Greening the Blue: Moving towards a Climate Neutral UN – The UN Systems’ footprint and efforts to reduce it
Chair of the meeting, Ms. Elia Guerra de Quijano, Advisor to the Minister of Environment, Panama, opened the meeting emphasizing the relevance of the Greening the Blue initiative for her country and her country’s efforts in becoming a green headquarter to 16 UN additional offices to be hosted by Panama.
Mr. Janos Pasztor, Executive Secretary at UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability pointed out that Greening the Blue is a unique initiative bringing together the whole UN system in addressing one specific issue. Practical experience teaches that in establishing its carbon footprint an organization actually realizes where its costs are. To become green is as much about improved management, as it is about improved efficiency. However, it is not enough to focus on emissions, but to consider the larger context in terms of environmental management.
H.E. Per Ludvig Magnus, Ambassador of Norway said that Norway’s role in providing financial support was noteworthy, but there was also an interest by the Norwegian government in supporting a large institution using and further developing its methodologies in becoming climate neutral.
The UN’s in-house efforts towards climate neutrality and sustainable management began in 2007. It is a response to the climate change challenge and the need of the UN to “walk the talk” expressed by Ban Ki Moon. Mr. Hossein Fadaei, Acting Director, UNEP EMG, emphasized that the EMG provides a coherent and multi-sectoral approach to main focus areas, leading into the IMG of sustainable management.
Mr. Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Consumptions and Production branch, UNEP, presented the report “Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN – The UN System’s Footprint and Efforts to Reduce it”. With about 1,7 million tCO2-e, the climate footprint of the UN is equal to that of the city of London. About half the emissions are caused by air travel. But the report also highlights reduction strategies of the different agencies. The Greening the Blue web portal provides an essential function in these efforts, as communication is a key factor in facilitating change within the UN.