data, please visit the Greening the Blue Report 2023 page.

*Procurement data is taken from the 2022 Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement.

More information         

Methodologies and data collection used, please visit greeningtheblue.org/methodology.

Methodology related to travel emissions provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation please visit the ICAO website.

Climate neutrality, please visit the UNFCCC website

For more information, please contact:   

E-mail: [email protected]

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