Greening the UN PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 5 May 2008

When the UN Secretary-General recently visited the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) he was impressed with the new "M" building (meeting facility) that has been generously given to the Vienna International Centre (VIC) by the host country. He was not only impressed by the modern look of the building, he praised its state-of-the-art environmentally friendly feat


ures - for example, sensors that adjust air temperature and flows depending on the number of people in the room, or the heating system that is based on steam produced from the city's incineration facility.

For some time, the United Nations Office at Vienna has been taking steps to make itself greener. Over the past few years, a major renovation has been carried out to remove asbestos from the buildings' walls. At the same time new energy efficient windows were put in - the savings are so great that the cost of their installation will be recovered in less than seven years. New energy efficient lights have been installed in every office (that last longer, provide more light with less energy, and are free of PCBs).

Energy savings have been introduced by turning off the lights automatically every evening and weekend, and putting computers, copiers, and printers to sleep mode if no one is using them.

Every day, VIC staff use 400,000 sheets of paper, and fill 15 big green waste containers with used paper. To save a few forests, printers and photocopy machines have been put on a double-sided default setting. At conferences, we have started to hand out conference documents on CD-ROMs and memory sticks, rather than reams of paper.

Waste separation is enabling the recycling of metals, plastic, paper and glass. Procurement has been directed to use environmentally friendly products and companies. For example, the latest bidding process for paper specified that only suppliers which use the least harmful production methods would be considered.  

The Secretary-General wants all UN duty stations to be carbon neutral by 2009. This is a tall order, but we are trying, for example by reducing travel. Tele-communicating enables staff to work from home. Tele-conferencing allows us to keep in touch with field offices and institutional partners, without flying around the world at great expense and polluting the atmosphere.

Staff are being encouraged to bike to work, and to use public transportation. (I would love to bike to work, but I was discouraged for security reasons). Other initiatives are planned, with news ideas being generated by a growing group of planet-friendly staff.

The Vienna International Centre - or maybe we should call it the Vienna Ecological Centre - is often to referred to as UNO City. We are, indeed, a little city, and can all do more to keep it clean by following the "3 Rs": reduce, reuse, recycle. 


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:10