Why sustainability matters

Sustainability at United Nations Environment

UNEP is the lead agency for environmental issues within the UN family with a mandate to provide guidance for the world on environmental issues and assist with environmental best practices in the UN. Sustainability is the driving force for all the work that we do, and this also guides how we do it.

UNEP Sustainability work is coordinated by the Sustainable United Nations (SUN) facility in Geneva, which daily supports UN organizations in their journey towards climate neutrality and environmental sustainability. Good practice and sustainability initiatives are shared across the UN through the communication work carried out by the Greening the Blue initiative , promoted by SUN.

Additionally, in order to practice what we preach and make UNEP a credible leader on environmental sustainability, SUN - with the support of its Nairobi based team members - carries out substantial work to green UNEP operations worldwide.

Environmental sustainability starts with committed people. Indeed, our internal greening work could not be carried out without the great support of all UNEP Sustainability Focal Points (SFPs) based in UNEP offices around the world and in each UNEP Division at the HQ. Their commitment, sensitization initiatives and support in providing the facilities and headcount data annually is a huge asset for the whole organization.




In light of our mandate and the continuous endeavour to practice what we preach, UNEP has been Climate Neutral since 1 January 2008 and is strengthening its efforts towards environmental sustainability by implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) for its operations globally. In order to achieve this goal, we have identified the main environmental aspects to focus on and committed to reduce our emissions to the extent possible and to procure offsets to compensate for the remaining ones.

Additionally, UNEP carries out staff awareness initiatives such as the Green Week and the promotion of information tools such as the Environmental Sustainability Tutorial. Inter-agency work on environmental sustainability is among UNEP’s core activities. UNEP is one of the signatories of the Environmental Commitment Charter together with UNON and UN-Habitat. This Charter, signed on World Environment Day (WED) 2015, is an important step toward a joint collaboration on environmental sustainability at the UN Gigiri Compound in Nairobi.