“Housed at the Palais des Nations, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General at Geneva. A focal point for multilateral diplomacy, UNOG services more than 8,000 meetings every year, making it one of the busiest conference centres in the world. With more than 1,600 staff, UNOG is the biggest department of the United Nations Secretariat outside of headquarters in New York.”
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Un og “Housed at the Palais des Nations, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General at Geneva. A focal point for multilateral
United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
HQ: Geneva, Switzerland
Focal Point: Jana Warming
Email: jana.warming [at] un.org
UNOG Key figures:
The 2017 figures for UNOG are calculated based on the pro rata of its workforce (1547 staff) in the total workforce occupying the Palais des Nations compound (2877 staff).
Greenhouse gas emissions
Other Geneva-based entities (greenhouse gas emissions)
Director General’s message
“Sustainability is a key operating principle for the United Nations in Geneva. Through technological innovation, partnerships and a transformation of processes, UN Geneva activities are more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective than ever. The consumption of paper, electricity, water and fuel was reduced by introducing electronic processing in servicing and the PaperSmart business model in conference management, installing over 3200 sq. meters of solar panels on the roof of the Palais des Nations, switching to natural gas for heating and utilizing lake water to cool the buildings. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 7, which envisions an increase in the use of clean energy by 2030. Ensuring long-term sustainability of operations is also a central aim of the Strategic Heritage Plan for the Palais des Nations. Leading by example, UN Geneva will continue to build on these achievements through individual commitment, teamwork and innovation.
“Together we can and will make a lasting contribution to global efforts to have a planet that is safer and more sustainable for future generations.”
Michael Møller, Director-General, UNOG
UNOG is the representative office of the Secretary-General in Switzerland and the largest duty station outside of UNHQ. It is servicing over 12,000 meetings annually and is a regional provider of diverse administrative and common support services to more than 30 UN entities in Europe and 126 field offices in 90 countries. UNOG is a focal point for multilateral diplomacy and a global service provider of excellence in the areas of administration, conference management, security, information and knowledge-management.
Experience so far
Between 2000 and 2017, for all the building it manages, UNOG reduced by:
- 66% its water consumption
- 33% its electricity consumption
EMS and Reduction efforts
UNOG adopted in 2018 an Environmental Policy. The Environmental Policy commits the organization to:
- Implement an EMS based on the ISO 14001:2015
- Reduce Greenhouse Gases and reach climate neutrality
- Improve its energy efficiency
- Improve the management, control, and reduction of waste
- Use resources sustainably
- Preserve and enhance the Aria Park natural and cultural heritage
UNOG’s printing and distribution facility maintains ISO 14001:2004 certification.
Central Support Services is currently developing an EMS compliant to ISO 14001:2015.
An Initial Environmental Review was carried out.
UNOG plans to offset its GHG emissions through the UNFCC online shop. The amount of offsets purchased will depends on the GHG calculations provided by SUN.
UNOG waste management policy is based on the reduce, reuse, recycle principle. UNOG sorts its different categories of waste through a waste recycling system, aiming at reducing as much as technically and economically feasible the waste incinerated at the municipal facility
In 2017 a dehydrator for turning food waste into fertilizer or biogas was set up, which reduces the volume of the waste therefore the CO2 emissions linked to its transportation.
In 2018 a particular focus was put on reducing single-use plastics. Take-away boxes served at the cafeteria are now made of biodegradable bioplastic and will be replaced this year by a reusable container.
Electronic waste is collected separately at the Palais des Nations from various UN organizations. In 2017 30% (by weight) or our collected electronics was given to NGOs free of charge.
UNOG systematically measure the water consumption of the building it manages with meters.
Measures to reduce water consumption are the following:
- Efficient toilets flush
- Automatic distribution of water in toilets
- Automatic watering of lawns
- Separation of storm water from sewage water to reduce volume of effluent
- Leak detection systems
Drinking tap water is encouraged throughout the Palais with dedicated taps for filling water bottles (28 set up as of 2018). Reusable water bottles are sold at various shops within the compound.
In addition to the municipal water, UNOG also uses water from the Genève-Lac Nations network to cool its building. The water used through this network is entirely returned to the lake.
Other Environmental Measure
Reduction of paper consumption:
- Use of paperless procedures is being expanded within UNOG through the use of electronic forms instead of paper forms and various e-tools made available to Divisions and Services.
- Computerization of processes such as dependency review, review of appointment, lump sum travel and compensation claims, education grant, lead to savings by reducing paper processes and thus paper consumption.
- Replacement of paper instructions by electronic workflow between the Travel Unit and the Travel Agent has enabled to drastically cut paper consumption (approx. 50,000 sheets per year).
- Introduction of the new e-tender which allows the secure issuing of procurement bidding documents via electronic communication means. This resulted in significant reduction in the production of printed materials given that this system eliminates the copious use of printed material formerly issued when the bidding documents were sent via regular mail. During 2012 for example, 70,000 sheets of paper were consumed for bid issue.
- Use of common printing station rather than individual printer, with the possibility of cancelling a printing job at the printer. This measure cut paper consumption by an estimated 200,000 sheets.
During the past years much has been done to decrease UNOG’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions. UNOG also pursues its actions in order to develop the use of renewable energy. The most significant initiatives and achievements are:
- Cooling of the buildings with the water of the Lake Geneva.
- Fuel oil has been replaced by natural gas for winter heating (emitting less CO2 and whose emissions are offset by the provider)
- Replacement of the lighting fixtures at the Palais des Nations with energy efficient ones.
- Upgrade of the Building Management System (BMS) controlling ventilation, heating, air conditioning, and automatic lighting, to control 15,000 points. For instance, the lighting of some corridors and halls is now automatically switched off when not needed.
- A few ventilation units have been changed with high efficiency units, equipped for heating recovery.
- Temperature in air-conditioned meeting rooms kept at an average of 24°C (74°F) in summer when rooms are in use. All air-conditioners are turned off when rooms are not in use.
- Thermostatic valves have been installed on all the heating radiators.
- Improvement of thermal insulation of skylights, conference rooms, halls and offices through the replacement of obsolete glazed structure (about 1000 windows) by a new double glazing system compliant with energy saving and security related standards.
- Thermal insulation and water proofing system of roofs.
- Installation of 3300 m2 of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of several buildings of the Palais des Nations, producing annually 600,000 kWh.
- Extension of the existing solar panels field increasing the capacity of production of sanitary hot water, in particular for the showers at the cyclists’ disposal and the cafeteria.
- All electricity purchased by UNOG comes from renewable energy sources.
- Lighting fixtures of the roads and parking of the Palais have been replaced by LED sources.
Travel and green commuting
- UNOG increased off-site translation of documents and eliminated travel of freelance translators to Geneva.
- Added 218 additional bicycling parking. Bringing the total bicycle parking at the Palais des Nations to 451.
- Posted on the green commuting blog about walking to work.
- With ITU and WIPO, proposed free bicycle rental at the Place des Nations.
- Fully revised and updated the policy on vehicle access to UNOG thereby reducing vehicle access to the Palais.
- Promoted the use of the Park and Ride facilities at Secheron and other locations.
- Opening of the Nations Entrance to 24/7 pedestrian traffic.
- Took part in the European Mobility week and Geneveroule’s 15 year anniversary.
- In partnership with the ICU, promoted cycling as part of the SDGs.
- Via the Mutuelle, promoted the Catch a Car initiative.
- Added 8 charging stations for electric card, bringing the total to 16 stations.
- Organic food (everyday one organic vegetable, all eggs are organic)
- Local food (100% of milk from Geneva area, 100% of beef, porc and veal are Swiss)
- Vegan menus: at least one a day
- “Natura” menus composed of local, organic and fare trade food;
- Fare trade coffee and teas.
- Exclusive use of biodegradable cleaning products.
- Priority is given to seasonal products, fresh, organic, local, certified fair trade or coming from sustainable fisheries, without GMO.
- Renewal of the “Certificat de qualité nature et économie” for Ariana Park by Fondation Nature & Economie.
- Sheep are grazing the meadows of the Ariana Park in autumn every year, thereby cutting the grass in an ecologically sustainable manner and providing natural fertilizers.
- Beehive installed in Ariana Park started producing UN honey for the first time in 2013.
The next steps are the following:
- Developing the EMS to fully integrate environmental sustainability consideration into operations and facilities management, with the goal of expanding the scope EMS to the whole organization
- Further reduction of facility energy consumption and CO2 emissions due to the renovation of the Palais des Nations and the construction of a new building using the LEED framework for sustainable construction.
Our mission: to create a more sustainable United Nations