Travel is the UN’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 54% of the total reported footprint in 2016. Work is underway with the inter-agency travel teams to identify ways of reducing the impacts of our travel, without jeopardizing the work that we do.
Travel and transport include the travel of staff, meeting participants and experts, as well as the transport of supplies and different forms of aid around the world.
There are opportunities to improve our efficiency, both by reducing the amount we travel, and through more efficient planning.
The Sustainable United Nations team is working across all UN agencies to find ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, costs and personal stress caused by travel, whilst ensuring we continue to deliver essential services.
SUN has published guidance - Sustainable travel in the UN to advise agencies on what they can do to improve the sustainability of their travel.
More recently, Making policies work for sustainable travel summarizes the barriers and enabling measures found in current UN travel policies and makes recommendations for revising existing policies to reduce the system’s travel footprint.
2003 saw the launch of the UN Flex policy, enabling organizations to arrange work schedules in a way that allows work to be done remotely. Although it is primarily a means of enhancing the work-life balance of staff, the UN Flex Policy also has positive effects on greenhouse gas emissions, reducing commuting and the need for travel, allowing bundling of missions and reducing the need for office space.