22 November 2021 UNHCR’s Green Transition

UNHCR’s Greening and Sustainability strategy aims to reduce and offset UNHCR’s carbon footprint through sustainable solutions and reducing CO2 output by 45 per cent until 2030[1]. The 2020 Greening the Blue report highlights 61 percent of UNHCR CO2 emissions came from infrastructure and 23 percent from fleet. UNHCR has initiated various “Green transition” projects in its field locations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to meet the environmental sustainability goals, in line with the Greening and Sustainability strategy. Some of these projects include:

DRC Solar Systems
DRC Solar Systems are contributing to UNHCR’s effort to reduce CO2 emissions within infrastructure. In 2020, UNHCR, in collaboration with a local social enterprise, has installed solar systems in two of its deep field operations in DRC, Kananga and Gbadolité field offices. The two compounds now fully operate on solar power from 8 pm to 6 am, saving 10 hours of fuel used by generators. The solar systems cover 35 and 45 percent of the energy demand of Kananga and Gbadolité compounds, respectively. This enables UNHCR to reduce annual energy-related expenses by around 50,000 USD in both offices.

Somalia Green Building
UNHCR has established a new compound in its Mogadishu Somalia office, which is moving towards the use of renewable sources of energy for its daily operation. The newly constructed compound consists of 137 flatpack prefabs that are used for accommodation, offices, and common facilities that accommodate up to 90 staff. It contributes to UNHCR’s ambition to reduce its reliance on diesel by using solar energy to power the compounds’ water treatment plant and borehole. It is also equipped with solar streetlights that are used to illuminate the entire compound. Solar power makes use of Somalia’s long periods of sunshine and covers 40 percent of the energy needs of the compound, hence contributes to a reduction of 10.25 metric tCO2 eq, annually. 

Electric Vehicles in Nepal and Jordan Operations
UNHCR aims to “green” its large fleet of vehicles and has therefore included electric vehicles as standard options to its leasing portfolio. In 2020, UNHCR introduced and piloted the use of electric vehicles in two of its operations, Nepal and Jordan. Jordan fleet operations aim at having 10 electric vehicles in its fleet by 2022.

Improved Water Management in Amman Office, Jordan
The Environmental Management System (EMS), established in UNHCR Jordan Operation since 2019, identified high water consumption as one of the major sources of negative environmental impacts in the Amman office. Subsequently, in 2020, UNHCR Jordan replaced all traditional water taps with sensor water taps, which resulted in a reduction of water usage in the office buildings and a 41.8% reduction on municipality-supplied water bills.

In 2022 and beyond, UNHCR’s key climate-related priorities are to further reduce its environmental footprint by transitioning UNHCR offices to green energy, studying the feasibility of phasing in further electric vehicles, optimizing travel and actively promoting energy efficiency and eco-consciousness throughout the organization.

UNHCR will continue installing Green Box energy metering systems in its offices and UNHCR’s Green Finance Facility, an innovative financing mechanism, will support larger offices’ transition to renewables. Additionally, UNHCR aims for a fully functional Green Data platform with real-time fleet and energy consumption data (from the Green Boxes).

Furthermore, UNHCR will actively promote energy efficiency and eco-consciousness throughout the organization without compromising its capacity to meet the needs of refugees, displaced people and host communities globally.

[1] Based on IPCC target: Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.






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