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 greenhouse gas emissions and improve its overall environmental performance. Over the period from 2010 to 2021, the Secretariat has reduced its carbon footprint by 50% on average, most notably due to promoting the use of online conferencing and more systematic scheduling of back-to-back meetings. In 2021, the estimated emissions dropped to 48 t CO2 eq. given that most of the work under the Conventions had been conducted through online means, due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The Secretariat has been offsetting its GHG emissions since 2013, through a long-term agreement with the UNFCCC.

In line with the UN 2020-2030 Strategy for sustainability management, the Secretariat has also put in place additional measures to improving its environmental sustainability in other areas such waste and water management. Recent actions have been taken to reduce waste, in particular plastic waste, generated during the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties. The 2019 and 2022 COPs have been plastic free.

Reducing carbon footprint and becoming climate neutral


The Secretariat has been implementing the United Nations Climate Neutral Strategy and has been climate neutral since 2013. Under this framework, the Secretariat prepares annual inventories of its greenhouse gas emissions, takes steps to reduce its emissions and offsets unavoidable emissions.

The Secretariat has offset a total of 1,513 tonnes CO2 equivalent generated in 2012, 2013, and 2014 through the UNEP Climate Neutral Strategy. In October 2016, the Secretariat has entered an agreement with the UNFCCC Secretariat for offsetting its 2015 emissions and those projected till 2020. A total of 2,390 tonnes CO2 equivalent have been offset for the years 2015-2021 through this agreement.

The Secretariat’s commitment towards improving environmental performance, including through measuring, reducing and offsetting its climate footprint, is an initiative taken for the long-term, and efforts will continue in the future towards further reducing and offsetting its environmental footprint.

Other efforts to reduce the Secretariat’s environmental footprint

The Secretariat undertakes specific activities aiming at preventing and minimizing waste generation. The meetings organized by Secretariat are paperless and, whenever possible, plastic free. At the 2019 COPs meetings, specific arrangements were made to minimize the use of plastic. In the Secretariat’s offices, wastes are separated during collection and shipped to different contractors for final disposal or recycling. In 2020, 90% of the waste generated was either reused/recycled/composted or recovered. In 2021, there was a 86% reduction in waste generation.

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).

The Secretariat is promoting the use of tap water and increase awareness on its environmental benefits. The measuring, reporting and managing water and waste water 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