Social and Environmental Sustainability in UNDP

 Photo: UNDP.

UNDP is committed to ensuring that our programming and operations are socially and environmentally sustainable.

Sustainable Programme and Project Management

UNDP recognizes that social and environmental sustainability are fundamental to the achievement of sustainable development outcomes, and therefore must be fully integrated into our Programmes and Projects.  To ensure this we have the following key policies, procedures and accountability mechanisms in place to underpin our support to countries:

Sustainable Operations Management


As a leading agency in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation, UNDP is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of its operations and to achieving operational climate neutrality. By demonstrating that we run our operations in a resource efficient, sustainable, and accountable way, UNDP strengthens its global position as a strong and reliable partner and delivers its projects and programs with highest level of environmental integrity:

We measure:  As of 2008 UNDP monitors Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with our global operations and reports results as part of the annual 'Moving towards a climate neutral United Nations'. Since then we have expanded our monitoring systems to also include other environmental indicators including water consumption and waste disposal.

We reduce:  Substantial progress has been achieved in moving UNDP towards “greener,” more resilient operations both at HQ and in many Country Offices and Regional Hubs. Around the world UNDP offices are working towards minimizing the environmental impact associated with their operations. From green building renovations and use of photovoltaic power to generate electricity to staff training and bicycling programs, UNDP staff throughout the organization are developing efficient and creative solutions to reduce UNDP’s reliance on fossil fuels and natural resources. Building on these achievements and expanding efforts to improve energy efficiency and utilization of renewable energy, UNDP has adopted a target for reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions from global operations by 10% over 5 years.

We offset:  While UNDP’s efforts focus on minimizing its environmental footprint we also take on responsibility for those Greenhouse Gas emissions that cannot be entirely avoided in the short run:  As of 2014 UNDP has achieved organization-wide climate neutrality by offsetting remaining Greenhouse Gas emission with Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from the Adaptation Fund – where revenues from credit sales support adaptation projects that promote climate-resilient economic development and sustainable livelihoods in the some of the world’s poorest communities.


Sustainable Procurement


To help countries achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion, while at the same time address the issues of climate change, UNDP makes a shift to more sustainable production and consumption practices. Sustainable procurement means making sure that the products and services UNDP buys are as sustainable as possible, with the lowest environmental impact and most positive social results. Procurement, therefore, plays a key role in contributing to sustainable development.

The 2015-17 UNDP Procurement Strategy, which is developed in response to the 2014-17 UNDP Strategic Plan, represents a commitment by the organization to achieve the benefits Sustainable Procurement offers. As part of the strategy UNDP Procurement will focus on:

  • Incorporating sustainability criteria in the organization’s purchasing evaluations

  • Develop monitoring mechanisms and assessments to promote vendor compliance in the UNDP Supply Chain

  • Stimulating innovation via e.g. Crowd-sourcing, functional specifications and piloting innovative technologies  

  • Better Integration of procurement at the project design stages.

  • Promoting and utilizing public-private partnership with companies in the areas of innovation and sustainability

  • Enhance the already high transparency standards in UNDP’s Procurement  

Please find more information on the UNDP Procurement Website.

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