About UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors

UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors help generate public awareness and understanding of environmental causes, as well as inspire broad, positive, committed action in support of UNEP's mandate and priorities.

Definition and Selection Criteria
To ensure consistency and high standards in the selection, designation and involvement of prominent individuals in the work of the UNEP, UNEP follows these guidelines, which are based on the approved criteria of the United Nations Secretary-General and apply to the Secretariat, and the Funds and Programmes at all UN agencies.

  • Individuals who are invited to serve as UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors shall:
    1. Possess widely recognized talent in the environment, arts, sciences, literature, entertainment, sports or other fields of public life:
    2. Be persons of integrity who demonstrate a strong desire to help mobilize public interest in and support for the environmental cause as a whole and for the purposes and principles of UNEP, and who demonstrate the commitment and proven potential to reach out to significant audiences, including decision makers;
    3. Exemplify good environmental credentials in his work, life and/or advocacy work, and must be passionate, inspiring and caring towards the environment
    4. Possess the personality and dignity required for such high-level representative capacity;
    5. Be influential beyond their national borders, thus having the ability to promote the values of the UNEP internationally;
    6. Be knowledgeable about UNEP’s goals and activities and be able to articulate them; and have not engaged with or endorsed products, organizations or causes that conflict with UNEP’s / UN’s values.
  • Only the Executive Director of UNEP may designate Goodwill Ambassadors.  However, the Office of the Executive Director (OED) must inform the Secretary-General of his intention to designate an individual as Goodwill Ambassador before any commitment is made, not less than four weeks prior to the announcement of the designation. 
  • Heads of the UNEP’s Regional and other field offices shall not designate Goodwill Ambassadors.
  • On notifying the Secretary-General of the intention to designate a Goodwill Ambassador, an explanation of the reasons for the designation shall also be provided, along with proposed terms of reference, and a confirmation that the appropriate review to determine suitability has been conducted. 
  • Goodwill Ambassadors will not be considered UNEP staff members and may not be appointed to an established UNEP post or office. Therefore, they shall not be granted a UNEP “Letter of Appointment” but issued instead a “Letter of Designation” by the UNEP Executive Director.
  • The “Letter of Designation” shall set out their terms of reference, length of designation, and their status and entitlements.
  • The designation of a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador is to be considered rare and exceptional. Thus it will be ensured that the number of designees is not more than three a year, in order to maintain the value attached to the designation and to further ensure substance and reciprocity in the engagement.
  • An individual shall not be designated Goodwill Ambassador by UNEP if he/she is already serving in that capacity at another UN Office, Fund or Program at the same time.
  • Requests for the participation of UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors in the overall activities of the United Nations activities shall be made through the coordinating UNEP division which in this case is the Division of Communications and Public Information (DCPI).

Role of UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors

  • UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors may, at the invitation or request of the Executive Director or the Secretary-General, as appropriate, engage in public advocacy; fundraising where authorized and in accordance with the applicable regulations, rules, policies and procedures of the UN; and in public awareness activities. They may participate in certain other pre-approved United Nations events and visit United Nations operations in the field. 
  • The coordinating division is responsible for establishing specific terms of reference for individual Goodwill Ambassadors.  In general, however, Goodwill Ambassadors are expected to:
    • Respect the impartiality and independence of UNEP and to refrain from any conduct that would adversely reflect on UNEP or the United Nations;
    • Refrain from any activity incompatible with the purposes and principles of UNEP and the United Nations;
    • Exercise good judgment and discretion in all matters relating to the performance of their functions for UNEP;
    • Obtain guidance on their specific activities from the UNEP/OED and/or staff assigned to liaise with them.

Conditions of Service

  • UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors shall be designated for a period of two years, renewable, based on mutual agreement by the parties on the basis of satisfactory fulfillment of the role and their demonstrated interest in continuing the relationship. 
  • UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors shall not be paid a salary, although a symbolic payment of $1 per year or equivalent may be granted to them. Goodwill Ambassadors may be given travel and daily subsistence allowances when they are traveling on behalf of UNEP.  
  • When on official travel or performing services for UNEP, Goodwill Ambassadors will be considered as having the status of “Expert on Mission” for the UNEP and the UN within the meaning of Section 22, Article VI of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 13 February 1946 (“the General Convention”). 
  • As “Experts on Mission”, Goodwill Ambassadors shall not be entitled to a United Nations laissez-passer.  However, they shall be entitled to a certificate that  they are traveling on official business of the UNEP, and should be accorded facilities for speedy travel, similar to those accorded to holders of the UN laissez-passer, by Governments that are parties to the General Convention (Sections 25 and 26, Article VII of the General Convention). 
  • When traveling on behalf of UNEP, a Goodwill Ambassador shall be entitled to the standard of travel normally accorded to senior UNEP officials.  A higher standard of travel requires the prior authorization of the UNEP/OED.
  • Goodwill Ambassadors who are authorized to travel at UNEP expense or who are requested to perform services on behalf of the United Nations shall, in the event of injury, illness or death attributable to the performance of duties on behalf of the United Nations, be entitled to compensation in accordance with ST/SGB/103/Rev.1.  Such compensation shall be the sole compensation payable by the UNEP/United Nations in respect of such service-related death, injury or illness and shall be paid by the designating UN Offices, Funds and Program, which in this case is UNEP. 
  • UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors shall be fully responsible for arranging, at their own expense, such life, health and other forms of insurance covering the period of their services on behalf of UNEP, as they consider appropriate. They are not eligible to participate in the life or health insurance schemes available to UNEP staff members. The responsibility of the UNEP/United Nations is limited solely to the payment of compensation under the conditions described in paragraph 22 of these Guidelines.

Communication and Information

  • DCPI shall ensure that the special skills and talents of all designees are well utilized for the benefit of the Organization, and that designees are provided with regular and appropriate guidance on their activities on behalf of the UNEP. 
  • DCPI shall facilitate communication between their headquarters and field offices regarding the involvement of Goodwill Ambassadors in appropriate field-level activities and events. 
  • DCPI shall maintain an updated list of UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors and shall ensure that all changes in the status of designees are communicated in a timely way and are reflected in the relevant public information materials in a timely manner. 
  • DCPI shall be the focal point for consultation and communication on policy issues relating to UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors and other celebrity advocates, including their designation and status.  DCPI will also facilitate the sharing of information and best practices in the management of relationships with Goodwill Ambassadors.


  • The designation of a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador shall be terminated if, in the view of UNEP, the designee is unable or unwilling to carry out the role envisaged in the terms of reference; if the Goodwill Ambassador engages in any activity incompatible with his/her status or with the purposes and principles of UNEP or the United Nations; or if the termination is in the interest of the Organization.

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