10 June 2024 Wednesday Webinar #2: Biodiversity in UN Facilities

On this year’s World Environment Day, the global community turned its attention to the critical issues of land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience under the slogan “Our land. Our future. We are #GenerationRestoration.”

On June 5th, 2024, reflecting on the significance of this day, the Sustainable UN (SUN) facility at UNEP hosted the second Greening the Blue Wednesday Webinar focused on the topic of biodiversity in UN facilities. Insights were shared by representatives from the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regarding their efforts to enhance biodiversity and create green spaces at their headquarters in Geneva and Rome. 

Biodiversity at UNOG: Ariana Park

Henrik Distel, Associate Expert, Chloe Brown, Environmental Affairs Officer, and Marilu Blanco Monterrubio, Chief of Engineering at UNOG participated as main speakers to provide an overview of efforts to improve biodiversity at their facilities. Ariana Park, a large urban park, features high-quality meadows, century-old trees, over 150 plant species, and diverse shrub and wooded areas. UNOG signed the 2050Today Charter to emphasize biodiversity and developed a 46-hectare management plan for sustainable space use and maintenance. An inventory compiled more than 4 hectares of forest, 38 nesting birds, and protected vegetation. In addition to interventions in the Park, green roofs and terraces are integrated into the plans for new buildings. Staff is involved in various ways, while a UNOG Gardening Club hosted in Ariana Park enhances local production.

Biodiversity at FAO: Rooftop Garden

Christopher Breen, Environmental Specialist at FAO, took the floor to share their greening efforts. In November 2021, FAO inaugurated a rooftop vegetable garden at its Rome headquarters. Notably, the garden serves as a prototype agro-ecological laboratory supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI). This system allows the plants to communicate their needs for water and nutrients by using data from ground sensors, water, and weather data. Contributions from various partners supported this initiative. The variety of plants grown in the garden changes every three months to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, supporting local ecosystems. All vegetables produced in the FAO rooftop garden are donated to local associations.

For both initiatives, collaboration with internal and external partners was a key success factor that engaged staff from different departments and pulled resources and knowledge from academia, government, and other organizations.

Given that UN facilities are often situated in urban environments plagued by biodiversity loss, pollution, and the impacts of climate change, effective greening and biodiversity enhancement strategies are crucial, even in limited spaces. To address these challenges, the UN Common Approach to Biodiversity proposes 50+ ways to integrate biodiversity and nature-based solutions. Such practical interventions offer a solution for urban environments with limited available space to catalyze collective action to address biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems. 

The webinar concluded with discussions among participants from various UN entities, with around 45 participants, to strengthen biodiversity initiatives, seek urban nature-based solutions for their facilities, and share greening practices. In conclusion, the initiatives discussed underscore the UN's commitment to biodiversity and sustainability in urban environments. These efforts aim to enhance local ecosystems and serve as global examples of effective greening practices. Stay updated on future events as we continue these enriching discussions on crucial sustainability initiatives!

  • Contact us at [email protected] for more information or inquiries regarding registration for the webinar.
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The Earth’s land and the ocean serve as natural carbon sinks, absorbing large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Conserving and restoring natural spaces, and the biodiversity they contain, is essential for limiting emissions and adapting to climate impacts. (source: UN photo)

Find out more: 

👉 Urban biodiversity oasis in Geneva’s UN Headquarters

👉 Smart technologies infuse biodiversity at FAO’s Rooftop Garden

👉 UNESCO promotes biodiversity and urban gardening in its own premises

👉 Biodiversity - our strongest natural defense against climate change

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