Environmental, social and sustainability framework

The revised Environmental and social sustainability framework aims to strengthen the sustainability and accountability of UNEP work. This Framework enables UNEP effective and efficient management of environmental and social impacts throughout the life of a project.

The Framework serves four broad purposes:

  • To enhance outcomes by systematically integrating environmental and social dimensions in UNEP-funded programmes and projects.
  • To strengthen alignment of UNEP’s work with the SDGs and other UN entities and partners in addressing the environmental and social sustainability of development efforts. 

  • To set standards of sustainability for UNEP’s operations thereby confirming UNEP’s accountability to its member States, and other funders. 

  • To enable UNEP to work in a safer and smarter manner, thereby minimizing potential risks and harm to intended beneficiaries while enhancing UNEP’s capabilities and credibility. 


The Framework serves its broad purposes by employing guiding Principles-- leave no one behind principle, human rights and gender equality-based approach, the sustainability and resilience principle and accountability--plus eight Safeguard Standards, which are:

  • Biodiversity Conservation, Natural Habitats, and Sustainable Management of Living Resources
  • Climate Change and Disaster Risks
  • Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency
  • Community Health, Safety and Security
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Displacement and Involuntary Resettlement
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Labor and Working Conditions

These Safeguard Standards reflect UNEP’s “do good” as well as “do no harm” commitments. UNEP projects and their related safeguard documents are disclosed to solicit involvement of the interested and affected stakeholders and public.  

Any project-related concerns and complaints can be raised through UNEP or mailed to unenvironment-iossr@un.org Step by step guidance on the compliance or grievance matters, such as eligibility, process and contact informatiothe Environmental and social sustainability Framework: Stakeholder Response Mechanism.

Visit following UN Environment Programme policies that are related to the Framework:

For more information, please contact the Safeguards Advisor, Ms. Yunae Yi
Yunae.Yi@un.org