UN Greening the Blue Report 2023

UNICC championing environmental sustainability as a carbon-neutral entity within the UN system

17 January, 2024

Photo: UNICC

In 2021, UNICC launched its first collaboration with the UN Environment Programme’s Greening the Blue initiative (see Dec 2021 news item). Today, we are proud to be employing energy-efficient practices and carbon offsets to become a carbon-neutral organization. As the largest strategic partner for digital solutions and cybersecurity within the United Nations (UN) system, UNICC’s contribution to the Greening the Blue Report 2023 with inputs on UNICC’s carbon footprint and sustainable greening measures, highlights our commitment to achieving carbon-neutral technology facilities and operations. Over the coming year, UNICC will continue to ensure that its goals and projects are successfully delivered, measured and shared across the UN family.

The world must work together to address the triple planetary crisis of runaway climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. We at the United Nations must do our part with advocacy and action. I encourage all UN entities to set an example by greening the blue.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

The 2023 edition of the Greening the Blue Report provides United Nations (UN) system-wide 2022 data on the environmental impact areas and management functions identified in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030, Phase I: Environmental Sustainability in the Area of Management.

The Report highlights the UN’s 2022 environmental impact for over 308,000 personnel in 57 reporting entities across Headquarters, field offices and operations on the ground. It features 2022 data highlights, which are based on UN system-wide results, as well as more dynamic individual entity information that is provided by the Report’s data tables and entity-specific web pages.

Screenshot from the GTB report showcasing the number of total emissions in 2022 which is 1.4 million tonnes CO2eq
Credit: Greening the Blue Report 2023, UNEP

UNICC’s achievements as showcased in the Greening the Blue Report 2023

In 2022, UNICC maintained a workforce of 382 personnel at its headquarters and recorded a total of 411 tCO2eq in emissions, achieving a 21% reduction compared to 2021 levels. Through the Carbon Offset Certificate Programme offered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UNICC offset its emissions to be a carbon-neutral organization.

UNICC has voluntarily offset its emissions since 2021 when it started working closely with UNEP and the Greening the Blue Report.  The per capita emissions, calculated at 1.1 tCO2eq per person, include its data centres and reflect the organization’s commitment to minimizing its carbon footprint. The waste generated per capita, excluding construction waste, stood at 118 kg/person/annum, with 18 kg/person/annum allocated to reuse, recycling, composting or energy recovery efforts.

Furthermore, UNICC is actively working to develop its Environmental Management System (EMS) in 2024 and aims to obtain ISO 14001 certification. This initiative aligns with the Secretary-General’s mandate that all UN organizations should have an EMS in place by 2025, showcasing UNICC’s dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility. This highlights UNICC’s dedication to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship in its operational activities.

UNICC sustainability

UNICC has devised an organizational sustainability plan to continue its efforts toward becoming greener. One of the main goals of this plan is to identify metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as data centre and cloud carbon footprint, and explore the organization’s carbon footprint even when working from home. As a part of the Environmental Management System, the organization will roll out a learning and awareness campaign for all staff and will pilot an initiative to upskill a group of UNICC’s employees on sustainability.

One of the main focuses of UNICC’s sustainability efforts is its four data centres, all of which are actively monitored and report on emissions. Factors such as green procurement practices, the use of energy-efficient products, sourcing sustainable energy, efficient cooling solutions and balanced equipment placements in the racks all contribute towards greener and more efficient data centres.

Currently, all of UNICC’s centres are classified as Efficient or Very Efficient, but UNICC aims to do more, including the deployment of solar panels, renewable energy, using circulated outside cold air and lake water and the deployment of environmental sensors and optimization. UNICC is also exploring the use of Cloud technologies based in locations that use renewable energy sources.

Green technology for the UN ecosystem

Solutions for greening the UN – and the globe – require a multilateral approach encompassing all fields, including digital business and technology. As the preferred provider of shared services and digital business solutions for over 90 Clients and Partner Organizations in the UN ecosystem, UNICC has stepped up as a green technology innovator.

Green ICT does not have to be an oxymoron. We want to leverage UNICC’s technical expertise to collaborate with our UN partners and make the system better through better adoption of green technologies.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

With less than a decade until the deadline to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN agencies must practice due diligence and ensure alignment with sustainable practices. UNICC can play a strategic role in helping organizations achieve these goals. Through our words and our actions, we aspire to live up to the Sustainable Development Goals and support our Clients and Partner Organizations in doing the same.

To read the whole report and the detailed entity-level data, please visit the Greening the Blue Report 2023 page.