United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

www.unesco.org
HQ: Paris, France
Focal Point: Mr Rudi Swinnen / Ms Miriam Tereick
Email: environment@unesco.org
Internal Sustainability Team: 1 full-time, 1 part-time at Headquarters for overall coordination. In addition, many colleagues across the Organization are involved in environmental management and sustainability initiatives.

DIRECTOR-GENERAL’S MESSAGE

“Climate action and environmental protection are at the core of many successful UNESCO programmes, including in our biosphere reserves, natural heritage sites and education for sustainable development initiatives. Drawing on this scientific, educational and cultural expertise, I am strongly committed to making environmental considerations central to all of UNESCO’s operations, facilities and activities. To lead by example, we need to bring about sustainability from within, which is why I fully support the UN Greening the Blue initiative.”

Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO

MISSION

As a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNESCO contributes to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, sciences, culture, communication and information.

https://en.unesco.org/about-us/introducing-unesco

FIELD OFFICES

HQ in Paris, France

+54 Field Offices (see full list here) and 9 Category I Institutes in the following 63 locations:

Abidjan

Bangkok

Dakar

Harare

Kinshasa

New Delhi

San José

Abuja

Beijing

Dar es Salaam

Havana

Libreville

New York

Santiago

Accra

Beirut

Dhaka

Islamabad

Lima

Paris

Sarajevo

Addis Ababa

Brasilia

Doha

Jakarta

Maputo

Perugia

Tashkent

Almaty

Brazzaville

Erbil

Juba

Mexico

Phnom Penh

Tehran

Amman

Brussels

Geneva

Kabul

Montevideo

Port au Prince

Trieste

Apia

Buenos Aires

GuatemalaCity

Kathmandu

Montreal

Quito

Venice

Baghdad

Bujumbura

Hamburg

Khartoum

Moscow

Rabat

Windhoek

Bamako

Cairo

Hanoi

Kingston

Nairobi

Ramallah

Yaoundé

ALIGNMENT WITH THE STRATEGY FOR SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM, 2020–2030

UNESCO is fully committed to implementing the UN Strategy, building on previous ‘greening’ initiatives and experiences and in-house expertise on sustainability issues. The management of environmental issues has been centralized at the level of the Sector for Administration and Management since 2019. This makes it possible to better coordinate and communicate on the implementation of the UN Strategy. Some recent and ongoing initiatives in this area include:

  • Establishment of an Environmental Management System in line with ISO 14001 (ongoing
  • Streamlining of the annual inventory process to ensure better measurement of emissions
  • Introduction of an internal carbon tax on all official air travel (USD 40 per tonne of CO2eq)
  • Establishment of a new waste management system with central collection points to improve waste sorting and recycling
  • Revision of the Organization’s travel policy to reinforce environmental criteria and reduce air travel (ongoing)
  • Partial replacement of HQ fleet with electric/hybrid vehicles
  • Reinforced communication and staff awareness campaigns

EMISSIONS REDUCTION

The overall emissions reported by UNESCO during the 2019 Inventory are significantly higher than in previous years because the coordination of the inventory exercise has been streamlined and improved, and for the first time, all Offices and all Sectors have reported data in all areas.

Therefore, 2019 will be regarded as a baseline for emission reduction efforts in the coming years.

EMS AND REDUCTION EFFORTS

UNESCO is in the process of setting up an Environmental Management System covering all its operations and facilities as the key framework for addressing the organization’s long-term environmental performance. In a staged approach, it shall englobe both Headquarters as well as, ultimately, all of UNESCO’s Field Offices and Category I Institutes.

To date, UNESCO has implemented numerous environmental and sustainability initiatives and has participated in the Greening the Blue campaign since its creation in 2008. The intent of the EMS is to build on these initiatives by capitalizing on existing knowledge and organizational capacity while pushing the Organization further towards the 2030 vision in a systematic manner. The different governing bodies and senior management of the Organization are fully committed to this initiative.

The aim is to receive ISO certification, at least for Headquarters, in the second half of 2021. An EMS baseline study and gap analysis were carried out in 2019, and a cross-divisional working group with a high-level sponsor has been established. UNESCO is now further defining its overall environmental policy and objectives as well as specific targets for each area.

At the same time, specific reduction efforts are already being undertaken in the areas of facilities/building maintenance and renovation(including energy efficiency), travel and events.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT PLANS (IMPS)

UNESCO’s annual inventory includes emissions from all 55 Offices and 9 Category I Institutes in 63 different locations. We report data in all categories of the Inventory. 

The inventory is coordinated by the UNESCO Administration Sector at Headquarters.

OFFSETTING

UNESCO is committed to following the UN strategy on climate neutrality agreed at the 2007 CEB meeting. UNESCO’s first choice was to seek to reduce its emissions wherever possible, rather than purchasing offsets. However, some specific offsets where done in relation to the printing and distribution of publications.

As of 2020, UNESCO will put in place an internal workflow that will enable the global purchasing of carbon credits.

UNESCO is offsetting 100% of its 2019 carbon emissions, across all its Offices, equalling a total of 29,075 CERs.

In terms of budget, 50% have been offset via the UN Adaptation Fund. The other 50% have been divided between four projects from different world regions: a wind energy project in Guatemala; a cook stove project in Malawi; a hydropower project in Fiji; and a biogas farm in Thailand (all CERs purchased via the UNFCCC Voluntary Cancellation Platform). These projects have been carefully selected by an internal, intersectoral technical working group set up and trained for this purpose.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

A new waste management system was introduced at Headquarters in June 2020 with central collection points instead of individual office bins to improve waste sorting and recycling. It includes detailed monthly reports on the waste collected which will allow for the introduction of specific reduction measures. First reports show that plastic sorting has already improved, but since a large share of staff is still working from home, it is too early to provide a full picture.

NEXT STEPS

2021 will be a very busy year with ambitious plans in terms of environmental sustainability. Planned activities include, but are not limited to: conducting an external energy and water audit at Headquarters; obtaining ISO 14001 certification; supporting Field Offices in putting in place energy efficiency measures; implementing a structured approach to sustainable meetings as well as to paper-less work processes; organizing staff awareness campaigns and action days.