Environmental Management

UN entities are encouraged to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS). Having an EMS or a similar systematic approach to corporate environmental sustainability gives credibility and has the potential to help an organisation achieve robust, continuous and long-term improvements in environmental performance.


Results in 2018


In 2018, 21 entities reported having an environmental management system in place. An additional 17 agencies reported either being in the process of developing an EMS, or having a systematic approach to environmental management. Overall, whether through an environmental management system, green building certification, or an integrated sustainability strategy, several UN entities have developed a systematic approach to improve their environmental performance.

In addition to the data submitted during the inventory process, 17 entities completed a 2018 EMS Survey with more in depth questions about their EMS progress. The survey contained questions about steps being taken in the EMS areas of Plan, Do, Check and Act. Several organisations have made substantial progress since the initial EMS Survey in 2015, such as the four EMS pilots (ESCAP, MONUSCO, and Secretariat at headquarters and WFP Kenya), DFS, ILO, and UNFPA.

To encourage and assist more entities to implement an environmental management system, a new online application, the UN Environmental Management System Toolkit, has been developed. It is available for agencies to begin testing. It contains guidance on the implementation of an EMS and provides possibilities to handle information related to environmental management.

To learn more about how the UN’s environmental management data is calculated, please read our methodology.


Case studies


COP23 (2017, Germany), which hosted over 22,000 participants, was the third UN Climate Change Conference to obtain third-party certification for its sustainability management system. Sustainable catering, free low-emission local transport and awareness-raising all played a part and the event was climate neutral.

Read other environmental management-related case studies from across the UN System here. 


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