Sustainability and Green Practices in the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Since 2012, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions has put in place practical measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve its overall environmental performance.

These actions have been undertaken under the framework of the Greening the Blue and the United Nations Climate Neutral Strategy. Under this framework, the Secretariat prepares annual inventories of its greenhouse gas emissions, takes steps to reduce them and offsets those that are unavoidable. In its actions, the Secretariat takes as a reference the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020- 2030, Phase I: Environmental Sustainability in the Area of Management that was endorsed by the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination in 2019.

The Secretariat’s carbon footprint and climate neutrality

Over the period from 2010 to 2022, the Secretariat has reduced its carbon footprint by 28% on average, most notably due to promoting the use of online conferencing and more systematic scheduling back-to-back meetings.

In 2022, the Secretariat’s greenhouse gas emissions increased in relation to the previous year due to the resumption of face-to-face meetings of the governing bodies and subsidiary bodies after that COVID-19 operational restrictions were removed. There has also been an improvement in the calculation of the carbon emissions that now includes the transport of participants to the airport. This change in the methodology contributes to an increase in total carbon emissions. 95% of the Secretariat’s GHG emissions come from air travel.

2023 has marked 10 years of climate neutrality for the Secretariat. In 2023, the Secretariat has offset the 656 tonnes of Co2 that it had emitted in 2022, for a first part, through an agreement with the UNFCCC secretariat and, for a second part, through the UN voluntary cancellation platform in the Clean Development Mechanism Registry.

Other efforts to reduce the Secretariat’s environmental footprint

The Secretariat has also put in place additional measures to improve its environmental sustainability in other areas.

In 2023 the BRS Conventions Secretariat joined the UNEP Environmental Management System (EMS). This tool will enable the Secretariat to better manage its environmental performance through the implementation of a comprehensive, systematic, planned and documented set of processes. The first concrete step in this path was the development of EMS Action Plans for implementation in 2024. The plans focus on events management, facilities, ICTR and supply chain.

In the area of event management, the meetings organized by the Secretariat are paperless and, whenever possible, plastic free. The 2019, 2022 and 2023 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties for instance have been plastic free.

With regard to its facilities management, the Secretariat’s offices are hosted in the international environmental house in Geneva which is certified Minergie, a Swiss standard confirming the high environment standards of the building. The building provides for waste separation and recycling schemes; reduced energy and water consumption; and primary use of renewable energy (with 100% energy coming from renewable energy, namely hydropower and solar panels). In the Secretariat’s offices, wastes are separated during collection and shipped to different contractors for final disposal or recycling. In 2022, 66% of the waste generated was either reused/recycled/composted or recovered. In 2022, there was a 38% reduction in waste generation compared to 2018, which is a year where there was less waste generation compared to others that were similar in relation to the impacts of the COVID-19.

On the front of water management, the Secretariat is promoting the use of tap water and increasing awareness of its environmental benefits. The measuring, reporting and managing of water and wastewater is conducted for the entire building by the managing organization.

More information on the BRS environmental performance and ongoing efforts towards improving its environmental sustainability can be found on the Greening the Blue website here.

Baseline sustainability reports

Reports of the Secretariat’s sustainability team established in 2011 to work on sustainability performance aspects:

Date Title Theme
December 2013 Report on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the Secretariat of the Basel and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions and the UNEP-part of the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention

Greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting considerations

April 2012
Report on sustainability performance of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions Environmental and financial sustainability performance