The UN Environment Latin America and the Caribbean Office, located in Panama City, works closely with the 33 countries of the region - including 16 Small Island Developing States, serving a population of about 588 million people. While the region is responsible for only about 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is highly vulnerable to climate change. More than 80 per cent of the population lives in cities where air pollution and inefficient transport cause health problems and productivity losses. In response to this reality, the UN Environment office in Panama adopted several initiatives focused on the well-being of staff as well as on reducing the offic's environmental impacts. In 2018 the office's official car, which used up to 792 litres of gasoil per year, was replaced by an electric car resulting in zero petrol use. Also, 4.9 tonnes of CO2eq per year will be avoided by substituting all the office‚Äôs lighting with LED lights.
Engaging staff is a key element to bring change to the organisation, therefore inspiring initiatives were introduced in the office. For example, seasonal produce is delivered by local farmers to the office to promote plant-based diets and support local farmers. To tackle single-use plastics and increase awareness on waste management, most staff are now equipped with reusable cutlery and bottles and signs were put up around the office as reminder for waste recycling. Moreover, a visit to the recycling centre was organised in partnership with UNOPS. To keep up the motivation, sustainability tips are sent out via email every Monday and a monthly printing competition is organised with a prize for the team who printed the least. As a reward of all 2018 initiatives recycling stations were purchased to keep increasing the recycling rates at the office. In summary, the UN Environment office in Panama is a great example of staff walking the talk and making a measurable difference through small but valuable actions in the office.