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UNEP Executive Director Outlines Work Toward Sustainability at the UN

18 June 2012: In an article in the Rio+20 edition of the UN Chronicle, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner outlines work underway to make the UN more sustainable.

In the article, titled “Working Towards a Sustainable UN,” Steiner stresses that the organizations comprising the UN system must abide by the same principles they espouse, namely sustainable development. He describes the efforts of the UN system to move toward climate neutrality by making inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, developing emission reduction strategies, and analyzing the cost implications of purchasing carbon offsets. Noting that air travel and the energy used to run UN buildings are the two largest sources of emissions in the UN system, he describes methods and policies – including green architecture, recycling, policies encouraging more train travel, among others – being adopted to reduce these emissions. Resource efficient management and climate neutrality, Steiner notes, have the additional benefits of cutting costs while preparing the UN for a resource-constrained future.

Steiner highlights “Greening the Blue,” a campaign launched in 2010 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which engages UN staff in sustainability initiatives and enables different offices and organizations to share best practices. With reference to the UN Conference on Sustainable development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), he concludes by stating that this work toward a sustainable UN “underlines that a transition to a green economy is happening within public institutions and in countries, cities, communities, and companies across the globe.” [UN Greening the Blue Press Release] [UN Chronicle Article]