Member States and UN leaders have expressed the requirement for the UN System to improve its in-house environmental sustainability management and to align its own practices with the aims and goals of global UN agreements in this area.
Following the adoption of the 2007 UN Climate Neutrality Strategy, the UN Environment Sustainable UN (SUN) Initiative was established to promote the greening of UN facilities and operations through the implementation of the “MEASURE – REDUCE – OFFSET” approach.
Under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General, the Chief Executive Board (CEB) adopted the Strategic Plan for Environmental Sustainability Management in 2013, requiring its members to “achieve measurable progress to enhance the environmental sustainability of UN operations” by implementing Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
The strategic plan was followed in 2015 by the adoption of a roadmap to achieve the goal of a UN System that does not have a negative impact on the climate. This confirmed the commitment to integrate environmental sustainability into facilities management and operations and avoid greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible. The overall coordination function is carried out by the Environment Management Group (EMG) and the responsibility for the implementation of this commitment rests with each UN organisation.
The UN Secretariat itself was mandated by the General Assembly, on 22 December 2015, to submit an action plan aimed at integrating sustainable development practices into its operations and facilities management (A/RES/70/205 par. 14 refers).
In July 2017, the UN Secretariat Steering Group on Environmental Sustainability Management was established to coordinate Secretariat wide efforts.
In December 2017, the General Assembly endorsed the Secretary-General’s action plan, thus including UN in-house environmental sustainability within its mandate (A/RES/72/219).
By continuously improving its environmental performance to eliminate its negative impact on the climate, and to contribute positively to it, the UN would protect the environment and support the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, including the goal of taking urgent action to combat climate change, and the goal of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. (Source: Extracts from documentation produced by the UN Secretariat Steering Group on Environmental Sustainability Management).