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Sustainable Development at UNOG

Climate change is a defining challenge of our age. Together with the wider United Nations system, UNOG is working towards climate neutrality in its operations to set an example by limiting our collective carbon footprint in line with the Secretary-General’s priorities.

Over the past eight years, UNOG has cut electricity and fuel consumption by 20 per cent and water consumption by just over 40 per cent. This impressive reduction in CO2 emissions has been achieved through a combination of institutional measures, innovative partnerships with the host country and civil society, and a transformation of work processes – installing solar panels, restricting air conditioning, improving thermal insulation, buying fuel-efficient vehicles, providing incentives to staff to use sustainable modes of transport, separating waste and using sheep to cut the grass. Creativity and a readiness to embrace change have been critical.

Recently UNOG signed a contract with Services Industriels de Genève regarding two projects in compliance with the United Nations environmental policy:
    (a) The Geneva-Lake-Nations "GLN" Project: supplying the Palais des Nations with Geneva Lake water for cooling purposes. The energy required for cooling the buildings is generated through heat exchangers and supplied to several international organizations as well as private and non-governmental entities. By retiring traditional cooling towers UNOG will make use of 100 per cent renewable energy (Lake Geneva water) in addition to reducing electricity and water consumption;

    (b) Natural Gas Project: replacing the heating oil used in UNOG’s main boiler house with natural gas. The main impact on the environment will be a reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as nitrogen oxide and dioxide (NO and NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). An additional benefit is that vehicles used in delivering heating oil will be dispensed with.

"At the Palais des Nations, we do face particular challenges in reaching climate neutrality. Close to 80 years old now, the Palais was built long before climate, carbon and emissions became part of the political and public vocabulary. This is another reason that we are committed to the implementation of our Strategic Heritage Plan for the sustainable preservation of the Palais."

The Director-General at the inauguration of the Geneva-Lake-Nations Project (29 July 2009).

For further information and pictures, please see:

2010 UNOG Annual Report: Special Feature: "Greening the blue: UNOG working for a sustainable future"